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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 9 September 2017 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andrea's Bookshelf Andy's Bookshelf
Ann's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf Binford's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf
Clint's Bookshelf Gail's Bookshelf Grace's Bookshelf
Julie's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Mari's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf
Moore's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf Pedro's Bookshelf
Peggy's Bookshelf Polk's Bookshelf Sloan's Bookshelf
Susan's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

A Good Life to the End
Ken Hillman
Allen and Unwin
9781760294816, A$29.99, Soft cover, 296 pages,

David Skea

Ageing is not for the weak

Ken Hillman is the Professor of Intensive Care at the University of New South Wales and is also a practising intensive care specialist at Liverpool Hospital. He has worked in intensive care since its inception in the 1950s. Over this time he has witnessed a major change in the patients admitted to hospital and an ICU. In the main they now are much older than when he first began his career and they are often in the last stages of their long life. He states that a huge majority of people at the end of their lives want to die peacefully at home but somehow seem to end up in a hospital and quite likely in an ICU. There, they are over-treated, given unnecessary operations and life prolonging treatments and face a death without dignity. There, too, loved ones are often pushed into making decisions that are not to the benefit of the patient.

One can and should ask why this has come about. Well, in the last 60 years or so medicine and its practice has changed dramatically. The once general practitioner (GP) who also coped with minor surgery and who knew you and all the family has almost gone. Visit a GP today with other than a minor complaint and you are likely to be referred to a specialist. Now specialists know a great deal about one particular part of the body but are often less concerned by the overall. For a younger patient this is all to the good. Usually there is only one problem to be treated and a referral to the right specialist means that the best treatment for that condition is provided. However for the elderly there are usually a whole host of problems and treating only one often causes further complications. The result is over-treatment and as Hillman says 'our practice of applying medical miracles designed to make people better, in increasingly perverse and futile ways, often causes pain and torture in the last few weeks of elderly people's lives'.

Professor Hillman has set out, in this book, to illustrate some of these problems and also suggests that we ask ourselves what kind of medical interventions we want as we approach the final stages of our own lives. He quotes, as an example, the case of a lady with advanced motor neurone disease who knew that she did not have much longer to live. He details the choices she made, and calls this 'Denise's Manifesto'. It describes the arrangements for hospice care that the family doctor made to help her at this time. Surprisingly, this hospice care was in the state of Oregon and covered by the US Medicare system and was free.

Professor Hillman says that currently we spend at least A$1,500 per day on a standard hospital bed and more than A$4,000 a day for treatment in an ICU. The very best round-the-clock treatment could be provided at a fraction of that cost in the community. So he suggest that we ask the elderly what they want at this time of their lives, and, just as importantly, what they don't want, and then design a caring and supportive system around their needs.

Will you read this book? Many won't because this is a book about ageing and dying and is thought too depressing. Maybe it is more depressing to become frail and near the end of life surrounded by dishonesty and false hope. Anticipating your own end lifts the burden from relatives who would otherwise be asked to make crucial decisions about how you should be managed if, for example, you suffered a major stroke and were destined to spend the rest of your life totally dependent on others.

So read this book. And if you haven't done so already, make a 'Manifesto' telling others what you want at the end.

And if you have aged parents who have not yet spoken about their wishes, sit down with them and talk about what they want. Better to be prepared than suffer the guilt of not knowing and perhaps making the wrong choice if you are asked whether the doctors should intervene and try to extend life no matter the pain or distress, or should they just opt for palliative care and let nature take its course.

The Secret Life of Ted Kaczynski - His 25 Years in Montana
Chris Waits and Dave Shors
Farcountry Press
2750 Broadwater Ave, Helena, MT Helena, Montana, 59602
9781560371397, $35.16, Hardcover, $2.99, Kindle, 288 pages,

Vicki Hill

What if you had a unique body of knowledge about highly publicized crimes? This was the predicament of Chris Waits, author (with Dave Shors) of THE SECRET LIFE OF TED KACZYNSKI - HIS 25 YEARS IN MONTANA. Montana was where Ted Kaczynski, over twenty-five years, lived, planned and documented his crimes (killing three people and wounding 22 by mailing bombs).

I searched out this book to learn more about Kaczynski's Montana years after seeing MANHUNT: UNABOMBER, DiscoveryTV's dramitization of the case from the FBI perspective. Waits' land was adjacent to Kaczynski's mountain cabin, and he had a friendly but wary relationship with Kaczynski; Waits allowed him free run of McClellan Gulch where lived and had his business.

Waits explains a remote rural and mountainous landscape unknown to many, how business was conducted, and how he was ultimately able to correlate his observations with circumstances and timelines of the crimes. Of great importance to him was how the content of Kaczynski's voluminous writings fit into the overall picture. Waits gives us detailed descriptions and musings about Kazinski's comings and goings and attitudes, especially his profound alienation and anti-social behavior.

A great deal of the book reads like a police procedural from the point of a super witness. In addition, unexpectedly evocative prose fills this true crime narrative: "A small spring - with water so clear each gray and reddish stone that made this natural mosaic was visible - flowed under my feet. Moss clung to every inch of the forest floor, light green and puffy proud about its existence."

I've always been fascinated by police procedural books and TV. Maybe it's because my role in producing business software was to document new processes, creating an ideal orderly world from chaotic and contradictory events and information. In a similar vein, police procedurals present a methodical world, disrupted by crime and human emotions, where order is always restored at the end. In this book, many dramatic discoveries, including a secret cabin and previously unknown crimes cause havoc, but peace and order are restored by the solution and prosecution of the case.

I don't agree with the heavy emphasis on explicating recovered Kaczynski writings to derive motivations. I guess it's because I am more interested in learning about the impact of crime on blameless witnesses and peaceful environments than on how crazed criminals see the world. All in all, the book achieves what many hope to achieve in writing - an incredibly exciting set of events and revelations told by a person who was there and was able and willing to write it down.

Norse Mythology
Neil Gaiman
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393609097, $25.95 HC, $9.32 Kindle, 293pp,

Matt Geiger

I still worship the old gods, in a way. And where there are Norse gods, there are always giants, trolls, and other monsters. That is why, when people ask about my ancestry, I might say the names of my grandmothers or grandfathers, but what I am really thinking is, "I'm descended from wise Odin and mighty Thor."

When people voyage to a new land, where they plant grains, raise livestock, and build a new life together, they tend to flash freeze their native culture and bring it with them. Such was the case with the Scandinavians who first left the manic, epic landscapes of Norway and made their way to the relatively docile, rolling wilderness of Wisconsin. When they set sail, they brought with them a version of Scandinavian culture that was locked in time, like a portable time capsule. Here, along with their crops and their cattle and their human offspring, they cherished and preserved their heritage, which was forever immune to whatever changes would occur in the places they left behind for the New World. And while they had converted to Christianity by then, the old gods had not yet completely faded from view.

People think gods want to be worshiped. What they really need are caretakers. Someone to tell and retell their tales; to keep them alive and brimming with all the fury and beauty that are in their natures. And our old gods could have no better caretaker than Neil Gaiman, whose new book, "Norse Mythology," doesn't just keep them alive; it simultaneously elevates them and brings them down to earth in a way I, personally, have never seen before.

It's probably not an accident. After all, Gaiman, who originally hails from England, wrote many of his most popular works while living in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

Gaiman is one of the most famous authors in the world. For the first 35 years of my life, I always thought of him as a comic book writer, a title that, for me, ranks only marginally below saint or superhero. Then, when our daughter was born, I discovered that Gaiman is also a prolific author of children's books. (His tender, refreshingly sincere "Blueberry Girl" actually brought me to tears when I first read it to my swaddled infant daughter.) He has also written a variety of popular novels that, like so many good books, tend to defy categorization.

Now Gaiman has turned his considerable talents to our gods. To the diverse pantheon that we like to consider our extended family.

"Norse Mythology" will significantly change our relationship with them, because for all our adoration, most of us know very little about the Norse gods. A reading of Gaiman's new book allows us to see them in a new and far more human way. The beginning to the chapter entitled "The Mead of Poets," which is about halfway through the book, could easily have served as an introduction to this entire work:

"Do you wonder where poetry comes from? Where we get the songs we sing and the tales we tell? Do you ever ask yourself how it is that some people can dream great, wise, beautiful dreams and pass those dreams on as poetry to the world, to be sung and retold as long as the sun rises and sets, as long as the moon will wax and wane?"

This wonderful book holds the answer to this and much, much more. You will learn that when you look up at the clouds by day, you are seeing Ymir's brains, "and who knows what thoughts they are thinking, even now."

You will learn that Loki makes the world "more interesting but less safe," a wonderful blast of praise and damnation sitting side by side, without even a comma to separate them.

You will read tales that are grim, and those that are majestic. You will also laugh, in all likelihood, when you find the gods romantically entangled with various animals and giants, or when they fart midway through battle.

I've always been fascinated by these old stories. But they were, I thought, more like ancient monoliths than modern tales. They were like immense, immovable mountains. Beautiful to look at, but not much more. In "Norse Mythology," Gaiman breathes life into the mountain. Under his care, the old granite gods rise up and shake off their age. They feast, engage in various hijinks, die, come back to life, and seem utterly alive, flawed and divine, all at the same time. Some have compared Gaiman to Loki, the trickster, but here he is far more like Idunn, who returns time and time again to feed the gods the apples of immortality, restoring their youth, their beauty, and their power.

It's no small trick, bringing our ancestors back to life. And it is a wonderful thing for those of us who feel inexorably linked to them. It's the type of gift for which one might even thank the gods.

Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
Harper Perennial
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway, New York, NY 10007
9780060850524, $15.99, PB, 288pp, Kindle $8.74
9780062696120, $23.99, HC, 272pp,

Jia Yan

Review: The Origin of Hostility

People endorse diverse explanations toward morality. Indeed, even the greatest philosophers - like John Locke and Thomas Hobbes - support ideas with a chasm. Society, the intangible presence that influences people in every direction, is the cradle of such distinctions. In his prestigious novel Brave New World, Aldous Huxley expresses the idea that societal difference nurtures distinguishable ideas among the different cultural group, and cultural difference formed hostility. In the novel, most of the characters live in the World State where, based on our sense, all of the humanity and humanitarian values have been abandoned. As a savage who lives in the New Mexico Reservation and grows up with the accompany of Shakespeare's masterpieces, John's trip to the World State symbolizes the collision between two chiseled social concepts, whereas his suicide is fated due to the well-defined idea of liberty, reproductive methods and people's general attitude between the two civilizations.

The concepts of liberty between the World State and the New Mexico Reservations are mutually exclusive. This is the result of the different living standards enjoyed by the residents of the two societies, whereas the World State is extremely advanced and industrialized while the New Mexico Reservation possess little or no technology and depends on agriculture. Therefore, the World State focuses on the freedom of enjoyment and drug while the New Mexico Reservation lays stress on the freedom of emotion and birth. The World State embraces an absolute hierarchy where all citizens are bored into distinctive social class. The bottoms class has been genetically modified so that their celebrations stay at a merely superficial level. This is due to the desire to suppress a potential rebellion. Surprisingly, after going through the process of hypnopaedia, or sleep numbing, upper-class people lost their ability to think independently as well. Therefore, the World State residents do not own the freedom of thinking, and tend to gain sensory satisfaction through taking soma, or drug, participating in fabulous activities like obstacle golf, and having sex. This process might be vice versa, meaning that the World State residents might give up their rights to think deliberately in order to obtain the freedom of drug to acquire facial fulfillment.

It should be noted that the World State is a civilization that exists after the twenty-first century, and thus the outlaw of the thinking freedom might is made intentionally to prevent previous mistakes from reoccurring. People could actually trace this attempt in the real world. For example, The Constitution of 1787 replaced The Article of Confederation in a desire to give more power to the central government to prevent it from disabling to put down a rebellion. Even though it violates original colonists' wishes to maintain a republic without a powerful federal government, this compromise has to be made for the long term stability. As a result, the World State's ideology might make sense if people view it from its residents' perspective.

On the other hand, John and the New Mexico Reservation's habitats depend on agriculture and game. "People believe in God because they've been conditioned to", like the Controller's answer to John's question regarding whether it is natural to believe God, the New Mexico Reservation's citizens cling to religion naturally to seek comfort and sense because their life is laborious due to the lack of technology and industry. Their arduous life also led them to cherish their family, treasure their harsh life. That is, their background helps establish their ideology that guarantees the freedom of religion, monogamy, and emotion.

Through analyzing the origin of the concept in each civilization, it is easy to infer that John is destined to become a victim once he comes to a place where he does not belong to. John himself senses this as well: "I am I, and I wish I weren't". As an individual that grow up in the New Mexico Reservation, he becomes the stigma of the society upon his arrival to the World State. The different opinions toward liberty made the New World residents form a considerable amount of hostility toward John. John himself suffers from confusion and anguish as well. This combined negative emotion leads to John's collapsion and paves the path for his ultimate suicide.

The different methods for reproduction between the two society create enmity between their people. In the highly advanced World State, people's social status has been predestined by genetic engineering. Women practice pregnancy substitute so that they can produce offspring artificially without being pregnant. The Savage Reservation, on the other hand, procreates through pregnancy and performs monogamy.

Again, the reproductive methods from both society are sensible if people are able to view them from each world's residents' point of view. Nevertheless, the difference between the two methods is the root of aggression. As each method's practicers, residents from both worlds believe their principle is sensible without any hesitation. As a consequent, their patriotism led to racism toward methods that are utterly different from their own means. This reason explains why does Mustaha Mond, the World State's residents controller, comments on the Savage Reservation's reproductive mean scornfully: "Mother, monogamy, romance...No wonder those poor pre-moderns were mad and wicked and miserable. Their world didn't allow them to take things easily, didn't allow them to be sane, virtuous, happy". Even John's mother Linda, a World State's woman that is accidentally left in the Savage Reservation, endorses the World State's idea. Despite sometimes being motherly, Linda upsets with John because she endorses the notion that producing a baby through pregnancy is shameful. That is, John can never obtain forgiveness from his mother unless she changes her mind and accepts the Savage Reservation's idea. As a result, when John is still an embryo within Linda's uterus, God sets John's life to receive a countless amount of criticism without mercy. As a lonesome person without enough inner strength to ignore people's remark, John is fated to put himself to death.

Residents live in the two world view their lives in disparate ways. The World State enforces its citizens to hold optimistic sentiments while the Savage Reservation residents' are subjected to pessimism. Similar to the formation of the contrasting liberalism between the two civilizations, it is the cultural difference that constructs people's attitude toward their lives. Living in a developed society that tiresome work has been carrying out by flourishing technology and where the concern for livelihood is absent, the World State's residents - or at least those high caste citizens - enjoy the privilege to live in an effortless lifestyle and to live buoyantly. On the contrary, the Savage Reservation's citizens possess a gloomy idea toward their life as a consequent of the exhausting work that almost smothers them.

Both of the civilizations, however, utilize somehow radical means to keep their residents in line. The World State residents maintain their positive demeanor through consuming an addictive drug called soma. To them, soma is "Christianity without the tears" that serves as a stabilizer to calm their nervous nerve. On the other hand, the residents of the Savage Reservation practices religion ritual to remind themselves that they are sinful and to plead for God's forgiveness. It should be noted that human scarification and self-punishments are included in the Savage Reservation's worship.

As a result, the extreme conservative strategy in both societies radicalized their citizens. John is fated to face aggression due to the collision of ideas, consequently. In fact, when John practices self-whipping to express his grievance, the World State's residents watch his behavior curiously and even view him as some kind of animal. That is, John is dehumanized in the World State due to the essential difference between the two civilizations. As Huxley states: " If one's different, one's bound to be lonely", John's loneliness led to his outcry: "I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin". His internal turmoil finally led to his suicide.

In a nutshell, John's suicide is the result of the hostility that stems from the fundamental differences between the two society. To him, suicide is more like a salvation instead of a brutal end because being alive is achier than being unconscious. His agony and mistreatment reveal the idea that society can influence people deeply. Base on John's experience, people could also obtain the information that Huxley intends to deliver - the concept of right and wrong is built atop of people's thought, which is the product of the social concept. Remarkably, things that people identify as absurd might makes perfect sense to people who come from a distinct culture. Consequently, it is independent and critical thinking, rather than others' remark, that matter. Therefore, instead of caring too much about others' opinions, one should always retrospect, and keep questioning himself about who he is, what does he want and why does he want these. It is also good for people to absorb more knowledge to broaden their scope. It is always a good idea for people to become humbler, and hold their tongue when they try to make a hostile remark on others because again, they would never know if absurdity in their sense means logic to others.

John Smelcer
Leapfrog Press
P.O. Box 505, Fredonia, NY 14063
9781935248934, $12.95 PB, $12.95 Kindle, 192pp,

Donna Rhinesmith

Perhaps there has never been a more important time to ask: how far do our rights extend during a time of conflict? A new book by John Smelcer offers a unique perspective on a seldom-mentioned event in the history of pre-statehood Alaska. Kiska tells the story of the internment of native Alaskans during World War II. Set in 1942, the story is framed in the voice of Kiska, now a grandmother looking back at her own fourteenth year when japan invaded islands near her Aleutian island home and her family is removed to shelter in an old salmon cannery 2000 miles away.

As Smelcer describes life in the cannery, he never departs from the humanity of Kiska's intensely personal story. Among the richly-drawn characters, the reader meets sister Donia, who is driven to desperation after losing her husband and child; brother Peter, who is out hunting and initially left behind; and Agafon, a mystical character who teaches Kiska to listen, to hunt, and to survive. Through circumstances that reflect hard lives and the struggle for survival, Kiska never stops looking for hope and relationship.

Kiska presents a rich blend American history, cultural heritage, and powerful storytelling intertwined in a unique and enlightening way. The book is accompanied by documentation, photographs, and the author's own account of the origins the story. Kiska is a readable novel that fits well within an American history and literature curriculum for young adults, but should also be embraced by the adult reader who will be challenged and informed by this story.

Z213: Exit
Dimitris Lyacos
Shoestring Press
9781910323625, $12.00 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 152pp,

Philip Elliott

The book begins "these names and that's how they found me" and immediately we are thrown into a Dante-esque nightmarish odyssey through a ravaged and desperate landscape as a nameless protagonist flees some terrible place of confinement, perhaps a prison, perhaps something else entirely. Always on the move, navigating an alien, apocalyptic landscape, confronting terrible sights along the way, starving people, children setting fire to things, our protagonist is always searching and never finding; everything is always ahead, never reached. Always there are more horrors to witness. This story is told as a series of fragmented notes, possibly in some kind of diary, in two ways: through prose fragments and passages of poetry.

In many ways Z213: EXIT brings to mind a dreamlike postmodern version of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, but it is far more than this, and it is much more than simply postmodern. Allusion and similarities to other works of literature are endless: Eliot, Homer, the Bible, Kafka, even an almost Waiting for Godot understated indecipherable desperation in the protagonist as he flees these terrible events:

"And many were falling into the sea or stumbling and the rest trampling on them. And I wore the cross like he had told me and passed by the side of the tower and came out on the road for the station. From there you could leave. If I could take a train from there. But I sat down then to recover for I was in pain."

There is a Joycean kind of delirious complexity to all the references and allegories, and yet, what sets Z213: EXIT apart from postmodernism is its reluctance to mock these works, or imitate them. They exist on the periphery only, just like the protagonist.

As an Ancient Classics graduate, there was a lot here for me to chew on, such as the sense of deep tragedy, but Lyacos isn't at all presenting us with tragedy as we have come to know it. Yet the feeling of it remains. Its presence in the background is subtle but very much there. There is as much Christianity in here as there is Ancient Greece. In fact, maybe more. The protagonist carries with him a Bible filled with notes, for example, and there are frequent references to crosses and a lamb:

"Every so often they would fill up, once they washed the eyes of the cross of the lamb that was looking around. Fumbling its body and singing. Look at the holes in his palms. Nail your finger inside, call out the blood, they were singing. And something like: the crosses, the crosses, let them go deep. With rhythms that made you dizzy again, in the slow whirl of the light growing stronger, in the carriage spinning around you."

Notable here, too, is the sheer beauty and musicality of the language. I have not read the original but I feel as if Shorsha Sullivan has done a masterful job in translating. The words positively sing off the page. Some lines are so beautiful and so absolutely perfect as they are, in English, I cannot imagine them any other way, such as "First light that opens your lungs all around and above and from here onwards the strong smell of the landscape goes with you all along" and "Hear like a river flowing somewhere around", and I wonder how much credit goes to Lyacos here and how much to Sullivan. The style of the language in the prose sections is most reminiscent of a fragmented version of McCarthy's hyper-lucid, hallucinogenic prose in Blood Meridian. That shockingly vivid imagery is there also, but there is so much more to Z213: EXIT. Never has so small a book seemed so infinite.

Constantly throughout the text, an atmospheric surrealism suddenly morphs into cold reality dreams turned awakenings, plunging us into the hard and bare 'realness' of the world around us along with our protagonist: And then the illusion dries up and it is an empty uninhabited house. The book is rife with double meanings, too, with a binary structure used to frame things. There is the prose and the poetry, the fleeing and the journeying towards, the past and the present, postmodernism and modernism. Even in the physical formatting of the book there is duality, text exists only on every second page, sitting opposite a blank white one, and the fonts of the prose and poetry sections differ. The inherent conflict at the centre of the protagonist, of existence itself is magnified and endlessly despaired.

Such despair is at the centre of Z213: EXIT, because, ultimately, this book is a song of suffering, an exploration of the extremes of human endurance, physical, mental, and spiritual. 'Poena Damni' as the title of the trilogy is a reference to the worst trials a soul would undertake in hell, becoming blind to the presence of God. It is tempting, then, to view this journey undertaken by the protagonist in the book as a journey away from God, rather than toward. Perhaps it is God that the protagonist so desperately flees. Although this is, of course, like every other interpretation one might make, much too concrete an assertion for a work such as this.

Dimitris Lyacos' Z213: EXIT is a revelation. A masterpiece. Distinctly postmodern yet entirely unclassifiable, it is everything and nothing all at once. Despite the myriad references to literature, it is entirely new - I have never read anything like it, and this stunning translation is truly head-spinning. I will be purchasing and poring many hours into the other two installments, and I cannot recommend enough that you do the same.

Andrea's Bookshelf

Cats in Movies: 20 Notecards
Susan Herbert
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500420829 $16.95

Cats in Movies: 20 Notecards is a delightful set of twenty individual notecards with envelopes; on each notecard, artist Susan Herbert has recreated classic scenes in cinema - with anthropomorphic cats in place of the actors and actresses! These purr-fectly delightful re-imaginings were originally showcased in Herbert's book, "Cats Galore: A Compendium of Cultured Cats" (9780500239360, $24.95). Cats in Movies: 20 Notecards makes a wonderful, whisker-ful gift for ailurophiles and cinema enthusiasts alike.

Dr. Potts, My Pets Have Spots!
Rod Hull, author
Miriam Latimer, illustrator
Barefoot Books
2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140
9781782853190, $16.99, HC, 32pp,

When Mr. Bettss eight different pets develop spots, he takes them to the vet. Dr. Potts' medicine cures the spots but gives them stripes instead! This hilarious rhyming story rollicks along from one problem to the next as Dr. Potts finally cures Mr. Bettss wacky collection of pets. With the rhyming text of author Rod Hull combining with the delightfully charming illustrations of Miriam Latimer, "Dr. Potts, My Pets Have Spots!" is an impressively entertaining picture book for children ages 8 to 12. While very highly recommended for family, school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dr. Potts, My Pets Have Spots!" also available in a paperback edition (9781782853244, $8.99).

Andrea Kay

Andy's Bookshelf

Write! Shoot! Edit!
Deborah S. Patz
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781615932641, $23.95, PB, 210pp,

Today's digital technology allows teens to produce short films with enviable accessibility. But there is a darker side to today's technology, too: the expectation to live and share your life online, to become an instant success with your first creations. Imagine being free to experiment and play with the medium, with a mentor beside you helping you craft solid, professional work that never looks like a home movie. Industry pro Deborah Patz (who has been a professional in the film industry since the mid-1980s, with a filmography that spans family and children's programming, science-fiction extravaganzas, and feature films of various budget sizes) is that mentor and she draws upon her many years of experience and expertise in "Write! Shoot! Edit!: The Complete Guide for Teen Filmmakers" to provide a complete and comprehensive instructional guide and manual for high school students and young adults wanting to make films of their own including writing, directing, or post-production editing. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Write! Shoot! Edit!" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community, highschool, and college library Theatre/Cinema/TV instructional reference collections and supplemental studies lists.

A Lit Fuse
Nat Segaloff
Introduction by David Gerrold
PO Box 809, Framingham, MA 01701
9781610373234 $35.00

A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison is the first biography of the multi-award-winning speculative fiction author (who is notoriously litigious and protective of the legal rights to his works) in which Ellison has allowed large excerpts of his classic stories to appear. Ellison specifically selected film historian Nat Segaloff to write his life story, and yielded full control of the biography. The result is an in-depth, must-read for connoisseurs of Ellison's memorable stories, at once both invaluable to literary students and fascinating to lay readers. An index, a 32-page color photo section, and an introduction by David Gerrold round out this welcome addition to personal and public library biography shelves.

Trey's Company
Frank Murtaugh
Sartoris Literary Group
PO Box 4185,Brandon, MS 39047
9781941644850, $19.95, PB, 322pp,

Love a little, die a little, and break the law. Trey Milligan did them all in one summer, and before his 14th birthday. Trey lives in Southern California with his parents and younger sister, but is spending the summer after 7th grade with his widowed grandmother in a small Tennessee town. The South becomes home to Trey, but also represents the freedom every child associates with the summer months. Three of Trey's friends (Wendy, Devon, and Larry) come to personify love, death, and the criminal element, challenges every child must, at some point, confront. Together, the trio builds an unasked-for bridge to adulthood for Trey. The warmth and comforts of a "summer at Grandma's" becomes a life-changing season of internal growth. None of the transformative events of this fateful summer, though, prepare Trey for the horror almost literally next door -- the monster in hiding, and far too close to the girl he comes to love. A coming of age tale set in the summer of 1982, "Trey's Company" reflects the transition of a young man forced over a period of three months to grow up in ways that typically require several years. Trey's grandmother, sister, and an older second-cousin help shape him through the most memorable summer of his life. But it's his three friends who forever change his life. An extraordinary novel for young readers set in Tennessee, "Trey's Company" is a deftly crafted and engagingly entertaining read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended for both school and community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Trey's Company" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.95). It should be noted that the story of "Trey's Company" involves mature issues and sexual violence, and is therefore recommended for adult or older teen readers.

Andy Jordan

Ann's Bookshelf

The Park Bench
Christophe Chaboute
Faber & Faber
Bloomsbury House
9780571332304, A$32.99, $25.89, PB, $14.99 Kindle, 328 pages,

If I had the artistry and the graphic drawing skills of Christophe Chaboute I would respond to his graphic novel, The Park Bench, with a graphic review. Pictures, not words, would show me turning the pages of his book looking interested and curious, sometimes laughing, at other times looking sad, but always keen to keep 'reading'.

Chaboute's park bench is an ordinary bench under a tree. Summer and winter people ignore it as they pass by on their way to work, school, shopping or whatever daily activity occupies them. Over the years, it is sat on, carved on, painted, slept on, used for exercising, reading, meetings and meditation.

It is the favourite seat for an elderly couple who come there to share small cakes with each other. A dog lifts its leg at one corner so regularly that when it snows the snow melts on its deposits there. The three old ladies who come there to gossip reminded me of three I once saw in a park in Italy, and their expressions when one of them is saluted by a passing gentleman are wonderful to behold and show exactly what each is feeling.

Lovers' trysts go ahead, or don't. Musicians play there. Stag-night drunks and aggressive young men make use of it. The tramp who sleeps there finally finds some common ground with the policeman who constantly hassles him. And an official committee plan the bench's replacement.

People from a whole, very varied community are associated with by this bench and Chaboute's skill in expressing emotions, characters and human idiosyncrasies shows him to be a close observer of human nature. He is a sympathetic observer, a romantic who likes happy endings, and a man who sees the humour as well as the sadness of life and is able to convey all this through his drawings simply and effectively.

The Park Bench is a delight. Only after I had closed the book did I suddenly realise that the youngsters with whom it begins might be there again, older but still in love, in the final pages. I had to turn back and look again more closely to confirm this. There may be other secrets which I missed at first but I will certainly be 'reading' this book again.

Christophe Chaboute published his first work, Stories, based on the work of Arthur Rimbaud, in 1993 in France. Since then, he has received numerous prizes for his very personal illustration and storytelling style.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree
Shokoofeh Azar
Wild Dingo Press
9780987381309, $24.95, paperback, 268 pages,
ASIN: B074GMQDXV$9.99 Kindle

There have been several glowing reviews of this book. Sonia Nairn, in Books + Publishing, has described it as "an embodiment of Iranian life in constant oscillation between four opposing poles: life and death, politics and religion" but, more precisely, it is the story of an Iranian family whose lives are devastated by these constants.

Shokoofeh Azar was born in Iran just seven years before the Islamic revolution and the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. She left Iran with her family in 2011 and was accepted in Australia as a political refugee. Clearly, she knows at first hand the long-term effects of the revolution and, as an established Iranian writer, she is well-equipped to write about the dramatic events which have affected her life.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, however, is no straightforward historical family drama. For one thing, the story is told by the lively, ever-present ghost of 13 year-old Bahar, who died in a fire set by "inflamed revolutionaries boiling with revolutionary hatred and fervour". And she begins by telling us how her mother obtained enlightenment at the top of a greengage plum tree at the very moment that her son, Sohrab, "blindfolded and hands tied behind his back" is hanged without trial.

This mixture of magical realism, fantasy and horror continues throughout the book. In the tradition of Persian story-telling, ghosts, jinns and demons are part of the everyday lives of the family and of the people amongst whom they live; and digressions into tales of inexplicable events, possession, mermaids and magic are frequent. But unlike those Persian tales which are parables of mysticism and enlightenment, and in spite of the hopeful title, the inevitable outcome of supernatural events in this book is disaster and death.

Jinns, of course, may always be negotiated with but, like the ones which are tricked into granting a young woman the gift of healing and the power to help women in labour have painless childbirth, they extract bloody revenge. Ghosts, on the other hand, can be seen by many people and, like those who help Bahar's mother, Roza, by scaring away marauding neighbours, they can be friendly and helpful. In this book, however, they also tell detailed and harrowing stories of the ways in which they died.

There are references to Iranian history in the family's memories of the overthrow of the Shah and of the richness and culture of life before this took place. This is a family which prized the books which the revolutionaries burned. And there is a fantastic allegorical account of the fall of Ayatollah Khomeini, who spends his days talking to himself in his labyrinthine palace of mirrors and dies of depression after being confronted by a questioning 10-year-old child. In the split second of death "he understood that whereas in monologue he was a fierce ruler, in dialogue he was nothing but a bearded, illogical little boy, stubborn and pompous".

There are also brief passages of philosophy, as when the ghost-child narrator's father, Hushang, discusses with his brother, Khosro, the possible ways of reacting to revolutionary horrors: active resistance; acquiescence and avoidance of conflict (Hushang's way); and meditation and the seeking of inner peace (Khosro's way).

History and philosophy, however, fill no more than brief passing passages. And there are equally brief moments of lyricism and love, such as Roza's relationship with the traveller she encounters when she walks away from her home and family; and the passionate love affair of her daughter, Beeta, with the psychologically damaged Issa.

Sadly, these moments of history, philosophy, lyricism and love are never sufficient to balance the litany of horrors which fill the rest of the book. There are no happy endings. There is nothing, in the end, but death and absorption into the bark of the magical greengage tree as the whole ghostly family ascend it and look down "at Earth with all its forests, its oceans, mountains and clouds; with all its countries, borders, people, loves, hates, murders and pillage". And, in the final words of the book, "That's it".

All the Galaxies
Philip Miller
Allen & Unwin
9781760630577, $29.99, paperback, 308 pages,
ASIN: B06XCNFCTV, $7.99 Kindle

The blurb on the back of this book is deceptive. It suggests that it combines elements of The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebald), The Book of Strange New Things (Michael Faber) and work by Margaret Atwood. Certainly, there are parts which describe the experiences of a teenager in a strange sort of Heaven; parts which are pure fantasy and science fiction; and parts which are set in a dystopian future society. But Philip Miller's All the Galaxies is completely his own invention, style and format.

The problem for me, is that I enjoyed the realistic parts of this book but could not become engaged with the galactic fantasies or with the dystopian elements of the book.

Philip Miller is Arts Correspondent for several Scottish newspapers, so he writes well about the newspaper world which he knows and he enjoys poking fun at it. One strand of his story follows John Fallon, who is a journalist on a Glasgow newspaper which is being taken over and will soon become an internet only production. His interactions with his work colleagues, who are also his friends, are realistic, funny, ironic and abrasive. His relationship with his young son is close but often difficult, and now his son has gone missing, does not answer his phone, and Fallon is anxious about him

Another strand follows Fallon's son, Rowland, whose age seems to vary between being a young child and being a teenager. For much of the time, he is floating around the galaxy accompanied by his pet dog.

A third strand follows a group of men who are trying to take control of Glasgow after a second failed Scottish independence referendum has thrown Scotland into a state of social disintegration, turmoil, horror and anarchy.

And yet another strand deals with a man who has developed stigmata - the wounds of Christ - and who is being tracked down by a young ambitious female journalist.

There are links between all these strands but each of them could be a story on its own. And there are huge differences between the style of each strand. The chapters which deal with the newspaper offices with their rough alcohol-fuelled characters are gritty and realistic. Those which describe the fey, fantastic flights of Tarka (the name Roland adopts) and his dog, Kim, and describe the beauties of space, are sometimes lyrical. But this is a galaxy which holds strange plants, animals, Singing Mothers, some many-eyed, glistening, winged "dragon-tiger-orchid" creatures, and other purely science-fiction/fantasy inventions.

The 'political' chapters, full of power-struggles, negotiations, and violent deaths, never gripped me and I ended up skipping through them. The stigmatic, John-Jo, is a deranged religious fanatic who seems to have hallucinatory and/or supernatural powers. And the few chapters which follow Fallon's estranged wife, Pat, and her female friend, Nicky, seem superfluous.

Added to all this, there are random pages of mad, apocalyptic text printed in small type-face capitals which say quasi-religious and generally unintelligible things like "MY SKRYER IS A BROKEN BOTTLE. AND MY CHART IS THE MAP OF MY BODY', or 'GUIDE US O LORD IN THE TIME OF OUR DEMISE. CHILDREN FLOATING DEAD IN THE DEAD SEA".

All-in-all, I found All the Galaxies too fragmented to be a satisfying read.

Ann Skea, Reviewer

Bethany's Bookshelf

An Inside Job
Susan Barbara Apollon
Matters of the Soul, LLC
PO Box 403, Yardley, PA 19067
9780975403600, $24.95, PB, 435pp,

Synopsis: Cancer is not a monolithic disease. It comes in what can be a bewildering diverse variety ranging from some, caught early enough, can be cured, others of which are virulently lethal despite everything modern medicine currently has to offer.

Amidst all of the doctors visits, unfamiliar treatments, anxiety, and fear that follow a diagnosis of cancer, it is critically important to maintain a sense of stability and peace on the part of the patient as he or she embarks upon a course (or courses) of medical treatment. That is exactly the purpose that Susan Barbara Apollon (a Pennsylvania-licensed psychologist, as well as a cancer survivor and thriver) has written "An Inside Job: A Psychologist Shares Healing Wisdom for Your Cancer Journey offers readers".

Susan deftly draws upon her years of expertise, and personal experience, combined with scientific findings presented with an integrative wisdom and the true, plus heartwarming stories of her cancer patients, to offer a wealth of practical steps and insightful advice to help the reader shift to a more positive perspective, tap into hope, and pursue the possibility of a physical, emotional, and spiritual healing experience.

"An Inside Job" offers: Advice from cancer specialists, psychologists, and other healers; Practical tips on how to care for yourself body, mind, and soul; True stories that will validate your feelings and thoughts, and provide comfort and support; Spiritual insights about cancer and about what healing really means; A wealth of advice on the role integrative medicine can play in your treatment and in maintaining good health and well-being; Techniques to balance your energy, increase mindfulness, and tap into hope and joy.

Critique: As a psychologist who has specialized in integrative oncology, grief, and trauma for almost thirty years, Susan Apollon is in an ideal position to provides a deeper, richer perspective of what we call healing. "An Inside Job" is impressively informed and informative, 'real world' practical, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it an ideal, life and hope affirming read for cancer patients, as well as their family members, friends, caregivers, and medical professionals working in the field of healthcare including doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, and alternative health healers -- anyone and everyone who play a role in helping those affected by cancer undertake the 'inside job' that makes possible a physical, emotional, and spiritual healing experience.

While unreservedly and urgently recommended for both community and academic library Health/Medicine collections in general, and Cancer Treatment supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for individuals that Susan Apollon has also created an accompanying and invaluable workbook: "An Inside Job Companion: Making Healing Personal" (9780975403617, $21.95, PB, 125pp).

Are All the Women Still White?
Janell Hobson, editor
State University of New York Press
State University Plaza, Albany, NY 12246-0001
9781438460598, $85.00, HC, 334pp,

Synopsis: More than thirty years have passed since the publication of "All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men, But Some of Us are Brave", Akasha (Gloria T.) Hull, et al., (The Feminist Press at CUNY, 9780912670959, $29.99, HC, Given the growth of women's and gender studies in the last thirty-plus years, "Are All the Women Still White?: Rethinking Race, Expanding Feminisms" is an updated and responsive collection expands upon this transformation of consciousness through multiracial feminist perspectives. The contributors reflect on transnational issues as diverse as intimate partner violence, the prison industrial complex, social media, inclusive pedagogies, transgender identities, and (post) digital futures.

Critique: Knowledgeably compiled and deftly edited by Janell Hobson (Associate Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York), "Are All the Women Still White?" will provides scholars, activists, and students with critical tools that can help them decenter whiteness and other power structures while repositioning marginalized groups at the center of analysis. A collective volume of seminal scholarship, "Are All the Women Still White?" is an outstanding contribution that is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Women's Issues collections in general, and Contemporary Feminist supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Are All the Women Still White?" is also available paperback edition (9781438460604, $24.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.72).

The Stimulati Experience
Jim Curtis
Rodale Press
733 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781623368173, $25.99, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: For more than 20 years, Jim Curtis has battled a mysterious chronic illness. He grew accustomed to living in pain, denial, and despair. But when traditional medical therapies didn't help, he sought answers elsewhere. He traveled the world and met a group of extraordinary people he calls The Stimulati?and what he learned from them ultimately changed his life.

In "The Stimulati Experience: 9 Skills for Getting Past Pain, Setbacks, and Trauma to Ignite Health and Happiness", Jim clearly outlines his own incredible journey, as well as his step-by-step program to overcome pain, setback, and struggle to transform your life into one filled with better health, freedom, joy, strength, and purpose. Whether you suffer from a chronic illness, anxiety, or depression, you'll learn how to achieve better health and an abundance of happiness.

"The Stimulati Experience" deftly distills Jim's unique nine-step program created from his own personal experience, The Stimulati themselves, and lessons he has learned from creating the world's leading digital health platforms. Using grounded scientific research, practical takeaways, insightful evaluations, and his own personal stories, Jim takes his readers on a journey of self-discovery so that they can radically improve their lives.

Critique: A 'real world practical' and inspiring guide to optimal health of the body and mind, "The Stimulati Experience: 9 Skills for Getting Past Pain, Setbacks, and Trauma to Ignite Health and Happiness" is a life-affirming, life-changing, life-enhancing read. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Stimulati Experience " is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99). Librarians should be aware that "The Stimulati Experience" is available as a complete and unabridged audio book edition (HighBridge Audio, 9781681687858, $24.99, CD).

The Woman From Prague
Rob Hart
Polis Books
9781943818471, $25.00, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: Amateur private investigator Ash McKenna's time on his visa is about to expire. Having fled the demons that haunted him in the U.S., Ash has been laying low in Prague for nearly three months. Now, it's time to move on. But as he contemplates his next stop, a man named Roman appears, claiming to work for the U.S. government, and possessing intimate knowledge of Ash's many sins. Sins nobody should know. Roman offers to protect him -- in exchange for a favor.

It sounds simple: a bank employee named Samantha Sobolik is set to receive a package containing covert information in a handoff on the Charles Bridge. Ash must intercept the package, and deliver the contents to Roman. When Ash refuses Roman threatens to kill his mother. Out of options and too far away to protect her, Ash agrees.

But when Ash gets to the bridge, he discovers that the handoff is actually a hit. Ash ends up battling a mysterious and deadly assassin in a fight he barely survives. As it turns out, the job is far more complicated and dangerous than anyone thought. Ash finds himself in a strange city, outmatched, hunted, and trapped in a dangerous game where nobody is what they seem -- including Samantha.

Critique: An original and deftly crafted read from cover to cover, "The Woman From Prague" is another simply riveting novel of international suspense from a master of the crime noir genre. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Woman From Prague" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99). Librarians should be aware that "The Woman From Prague" is available as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781543639537, $19.99).

My French Country Home
Sharon Santoni
Gibbs Smith, Publisher
PO Box 667, Layton UT 84041
9781423642787, $35.00, HC, 208pp,

Synopsis: Sharon Santoni grew up in England, married a Frenchman, and has raised her family in Normandy, France. Her blog, My French Country Home, is read daily by thousands all over the world. She writes about life in rural France; the ups and downs of family life; her inspiring French girlfriends; the intricacies of village life; and her love of searching for brocante treasure in the flea markets of Paris and the countryside.

In "My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons" she draws upon her personal experience and expertise to reveal the gracious, easy French way of entertaining guests at her countryside home, year-round.

Personal stories evoke the spirit of the French lifestyle, while gorgeous photos make us feel right at home. Sharon creates lush bouquets from her garden and utilizes resources from surrounding nature to lay gorgeous tables both indoors and outdoors. Venues range from a Sunday morning breakfast on the patio, to a ladies lunch in her lush garden, a formal dinner in her dining room, and a picnic by the river.

Of special note are Sharon's 15 favorite recipes utilizing seasonal foods.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated with the full color photography of Franck Schmitt, "My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons" is an inherently fascinating and impressively informative read from cover to cover. An impressive source of inspiration for entertaining friends and family throughout every season of the year, "My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons" will prove to be an elegant and enduringly popular addition to both personal and community library collections.

Susan Bethany

Binford's Bookshelf

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs Of Edward Curtis
Timothy Egan
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780618969029 $28.00 HC, $15.95 PB, $10.99 Kindle,

In the late 1800's there was one solitary Native American Indian living in the northwestern city of Seattle. She was the daughter of See-ahlsh, whom the city was named after, the last chief of the Suquamish Indians who had earlier lived in the land around Puget Sound. The locals called her Princess Angeline, and she lived in a tarpaper shack at the edge of the tidal flats, scraping out a living as a clam digger. She was noticed by a successful photographer named Edward Curtis, who had a momentary glimpse "of a time before any white man had looked upon these shores. He saw a person and nature, one and the same in his mind, as they belonged. A frozen image of a lost time: he must take that picture before she passed."

That is how the lifelong quest of the Shadow Catcher began, written in a tight, efficient and accessible style by Timothy Egan.

In the summer of 1900, Curtis, a one-man expedition with a load of photographic equipment and his "magic box," a wax cylinder voice recorder, boarded the Great Northern Railroad in Seattle. He disembarked in Browning, Montana, somewhere near the center of the Blackfeet Nation. His ambition was to not only photograph the Indians, but to record their language. He was met by a Pawnee Indian from the Great Plains named Bird Grinnell. The two of them managed to take photos of a Blackfeet Indian encampment of traditional buffalo-hide tipis and smoky cooking fires, with "generations, as many children as grandchildren" living in the shadow of the Continental Divide. The Indians had brought horses, food, painted buffalo hides, and they pitched their camp in a circle about a mile in diameter. Bird advised Curtiss to ''Take a long, long look," adding that the scene "already belonged to yesterday."

Pressed by Grinnell, the idea dawned on Curtis that "here was a great country in which still lived hundreds of tribes and remnants of tribes, some of which still retain many of their primitive customs and their ancient beliefs. Would it not be a worthy work from the points of view of art and science and history, to represent them all by photography?"

This thought led to what Curtis called "The Big Idea," or "The Cause." That idea eventually became the goal to visit and photograph the lives and rituals of all of the Native Americans, to be published in a book titled "The North American Indian." It ended up being 20 volumes, including transcripts of languages, photos of highly secret religious ceremonies, Indians engaged in daily life, all of them arranged with the idea that it was not only an anthropological record, but art. Curtis had a family in Seattle, and a highly successful photo studio. His studio was well known as the place to go to when one needed personal photos of any sort - family, weddings, portraits - and brought in enough income that Curtis believed he could follow his Big Idea, and meanwhile raise a family.

His rollicking adventure led him from the tribes of the upper plains to the southwest, where he met the Hopi, Havasupai, Mojave, and eventually the Navajo and Apache Indians. Among the hundreds of photographs he took, "Before the Storm" is an example of a photo that would qualify as high art - four Navajo riders, their horses following a narrow trail in the desert, bits of sunlight escaping around the edges of dark thunderclouds. Curtis had set his camera low to the ground, creating the impression that the horses and Indians grew out of the landscape, or rather they were a natural part of the earth. One of the riders, a woman, glanced back, towards the camera, as if to say farewell.

Back home in Seattle, he became the official photographer of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, when Joseph was invited to Seattle by the Washington Historical Society. The Nez Perce had helped Lewis and Clark on their expedition a hundred years earlier, had made a treaty guaranteeing them the Wallowa Valley in Northeastern Oregon. The treaty was revoked when settlers acquired a craving for their land. There followed a 1200 mile chase by U.S. cavalry to the border with Canada.

It was the time spent with Chief Joseph that brought into sharp focus the moral and ethical dilemma that Curtis faced. He had tremendous sympathy for the Nez Perce, indeed with all the Native Americans, over the unfair and harsh treatment they'd received since the first Europeans landed on the shores of the New World. In order to accomplish his goal of documenting what was left of their cultures however, he had to disregard the injustices and he "vowed to Grinnell at the start of his pictorial odyssey not to revisit Indian fights... The stories of mistreatment, lies and betrayal were not worth rehashing. He wanted more than anything else to take Joseph's picture."

Two volumes of "The North American Indian" had been published, with Curtis vowing to continue with his work, when it became clear that there would be money problems. His wife, Clara, had complained that "the family would soon be in the poorhouse." Curtis had several ideas. He would start by selling subscriptions to high-end literati, promising them delivery of the volumes as they were completed. He approached the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, who regarded him as an upstart with few professional credentials except for a camera. A lucky break came when he was invited, by virtue of his fame as a portrait photographer, to the home of President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was impressed with Curtis's photos and of Native Americans, but had little money to offer. He wrote a letter which, in spite of the fact that "rich men of the country despised Roosevelt," might help Curtis get a wealthy benefactor. That happened in the form of J.P. Morgan, perhaps the richest man in the world at the time.

Morgan at first said, "I will be unable to help you." Curtiss spread out a number of his photos and told Morgan that "...benevolence could do wonders for Morgan's image." Morgan was captivated by one photo in particular, a portrait titled "Mosa," of a Mojave girl in early adolescence.

"Very well," said J. P. "I will lend financial assistance for the publication of a set of books illustrated with photographs such as these." His initial loan of $75,000, spread over five years, was to be repaid from the sale of subscriptions. By this time Curtis anticipated that it would take 20 volumes to complete "The North American Indian," and his agreement with Morgan amounted to a commitment to complete all 20 volumes.

He next went to the upper plains tribes, the Crow and Sioux. These tribes were on opposite sides of the big fight on the Little Bighorn River that destroyed Custer's command. Both tribes were courteous and helpful, and when saying good-by to the Sioux, he asked if there was anything he could get for them. "Food," they answered. Among the Crow, he met three Crow Indians who had been scouts for Custer - Hairy Moccasins, Goes Ahead, and White Man Runs Him. These three told a different story of what happened to George Armstrong Custer and the other two companies under his command. That story will be left to the readers of Egan's book.

While working on Volume VIII, Curtis finally quit holding back in his opinion of how the Indians had been treated over the centuries. His remarks in that volume were in defense of the Nez Perce and their treatment in the 19th century, yet the "...sins of peace...have been far greater than our sins of war. In peace, we changed the nature of our weapons, that was all; we stopped killing Indians in more or less a fair fight, debauching them, instead, slaughtering them by methods which gave them not the slightest chance of retaliation."

In fact, by the early 1920's Curtis had to recognize that the Indians he'd started out to record and photograph were already gone. He had to cross the border into Canada to find the Kwakiutl tribe, in the fiords of British Columbia. He not only took photos for his publication, he made a movie with the Kwakiutl as the actors, titled "In the Land of the Headhunters." It is the world's first documentary film, "a mythic tale of native people in the days before European contact." His next expedition took him to the far far north, all the way to Nunivak, an island in the Bering Sea, where he found an absolutely untouched culture of Native American Inuit.

Edward Curtis was sixty-one when he finally published Volume 20 in 1929. That was the year of the stock market crash; in addition to a scarcity of money there was a scarcity of interest in the Native Americans. It was now practically ancient history, and the Indians were going to have to settle for caricatures in Hollywood movies. Curtis however, fulfilled his commitment to J.P. Morgan and finished what he set out to do. He surprised himself at the quality of the final volume, regarding the Inuit of Nunivak Island as a notable exception to the devastation of the tribes in the lower forty-eight. Curtis described these "Eskimos whose almost total freedom from Caucasian contact has thus far been their salvation. In all the author's experience among Indians and Eskimos, he never knew a happier and more thoroughly honest and self reliant people."

The Big Idea that Edward Curtis had at the turn of the century was indeed accomplished by the persistent and dedicated artist. It had cost him what could have been a comfortable life in Seattle; his marriage to Clara, the chance to watch his children grow up. He never acquired any money and ended his life in a small apartment in Los Angeles, dependent on his daughter Beth. He died in 1952, at age 84 of a heart attack. Near the end, in his dreams, he recalled his visits to the deserts and canyons of the southwest, the bleak windy islands in the Bering Sea, the hearty Plains tribes, and asked himself, and questioned it all. "Had he really been to these places?"

Perhaps ironically, it was Native American tribes who gained the most of the twenty volumes. The Hopi acquired a copy of Volume XII; they used it to "build and solidify the teachings, traditions and language" of the tribe. He always brought his camera and his "magic box." At one point Curtiss remarked that he might have recorded "the last living man knowing the words of a language." The Cherokee use the Curtis recordings to teach their language to the younger generation. Native American students are connected to their past, through the Tribal History Project, by way of Curtis photos. A collector named Lois Flury saw some of Curtis's work and it changed her life. "The work was very moving," she said. She and her husband moved to Seattle and opened a gallery in Pioneer Square devoted to the work of Curtis. And, there is some money changing hands. In 2005, a complete set of Curtis's "The North American Indian" sold at an auction for $1.4 million.

Timothy Egan wrote for the New York Times for 18 years; during that time he earned a Pulitzer Prize. His books include "The Worst Hard Times," about the great depression, for which he won a National Book Award. He also wrote one of the most interesting books I've ever read, "The Big Burn," a historical account of a massive wildfire that burned through the states of Washington, Idaho and Montana in 1910. The fire coincided with the formation of the U.S. Forest Service, and the book earned Egan a Washington State Book Award. He is currently living in Seattle.

A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East
David Fromkin
Henry Holt and Company
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780805068849, $20.00, 672pp,

"A Peace to End All Peace" was published in 1989, almost thirty years ago. That was before the first Gulf War, before 9/11, before anybody had heard of al-Qaeda or the Shiite-Sunni schism, it was another era. Nevertheless, as the subtitle suggests, the book is about the "modern" Middle East, although the events took place just before, during and after World War I. Fromkin sets out to untangle the complicated web of shifting alliances, decline of empires, religious rivalries, ambition and deceit that did and now define the lands of the former Ottoman Empire.

David Fromkin was a Professor Emeritus of History at Boston University, a former member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the author of seven non-fiction books. "A Peace to End All Peace" was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize. He died on June 11, 2017 in New York City at the age of 85.

His book follows a simple chronological time line, beginning with the early 20th century, what might be called "the last days of old Europe." The reader is taken through the great war, generally seen as a slug-fest in the trenches of northern France. The middle-eastern theater, a completely different story, was arguably the main focus of Britain. Efforts to negotiate a truce in 1916 were thwarted partly because the British had decided to carve up the Ottoman Empire and add the pieces to their own empire. The book ends with the final settlement of WWI, in 1922, when the groundwork is laid for the all-too-familiar tragedies in the part of the world that stretches from North Africa to Central Asia.

The title is taken from a quote by Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Wavell, a participant in the Versailles conference, who remarked that "After the 'war to end war' they seem to have been pretty successful in Paris at making a 'peace to end peace.' "

At 635 pages, it's a hefty book, at times it seems to move slowly with all the details of various diplomatic dilemmas. From time to time, the reader is introduced to larger-than-life characters: T.E. Lawrence, famous for leading the Arab revolt against the Ottomans, Lord Kitchener "of Khartoum," Wyndham Deedes, a British officer, fluent in Turkish, who served in the Ottoman Gendarmerie. There was a motley crew of Arabs, including Ibn Saud, whose family became the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Feisal Hussein, who led the Bedouin guerrilla fighters inspired by Lawrence, and whose brother Abdullah became the king of Jordan. On the Turkish side, there are the "Young Turks" who deposed the Ottoman Sultan and ruled the empire, Mustafa Kemal, who drove the Allied armies from Gallipoli and later the Greeks from Anatolia.

Then there was Muhammed Sharif al-Faruqi, a deserter from the Ottoman army who claimed to be a leader of a secret Arab society named al-'Ahd. The British believed him when he told them that he would lead an Arab revolt if the British could guarantee Arab independence after the war. That the British swallowed the bait shows the incredible misunderstandings of British policy, One being that there could ever be a unified agreement among all the Arabic speaking peoples. The British also assumed that their version of colonialism would be welcomed by the Arabs. They didn't understand that most Arabs preferred a Muslim leadership, even the Ottomans, rather than the Christian protectorate offered by Britain. It also shows that the British were willing to make all sorts of conflicting promises if it would serve their interests. In reality, though al-Faruqi promised a general revolt, his "secret society" consisted of a half-dozen conspirators who met in dark basements.

About halfway through "A Peace to End All Peace," the mindset of powerful politicians and military leaders in the colonial empires became clear. In particular, the British seemed to assume that it was their duty to Queen and empire to look at the planet as theirs to carve up as they pleased. Their empire was bordered by the Russian empire as well as the Ottoman Empire. A map of the pre-war Middle East shows a vague boundary of the Ottomans, within that boundary there were no countries. It was up to Britain, once the Ottomans were finished off, to draw borders and create nations.

Ironically, at the start of the war, most British leaders "..felt that preserving the integrity of the Ottoman Empire was of importance to Britain...". This had been the "policy of more than a hundred years," and was all part of the "great game" played out with Russia. The goal of the game was to protect the Indian subcontinent from any possible invasion; the most alarming possibility came from the Russian Empire. The Ottomans were seen as a reliable buffer between the Czars ambitions in Central Asia and the crown jewel of the British Empire. Yet, because of various factors, over a period of about three months in 1914 "the British government had completely reversed the policy" and made every effort to draw Turkey into the war, on the side of the Germans!

British fear of Russia was unfounded on two counts. One was that the Russians were mainly expanding their empire to the east. They wanted to stretch their national borders to the Pacific Ocean, much as North American countries had included the Atlantic and Pacific as their boundaries. The Russians weren't much interested in going as far south as India. In addition, a British commander of British troops in Persia, Major-General Sir Edmond Ironside, seems to have made the great game completely moot by observing that "the rugged terrain on the Indian Northwest frontier provided so effective a defensive line that a forward defense of India was unnecessary."

Many anecdotal episodes will have to be skipped over in this review. The Russian Revolution skewed the equations made before the war, bringing Britain at one point into an alliance with Turkey against the Red Army. In order to check the southern advance of the Bolsheviks. a British fleet was built and launched into the Caspian Sea! The entry of the U.S. into the war was accompanied by the demands of Woodrow Wilson to establish the League of Nations. The Greeks were inspired to invade a defeated Turkey, the countries of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan were created. The issue of Palestine was left unresolved and tarnished by conflicting promises made to both the Palestinians and the Zionists in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Earlier, the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 promised "to give" Lebanon and Syria to France, meanwhile promising that same territory to Feisal Hussein, the leader of Lawrence's guerrilla fighters. Kurdistan, though originally included in the plans for a post-war Middle East, was somehow forgotten about and split between Iraq, Syria and Turkey in the final agreement written up in 1922.

It has been repeated again and again that this agreement, presided over mainly by Britain, represented a colossal error in the way borders were drawn between the newly created counties. Those imaginary lines are blamed for the continuous violence and instability in the Middle East. Fromkin's book points to the possibility that the British and French, though unaware of the many treacherous currents they had to wade through, probably did as well as anybody could have when it came to re-constructing the remains of the Ottoman Empire. The problem in the Middle East is not where the boundaries are, but who made them.

Fromkin places the blame for the current situation (current as much in the 1980's, when he wrote the book, as it is now) on the question of legitimacy. The settlement in 1922 "created countries, nominated rulers, delineated frontiers, and introduced a state system of the sort that exists everywhere else." The local opposition was not consulted during the negotiations, and the disputes remain. The more general question is if a political and economic system invented in Europe, and does reasonably well in Europe and elsewhere, is ultimately going to be successful in the Middle East. As Fromkin puts it in his chapter titled "The Middle Eastern Question," it is a region of "proud and ancient civilizations, with beliefs deeply rooted in the past." The changes then, and now, that western democracies would like the Middle East to adapt to are "so profound that generations would have to pass before the changes could take root. These matters take time."

Paul Binford, Reviewer

Buhle's Bookshelf

Divided We Stand
David R. Morse
Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.
9781941688489, $39.95, PB, 408pp,

Synopsis: Racial bigotry, prejudice and discrimination has an integral part of American society from the founding of Jamestown down to the current administration of Donald Trump. As various immigrant groups have come to the U.S., usually in response to a need for labor to work in agriculture and infrastructure building, the public and Congress have responded by harassment and limiting the numbers of immigrants who are welcome in the country. The pendulum has swung many times in the last 200 years, as Mexicans, Chinese, Italians, Irish, Jews, Eastern Europeans, and now Muslims have come to the U.S., fleeing violence or seeking economic opportunity.

The most well-known of the struggles are of African Americans who came to this country not of their own free will, but as slaves. From the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement, to Black Lives Matter, their attempts to achieve equal status in the United States is ongoing and well documented in this book and different than the stories of other people of color. Their early experiences with racial hatred, Jim Crow, and slurs about their character, work ethic, and intelligence colors their views of justice in the U.S. unlike immigrant groups who have often come willingly in hopes of a better life.

Along with individual chapters for specific ethnic groups, In "Divided We Stand: Racism in America from Jamestown to Trump", David r. Morse (President and CEO of New American Dimensions, the nation's leading multicultural market research and consulting firm) also explores the implications of race and science and the new interest in using DNA to establish ethnicity. History of many of these ethnic groups shows that eventually most have been accepted and assimilated into American society, so that slogans like "No Irish need apply" disappear. In some ways, that assimilation history means that people forget about the how immigrant groups have often had to struggle for acceptance.

Critique: It is clear that under the presidency of Donald J. Trump such forces as the KKK, American Nazis, and white supremacy groups and militias are experiencing a resurgence, and striving to become a national political force similar to their attempts in previous generations. "Divided We Stand: Racism in America from Jamestown to Trump" is a critically needed and unreservedly recommended addition for every community, college, and university library collection in the country. An invaluable, exceptionally informative, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and timely contribution to our national dialogue given the political events of the day (including the rollback of anti-discrimination services provided under the law by the Department of Justice and the FBI under Trump's appointed leaders), "Divided We Stand" should have as widest a possible readership as possible.

Natural Defense
Emily Monosson
Island Press
2000 M St NW Suite 650, Washington, DC 20036
9781610917186, $30.00, HC, 200pp,

Synopsis: For more than a century, we have relied on chemical/pharmaceutical cures to keep our bodies free from disease and our farms free from bugs and weeds. We rarely consider human and agricultural health together, but both are based on the same ecology, and both are being threatened by organisms that have evolved to resist our antibiotics and pesticides. Patients suffer from C.diff, a painful, potentially lethal gut infection associated with multiple rounds of antibiotics; orange groves rot from insect-borne bacteria; and the blight responsible for the Irish potato famine outmaneuvers fungicides. Our chemicals (especially our antibiotics) are beginning to fail us.

Fortunately, scientists are finding new solutions that work with, rather than against, nature. In "Natural Defense: Enlisting Bugs and Germs to Protect Our Food and Health", Emily Monosson (Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts - Amherst) explores science's most innovative strategies, from high-tech gene editing to the ancient practice of fecal transplants. There are viruses that infect and bust apart bacteria; vaccines engineered to better provoke our natural defenses; and insect pheromones that throw crop-destroying moths into a misguided sexual frenzy. Some technologies will ultimately fizzle; others may hold the key to abundant food and unprecedented health. Each represents a growing understanding of how to employ ecology for our own protection.

"Natural Defense" gives readers a peek into the fascinating and hopeful world of natural defenses in an informed and informative work that is full of optimism, not simply for particular cures, but for a sustainable approach to human welfare that will benefit generations to come.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Natural Defense: Enlisting Bugs and Germs to Protect Our Food and Health" is a timely and invaluable contribution to our national dialogue and will prove to be of particular interest to both academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Natural Defense" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Blood on Their Hands
Eric Weinberg & Donna Shaw
Rutgers University Press
106 Somerset St., 3rd Floor, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
9780813576220, $34.95, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: A few short years after HIV first entered the world blood supply in the late 1970s and early 1980s, over half the hemophiliacs in the United States were infected with the virus. But this was far more than just an unforeseeable public health disaster. Negligent doctors, government regulators, and Big Pharma all had a hand in this devastating epidemic.

The collaborative work of Eric Weinberg (a practicing attorney in New Brunswick, New Jersey) and Donna Shaw (Associate Professor of Journalism, and the Chair of the Journalism and Professional Writing program at The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township), "Blood on Their Hands: How Greedy Companies, Inept Bureaucracy, and Bad Science Killed Thousands of Hemophiliacs" is an inspiring, firsthand account of the legal battles fought on behalf of hemophiliacs who were unwittingly infected with tainted blood.

As part of the team behind the key class action litigation filed by the infected, Eric Weinberg was faced with a daunting task: to prove the negligence of a powerful, well-connected global industry worth billions. Now Eric Weinberg and Donna Shaw tell the dramatic story of how idealistic attorneys and their heroic, mortally-ill clients fought to achieve justice and prevent further infections.

Critique: An impressively informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking expose of one of the American medical system's most shameful debacles in living memory, "Blood on Their Hands: How Greedy Companies, Inept Bureaucracy, and Bad Science Killed Thousands of Hemophiliacs" is a vivid example that through perseverance and the American justice systems, the victims of pharmaceutical corporate greed, corrupt or incompetent politicians, uninformed and negligent physicians can achieve deserved recompense for themselves and those they love. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented study that also includes twelve pages of Notes and a ten page Index, "Blood on Their Hands" is an especially recommended addition to both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Blood on Their Hands" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $33.20).

Mastering Mountain Bike Skills
Brian Lopes & Lee McCormack
Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 5076, Champaign, IL 61820-5076
9781492544494, $24.95, PB, 328pp,

Synopsis: Now in a newly revised and expanded third edition, "Mastering Mountain Bike Skills", by world-champion racer Brian Lopes and renowned riding coach Lee McCormack includes their elite perspectives, real-life race stories, and their own successful techniques to help riders of all styles and levels build confidence and experience the full exhilaration of the popular sport.

"Mastering Mountain Bike Skills" is a complete and comprehensive guide for all mountain biking disciplines, including enduro, pump track racing, dual slalom, downhill, cross-country, fatbiking, and 24-hour races. It absolutely captures the sport and offers everything needed to maximize performance and excitement on the trail.

Aspiring mountain bike enthusiasts will learn how to select the proper bike and customize it for any unique riding style. Develop a solid skills base for executing mountain biking techniques with more power and precision. Master the essential techniques to help carve every corner, nail every jump, and conquer every obstacle in the path. Last, but not least, prepare to handle every type of weather and trail condition that the mountain biking world experiences.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, "Mastering Mountain Bike Skills" will have immense relevance, importance, and value for recreational riders looking to rock the trails with friends, seasoned mountain biking enthusiast, and anyone aspiring to be a top pro in mountain biking tournaments and events. While unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for community, college, and university library Sports & Athletics collections in general, and Mountain Biking supplemental studies lists in particular, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Mastering Mountain Bike Skills" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.41).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Saxon Identities, AD 150 - 900
Robert Flierman
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781350019454, $114.00, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: "Saxon Identities, AD 150 - 900" by Robert Flierman (Assistant Professor in Medieval History at the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands) is an impressively informed and informative study -- and the first up-to-date comprehensive analysis of Continental Saxon identity in antiquity and the early middle ages.

Building on recent scholarship on barbarian ethnicity, Professor Flierman emphasizes not just the constructed and open-ended nature of Saxon identity, but also the crucial role played by texts as instruments and resources of identity-formation. "Saxon Identities, AD 150 - 900" also traces this process of identity-formation over the course of eight centuries, from its earliest beginnings in Roman ethnography to its reinvention in the monasteries and bishoprics of ninth-century Saxony.

Though the Saxons were mentioned as early as AD 150, they left no written evidence of their own before c. 840, for the first seven centuries, we can only look at the Saxons through the eyes of their Roman enemies, Merovingian neighbours and Carolingian conquerors. Such external perspectives do not yield objective descriptions of a people, but rather reflect an ongoing discourse on Saxon identity, in which outside authors described who they imagined, wanted or feared the Saxons to be: dangerous pirates, noble savages, bestial pagans or faithful subjects.

Significantly, these outside views deeply influenced how ninth-century Saxons eventually came to think about themselves, using Roman and Frankish texts to reinvent the Saxons as a noble and Christian people.

Critique: An absorbing and seminal work of simply outstanding scholarship, "Saxon Identities, AD 150 - 900" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a Note on Annotation and Translation; a list of Abbreviations; sixty-four pages of Notes; a thirty page Bibliography; and a nine page Index. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Saxon Identities, AD 150 - 900" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to community and academic library European History collections in general, and Saxon History supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Saxon Identities, AD 150 - 900" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $69.91).

Plug-in Electric Vehicle Grid Integration
Islam Safak Bayram & Ali Tajer
Artech House
685 Canton Street, Norwood, MA 02062
9781630810511, $149.00, HC, 276pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative effort of Islam Safak Bayram (Assistant Professor at the Division of Sustainability at the College of Science and Engineering and a scientist at Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute both at Hamad Bin Khalifa University) and Ali Tajer (Assistant Professor of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), "Plug-in Electric Vehicle Grid Integration" is authoritative resource that provides a comprehensive introduction to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and portrays a holistic overview of the challenges associated with the mainstream adoption of PEVs at three distinct layers pertinent to the technological, economic, and social aspects.

From a technological perspective, "Plug-in Electric Vehicle Grid Integration" discusses various critical enabling technologies, such as energy storage, electric charging standards (e.g., fast, slow, and bidirectional), power converters, and telecommunication technologies. It explains how the economic layer formulates and analyzes the interface and the interactions between the charging infrastructure and PEV drivers. These include addressing architecture and modes for designing sustainable charging infrastructures, energy storage sizing, capacity planning, and optimal placement of small- and large-scale charging stations. Furthermore, the decision mechanisms for optimal charging rates under various pricing schemes and user preference models are investigated thoroughly.

"Plug-in Electric Vehicle Grid Integration" is a unique volume that also explains how mainstream adoption of PEVs necessitates integrating relevant social aspects into the technological and economic frameworks. Readers gain insight into the socioeconomic factors influencing individual preferences toward replacing gas-powered vehicles with PEVs.

Specifically, "Plug-in Electric Vehicle Grid Integration" analyzes the current purchasing behavior via relevant and widely adopted models, such as diffusion of innovations, theory of planned behavior, and rational choice theory. Additionally, "Plug-in Electric Vehicle Grid Integration" is an indispensable reference and resource for policy makers to prioritize and adjust incentive programs that facilitate mainstream PEV adoption. "Plug-in Electric Vehicle Grid Integration" underscores how successful PEV integration requires co-investigating and designing all three layers in a holistic framework.

Critique: An impressive and seminal work of outstanding scholarship offering a complete and comprehensive study under one cover, "Plug-in Electric Vehicle Grid Integration" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to corporate, governmental, college, and academic library Power Engineering collections in general, and supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

After the Roundup: Escape and Survival in Hitler's France
Joseph Weismann, author
Richard Kutner, translation
Indiana University Press
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 E. 10th St., Bloomington, IN 47405-3907
9780253026804, $50.00, HC, 176pp,

Synopsis: On the nights of July 16 and 17, 1942, French police rounded up eleven-year-old Joseph Weismann, his family, and 13,000 other Jews. After being held for five days in appalling conditions in the Velodrome d'Hiver stadium, Joseph and his family were transported by cattle car to the Beaune-la-Rolande internment camp and brutally separated: all the adults and most of the children were transported on to Auschwitz and certain death, but 1,000 children were left behind to wait for a later train.

The French guards told the children left behind that they would soon be reunited with their parents, but Joseph and his new friend, Joe Kogan, chose to risk everything in a daring escape attempt. After eluding the guards and crawling under razor-sharp barbed wire, Joseph found freedom. But how would he survive the rest of the war in Nazi-occupied France and build a life for himself? His problems had just begun.

Until he was 80, Joseph Weismann kept his story to himself, giving only the slightest hints of it to his wife and three children. Simone Veil, lawyer, politician, President of the European Parliament, and member of the Constitutional Council of France (herself a survivor of Auschwitz) urged him to tell his story. In the original French version of this book and in Roselyne Bosch's 2010 film La Rafle, Joseph shares his compelling and terrifying story of the Roundup of the Vel' d'Hiv and his escape. Now, for the first time in English thanks to an excellent translation by Richard Kutner, Joseph tells the rest of his dramatic story in the pages of "After the Roundup: Escape and Survival in Hitler's France".

Critique: In service to the motto "Never Again", the world owes Holocaust survivors like Joseph Weismann an eternal thanks for telling their personal and painful stories with such amazing candor and informative comprehensiveness. Simply stated, no community or academic library Holocaust Studies collections should be considered complete without the inclusion of a copy of "After the Roundup: Escape and Survival in Hitler's France". It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academicians, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "After the Roundup" is also available in a paperback edition (9780253026910, $20.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Blood Plagues and Endless Raids
Anthony R. Palumbi
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613736845, $15.99, PB, 304pp,

Synopsis: In 2005, the video game World of Warcraft struck the cultural landscape with tidal force. One hundred million people have played WoW in the twelve years since. But those people did more than play. They worked, they fought, they triumphed, they held entire game servers hostage, they even married each other in real life. They developed new identities, swapping their workaday selves for warriors, mages, assassins, and healers. They built communities and rose to lead them. WoW was the world's first mass virtualization: before Facebook or Twitter, millions of people established online identities and had to reckon with the consequences in their real lives.

"Blood Plagues and Endless Raids: A Hundred Million Lives in the World of Warcraft" by Anthony Palumbi explores this wild, incredibly complex culture partly through the author's engaging personal story, from absolute neophyte to leader of North America's top Spanish-speaking guild, but also through the stories of other players and the game's developers. It is the definitive account of one of the world's biggest pop culture phenomena. The story of World of Warcraft is more than ones and zeroes, more than lines of code, and so its history must be more than pushing buttons or slaying dragons. It's also the tale of a huge and passionate community of people: the connections they made, the experiences they shared, and the love they held for one another.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, exceptionally engaging, and impressively informative read from cover to cover, "Blood Plagues and Endless Raids" is an 'absolute must read' for anyone who has ever played out their own adventures in the World of Warcraft! While very highly recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Blood Plagues and Endless Raids" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.23).

Phil Smith / Cecile Oak
Triarchy Press
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9781911193128, $25.00, PB, 364pp,

Synopsis: Mythogeographer Phil Smith has been walking, exploring, photographing, filming, talking, and writing about South Devon for about 20 years. He has absorbed it, and it him. In Anywhere, walking and writing as character Cecile Oak (a young PhD student of Symbolist art and performance who is invited to report on a Radical Walking conference in Paignton) Phil offers us an extraordinarily vivid portrait of a small part of South Devon.

The picture he presents is not always pretty but never short of startling and sometimes jaw-dropping detail. And it's all brought to exhilarating life in this account of a series of intense journeys that he has made on foot in these places. Anywhere is an adventure, momentous and fleshy as any novel.

It is also the first, detailed mythogeographical survey of a defined area. Its subject is the place, the landscape, the buildings, the history, and the people. It sets in motion, around each other, its subject's geological instabilities, deep political fissures, legends and monsters, street generosities, and unexpected histories.

With "Anywhere: A Mythogeography Of South Devon And How To Walk It", the reader will be presented with Devon as it has never been seen before; Devon from deep within, mined and ploughed by a quarter century of investigation, treading its footpaths and pavements.

"Anywhere" is also a way of looking and feeling: a lesson in how to be (and walk) in your own place, village, city, countryside, wilderness. It is a guidebook for anywhere. "Anywhere" is intended for radical-, artist, performance- and everyday-walkers, Situationists, artists and site-specific performers who use walking in their work; human, urban and cultural geographers; students discovering and studying a world of resistant and aesthetic walking; tourists who want to leave the beach; and anyone troubled by official guides to anywhere.

Critique: A unique, engaging, informative, and impressively presented study, "Anywhere: A Mythogeography Of South Devon And How To Walk It" will have a very special appeal to anyone who has every visited South Devon and would serve as an excellent template for creating similar studies mythogeographic studies for their own favorite places. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Mythogeography and Psychogeography collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of academics and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Anywhere" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.00).

Nine Days in May
Warren K. Wilkins
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806157153, $34.95, HC, 432pp,

Synopsis: Moving through the jungle near the Cambodian border on May 18, 1967, a company of American infantry observed three North Vietnamese Army regulars, AK-47s slung over their shoulders, walking down a well-worn trail in the rugged Central Highlands. Startled by shouts of "Lai day, lai day" ("Come here, come here"), the three men dropped their packs and fled. The company commander, a young lieutenant, sent a platoon down the trail to investigate. Those few men soon found themselves outnumbered, surrounded, and fighting for their lives. Their first desperate moments marked the beginning of a series of bloody battles that lasted more than a week, one that survivors would later call "the nine days in May border battles."

"Nine Days in May: The Battles of the 4th Infantry Division on the Cambodian Border, 1967" by author and military historian Warren K. Wilkins is the first full account of these bitterly contested battles. Part of Operation Francis Marion, they took place in the Ia Tchar Valley and the remote jungle west of Pleiku. Fought between three American battalions and two North Vietnamese Army regiments, this prolonged, deadly encounter was one of the largest, most savage actions seen by elements of the storied 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam. Drawing on interviews with the participants, Warren K. Wilkins recreates the vicious fighting in gripping detail.

"Nine Days in May" is a story of extraordinary courage and sacrifice displayed in a series of battles that were fought and won within the context of a broader, intractable strategic stalemate. When the guns finally fell silent, an unheralded American brigade received a Presidential Unit Citation and earned three of the twelve Medals of Honor awarded to soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam.

Critique: An invaluable contribution to the growing library of Vietnam War literature, "Nine Days in May: The Battles of the 4th Infantry Division on the Cambodian Border, 1967" is an extraordinarily informative and comprehensive account that is enhanced for academia and the non-specialist general reader with the inclusion of black/white photos, thirty-four pages of Notes, a twelve page Bibliography, and an eleven page Index. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library 20th Century American Military History collections in general, and Vietnam War supplemental studies lists in particular, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nine Days in May" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.88).

Michael J. Carson

Clint's Bookshelf

The American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence
George H. Smith
Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001-5403
9781944424480 $9.99 pbk / $3.03 Kindle

Synopsis: For almost a century after the U.S. Constitution went into effect, few Americans seem to have questioned the legitimacy of the Revolution. Since the Progressive generation of historians began the work of serious criticism and revision, however, students of American life have largely learned to live with a more complicated understanding of the revolutionary legacy. In The American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, George H. Smith's treatment of the era charts space for libertarians to both criticize and revere the American heritage.

Critique: The American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence examines the birth of The United States of America from a Libertarian perspective. Studiously philosophical, yet penned with sufficient candor to be thoroughly accessible to lay readers, The American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence is thought-provoking, serious-minded, and highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.03).

Earth As It Is
Jan Maher
Break Away Book Club
c/o Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350, 1320 E. 10th St., Bloomington, IN 47405-3907
9780253024046, $20.00, PB, 276pp,

Synopsis: It's the 1930s in Texas when Charlie Bader comes of age with urges he has struggled with since childhood and does not understand. After his new bride finds him wearing her own sexy lingerie and leaves him in disgust, he tries to move on. His efforts lead him to Chicago, where he stumbles on a community of cross-dressers and begins to attend their secret soirees.

When Pearl Harbor is bombed, Charlie volunteers for the army, serving as a dentist and trying once again to leave his obsession with soft clothes behind. Instead, his wartime experiences combined with the army's faulty record-keeping lead to his reappearance in the small town of Heaven, Indiana, as Charlene.

There, Charlene opens a beauty shop where Heaven's women safely share their stories and secrets as she shampoos, clips, curls, and combs their hair. Charlene deftly manages to keep her own story hidden and her sexual desires quiet until she falls in love with a female customer and her life begins to change.

Critique: A superbly crafted novel by an exceptionally skillful storyteller, "Earth As It Is" reveals author Jan Maher's genuine flair for a fully engaging originality. While very highly recommended for community and academic library LGBTQ fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Earth As It Is" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Zora: A Cruel Tale
Philippe Arseneault
9781772011753, $18.95, PB, 416pp,

Synopsis: Inspired by Norse mythology, "Zora: A Cruel Tale" by Philippe Arseneault is a compelling Gothic tale of the macabre, with strong accents of cruelty. Readers will be introduced to an irrepressible young woman named Zora Korteniemi, who combines traits of Pollyanna with those of the Marquis de Sade. "Zora: A Cruel Tale" is set in the fictional state of Karelia, on the murky border between Finland and Russia in the days of horseback and hearth fires.

Critique: Though not for the faint of heart, "Zora: A Cruel Tale" is inherently fascinating and consistently entertaining from cover to cover. "Zora: A Cruel Tale" is a unique, original, deftly crafted, and memorable story by an impressively talented novelist that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Literary Fiction Collections.

First We Were IV
Alexandra Sirowy, author
Read by C. S. E. Cooney
Tantor Media, Inc.
6 Business Park Road, Old Saybrook, CT 06475
9781541400047 $49.99

Synopsis: Izzie loves nothing more than her three best friends, Viv, Graham, and Harry, and the bond the four of them share. And she's terrified of their friendship falling apart next year when they go off to college. To bind them together, she decides to create something that will belong only to them, a special thing that they'll always share between the four of them. And so they dream up the Order of IV, a secret society devoted to mischief that rights wrongs and pays back debts. At first, it works like a charm-but when the Order of IV's escapades get recognition beyond their wildest expectations, other people start wanting in. And soon, what started as a game of friendship is spiraling into something dangerous and beyond their control-and before it's over, they'll pay the ultimate sacrifice.

Critique: The unabridged audiobook rendition of a chilling suspense novel, First We Were IV hooks the reader early and does not let go. A subtle examination of the dark side of human nature, as well as the ties that bind friends together for good or for ill, First We Were IV explores the how the desire to belong can lead to a slippery slope of questionable choices. Highly recommended, especially for connoisseurs of the genre!

Clint Travis

Gail's Bookshelf

The Listening Day: Meditations on the Way, Volume One
Paul J. Pastor
Zeal Books
9780997066968, $8.99,

Award winning writer, speaker and author, Paul J. Pastor believes God can't be "known in the past" or "in the future." Instead God can only be known in the present because He lives outside of time as we know it. He writes, "To God all times are now." And that's what he encourages readers to do in his powerful new release, "The Listening Day," to journey along with him, to hear God's voice and encounter God in the present.

Ninety, one-day readings begin with two related Scriptures, followed by a brief conversation between the author and the Lord concerning the Scriptures. Scripture passages are designed "to meditate on throughout your day," while Pastor's conversations with the Lord "focus on the meaning and power of the present." Readings conclude with a short prayer.

For example, "The Help," the reading on page 30, concerns fear. Scriptures are from Psalm 54:4, "God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life." (NRSV) Hebrews 13:6, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?" (NRSV)

The author writes, "I want to see the world as you do, Father."

The Lord reminds Pastor he must "shun fear," that God is without beginning or end and He never changes. The reading includes an illustration about the heart and reminds the reader it was God's "finger that set the heart ticking" ...and it will be God's finger that hushes it" when our time is over. The devotion emphasizes God is trustworthy and we have nothing to fear but fear itself because God is always with us, loves us and God never changes. The prayer concludes, "Help me see and know your work in my life."

A large part of the daily readings are conversations between the author and the Lord similar to the writings of A.J. Russell, Francis Roberts and Sarah Young which some find controversial and others really like. Yet the book is so firmly anchored in the Bible and based on Scripture passages and references I didn't find anything offensive.

Instead I found a lot to like as Pastor encourages readers to not just read about God but to encounter Him, to converse with Him, to listen for, be attentive to and hear the voice of God every day. Pastor's writings stir the emotions, often challenge the heart and stimulate the soul. I highly recommend it.

Crisis Shot (The Line of Duty)
Janice Cantore
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781496423702, $14.99,

Tess O'Rourke, Commander of Long Beach, California's East Division still couldn't get used to sleeping alone, even though her husband had left seven months ago. After another sleepless night she was driving in to work early when "999" exploded from the car radio which meant an officer needs assistance.

Dispatch had identified the officer's last known location and Tess knew she was the closest unit. When she arrived she saw a police car with its "flashing light bar" sitting empty in the middle of the street. Alarmed when she saw the driver's door wide open and no officer in sight, she "screeched to a stop" and informed dispatch, "Edward-7 is on scene, will advise." Even though minus a vest and handheld radio she bolted from the unmarked police car, service pistol in hand.

She saw the officer's index cards used in interviews scattered on the ground in the patrol car's headlights and heard faint sounds coming from "...the alley behind an apartment building." Senses on high alert she ran toward the alley. She couldn't know that within seconds a fourteen-year-old boy would be dead and her life and the position she'd worked so hard to attain would be forever changed.

Thus begins "Crisis Shot," book one of Janice Cantore's new series, a gripping suspense penned from a female police officer's perspective. From an officer shooting a teenager to a grand jury investigation to anti-police sentiment, political expediency and the power of the press exaggerated and aggravated by media, the controversies are authentic and realistic.

However it's also Tess's story of relocation and appointment as police chief in a small Oregon town where she faces small town bias, loneliness, doubt and murder. Here the focus changes to investigative techniques and small town politics with a subtle hint of romance and questions about faith and God sure to be expanded on in future books.

The characters are full developed and Tess is portrayed as an intelligent, compassionate professional. The author's previous twenty-two years experience with "patrol, administration, juvenile investigations and training" lends a unique authenticity to an intriguing story that could be pulled from today's headlines. Available September 5, 2017.

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Grace's Bookshelf

A Doll For Throwing
Mary Jo Bang
Graywolf Press
250 Third Avenue North, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781555977818, $16.00 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 86 pages,

When I read Mary Jo Bang translation of Dante where she included Stephen Colbert in her translation, I knew she was capable of anything - and she is. Genius is what they call her and I'm not sure what that means but I know she rocks the world with this unmatchable new book inspired by the "Bauhaus" movement.

The Bauhaus school of art was closed down by the Nazis in 1933 but has remained the major influence in 20th century contemporary art developing a philosophy of art and industry. The poems are permeated by a woman photographer of the time (Lucia Moholy;) but the character that speaks through these prose poems is not a person but a construction of ideas. The Bauhaus provoked new questions and processes in art, therefore Bang writes coded messages that present perspectives not spoken exactly like this before. (I.e. Since there's a current theory in physics that light knows when it's being watched, we can get this poet.)

The unreality of objectifying objects and even motion - to create reality - is captured sometimes with the point of view from photographs, sometimes from a mirror, maybe the camera, etc. Bang cooperates with chance to show what inanimate objects feel. Language is the carrier; subjects are motivators for further thought. Bang allows herself great challenges so she can connect us to new sight, every which way - even upside down - if it'll wake us up. These intriguing poems are sometimes persona pieces so we get the edge of a relationship, as memory works, or part of a prism. Breaking old forms to create new ones makes for robust writing. I'm not sure what the poet expected to do; but whatever it was she accomplished it - she's bringing it - perhaps for the future of poetry.

One Glass Negative

We were ridiculous - me, with my high jinks and hat.
Him, with his boredom and drink. I look back now and
see buildings so thick that the life I thought I was
making then is nothing but interlocking angles and
above them, that blot of gray sky I sometimes saw.
Underneath is the edge of what wasn't known then.
When I would go. When I would come back. What I
would be when. I was hard working but sometimes
being becomes a habit: I came on stage wearing a
lavender fitted dress with a stand-up collar. He looked
at me, he took a drink. A man examining a hothouse
flower. I clicked, then closed my eyes - the better to
imagine my upcoming absence.

Mira and Other Poems of Guyana
Stanley Niamali
Mountain Arbor Press
B07346SYLS, $2.99, 84 pages,

If you've never been to Guyana you'll be there now, with crusted pots, turmeric root, Curry, roads and rivers. But that sphere is just a backdrop for its humanity. Primary is the story of Mira's life between 1935 and 1975, from age 15, hardships with a fiery husband, to the morality of her perceptions and experience. These poems are songs from the rough cloths of the dwellings to the golden light of the jungle. "Ribboned braids;" "two o'clock sun;" "wild cribbage cole, saltfish and hot rice." There's brutality here, insanity too, and death; yet, poem after poem, Niamatali turns life's clock into a living heart: (the poem, R.I.P) " Mia feels/ his soft lips,/ closed,/ on her mouth./ Confusion/ runs down her scalp,/ down her neck and into her spine.//Mingled breath,/ Her first kiss./ Their first kiss, / their last. " Poetry illuminates this culture.

Talking to Her Husband

Distressed with a crusted pot,
Mira is at the sink;
her tears mixing with suds.

Fifteen year old bride,
tormented by a crack,
stares at floorboards
as she sets the tea
before him and mumbles:

"Meh can see."

Still chewing,
he grabs hair,
stands upright,
works the face,
flings the annoyance
across the kitchen,
sits and slurps
his sweet tea.

Sorry You Are Not An Instant Winner
Doritt Carroll
Kattywompus Press
9781944252144, $12.00, 30 pages

What powers the work of Carroll is bold truth, intellectual firepower, and emotional experiences that raise good dust - after the settling nothing is the same. She's able to articulate what affection should be and what it is not and she gets it right. High energy poems come from good narrative structure but it's the tale told that makes for change in the reader. The marvelous quality of this warrior writer is that she takes responsibility for every consequence in every line. The meanings discerned here are of such natural strength we ourselves know more how to speak. This book inspires confidence in our art. It's pedal to the metal writing I won't forget.

love poem

i loved you back when my password
was Adventure before i changed it to Forever
then KeepUsPlease then SaveMe

i loved you when you were a portal
to another world and i whispered
our secret expressions to get in

i loved you when i told you what i didn't want you to do
and you did it anyway whispering "oops i FORGOT"
and in the morning I did forget as if it never happened

i loved you through rugs that cats and dogs and children
got sick on chairs mapped with wine stains and sofas
we pushed off the precipice into the dump

where they hung for a moment
balanced like teetor-totters
and we weren't sure which way things would go

Here in the Afterlife
Daniel Thomas Moran
Translated to Romanian by Lidia Vianu
Integral Contemporary Literature Press
9786068782546, $TBA, 63 pages

Only after seeing these poems selected from previous publications do we get the full scope of Moran's faith in the world - rare and existential. I've been reading him for years and now have a new understanding of how a superb professional shows us who he is. These mental notes become positive vision that clearly and sheerly testify. And what is decoded for us? Revelations simple and true - childhood memories and then the child as father - all meanings intersect to tell us that living is equilibrium, energy is the force that controls it; and men of goodwill will describe glorious moments with dexterity.


No one ever,
gets the parents
they deserve.

Born as
we are, with
empty bellies,
filled with insatiable

Our childhoods,
become a bowl
of broth
with no meat.

All of it
seasoned with a
touch too much
pepper and brine.

Then, desperate,
we squander our
lives in search
of butter,

For all the
bread we never

The Fawn Abyss
Adam Tavel
Salmon Poetry
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7, 124 Byers Road, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
9781910669358, $21.00, 71 pages,

Adam Tavel does many things in this book but none more heroic than the Esgate family history from 1833 to 1910. This porthole into one family fans out to historical detail, personal loss, and chilling endurance. There are other vectors of history - an Antarctic expedition, 1915; and "White House Seance 1863," a stunning take on Lincoln's death. What I like best about Tavel is his lack of doubt. He tackles the truth in every situation as if story were his own natural resource. There's a measured authority in every line; and when he talks about the present time there's a cellular reality, touched with hope, saying what must not be lost.

John Lennon Glasses
don't imagine the chalk
outline of his body but saffron
handprints my nephews
etch on driveways, bright
beaks of duckling, the delicate
daffodil & peace we squander
because it feels somehow
false & simple like a coupon
& there's no crimson thumbprint
swirled against the lens only
the Yes of a world
unfuzzed, having seen so much
poetry & terror which is
an accurate summary of our lives
on jackhammer migraine days
gusting hail when dynamite
roars through the sacred
guts of churches or just
poetry & terror in the cubicle
on days we crave sky after the subway's
long claustrophobia beneath
gravestones & angled pipes & perhaps
you pass me in the crosswalk
as its timer blinks from green
to orange, only seconds left
before the red palm strands
all the leather briefcases
& you fumble yours, papers splattering
so together we gather what we can
while taxis shriek their horns
at two strangers on their knees

When Hollywood Comes To You
Vincent Guerra
Four Way Books
PO Box 535, Village Station, New York, New York 10014
9781945588037, $15.95, PB, 72 pages,

Poetic angst can be pretty funny and is actually our collective cultural history. Guerra lives in a world he's trying to recognize with a different view of reality each poem whether it's depressing trinket machines or the ache of an Eva Cassidy song. Guerra shows poets can be sociologists giving voice to our crazy 21st century, trying to normalize with language by shape-shifting their own beliefs. Poetrymaking is gathering words to create a place we can understand; and Guerra's inescapable humor and relevant despair somehow connects us to everything behind our control, and we love that he's in charge of that. In his poems even dying people have potential, buying junk at Walmart; and his perceptions are a morality because understanding creativity takes the sorrows of the world and makes it raw material - a quaint survival skill. Ideas drive poetry, and when you can make fast moving rifts that are like no one else's and search for meaning in a series of notes that never go flat, we'll read twice.

To the Shopping Mall

This is what I'm asked to love. Of course
the sun is white and hot and indifferent.
It is saying, I present you, again, with this
unsparkling pavement. I wanted a pair
of shoes for all occasions and weathers.
I hiked along the road without a side-
walk and hunched under the boughs
that required my hunching. I didn't care
if others saw me hunch below the low
branches, passing in their tinted cars.
The world was made for them. I saw a
woman approach from afar in a yellow
dress, who I thought was my reward, but
she too passed me as if she didn't know
me, which she didn't. Everything seemed
figured out, or, if not figured out, hope-
lessly confused. I wanted to ride a good
mood until it broke only at the end of
me, along my most uninhabited shore.
Only then did I want to be touched. I
could feel the cold air coming from the
north. Soon the sun would go, and there
would be mosquitoes. The air cluttered
with tiny wings. It sounds almost nice
put in those words. Tiny wings to lift the

Coming About
Michelle Gillet
Four Way Books
PO Box 535, Village Station, New York, New York 10014
9781945588006, 15.95, 59 pages,

This book is as good as it gets. A woman writes about the natural world making you think she's the first person on earth - and she also changes her life in each poem seeking and finding who she is. Her lines are liquid gold, not a word out of place. So when you read a book of contemporary poetry that makes life more alive - and finish it only to find the writer has just died, it's a personal loss because you've come to love her. We thank the publisher for this book where we'll always know where to find Michelle Gillet.


Wood smoke blurs the houses beyond the school
where children glance from desks to see snow falling.
Those learning to tell time add hours into days.
Some are sounding out words, breaking apart syllables
to make sense of the world growing whiter.
There is more to memorize but the bell rings
and the girl taking the shortcut home with her brother
has already forgotten the names of continents.
Their boot prints are the first impressions
in the trail along the slope where snow erases
roots above the sheen of ice sealing the river.
When she stumbles he can almost reach her
but the ice doesn't hold. For a long time,
the grown-ups find no body. Downstream
from where she fell - her little Mermaid backpack,
one pink boot. How many days went by?
The children at their desks can see the frozen river.
They are learning present, past and future,
how far things travel, how to count by twos.

Dipped In Black Water
Kate Peper
Finishing Line Press
9781635342284, $14.99, PB, 40 pages,

Kate Peper has many talents. In addition to her super power to navigate a story, I like her titles. A good title is the X factor that few poets nail; and beneath these signposts are the travails of a woman who struggled with a body she would not have chosen - a destiny to be without child. From these projections, the poet centers herself into strong choices to make something memorable. The promise made is in 26 poems where critical narrative becomes wonderful with emotional accuracy. From the ruins of sadness come optimistic melodies: good writing, a story we want to hear, a distinctly different talent holding the line.

Hearing My Master's Voice

Some days, I am RCA's terrier
cocking his head:
the needle spins on the wax disc
and out of the brass flower,
my master's voice.
It sounds like Him,
but where is He?

Other times, nothing is shiny.
My legs try to dance a bit,
but they give up.
God is on His knees
washing women's feet.
I think He forgot about me,
the dark thing in the corner,

but if I sit long enough,
a bell will ring in my chest.
Faint, then louder, stronger -
Here I am, you know me -
a voice that will not be unrung.

A Turkish Dictionary
Andrew Wessler
1913 Press
9780990633280, $17.00, PB, 94 pages,

He's not kidding. This is a dictionary, by definition:

A dictionary is a book or an electronic resource that lists the words of a language (usually in alphabetical order) and gives their meaning, or gives the equivalent words in a different language, often also providing information about pronunciation origin and usage.

Wessels writes that his purpose is to show "the vagaries of the poet." He does so with translations, travelogue, and history; all items in alphabetical order; the book has three sections, Language, History, Faith, often intertwining eastern and western history. He uses 16 literary sources to anchor scholarship.

Some might call this "language" poetry because of the lack of "thought-walls" (logic ;) using space as a pointillist might - other times he's didactic, teaching us ancient facts. Turkish history and sensibilities fascinate the poet - religious icons, eastern cities, etymology, philosophy and prophecy. But here's what I like best - when Wessels gives us a full-blown straight-ahead poem. It's as if he dissects rainbows to get words that we can Intuit even if we can't understand ; this can be transformative. Wessels is lifting, lifting, lifting, the language, making us reach for it. The whole of the book is an unusual blend of imagination and documentation - aphorisms and prose - he's unapologetically original; and I learned a lot about strange things that have been buried in the archives. This book is a new kind of country in the nation states of poetry. Wessels lives in both Istanbul and Los Angeles and translates Turkish poetry.

Tani?tirmak To Introduce
is red with you in your palm. Where
the call to prayer is the paper dove
on the horizon. Where the sky
can be touched, where it presses down
among us, sliver of ghosts
piled among ghosts. We are old
meat thrown among purple flowers,
tomato vines, imprint of feet held up
against the sky. We are an indulgent strip
of heat across the balcony. This figure I see
closed and infinite in nature is the leftovers
the revolutions of our eyes
around the pupil, the iris,
invisible blood vessels. I passed through
the gateway leading out of the mosque's complex.
The first words called me across the city. What it is
to know these words. Watch it grow the grass
the world that is full of when clouds break.

Wanda S. Praisner
Kelsay Books
9781945752476, $14.00, PB, 74 pages,

The death of a son, the death of a mother, the flight of birds - these are common images for poetry unless they are changed by an inimitable hand. It's the concept, not the subject, that's so handily managed because grief can have unintended consequences on the page - some mask with clever reasoning, others weep publicly. Praisner is like an elegant Mozart sonata - not too many notes - just core skill enough to make the reader feel what the poet feels. Death is the most relevant fact in our poetry culture. Its inescapability makes it central; and, in these beautiful elegies there's a major character that appears, unique and unforgettable - a son's Memorial Bench in the park. These poems engage us on the most primary level of appreciation.

September Storm

Tropical Storm Hanna came
up the coast to New Jersey,
less a threat than expected -
mostly sheets of rain,
the North Branch bloated and brown.

Yesterday's Star-Ledger
showed the storm making landfall
in North Carolina, a huge wave
hitting a pier in Wrightsville Beach
where my son once swam
far from shore. I made him promise
to use his college lap pool instead.

After he drowned at the school
that September, I flew home with him
up the coast to New Jersey,
a bird caught in the eye of the storm.

The Wrack Line
Pat Hanahoe-Dosch
FutureCycle Press
9781942371311, $15.95, 85 pages

The emotional world has seldom been better described in a book about other countries and a drive across our own; and, she takes a social conscience with her, along with a literary talent whipping poetry clean. The unfortunate do not go unnoticed: the waitress who gets rewarded at the end of the day with a beer - the black boy with his arms raised high in surrender Hanahoe-Dosch is a natural born poet with a command of lyric power that's impressive. It's not easy to fold social progress into a view of the pyramids or a lonely Street in New Orleans. "Being present" takes on new meaning with this woman's skill set. She wraps ideas in a personal context so easily the words seem to write themselves into harmony.

The New Game Theory

Lake Mead is shrinking into a crater, Hoover Dam
into cracked concrete, dead turbines.
Paved and confused, NJ and NY
are refugees from the swelling Atlantic.

Nevada is buying out of the entire country
because casinos own all the real estate,
that's all. We'll strike water eventually,
says the pundit on TV. The odds
are always in the house's favor.

Improvisation and all things Jersey
must surely trump mass extinction.
From Las Vegas to Atlantic City, the stakes
are all just a lot of damn theories.
We're all clamshells in the beaks of sea gulls.
Or at least mixed metaphors flopping around in a dry lake.


Hose and Iron
Greg Kuzma
Stephen F. Austin State University Press
1936 North St, Nacogdoches, TX 75962
9781622881277, $17.88, PB, 100 pages,

Kuzma is an American classic. In the poem "How To" he begins "How to be, direct, again./How to speak words/straight and flat/right out through the hole in my face,/like chunks of rock..." Kuzma doesn't have to worry because every word he speaks is true to his poem. This book shows that he goes big and always has. His long narratives are epics with each line integral, preparing high experience for the next. Not since William Carlos Williams has there been a poet who can take walnut shells, mirrors, feathers, clothes poles, spiders, and every broken thing to make them moments in poetry history. Page after page, Kuzma reaches to places never reached - strength, integrity, irony, sadness, humor; and language that fits. The poem "How To" ends "... how to be graceful,/like leaves at the wind, hung/by a single nub, making a light/rustle, soon to go down into/autumn, making no issue/of it." I think he did it.

The Pelican

I don't know if he is rare on these northern lakes
where the wind blows in unbroken by a tree
and sweeps the water dry in any but the most tenacious lakes,
but there he is, in the picture of the water of Oak Lake
in the evening paper on the very first page.
The pelican, with his bill like a boat, with his hidden
habits and scary flight, comes to rest in the middle
of Nebraska ten blocks from my house.
He must be far either way from where he was
and where he is going.

I thought once I was a native creature, full of
habitat and little loves, unable to advance our evolution
by adapting, but stuck in the mud where I found myself
the very first time I ever "found" myself. The pelican,
with his rather accidental occurrence in my life,
makes me suspect I am like him, confused at least
in appearance, and apt to fly to anywhere out of dim
instinct, and who will let the winds blow as they will,
and be glad to be flying at all, and say so to
everyone watching by setting down in a neighborhood
like this one.

Tomorrow he will be gone from the lake and the news,
the way I suspect I'm likely to leave
this place and that, pushing my gift of a face,
the only one like it in these parts, before me,
glad to be flying.


Migrating Through Mortality
poetry and photography by Jeremy Taylor
Mercury Heartlink
9781940769745, $18.00, PB, 128pages,

Everyone should read this meditation on life and death. Words "Life" and "Death" may have lost their meanings from overuse: but thankfully are rinsed off and filled with the light of self- knowledge in these perfectly formed poems. Faced with a life threatening diagnosis, Taylor rallied to design his ideas into musicality and meaning. These thoughtful moments, privately imagined, now deserve to be taken out into the world so that true hearted readers can see the fundamental forces, and courage, that shape poetry.

Incorporating Heaven

The void between stars
is in us too.
Some fill the distance
with dark matter,
Buddhists have the bardo,
Christians God.
Infants, feeling isolation,
find comfort in favored objects.
So it should not be difficult
to grant this emptiness
is just transitionality
brought down to earth.
Alpha and omega are revealed
as we become invisibly aware
that heaven sits right beside us.
We see the void for what it is.
Dark matter, bardos, God
each the inscrutable expression
of life, and change, and death.
Then we can incorporate them,
and, in so doing, release them back
into the space from where they come.


In 1968 a prestigious magazine accepted three of my nubile poems. The journal was about 20 pages, a stapled-white- text paper-magazine. Even then it was heralded for its editorship; and today this issue almost half a century later is glistening like a Bible on my desk. 240 pages. Approximately 33 writers. Not the least of its offerings are two "essays" from humorist/poet Nin Andrews, And "Walk With Snowy Things" a beautiful piece by Lia Purpura. But that leaves about 31 other terrific writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry (check out George Kalamaras.) Also an architectural adventure with photographs by Olalekan Jeyifous. Take it on vacation. It'll be your vacation. Here's a poem by Cindy Veach:

Martha Carrier Hanged August 19, 1692:

They said she brought smallpox to Andover.
They said she killed her father and brother
making her Queen of Hell, aka Land owner.
Neighbors testified it was none other
than Goody Carrier who haunted
them at night. They said she bit Sue Sheldon,
threatening to cut her throat because she wanted
her to sign the book. She stuck a pin in dumb
Ann Putnam. Killed Samuel Preston's cow
for being very lusty. And there was that
black man whispering in her ear. Somehow
she caused the death of Allen Toothaker's cat.
For these Complaints, though each one was a lie,
she was condemned by the Grace of God to die.


Paterson Light and Shadow
Poems by Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Photographs by Mark Hillinghouse
Introduction by Gerald Stern.
Serving House Books
9780997779752, $29.95, HC, 87 pages,

When we think of Paterson, we don't think of the movie first. We go right to Maria Mazziotti Gillan who put it on the map, building on what W.C.Williams left her. She's not only a poet of prolific excellence but the founder of a Poetry Center; poets-in-the-schools; mentoring workshops; classes; book awards; readings; literary magazines and print materials that showcase the poets of this generation. But let's start with her poetry. At the Dodge Foundation Festival in (circa) mid-1980s, I heard her read the poem "Public School No. 18: Paterson NJ" and I was in love. Since then I've never missed a word she's written or a portrait she's painted. Now we have a multidimensional emotional experience of lasting value. History, yes, authenticity, yes, and art not calculated but true. Photos reinforce the narrative in chilling black/white photography designed so that even color can't distort reality. Every page is exhilaration, bringing an American city from the margins to the center of our culture.

Jersey Diners

All the Jersey diners have vanished, those old silver
rectangles with their counter stools that twirled,
their neon lights, their metal tables and fake leather used.
After we'd go out with a crowd, we'd always end up
at one of those diners, each group wanting to stop
at a different one - West's diner on Rte. 46 in Little Falls,
Libbie's in Paterson, Madison Avenue diner near
Railroad Avenue. Looking back, I see our young faces
lit by the harsh diner lights,

and only from a distance do we know how protected
we were, how we'd mourn the passage of time,
the loss of so many we loved,
the vanishing of these diners, replaced by malls
and shopping centers, hotels, and be box stores,
the diners glowing only in memory, and their tacky
glory, and we, our faces still untouched by grief and loss,
caught and framed in the diner's windows.

Grace Cavalieri
Washington Independent Review of Books

Julie's Bookshelf

Walter Ufer: Rise, Fall, Resurrection
Dean A. Porter
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780932154743, $29.95, PB, 112pp,

Synopsis: Walter Ufer (July 22, 1876 - August 2, 1936) was an American artist based in Taos, New Mexico. His most notable work focuses on scenes of Native American life, particularly of the Pueblo Indians.

Between 1916 and 1926, Ufer earned several prestigious awards including membership in the National Academy of Design in New York and recognition by the Art Institute of Chicago. During that time, his paintings were added to permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. During this period, the support of William Henry Klauer, a wealthy businessman, provided him with the critical financial support he needed to continue his career.

Ufer was highly political and concerned with social injustice. His artistic expression and social concerns often came together on canvases depicting Pueblo Indians in the harsh realities of their everyday life. Unfortunately, his personal life was also troubled by chronic alcoholism and constant indebtedness during this period.

Ufer became a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists. His career, spanning nearly forty years, was filled with success, failure, and adversity.

Critique: "Walter Ufer: Rise, Fall, Resurrection" by Dean Porter (Director Emeritus of The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame) informatively examines the life and artistic career of one of America's most talented artists, but who is relatively unknown outside a small circle of collectors and scholars. Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout, "Walter Ufer: Rise, Fall, Resurrection" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library American Art History collections in general, and Walter Ufer supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

The Trauma Heart
Judy Crane
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
9780757319815, $16.95, PB, 336pp,

Synopsis: Most people addicted to substances or process addictions such as relationship disorders, eating disorders, self-harming behaviors, gambling or pornography are trauma survivors. Many people caught in the web of addiction don't identify themselves as trauma survivors until their personal, familial, intergenerational, and in-uterine history is exposed. Unfortunately, relapse is inevitable without trauma resolution that can only take place once their history is exposed. It is only when that happens that the behavior disorders will finally make sense.

For almost 30 years Judy Crane has worked with clients and families who are in great pain due to destructive and dangerous behaviors. Families often believe that their loved one must be bad or defective, and the one struggling with the addiction not only believes it, too, but feels it to their core. The truth is, the whole family is embroiled in their own individual survival coping mechanisms -- the addicted member is often the red flag indicating that the whole family needs healing.

In "The Trauma Heart: We Are Not Bad People Trying to Be Good, We Are Wounded People Trying to Heal--Stories of Survival, Hope, and Healing", Crane explores the many ways that life's events impact each member of the family. She reveals the essence of trauma and addictions treatment through the stories, art, and assignments of former clients and the staff who worked with them, offering a snapshot of their pain and healing.

Critique: Deftly written, organized and presented, "The Trauma Heart: We Are Not Bad People Trying to Be Good, We Are Wounded People Trying to Heal--Stories of Survival, Hope, and Healing" is an extraordinary, reader engaging, life-changing, life-enhancing read from cover to cover. While a critically important and highly recommended addition to both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers that "The Trauma Heart" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Secret Lives of the First Ladies
Cormac O'Brien
Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106
9781683690047, $16.95, PB, 352pp,

Synopsis: In "Secret Lives of the First Ladies: What Your Teachers Never Told You About the Women of The White House", author Cormac O'Brien features outrageous and uncensored profiles of the women of the White House along with hundreds of little-known, politically incorrect, and downright bizarre facts.

"Secret Lives of the First Ladies" reveals that: Dolley Madison loved to chew tobacco; Mary Todd Lincoln conducted seances on a regular basis; Eleanor Roosevelt and Ellen Wilson both carried guns; Jacqueline Kennedy spent $121,000 on her wardrobe in a single year; Betty Ford liked to chat on CB radios (her handle was "First Mama"); Hillary Clinton dreamed of being an astronaut -- and so much more!

With chapters on every woman who has ever made it to the White House, "Secret Lives of the First Ladies" tackles all of the tough questions that other history books are afraid to ask including: How many of these women owned slaves?; Which ones were cheating on their husbands?; and Why was Eleanor Roosevelt serving hot dogs to the King and Queen of England?

Critique: An inherently fascinating, impressively informative, and always entertaining read from cover to cover, "Secret Lives of the First Ladies: What Your Teachers Never Told You About the Women of The White House" is a strongly recommended addition to every highschool and community library collection. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Secret Lives of the First Ladies: What Your Teachers Never Told You About the Women of The White House" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Finding Voice: Treating Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety
Robert L. Schum
Research Press
2612 North Mattis Avenue, Champaign, IL 61822
9780878227075, $39.99, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: Often baffling to parents, teachers, and some therapists, the social anxiety disorder known as selective mutism prevents children from moving toward normal social communication, critical in the school-age years.

"Finding Voice: Treating Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety" by Robert L. Schum (a clinical psychologist and Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is not a manual for treatment of selective mutism in a rote manner. Some psychological and communication disorders might be treated with a manualized procedure, but this is not one of those disorders.

The behavioral variations and rate of progress varies widely among children with selective mutism. These variations limit a manualized response. Rather than serving a menu to the reader, "Finding Voice: Treating Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety" teaches how to create different menus, based on the tastes of the children and their parents.

In "Finding Voice: Treating Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety" Professor Schum shares his years of experience and expertise in helping children, their families, and their teachers. He discusses the symptoms and treatment of selective mutism, and includes a variety of case histories with insightful intervention examples based on best-practice procedures for primary grades to adolescence. He also notes that there is a family pattern of social anxiety among children who have selective mutism.

Critique: Exceptionally informative, well written, organized and presented, "Finding Voice: Treating Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety" covers assessment, treatment, and best-practice procedures for children ranging from the primary grades to adolescence. "Finding Voice: Treating Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety" is unreservedly recommended, especially for college and university library Contemporary Psychology collections in general, and Selective Mutism & Social Anxiety supplemental studies lists in particular.

Self-Made Woman: A Memoir
Denise Chanterelle Dubois
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299313906, $26.95, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: Denise Chanterelle DuBois's transformation into a woman wasn't easy. Born as a boy into a working-class Polish American Milwaukee family, she faced daunting hurdles: a domineering father, a gritty 1960s neighborhood with no understanding of gender nonconformity, trouble in school, and a childhood so haunted by deprivation that neckbone soup was a staple.

Terrified of revealing her inner self, DuBois lurched through alcoholism, drug dealing and addiction, car crashes, dangerous sex, and prison time. Dennis barreled from Wisconsin to California, Oregon, Canada, Costa Rica, New York, Bangkok, and Hawaii on a joyless ride.

Defying all expectations, DuBois didn't crash and burn. Embracing her identity as a woman, she was eventually able to remake herself. Writing with resolute honesty and humor, she confronts both her past and her present to tell an American story of self-discovery in her deeply personal and absolutely candid memoir.

Critique: An impressively informative, exceptionally well written, deeply engaging, and ultimately inspiring personal story, "Self-Made Woman: A Memoir" is an unreservedly recommended addition to the growing library of LGBTQ literature. It should be noted that this simply outstanding autobiography is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Read Listen Tell
Sophie McCall, et al.
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771123006, $38.99, PB, 410pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative editorial effort of Sophie McCall (Associate Professor in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University); Deanna Reder (a Cree-Metis and an Associate Professor in the Departments of First Nations Studies and English at Simon Fraser University); David Gaertner (Assistant Professor in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program at the University of British Columbia): and Gabrielle L'Hirondelle Hill (a Metis writer and artist from Vancouver, BC), "Read, Listen, Tell: Indigenous Stories from Turtle Island" brings together an extraordinary range of Indigenous stories from across Turtle Island (North America).

From short fiction, to as-told-to narratives, to illustrated stories, to personal essays, these stories celebrate the strength of heritage and the liveliness of innovation. Ranging in tone from humorous to defiant to triumphant, the stories comprising "Read, Listen, Tell" explore core concepts in Indigenous literary expression, such as the relations between land, language, and community, the variety of narrative forms, and the continuities between oral and written forms of expression. Rich in insight and bold in execution, the stories proclaim the diversity, vitality, and depth of Indigenous writing.

Building on two decades of scholarly work to centre Indigenous knowledges and perspectives, "Read, Listen, Tell" transforms literary method while respecting and honoring Indigenous histories and peoples of these lands. It includes stories by acclaimed writers like Thomas King, Sherman Alexie, Paula Gunn Allen, and Eden Robinson, a new generation of emergent writers, and writers and storytellers who have often been excluded from the canon, such as French- and Spanish-language Indigenous authors, Indigenous authors from Mexico, Chicana/o authors, Indigenous-language authors, works in translation, and "lost" or underappreciated texts.

In a place and time when Indigenous people often have to contend with representations that marginalize or devalue their intellectual and cultural heritage, this collection is a testament to Indigenous resilience and creativity. It shows that the ways in which we read, listen, and tell play key roles in how we establish relationships with one another, and how we might share knowledge across cultures, languages, and social spaces.

Critique: A unique compendium that is the direct result of outstanding and painstaking scholarship, "Read, Listen, Tell: Indigenous Stories from Turtle Island" is an impressively informative, deftly organized, and exceptionally well presented volume that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Indigenous Cultural Studies collections and supplemental reading lists. It should be noted for students, academics, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Read, listen, Tell" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $27.99).

Julie Summers

Logan's Bookshelf

Precious Indian Weapons
Salam Kaoukji
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500970805, $75.00, HC, 504pp,

Synopsis: Salam Kaoukji is curator and collections manager at the al- Sabah Collection, Kuwait. In "Precious Indian Weapons: And Other Princely Accoutrements" he has drawn upon his impressive expertise and experience to produce a truly spectacular collection of nearly 200 jeweled weapons and priceless accoutrements from the Indian subcontinent that was assembled over many decades by Sheikh Nasser and Sheikha Hussah al-Sabah for The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait.

Originally produced for aristocratic patrons who valued the arts, these richly decorated edged weapons and other princely objects bear witness to the legendary opulence and refinement of the Indian courts during the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Many incorporate decorative features originating in Central Asia, the Iranian world, China, and even Renaissance Europe, testifying to centuries of trade, travel, and warfare. At the same time, the ornate and uniquely Indian weapons are masterpieces of a long and unparalleled tradition of artistic craftsmanship on the subcontinent.

The ninth title in the Thames & Hudson's highly acclaimed series with The al-Sabah Collection, "Precious Indian Weapons" is divided into fourteen chapters that explore the intricacies and details of hilts, knives, swords, and various other weapons. Rendered in silver, gold, and gems, the dazzling array of decorative motifs presented here includes intricate floral, geometric, and animal designs that testify both to the astonishing skill of their craftsmen and to the area's complex interconnected cultural histories.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of more than 500 beautiful, full color photographic illustrations, a ten page Bibliography, a three page Glossary, a one page listing of Picture Credits, a three page Table of Concordance of Inventory Numbers, and a five page Index. Of special note is the six page opening article 'A Historical Overview': "Precious Indian Weapons: And Other Princely Accoutrements" is an impressively informative, meticulously detailed, remarkably comprehensive volume is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library

Divided We Stand
David R. Morse
Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.
950 Danby Road, Suite 136, Ithaca, NY 14850
9781941688489, $39.95, PB, 408pp,

Synopsis: White supremacy is an old and deeply established cultural and political phenomenon in America. As various immigrant groups have come to the U.S., usually in response to a need for labor to work in agriculture and infrastructure building, the public and Congress have responded by harassment and limiting the numbers of immigrants who are welcome in the country. The pendulum has swung many times in the last 200 years, as Mexicans, Chinese, Italians, Irish, Jews, Eastern Europeans, and now Muslims have come to the U.S., fleeing violence or seeking economic opportunity.

The most well-known of the struggles are of African Americans who came to this country not of their own free will, but as slaves. From the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement, to Black Lives Matter, their attempts to achieve equal status in the United States is ongoing and well documented in this book and different than the stories of other people of color. Their early experiences with racial hatred, Jim Crow, and slurs about their character, work ethic, and intelligence colors their views of justice in the U.S. unlike immigrant groups who have often come willingly in hopes of a better life.

"Divided We Stand: Racism in America from Jamestown to Trump" by David R. Morse (President and CEO of New American Dimensions, a market research company focused on Hispanic, African American, Asian American, and LGBTQ Americans) cites both primary and secondary sources to make a cogent argument that people of color or ethnicities that are different from the country's white Anglo founders have always been viewed with suspicion that they are taking jobs from whites, bringing crime, or overloading public services. At the same time, these immigrant groups have contributed to economic growth and entrepreneurship and without them, the country's economy would stagnate.

Along with individual chapters for specific ethnic groups, Morse also explores the implications of race and science and the new interest in using DNA to establish ethnicity. History of many of these ethnic groups shows that eventually most have been accepted and assimilated into American society, so that slogans like "No Irish need apply" disappear. In some ways, that assimilation history means that people forget about the how immigrant groups have often had to struggle for acceptance.

Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Divided We Stand: Racism in America from Jamestown to Trump " will prove to be of immense interest and value to students of U.S. history, political science, ethnic studies, and labor relations as they seek to understand the many complex layers of discrimination and racism throughout U.S. history and foster an informed conversation as the nation continues to struggle with this divisive issue. A seminal work of outstanding scholarship, "Divided We Stand: Racism in America from Jamestown to Trump" is unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists both academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, as well as inclusion in both community and academic library collections.

Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies
Joel Stone, editor
Painted Turtle
c/o Wayne State University Press
4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
9780814343036, $39.95, HC, 348pp,

Synopsis: In the summer of 1967, Detroit experienced one of the worst racially charged civil disturbances in United States history. Years of frustration generated by entrenched and institutionalized racism boiled over late on a hot July night. In an event that has been called a "riot," "rebellion," "uprising," and "insurrection," thousands of African Americans took to the street for several days of looting, arson, and gunfire. Law enforcement was overwhelmed, and it wasn't until battle-tested federal troops arrived that the city returned to some semblance of normalcy.

Now some fifty years later, native Detroiters cite this event as pivotal in the city's history, yet few completely understand what happened, why it happened, or how it continues to affect the city today. Discussions of the events are often rife with misinformation and myths, and seldom take place across racial lines. Compiled and edited by Joel Stone (Senior Curator at the Detroit Historical Society, which oversees the Detroit Historical Museum and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum) "Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies" draws memories, facts, and analysis together to create a broader context for these conversations.

In order to tell a more complete story, "Detroit 1967" starts at the beginning with colonial slavery along the Detroit River and culminates with an examination of the state of race relations today and suggestions for the future. Readers are led down a timeline that features chapters discussing the critical role that unfree people played in establishing Detroit, the path that postwar manufacturers within the city were taking to the suburbs and eventually to other states, as well as the widely held untruth that all white people wanted to abandon Detroit after 1967.

Twenty contributors, from journalists like Tim Kiska, Bill McGraw, and Desiree Cooper to historians like DeWitt S. Dykes, Danielle L. McGuire, and Kevin Boyle, have individually created a rich body of work on Detroit and race, that is compiled here in a well-rounded, accessible history.

Critique: Comprised of thirty-one erudite and informative essays by knowledgeable contributors, "Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies" also features a twelve page Bibliography, a four page listing the contributors and their credentials, and a thirteen page Index. A seminal body of outstanding scholarship, "Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library American History and Black Studies collections. For the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.17).

Science and Religion: An Impossible Dialogue
Yves Gingras
c/o Blackwell Publishing
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9781509518920, $69.95, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: For decades there has been renewed calls for a dialogue between science and religion with respect to the perennial questions regarding the relationship between science and religion. To answer these questions, historian and sociologist of science Yves Gingras retraces the long history of the troubled relationship between science and religion ranging from the condemnation of Galileo for heresy in 1633 to his rehabilitation by John Paul II in 1992. Professor Gingras reconstructs the process of the gradual separation of science from theology and religion, showing how God and natural theology became marginalized in the scientific field in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

In contrast to the dominant trend among historians of science, Professor Gingras argues that science and religion are social institutions that give rise to incompatible ways of knowing, rooted in different methodologies and forms of knowledge, and that there never was, and cannot be, a genuine dialogue between them. Wide-ranging and authoritative, "Science and Religion: An Impossible Dialogue" directly addresses the fundamental questions of Western thought and will prove to be will be of particular interest to students and scholars of the history of science and of religion -- as well as to non-specialist general readers with an interest in contemporary dialogues between science and religion.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, and while very highly recommended for seminary, community, and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Science and Religion: An Impossible Dialogue" is also available in a paperback edition (9781509518937, $26.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.39).

The Data Book
Meredith Zozus
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781498742245, $79.95, HC, 354pp,

Synopsis: "The Data Book: Collection and Management of Research Data" by Meredith Zozus (Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) is the first practical book written specifically for researchers and research team members covering the do's and don'ts about handling data for research. "The Data Book" covers basic types of data and fundamentals of how data grow, move and change over time. Focusing on pre-publication data collection and handling, the text illustrates use of these key concepts to match data collection and management methods to a particular study, in essence, making good decisions about data.

The first section of "The Data Book" defines data, introduces fundamental types of data that bear on methodology to collect and manage them, and covers data management planning and research reproducibility. The second section covers basic principles of and options for data collection and processing emphasizing error resistance and traceability. The third section focuses on managing the data collection and processing stages of research such that quality is consistent and ultimately capable of supporting conclusions drawn from data. The final section covers principles of data security, sharing and archival.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Data Book: Collection and Management of Research Data" is an ideal textbook for research students learning how to systematically identify and implement appropriate data collection and handling methods. While very highly recommended for corporate, college, and university library Statistics, it should be noted for students, active researchers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Data Book" is also available in a digital book format (eTextbook, $63.96).

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

The Order of the Eternal Sun
Jessica Leake
Talos Press
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781940456423, $24.99, HC, 308pp,

Synopsis: Lucy Sinclair's debut will be a parade of everything opulent Edwardian London society has to offer. Most importantly, it will be nothing like her older sister's dangerous experience -- especially if her overprotective brother-in-law, Lord Thornewood, has his way. As if screening her dance partners isn't enough, Thornewood insists that his brother, James, train Lucy in self-defense. She wouldn't mind so much if her treacherous mind didn't continue to replay the kiss they once shared.

But awkward defense lessons are the least of her problems. Her arcana, a magical talent that allows her to mentally enter any scene that she draws, grows stronger by the day. Again and again Lucy is compelled to draw a portal to her mother's realm of Sylvania - and with each stroke of her pen, she risks attracting the attention of the Order of the Eternal Sun, the sinister brotherhood that steals the power of Sylvani blood for their own dark ends.

When a bold new suitor arrives from India, Lucy can't help but be intrigued -- though her family questions his mysterious past. But as Lucy's own suspicions grow, and the threat of the Order looms larger, Lucy will have to learn to harness her unpredictable power or risk falling under the Order's shadow forever.

Critique: A superbly crafted novel that is an impressively entertaining and consistently engaging read from cover to cover, "The Order of the Eternal Sun" wonderfully showcases author Jessica Lake as an exceptionally gifted and original storyteller of the first rank. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Historical Romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Order of the Eternal Sun" is also available in a mass market paperback edition (978-1940456867, $7.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.59).

Life Detonated
Kathleen Murray Moran
Amberjack Publishing
PO Box 4668 #89611, New York, NY 10163-4668
9781944995324, $24.99, HC, 258pp,

Synopsis: Watching the towers crumble, few remembered America had been attacked on 9/11, once before. Kathleen Murray Moran's own September 11th twenty-five years earlier occurred when her husband Brian, a member of the New York City Bomb Squad was killed defusing a bomb Croatian "freedom-fighters" placed in a Grand Central Station locker before hijacking TWA flight 355 from La Guardia airport.

"Life Detonated" is the story of how that bomb ripped through Kathleen's life. The life she had so carefully created after spending her childhood in a bug-infested basement of a Bronx tenement, one of eight children, where the door was left open to drug dealers and pimps, until she was saved by the man who became a hero to Kathleen and the city of New York.

"Life Detonated" is essentially a survivor's story. It is the story of moving from being the unintended target of political terrorism to becoming the founder of Survivors of the Shield, a group that advocates for and provides support and assistance to the spouses and children of New York City police officers killed in the line of duty. It is the story of how Kathleen moved from poverty to the suburbs and refused to go back after Brian's death. It is a story of resilience in the face of senseless tragedy. And it is the story of evil villains and surprising superheroes -- in real life.

Critique: An impressively candid, extraordinarily detailed, ultimately inspiring read from cover to cover, "Life Detonated" is a consistently compelling and exceptionally personal story that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Life Detonated" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99). Librarians should be aware that "Life Detonated" is also available as a complete and unabridged audio book (Tantor Audio, 9781541461932, $24.99).

Resentment and the Right
Sarah Shurts
University of Delaware Press
200A Morris Library, 181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267
9781611496345, $110.00, HC, 350pp,

Synopsis: "Resentment and the Right: French Intellectual Identity Reimagined, 1898-2000" by Sarah Shurts (Associate Professor of History at Bergen Community College, New Jersey) examines a century-long struggle between cultural spokesmen on the extreme right and left to dominate and define the concept of "the intellectual".

This struggle began with the introduction of the "intellectual" during the Dreyfus Affair of 1898 and continues even today among the intellectuals of the Nouvelle Droite. This struggle to monopolize the public perception of intellectual identity, and the status of moral and political guide the title conferred, consumed the intellectual leaders of the extreme right and left and saturated their engagement in political affairs.

Because the left was the first to claim the title of intellectual in 1898, they defined the concept according to their own values and experiences. Hereafter, when intellectuals of the extreme right felt called to engage in public affairs, they portrayed their struggle for recognition as one of an oppressed and ostracized minority against a hegemonic left. Their resentment of this perceived repression became integral to their linguistic tropes, professional trajectories, cultural practices, and their self-conceptualization as intellectuals.

"Resentment and the Right" is deftly organized around the argument that at each perceived national crisis throughout the century, when intellectuals felt called to engage, the right-wing struggle to define true intellectual identity for the public followed a similar cycle: self-identification as intellectuals, perception of exclusion by the intellectual left, resentment of this ostracism and development of linguistic tropes of left-wing hegemony and right-wing repression, differentiation, revaluation, and reappropriation of cultural values, self-imposed segregation of social networks and professional trajectories, internalization and revaluation of their perceived role as intellectual pariahs, and eventual isolation, alienation, and radicalization from the mainstream intellectual and political world.

All together this has resulted in a very different experience of intellectual life and a distinctive understanding of what it means to be an intellectual over the century.

Critique: Also including a bibliography of archival sources, periodicals, primary and secondary sources, as well as a ten page Index, "Resentment and the Right: French Intellectual Identity Reimagined, 1898 - 2000" is a seminal work of original scholarship and will prove to be highly valued addition to college and university library Francophone Literature collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Resentment and the Right" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $88.88).

Embroidering within Boundaries
Rangina Hamidi & Mary Littrell, authors
Paula Lerner, photographer
Thrums Books
9780998452302, $34.95, PB, 172pp,

Synopsis: Fifteen years ago, Rangina Hamidi decided to dedicate her life to helping rebuild her native Kandahar, Afghanistan. The Taliban had been driven out by American forces following 9/11, but Kandahar was a shambles. Tens of thousands of women, widowed by years of conflict, struggled to support themselves and their families. Rangina started an entrepreneurial enterprise, using the exquisite traditional embroidery of Kandahar, to help women work within the cultural boundaries of Pashtunwali to earn their living and to find a degree of self-determination. Thus Kandahar Treasure was born.

"Embroidering within Boundaries: Afghan Women Creating a Future" traces the converging paths of traditional khamak embroidery and the 300 brave women who have found in it a way to build their lives. The late, award-winning photojournalist Paula Lerner was dedicated to telling the stories of women in Afghanistan. Her remarkable images throughout the book show Afghan women's profound struggle, strength, and beauty.

Critique: Rangina Hamidi is the founder and president of Kandahar Treasure. She has served as the manager of the women's Income Generation Project for Afghans for Civil Society and lives in Kandahar. Professor Mary Littrell is Department Head Emerita of Design and Merchandising, a research associate at the Museum of International Folk Art, and serves as chair of the Artist Selection Committee for the International Folk Art Market. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Together they have collaborated in deftly crafting an inherently fascinating, impressively informative, uniquely compelling study that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Women's Studies collection in general, and Contemporary Afghanistan Cultural collections in particular. Beautifully and profusely illustrated with the full color photography of Paula Lerner, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Embroidering within Boundaries" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Helping Groups Heal
Jan Paul Hood, Joshua N. Hook, Don E. Davis
Templeton Press
300 Conshohocken State Road, Suite 670, West Conshohocken, PA 19428
9781599474854, $19.95, PB, 296pp,

Synopsis: Life with others is messy. The bonds we form are often the source that drives us to helping professionals like therapists and pastors in the first place. And yet, it is from these relation-ships that our greatest moments of healing spring. Recogniz-ing the value of relationships, pastors and therapists have been leading small therapeutic groups for years. Yet few lead-ers have a specific, easy-to-follow, and researched framework to structure their groups.

The collaborative work of Jan Paul Hook(a licensed clinical professional counselor in the state of Illinois who does individual, marital, and group psychotherapy); Joshua N. Hook (Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of North Texas and is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Texas); and Don E. Davis (Associate Professor of Psychology at Georgia State University) "Helping Groups Heal" presents "The Healing Cycle," a grace-based model that facilitates healing and growth in groups. It has been tested with a variety of settings, and can be adapted to nearly any small group, from sex addiction therapy to marriage therapy to Bible studies.

The basic components of "The Healing Cycle" are grace, safety, vulnerability, truth, ownership, and confession. "Helping Groups Heal" guides the reader through these elements, offering case studies and practical advice from the voices of researchers and practitioners. Each chapter shows how "The Healing Cycle" moves its members to share their truth, own it, and make positive change in their lives. Each step of the process allows participants to move past surface issues and find depth in their understanding of their pain.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "Helping Groups Heal" is an accessible, easy-to-follow guide for non-specialist general readers through "The Healing Cycle" that will give each group member what's needed to grow, relate, and heal. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Psychology collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers that "Helping Groups Heal" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Death & Survival in Glacier National Park
C. W. Guthrie, Ann Fagre, Dan Fagre
Farcountry Press
PO Box 5630, Helena, MT 59604
9781560376583, $18.95, PB, 314pp,

Synopsis: Sheer cliffs, avalanches, turbulent rivers, cold lakes, severe weather, grizzly bears - these are just a few of the ways a tourist can die while visiting Montana's Glacier National Park. Since 1910 when the park was established, 296 people have perished within Glacier's boundaries, and many more somehow survived close calls with death. "Death & Survival in Glacier National Park" recounts a series of these misadventures, as well as stories of the brave and often heroic search-and-rescue professionals who put their lives on the line so that others might live.

Critique: Written by local Glacier National Park experts, jam-packed with gripping stories of courage and survival against all odds, and featuring the most complete chronology of all 296 deaths in Glacier National Park, including names, ages, locations, and causes, "Death & Survival in Glacier National Park" is a unique and compelling read from cover to cover, Enhanced with the inclusion of eighty-two b/w photographs, two maps, charts, graphs, and an index, "Death & Survival in Glacier National Park" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library National Parks collections.

Food, Feminisms, Rhetorics
Edited by Melissa A. Goldthwaite
Southern Illinois University Press
1915 University Press Drive, SIUC Mail Code 6806, Carbondale, IL 62901
9780809335909, $40.00, PB, 296pp,

Synopsis: Inspired by the need for interpretations and critiques of the varied messages surrounding what and how we eat, Melissa A. Goldthwaite has compiled and edited the eighteen impressively informative and deftly crafted contributions by outstanding scholars in this specialized field demonstrating the importance of food and food-related practices as sites of scholarly study (particularly from feminist rhetorical perspectives) that comprise "Food, Feminisms, Rhetorics".

Deftly organized into for major sections (Purposeful Cooking: Recipes for Historiography, Thrift, and Peace; Defining Feminist Food Writing; Rhetorical Representations of Food-Related practices; Rhetorical Representations of Bodies and Cultures), "Food, Feminisms, Rhetorics" is further enhanced with a four page listing of the contributors and their credentials, as well as an eleven page Index.

Critique: Offering a unique body of scholarly studies that collectively analyses the historical, cultural, and political implications of cookbooks and food writing, "Food, Feminisms, Rhetorics" is unreservedly and especially recommended for academic library Feminist Studies collections in general, and Food Writing supplemental reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Food, Feminisms, Rhetorics" is also available in a digital book format (9780809335916, $40.00).

Margaret Lane

Mari's Bookshelf

Please Don't Be Waiting for Me
Todd Stadtman
4DK Press
9781544193601, $7.95

Over the PA system, Johnny Rotten, of the Sex Pistols, sings "please don't be waiting for me" as the Weirdos get ready for the night's performance. For the four main characters at the show, it's a climactic moment. Months before, one of their own died during a similar concert and now, at this one, they think they've found her killer. Between then and now, Scott, Bridge, Benny and Micah uncover the mystery surrounding Nadya's death catastrophe by catastrophe. First, they think the bigoted WPODS - who beat them up and vandalize their homes on a regular basis - are the culprits, but it turns out our teenage punk heros are hated for more than their freakish clothes, dyed hair and makeup; Nadya's murder is revenge for stolen drugs the dealers want back.
This second novel by Todd Stadtman is an insider's take into the San Francisco/Berkeley punk scene in the early 1980s. With humor, wit and thriller action, he paints a sympathetic picture of a band of friends who back each other up and are supported by some of their parents, as well as very few police and other representatives of public institutions. Those who don't support them can't seem to ignore them either; they're blamed and targeted, giving our protagonists reason to dole out heavy doses of "punk love." With chapters that begin with great one-liners such as: "If you want to have fun, you have to make the run," or "In the last two weeks, Scott had spent the night in a roadside ditch and a filthy Chinatown doorway," we're sure to want to read on, no matter how messy it might get.

In the end, the friends reach a tepid but workable bargain with the world, "accepting the world's embrace [while]... forever mindful for its betrayals" (271). A coming-of-age story, it is "an artwork in process," (271), an unforgettable experience that will continue to reverberate throughout their lives - and ours. Ironically, it reads not only as history, but as relevant to our current cultural landscape. The punks were scapegoats then; who are they now?

The Flawed Ones
Jay Chirino
Privately Published

Jay has landed in a psychiatric ward. Years of drinking and drug use bring him to this breaking point, but luckily not the end. In fact, more than one voice on the ward reminds him that this is an opportunity. He has potential. He has love inside him, love that isn't destroyed, that can enlist to rebuild what he broke down in other relationships. He sees himself in others around him, in Devon's smile he sees hope, in Callie's cynicism he sees what he needs to overcome, in Bob, a faith that remains despite doubt, in Jerry, friendliness, and in Tara, innocence. These characters are reflections of himself as well as whole in themselves. In their company he's able, finally, to tell his story, to share what it is he wants to accomplish, that for so long seemed impossible. With their accompaniment, he beats the broken clock staring at him throughout the book - he gets to go home. And now, we get to listen, too. Whether or not we have gone through similar struggles, this read will give insight into the human condition, that which is common to us all. With Jay's empathy and candor, not to mention his poetic turns of phrase, I am inspired to mold beauty out of tragedy (180), watch sunsets, and never give up. Thank you, Jay, for sharing.

Swimmer Among the Stars
Kanishk Tharoor
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
18 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
9780374272180, $25.00 HC, $16.00 PB, $11.99 Kindle, 256pp,

A good author knows his place in a story, such as crouched and curious in an old lady's apartment as she's interviewed by linguists. In the title story in this collection, the old lady is the last speaker of her language. Never named, academics preserve it by recording her stories and songs, and becoming endeared to her along the way. Some songs require multiple takes, as she changes the words to suit what she wants to say. Unnamed, the language is not the point of the story; the point is our interest, along with the ethnographers' and the ease-dropping little boy's. The point is the impact of this story, and others, on our lives, the way they make us want to find out not only how they turn out, but how we turn out, how we can turn out our own stories. Tharoor creates settings with his words. The sea is evoked in "Astrolade" in the languid, rolling pace of the sentences. "Icebreakers" is as crisp, spare and truncated as the frozen landscape in which the sailors can't sail. Tharoor captures the mood in New York surrounding 9-11 through the eyes of an escaped chef. Who better to tell the tale than one who the one missed for his excellent cooking, for making sustenance not a necessity but a pleasure? Let Tharoor serve you up a delicious tale or 13. You won't be sorry you spent time with tea drinkers and Alexander the Great instead of actually doing something.

Alexander Rigby
Maple Lane Books
9780692804650, $12.99, Paperback, 334pp
069280465X, $2.99 Kindle, 322 pp,

"One of the only assurances we have in this life is the past that is already gone" (295). Alexander Rigby begins his third novel well in the past, in ancient Egypt, on a ship carrying a princess who lays eyes on a beautiful slave she has to know, regardless of their difference in class. And with that pair, Rigby introduces a series of other affairs, all assured to fail, due to societal norms or competing mates or unstoppable missions. But, the more doomed they are, the more we're hooked on finding out how. It's a formula for suspense and drama across the ages. In each story, the "R characters," Rashida, in ancient Egypt, Renzen in Renaissance Florence, Reed in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, and Riley in Argentina in 2241, narrate in the first person their attraction to "C characters," Chathis, Ciro, Claire, and Catherine. Rigby captures the mood of each era through these characters' jobs, dress, concerns and surroundings, as well as in their manner of speech. What binds them all is love, that feeling that is both individual and universal, timeless and constrained by time. But is love their only connection? Rigby raises the question of repeated lives.... He sets us readers outside of time looking in, watching love's initial flowering, its climax and its downfall, along the way enjoying characters' take on art, culture and the soul. Outside of time, reading, we are also in the now, that links past and future, that we don't want to end. "The present we are undertaking, its existence ever so fleeting, is the only other thing we will ever truly know" (295). Brilliant conceit executed with finesse. A time-travel classic.

Monsters I Have Known: A Story Collection
Jess Hartley
Mad Muse Studio
B073DR2YB4 $4.99, Kindle E-book
9780692913994, $9.99, PB, 185pp,

"We are stuff/ as dreams are made of," says Shakespeare in The Tempest. Or perhaps, responds Jess Hartley, in this, her first collection of short stories, our dreams, our desires, shaped by experience, make us who we are. Meet ghosts who come back to haunt those who haunted them in their living years, mothers facing real-life demons like poverty and hunger, victims-turned-villains seeking justice, and Wishes become nightmares. Hartley saves the best for last, where she imagines the backstory to a familiar fairy tale: Rapunzel. Told mostly from the perspective of the otherworldly characters, Hartley describes how monsters are made, even if they're born that way. She also clues us into the origin of each tale and her own history in helpful introductions to each story. Hartley leaves us with a question, posed by Jacob, Brother in the Crimson Order.

"Perhaps, then, the difference is not in the power,
but in the way with which it is wielded.
It matters little who makes the sword, in the end,
or in whose hand it rests -
what has import is how that sword is used,
to what end.
The blade, used for good, is Good; for evil, Evil.
And those who care only for the maker's mark?"

Dog Eared: A Year's Romp Through the Self-Publishing World
W. Nikola-Lisa
Gyroscope Books
9780997252446, $14.99, paperback, 346 pp
9780997252453, $6.99, e-book,

W. Nikola-Lisa has finally made a New Year's Resolution: to clean his office, aka the lost-and-found. But the resolution is not the point; the point is the story of a year making order where there apparently is none. The point is the man who tells the story, whose office cleaning provides, as all experience does for a writer, a metaphor. He's a creative type and a Gemini. He has multiple projects going at once and procrastinates, to boot. This is the story of how he sorts, sifts, climbs, stacks, presents, reads, writes, travels, promotes... in short, takes stock of his craft from top to bottom.

Read it like a manual or a memoir, or even an inspirational. This is not just a year's romp through, but a lifetime's worth of experience with the publishing industry, as writer, teacher, and eventually a publisher and bookseller himself. Nikola-Lisa offers funny anecdotes about giving up his safety deposit box as well as reading recommendations and instructions for setting up a vendor's table. It's as difficult to put a label on this book as it is to label the author himself. And lucky for us! The pleasure of this read is not in categorizing it but in listening to Nikola-Lisa sing. Again and again he comes back to this as a writer's job: to enjoy the sound of words by singing them more than analyzing them.

There are those for whom a book takes on a life of its own, such that knowing about the author detracts from the power of the book. Not so in this case. Now that I know a bit about the man, I'm eager to read more of his books for beginning, primary, intermediate and adult readers. This glimpse into the process of creating not only content but the product of a book inspires me to take my reading, and writing, to the next level.

True Grandeur
Cal R. Barnes
Magic Hour Press
9780999161005, $15.95 PB, $7.99 Kindle, 328pp,

Maintaining a fever pitch of emotion throughout, debut novelist Cal R. Barnes invites us into the soul of a young and rising star. Be prepared to be inspired. Conrad Arlington, The Last True Artist, pursues the truth through art and love but is thwarted by the elusive Gracie Garrison. Join him on Franklin Ave, in Los Angeles, as he writes screenplays and takes jaunts around Hollywood in his coupe. His ideal, bohemian life takes a turn when Gracie auditions for his movie. He's mesmerized by her beauty and vulnerability. They spend a fateful evening together and then... Gracie belongs more to the realm sought-after dreams than reality. He hears gossip about her from friends but doesn't believe it. Perhaps the lies surrounding her are as much the truth as who she really is. Perhaps her allure is that she can't be possessed. With her "don't ask questions", she represents the challenge of a lifetime to Arlington Family Pride, Conrad's morals and his inquisitive mind. The drama of this story is more in the exposition than in the action; parties that comprise most of the plot are extravagant background for Conrad's equally robust inner turmoil. Switching from third to first person narrating mid-way is a climactic moment. Readers will want to write their own artistic journey after this tale.

Single in Southeast Texas
Gretchen Johnson
Golden Antelope Press
9781936135325, $15.95, PB, 209 pgs,

Paige is a recently divorced English professor at Lamar University who hates sleeping alone. With chapters named after a series of guys she meets, the book is structured like a speed dating game, but with an ironic twist. Whimsical as summer chick-lit, this third novel by Minnesota native Gretchen Johnson also reaches beyond romance into transcendentalism. A highlight comes in the "Students" chapter in which she defends Thoreau to her class. A student discovers through their discussion "that maybe he's saying a life can be a lot of things, that maybe success can be a lot of things, that what matters... what really matters is how you define success, that you should live your life the way you believe is right and not just assume other people have the right answers for you" (169). Although the book is about Paige's attempts at love, it is also about how she listens to her life and learns its spontaneous lessons, however they present themselves. Paige's beloved, the fruit of her exploratory labors, is the biggest and best surprise of all. Enjoy her humorous encounters with aliens of the male kind as well as gossipy girl-talk and Paige's insights as she plums the depths - and there are depths - of her home, Beaumont, Texas.

Sonata: A Memoir of Pain and the Piano
Andrea Avery
Pegasus Books
148 W 37th St, 13th floor, New York, NY 10018
9781681774091, $27.95 HC, $14.16 Kindle, 336 pages,

Some people make music their life while others live life musically. Andrea Avery writes her life as Sonata. Using Franz Schubert's sonata in B-flat D960 as inspiration and metaphor, she shares her memoir of living with RA, rheumatoid arthritis. Like Schubert, debilitated at the height of his career, Andrea, in college, gives up her dream of playing piano professionally when her body will no longer allow it. Instead of succumbing to her disability, as directed by a professor at Arizona State, she uses her pain to compose music (129), in this case, music in prose.

Each chapter is a movement of the sonata (e.g. Allegro Giocoso or Largo) and is accompanied by a quote from Ludwig Wittgenstein, brother to one-armed pianist Paul Wittgenstein. These headings name the tenor of the chapter and set her story in the context of a community of musicians and philosophers wrapping their heads around the place of pain and illness in art. Resonant of Olivia Laing's THE LONELY CITY, Avery manages to make connections out of her individual and isolating experiences. Reaching out from these dark places, she speaks to us readers in our own. A climax comes in Target, of all places, where she encounters a curious little boy who asks why she looks the way she does. The incident, a cadenza of sorts, becomes a turning point. It is time go beyond the "deflection tactics," (142), the tattoos and funky clothes, and claim "bi-abled" status, exclaiming, "I am the things I make. I am not the shape I take" (205).

Andrea's writing style is like the eclectic look she develops from childhood. "She's something else" her physicist father likes to say. She's not afraid to embrace a both a hip tone peppered with slang and references from her favorite grunge bands, as well as the academic elegance of research and her mother's copious medical notes. Related-able to most every reader, she extends to us the same encouragement as the teachers she takes after to "put some oomph in it!"

Mari Carlson, Reviewer

Mason's Bookshelf

Two Years Below the Horn
Andrew Taylor
University of Manitoba Press
301 St. John's College, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2M5
9780887557910, $37.95, PB, 496pp,

Synopsis: In "Two Years Below the Horn: Operation Tabarin, Field Science, and Antarctic Sovereignty, 1944 - 1946" one of Canada's foremost polar explorers, the late Andrew Taylor (1907-1993) vividly recounts his experiences and accomplishments during Operation Tabarin, a landmark British expedition to Antarctica to establish sovereignty and conduct science during the Second World War.

When mental strain led the operation's first commander to resign, Taylor (a military engineer with extensive prewar surveying experience) became the first and only Canadian to lead an Antarctic expedition. As commander of the operation, Taylor oversaw construction of the first permanent base on the Antarctic continent at Hope Bay. From there, he led four-man teams on two epic sledging journeys around James Ross Island, overcoming arduous conditions and correcting cartographic mistakes made by previous explorers.

In "Two Years Below the Horn", the editors provide a detailed afterword that draws on Taylor's extensive personal papers to highlight Taylor's achievements and document his significant contributions to polar science.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, "Two Years Below the Horn" will have a special appeal to readers interested in the history of polar exploration, science, and sovereignty. "Two Years Below the Horn" also has extraordinary value for readers with an interest in the contribution of a Canadian explorer to a distant theatre of the Second World War; laying the foundation for the British Antarctic Survey; and transitioning from the heroic to the modern scientific era in polar exploration. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Polar Exploration & World War II collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the life and career of Andrew Taylor that "Two Years Below the Horn" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $25.00).

What's Wrong with Damn Near Everything!
Larry Winget
c/o Wiley Professional Trade Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
9781119417026, $22.00, HC, 176pp,

Synopsis: The genius and power of Larry Winget's simple approach to the mess the world is in (as outlined in the pages of "What's Wrong with Damn Near Everything!: How the Collapse of Core Values Is Destroying Us and How to Fix It") is clearly and engagingly laid out in an impressively entertaining and informative diagnosis and prescription as he narrows down the singular virus sickening the four most influential aspects in our lives: the people around us, our education system, business, and government.

The illness rotting them all out can be blamed on people ignoring their core values.

His shocking opinions and belly-laughing honesty all come unfiltered as he provides a unique, single resource enabling his readers to: Take real action to improve what's wrong with your business, family, and life; as well as getting clear and 'real world practical' advice.

Critique: A compelling, iconoclastic, exceptional, and potentially life-changing read from cover to cover, "What's Wrong with Damn Near Everything!: How the Collapse of Core Values Is Destroying Us and How to Fix It" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "What's Wrong with Damn Near Everything!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Environmental Crime Trials
Steven C. Drielak
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398091866, $31.95, PB, 204pp,

Synopsis: Obtaining an environmental crime conviction can be a daunting task for any prosecutor. There are many challenges to be met and overcome, all of which may impact upon the success or failure of the criminal environmental prosecution. The focus of "Environmental Crime Trials: The Road to Reasonable Doubt" by environmental forensic expert Steven C. Drielak specifically examines the environmental crime scene evidence collection issues normally associated with criminal prosecutions involving hazardous wastes and hazardous substances and their subsequent release to the environment.

The myriad of evidence collection and analysis issues raised here focus on the equipment, procedures, protocols, training and documentation required in order to properly collect this unique type of criminal evidence. Additionally, the text provides a detailed description of the documentation that should be requested for examination by defense experts prior to the commencement of an environmental criminal trial and provides complete explanations as to their evidentiary and potentially exculpatory significance.

The text will also provide the environmental defense attorney with viable alternatives to the all-too-common environmental scientific evidence stipulations and also provides a detailed analysis of the commonly self-induced vulnerabilities found in many criminal environmental prosecutions involving hazardous wastes and substances.

"Environmental Crime Trials" also includes numerous and specific cross-examination questions and follow-up questions for the government's technical witnesses -- questions, that in many instances, the prosecution would rather have left unasked. Armed with the knowledge provided here, the environmental crimes prosecutor will be able to provide initial guidance to the investigative team that may minimize or eliminate many errors often made during the early evidence collection stage of a criminal environmental investigation. For the defense attorney, "Environmental Crime Trials" provides a consequence analysis of the potential criminal evidence collection errors committed by regulatory - trained individuals and contractors who have little or no criminal evidence collection or crime scene investigation training.

Critique: An impressively well written, organized and presented textbook that is complete course of instruction under one cover, "Environmental Crime Trials: The Road to Reasonable Doubt" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to professional and academic library Environmental Studies & Criminology instructional reference collections.

The Emigrant Edge
Brian Buffini
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781501169274, $25.00, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Brian Buffini immigrated to San Diego, California at the age of nineteen with only ninety-two dollars in his pocket. Since then, he has become a classic American rags-to-riches story. After discovering real estate, he quickly became one of the nation's top real estate moguls and founder of the largest business training company, Buffini & Co., in North America.

But Brian isn't alone in his success: immigrants compose thirteen percent of the American population and are responsible for a quarter of all new businesses. In fact, Forbes magazine boasts that immigrants dominate most of the Forbes 400 list.

So what are the secrets? In "The Emigrant Edge: How to Make It Big in America", Brian shares seven characteristics that he and other successful immigrants have in common that can help anyone reach a higher level of achievement, no matter their vocation. He then challenges readers to leave the comfort of their current work conditions to apply these secrets and achieve the success of their dreams.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "The Emigrant Edge: How to Make It Big in America" is an impressively written and engaging memoir presenting a contemporary and true-life 'rags to riches' story that is an invaluable contribution to our national conversation in offsetting the proposed draconian cuts to legal immigration now being promoted by the Trump administration -- reductions that would essentially have barred immigrants like Brian Buffini from coming to America because of insufficient funding or lack of upper tier employment skills or educational achievements.

Simply stated, "The Emigrant Edge: How to Make It Big in America" should be a part of every community library Contemporary American Biography collection in the country. For personal reading lists it should be noted that 'The Emigrant Edge: How to Make It Big in America" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Piece of the Puzzle
Kevin Kush, M.A.
LaVista Press
9781934490464, $9.95, PB, 100pp,

Synopsis: Kevin Kush, M.A., has been a teacher and coach for more than two decades and is widely recognized as an outstanding motivational speaker. In "A Piece of the Puzzle: Eight Traits of a Quality Teammate" he draws upon his many years of experience and expertise to outline eight traits that can turn any group or organization into cohesive, high-performing team. Even the most novice of teachers or team leaders can learn how applying these traits can lead to greater productivity and success.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, deftly organized, accessibly presented, impressively informative, inspired and inspiring, "A Piece of the Puzzle: Eight Traits of a Quality Teammate" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and would prove to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to both community and academic library self-help, self-improvement instructional reference collections.

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

Walk Softly And Watch Out For Bigfoot
Ann Herrick
Hard Shell Word Factory
9780759944893, $14.98, 112 pages

Ann Herrick's Walk Softly And Watch Out For Bigfoot begins when fourteen-year-old New Yorker, Gwynne Franklin, had her summer planned. It was going to be great.

Gwynne's Mom and Dad are going to Europe for a second honeymoon and Gwynne was supposed to trek to California; specifically to Los Angeles to spend some time with her much loved aunt.

And then, Gwynne's Aunt Elaine eloped.

And that event meant Gwynne was not going to be traveling to LA, on the other hand, she was going to be spending her vacation in Oregon. Oregon! Everyone knows there is not one single thing to do in Oregon but gaze at trees.

In due time, Gwynne and a really bad attitude arrive for the sojourn with her Aunt Madeline, Uncle Judd, and cousin Neeta. Waiting at the airport for her relatives to come; Gwynne is more than a little worried that she will be bored to death in a very short time.

When her aunt, uncle, and cousin do eventually arrive; Gwynne is certain she was right. Uncle Judd keeps talking about the countryside, and, Aunt Madeline knits nonstop.

Gwynne would like to get right back on the plane and fly home to New York.

Not only is she not going to spend time with Aunt Elaine in activity filled LA, but, on top of it all, she is going to miss her big chance to meet the cast from her fav TV show, Central Hospital in person.

This trip just cannot get worse, can it? As a matter of fact, Yes, it can and it does; her relative's home is out in the middle of nowhere, and, the TV gets exactly two channels.

Gwynne KNOWS with certainy; she is going to die from boredom.

The personal makeover she had planned is now only a memory. Uncle Judd continues going barmy about some stupid trees, in fact, he said he is writing an article about saving them, and cousin Neeta is planning a protest.

Soon hiking, fishing, and getting used to sleeping in the way too quiet northwest are what Gwynne is facing.

It is during a camping trip that Gwynne gets lost, meets a bear, and even manages to bump into the actors she missed seeing at home.

To top it off, Gynne discovers that Big Foot might be somewhere in the area.

Now that is too much.

Whoever heard of anyone camping in an ancient forest where your life might be in danger from a big hairy creature?

Writer Herrick's use of nature in Walk Softly and Watch Out for Bigfoot as the causative energizing principle leading to Gwynne's growth as a person is first-class.

Author Herrick sets out to forward an absorbing narrative centering on familial interactions, wilderness ventures, way of life clash, as well as with a biological reasoning premise for defending ancient forests.

I was not certain Herrick would really pull it off, nevertheless, she effected it nicely with laugh-out-loud witticism and an assemblage of nicely developed characters.

Walk Softly and Watch Out for Bigfoot accomplished with chuckle-to-chortle humour to keep the reader captivated and turning the page. Writing is artful, witty, and just plain attention-grabbing in this powerful narration focused upon family, maturing reasoning and learning to consider well being of others as well as self.

Culture shock, and out-of-door escapades along with increasing awareness of self and other all take place within the sphere of Cousin Neeta's moxie regarding safeguarding an in-danger-of-disappearance element of very old Oregon forest land.

Walk Softly and Watch Out for Bigfoot is a positive hit for the middle grades into high school, target audience group of readers. Each of my fourth grade classes savored listening to the story read by myself aloud during our after lunch quieting down period after recess and before getting back to the studies. Once the book was read in entirety each of the students took turns taking it home to read for themselves.

Not every book arouses interest in both boys and girls, Walk Softly and Watch Out for Bigfoot is one that has appeal to kids of ten and on to teens and to lads and lasses. Nice!

I found Walk Softly and Watch Out for Bigfoot to be a fine selection for the classroom pleasure reading shelf, the personal library and home school reading list.

Enjoyed the read, Happy to recommend.

Crock Pot Dump Meals
Cathy Mitchell
9780990963523, $TBA, Hardcover-spiral, 144 pages

Cathy Mitchell says Just Dump & Slow Cook! Crock Pot The Original Slow Cooker 5 Ingredients or Less! Dump Meals provides 100 + recipes and Slow Cooking Hints and Tips. Recipes include Cathy's Favorites, soups, Stews and Chilis, Chicken favorites, Bountiful Beef, Pleasing Pork, Spectacular Sides, Sweet Treats all followed with a handy Indes.

I like the format; cover is hard back, with an inner spiral binding of slick heavy duty pages to insure book lays flat on counter top and presents easy tidy up of spatters should they appear.

Slow Cooking Hints and Tips provides 2, 2 page spreads filled with information regarding types and sizes of Crock-Pot(TM) Slow Cookers, Cooking, Stirring & Food Safety, Oven Safe Stoneware, Pasta & Rice, Beans, Vegetables, Herbs, Liquids, Dairy, Fish and baked Goods.

A chart listing 'nice to have on hand' but not 'must have' pantry items to augment 5 or less ingredient slow cooker recipes.

Actual recipes begin with a nice 2 page spread Cathy's Favorite, Tender Pot Roast. On the left is th recipe and on the right is a large, full color photo of a filled dinner plate. Make me hungry just to see it! Recipe is not new or unique, it fed my family for years and I'm gratified that someone else uses the same recipe as I !

From page 8 to page 35 the author's favorites continues.

For the novice or experienced cook; the simple recipe is perfect for busy mom's who want to serve more other than fast food or mac cheese to family too often for dinner.

Other recipes offer how to for Root Beer BBQ Pulled Pork, Family Tortilla Bowl and more. Dessert and something for end of meal is not forgotten, Cinnamon Roll Topped Mixed Berry Cobbler, Cherry Delight, and Triple Chocolate Dessert all feature simple recipes I plan to try soon.

And, I now have one more delicious Meat Loaf recipe with thanks to chef Mitchell.

Soups, Stews and Chilis, pages 36 - 53 provide recipes I have now tried, Simmered Split Pea Sour, delectable, Hearty Vegetable and Potato Chowder, and Swiss Steak Stew, both also toothsome. I have not yet tried all in the group, but have little doubt that I will be serving Mushroom Beef Stew and Swiss Steak Stew are going to be nice additions to fall afternoon, football viewing, while digging into a tasty, filling bowl of something perfect for munching.

Chicken Favorites, found on pages 54 - 71 presents recipes that while they appear tasty and instructions are easy to follow are not likely to become Husband's favorites, the man just does not like chicken. There are so many other recipes I still have much to choose from and continue to enjoy a plate of something chicken often when we are eating out.

Chicken Favorites begins on page 54 and ends on page 71.

Bountiful Beef beginning on page 72 offers recipes I have tried, and others I will soon. Maple Glazed Meatballs, Hot and Juicy Reuben Sandwiches, and Brisket with Sweet Onion were hits with my resident gourmet. I have no doubt at all that Easy Beef Stroganoff, Shredded Beef Fajitas, and Corned Beef and Cabbage be as well received.

Page 90 kicks off the section titled Pleasing Pork, Pork Tenderloin with (Red) Cabbage is an attractive and tasty treat, as are Company Slow Cooker Pork Chops. Bacon and Cheese Brunch Potatoes is delicious as breakfast or mid morning treat.

I do plan to try Slow Cooked Pork and Sauerkraut, Big Al's Hot and Sweet Sausage Sandwiches and Old Fashioned Sausage and Sauerkraut during fall football season.

Red Cabbage and Apples in slow cooker is easier than other methods to prepare, delicious too! Yummy Slow Cooker Potatoes please Husband and kids!!

Spectacular Sides begins on page 108 and ends on page 123. In addition to the mentioned Cabbage and Potatoes recipes will be found Mac and Cheese, Candied Sweet Potatoes for the holidays, Savory Lentils and more.

Sweet Treats also offer holiday recipes; Pumpkin Cranberry Custard are a nice alternative for this 'don't care for even if I do bake Pumpkin Pie', Spiced Apple and Cranberry Compote are a nice addition to the holiday buffet. Apple and Granola Breakfast Cobbler, Homestyle Apple Brown Betty and Whoa Breakfast offer temptation for weary with usual breakfast fare while making good use of abundant apple harvest. Sweet Treats begins on page 124 and ends on page 139. There are several Chocolate recipes in this section that this Chocolate advocate means to try soon.

An alphabetical listing of all recipes is found in index beginning with Almonds on page 10 and continuing letter by letter to W: wine.

Page 144 provides several charts comparing weights and measures commonly used here in the US to metric conversion.

I am liking Cathy Mitchell's 5 Ingredients or Less Dump Meals more each time I use it. While I no longer am in the classroom daily and trying to juggle Children activities, music, scouting, church activities and supper for us all, I still use my crock pot a good bit.

Having a nice cookbook that is easy to use, makes use of things I already have in the pantry and presented much as my favorite type of cookbook....those that are offered as collection of home tested tried and true kid and husband pleasing, church and other pot luck dinner favorites by church group, schools and other groups.

Cathy Mitchell's 5 Ingredients or Less Dump Meals presents a well rounded selection of recipes experienced cooks will recognize as those husbands and kids like and do eat. Novice cooks will like the easy to use format.

Color photos and easy to follow recipes are a plus. Some recipes are the 2 page 1 recipe with photo, others are left a recipe with photo and right recipe with photo. A very few are 3 recipes with photo across a 2 page spread.

Every recipe is accompanied with a photo making it easy at a glance for every cook to decide if the ingredients used are ones likely to be on the shelf or should I turn to another recipe this time.

Each recipe I have used has pleased, been eaten, provided some and left over for later for husband and myself, and is sure to feed a family of 4 - 8 depending upon appetite and number of people for whom the dish is prepared.

Dandy Cook Book, happy to recommend.

The ABC of Asthma
Kim Gosselin
JayJo Books
9780962994265, $17.00, Paperback: 34 pages

Kim Gosselin's The A B C's of Asthma An asthma Alphabet Book for Kids of All Ages presents simple, basic, short explanations regarding asthma, the condition and what to expect as a result of the condition. Beginning with A is for Asthma we see a youngster wheezing as a friend or classmate offers a worried gaze. Explanation: Having asthma sometimes makes it hard for me to breathe.

Bronchial Tubes, Control, what we do to manage asthma, Dust Mites, Episode, Family, Good Control, Hair, Inhaler, Just as in just because I have asthma does not mean I can't do most things other kids do, Kids, Lungs, Medicine, Nebulizer, Doctor's Office, Peak Flow Meter, Quick Relief Medicine, Record Book, Symptoms, Triggers, things that trigger-cause the asthma attack, Understanding feelings, Visit to the Doctor, Wheeze, X-ray, You, Zone the color area found on many peak flow meters name the topics discussed in simple kid friendly vocabulary. Each letter and explanation is accompanied with a child pleasing graphic produced by illustrator Terry Ravanelli.

Drawings are child friendly, explanations for each of the words presents during the alphabetical list are presented in simple child comprehensible manner.

I like this little complimentary book provided by AstaZeneca Manufacturers of the Pulmicot Turbuhaler an inhalation powder and Pulmicort Respules inhalation suspension. The end pages following the alphabetical listing of Asthma and related words children and parents come to know well if Asthma is a condition for child, or parent or both.

Many parents have little understanding of Asthma as a condition or what to do to help their child enjoy life more to the fullest. Children often do not understand what is happening during an asthma episode, attack, as they wheeze and try to breathe. Writer Gosselin's The A B C's of Asthma helps little people, and older ones too understand that asthma does mean being aware of the condition, but, it does not mean the children must give up the joys of childhood. Asthmatics can play, take part in activities and do most or all the things other children do, with modifications to accommodate the asthma triggers.

The page following page Z shows a peak flow meter with a color zone with simple explanation of what each of the colors red, yellow and green mean.

An important message for parents from Astra Zeneca explains products offered by this particular company with common side effects and uses of inhalants for children and for children older than 6 and adult.

This little book is one of Special Kids in School series dealing with a range of small kid centered works running the gamut from ADD, Arthritis and Asthma to Cancer, Cerebral Palsy, Food Allergies, Dyslexia, Down Syndrom and more with more to come, authored by writer Kim Gosselin.

Each book is filled with simple explanations of various illness, conditions and syndromes, kid friendly illustrations resulting from Gosselin's wanting to help educate classmates of children with special needs. In so doing not only the classmates, but the child himself becomes aware of what his/her Diabetes, or Seizure Disorder, Asthma or any of a myriad of conditions found in the classroom means leading to all the children learning and accepting one another with more understanding, caring and patience.

While I did not have this book during my own asthmatic son's childhood, I really could have used it then! The graphics showing the Bronchial Tubes and the Episode with the coughing child as well as the page showing a middle grade child enjoying life via use of good control including getting enough rest, avoiding triggers, getting needed rest, and following doctor bidding regarding medicines and devices would all have helped to put son at ease and understand better what asthma is and how to care for it.

Luckily for us the Lung Association in California provided wonderful help with sessions for parents to help us understand what was happening and how to care for our children. And, they helped children understand their asthma and how to take care of it. My son was 5 when chronic moderate asthma triggered by much in the world around him was diagnosed.

I used this little book in my First Grade classroom to help asthmatic students and their classmates understand better what an episode is, and how to treat it with respect, not fear or worry as the student, or Mrs M, I too am asthmatic, needed a puff on an inhaler or wheezed instructions or answers. One plus my Firsties enjoyed per Mrs. M's asthma, my eating ice cream tends to trigger a coughing episode, Friday was ice cream day at our school, each Friday the child of the day enjoyed Mrs M's free ice cream!

Interesting Educational read ... Happy to recommend for teachers, parents, children.

Warman's Depression Glass Field Guide
Ellen T Schroy
Krause Publishing
c/o F+W Media
700 East State Street, Iola WI 54945
9780896891647, $5.35, Paperback, 512pp,

Ellen T Schroy Warman's Depression Glass Field Guide 2nd Edition is a handy reference book for those who enjoy and perhaps collect depression era colored glassware.

Book stats include:

Table of Contents
Company Timeline
Color Timeline
Color Identification Guide
Shape Guide
Thumbnail Guide

Patterns listed alphabetically begin with Adam on page 86 and run to Yorktown page 465.

Patterns pages may be only a 2 page spread to a group of 4 or even more pages depending upon number of pieces known to be available and/or popularity and to offer color photos of several pieces of the particular pattern, Manufacturer, timeline indicating when the pattern began and when the run ended, colors in which the pattern was offered.

And, importantly, pattern pages may also list pieces made at later date. Reproductions often appear in a wide array of colors not offered during the actual depression era.

I find reproduction pieces can be nice as fill in for true depression era, hard to find pieces. Problem, know the seller, you do not want to pay the more expensive price for reproduction pieces.

Rule of thumb, know the colors for the original pieces; if the original pieces were not produced in blue and you find a blue at swap meet, jumble shop or antique shop you know that, no matter what the seller may insist to the contrary, the piece is a reproduction. Honest dealers tend to be very frank regarding original or reproduction.

Harder to find pieces of all patterns are those where glass touches glass .... Butter dish with top, and the like. Original, round butter dish tops with a saucer like butter holding piece beneath as is shown in the graphic on the cover of this book, will usually have a depression, concave indentation, at the knob, on the underside of the lid. If color appears true for a covered butter dish and the price is set accordingly a good rule of thumb is know the dealer, if you can run finger across the underside of the lid and find the underside does not have depression the likelihood is strong that while the base is original, the lid may likely be reproduction.

Glossary begins on page 467 and serves as a guide to some of the verbiage used to describe the original pieces, verbiage recognized by those who lived at the time, but may not be so common today.

References begins page 471 lists some of the general depression glass reference materials available

Resources begins on page 476 lists some of the collector clubs with location for those who may want to join a collecting group. Included is a listing of internet sites.

Patterns by Manufacturer begins on page 488 beginning with one of the larger producers Anchor Hocking manufacturer of Early American Prescut, serveral patterns of table ware offered by Fire King, Forest Green, Manhattan, Moonstone, Oyster & Pearl, Royal Ruby, and Wexford, as well as those who offered only one pattern. Well known in the collecting world are those companies who offered a great many patterns; included in this group are Anchor Hocking, Federal Glass Co., Hazel Atlas Glass Co., Hocking Glass Co., Indiana Glass Co., Jeannette Glass Co., Macbeth Evans maker of my pink Dogwood, and US Glass Co.

Index by Pattern begins on page 502, pretty self explanatory, and alphabetical listing of patterns by pattern name, not by Manufacturer. Index ends on page 510.

Measuring about 5 x 4 inches this little book is a handy size to carry along to estate sales, visits to jumble shops and the like, not so much as a guide for possible prices of the items as for identification of pieces. As more patterns and the like of depression era glassware is being located and authenticated some of the books I have used for more than 20 years continue to be fine, however, the newer pieces and patterns may not appear, and a new book is always a good buy now and then.

Actual worth as opposed to price of each piece of any collectible is dependent in large part on what similar pieces are selling for in the particular location the piece is located. As supply become more exhausted prices of glassware in particular tend to increase. And, my well worn book was published in 2005; price information will likely have changed during the intervening years, even though identification of patterns remains the same.

I have collected yellow Madrid, Federal Glass Co., and pink Dogwood many years, and easily recognize these patterns, however, I do not recognize all patterns, and specifically do not necessarily recognize some of the newer finds; this thumbnail guide is a treasure trove of information regarding various companies, production of pieces, when particulars colors in each of the patterns appeared, etc.

Line drawings of specific shape of pattern pieces, along with line drawings of specifics of patterns, composite photos showing an array of several pieces of many patterns, are very helpful to a long time enthusiast as myself and to novice alike.

I do not expect any book of any size to list every single piece produced by any company; this little Depression Glass Field Guide provides enough colors and photos of patterns to allow novice to the joy of collecting colored glassware of the depression easy understanding of the wide array of pieces, colors and companies producing the lovely pieces so prized by our grandparents when they first were offered as premiums for movie goers, or as premiums in boxes of oats for cooking for hungry families way back when.

My first pieces were yellow Madrid, my paternal grandmother's, I don't use often, and the pieces cannot be washed in dishwashers, however, I enjoy having something to remind me of the woman who raised my father and pieced a quilt top for me as she had for each of her other grandchildren even as she was enduring the last stages of cancer. Grandma died when I was 4, my memory of her is not strong, my bond is increased through the beauty of yellow Madrid.

I particularly like the 500 full color photos found on the pages of Ellen T Schroy's Warman's Depression Glass Field Guide, 2d Edition.

Informative Read ... Recommended ... 4 stars

We Both Read Lulu's Lost Shoes
Paula Blankinship
Series: We Both Read: Level K-1
Treasure Bay
P.O. Box 119, Novato, CA 94948
9781891327568, $5.99, Mass Market Paperback,

The school bus is on its way. Lulu must hurry. Book bag in hand and she is prepared to set off for her day at school when Dad calls her back. Lulu Beetle must find her shoes. And the search is on. Maybe the shoes were down by the tree. Everyone helps.
Frog hunts in the pond, the other students already on the bus rush to help search for those shoes.And, at last, Lulu's shoes are located where you might not have thought they might be.

Author Blankenship's imaginative chronicle is offset by the well-executed, child pleasing artworks provided by imaginative illustrator Larry Reinhart.

The graphics are lively, imaginative and bursting with fun details. Lulu and her family live in a flowerpot where a pocket watch placed atop a spool of thread is their kitchen table, flower petals form the back, legs and seat of the kitchen chairs, and a large leaf is the carpet beneath their feet.

A lady's thimble is a bedside table, school is conducted in a large watering can where a bell is suspended on an open safety pin stabbed into the ground in front of the school 'building'.

This is a book sure to please parents and tots alike; what youngster has not had to hunt for his or her shoes at least one time during Kindergarten and or First Grade?

As Lulu's Mom helped her Little Student hunt for the elusive footwear she may have felt as many parents have; what parent has not torn their hair and pondered if the school might allow her daughter to attend class today wearing bedroom slippers just this once?

Reinhart illustrations set off the humor promoting account off to perfection.

Lulu's Lost Shoes is a tale certain to pull the target audience of Kindergarten/First Grade Emergent readers right into the fun.

Pages are intended to be read by dad or mom and child, or teacher and class.

I found Lulu's Shoes to be a perfect edition for that after lunch recess, settling down, quiet time when teacher and class gather on the rug for some reading together before beginning the afternoon lessons.

Lulu's Lost Shoes lends itself to the group read along that intersperses most teacher and/or parent reading time with little folks, as well as, providing some problem-solving dialogue starters. It is a fun book for use with pupil mentors as older student and younger enjoy a book together.

On more than one occasion during my teaching career a youngster did appear for class wearing bedroom slippers, or snow boots during summer, or sandals during dead of winter when snow covered the ground as apologetic parent promised a good home discussion regarding shoes and where they should be placed ready for school tomorrow.

Following a frantic search as I prepared for my teaching day and my own sons and I conducted a mad search of our house resulted in discussion regarding shoes and where they were to be kept for morning. In our case the lads began putting foot wear on their little desk tops in the bedroom they shared.

Lulu's Lost Shoes is certain to prove a fitting addition for the home, classroom or home school library. I could have used this book, if only it had been published during the time my own sons were tots. This is a book I did use with my own Kindergarten/First Grade classroom.

A 'hint for parents' page' is included to provide guidance for using the book for those who may need a little added help for using the book to its fullest.

As one of the We Both Read series, this easy reader is a first-rate choice for interactive reading for adult and child.

Each two-page spread has one side devoted to the story text that the parent, teacher, student mentor reads aloud, while the opposing page has only two simple words written in large bold-faced print designed for emergent readers to use to exercise their reading skills.

Excellent little child pleasing book Happy to recommend.

Meditations In My Favourite Places In Southern Africa: A Travelogue For Inner And Outer Journeys
Gail Evans
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595200863, $12.95, PB, 128 pages,

Meditations In My Favourite Places In Southern Africa: A Travelogue for Inner and Outer Journeys is offered by Author Evans as what she views as a powerful unification combining Nature's captivating magnificence with cloistered, heartfelt advancement. The reader is provided prospects for examination of the magnificence of Southern Africa while expanding knowledge of growth and understanding of self.

All through reading visits the bibliophile is treated to well-developed visionary images of unsullied landscape vistas, coastlines, estuaries, woodlands and highland ranges.

Readers are reinvigorated while lingering to contemplate often during the development of freedom and juncture where the conclusion of each interval moves the reader completely through a satisfying, reflective presentation of the seven chakras.

Evans divulges that she became addicted first to the keys on a type writer as a result, perhaps, due to the influence of her writing for the arts magazine Scerario. Those early writing experiences resulted in a fourteen-year journey from type writers, to computers, and entailed a good bit of fact-finding study along with many nights of soul searching. All of which of this culminated in Writer Evans' work, The Firstborn Of God. Resolving the Contradictions in the Bible.

During the years following The Firstborn Of God in 2000, Evans has continued her investigation into the genre of fiction and now published Time Trials and her body of work continues to grow.

Meditations In My Favourite Places In Southern Africa: A Travelogue for Inner and Outer Journeys is a product of Evans' searching and writing. Africa, Evan's home, is the expanse where civilization first appeared centuries ago. Africa is the motherland for humankind.

'Can you feel it', she asks.

Continuing she ponders, 'Can you feel the cadence beating within your upper body? Be quiet now and eliminate the shoes from your feet. You will have no need of footwear here. Liberated feet become aware of the soil, and the beat. You can feel the beat in your heart and in your feet.'

Meditations In My Favourite Places In Southern Africa: A Travelogue for Inner and Outer Journeys is a contemplative reflection guide, it is not in fact a travel piece per se, notwithstanding the fact that the volume does provide information with travel information for those considering a visit to Southern Africa.

Evans crafted Meditations In My Favourite Places In Southern Africa: A Travelogue for Inner and Outer Journeys in order to associate her beloved places accompanied by an assemblage of aids for meditating.

Writer Evans' meditation routines encompass practice of the Indian Chakra system, which Evan's explains can be represented as seven areas on the body from tip of the backbone to the uppermost of the head. Each Chakra, or wheel, is associated with a hue, a biological harmonization, and an emotive equipoise.

Meditations In My Favourite Places In Southern Africa: A Travelogue for Inner and Outer Journeys is a wee, selflessly inscribed script jam-packed with ecological similes intended to support individual spiritual depictions.

Evans realizes The Chakra structure may be unfamiliar for some contemplative practioners. It presents alternative means for looking at the interconnectivity vis-a-vis the corporal, the communicative and the hallowed world. It is a trinity arrangement that makes up our selves and how we fit into the world.

The Chakra system is interconnected to the Chinese Traditional Medicine system of Earth-Wind-Fire-Metal-Water, and the Christian mind-body-soul.

If readers are not open to alternative philosophy, the Chakra portions of Meditations In My Favourite Places In Southern Africa: A Travelogue for Inner and Outer Journeys likely may not be tacit, recognized or viewed with understanding.

The excursions which Writer Evans illustrates with conclusive eloquence transpire in the physical world over and above taking place within the human soul.

Evan's hope is that many or all of her readers will gain a bit of understanding, and interest in Southern Africa vicariously by reading records, investigating photos, and watching films. If they choose, she is certain all of her readers can be encouraged, inspired and stimulated by her self-explorations and can be encouraged to become a member on their own trip of enlightenment.

Evans advances the belief that there are few if any variation between the most highly open-minded beings and the Bushmen of the Kalahari. Writer Evans points out: Both groups have little necessity for possessions and are detached from the physical world. Both groups need very little clothing. Both eat scantily, so scantily that in any other person living on such a diet; illness and starvation would inevitably lead to death. Both groups have remarkably established perceptive powers and cognitive capabilities. Both groups frequently have out of body experiences.

Born 1 November 1958 in Carltonville, South Africa, Gail Evans, dreamed, as a child that she would become a ballet dancer. The daughter of a mine mechanic and an architectural draughtswoman; Evans commenced receiving awards and attaining tributes for her ballet exams. Nevertheless, her life took a turn and ballet became less important and was changed for Speech and Drama. Following four years training, Evans received a Higher Diploma in 1980 from the Pretoria Technikon.

Evans' career path for six years, included working in radio, on stage for P.A.C.T (The Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal), performing in television shows, as a telecine operator for the S.A.B.C. (South African Broadcasting Company), doing theatre reviews for the arts magazine Scenario, and more often than not, she says, spent time waitressing in order to put a roof over her head and food in her mouth.

Meditations In My Favourite Places In Southern Africa: A Travelogue for Inner and Outer Journeys is writer Evan's heartfelt creation jam-packed with a profusion of the enchanting magnificence to be found in nature as well as providing a side glimpse into her own individual, worshipful maturity.

Intriguing read, Happy to recommend

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Moore's Bookshelf

Forgotten Reflections: A War Story
Young-Im Lee
BN Publishing
9781684113828, $11.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 504pp,

Some books are read hurriedly. We rush through the pages to get to the end and find out 'what happened'. Some books invite us to linger, as descriptions of exotic backgrounds and high-energy exploits demand attention. Forgotten Reflections: A War Story holds the reader's attention in both ways. It is a thriller, with a mystery that is not solved until the very end. It is also a moving love story, and character study.

Author Young-Im Lee has woven a tale that takes place mostly in wartime. This is the Korean War, but the situation evoked is universal. Even well-planned wars are chaotic for those at the center, civilians and foot soldiers. Their challenges are universal: How do they survive the violence? How do they eat? Who can be trusted and who is a traitor?

Much of what Miss Lee writes may be familiar to Korean readers. Western readers, however, will be introduced to contemporary Korean culture and its foundational myths.

Forgotten Reflections: A War Story is a considerable achievement. Using flashbacks and flash-forwards, Ms. Lee nimbly manages a narrative that spans half a century. She accomplishes this without ever breaking the thread of the story. I admire Ms. Lee's skill as a writer and her apparent passion to explore ideas central to the identity of her country.

There is no need here to belabor the importance of the Korean peninsula in world affairs. Many people in the West are perplexed by how this relatively small area came to be a tinderbox that threatens to explode into a global conflagration. Reading Forgotten Reflections: A War Story will help to explain the origins of the conflict. The book accomplishes this in a way that is entertaining and credible. Ms. Lee's book is well-worth a reader's investment of time and money. I highly recommend it.

On an Acre Shy of Eternity: Micro Landscapes at the Edge
Robert Dash
Hyla Press
PO Box 88, Deer Harbor, WA 98243
9780578188713, $28.00 HC, 108pp,

In On an Acre Shy of Eternity: Micro Landscapes at the Edge, Robert Dash directs the lens of an electron microscope toward the universe on his doorstep. This enables him to bring into view an otherwise invisible world. He describes his impression of this vision: "I am stunned that a space this small can have a library this large."

In the preface to his book, Dash suggests that he considers the book to be a sequel to Blake's lines, "To see the world in a grain of sand". If Dash's intention is to inspire awareness in readers, he has realized his wish. I, personally, was spellbound by the vitality evident in a speck of pollen. My awe was intensified by successive pictures that together revealed the logic in nature's purpose.

It is often suggested, by medical professionals and seers, that people look inwards to understand themselves, and to find peace. Mr. Dash demonstrates that perhaps looking out, very closely, may be as inspiring an exercise. There, on our doorsteps, an extension of our own existence may be discovered.

One photo that is particularly effective shows the underside of a tree leaf. In vivid color, we see stomata carrying on their function. This function is as essential to human life as it is to the life of the tree. Stomata inhale as we exhale, and exhale as we inhale. It is the same breath, exchanged and returned, between plant and human. We sustain each other.

Mr. Dash writes poetry to accompany his pictures. The poetry is unaffected and expressive. I especially enjoyed "Moon Came By", in which the moon drops "gold light on rowdy black waves". The imagery is original, and memorable. As charming as the writing is, though, it is not necessary to the book. The heart of this book, its life, is in the pictures.

On an Acre Shy of Eternity: Micro Landscapes at the Edge is a visually striking and conceptually unique book. I highly recommend it.

A. G. Moore

Paul's Bookshelf

Yesterday's Kin
Nancy Kress
Tachyon Publications
9781616961756, $14.95 PB, $8.69 Kindle, 189 pages,

Several months previously, an alien ship landed in New York Harbor. They suddenly really want to talk to Dr Marianne Jenner, author of a scientific paper all about mitochondria. They tell Jenner, and the UN Secretary General, some really interesting things. The aliens (humanity calls them "Denebs" even though they aren't from the star Deneb) and humanity are almost genetically identical. Also, very bad things are going to happen to Earth in less than one year.

A group of Earth's best scientists, including Jenner, are taken aboard the ship in a desperate search, with Deneb help, for immunity from "it." Meantime, outside the ship, Jenner's family is fractured. She is a widow with three grown children, two of whom, on opposite sides of the political spectrum, are constantly arguing. The third, Noah, is a drug addict. The reaction of the rest of humanity to the news about Earth's future ranges from There Are No Aliens to riots and suicide bombers.

Inside the ship, progress is slow, and the clock is running. As the end gets closer and closer, despair sets in among the scientists that they are not even close to a solution. Then the Denebs reveal the honestly real reason for their trip to Earth. Time will tell if Earth's spirit of friendship and cooperation will continue, or if the Denebs have committed a monumental error by getting all of mankind really angry at them.

This book easily gets five stars. It is full of ideas on a variety of topics, it is really easy to read and the hard science is kept to a "reasonable' level. Will there be a sequel? I hope so.

Siding With Plato
Michelle Manning
Clink Street Publishing
9781910782385, $10.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 268 pages,

Brooke is a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin. A native of small-town California, she quickly makes friends with three other women in her dorm. Along with Stella, Kate and Darci, they form their own version of "Sex and The City."

The frat parties start almost immediately. There are a number of occasions where they go to a party, and wake up sometime the next day, maybe in their own bed, and maybe in someone else's bed. They may, or may not, be alone in that bed. They also have no memory of how they got there.

Along the way, Brooke meets James. He is kind, very handsome, and treats her the right way. She was not looking for romance, so she tries to hold on to an opinion of him as a rich, conceited jerk. It doesn't last long. She falls for him very hard. He seems to also be falling for her. Life is good.

Around the middle of the semester, James express his feelings about being in a relationship, with anyone, at this point in his life. Suffice it to say that it does not coincide with Brooke's feelings on the matter (the word "marriage" has crossed her mind). An atom bomb has just exploded in her heart. She loudly breaks up with him, and goes into an emotional tailspin. Her schoolwork suffers, and her friends have to drag her out of bed.

In the second semester, James is in one of Brooke's classes. She is determined to stay broken-up with him, but that, also, does not last long. They are together as often as possible. She is very reluctant to tell Stella, Kate and Darci. Does it break some sort of "rule" to get back together with the person with whom you have broken up?

Near the end of the school year, Brooke hears from another male student that James has been "playing the field" when he wasn't with Brooke. This sends her into another emotional tailspin. Is she nothing more than a name on his sexual conquest list? Can they clear the air, and maybe even reconcile, before separating for the summer?

This one is rather lighthearted and pretty good. Of course, Millennials and "Sex and The City" fans will love it. In any college "relationship," what one person considers just hooking up, the other person might take a lot more seriously. Yes, it is worth reading.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Pedro's Bookshelf

The Shepherd
Frederick Forsyth
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553090130 $15.00 print / $7.99 Kindle

Frederick Forsyth's The Shepherd is a novella of man's instinct for survival. The tale may appear simple, but is actually multi-layered. The account of a pilot who flies a De Havilland Vampire DH100 and becomes lost in disorienting fog, after losing the compass and other instruments due to an electrical failure, turns out to be an intriguing and imaginative ghost story.

Forsyth explains how, in the winter of 1974, his wife asked him to write her a ghost story. According to the writer of The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Dogs of War, The Fourth Protocol and many other novels, he didn't know how to write a ghost story. He had never written one before. This classic book, which was published in 1975, contains fifty-two marvelous black and white drawings that gracefully complement Forsyth's story.

The young R.A.F pilot is stationed in a military base in Germany. The protagonist is excited to fly back home to R.A.F Lakenheath in Suffolk, England, on Christmas Eve. The year is 1957. The pilot anxiously anticipates being reunited with his family in several hours. But first, he must fly his Vampire through a frigid, dark night. The post-World War II date of the story is significant for several reasons. One of these reasons is that the protagonist is not engaged in battle or a military exercise. This enables the writer to develop a story that is centered around the joy of flying, solitude, the pleasure pilots take in being momentarily freed from terrestrial constraints, in addition to the maze of thoughts that pass through a pilot's head in times of trouble. The author devotes one layer of the story to highlight the beauty of flight and the psyche of pilots. Forsyth, himself a pilot for the R.A.F, flew the De Havilland DH 100 Vampire, a formidable machine capable of reaching a cruising speed of 548 miles per hour.

The Shepherd brings to mind many of the themes found in Antoine de Saint Exupery's classic 1939 novel Wind, Sand and Stars, a work which showcases the exploits of the author of The Little Prince during the time Saint Exupery was an airmail pilot for Aeropostale.

Forsyth has his protagonist narrate the joy of flying, as the pilot enjoys time alone in the protective warmth of the Vampire's cockpit. The narrator is poetic in juxtaposing his solitude, which is conducive for reflection, and the almost make-believe world "down there," as he experiences the world from an altitude of 5,000 feet: "Down there amid the gaily lit streets the carol singers would be out, knocking on the holly-studded doors to sing Silent Night and collect pfennings for charity. The Westphalian housewives would be preparing hams and geese."

After climbing to 15,000 feet, the cheer of Christmas - Weihnacht - "it's the same all over the Christian world," gives rise to the fifty-six degrees below zero hostility of the lonely night, with the stars "sparkling away there in the timeless, lost infinities of endless space." The glass canopy of the Vampire affords the pilot a clear view of the crisp stars shimmering in the wintry night. Below, lay the "heavy brutality of the North Sea, waiting to swallow up me and my plane and bury us for endless eternity in a liquid black crypt." Once airborne, pilots experience a form of timelessness that is difficult to convey to non-fliers.

Discerning readers will notice that the tone of The Shepherd is comparable to the narrative structure and thematic of Hemingway's The old Man and The Sea. In many respects, the real drama of The Shepherd is dictated by the unknown. Like Santiago in Hemingway's novel, Forsyth's R.A.F. pilot protagonist is pinned against natural forces that test the limits of human ingenuity and fortitude.

After the airplane's electrical system undergoes a catastrophic failure - the compass and fuel gauge stop working - the pilot's much valued solitude becomes a crushing omen of bad things to come. When the fog begins to roll in from the North Sea, the narrative turns into a bitter soliloquy: "Oh, God, why won't somebody see me up here?" After the pilot's anger had subsided and helplessness set in, he says, "Five minutes later, I knew, without any doubt of it, that I was going to die that night."

The beauty of The Shepherd as a literary tale is the ease with which the author weaves the technology and science of flying a complex and powerful airplane like the De Havilland Vampire, of which only 3,268 were built between 1946 and 1955, with the supernatural aspect of the story. The plot line of The Shepherd is infused with a mixture of horse-sense and magical realism that will surprise readers who expect a straightforward adventure story.

The fog becomes thick and oppressive. With no radio to communicate with ground control, the protagonist is surprised to see that a nearby airport has sent up a shepherd airplane - a De Havilland DH 98 Mosquito fighter-bomber - to help him land in the ominous fog. Eventually, the protagonist is guided by the shepherd to land in a non operational R.A.F station that has no navigational equipment, not even a beacon. Half-way down the runway, rolling "through a sea of gray fog," the airplane runs out of fuel and the pilot has to be picked up by one of the two station attendants on duty. The man, who is named Joe, is shocked that anyone could have landed a disabled airplane in such atrocious weather conditions. Once inside the station's mess hall the pilot makes several telephone calls to other bases to inquire about the identity of the pilot who guided him down. A window blows open and the pilot looks out into the dense, cold fog before shouting it close. He then stares at a portrait of a young pilot who stands next to a De Havilland Mosquito. The photograph is of an R.A.F pilot named John Kavanagh. The protagonist remembers seeing the initials JK on the side of the Mosquito. "Johnny went out on patrol on Christmas Eve 1943 and never returned," the station operator tells the protagonist. That was 14 years ago. Johnny was lost in the North Sea.

While the pilot in The Shepherd does not know who helped him land in the fog, the story's ending suggests that perhaps sometimes human well-being and survival depend on more than just competence and luck.

The Ghost of Flight 401
John G. Fuller
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425035535 $TBA print / $7.49 Kindle

The Lockheed L-1011 Tri-Star is a formidable airliner. The passage of time since it first saw commercial service has already proven that. Launched into the competitive commercial airline market in 1970, Lockheed's wide-body, tri-jet airplane was only the second of this type of aircraft, after the Boeing 747, which went into commercial operation the previous year.

By August 1972 Eastern airlines had acquired three L-1011. The airplane quickly became a favorite with passengers, for its wide-body comfort and spaciousness, and with pilots who loved the aircraft's lithe agility. Eastern airlines offered daily L-1011 service from New York's John F. Kennedy International airport to Miami International.

The first L-1011 to be involved in an accident was Eastern's flight 401, on final approach into Miami. The airplane was number 310 in Eastern's fleet. Eastern acquired the L-1011, also called "Whisperliner," four months earlier. Late on December 29, 1972, when flight 401 was over the Florida Everglades, and ready to land, the pilot's discovered that the nose landing gear warning light was the only one of the three landing-gear lights that was not lit. In the process of trying to verify the position of the landing-gear, the pilots became distracted. This was the beginning of a series of events, a kind of perfect storm, that led to the crash of Eastern Airlines flight 401. There were 101 fatalities and 75 survivors.

John G. Fuller's The Ghost of Flight 401 is a first-rate mastery of technical aviation knowledge and exploration of man's psychical nature. Equally, Fuller's book captures the essence of flight and the marvelous machines that transport millions of people yearly throughout the world without incident. His handling of technical information is complemented by the author's adeptness in handling human psychology. The book is well researched, especially considering the tedious investigation and interviews that went into its writing.

Allegedly, after the crash of flight 401 Eastern Airlines placed some undamaged, non-navigational equipment in other L-1011.

For several years after the accident, the ghost of two of the pilots appeared to stewardesses, other crew members and passengers, especially in the lower galley, where meals are prepared and sorted in the L-1011. The news of these events spread throughout the airline business.

The Ghost of Flight 401 explores these appearances and how they affected the people involved. The most interesting aspect of the book is Fuller's exploration of the nature of life after death. Thus, what starts out as the routine investigation into the cause and principles involved in a commercial jetliner's crash, steadily develops into a kaleidoscopic look at man's psychical nature. The tale of the ghost of flight 401 revolves around co-pilot, Don Repo, a pilot who was said to be personable, passionate about aviation and loved flying the L-1011. After many appearances and subsequent interviews of witnesses, the author comes to the conclusion that Repo's benign ghost has not arrived at the realization that he is dead. The latter is one of the staple beliefs of people who argue for life after death. For instance, it is a customary practice of Catholics to pray for the dead. This is done for several reasons. One of these is that while loved ones commend the deceased to the mercy of God, no one can be sure of the state of the deceased person's soul. Another reason is that prayer for the dead solidifies the relationship between the dead and the living. Fuller is cognizant of this, as he consults many people throughout the book who consider death to be only another stage of life. He cites the work of spiritualists, theologians and philosophers.

The essential question that Fuller asks in The Ghost of Flight 401 is whether the soul survives the death of the body, and if so, in what form? Of course, this perennial human concern determines whether there can be any communication between the living and the dead. As an investigative writer, Fuller delves into religious and philosophical questions in a serious and competent manner.

After Investigating the many apparitions that Eastern employees claim to have witnessed, the author begins to explore what, if anything, these supernatural messengers want to convey to the living. In writing about Fuller's The Ghost of Flight 401, the central theme of life after death can be presented without tampering with the complexity of the plot, its intricacy and the nuanced implications that the book has for belief in the immortality of the soul. Readers of this book will speculate about the purpose and meaning of human existence based on their degree of existential edginess. Some may ask whether human existence is truly a creative act; one that only few people ever come to terms with. If so, how best, then, does man confront this existential inquietude that rules over some people, and which many others do not even suspect?

The Ghost of Flight 401 is a book for aviation enthusiasts. Even though the subject of the book is human tragedy in the form of an airplane crash, the Lockheed L-1011 comes across as being a noble feat of ingenuity and engineering. But the book is also a serious reflection on the nature of life and how best to appropriate our time as temporal entities.

Dr. Pedro Blas Gonzalez

Peggy's Bookshelf

The Tyler Files #1: Smarty Pants
Brian Rock, author
Joshua Dawson, illustrator
First Light Publishing
9780975441138, $6.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 108 pages,

In this first book in the Tyler Files series, 10-year old Tyler is having a perfectly normal day at school when, in the middle of Science class, his pants start talking. From telling corny jokes to solving math problems, the pants appear to be pretty smart though Tyler soon learns that his pants have major attitude. Because they are pants, they also have two legs and Tyler's legs are stuck inside them. So when the pants take off in search of mischief, Tyler is in for an extremely unusual rest of the day. Who knew a pair of pants could cause so much trouble? Dawson's cartoon illustrations accentuate the silly situation. Rock's end notes include discussion questions, plus jokes, fun facts and idioms all about pants. "The Tyler Files #1: Smarty Pants" is a playful chapter book that is sure to grab reluctant readers by the seat of their pants.

Wild Bird
Wendelin Van Draanen
Knopf Books for Young Readers
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9781101940440, $17.99 HC, $10.99 Kindle, 320 pages,

In the wee hours before dawn, 14-year old Wren Clemmons is jolted out of bed and dragged kicking and screaming from her home and family by a man in a blue uniform who shoves her into the backseat of a black SUV. Is she being kidnapped by a cop? Why won't her mom and dad save her? As Wren convulses her way out of her weed and whiskey induced haze, she is delivered to the airport with Joel, the cop, and they board a flight to Salt Lake City. Upon arrival Joel hands her over to a woman dressed like a wilderness warrior named Michelle. Wren takes off running but is captured by John, a second wilderness warrior with a man-bun. He shoves her into yet another black SUV. On the long drive out of civilization and into the Utah desert she is told she is on her way to wilderness therapy camp on her own parents' orders. As Wren lashes out at everyone around her, most of all herself, the scope of her deep-seated hatred and rage unfolds. After being driven blind-folded and then force-marched through the desert, Wren arrives at the primitive camp occupied by six motley female prisoners who are equally messed up. Survival depends on her pitching a tarp tent, digging a latrine, finding her own water source, and starting a fire -- without matches -- to cook her own food. But she isn't having any of it. Thus begins Wren's excruciating quest to save herself from herself. Van Draanen captivates readers with infusions of sarcastic wit and raw emotion into sensory descriptions of harsh primitive living conditions contrasted by the magnificent desert and canyon landscapes. "Wild Bird" is a spellbinding story about finding one's way out of the desert wilderness.

Summer on Earth
Peter Thompson
Persnickety Press
9781943978304, $15.95, HC, 296 pages,

One summer night just before bed, 11-year old Grady Johnson made a wish upon a shooting star. Or so he thought. The star was actually a small alien spaceship crash landing near the creek on his farm. Ralwil Turth, the pilot and only passenger, survives but his spaceship's power is damaged so he's stuck in Earth until he can fix it. In his alien body Ralwil is grotesque to humans and unable to communicate. So he shapeshifts into a large man's body and hides out in the barn until he's discovered by Grady, who immediately takes a liking to the odd fellow and introduces him to his little sister Luanne, and their Ma. Life hasn't been easy for the Johnsons since Dad died and they are struggling to keep their farm. Though Ralwil struggles with the language he manages to tell them his name is Will and he's far from home. Ma thinks he's a vagrant and slightly off-kilter but he proves good at fixing machinery, and helping with the vegetable garden and the corn crop, while asking only for food in return. And she needs all the help she can get. As Will grows closer to this "family grouping," as he calls it, he gets sidetracked from his own mission. When he learns about the financial troubles they are facing he comes up with a plan to help save them from the greedy banker McAfferty who plans to repossess and sell the farm to a developer. Will's plan might have worked but for Schtinkle, the bumbling sheriff's deputy who blows the lid off Will's big secret. Pandemonium ensures and Will realizes that in his effort to help Grady and his Ma, he has jeopardized his own mission, and may ultimately lose his life. Readers will delight in observing the wonders of life on Earth through Ralwil's alien perspective. "Summer on Earth" is a compelling sci-fi adventure with supernatural humor and a whole lot of extraterrestrial heart.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Polk's Bookshelf

Once Upon an Apocalypse, Book 1: The Journey Home
Jeff Motes
Pine City Press
9781426321008, $15.99, paperback, Page Count: 382
9781426321015, $28.99, hardcover
9781946312022, $2.99, Kindle
9781946321039 (epub)
9781946321046 (Audiobook)

What happens when a disaster occurs that renders the nation incapable of action and exposes the vulnerability to individuals to starvation, violence and the depredation of their fellow human beings?

In the series Once Upon an Apocalypse by Jeff Motes, multiple families in southern Alabama find themselves coping with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event without warning. A sufficiently strong EMP will destroy solid state circuit boards instantly turning the modern electronics upon which we depend to worthless junk; and the event depicted in the story does exactly that.

The series focuses on the interaction of members of several families; particularly the families of Jill Barnes and John Carter as they find themselves suddenly devoid of modern conveniences and transportation, sources of food and fuel, medicine and basics like tooth paste and toilet paper. Circumstances force them to depend upon what they have in hand for their survival.

In book 1, The Journey Home, the focus is on Jill Barnes and John Carter; two people who know each other and believe in being prepared as much as possible for such an occurrence. Jill is the single mother of Lizzy Barnes. Her father had taught her to shoot and much of the basics of being prepared for emergencies. John is the widowed father of Will, Lizzie's boyfriend. John and Will are well trained in survival skills and preparation. The problem is the EMP stranded Jill near Birmingham, almost two- hundred forty miles from home; and John near Leeds, Alabama, more than two- hundred fifty miles from home. Besides Jill and John's determination to survive, there is a Divine plan bringing them together to ensure each other's survival. Getting home will tax every survival skill Jill and John have between them; not to mention a growing attraction between them and the ever growing anxiety about Lizzy and Will's welfare.

The Journey Home, written in the first person, is a scenario demonstrating survival skills exhibited by well-prepared characters as well as an entertaining, nail-biting, story painting a bleak, but realistic portrait of what people can expect in times of serious disaster; times when citizens turn to their government for help and find, for whatever reason, there is no government to help. Jill and John fight through their fear and the worst intentions of their fellow man while fighting through their own anxiety about their families. They are well developed characters, sound of inner character and belief, for whom the reader cannot help but cheer.

The Journey Home will leave most readers disturbed and perhaps a bit shaken. None will walk away feeling fully secure. What they do about it will those in the story vary...from doing nothing, to preparing for a very long siege. None will walk away untouched. 5-stars.

Once Upon an Apocalypse, Book 2: The Search
Jeff Motes
Pine City Press
9781426321053, $15.99, paperback, Page Count: 282
9781426321060, $28.99, hardcover
B01MRZGIS5, $3.99, Kindle
9781426321077 (Kindle)
9781946321084 (epub)
9781946321091 (Audiobook)

What happens when a disaster occurs that renders the nation incapable of action and exposes the vulnerability of individuals to starvation, violence and the depredation of their fellow human beings?

In the series Once Upon an Apocalypse by Jeff Motes, multiple families in southern Alabama find themselves coping with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event without warning. A sufficiently strong EMP will destroy solid state circuit boards instantly turning the modern electronics upon which we depend to worthless junk; and the event depicted in the story does exactly that.

The series focuses on the interaction of members of several families; particularly the families of Jill Barnes and John Carter as they find themselves suddenly devoid of modern conveniences and transportation, sources of food or fuel, medicine or basics like tooth paste and toilet paper. Circumstances force them to depend upon what they have in hand for their survival.

In book 2, The Search, the focus is on Lizzie Barnes and Will Carter. Jill Barnes and John Carter have survived the weeks long ordeal of a two-hundred fifty mile journey following the EMP event. Arriving home, they find Lizzie and Will are missing. The Search is the story of Lizzie's sojourn to Amy Wright's house and Will's efforts to find her and bring her home to Repose to be with his family. Along the way, Lizzie encounters threats of sexual assault and jealously as well as a helping hand or two. She learns to take help where she can find it, and to help others where she can.

Will encounters threats of theft, as well as the need to help ensure other's survival before he can locate Lizzie. He is called upon to do things no mid-teen should ever have to do.

When Amy Wright's father, Jimmy, leaves for his job at the mill and returns seriously injured, he is a changed man in every way. He becomes calculating and ruthless. After a neighbor leaves the area, and the neighbor's remaining food stores are stolen by a violent gang of thieves, he becomes obsessed with his own family's survival.

The Search, written in the first person, is a scenario demonstrating survival skills exhibited by well-prepared characters as well as an entertaining, nail-biting, story painting a bleak, but realistic portrait of what people can expect in times of serious disaster. Although Will and Lizzy are teenagers, they are mentally prepared to do what is necessary to survive. What Lizzy lacks in skills, she makes up in determination; and Will fills in the blanks with both determination and survival skills. They are well developed characters, sound of inner character and belief, for whom the reader cannot help but cheer. Sadly, The Search has many characters who are victims whether they are aware of it or not; Jimmy Wright is one of them.

The Search will leave most readers disturbed and perhaps a bit shaken; perhaps not as much as The Journey Home, but none will walk away untouched. 5-stars.

A.G. Riddle
Harper Voyager
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780062433220, $8.79, paperback, Page Count: 381
9780008156862, $7.99 hardcover
B00VQRCQZI, $4.99, Kindle

Imagine a disease so virulent that it eradicates human life from Earth. Imagine it to be an unanticipated result of medical research carried out by a consortium of super-geniuses. Now, imagine that you are one of those super-geniuses, and you, along with other closely associated super-geniuses, have been brought to a specific location in space-time and given the chance to change history. Further, imagine that changing history to save human life on Earth is not the only agenda; you and each of your super-genius associates have personal, less-altruistic, agendas as well. Finally, imagine that you are only aware of the events occurring in the present; the space-time you currently occupy.

When Nick, a victim of the crash of flight of Flight 305 in an unknown location in England, assumes de facto a group of survivors, Harper, a journalist, is among them. When Harper becomes trapped in the wreckage, Nick becomes aware of a bond, perhaps even a sense of deja vu between them. His awareness of that bond comes crashing into his consciousness in a confrontation with Sabrina, the closest thing they have to a medical doctor over administrated antibiotics to an injured Harper.

Soon, Nick becomes aware that Sabrina and Yul, a mysterious Asian man whose laptop is always nearby know each other and share a secret; one he suspects will affect them all...while Grayson, acting the ass, subtly threatens Nick and Harper alike. Soon they will all discover there is much more to their plane crash than meets the eye and that as the other survivors of the crash die around them each of them will have a unique role to play in the drama that is unfolding.

Departure contains a well-developed cast of characters all of which are important to the story and all of which are confused between destiny, responsibility, emotions and individual sense of right and wrong. Departure is a war of values between characters.

Well written and edited, Departure is an imaginative sci-fi action adventure that will satisfy any sci-fi or action thriller fan; adrenaline with a message. 5-Stars

Whispers of the Past
Owen Clough
Lang Book Publishing
New Zealand
9780994117540, $19.99, paperback
9780994129390 hardcover
B01C0XME2Q $1.99, Kindle
9780994117557 eBook
9780994129383 EPUB

I truly enjoyed this book but never quite knew whether I was reading science fiction, historic fiction or a history textbook masquerading as a fiction thriller. I finally decided to forget the genre schizophrenia and focus on the story which was informative and drew me in for a variety of reasons.

The plot revolves around three friends on an extended hunting trip that run afoul of a naturally occurring time-warp and find themselves one hundred-fifty years in the past. By itself, that may not have been a terrible plight...but in their case it slam-dunked them into the middle of the Waikato War of 1863 including the burning of Auckland and the battle of Rangiriri. The author uses a wonderful technique to create interest since each of the three friends' families are from New Zealand and had relatives with roots deeply imbedded in both sides of the Maori Wars. Much of the story involves the characters encountering and engaging their ancestors from a much earlier time in history.

The story is well written and the characters are well developed. Probably too well developed, since the story has a surplus of detail normally lacking in similar thrillers. I accepted this detail as the author painting a photograph of a time in history in which he was particularly interested, rather than the water color sketch most authors may have painted. I found it a little tedious to read, but because New Zealand's conflict with England is a part of world history with which I was unfamiliar, I read it eagerly ignoring the more tedious descriptions. Besides the history lesson, the story itself is unusual enough and contains enough conflicts to interest the most avid adventure reader.

Those who love historical fiction, action/adventures, even Sci-Fi fans, will find this book an entertaining and educational tramp in the bush. 4-Stars

Clabe Polk, Reviewer

Sloan's Bookshelf

Stainer: A Novel of the 'Me Decade'
Iolanthe Woulff
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
B071G8KFX1, 345 pages, $2.99 Kindle,

Benjamin Steiner has begun his twenty-second year high above the glittering streets of New York City -- impossibly stoned and still, despite his best efforts, very much a virgin. But he hopes that will soon change.

In this superbly rendered story of a devout Jewish college boy's headlong rush into manhood, Ben and a remarkable cast of supporting characters grapple with issues of nascent love, reckless infatuation (with both sex and drugs) and the ever-popular question of whether the KBH really cares (Kadosh Baruch Hu: Holy One, blessed be He).

Make no mistake. This is no ordinary coming-of-age story about a privileged undergrad unsteadily feeling his way into the eye-opening wonder of first love. It is, rather, the poignant and often raucous recounting of just how Ben traverses an emotional minefield of his own making.

Along the way, award-winning author Iolanthe Woulff explores what it meant to be Jewish in the 70s subculture of Gotham and its major universities like Columbia and Princeton. And she probes with a practiced authorial hand the complexities of each well-drawn character -- from feckless but endearing Ben, to his wisecracking, dope-dealing bud P.T. Deighland, to the impossibly sweet Rebecca Glaser, whose sudden emigration to Israel sets an unfortunate set of events into motion.

Almost cinematic at times, this could easily be adapted to the wide screen, with entire sequences, dialogue and plotline left firmly in place. Indeed, one particular party scene during Princeton's famed annual Reunions event is especially memorable. Fans of the film classic Animal House will love it.

Five-plus stars to Ms. Woulff, who relates a singular story of her own in the Author's Preface. It has nothing -- and everything -- to do with the book itself, and provides fascinating background into the creative -- and oft-delayed -- process surrounding the book's publication. We're glad she persevered to produce one of the best works of fiction we've seen this year.

Amazing Entrepreneurs (Amazing People Worldwide - Inspirational Stories)
Charles Margerison
Amazing People Worldwide
9781921629037, $12.85, PB, 232 pages
B06XHLP5XZ, $9.99, Kindle,

Amazing Entrepreneurs by Dr. Charles Margerison is nothing less than a fascinating glimpse into the hearts and souls of 25 world-shaping businessmen and women.

This erudite --- yet highly readable -- volume profiles some of the best-known names in twentieth century industry: telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, airplane pioneer William Edward Boeing, and automotive powerhouse Henry Ford, to name but a few.

Dr. Margerison's arresting style of presentation for these fact-filled vignettes is at once informative, inspirational and lyrical, arranged in a free-flowing style that compels the reader to move seamlessly from one "autobiographical" thought to another.

Little-known factoids bump against major career milestones as each entrepreneur tells his or her story. For example, everyone remembers Bell's famous summons to his assistant over the first successful telephone line:

"'Mr Watson-Come here-I want to see you.' It was March 10th 1876. Our test had worked (and) it was the start of a revolution that changed the world."

Yet, you may be surprised to learn that Bell also invented the now-ubiquitous metal detectors found everywhere from airports to rock concerts -- in an effort to locate the bullet that killed President James Garfield.

Similarly, you may recall Thomas Edison's famous quote: "'Achievement is '1% inspiration and 99% perspiration'." But few know that all his lifelong contributions to the development of the light bulb, the kinetescope (movie projector) and the X-ray machine would not have happened without the crucial loan of a single dollar bill from a friend when he was penniless and starving on the streets of New York City.

Finally, the book details many lesser-known entrepreneurs, like Madam C.J. Walker, who revolutionized hair products for black women and subsequently became " a millionairess." Along the way, she provided invaluable philanthropic assistance to civil rights groups like the fledgling NAACP, and, upon her death, left three-quarters of her fortune to charity, saying: "'Free enterprise needs to support the society on which it depends.'"

This book is a rousing celebration of the power of positive thinking and perseverance. Indeed, the one thing each of these 25 trailblazing business leaders shared is arguably the single most essential ingredient for long-term success: the dogged drive to never give up.

Five stars to Amazing Entrepreneurs. It's sure to inspire a whole new generation of future innovators.

The Tragic Flaw
D. H. Treichler
Privately Published
B016SGTJ7O, 439 pages, $5.99, Kindle,

It's sometime in the not-so-distant future and everyone in the world is being driven around in Googlecars. Everyone, that is, except world-famous actor Desmond Jenson. He's happily tooling around in a 2012 Tesla, oblivious to the laws that now prohibit non--automated cars on the roads of sunny Southern California.

It's a fascinating scenario, and this dynamite novel makes the most of it, delivering a well-written police procedural/apocalyptic/mystery tale that tells us what might happen if we let technology take over.

Desmond is a top-tier television star with a successful series and a smokin'-hot co-star named Mimi Theroux. They've just discovered that the producers are about to ease them out in favor of actors appealing to a younger demographic when the unthinkable occurs.

The Googlecars stop running. Everywhere.

It's a real-world, shocking mystery, but it plants a plot seed in Desmond's mind that should help them hang onto their contracts. He gathers up Mimi and a cameraman and they hit the freeways in Desmond's Tesla, doing in real life what they purport to do every week on television -- bust the perps and send them off to prison where they belong. Only this time, it's on live TV.

The new reality-style show is a big hit, gathering almost a 50 percent market share for its time slot and boosting Desmond's and Mimi's popularity to new heights. They solve four cases almost single-handedly, while LAPD detectives ride along. Desmond is offered a position in the official police force. He declines.

Meanwhile, a multinational team of cybercrime stoppers is working hard to bring the transportation grid back online. Food deliveries and emergency services have been severely curtailed and worldwide starvation now looms large.

In Hollywood, even the ubiquitous bottled water usually in every actor's hand has disappeared, and Desmond makes a wry observation that shows that deprivation of the essentials is all relative:

"Did you know you can actually drink the water that comes out of a tap?" he asks with a completely straight face. "Really?" his agent responds. "I'll have to try that."

But the search for those behind the paralyzing attack goes on with grim resolve. The tension ratchets up exponentially as food supplies begin running out and riots rule the streets each night.

Finally, the list of probable suspects is narrowed down to several survivalist groups scattered around the world. What's their motive? That's less clear. And the computer code that will start the Googlecars running again continues to elude the electronics SWAT team. And there's more. The end of civilization as we know it is imminent.

This taut psychological thriller -- part Dragnet, part The Late, Great Planet Earth -- offers an illuminating glimpse into Hollywood's less glamorous side as Desmond and Mimi maneuver to stay on top in the ratings race while trying to save the planet at the same time. And the author's talent for giving incredible depth to even the most minor character adds a layer of believability rarely found in other books of this genre.

Will the solution be found in time to transport food and medical supplies to the areas hardest hit? Will the new reality show blockbuster be enough to save the careers of Desmond and Mimi? And can a final, horrific disaster be averted before time runs out?

Find out for yourself by downloading this marvelous five-star mystery that makes all too clear the consequences of the age-old maxim: "Be careful what you ask for." In the case of too much technology, "You just might get it."

Don Sloan

Susan's Bookshelf

The Pursuit of Happiness
Alan Trustman
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781546786122, $15.00, PB, 338 Pages,

Genre: Action & Adventure

It wasn't until the author of this exciting new crime thriller, Alan Trustman, retired from being a partner in a successful law firm, that he began a new career as a film writer. He wrote the screen plays for the films, Bullitt, The Thomas Crown Affair, They Call Me Mr. Tibbs, The Next Man, and Le Mans.

The main character in this story is a tough guy from Brooklyn, a ruthless killer, dangerous, deadly, and yet still a man, and, as we discover not totally impervious to womanly wiles. However, in essence, this story is an action packed crime thriller from the very first page.

Imagine, if you can, dipping into the ultra-spy world Ian Fleming's, James Bond, then add the mystery and attention to details of Clive Cussler's action adventures, and you will just begin to have some idea of how absolutely enthralling this story is. If you love books in which you get so absorbed that you find yourself compulsively turning each page craving to know what happens next, with nail biting twists and turns, then you will love The Pursuit of Happiness.

The author's incredible attention throughout the plot to the details regarding the history, geography, locations, characters, and weaponry used, all add immeasurably to the readers' enjoyment of this story.

From the moment I picked up this book I enjoyed every page, and I for one, hope that there is a sequel.

Deborah Calling
Avraham Azrieli
Harper Legend
B01MTEENBD, $3.06, Kindle, 353 Pages,

Genre: Religious & Inspirational Fiction

After reading the beautifully written Deborah Rising, I couldn't wait to read this continuation of the author's fictional story of the life of Deborah, one of the most well-known prophet in the Old Testament.

The story continues as Deborah is desperately trying to become a man, certain that this is the only way that her father's prophecy that she will become a great prophet can come true. She believes this is the only way she can succeed, as in her time women are at the mercy of their husbands, and it is not possible for them to own anything, so she is taking an elixir to become a male so she can succeed in bringing the word of her god, Yehweh, to the Hebrew people.

Her life has already been terribly traumatic, and fraught with danger, as she has been forced to flee her home Emanuel, and the anger of Seesya, her husband, the son of Judge Zifron their leader, and a cruel murderer.

The story commences at the tannery where Deborah has taken the male name of Borah. It is as Borah that her quest continues, and she helps Kassite the slave manager of the Tannery, and all the slaves escape, fulfilling promises she has made to those she has loved, and who have helped her on the way.

As she is forced to return to her past, she discovers that even in the guise of a male her journey is perilous, and she must confront her fears, and in order to survive carry out acts which are abhorrent to her, and against her faith. However, she is determined to follow the path she believes is her fate and is guided by her dreams, and the visions she sees in them, as she rides over the land on the back of an eagle.

As I read this powerful book I found myself constantly being amazed by Deborah's strength and resilience, her absolute faith was very inspiring, and this just grew and grew as her story unfolded.

The people she meets on her travels, their stories, the actions of those around her, and the way they influenced her life, tested her, and then enabled her to go forward to pursue her true calling are wonderfully told by the author. Throughout the reader can only be humbled by her bravery and faith.

I found this story absolutely enthralling and couldn't put the book down, and I would recommend it as fascinating read.

La Vie En Rose
Susie Kelly
Blackbird Digital Books
B073BNJDR5, $1.17, 163 Pages

Genre: Memoir

Being a real fan of Susie Kelly's style of writing I couldn't resist downloading this book with my Kindle Unlimited subscription, and was not disappointed.

Yet again she managed to entertain me thoroughly with a completely new selection of her blog posts written about her observations on life in France. I have to say right now, if you are thinking of moving to France, or are coming on holiday here, this is essential preparation reading, I kid you not!

As an expat, living life day to day in France I could immediately laugh, agree, and sometimes commiserate on Susie's reflections on the way 'real life' is over here. Yes, it is wonderful, no I would never go back, however, sometimes the 'French way' of life and doing things is totally mystifying.

One lovely observation I had to agree on is that it is rare to see a child misbehaving, or a parent rising their voice to them, they seem to know what is expected of them from an early age, and this is lovely to observe.

Some of her comments on shops, their opening times, and repair policies couldn't help but make me smile, yes you get used to life here, but every so often some things do seem a little strange - to say the least.

There are so many interesting topics to read about, and on a personal note, I have to thank her for giving an explanation to something I have seen many times, yet never used, in the last chapter. At least if I have to use one in future I will know what to do, and if you want to know what it is, then read the book - you will not be disappointed!

A thoroughly entertaining book which captured me from the moment I opened it, until the very last word.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Suzie's Bookshelf

The Greatest Story NEVER Told The Assured Triumph of Human Inevitability and Superiority
Elvis Newman
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.
B00YWLVU48, $2.99
9781628571240, $13.50 PB, $2.51 Kindle, 188pp,

"The origin of life is one of the great outstanding mysteries of science". ~ Paul Davies

Life's a formation that's been explored for centuries through different theories. Scientists have explored the relationship of many philosophies but have been proven wrong in their thinking of how life started.

This book provides a unique look into life as we know it could have begun. It shows how the Sumerian clay tablets played such an important role in history. This revelation is one that's fascinating to discover for I have never was aware of the importance it served nor that it even existed.

THE GREATEST STORY NEVER TOLD THE ASSURED TRIUMPH OF HUMAN INEVITABILITY AND SUPERIORITY has a distinctive voice that takes the reader on a once in a lifetime experience. The knowledge in this book is very eye-opening and I found I gained a high educational thought-provoking experience.

Elvis Newman has written an exceptional novel that begins with a fascinating exploration of the Lost Book of Enki. I felt this was the perfect introduction to start this journey of discovering how life was created. I feel this book is one that is worthy of being indoctrinated in the literary world.

Naughty Ever After: A Coloring Book of Erotic Fairy Tales
Chris Mason
9781370302697, Ebook, $TBA, Words: 250

Even fairy tales have a wicked side . . .

Once upon a time, there was a fair maiden in the land. What people didn't realize was that the young lass had an amount of spirit to her soul.

Throughout the pages of the book, you will get a glimpse of some of our most beloved childhood Prince and Princesses taking a turn for the naughty. This book is definitely for adult eyes only, for there are several scenes that will raise an eyebrow or two.

The illustrations in this book are bold and out of the ordinary of what you would think to find in a fairytale book. This book is definitely original, for I haven't ever experienced my childhood friends in such revealing scenes.

What's Your Sign? A Coloring Book of Geometrically Shaped Zodiac Signs
Chris Mason
978137083968, $TBA Ebook, Words: 260

"Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let the stars come to you as you embark on a Zodiac journey of wonderment. Each illustration leaps off the page and calls out for the color to add more depth to its beauty. The lines are superbly drawn and will make a stunning work of art once completed.

It is clear the artist who created these masterpieces is well versed in the art of creativity. As I took the time to study each one I could see how much pride he took in his creation. I can feel the connection that he is sending out to the viewer.

Chris Mason has once again come up with an ingenious idea to allow creativity to flow freely into the world. I thoroughly enjoyed this book for it had an out of the world feel that was simply enchanting. I feel this book will well receive by either youngsters or adults. It's assured to bring a special blend of magic to anyone's life.

Time Without
Veronica R. Tabares
Sun Break Publishing
9781609160180 $2.99, 374 pages

"It's amazing how things could change so quickly, in the blink of an eye. Maybe more miracles await on the horizon." ~Bryan Davis

Vanessa world went spinning out of control one morning when she received a call from Madigan Hospital. The words that her husband had been involved in an accident sent chills up her spine. She feared for her beloved life. The Doctor ensured her that he would recovery, but she feared his words were false. Until she seen him with her own eyes would she be convinced.

Philip Jensen was noted as the top time travel theorist in the world. For the past two years he has unable to find a job. His wife Annabel believes in him and encourages him to keep applying for positions that she knows he is qualified. His latest interview is with Dr. Morgan and is finished in less than two minutes, he knows that she didn't not take him serious when she asked two simply questions and led him to the door and slammed it in his face. To complicate matters further, he arrives home and learns that Annabel is pregnant.

When Philip learns that Dr. Morgan is leaving the hospital to pursue another job and that he is going to be called back for another chance to interview again. Will this be the opening that he has been seeking? As Vanessa arrives at the hospital what will she discover? Will her world be able to turn back to the normalcy her soul craves?

TIME WITHOUT is an outstanding novel. Each scene is masterfully crafted by the use of descriptive words that allow the full effects to be captured. The characters are some of the best that I have found. Each one lends their own special blend that allows the story to smoothly move forward.

It is evident that Veronica R. Tabares is a very talented author. This book has convinced me that she knows how to intertwine all of the required elements to make for one unforgettable novel. I am highly impressed wither her skill as a writer and would recommend her work to anyone who enjoys a book that is full of meaningful substance.

Terry Michael Gildow
Thurston Howl Publications
9781945247156, $14.99, 276 pages

The world as we know it will never be the same again...

The year was 1932; the Great Depression was running rapidly. It started in October of 1929 when the stock market crashed. This time took a toll on people in the United States. It caused a domino effect where investments topped, industrial output decline, and employment was at an all-time high.

In the Appalachian wild in Cumberland Maryland, the forest animals were also in a state of disarray. An American red squirrel named Sadie is tired of all of the turmoil that exists. She believes that if she breaks free of the forest her life will take a turn for the better.

Thu'jold, a great horned owl, convinces Sadie to come join him on an adventure. They set their sights on a mythical animal sanctuary called the Great Lake Eden. On their journey, they meet a host of characters, some of which include a deer named Rhea, a black bear named Rodney, and a mountain lion named Culpepper. As danger exists at every corner will they be strong enough to survive?

THICKET presents the Great Depression in the world of animals. This book shows how a great world travesty can have such a dramatic effect on another society. I found the descriptive language used showcased each scene in my mind's eye.

Terry Michael Gildow is an outstanding author with a very creative talent of writing a book that radiates its own special blend of uniqueness. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and feels that is one that will hold strong in the literary world.

Suzie Housley

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

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