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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 22, Number 4 April 2023 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Parenting Shelf Business Shelf
Photography Shelf Biography Shelf General Fiction Shelf
Historical Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Poetry Shelf Self-Help Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

Twist: An American Girl
Adele Bertei
ZE Books
9781736309339, $28.00, HC, 250pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Twist: An American Girl", iconoclastic writer and musician Adele Bertei reveals a wholly original hero's journey that wages war on the cliche of the "misery memoir."

Set in a 1960s and '70s American neighborhood rife with poverty and violence, fatherless Irish mothers and Italian mobsters, and women crucified into madness by misogyny, Bertei speaks through her electrically alive avatar Maddie Twist to flip the victim script. Through her unshakable belief in imagination, poetry, music, and community, she transforms trauma into survival. The immediacy of Maddie's voice is a revelation, providing insight into long-enduring systemic problems without the scrim of adult analysis. In an age of lies and obfuscation,

As a deeply personal and candid memoir, "Twist: An American Girl" is a sharp yet tender arrow to the heart of naked truth as Bertei reveals what it's like to be a queer teen at a time when discovery could be fatal.

Maddie peers deeply into the American psyche, refusing to consent to the systems of harm. Along the way we encounter an unforgettable schizophrenic mother, Catholic saints, West Side Story and Oliver!, poet killers, the abyss of rape, girl-gangsters and faux-pimps, teenage lesbian sex, racial tensions and misconceived divides, a drag family known as the Holy Maudlins, Vietnam vets in dark and light, cabaret, true family, rock and roll. And the ultimate saving grace: love.

A compelling personal history of queer culture from a working-class view and a glimpse into worlds yet unseen, "Twist: An American Girl" is good medicine: for readers who've experienced similar traumas, for teens caught in the foster care system, for the formerly incarcerated looking for hope, for writers grappling with how to tell their own stories. Most of all, it's for everyone seeking transportive experiences in art and on the page.

Critique: Fascinating, candid, informative, intimate, insightful, emotional, deftly crafted, intensely personal, "Twist: An American Girl" is one of those life stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Of special relevance to readers with an interest in LGBTQ biographies and memoirs, "Twist: An American Girl" is very strongly recommended for community and academic library American Biography/Memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Twist: An American Girl" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Adele Bertei ( an American singer, songwriter, writer and director whose music career began in Cleveland with Peter Laughner of Pere Ubu. She entered New York's downtown scene of the late 1970s as an organist for the Contortions and went on to form the Bloods, the first out, queer, all women-rock band. Bertei has appeared in several indie films, most notably Lizzie Borden's Born in Flames and The Offenders. As a singer/songwriter, she has toured with, written songs for, and recorded as a backup vocalist for a diverse group of artists including Tears for Fears, Thomas Dolby, Sandra Bernhard, Culture Club, Scritti Politti, Whitney Houston, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Sheena Easton, Oleta Adams, Lydia Lunch, the Pointer Sisters, Matthew Sweet, and Sophie B. Hawkins. Bertei charted top twenty internationally with featured leads on Thomas Dolby's "Hyperactive!" and Jellybean's "Just a Mirage." Bertei is also the author of Peter and the Wolves, a short memoir of her rock and roll education.

The Parenting Shelf

Your Child Learns Differently, Now What?
Roger Stark, author
Betsy Hill, author
Seabiscuit Press
9798987188200, $24.95, PB, 274pp

Synopsis: School is a struggle. Homework is a battleground. Nothing you've tried seems to help.

The education system isn't solving this problem-the cavalry isn't coming. And your child isn't going to outgrow these difficulties. In fact, what you don't know could be keeping your child from succeeding at school. Now what?

It doesn't have to be that way. In spite of what we were led to believe, intelligence isn't fixed and can improve. At the core of learning are mental processes called cognitive skills, which are how our brains learn. It's the "how" of learning, not the "what" of teaching that matters. By understanding this, you can help your child turn on their learning superpowers.

How? By taking advantage of your child's cognitive strengths and building up their cognitive weaknesses. And the place to start is in the pages of "Your Child Learns Differently, Now What?: The Truth for Parents", where you will discover: How your child learns is more important than what educators teach; There is proven neuroscience that can improve your child's cognitive skills; Your most underutilized asset is your child's ability to learn; You can create a roadmap for your child to succeed at learning and life.

"Your Child Learns Differently, Now What?: The Truth for Parents" includes a guide to helping parents understand how brains learn and how their child's brain learns best. This knowledge will empower parents like never before. Not only will they understand why their child reacts the way they do to school-they will be able to help them.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'parent friendly' in organization and presentation, "Your Child Learns Differently, Now What?: The Truth for Parents" is an invaluably informative DIY guide for parents having to deal with children who are not succeeding as they should in elementary school, middle school, or high school curriculums. While unreservedly recommended for community library Parenting collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Your Child Learns Differently, Now What?: The Truth for Parents" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Roger Stark ( is CEO of BrainWare Learning Company. Over the past fifteen years, he has championed efforts to bring comprehensive cognitive skills training and cognitive assessment within reach of everyone. He led the team that developed BrainWare SAFARI, now the most researched comprehensive, integrated cognitive training tool delivered online in the world. He was the first person ever invited to deliver a joint Congressional briefing on Neuroscience in the Classroom.

Editorial Note #2: Betsy Hill ( studied the neuroscience of learning with Dr. Patricia Wolfe and other pioneers in the field, coining the term neuroeducator. She is former chair of the board of trustees at Chicago State University and teaches strategic thinking at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management where she received a Contribution to Learning Excellence Award. She received a Nepris Trailblazer Award for sharing her knowledge, skills and passion for the neuroscience of learning in classrooms around the U.S. She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching and a MBA from Northwestern University.

The Business Shelf

Your Company Is Your Castle
Sandeep Chennakeshu
Fedd Books
9781957616049, $24.99, HC, 328pp

Synopsis: Companies emerge from smart people with clever ideas. However, vision alone is not enough when only one out of three companies lasts ten years. It takes a systematic approach to making a company sustainably successful.

With the publication of Your Company Is Your Castle: Proven Methods for Building a Resilient Business", Sandeep Chennakeshu, a business transformation veteran, compares building a company to that of a medieval castle that has withstood the test of time, having weathered nature's elements and hordes of invaders. Sandeep ties eight structural elements of such castles to eight essential elements that make a company thrive.

He also describes how to assess and systematically build a company's business model, financial health, strategy, culture, products, sales channels, execution, and stakeholder confidence to make the company formidable. "Your Company Is Your Castle" will equip you with critical insights and principles to build strong businesses and in turn build yourself into a strong leader.

Using evocative examples from diverse companies and stories from his thirty-year career of transforming companies and launching trailblazing products globally, Sandeep gives entrepreneurs and managers at all levels and all disciplines in a company a blueprint and 'how-to' manual needed for not only building a lasting company, but defending, protecting, and expanding it.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Your Company Is Your Castle: Proven Methods for Building a Resilient Business" is ideal and instructive reading for entrepreneurs and small business owners wanting to not only successfully launch an enterprise, but to have it thriving year after year, decade after decade. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and business school Contemporary Business & Entrepreneurship Studies collections, it should be noted that "Your Company Is Your Castle: Proven Methods for Building a Resilient Business" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Sandeep Chennakeshu ( earned a postgraduate diploma in industrial management from the Indian Institute of Science and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Southern Methodist University. He then entered the electronics industry and led the development and launches of technology that billions use every day via cell phones, electronics, medical equipment, and cars. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and a named inventor on 180 patents. After two decades in corporate roles as CTO of Ericsson Mobile Phones and Sony Ericsson, President of Ericsson Mobile Platforms, SVP at Freescale, President of BlackBerry Technology Solutions, and EVP of AMD, Sandeep is currently COO at Uhnder Inc.

The Photography Shelf

People & Places: Robert Kareka
William O'Rourke, editor
Dos Madres Press
9781953252708, $30.00, PB, 215pp

Synopsis: "Robert Kareka: People & Places" showcases one of the late Robert Kareka's (1934-2020) many talents, concentrating on his black and white photographs from, chiefly, the 1960s, '70s, '80s.

Curated by his friend of a half-century, William O'Rourke, memorializes their connection by means of a long introduction in the form of a memoir, which chronicles Kareka's artistic development as a photographer and sketches various highlights and lowlights of his long life and their sustained connection.

For this memorial volume of Kareka photos, O'Rourke in his role as editor selected and compiled over eighty black and white photographs of Kareka's work. The result is an impressive and representative selection culled from a life lived with intensity, purpose and the aesthetic victories of one man's lifetime in photography.

Critique: This large format paperback edition of "People & Places: Robert Kareka" is a fascinating collection of black/white photos to simply browse through one thoughtful, full page, title captioned image at a time. With photography raised to the level of fine art, "People & Places: Robert Kareka" is highly recommended to dedicated students and practitioners of photography, as well as personal, community, and academic library American Photography & Photographer collections.

Editorial Note: William O'Rourke ( is an Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame and the author of The Harrisburg 7 and the New Catholic Left (1972), Signs of the Literary Times: Essays, Reviews, Profiles (1993), On Having a Heart Attack: A Medical Memoir (2006), Campaign America '96: The View From the Couch (1997), Campaign America 2000: The View From the Couch (2001), Confessions of a Guilty Freelancer (2012), Politics and the American Language: Reviews, Rants, and Commentary, 2011-2018 (2020), as well as the novels The Meekness of Isaac (1974), Idle Hands (1981), Criminal Tendencies (1987), Notts (1996), and has edited two anthologies.

The Biography Shelf

Lady of the Army: The Life of Mrs. George S. Patton
Stefanie Van Steelandt
Minnegate Press
9798986928005, $34.00, HC, 498pp

Synopsis: General George Patton once remarked that World War II undoubtedly would have lasted a lot longer were it not for his soldiers and his wife. Those who knew the Pattons were aware of the vital role Beatrice Patton played in his reaching his destiny, but few others understood the singular impact of this remarkable woman whom people described as having "a personality which radiates like a brilliant gem".

The arduous army life was alien to Beatrice growing up on Boston's Commonwealth Avenue, but her adventurous spirit and insatiable curiosity allowed her to adapt quickly. She became an immediate asset to her husband's career and continuously fanned the flames of his burning ambition, walking beside him on his path to glory while maintaining her own identity. As comfortable on the back of a magnificent steed as at the helm of a great schooner, she became an authority on Hawaiian legends while stationed on the islands twice.

Critique: A masterpiece of seminal research, "Lady of the Army: The Life of Mrs. George S. Patton" is an extraordinary, detailed, and unique biography of a remarkable woman married to a now legendary American military leader in both World War I and World War II. This exceptionally well written, organized and presented biography is informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a four page Family Tree, forty-four pages of Notes, a six page Bibliography, and an eight page Index. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Lady of the Army: The Life of Mrs. George S. Patton" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library 20th Century American Biography and World War II History collections.

Editorial Note: An independent scholar and blogger who spent the last twenty years studying biography, Stefanie Van Steelandt grew up near Belgium's Liberty Road, which General Patton and his Third Army followed during WWII.

The General Fiction Shelf

Black Child to Black Woman
Cheryl Bannerman
Bannerman Books
9781735335209, $12.99, PB, 194pp

Synopsis: When twenty-four-year-old Tara Walker goes home for her brother's funeral, she discovers the secret journal she started when she was eight. As she reads, she is pulled back into her complicated, raw, and often frightening childhood, where drug addiction, alcoholism and predators brought chaos into her privileged, middle-class home.

Through the love and guidance of her hard-working parents, Tara navigated these threats and matures into a smart, strong, young woman. Yet, even as she celebrates small personal victories, she spirals into a dark depression from disturbing family secrets and rejection. Through it all, she journals her changing perspective on the world around her and continues to smile in the face of adversity.

When it's time for Tara to become a mother herself, she must once again conquer her traumatic past to discover the true meaning of life, happiness, family and unconditional love. Tara's gripping, raw and illuminating coming-of-age journey will captivate readers as they watch this intelligent black child grow into an extraordinary black woman.

Critique: Original and compelling, "Black Child to Black Woman" by Cheryl Bannerman is a African-American coming-of- age novel. Exceptionally well written, this is one of those unique stories that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Black Child to Black Woman" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Cheryl Bannerman ( is a multi-genre author of nine published works of fiction and originally from New Jersey. After only five years of self-publishing various titles, she won the 2018 Book Excellence Award for her book of poetry, Words Never Spoken, a self-improvement book offering lines for journaling and healing from an abusive relationship.

It Could Never Happen Here
Eithne Shortall
9781838951870, $15.95, PB, 400pp

Synopsis: Beverley Franklin will do whatever it takes to protect her local school's reputation. So when a scandal involving her own daughter threatens to derail the annual school musical's appearance on national television, Beverley goes into overdrive. But in her efforts to protect her daughter and keep the musical on track, she misses what's really going, both in her own house and in the insular Glass Lake community -- with dramatic consequences. Glass Lake primary school's reputation is about to be shattered!

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, compelling, entertaining, "It Could Never Happen Here" by author Eithne Shortall will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in women oriented family life fiction. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49), "It Could Never Happen Here" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Eithne Shortall ( studied journalism at Dublin City University and has lived in London, France and America. Now based in Dublin, she is editor of the Home magazine at the Sunday Times Ireland. Her debut novel, Love in Row 27, was a major Irish bestseller, and the follow-up, Grace After Henry, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards and won Best Page Turner at the UK's Big Book Awards. Her third novel, Three Little Truths, was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.

Zieglitz's Blessing
Michael Goldberg
Cascade Books
c/o Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401-2960
9781666740073, $30.00, HC, 208pp

Synopsis: From childhood, Rod Zieglitz questions the truthfulness of his Hebrew name, which means "God will show mercy". Sometimes that name seems fitting. At other times, though, it strikes Zieglitz as a cruel joke. Only on his deathbed, grappling with the challenges he's faced, does Zieglitz rightly understand the notion of God's blessing for the first time.

Critique: With the publication of "Zieglitz's Blessing", author Michael Goldberg has created that rare mix blending a religiously serious fiction with irreverent humor. Original, compelling, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Zieglitz's Blessing" is one of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Of special appeal to readers with an interest in Jewish Fiction and recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Zieglitz's Blessing" is also available in a paperback edition (9781666740066, $20.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Michael Goldberg ( has been a Jewish Studies professor, management consultant, hospice chaplain, and congregational rabbi. Among his other books are: Jews and Christians, Getting our Stories Straight (1985); Why Should Jews Survive?: Looking Past the Holocaust Toward a Jewish Future (1995); and Raising Spirits: Stories of Suffering and Comfort at Death's Door (2010).

The Historical Fiction Shelf

Madame Pommery
Rebecca Rosenberg
Lion Heart Publishing
9781732969940, $18.00, PB, 347pp

Synopsis: Champagne, France, 1860. Madame Pommery, an etiquette teacher and orphanage founder, loses her husband and is forced to support her family. With no experience, the forty-year-old widow decides to make champagne. Her unique vision is to change it from a sweet dessert beverage to a dry, crisp wine to be enjoyed anytime. When champagne makers refuse to teach her their craft, she forges ahead on her own and secretly begins the excavation of champagne caves under the Reims city dump.

Soon after, her son and her entire crew are conscripted to fight the Franco-Prussian war, leaving Madame Pommery alone to struggle with her champagne dreams. After Napoleon and a hundred thousand French troops are captured, the Prussians invaded France, and Prussian General Frederick Franz occupies Madame Pommery's house as his army headquarters. Undaunted, Pommery uses her secret wine caves to hide the Francs-Tireurs, resistance fighters for France, while she plans to build a spectacular castle winery above the caves.

But when her former lover, a Scottish Baron, unexpectedly proposes marriage, Madame Pommery must choose between nobility and her passionate quest for fine champagne and the most beautiful winery in the world.

Critique: Based on a true story, "Madame Pommery" by Rebecca Rosenberg is an heroic novel about a mother and widow who fights the Prussians, the social class system, champagne patriarchs, and champagne tastes to create a champagne legacy. With a special appeal to readers with an interest in historical fiction with a female protagonist, "Madame Pommery" is an inherently entertaining read and unreservedly recommended as an addition to both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Madame Pommery" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Rebecca Rosenberg ( is an award-winning novelist, champagne geek, and lavender farmer. Rebecca first fell in love with 'methode champenoise' in Sonoma Valley, California. Over decades of delicious research, she has explored the wine cellars of France, Spain, Italy, and California in search of fine champagne. When Rebecca discovered the real-life stories of the Champagne Widows of France, she knew she'd dedicate years to telling the stories of these remarkable women who made champagne the worldwide phenomenon it is today. Rebecca is a champagne historian, tour guide, and champagne cocktail expert for Breathless Wines. Her other award-winning novels include The Secret Life of Mrs. London and Gold Digger, the Remarkable Baby Doe Tabor.

Wolf Catcher
Anne Montgomery
TouchPoint Press
9781956851076, $16.99, PB, 372pp

Synopsis: In 1939, archaeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The entombed man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate beadwork, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine-hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician's origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archaeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

Critique: Blending archaeology and Native American mythology, "Wolf Catcher" by novelist Anne Montgomery is an original, exceptionally well written, and compelling work of historical fiction that is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wolf Catcher" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Anne Butler Montgomery ( has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, and amateur sports official. She was also a freelance and/or staff reporter for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces. Her novels include The Castle, The Scent of Rain, A Light in the Desert, and Wild Horses on the Salt. Anne Montgomery taught high school journalism for 20 years and was an amateur sports official for four decades, a time during which she called baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball games and served as a high school football referee and crew chief.

The Shining Mountains
Alix Christie
High Road Books
c/o University of New Mexico Press
1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87131-0001
9780826364654, $27.95, HC, 344pp

Synopsis: The year is 1838. A young Scotsman forced from his homeland arrives at Hudson's Bay. Angus McDonald is contracted to British masters to trade for fur. But the world he discovers is beyond even a Highlander's wildest imaginings: raging rivers, buffalo hunts, and the powerful daughter of an ancient and magnificent people. In Catherine Baptiste, kin to Nez Perce chiefs, Angus recognizes a kindred spirit.

The Rocky Mountain West in which they meet will soon be torn apart by competing claims: between British fur traders, American settlers, and the Native peoples who have lived for millennia in the valleys and plateaus of the Shining Mountains' western slopes.

Critique: An impressively original, truly epic, and memorable saga, "The Shining Mountains" by Alix Christie is a deftly crafted historical novel that draws from the genuine history of the early 19th Century American West, now revealed in all its 'terror, beauty, and complexity'. While unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections, "The Shining Mountains" is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $27.95).

Editorial Note: Alix Christie ( is the direct descendant of Angus McDonald's brother Duncan. Her debut novel was "Gutenberg's Apprentice" (Harper Books, 2014). For the past thirty years she has reported for newspapers in California and from Europe as a foreign correspondent, including for the Washington Post, the Guardian of London, the San Francisco Chronicle, and She currently reviews books and arts for The Economist.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

108 Dreams
Cheryl Wheeler
Independently Published
9798769929045, $10.80, PB, 119pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "108 Dreams", author and poet Cheryl Wheeler presents prose poetry insights into our collective human subconscious worlds while showcasing the deliciously absurd, the tragic, the bizarre mechanics that our brains use to process our daily lives.

These succinctly crafted short stories render her captured dreams reflecting twisting mundane daily concepts of reality into the dizzying shared human experiences of suffering, loss, shame, resignation, confusion, grief, humor, love, compassion, perseverance, and strength.

Critique: Original, absorbing, reflective, contemplative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, and highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Contemporary Literary Studies collections, "108 Dreams" is an extraordinary and compelling collection that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after this slim anthology is finished and set back upon the shelf.

Editorial Note: Cheryl Wheeler ( is a creative, experienced, purpose-driven cross-functional professional with expertise in designing and implementing customized transformative educational programs at the University of Washington for diverse learners across multiple disciplines, continuously seeking opportunities to affect positive change, particularly in environmental conservation and regeneration. She is an optimistic pessimist who creates, and sometimes writes about, both reality and non-reality.

Ten Golden Fields: Secrets Unveiled
Wen E. Henagan
Yellow Bear Books
9780578279701, $11.99, PB, 115pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Ten Golden Fields: Secrets Unvailed", author Wen Henagan presented a collection of ten very short fiction tales, each of which is between 7-10 pages in length.

Each deftly crafted short story is designed for maximum good reading. Characters shine and speak to truth, as they see it. Time periods are the far past, recent past, near present, or near future. Plots are geared to involve readers very quickly. Endings surprise and are compelling. Genres are varied and as readers move from story to story, there is no intended thread, except that stories are difficult to put down until readers know the ending. At that point emotions may be boiled, roiled or coiled.

Critique: Having a very special appeal for readers with an interest in the very short story format, "Ten Golden Fields: Secrets Unveiled" is a large coffee-table style (8.5 x 0.26 x 11 inches) paperback anthology that is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted further that "Ten Golden Fields: Secrets Unveiled" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Extreme Vetting
Roxana Arama
Ooligan Press
9781947845381, $18.00, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: Seattle, Washington, 2019. Attorney and single mom Laura Holban is an immigrant herself, guiding clients through a Kafkaesque system of ever-changing federal immigration rules, where overworked judges make life-shattering decisions in minutes. Laura's newest client is Emilio Ramirez, who was arrested in front of his sons at their high school and thrown in detention.

When Laura files for Emilio's asylum, the world turns upside down. False criminal charges prevent his release, someone is following his family, and an ICE prosecutor threatens to revoke Laura's US citizenship. None of it makes sense -- until she uncovers a deadly conspiracy involving ICE, stolen data, and human trafficking.

Now the man at the center of it all is coming after Laura and Emilio, who must find a way to survive -- and keep their families safe!

Critique: A riveting thriller of suspense, politics, and one of the major social issues of our day, "Extreme Vetting" by author Roxana Arama is all the more impressive when considering that it is her debut as a novelist. "Extreme Vetting" is a deftly crafted novel that is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Extreme Vetting" (the stuff of which movies are made!) is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

Editorial Note: Roxana Arama ( is a Romanian American author with a master of fine arts in creative writing from Goddard College. She studied computer science in Bucharest, Romania, and moved to the United States to work in software development. Her short stories and essays have been published in several literary magazines.

The Cannastar Factor
Stephen Steele
Speaking Volumes
9781645404255, $17.95, PB, 378pp

Synopsis: Alex Farmer, M.D. is a former drug addict trying to put his tortured life behind him. Cyd Seeley is a brilliant botanist and rancher in dire financial straits. Inadvertently, they are thrown together when a mutual friend is murdered after developing an inexpensive, organically grown cure for viral diseases.

The miracle plant is called Cannastar and it cures all manner of viruses from Coronavirus and cancer, to HIV and herpes. Cannastar costs next to nothing to grow, returns the hopelessly ill to good health, and threatens to bankrupt the pharmaceutical industry. Big Pharma will stop at nothing to keep it off the market.

Aided by faithful Native Americans from the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana and the Navajo Nation in Arizona, Cyd and Alex fight to grow Cannastar and bring it to a desperate world. Their harrowing and perilous journey ranges from the Rocky Mountain wilderness, to the political corruption of Washington D.C., to the jungles of Mexico, to the deserts of the Southwest.

Critique: "The Cannastar Factor" by Stephen Steele was originally published under the title "A Cure to Die For". This newly and extensively rewritten, revised, expanded and updated edition is now part of a 3-book series entitled "The Trouble with Miracles". Filled with mystery and suspense, "The Cannastar Factor" is part adventure and part love story; a timely thriller that unfolds with endless surprises and heartwarming relationships; and an epic novel about the resolute passions of two people who stand against a broken world. With a special appeal for fans of mystery, suspense, medical thrillers with more plot twists and turns than a Disneyland roller-coaster, "The Cannastar Factor" is unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Cannastar Factor' is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: Stephen Steele ( is a graduate of the University of North Texas with degrees in English Literature and Marketing. He is also the author of the adventure thriller series "The Trouble with Miracles" and be visited on Facebook and Twitter.

Musky Run
Jeff Nania
Feet Wet Writing
9781960681003, $17.99, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: Olympic medalist Anna MacDonald comes home to Namekagon County to emcee the Great Wilderness Race as predators stalk the Northwoods. While occasional interactions with potentially dangerous animals are old hat for most residents, this changes when unpredictable behavior patterns make it unclear who is the hunter and who is the hunted. Sheriff John Cabrelli and the new Musky Falls chief of police work swiftly to keep the community calm as they try to piece together the clues before it is too late.

Critique: Following the novels "Figure Eight", "Spider Lake", and "Bough Cutter", this newly published edition of "Musky Run" is the fourth book in the award-winning Northern Lakes Mystery series by Jeff Nania. With a special interest for fans of crime fiction and police procedurals, "Musky Run" is an original, compelling and memorable read from cover to cover. While highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of mystery buffs that "Musky Run" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Jeff Nania ( draws upon careers in law enforcement, conservation, and his passion for our natural resources to weave together his award-winning Northern Lakes Mysteries.

Aria for Murder
Erica Miner
Level Best Books
9781685121983, $16.95, PB, 254pp

Synopsis: Excitement mounts as the moment arrives for brilliant young violinist Julia Kogan's debut in the orchestra of the world-renowned Metropolitan Opera. But the high-stakes milieu of this musical mecca is rocked to its core when, during an on-stage murder scene, Julia's mentor, a famous conductor, is assassinated on the podium.

Thrust into the investigation when her closest colleague in the orchestra is named chief suspect, Julia teams up with opera-loving NYPD detective Larry Somers to solve the murder. In the process, they are shocked to discover the venerable opera house is rife with a web of secrets, intrigue, and lethal rivalries. But all bets are off when Julia suddenly finds herself the real killer's prime target!

Critique: A cosy mystery at its very best, "Aria for Murder" is the first of novelist Erica Miner's 'A Julia Kogan Opera Mystery' trilogy from Level Best Books. A fun read from cover to cover, "Aria for Murder" deftly combines the elements of a traditional 'whodunnit' detective mystery with a memorable crafted amateur female sleuth. The stuff of which Hallmark TV mystery movies are made, "Aria for Murder" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Aria for Murder" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Formerly a Metropolitan Opera Orchestra violinist for 21 years, Erica Miner now enjoys a multi-faceted career as an award-winning author, lecturer, screenwriter, and arts journalist. Erica's passion for Bringing Murder and Music together is embodied in her 3-part Opera Mystery novel series, now being re-published by Level Best Books, starting with "Aria for Murder" (which draws on Erica's own real-life experiences working at the New York Metropolitan Opera). Erica has given workshops for Sisters in Crime; Los Angles Creative Writing Conference; EPIC Group Writers; Write on the Sound; Fields End Writer's Community; Savvy Authors; and numerous libraries on the west coast.

Spider: Every Marriage Has A Secret
Azma Dar
Datura Books
9781915523006, $17.99, PB, 336pp

Synopsis: Sophie is an aspiring British Pakistani actress whose only claim to fame (despite her vast and unscrupulous ambitions) is the unplanned on-camera birth of her son, a clip which has become something of a cult favourite on the Indian B movie scene. Her husband, Tariq, is a pillar of Bradford's Muslim community and her perfect match, until his sudden disappearance under mysterious circumstances. When a body is found, presumed to be his, but disfigured in a way that makes identification difficult, Sophie is distraught.

Tariq was her 'third time lucky husband'. Her first, Amir, came out of a childhood sweetheart relationship that couldn't last, and her rebound marriage to doting Faraz, a recent immigrant to the UK and obsessed with the Royal Family, was even shorter lived. Is Sophie just luckless or is there more to her than meets the eye? And maybe, just maybe, one of her exes has something to do with Tariq's untimely death. Might one of them be responsible for the threatening letters? Sophie herself is guilty of something, but is murder part of her ambition?

Critique: A riveting and carefully crafted read from first to last, "Spider" showcases author Azma Dar's impressive narrative driven storytelling skills. Original, engaging, entertaining, and memorable, "Spider" is a fascinating novel that will prove to be an enduringly popular community library acquisition. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Spider" is also available from Datura Books in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Azma Dar is an author and playwright. She has written three full-length theatre productions, several short plays, a radio play for BBC Asian Network and has a forthcoming play entitled NOOR at Southwark Playhouse in November 2022. Her debut novel, The Secret Arts, was published by Dean Street Press in 2015.

Operation DFC
Janelle Taylor, author
Ashley Fontainne, author
Independently Published
9798366913607, $20.99, HC, 362pp

Synopsis: Operation DFC involves an elite team ready to act on recent intel that over a thousand men and/or their remains are still behind enemy lines. Bangkok is the last stopping point before slipping into Vietnam and extracting as many American prisoners as possible.

For one particular operative, this is personal because from 1971 to 1973, he was a POW; now, ten years later, he works for the CIA under the fake identity of John Sims, Field Expert for Crop World, an international firm run by the agency.

While "John Sims" is in his hotel room, the unthinkable happens. Bangkok may end up being his greatest challenge as his courage, patriotism, and honor are on the line, and he finds himself in the toughest physical and mental battle of his life -- wondering if Operation DFC will be his first and last covert mission.

Critique: An riveting novel that will hold a very special appeal to readers with an interest in Cold War era clandestine black ops. Original, clever, deftly crafted, and with more unexpected plot twists and turns than a Coney Island roller-coaster, "Operation DFC" by co-authors Janelle Taylor and Ashley Fontainne is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Operation DFC" is also available in a paperback edition (9798366909396, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Cyberwars: David Knight Goes To Moscow
Avraham Shama
3rd Coast Books
9781946743572, $17.95, PB, 281pp

Synopsis: In 1999, David Knight is sent to Moscow by the CIA to gather information that could help the U.S. decide how much aid to extend to Russia. He accidentally learns that Russia's newly-elected president, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, is investing heavily in developing new cyberweapons to invade the U.S. and other countries, like Ukraine -- as would become evident in 2022.

This discovery drives the new and young CIA consultant and professor mad. He feels a sudden surge of patriotism, which motivates him to take unfamiliar risks and convince his handler to respond to Putin's planned aggression.

This experience also helps the Anglo David Knight redeem himself from past failures and develop a loving relationship with Toni Chavez -- a newly-minted Latina professor of political science.

Critique: A deftly crafted and simply riveting read with more unexpected plot twists and turns than a Disneyland roller- coaster, "Cyberwars: David Knight Goes To Moscow" by Avraham Shama will have a very special appeal to fans of technothriller and espionage stories. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99), "Cyberwars: David Knight Goes To Moscow" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Avraham Shama ( is an award-winning writer, professor, and consultant. He specializes in the Russian economy and in the spread of new technologies. Shama has published extensively in these areas. He holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science and an M.B.A. from the Hebrew University, and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, the Kellogg School of Management.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Tides of Chaos
Christopher Bramley
Sanctum Publishing
9780993127380, $42.99, HC, 752pp

Synopsis: A dark force emerges in the ancient West as Eordeland tries to ignore the coming war. Darklings walk the earth once again, their holds on the chaos within men strengthening by the day.

The Dragons are restless. The Dwarves are not answering. The visions found in the Hall of Wyrms have yet to be understood, and the Nameless One lurks as inhuman creatures slaughter and defile throughout the lands.

The seemingly trivial task of deciphering Aldwyn's work to find the deeper threats behind the war has fallen to Karland and Xhera -- but Demons a continent away are not the only danger as other enemies also ride the rising tides of Chaos!

Their first journey saw the rise of legends. Their second may see the destruction of Eordeland... or even Anaria itself.

Critique: The second book in the impressive Kuln dark fantasy series, "Tides of Chaos" by Christopher Bramley is set in a detailed world of imagination, legend, magic, and adventure. A consistently riveting read from cover to cover, "Tides of Chaos" continues an inherently engaging read that is a 'must' for all dedicated action/adventure fantasy saga fans. While also available in a paperback edition (9780993127373, $21.99) and a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Tides of Chaos" is unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections.

Editorial Note: British novelist Christopher Bramley ( is the author of the World of Kuln series, as well as other diverse stories, and also writes articles and books in both non-fiction and business.

The Serpent Calls
Christopher Bramley
Sanctum Publishing
9780993127366, $36.99, HC, 558pp

Synopsis: War is coming as ancient creatures stir upon the face of Kuln, and the times grow dark. An ordinary boy reluctantly joins his mentor in an effort to find out what afflicts the lands, but time grows short. Chaos is growing -- and they are being hunted!

The realms are inexorably moving towards conflict. Forces of legend stir as the balance shifts. Eordeland itself trembles, and at the heart of the unrest moves a small group seeking answers, thrown together by circumstance. For Karland, the sights, experiences and beings he will encounter will change him forever. The darkness spreads, and the stakes could yet be higher than anyone imagined...

What will be their fate when The Serpent Calls?

Critique: The first book in a stunning new Fantasy trilogy by Christopher Bramley, "The Serpent Calls" set in a detailed world of imagination, legend, magic, and adventure. Original, fascinating, compelling, and featuring a narrative driven story telling style and a gifted imagination, "The Serpent Calls" will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in Epic Sword & Sorcery sagas. While especially recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated Dark Fantasy fans that "The Serpent Calls" is also available in a paperback edition (9780993127304, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.13).

Editorial Note: Christopher Bramley ( lives in the UK and is the author of the World of Kuln series, as well as other diverse stories, and also writes articles and books in non-fiction and business. He moonlights as a TEDx and conference speaker, coach, and consultant for executives and organizations in complexity, agility, resilience, and human learning. Chris is atypically autistic (ASD 1/2, with likely dyscalculia and occasional dyspraxia), and has differences in sensory and emotional input, as well as increased sensitivity in all of them, and annoyingly persistent imposter syndrome, so he sees different patterns and linkages in the world. He is very imperfect with a lot of his dreams ending up in his books. He can be followed on Twitter: @christopbramley

Love Like a Cephalopod
Cassondra Windwalker
Bayou Wolf Press
9781737752561, $14.99, PB, 202pp

Synopsis: Being an executioner for the state is exhausting, but after a lifetime of dispatching the criminal and the inconvenient, fifty-eight-year-old Grenda finds it does have its compensations. Her cat-sized dragon Bjartur and the dragon eggs she tends are all the friends and family she needs. Completely cut off from the outside world, she happily accepts the luxuries owed her status (including a pet octopus named Morrigan) without the faintest twinge of conscience or doubt.

All that changes when she encounters the most unexpected nemesis: a young refugee girl whom Grenda is incapable of executing. Against her will, Grenda finds herself shifting from killer to caretaker, risking her life to defy the state she's never questioned and help young Allora to freedom. Everything Grenda thinks she knows about her world, her life, and even her own identity cascades out of her control -- including the dragon-bond she holds dearer than life itself.

Critique: A deftly crafted dystopian novel that will have immense appeal to Science Fiction & Fantasy fans, "Love Like a Cephalopod" by Cassondra Windwalker is impressively original and features that kind of narrative driven storytelling style that, from first page to last, keeps and holds her reader's attention and just won't let go! While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Love Like a Cephalopod" is also readily available from Bayou Wolf Press in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note: A gifted poet, eloquent essayist, and compelling novelist, Cassondra Windwalker, ( is presently writing full-time from the southern Alaskan coast. She enjoys hearing from readers via Twitter @WindwalkerWrite, Instagram @CassondraWindwalker, Facebook.

The Book of Azrael
Amber Nicole
Rose & Star Publishing
9781737706779, $33.99, HC, 470pp

Synopsis: A thousand years ago, Dianna gave up her life in the deserts of Eoria to save her dying sister. She called upon anyone who would listen, not expecting a monster far worse than any nightmare to answer. Now she does what Kaden asks, even if that means securing an ancient relic from the very creatures that hunt her.

In the old world his name was Samkiel. In the new world it is Liam, but one title remains true throughout time. He is the World Ender, a myth to his enemies, a savior and King to those loyal to him. After the Gods War, he locked himself away, hiding from the world. He denied his crown and responsibilities, leaving the very ones who needed him most to deal with the fallout of the death of their homeworld. Now an attack on those he holds dear sends him back to the one realm he never wished to visit again and into the sights of an enemy he thought imprisoned eons ago.

Now enemies older than time must put aside their differences and work together in hopes of saving both their world and every realm in between!

Critique: An original and compelling read from first page to last, "The Book of Azrael" by novelist Amber Nicole is an exceptional, riveting, and romantic dark fantasy saga with more plot twists and turns than a Disneyland roller-coaster. Having a special appeal to readers with an interest in folklore, mythology, and action/adventure fantasy, "The Book of Azrael" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of fantasy fans that "The Book of Azrael" is also available in a paperback edition (9781737706755, $20.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: Amber Nicole is an author who works full time helping animals as a vet assistant. When she isn't working she is dreaming of far off places with dragons, magic, and swords. She loves a good villain and plans to tell many stories showcasing them in the spotlight.

The Bridge to Magic
Alex Thornbury
Shadow Lore Publishing
9780645497038, $34.99, HC, 420pp

Synopsis: Elika is an orphan on Terren's streets who hates and fears the bridge that spans the great chasm to the Deadlands. Like everyone else, she clings to the hope that purging every lingering echo of magic from the world can stop the Blight.

Then she discovers that magic is hiding within her, and through her it seeks to enact the will of its own. Everything Elika knew about her past shatters, as long-buried secrets about her true birth emerge.

Accused of being a mage, many doubt her loyalties. Her gang turns against her. The one man she thought she could trust and love, abandons her. Elika must soon decide: Either destroy the magic inside her or cross the bridge to her own uncertain end. But what awaits them in the Deadlands where the enemy of mankind roams wild? Her future or her end?

Critique: A dystopian fantasy by Alex Thornbury, "The Bridge to Magic" is a gripping story of a life between two deaths and an impossible choice to make. It is also a story of finding hope, love and survival in a world where none seems possible. Original, compelling, and of particular appeal to readers with an interest in deftly written dark fantasy novels, "The Bridge to Magic" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated epic fantasy fans that "The Bridge to Magic" is also available in a paperback edition (9780645497007, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Alex Thornebury ( is an award-winning author. She grew up in Cheshire UK, and developed deep love of history and fantasy thanks to the many castles she visited as a child. Though she grew up to be an Alchemist by trade, she never stopped fantasizing about other worlds, dragons and epic battles. She has abandoned her Alchemy and potion making career, and is now a full time author. Her debut fantasy book, "The Bridge to Magic", has won the 2022 Royal Dragonfly book award for Science Fiction/Fantasy.

Love Chronicles of the Octopodes
Karen An-hwei Lee
Ellipsis Press
9781940400105, $20.00, PB, 232pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Love Chronicles of the Octopodes", author and storyteller Karen An-hwei Lee presents a dystopic future of unregulated gene editing in which a woman named Emily wakes up on the wrong side of the universe as an octopus thanks to rogue "designer genes" run amok.

One of thousands of clones generated from a genetic code sequenced from a lock of hair saved from the original Emily Dickinson, the ersatz Emily resembles an octopus but harbors the soul of a human poet and navigates her life in a lagoon as a bumbling "rogue soul" enamored of black spice cake, botanical monographs, and gingerbread recipes, while romanced by personified moonlight.

Critique: Original, compelling, thought-provoking, entertaining, "Love Chronicles of the Octopodes" will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in genetic engineering and its possible consequences. "Love Chronicles of the Octopodes" is a unique and unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans, as well as community and academic library Science Fiction collections,

Editorial Note: Karen An-hwei Lee ( is the author of the novels The Maze of Transparencies and Sonata in K. Several of her recent poetry collections are Duress (Cascade Books), Rose Is a Verb: Neo- Georgics (Slant Books), Phyla of Joy (Tupelo Press), and In Medias Res (Sarabande Books).

The Poetry Shelf

Still Love
Jack Powers
Golden Antelope Press
9781952232756, $16.95, PB, 106pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Still Love", poet Jack Powers, in five sets of "broken" sonnets, pulls his readers into and through the lives, decisions, regrets and celebrations of a score of deeply human characters -- himself included.

From teenager Jack, who tries to "rig" the Catholic confessional system, to ancient Bob, who tends his dying Joan gently after 62 years of marriage, we watch and find ourselves rooting for Powers' people. We want his seeds to grow, his buds to blossom, his dying leaves to drift in pleasant breezes. We hear the quiet laughter hiding under the songs. Still, life is complex, and Jack Powers feels that complexity with the sensitivity of a seismometer, records it with the accuracy of a mathematician or painter, and plays it like jazz.

As sonnet rules loosen, lines lengthen, images double back and become symbols, and stories echo other stories.

Last Acts come first in this collection, followed by portraits of relationships which are Still Love: a stoned teen grilling burgers for his family; Alice Neel painting brutally honest self-portraits. Sonnet form runs like tangled wire through Powers' book, perhaps most noticeably in the Still Love pieces, and in the section titled Unruly Love, where form and content collaborate in unruling the expected rules. Noble Suffering poems are case studies testing philosophical notions about the value of suffering with tentative results. Still, the final section of Still Love, aptly titled Surrender, ends with a memory of a young Jack, "floating, surrendering/ to the current, a contented speck of the quick river, white moon, black night."

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, compelling, "Still Love" is one of those collections of verse that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book has been finished and set back upon the shelf. The poetry by Jack Powers and comprising "Still Love" will be of special appeal to readers with an interest in poems about marriage family, and aging. Simply stated, "Still Love" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Contemporary American Poetry collections.

Editorial Note: Jack Powers ( is the author of "Everybody's Vaguely Familiar". His poems and essays have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, The New York Times and elsewhere. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 RAttle Poetry Prizes. He recently retired from Joel Barlow High School after 38 years of teaching special education, English and math.

Through Rose-Colored Glasses: A Recollection of Memories
Jennifer Neville
Independently Published
9798374524826, $24.99, HC, 85pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Through Rose-Colored Glasses: A Recollection of Memories", Jennifer Neville provides slim compendium of original prose poetry that reflects back on her life and career as a former professional golfer, and how it all made sense after she fell in and out of love with the man who was ultimately the vice for her to find herself.

In this relatable love story, she also shares some of the teachings she has learned through her spiritual work as a Celebrity Astrologer and Tarot Reader. The result is a distinctive and inherently fascinating kind of memoir about how heartbreak can be a catalyst to manifest and create the life you have always been called to.

Critique: Eloquent, relatable, insightful, reflective, inspiring, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Through Rose-Colored Glasses: A Recollection of Memories" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Contemporary Women's Poetry collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Through Rose-Colored Glasses: A Recollection of Memories" is also available in a paperback edition (9798374524345, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Jennifer Neville ( is a Celebrity Astrologer, Tarot Reader, & Thought Leader. An intuitive being, she shares her gifts with the world in the hope of helping help others develop their own natural talents, remove blockages, and evolve into owning their most powerful selves.

The Self-Help Shelf

Your Brain and Your Happiness
Voltis Press
9781735375885, $19.99, HC, 148pp

Synopsis: Temperament, which represents constitutional differences in reactivity and self-regulation with respect to rewards and punishments, influences the degree to which we are resilient versus vulnerable to the hard knocks of life. Of particular importance are the personality traits of Extraversion (the tendency to be bold, assertive, outgoing, talkative, gregarious, and enthusiastic) and neuroticism (the tendency to experience anxiety, irritability, and various other negative emotions). Extraversion predicts higher well-being whereas neuroticism predicts lower well-being, not only in the present but also many years into the future, suggesting that personality has a sustained impact on happiness over time.

Interpersonal variation in temperament reflects underlying differences in brain structure and biochemistry. When properly understood, the links between nervous system differences on the one hand and personality and subjective well-being on the other have profound implications for enhancing the quality of our lives.

Personality traits may establish our baseline levels of joy, meaning, and contentment. This happiness set point is then pushed and pulled about as good and bad things happen to us. How do personality traits enhance happiness or undermine it? Do certain life events have the power to permanently modify our happiness set point? What actions can we take to spend most of our lives in the upper half of our biological happiness range? How can we set and adjust life goals to maximize our well-being? Can money buy happiness?

"Your Brain and Your Happiness" is a comprehensive guide to understanding the elements of happiness based on years of groundbreaking scientific research. It also incorporates practical and empowering happiness strategies to help us realize our innate potential for joy and ways to sustain it in our lives.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, "Your Brain and Your Happiness" by Talzoya will be of immense and special appeal to anyone with an interest in the subject of emotional mental health. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library self- help/self/improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Your Brain and Your Happiness" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781735375878, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Talzoya ( is a nuclear physicist by education and the author of Of Lovers, Lonely Hearts, and the Psychotic Spell Called Falling in Love and The Traits of Powerful People, as well as numerous scientific publications. Talzoya takes pride in distilling knowledge from fields as distinct as sociology, biology, biochemistry, evolutionary psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience into a readable format accessible to all, so that we may all benefit from the findings of science.

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

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