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Becoming Okay (When You're Not Okay)
9780692078259, $11.95, PB, 425pp
Synopsis: Pain is an inescapable part of living; yet, humans naturally resist pain and (in the process of resisting) create more pain for themselves and those they love. In contrast, demonstrating acceptance means approaching the pain of living in a way that gives it less control and less ability to produce suffering.
Acceptance is acknowledging what life is, rather than continuing to struggle with what life isn't. Acceptance lessens our struggle with pain and increases our ability to live fully. Acceptance helps us "become okay" -- even when we really, really aren't okay.
While many self-help books emphasize the importance of acceptance, how is it developed? In "Becoming Okay (When You're Not Okay)" licensed psychologist, Bryan Bushman, provides a step-by-step roadmap for anyone interested in learning how to rise above emotional or physical pain.
Part I of the book suggests powerful ways we can avoid suffering through its innovative use of Buddhism's three paths of suffering.
Part II of the book focuses on scientifically-grounded ways to develop acceptance. Combining the best of both eastern- and western-insights with the latest neuropsychological research, Dr. Bushman provides several, easy-to-remember steps that summarize information so people can live richer, more-balanced lives.
Universal in its application, there is something here for everyone in the pages of "Becoming Okay (When You're Not Okay)". Whether you experience depression, anxiety, chronic illness, emotional trauma, relationship problems, or addictive behaviors, pain doesn't have to define you.
Using playful humor and powerful case examples, Becoming Okay (When You're Not Okay) provides readers with scientifically-grounded, yet soul-expanding, exercises and insights. You can build a life of vitality and action -- even while experiencing some of life's greatest trials.
Critique: Expertly written, deftly organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, "Becoming Okay (When You're Not Okay)" is a complete and comprehensive course of DIY, step-by-step, instructional guide for decreasing suffering and developing acceptance amidst the stresses and pressures that are exacerbated by the current pandemic, economic collapse, and social unrest of the world today. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Becoming Okay (When You're Not Okay)" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99, www.amazon.com).
Editorial Note: Bryan Bushman received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. He completed advanced and post-doctoral training in pain management, neuropsychological assessment, mood disturbance, and trauma. Dr. Bushman has published in peer-reviewed, scientific journals. He currently works full-time as a psychotherapist and neuropsychologist, and he frequently integrates eastern and western religious/ spiritual practices into his clinical work.
Lawns into Meadows
Owen Wormser, author
Kristen Thompson, illustrator
Stone Pier Press
9780998862378, $19.95, PB, 168pp
Synopsis: In "Lawns into Meadows: Growing a Regenerative Landscape", landscape designer Owen Wormser makes a persuasive case for the power and generosity of meadows. In a world where lawns have wreaked havoc on our natural ecosystems, meadows offer a compelling solution. They establish wildlife and pollinator habitats. They're low-maintenance and low-cost. They have a built-in resilience that helps them weather climate extremes, and they can draw down and store far more carbon dioxide than any manicured lawn. They're also beautiful, all year round.
Owen describes how to plant an organic meadow that's right for your site, whether it's a yard, community garden, or tired city lot. He shares advice on preparing your plot, coming up with the right design, and planting -- all without using synthetic chemicals. He also passes along tips on building support in neighborhoods where a tidy lawn is the standard.
Of special note is the profiling of twenty-one starter grasses and flowers for beginning meadow-makers, and guidance on how to grow each one.
To illuminate the many joys of meadow-building, Owen draws on his own stories, including how growing up off the grid in northern Maine, with no electricity or plumbing, prepared him for his work. The book, part how-to guide and part memoir, is for environmentalists and climate activists, gardeners and non-gardeners alike.
Critique: "Lawns into Meadows: Growing a Regenerative Landscape" is part of Stone Pier Press's Citizen Gardening series designed to teach home-based and farm-based gardeners how to grow food and garden in ways that are good for the planet. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Lawns into Meadows: Growing a Regenerative Landscape" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library DIY gardening instructional reference collections and reading lists.
Editorial Note: Owen Wormser earned a degree in landscape architecture and quickly learned to use regenerative, low-maintenance practices in designing and building landscapes. Based in Western Massachusetts, his company, Abound Design, provides design, consulting, and installation services.
Robert Mercer Nairne
9780974814186, $18.00, PB, 304pp
Synopsis: Set in the near future, world trade has collapsed and the American economy has entered a depression. The economically dispossessed are drifting into camps that are being set up in city parks across the country. While, invited to the White House, the charismatic evangelist, Richard Preston, offers up a radical idea.
In Congress the Nationalists, led by Milo Meadows III and the Moralists, led by President Henry Dukes, are increasingly resorting to the black arts as they vie for the power held by the still dominant Rationalists whose belief in scientific management is being challenged on all sides.
While Carrie Holden, a budding astrophysicist is being prevented from getting her doctorate by the backlash against science, her friend Jay Chandler is soliciting support from the billionaire Marjory Anhauser in his bid to run for election to the House on the Moralist ticket.
Critique: A metaphorical portrayal of the American nation extrapolated from today's anti-science, anti-intellectual, politically polarized populace -- with more than a bit of magic thrown into the mix, "Multiverse" by Robert Mercer Nairne is an original and deftly crafted novel that will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists, as well as both community and college/university library collections.
The Health/Medicine Shelf
Mukta Panda, MD
Creative Courage Press
9780985566548, $28.95, HC, 272pp
Synopsis: Dr. Mukta Panda has witnessed firsthand physician burnout, depression, and suicide that is tearing at the fabric of our health care system, and exacerbated by the current pandemic.
In a culture that privileges evidence over empathy, technology over touch, and what's measurable over what's meaningful, many of us (no matter our profession) feel more fragmented and isolated than ever.
In "Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-Being", Dr. Panda gives voice to the exhaustion and gives courage for another way. As a physician and medical educator, she has fought to return human touch to healthcare. As a mother, she has committed (and sometimes failed) to balance the personal with the professional. And as an immigrant, she has clung to the wisdom of her family and faith in the face of discrimination and fear.
By weaving stories of connecting to her patients, students, and colleagues with her own stories of belonging, she models how we can each thrive by creating community and self-awareness.
"Ritual, relationships, and reflection are key threads in how I learned to thrive," Dr. Panda writes in the introduction. So, too, are they key for the thriving of our world. The well-being of our clinicians and patients, teachers and students, parents and children depends on integrating these threads into a new social fabric, one that honors the whole of who we are with what we do.
Critique: A 'must read' for anyone working in the health care community, especially during the once-in-a-century impact of a global pandemic, "Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-Being" will have great value for readers in other stress-filled occupations and circumstances as well. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-Being" is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and college/university library Health & Medicine collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Resilient Threads: Weaving Joy and Meaning into Well-Being" is also readily available in a paperback edition ( 9780985566555, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Editorial Note: Mukta Panda, MD is an award-winning physician, speaker, and facilitator whose work seeks to transform the heart of patient care and medical education. She serves as the Assistant Dean for Well-Being and Medical Student Education and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine at Chattanooga. Dr. Panda has created a website at www.MuktaPandaMD.com and can be followed on Twitter @MuktaPandaMD.
The Psychology Shelf
9781513660370, $23.99, HC, 216pp
Synopsis: 25% of people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide, and one out of five of these attempts succeed. This is the highest suicide rate of any mental illness.
"Breaking Bipolar: Break The Hold Bipolar Disorder Has Over Your Life" by Troy Steven provides a battle plan, weapons, and the training needed to successfully contend with a bipolar disorder and live a long and satisfying life. A ground-breaking DIY instructional guide and manual, "Breaking Bipolar" combines the knowledge Troy has gained battling bipolar disorder for over 20 years, as well as his engineering expertise developing plans and procedures, and the wisdom of five bipolar individuals he interviewed, all in order to equip bipolar individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to win the war against bipolar disorder.
"Breaking Bipolar" shows how to: Create a personal bipolar battle plan; Eliminate bipolar episodes; Optimize medications; Recognize symptoms of mania and depression; Find a psychiatrist that can be trusted; Form a support team; Boost mental and physical health; Recover faster from a bipolar episode; Deploy personal bipolar legal rights if necessary; Navigate psychiatric hospitals; Win the war against bipolar disorder and make dreams come true!
Expertly written, organized and presented by an author with insights arising from personal experience, "Breaking Bipolar: Break The Hold Bipolar Disorder Has Over Your Life" is essential reading for anyone having to deal with a bipolar disorder for themselves or a loved one. While especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and college/university library Contemporary Psychology collections in general, and Bipolar Disorder supplemental curriculum reading lists in particular, it should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Breaking Bipolar: Break The Hold Bipolar Disorder Has Over Your Life" is readily available in a paperback edition (9781513650449, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Editorial Note: Troy Steven has been battling Bipolar Disorder for over 20 years. He is a graduate of Purdue University and holds a Master's degree in Engineering from N.C. State University. He has worked as an Engineer since1984. He is the proud Dad of four children and Grandpa of two grandchildren, and enjoys bonfires on the beach, spending time with family, and reading and writing.
The Education Shelf
Teachers Are Burdened
Janice Scott Cover
9781480884625, $30.95, HC, 154pp
Synopsis: Teachers are the cornerstone of society. Communities rely heavily on educators' wisdom and place enormous confidence in their abilities to frame an educated, democratic, and competitive nation. Every teacher wants for themselves what they desire for each student: to be a winner. In "Teachers Are Burdened: Proven Tips to Lighten the Load and Win", Dr. Janice Scott Cover draws on her lifelong experience as a teacher to offer inspiration and guidance on teaching.
Dr. Scott assures her fellow educators they, too, can achieve personal and professional success for themselves and the students that will inevitably leave an eternal impact. "Teachers are Burdened" includes chapters on self-evaluation, effective communication, continuous learning, how to live with passion and more. This inspirational guide offers a blueprint for success for both teacher and student.
Exclusive end-of-chapter components include the Teachers' Corner that poses engaging questions and ideas for individuals or groups. Digging In activities help to successfully organize, develop, and implement winning teaching, learning, and growth strategies. "Teachers are Burdened" validates proven strategies, supported by triumphs over challenges from Cover's personal and professional experiences.
Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "Teachers Are Burdened: Proven Tips to Lighten the Load and Win" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community, school district, college and university library Teacher Education collections and supplemental curriculum lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of student teachers, academia, education administrators, education reform activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Teachers Are Burdened: Proven Tips to Lighten the Load and Win" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781480884632, $12.99), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
SEARCH: A Guide to College and Life
Barbara Roquemore EdD & Jeff Duffey MD
Cairde, Karuna & Hedd Publishing LLC
9780986258329, $14.95, PB, 296pp
Synopsis: Collabortively written by the team of Barbara Roquemore (Director of Doctoral Program in College of Education, Georgia College & State University ) and board certified psychiatrist Jeff Duffey, "SEARCH: A Guide to College and Life" draws from the authors' extensive experience, as well as their students' and colleagues'. It offers realistic specifics about such topics as how to manage time, discourage unwanted attention, make polite conversation, and avoid sickness and despair.
"SEARCH" also covers money management. For instance, unless you are buying the print book as an ideal graduation present to be read at home during COVID-19, buying the e-book (Kindle, $3.69) will save you money and allow you to link directly to many resources.
Gaining skills and factual knowledge are only parts of the college experience. College provides opportunities to explore the nature of the human spirit as it has manifested throughout history.
"SEARCH" will provide strategies for a lifelong adventure as the reader learns to make a budget, pick the right major and courses, or go to school living at home. "SEARCH" will also help to understand social groups, survive spring break, overcome insecurity, savor diversity, assess a date, cope with stalkers, and get through break-ups.
Besides practical tips, "SEARCH" will also addresses the flood of added freedoms, new ideas, and different ways of living and thinking that college students experience.
"SEARCH" is a thoughtful, compassionate, open-minded discussion of both the practical and philosophical realities of college and life that non-students will find relevant as well. Like life, college can be a challenging, soul-searching, gut-wrenching experience at times. College is a serious undertaking. It calls for a guide that takes college seriously. "SEARCH: A Guide to College and Life" is that guide.
Critique: Expertly written, impressively comprehensive, deftly organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly in presentation, "SEARCH: A Guide to College and Life" is an especially useful and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, highschool, community, and college/university library collections.
The LGBT Studies Shelf
9781506463278, $24.99, HC, 200pp
Synopsis: Brit Barron grew up in an Evangelical megachurch in the '90s, trying to fit neatly inside the boundaries her church and its narrow view of God had placed around her. She was boxed in by her fears, unable to realize her full potential. All that changed when she met a girl named Sami, fell in love, and chose to leave behind those narrow boundaries in favor of a fuller and more vibrant life.
In "Worth It: Overcome Your Fears and Embrace the Life You Were Made For", Brit tells her story to inspire all of us to overcome our own fears -- the kinds of fears that keep us from evolving beyond the narratives that have been handed to us by others. We can't avoid or outrun these fears, but if we face them, we'll find out that it was so worth it!
Critique: Exceptionally well written and an inherently interesting read from first page to last, "Worth It: Overcome Your Fears and Embrace the Life You Were Made For" is especially recommended for both community and college/university library LBGQT collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Worth It: Overcome Your Fears and Embrace the Life You Were Made For" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).
The General Fiction Shelf
Spinning a Yarn Press
9781734165227, $28.00, HC, 350pp
Synopsis: In the year 1729, young Blair Eakins is a fifteen-year-old Ulster Scot living in Ireland under the crushing weight of famine, poverty, and prejudice against his people. He commits himself as an indentured servant in Philadelphia for a term of four years.
In London, ten-year-old orphan pickpocket Mallie Ambrose is arrested for stealing a handkerchief. She is sentenced to "Transportation", bound into indentured servitude and exiled to Maryland for a term of seven years.
Their paths eventually cross when they are acquired by the same owner. After Blair steps in to defend Mallie from their cruel master, the two escape and head west, finding unlikely allies among the Delaware Indians. But as fugitives without rights, they live in constant fear of capture.
In the pages of "Freedom Dues" author Indra Zuno vividly portrays the terror and injustice of indentured servitude in pre-Revolutionary War America while championing the indomitable spirits of two strong survivors who struggle against monumental odds to find the freedom to love each other and control their destiny.
Critique: An impressively absorbing and throughly engaging sage from first page to last, "Freedom Dues" is an inherently fascinating read with deftly crafted and memorable characters embedded in a series of unexpected plot twists and turns. The result is a riveting read and an historical novel that is unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Freedom Dues" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781734165210, $15.99).
The Opium Lord's Daughter
9780578526188, $24.95, HC, 306pp
Synopsis: Following the harrowing journey of Lady Lee Su-Mei and her family, "The Opium Lord's Daughter" by Robert Wang is an historical drama told from dual perspectives (Chinese and British) about the First Opium War, a tragic and history-altering conflict in which Britain and the Qing dynasty of China over the right to buy and sell opium to the Chinese populace and abroad.
Su-Mei, the eponymous protagonist, is a young woman unbounded by convention. From the moment we meet little Su-Mei, she valiantly resists her wealthy and powerful father (one of the largest opium traders in mid-19th century China) who attempts to force her into the barbaric practice of foot binding. Through her, modern readers look with fresh eyes upon antiquated and harmful traditions, and understand how time and experiences truly shape a person during their life's journey.
Su-Mei's defiance sets in motion a series of events, forever altering her fate, as well as the fates of those she holds dear. Su-Mei is forced to rapidly come-of-age and muster her heroic spirit to survive her crumbling world. Throughout the course of the story, Su-Mei and her loved ones experience taboo romances, tumultuous adventures, and heart-wrenching tragedies.
A literary expedition through the destruction of a culture, underscoring the hold and havoc drug empires continue to exert in society, even to this day, "The Opium Lord's Daughter" is replete with rogue drug traders, imperialist government officials, religious zealots, and scrappy survivors.
Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "The Opium Lord's Daughter" is author Robert Wang's debut as a novelist, this simply riveting and thoroughly entertaining historical novel is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Opium Lord's Daughter" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780578502922, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).
The Green House
Black Rose Writing
9781684334735, $17.95, PB, 193pp
Synopsis: This green house, holding seven flowers, seven colors, seven meanings, and one 37-year-old secret, is so much more than a simple greenhouse. Its creator, Girard Remington, is a fragile elderly man whose life was shattered by a tragedy nearly four decades ago. And when tragedy strikes again (this time to his beloved wife, Miriam) he struggles to cope.
The pain of the two interwoven tragedies drives Girard to places of his psyche he desperately tries but is unable to escape. As the only place that offers him solace and tranquility, he turns to the green house as his savior from the regret and the agony and the heartache -- and with it, he discovers the power behind it not even he knew existed.
If he listens closely enough, he may be offered the greatest miracle of all -- hope for a second chance.
Critique: An elegant and eloquent novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling that fully engages the reader throughout, "The Green House" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and college/university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Green House' is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
Susan M. Gaines
Torrey House Press
9781948814164, $18.95, PB, 344pp
Synopsis: When Gabriel's immigrant mother returns to her native Uruguay, he takes a break from his uninspiring job to accompany her. Immersed in his squabbling family, birdwatching in the wetlands on their abandoned ranch, and falling in love with a local biologist, he makes discoveries that force him to contend with the environmental cataclysm of his turn of the millennium present -- even as he confronts the Cold War - era ideologies and political violence that have shaped his family's past.
Critique: "Accidentals" is a deftly crafted and intriguingly complex novel that effectively showcases author Susan M. Gaines' impressive and narrative driven storytelling skills. An original, fully engaging, and exceptionally entertaining read from first page to last, "Accidentals" will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to community and college/university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Accidentals" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).
Robert J. Saniscalchi
9798619101713, $8.99, PB, 168pp
Synopsis: A story about the bonds of enduring friendship, faith and family, "Butterfly Lake" by Robert J. Saniscalchi showcases the adventures and misadventures of Rob Marrino. What starts off as a well-deserved family vacation on the pristine waters of a mountain lake community, leads the reader into the unthinkable and something the peaceful town of Pinecrest, Pa. will not soon forget as Rob and Tex find themselves in the thick of things once more.
Critique: "Butterfly Lake" effectively showcases author Robert J. Saniscalchi's genuine and entertaining flair as a novelist for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling that is perfectly suited to action and adventure that will grip the reader's full attention from first page to last. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Butterfly Lake" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
Iva: The True Story of Tokyo Rose
9781643882918, $14.95, PB, 308pp
Synopsis: The year is 1941 and Word War II is underway. Wishing only to pursue her dreams of attending medical school at UCLA, Iva Toguri reluctantly visits her sick aunt in Japan. The start of the war traps her there.
When she refuses to renounce her American citizenship, the Japanese government denies her a food ration card. Soon her mother's family evicts her, and she struggles to survive. Forced to accept a job with Radio Tokyo, she refuses to participate in propaganda broadcasts despite unending pressure by Army management.
Relief comes with the war's end, but the extreme politics back in the United States and continuing racial prejudice against Japanese-Americans makes Iva a target. Mistakenly identified as Tokyo Rose, she is charged with treason, leading to a trial that grips the nation.
Critique: "Iva: The True Story of Tokyo Rose" is a deftly crafted work of historical fiction in which author Mike Weedall has brought back to contemporary readers the wartime hardships of the 1940s and the kinds of racial justice issues back then that still resonate on the streets of America today. An inherently compelling read from beginning to end, "Iva: The True Story of Tokyo Rose" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community and college/university library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Iva: The True Story of Tokyo Rose" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Hope City: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope
Neil Perry Gordon
9781732667761, $16.99, PB, 389pp
Synopsis: Warned by his father to conceal his Jewish heritage from the ruffians he may encounter, Samuel Rothman changes his name to the less conspicuous Percy Hope. This fateful decision gives a yet-unnamed mining village a new identity and catapults Percy into a world where the good and the righteous must face greedy and ruthless adversaries.
Along a waterway known as Turnagain Arm, the newly named Hope City and the more established Sunrise are like opposite sisters. The good and virtuous Hope, with a Catholic church led by the influential Reverend O'Hara, admonishes residents against committing the seven deadly sins. In Sunrise, villainous saloon owner Magnus Vega tempts prospectors with whiskey, gambling, and women.
"Hope City: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope" weaves the tale of a young man falling down a rabbit hole of unexpected hardships and struggling to find his way out, amid a wild and unforgiving environment where ambitious men and women seek their fortunes.
Critique: A deftly crafted turn-of-the-20th- century historical action/adventure novel "Hope City: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope" showcases author Neil Perry Gordon's impressive narrative skills with an inherently absorbing and fully entertaining story replete with unforeseen plot twists turns eventually culminating in an unexpected and shocking conclusion. While especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community and college/university library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hope City: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
A. T. Christe
Hill Song Press
9780578652573, $12.99, PB, 344pp
Synopsis: 9-year-old Jeremy as lies in a coma after a tragic car accident. Jeremy discovers love at eleven when he meets a girl, only to lose her when parents move away. Jeremy is abused by his aunt. Jeremy and those around him need to learn the lessons of forgiveness.
"Forgiveness Forever" is a novel about God's mercy and, although a work of Christian fiction, deepens the reader's understanding of Jesus' forgiveness of Mary Magdalene when Jeremy meets a famous artist who has captures the true meaning of the Scriptures.
"Forgiveness Forever" is also about sensing his dad's harshness in refusing to forgive Jeremy's aunt, Jeremy's marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Jeremy's entering the seminary, not realizing he will soon become the father of her child. False allegations experienced by Jeremy. Wondering about whether Jesus was saving Jeremy to eventually become the first American pope. The road to forgiveness often being paved with emotional rocks and spiritual boulders.
Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Forgiveness Forever" is highly recommended for personal Christian Romance & Fantasy lists. It should be noted that "Forgiveness Forever" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
Republic Book Publishers
9781645720164, $28.00, HC, 400pp
Synopsis: "Old Abe" by John Cribb is a novel that takes place during the last five years of Abraham Lincoln's life -- one of the most cataclysmic years of America's history.
The story begins in the spring of 1860 in Illinois and follows Lincoln through his election and the calamity of the Civil War to his assassination at the height of power.
During the war, he walks the bloody battlefields of Virginia and Maryland. He peers down the Potomac River with a spyglass amid terrifying reports of approaching Confederate gunboats. Death stalks him as one summer evening a would-be assassin fires a shot at him, and the bullet passes through his hat.
At the White House, he weeps over the body of Willie, his second son to die in childhood. As he tries desperately to hold the Union together, he searches for a general who will fight and finds him at last in Ulysses S. Grant. Amid national and personal tragedy, he struggles to find meaning in the war and bring freedom to Southern slaves.
Central to this novel is a love story in the form of Abraham and Mary Lincoln's sometimes stormy yet devoted marriage. Mary Todd Lincoln's strong will and ambition for her husband have helped drive him to the White House, but the presidency takes an awful toll on her, and she grows increasingly frightened and insecure. Lincoln watches helplessly as she becomes emotionally unstable, and he grasps for ways to support her.
As Lincoln's journey unfolds, "Old Abe" probes the enduring character and spirit of America. This original novel portrays Lincoln not only as a flesh-and-blood man, but a hero who embodies his country's finest ideals. Set amid America's most devastating tragedy, "Old Abe" captures the triumphs and defeats of one of the greatest leaders in US history, the one who set a divided country on track to become a great nation.
Critique: A deftly penned historical novel that showcases the author's genuine flair for originality, a close and entertaining story that accurately adhere's to historical detail, and the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that fully engages the reader's attention, "Old Abe" by John Cribb will prove to be an immediately and enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists, as well as community and college/university library collections.
The King of Warsaw
9781542044462, $24.95, HC, 371pp
Synopsis: It's 1937 and Poland is about to catch fire as the world will soon erupt into the second world war.
In the boxing ring, Jakub Szapiro commands respect, revered as a hero by the Jewish community. Outside, he instills fear as he muscles through Warsaw as enforcer for a powerful crime lord. Murder and intimidation have their rewards. He revels in luxury, spends lavishly, and indulges in all the pleasures that barbarity offers. For a man battling to be king of the underworld, life is good. Especially when it's a frightening time to be alive.
Hitler is rising. Fascism is escalating. As a specter of violence hangs over Poland like a black cloud, its marginalized and vilified Jewish population hopes for a promise of sanctuary in Palestine. Jakub isn't blind to the changing tide. What's unimaginable to him is abandoning the city he feels destined to rule. With the raging instincts that guide him in the ring and on the streets, Jakub feels untouchable. He must maintain the order he knows -- even as a new world order threatens to consume him.
Critique: A simply riveting novel by an author with a genuine flair for the kind of narrative storytelling that keeps the reader's rapt and compulsive page turning attention from beginning to end, "The King Of Warsaw" by novelist Szczepan Twardoch and ably translated into English for an appreciative American readership by Sean Gasper Bye is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community and college/academic library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The King Of Warsaw" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781542044448, $14.95), in an inexpensive digital format (Kindle, $1.99), and as a complete and unabridged audiobook (Brilliance Audio, 9781799744405, $24.99, CD).
Around The Sun
Eric Michael Bovim
9781951937386, $18.75, PB, 288pp
Synopsis: Mark White appears to have it all as the head of a prestigious PR firm in Washington, DC. But in the aftermath of his wife's sudden death, he is struggling to raise his eight-year-old son, Colin. When he takes on a controversial new technology startup mid-scandal and weeks before their IPO, Mark's world rapidly begins to unravel. Adrift, Mark is soon forced to make life-altering choices that will affect his bond with Colin, the legacy of his deceased wife's unsold paintings, and, most importantly, his relationship with himself.
Set at intervals in present-day New York, San Francisco, Barbados, Italy, and Barcelona, Around the Sun is told in lush, graceful prose, a portrait of grief and hope in the age of social media, globalization, and artistic decadence.
Critique: A deftly and expertly crafted read that showcases author Eric Michael Bovim's impressive and narrative driven storytelling skills, made all the more remarkable when considering that this is his debut as a novelist, "Around The Sun" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary American Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Around The Sun" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Scandal Clause: Can $700,000 Buy a Life?
9781733643559, $19.99, HC, 402pp
Synopsis: Laura Greenwald, the nursing administrator at a busy Boston hospital, has dealt with snowballing demands in her job for too long. Then she sees five words that might change her life: Nurse, Passport, Travel, $700,000/year. The job advertised promises a world beyond her imagination.
What would such a job require? She wasn't sure she wanted to find out. Laura had already lived through what looked too good to be true. But she couldn't stop thinking about the salary. In an impulsive moment, she applies for the position thinking she will be ignored amidst hundreds of qualified candidates. She forgets the whole thing until an unnamed person calls her at work. Laura answers figuring nothing could be more aggravating than the meeting she was in.
That was her first miscalculation. Would there be a second? Would this job ask for more than she's willing to give?
Critique: Deftly laced throughout with elements of romance, suspense, and the unexpected, "The Scandal Clause: Can $700,000 Buy a Life?" showcases author Sydney Stern's genuine flair for originality and the kind of entertaining narrative storytelling style that will keep the reader's rapt and compulsive page turning attention from beginning to end. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Scandal Clause: Can $700,000 Buy a Life?" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781733643597, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
The Stories We Choose Not To Tell
Kelly Fumiko Weiss
Windy City Publishers
9781941478967, $21.99, PB, 244pp
Synopsis: Angela is at a crossroads. New life and new death, discovering she is pregnant just as her beloved Obachan, Aiko, passes away. Paralyzed by the gravity of these two events happening at the same time, Angela floats through Aiko's wake like a ghost.
Unexpectedly, Angela's Auntie Pamela gifts her a box filled with family heirlooms, including tape recordings of her Obachan describing her time in the Japanese incarceration camps, and journals dating back to the 1970s written by her mother, Judith.
To escape reality, and to grapple with it, Angela throws herself into her family's history and discovers how little she actually knows about the women closest to her. As she learns the truth of what happened to her family, she decides she needs to make their story more widely known. She zealously throws herself into project mode, leveraging her position as a Chicago TV news producer to create a ground-breaking news piece to make a statement: We cannot let history repeat itself.
But as her work thrives, her attempts to ignore her own feelings catch up to her, creating rifts with her husband and stealing focus away from the impending birth of their baby. Ultimately, Angela must decide how the puzzle pieces of her past, present, and future will fit together in a way that heals her heart, honors her family, saves her marriage, and makes a statement that will break through and make a difference.
Hope can come from unlikely places...
Critique: A masterfully crafted novel by an author with an impressive gift for the kind of narrative storytelling style that keeps her reader's fully engaged and entertaining attention from first page to last, "The Stories We Choose Not To Tell" by author Kelly Fumiko Weiss is an extraordinary work of literature and is especially, unreservedly recommended for both community and college/university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. A truely memorable novel that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself is finished and set back upon the shelf, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Stories We Choose Not To Tell" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
9780999691694, $19.95, PB, 358pp
Synopsis: "Brooklyn Roses" is the third and final installment of author Catherine Gigante-Brown's 'The El Trilogy' series and follows the travails and triumphs of that loud, loving Italian-American family from Borough Park. The novel picks up more than a dozen years after "The Bells of Brooklyn", in the turbulent late 1950s/early 1960s. It weaves an unforgettable tale that encompasses forbidden love, illicit crime, joyous celebrations, heartbreaking tragedies -- and the intricacies of life itself. Are we destined to repeat the sins of our fathers or forge a different road? It's all here -- including beloved new characters, tried-and-true favorites, and that captivating combination of folklore, food and family that's become a Gigante-Brown trademark.
Critique: An inherently entertaining and fully engaging read that is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Brooklyn Roses" is a deftly scripted and reader engaging novel that is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49, www.amazon.com).
The Romantic Fiction Shelf
J. M. Liner
9781728329871, $31.99, HC, 316pp
Synopsis: "Bayou Secrets" by J. M. Liner is a romance between two people who meet after a tragedy. The forces that try to keep them apart and the love that draws them together. They are not certain what attracts them to the other. They had no love in their lives but were drawn to each other almost as a compulsion.
How do you love when you have never been loved? Can destiny really make a difference? When love comes when you least expect it, does that mean its not true love? Set in the backdrop of New Orleans with its culture, food, and its people, "Bayou Secrets" is the romantic adventure of Erik and Kat, leading to the reality of dreams coming true and love .
Critique: An immediately and fully engaging read from beginning to end, "Bayou Secrets" is a superbly crafted and thoroughly entertaining novel by an author with a complete mastery of the kind of imaginative and deftly narrated storytelling style that will make this an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bayou Secrets" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781728329888, $20.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Luna Bella Media
9780984184255, $15.95, PB, 318pp
Synopsis: Phinn Reed enters the world with God's promise of finding his soul mate. With heaven's memories erased, his romantic quest teaches him that the heart often sees clearer than the eyes -- and that not everyone has ordered the same items from The Menu.
Critique: "The Menu" by Steven Manchester is a unique and inspirational novel offering heartfelt evidence that love stories come in many different forms. Showcasing the author's impressive flair as a novelist for the kind of narrative driven storytelling that fully entertains and engages the reader from first page to last, "The Menu" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Christian Romance and Family Life Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Menu" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
9781603817066, $15.95, PB, 232pp
Synopsis: When a single mom of a deaf daughter inherits her father's PI business and aims to prove that a young woman's death by train wasn't an accident, she finds herself on a crash course with her complicated family and a killer determined to keep the truth hidden.
Critique: A riveting good and fully satisfying mystery by an author with a genuine knack for crafting great characters and unexpected plot twists, "Derailed" by Mary Keliikoa will leave all dedicated mystery buffs looking eagerly toward her next contribution to the genre. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Derailed" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.95).
The Trial of Connor Padget
9781642374834, $12.99, PB, 238pp
Synopsis: "The Trial of Connor Padget" is the story of Jack Carney, a man who finds himself upended by a life-changing criminal case. A tenacious lawyer, Jack searches out justice for his client Connor Padge. But it's not just a question of who committed the crime -- but why!
Critique: "The Trail of Connor Padger" is a deftly crafted legal thriller of a mystery that elegantly blends suspense with courtroom drama. A thoroughly entertaining novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling style that keeps his reader riveted from first page to last, "The Trial of Connor Padget" by Carl Roberts is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists that "The Trial of Connor Padget" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
9798637707591, $15.00, PB, 170pp
Synopsis: The North Carolina state government has passed a new law that requires voters to show a picture ID. Although its backers claim it as necessary to insure against voter fraud, their real aim is to make it harder for elderly black citizens to vote. Penny Weaver and her friends are working to assist elderly voters to get a state-issued ID.
Meantime the lead counsel for the NAACP court challenge to the new law, Becka Cagle, is murdered on her doorstep. Penny, Sammie, and Lt. Lilly Bates of the Sheriff's Department work to solve the murder.
While the three women do their own investigation, their friend Kate takes over the role of the dead Becka in the NAACP case, and Penny's husband Kenneth guards Kate.
Penny's friend Sammie learns that her grandson Seb and Sammie's niece Naomi had discovered the joys of sex at ages fourteen and thirteen. The parents of the two young teenagers come together to make new rules for the teens, but Penny ends up keeping her grandson Seb when his parents are busy, and Seb finds it easy to outwit her.
Critique: The thirteenth volume in author Judy Hogan's outstanding 'Penny Weaver Mystery' series, "Pernicious Poll" is a fully original and unfailingly engaging mystery with background and plot elements that could easily be ripped from newspaper headlines in today's current polarized politics and voter suppression efforts. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "Pernicious Poll" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
The Chosen Ones
Micro Publishing Media
9781936517305, $16.95, PB, 288pp
Synopsis: Brody Yates has fallen on hard times. Fired from his job as a sports reporter for a major newspaper, he decides to go undercover as a trainer in order to infiltrate the backstage world of figure skating. He has one chance to save someone's life and to turn his around by breaking the story of a lifetime.
Somebody has to do something. One of the world's top male skaters is in danger. He will be dead before the end of the Olympics. If no one can stop it, at least find out why it happened. For once, tell the real story.
Critique: An inherently riveting read from first page to last, "The Chosen Ones" deftly reveals the secrets behind the sequins against the backdrop of the high pressure sport of world class figure skating in a superbly crafted thriller of a novel by author Lisa Luciano in which only one person can win and not everyone will survive! While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Suspense/Thriller collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Chosen Ones" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue
9781734444803, $16.99, PB, 262pp
Synopsis: In the pages of "Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue" by Jules Mermestine the reader will meet Joshua Frankel, a defense attorney who knows firsthand that truth, justice and the law do not always align, and is willing to step outside the law in pursuit of justice.
Frankel's current case is that of a wealthy widower who claims he is being framed by the NSA for the murder of his wife. It seems a bit far-fetched to Frankel, but it's up to him to figure out the truth -- a task that, as it turns out, will put him and his team in grave peril. Throw in some international intrigue and government corruption, and the result is a thriller from the dark side of the legal system full of tension and danger.
Critique: "Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue" is first volume of a new series and a deftly crafted work of thoroughly reader engaging suspense with more plot twists and turns than a Disney Land roller coaster. Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists of legal thriller fans that "Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Jack of All Trades
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781504319287, $16.99, PB, 236pp
Synopsis: When five girls suddenly find themselves immersed in near-death experiences, they wake up in a hospital, where they are greeted by a mysterious woman, Shadow. She confronts them with a truth: magic is real. It exists in another world, a different dimension. On a planet where magic thrives, where it is a part of daily life, where Elves, Vampires, and Fairies live side by side.
Shadow leads them from their ordinary lives into a strange world where they begin training to help her stop a powerful witch planning to terrorize Earth. But why does Shadow want to teach them? How can they help her stop a powerful Witch? And what about her assistant, Mercury? Neither of them seems trustworthy, but what other choice do they have?
Shadow is their only contact with this other world, so they have no choice but to trust her. Or never see the world that is supposed to be their home. In this fantasy tale for teens, seemingly normal girls discover magic and adventure in an alternate reality where Earth is home to magical creatures.
Critique: An original and deftly crafted fantasy novel by an author with a genuine flair for the kind of imaginative narrating style that holds the reader's fully entertained attention from beginning to end, "Jack of All Trades" by Lauren Trickey will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated fantasy fans that "Jack of All Trades" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
An American Weeia in Paris
9781932534221, $12.99, PB, 306pp
Synopsis: Parisians are delighted with the mysterious new Weeia superhero fighting crime and terrorists in the City of Light. The Weeia authorities, on the other hand, suspect that this superhero is one of their own, flamboyantly violating the first law of keeping their existence a secret from the humans.
Danni is acting head of the Paris marshals office, but circumstances have left her alone and fighting to keep the top position against a politically connected upstart and his task force. Will she succeed at apprehending the rogue superhero without exposing the Weeia or losing her new promotion?
Critique: Another impressively entertaining, deftly crafted, and unreservedly recommended novel in author Elle Boca's 'Weeia Marshals' superhero fantasy series, "An American Weeia in Paris" will prove to be an immediately and enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "An American Weeia in Paris" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
The Quest for the Wizard's Ring
Robert A. Valle
9798643333913, $10.99, PB, 340pp
Synopsis: "The Quest for the Wizard's Ring" by Robert Valle is the story of two brothers who are caught in an attack on their home by a Demon Lord and his vast army of goblins, winged flyers and towering brutes.
Chaant, the younger brother, is a mage while Ky'el is a skilled warrior. While the citizens shelter from the onslaught behind the great wall that encircles their home of Almarra, Chaant must venture out on a quest to find and serve a wizard so he can earn a powerful enchantment with which to help his people.
Chaant is joined in his travels by the mysterious Anjelica, a young woman with hidden powers that even she doesn't fully understand. While Chaant pursues his quest, Kyel joins an elite group of warriors led by Olan, a veteran warrior and his mentor, with the goal of protecting Almarra from the demon hoard and delaying the inevitable collapse of their wall.
Critique: An inherently absorbing and fully entertaining action/adventure fantasy novel by an author with a genuine flair for the kind of entertaining and narrative driven storytelling that keeps and holds the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end, "The Quest for the Wizard's Ring" by Robert A. Valle" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated fantasy fans that "The Quest for the Wizard's Ring" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
C. V. Shaw
9780997290486, $19.99, PB, 240pp
Synopsis: "The Spell" by C. V. Shaw is set in the countryside of sixteenth-century England in the town of Fleurham and is the story of King Maurice, Queen Lilac, their daughter, Princess Isabella, and a curse that threatens to tear their world apart.
When Princess Isabella has an encounter with a strange bird and an arrow shot by a mysterious archer, the royal family's world is turned upside down. Maurice goes in search of the archer and instead falls victim to a spell himself. Lilac, back home at the castle, becomes increasingly obsessed with freeing her daughter from the arrow's curse. Isabella grows up under the dark cloud of the curse and her mother's obsession with it, developing her own abilities along the way.
Filled with magic and intrigue at every turn, "The Spell" also tells the tale of the other inhabitants of the castle (Johndor, Minna, and their daughters Bethlynn and Lauren) as well as various local characters (the gifted Thumbeline, the treacherous Carmile, and the mysterious Maggy Mae), as their lives intertwine with the royal family's.
Critique: Showcasing a genuine flair for originality and the kind of entertaining narrative storytelling style the fully engages the reader's total attention from first page to last, it is all the more impressive when considering that "The Spell" is author C. V. Shaw's debut as a novelist. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated fantasy fans that "The Spell' is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99).
The Tree That Grew Through Iron
McKenzie Austin, author
Andrea Raymaker, editor
Dan Frievalt, photographer
9780692124857, $16.95, PB, 455pp
Synopsis: The world's end was beginning. Whole chunks of earth are withering away from the mainland, and falling into the sea. Natural disasters are claiming thousands of lives. Prayers are no longer answered by gods. Prayers are answered by machines and the Time Fathers of Panagea.
Nicholai Addihein, one of the eight ruling Time Fathers, struggles to find a way to save the lives of his people. After a single moment of misunderstood treason, he must also find a way to save his own.
While running from the wrath of Panagea's other Time Fathers, Nicholai lands in peculiar company. Can a fabled immortal, a crew of societal rejects, and a silver-haired woman with a mysterious past, breathe life back into a world on the brink of death? With all of existence at stake, Nicholai and the others prepare to fight until their last breath to change the fate of Panagea.
Who would ever guess that success might be just as fatal as failure?
Critique: A truly riveting saga of a fantasy novel, "The Tree That Grew Through Iron" is a deftly scripted action/adventure that will seize and hold the reader's rapt attention from first page to last. With more plot twists and turns and surprises than a Disney Land roller coaster ride, "The Tree That Grew Through Iron" is an original and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated fantasy fans that "The Tree That Grew Through Iron" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Biography Shelf
Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina
John "Gene" E. Dawson
9781734626001, $12.95, PB, 260pp
Synopsis: Part One, Farm Boy 1931 - 1949: Gene recounts his years growing up in the Great Depression, moving with his family from rental farm to rental farm until his parents could afford to purchase their own land and home. Life was difficult and often brutal for anyone during this time, but especially so for a gender-fluid gay child/teenager.
Part Two, Transition and Tragedy 1950 - 1959: Gene initially leaves the farm and begins transitioning into his new life as a gay man in the cities of Cedar Rapids and St. Louis, adopting the "city girl" persona of Gina. But the tragic accidental death of his mother forces him to move back to his family's home in Iowa where he faces gut-wrenching family drama and the loving burden of helping to raise his three younger brothers.
Part Three, City Girl 1960 - : Gene returns to Cedar Rapids before finally moving on to live an open, full existence as Miss Gina in St. Louis. Even in the city though, life was quite hard for openly gay men, and Gene recounts multiple harrowing tales involving the brutality of police, gay bar life, and the unsung heroism of Midwestern LGBTQ people -- years before the famous Stonewall riot of New York City.
Critique: An absorbing and inherently interesting life story, "Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina" is an especially well written, organized and presented memoir of a troubled life lived in troubling times. Especially recommended for community and college/university library American Biography and LGBTQ collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Farm Boy, City Girl: From Gene to Miss Gina" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Photographic Memories: A Story of Shinjitsu
Risa Shimoda & Bob Fleshner
9780578672298, $17.95, PB, 295pp
Synopsis: Simply stated, Midori Shimoda has not lived an ordinary life.
Not having survived a three-week long, trans-Pacific, ocean crossing without family or friends at the age of nine; A perilous evacuation from California in the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Pearl Harbor followed by "adoption" by a rogue Mormon family in Utah; Two arrests and subsequent incarcerations for suspected espionage/treason; An internment that followed the incarcerations; and "Visits" from the FBI for ten years following the end of World War II?
And, that's not to mention that his most extraordinary life intersected with, among others including: Grace Kelly; Fay Wray; Ansel Adams; J. Edgar Hoover; William Randolph Hearst; Betty Hutton, Gloria Swanson and Twiggy.
"Photographic Memories: A Story of Shinjistu" is the product of hundreds of hours of meticulous research conducted in person, via visits to sites where Midori lived and worked, through interviews and online. It is as faithful a narrative of Midori Shimoda's life as possible given the passage of time.
Conversations have been re-created based upon source material and the recollections of those whom we interviewed. The characters Midori encountered in prison and while in the internment camp have been rendered as composites based upon our best understanding of those episodes in his life. All of the other characters in the book are people Midori encountered along the way.
Critique: An inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "Photographic Memories: A Story of Shinjitsu" is one of those 'life is stranger than fiction' biographies and would be an immediate and enduringly welcome addition to community and college/university library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Photographic Memories: A Story of Shinjitsu" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Leave Your Light On
Shelley Buck and Ryder Buck, with Kathy Curtis
Eagles Quest Publishing
9781734484427, $24.99, HC, 214pp
Synopsis: Singer and songwriter Ryder Buck was a young man with an unstoppable dream to lift people up through his music. But a threatening cancer diagnosis showed that life had other plans. While the disease should have beaten him, Ryder rose above it all to live from a place of passion. Then fate stepped in.
"Leave Your Light On," is the song Ryder wrote that became his mantra. "Leave Your Light On: The Musical Mantra Left Behind by an Illuminating Spirit" is his uplifting and powerful story in which the reader will meet an unforgettable character determined to accept his own quirks and flaws with humor. "Leave Your Light On" is also the story of a parent-child relationship tested by unrelenting disease -- and provides a kind of a guide for others to shine their light no matter what life or death throws their way.
Though it wasn't cancer that took Ryder, it was the catalyst that helped him grow into the shining spirit he became. His journey of love, courage, and truth will convince the reader that there is no challenge big enough to keep them from putting their own special touch on the world so long as they simply leave their spiritual light on.
Critique: An absorbing, inspiring, and potentially life altering read, "Leave Your Light On: The Musical Mantra Left Behind by an Illuminating Spirit" by the team of Shelley Buck, Ryder Buck, and Kathy Curtis is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Leave Your Light On" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781734484403, $18.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Shelley Buck was born into a creative family in the Midwest and moved to California after college to follow her dream of working for Disney. It was there she met and fell in love with her husband, Chris, who worked in animation. After they married and had their first child, Ryder, she stayed home to be a full-time mom to him and the two brothers who followed. She is an artist, writer, and storyteller, which she expresses through her original jewelry at ShelRae Designs. When Ryder was diagnosed with cancer and the journey went to unimaginable places, she poured her heart into writing their story. Her lessons in parenting through these tribulations, combined with the power of Ryder's larger-than-life spirit, offer profound messages for living in the light.
Kathy Curtis moved into Shelley's neighborhood when they were both 12 years old and an instant, lifelong friendship took root. She has worked as a healing artist and writer since 1991. Her programs support the transformation of grief, illness, and emotional barriers through creative expression. She is the author of Invisible Ink, a memoir about her own journey through grief. The unique writing process that brought her so much healing has since become a successful program, online and at various venues in the Midwest. Kathy's intimate connection to the Buck family, combined with her writing and healing background, made her the perfect person to partner with Shelley on the creation of this memoir.
The Art of Determination
c/o Hay House, Inc.
9781982244835, $18.99, PB, 296pp
Synopsis: "The Art of Determination" by Isla Stone is the deeply personal memoir of young woman's life that deftly lays out her painfully palpable insecurities and fears as she begins to open up in her dairy and explains her journey navigating her inner stormy seas.
Isla's journey started when she finally decided that she can no longer continue in her drug and alcohol induced state. She has run away for long enough. The pain of staying the same became far too painful, but she was also not certain that the beginning of this new recovering journey, facing that which she ran away from was going to be any easier.
As her story unfolds it becomes a blend of recorded emotion, healing and thought. Realizations are delivered in moments with increasing clarity as Isla takes her readers along on a healing journey with all the bumps and joyful emotion that arises within her.
Critique: Ably written with an impressive candor, "The Art of Determination" by Isla Stone is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary life that showcases the efforts required to survive and ultimately overcome extraordinary and self-imposed hardships. Inspired and inspiring, "The Art of Determination" is an inherently fascinating read and one that is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Art of Determination" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Big Mike, Uncle Dan and Me
Paul Van Buskirk
Book Baby Publishers
9781098307981, $19.95, PB, 258pp
Synopsis: District Attorney, Thomas E. Dewey successfully cracked Tammany Hall -- thought to be the United States' most powerful and corrupt political machine of its time. Yet as Governor, despite his state's vast resources, Dewey could not crack the Upper New York State machine.
"Big Mike, Uncle Dan and Me: How I Beat 20th Century New York State's Most Corrupt Political Machine" is a modern-day David vs. Goliath tale in which a 24-year-old college professor and engineer leads the challenge to liberate and transform his own upstate community from a 40-year reign of political corruption.
In the first half of the 20th century, Michael "Big Mike" Tecumseh Smith founded a political machine which, after aligning with Albany's Democratic powerhouse Dan O'Connell, became impossible to crack. After several generations of inept management, Dr. Paul Van Buskirk rejected his own prominent Republican family's views and publicly called for change. The move, led by Van Buskirk's ruthless, methodical organization, led to the Citizens Party defeating the Democrats in 1963.
In this political memoir, Dr. Van Buskirk details the thrilling events leading up to the Citizens Party's nationally-recognized victory over the political machine. It also recounts how, once in office, the Citizens were inspired by President Johnson's progressive War on Poverty to channel their ingenuity and community spirit into revitalizing their decrepit mill town, steering it to become a federally-designated Model City while also earning Look Magazine's highly-competitive All-America City Award.
With a sharp wit and a careful eye, Dr. Van Buskirk shares shrewd political observations and offers cautionary advice about the stark differences between running a political campaign and running a city. He also discusses the behind-the-scenes intrigue - including an attempt on his life - that eventually led to the Citizens Party's demise. Despite occurring half a century ago, the tales of corruption and political scheming, as well as the people's rise from apathy to action, will resonate in a current era of political upheaval.
Critique: An expertly written, exceptionally well organized and presented political biography, "Big Mike, Uncle Dan and Me: How I Beat 20th Century New York State's Most Corrupt Political Machine" is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and college/university library American Biography & Political Science collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Big Mike, Uncle Dan and Me: How I Beat 20th Century New York State's Most Corrupt Political Machine" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
Editorial Note; Dr. Paul Van Buskirk is a licensed engineer, nationally-recognized city planner, and an accomplished educator, political leader, and author, described in Legendary Locals of Cohoes (2013) as "one of the greatest political leaders in the city's history" and recognized by the Albany Times Union (1966) as a "political giant" for his role in overthrowing the Cohoes arm of the Albany Democratic political machine.
Five Minutes, Mr. Byner: A Lifetime of Laughter
John Byner & Douglas Wellman
9781608082346, $15.95, PB, 250pp
Synopsis: John Byner's TV career break happened in New York City on Merv Griffin's "Talent Scouts Show" in 1964. After great exposure on both Gary Moore and Steve Allen's variety shows in 1966 and 1967, he clowned around on Ed Sullivan's showcase program over two dozen times and Johnny Carson late-night haunt over three dozen times. He has lent his vocal library of voices to hundreds of cartoons and animated films.
A man of many voices and characters, from impersonating the slow, rolling gait and speech of John Wayne, to lending his voice to The Ant and the Aardvark cartoons, "John Byner's dead-on impersonations, as well as his unique talents as a character actor, have put him on the small screen in peoples' homes, the big screen in theaters, and no screen on Broadway.
Growing up in a big family on Long Island, John discovered his uncanny ability to mimic voices as a child when he returned home from a Bing Crosby movie and repeated Bing's performance for his family in their living room. He discovered his talent made him the focus of everyone's attention, and allowed him to make friends wherever he went, from elementary school to the U.S. Navy.
John started his career in nightclubs in New York, but soon found himself getting national acclaim on The Ed Sullivan Show. With that he was on his way. "Five Minutes, Mr. Byner: A Lifetime of Laughter" relates the best and funniest moments of his life, career, and relationships with some of the biggest names in entertainment, both on and off the screen.
Critique: An absolute 'must read' for the legions of John Byner fans, "Five Minutes, Mr. Byner: A Lifetime of Laughter" (written with the assistance of Douglas Wellman and enhanced with an informative Foreword by Nathan Lane) is an inherently fascinating, entertaining and memorable account of a life in show business. While especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and college/university library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Five Minutes, Mr. Byner: A Lifetime of Laughter" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.49).
Editorial Note: Douglas Wellman was a television producer-director for 35 years, as well as the assistant dean of the film school at the University of Southern California.
The Self-Help Shelf
9781076204677, $19.95, PB, 304pp
Synopsis: "Fractured Grace: How to Create Beauty, Peace and Healing for Yourself and the World" by psychotherapist Julie Krull is a prescription for individual and collective healing and a resounding call for wholeness in today's escalating state of chaos, separation and fear.
With a unique and intimate journey into the author's own healing process, from an early childhood Near-Death Experience to a freak accident with several broken bones, the readers are invited to step outside of an outdated worldview to create more beauty, peace and healing for themselves and the world.
Dr. Julie offers an impassioned spiritual perspective on global healing and the evolution of consciousness. She demonstrates how an illusion of separation is the root cause of wide-spread pain, suffering, and even necessary whole-systems breakdown in every aspect of life. "Fractured Grace" breaks through that illusion and inspires a return to wholeness.
Dr. Julie challenges the understanding of popular, fragmented models of healing and crisis response, and moves you into a grounded place of hope and clarity, helping her readers to create the conditions for individual and collective healing to occur. She also weaves personal stories, current events, and prophetic vision to lay the foundation for deep and regenerative systemic transformation and change.
Her masterful story-telling and authentic voice, inspire and enliven the path to wholeness and the reclamation of her readers' inherent unity. Her down-to-earth, palatable approach invites them to explore new concepts and expand their consciousness.
"Fractured Grace" is based on Dr. Julie's thirty-plus-year career as a healer, spiritual teacher, and psychotherapist, working with individuals, groups and organizations, interviewing and working with hundreds of evolutionary leaders, and drawing on her own mystical experiences. "Fractured Grace" reveals how the radical application of a heart-based, soul-centric lens can calm your mind, heal your body, create sustained peace, and jump our interconnected, whole-living-system to a higher order.
Critique: "Fractured Grace: How to Create Beauty, Peace and Healing for Yourself and the World" is expertly written, organized and presented, making it ideal for the non-specialist general reader and of immense value for the practicing professional. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fractured Grace" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Editorial Note: Dr. Julie is a steward of the new earth, midwifing the evolution of consciousness and a whole worldview. Her 30-year career as an intuitive, integrative health practitioner and psychotherapist has influenced her work with evolutionary thought leaders and change-makers by co-creating connections that inspire and create the conditions for individual, collective and planetary healing. Dr. Julie is a popular speaker, teacher, Founding Steward of www.GOODoftheWHOLE.com, and the radio talk show host of The Dr. Julie Show: All Things Connected.
The Big Bliss Blueprint
Positive Streak Publishing
9781734578409, $13.99, PB, 142pp
Synopsis: Life can pull you every direction and leave you with negative thoughts, if you let it. It's easy to beat yourself up over decisions and be confused over which direction to take next. That doesn't have to be your life though. Counselor and strategic life coach Shell Phelps has years of therapy experience helping people find their center. Now she's here to share her powerful collection of wisdom in the pages of "The Big Bliss Blueprint: 100 Little Thoughts to Build Positive Life Changes" so that you can build an instant library of problem-solving tools for focusing on the good.
"The Big Bliss Blueprint" a straight-to-the-point DIY step-by-step instructional guidebook to help you gain immediate insights into your situation. Divided into eight clear sections, just flip to any page for a refreshing change of perspective, positive thinking, and a specific strategy to apply. By chipping away at life's challenges, you'll open up your heart, simplify your life, and recover your serenity and success.
In The Big Bliss Blueprint, you'll discover: Eight targeted areas to get you unstuck and moving forward; Self-guided techniques you can use on the fly to gain clarity for any decision; Relationship and communication tactics to help you find your authentic self; How to form smart goals that will attend to your self-care; Quick and easy references for getting back to feeling good and much, much more!
Critique: Expertly written, impressively well organized, thoroughly 'user friendly' in presentation and style, "The Big Bliss Blueprint: 100 Little Thoughts to Build Positive Life Changes" is extraordinarily effective and impressively practical -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to community and college/university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Big Bliss Blueprint" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Editorial Note: Shell Phelps is a SHRM-Certified Human Resources Director and co-founder of Phelps Strategies, where she is a strategic life coach. She holds a Master's in Counseling Psychology and previously ran her own private therapy practice. As a strategic life coach, Shell focuses on solution-based strategies to help her clients get through life's greatest challenges and live happier, more fulfilled lives. She maintains a website at https://www.phelpsconsulting.net
The Purpose Playbook
Wise Ink Creative Publishing
9781634893275, $18.99, PB, 232pp
Synopsis: Alexandra Cole helps Fortune 500 brands better articulate and operate in alignment with their values. In the pages of "The Purpose Playbook: Design Your Life Around What Matters Most", she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to use the same frameworks and principles to help individuals find fulfillment.
Alexandra demystifies purpose by sharing relatable anecdotes, impactful exercises, and tactical advice on how to overcome common obstacles and take incremental steps to design your life around what matters most.
A DIY no-nonsense guide, "The Purpose Playbook" shows how to: Identify and articulate your unique purpose; Spend your time more intentionally; Find career opportunities that allow you to make an impact and do what you love; Get inspired when you feel stuck or stagnant; Transform your money mindset to work for you instead of against you; Develop routines that will infuse your every day with more purpose.
The underlying message of "The Purpose Playbook" is that when you stop settling, trust your intuition, and do the work, you will enjoy a more meaningful career, relationships, and lifestyle. It's time to stop living on autopilot and start living on purpose.
Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "The Purpose Playbook: Design Your Life Around What Matters Most" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in commentary and content, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to community and college/university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement and Personal Finance collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Purpose Playbook: Design Your Life Around What Matters Most" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
Editorial Note: Alexandra Cole started her career at Bain & Company in New York. Alexandra is the cofounder of Purpose Generation, a millennial insights and strategy firm that helps iconic Fortune 500 brands better understand and engage the next generation of consumers and talent. Alexandra's work has appeared in the Huffington Post and on Forbes.
Organizing and Big Scary Goals
Sara S. Skillen
9781642378177, $16.99, PB, 176pp
Synopsis: "Organizing and Big Scary Goals: Working With Discomfort and Doubt To Create Real Life Order" by Sara S. Skillen was written for the reader who is looking for a fresh, authentic approach to living a more organized life. For the reader who is ready to move beyond "how to" and be more personally practical about managing their stuff, time, and tasks?
"Organizing and Big Scary Goals" offers alternative, customizable, and most importantly, realistic ways to look at and reflect upon what is possible with managing the overwhelming stuff of everyday life. Through a series of relatable anecdotes, thought-provoking questions, and Sara Skillen's personal quest to tackle a tough challenge, the reader will gain insight into tapping different ways to approach their organizing stuck spots without relying upon one-size-fits-all solutions.
Reading like a series of short stories with doses of humor and irony, "Organizing and Big Scary Goals" ideal for anyone who has experienced frustration, shame, and even fear about meeting the organizational standards of others.
Critique: Expertly written, exceptionally well organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in commentary and presentation, "Organizing and Big Scary Goals" is as insightfully practical as it is inherently thoughtful and thought provoking. Certain to be a welcome and appreciated addition to community and college/university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Organizing and Big Scary Goals" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
Editorial Note: Sara S. Skillen is a Certified Organizer Coach, a Certified Professional Organizer, and an Evernote Certified Consultant. She is also the founder of SkillSet Coaching & Organizing. A member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals since 2012, she has served in various leadership positions at both the local and national levels. Sara's writing has appeared in Angie's List Experts, Entrepreneur, New Focus Daily Magazine, and the "Music City Moms" blog, as well as her own blog "The Stuff Behind The Stuff."
9781578690268, $16.95, PB, 258pp
Synopsis: Warm, enlightening, inspired and inspiring, "Preaching Happiness: Creating a Just and Joyful World" by Ginny Sassaman makes clear the interconnected nature of both personal and international happiness movements. "Preaching Happiness" relies on spirituality, history, economics, and conflict resolution theory to show that spiritual transformation is necessary to create new systems of well-being. Inviting and accessible, with easy-to-read and illustrative personal stories interwoven with research and expertise, "Preaching Happiness" comprised of helpful, and hopeful, information for those seeking to make the changes necessary to live a full and happy life, and, to create a just and joyful world.
Critique: Deftly written, impressively informative, exceptionally thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Preaching Happiness: Creating a Just and Joyful World" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and college/university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. A life enriching, life-enhancing DIY guide, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Preaching Happiness: Creating a Just and Joyful World" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Editorial Note: Ginny Sassaman is a co-founder, immediate past president, and advisory board member of Gross National Happiness USA, an organization working to promote the use of well-being measures in the United States. She created the Happiness Paradigm as a platform for teaching, writing about, and advocating for greater personal happiness and creating systems change for maximum well-being for all. Since 2013, she has also served as a lay preacher at Unitarian Universalist churches in Vermont, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and South Carolina. She has given speeches and made presentations on the nexus between personal well being and systems change in Seattle, WA; Burlington, VT; Princeton, NJ; Charlotte, NC; Santa Fe, NM; and New York City. Additionally, to promote greater well-being, Sassaman teaches secular meditation classes.
Massage for the Mind
9781642377439, $25.00, HC, 138pp
Synopsis: "Massage for the Mind: A Practical Guide for Using Hypnotherapy to Enhance Your Life!" by Shirley Davalos is a practical guide to help people use the practice of hypnotherapy to re-frame their perspective about past experiences and future possibilities.
We use our marvelous imaginations to create guilt and worry, as well as feelings of not being enough. You can use your mind to benefit your outlook, rather than create fear.
Too often our brains are filled with a constant chatter that raises doubts and creates anxiety. Hypnotherapy is a simple way of silencing that chatter, creating a quiet space where new perspectives can be recognized and developed. There is no magic.
Readers can create their own healing simply by using this instructional guide and manual to employ their own imagination so they understand how they can be in control of their own life. The answers to their problems have been there all along. "Massages for the Mind" will appreciatively help them realize that and identify the solutions that have long been buried in their own subconscious mind.
Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Massage for the Mind: A Practical Guide for Using Hypnotherapy to Enhance Your Life!" is a life-enhancing DIY manual that will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly valued addition to both community and college/university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Massage for the Mind: A Practical Guide for Using Hypnotherapy to Enhance Your Life!" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781642377422, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).
9781535614429, $18.00, PB, 239pp
Synopsis: Taking a new approach from the wealth of spiritual enlightenment books out today, "Only Human: Guide to our internal Human Operating System (iHOS) and Achieving a Better Life" looks at human nature from an engineering perspective as Norbert Soski deconstructs the very nature of how we think so we can find the path to a better, more fulfilling life.
Explaining our human nature in comparison to that of a computer, "Only Human" integrates human spirituality with the world of science and engineering, identifying practical solutions we can explore and apply in our daily lives. "Only Human" teaches us how we can change and grow by understanding our internal Human Operating System (iHOS). We can learn how to let go of the blocks in our lives that are holding us back.
"Only Human" offers a reading experience presented in four major sections. Each section helps the reader learn about the different aspects of our iHOS, with a series of subsections following each; exploring different aspects of our human nature from our base instincts and needs, to how we respond to emotion.
Throughout "Only Human", the author has laid out chapters that educate and requires his readers to do the work necessary to gain a better understanding of themselves. "Only Human" guides readers on how to assess qualities about themselves so that they can have a great relationship with their spouse, children, and everyone in their personal world.
Soski has written "Only Human" from a teaching perspective, with the insight of a man who learned from his struggles and need for growth. His resulting journey through that metamorphosis was incorporated into the lessons comprising "Only Human". Chapters are composed with small breaks in the form of exercises. The reader is encouraged to put the book down and do the work to reap the full experience. Ultimately, "Only Human" teaches readers to defragment their lives to escape the make-believe world and start living in reality.
Critique: Expertly written and organized, "Only Human: Guide to our internal Human Operating System (iHOS) and Achieving a Better Life" is an extraordinary, impressively presented instructional guide that will prove to be a welcome and life-changing addition to personal reading lists, as well as both community and college/university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.
The Military Shelf
The F-16 Fighting Falcon Multinational Weapon System, 1972 to 2019
Herbert A. Hutchinson
9781796082098, $74.99, PB, 458pp
Synopsis: In "The F-16 Fighting Falcon Multinational Weapon System, 1972 to 2019" author and former USAF F-16 Air Combat Fighter systems engineer Herbert Hutchinson starts with an overlap of the period from 1963 to 1975, described in final chapters of his ground breaking volume "Inside History of the USAF Lightweight Fighters, 1900 to 1975".
The next major portion of "The F-16 Fighting Falcon Multinational Weapon System, 1972 to 2019" then describes in detail the Transition Contract to "missionize" the General Dynamics YF-16 and Northrop YF-17 designs into a USAF Air Combat Fighter (ACF) and also to "navalize" both ACF designs for potential procurement as the USN Air Combat Fighter (NACF).
The latter portion of "The F-16 Fighting Falcon Multinational Weapon System, 1972 to 2019" describes the early F-16 Full Scale Development activities and then describes the numerous Block changes made to increase the capabilities of the production F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft. In the concluding chapter is captured the very purpose for the development of "the fighter pilot's fighter" - the use of the F-16 in operations world-wide.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon Multinational Weapon System became the cornerstone of the fighter inventories of over 25 free-world countries for the past forty years and remains in their future plans for a few decades. F-16C/D service life extensions and upgrades continue to be made.
Critique: Nicely illustrated throughout, "The F-16 Fighting Falcon Multinational Weapon System, 1972 to 2019" is an extraordinary, detailed, and deftly presented history that is a seminal study unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library American Military Aircraft collections and supplemental curriculum studies. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and dedicated military history buffs that "The F-16 Fighting Falcon Multinational Weapon System, 1972 to 2019" is also readily available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Editorial Note: Herb Hutchinson is retired from a highly successful aeronautical engineering career spanning over 40 years from 1953 to 1994. After serving as an officer in the US Army in the Korean War, the initial 5 years of his engineering career were as a Wind Tunnel Test Engineer, an Aerodynamicist at Republic Aviation in New York, and Flight Test Performance Engineer at General Dynamics in Texas. The middle half of his career was as a Chief System Engineer (GS-15) for several USAF Weapons Systems, including the USAF Lightweight Fighter Program (the subject of this book) and the USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Multi-National Weapon System, developed by the US Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Herb's tactical call name, awarded by former F-16 pilots, is "Stuffer". He has served as the USAF Representative on several US Presidential Advisory Committees and on USAF aircraft major accident and incident investigations. The final 13 years of his career were as a Manager of System Engineering at the Northrop Aircraft Division in California for a joint NATO Fighter Aircraft design with the Dornier Company in Germany, for the Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile, and for the Northrop YF-23 Advanced Tactical Fighter stealth prototype (which competed against the Lockheed YF-22 ATF prototype - now the USAF F-22 Raptor).
The Christian Studies Shelf
John R. Spencer
9780986372780, $14.99, PB, 240pp
Synopsis: Every Christian at some time or another has asked themselves:
If God is good, why doesn't he stop natural disasters? If God lets something awful happen to me, doesn't it prove he doesn't really care? Why is there so much suffering -- in fact, why is there evil in the world at all? How could a loving God condemn anyone to eternal hell?
Questions like these have plague mankind since the Garden of Eden. Evil erupts around us constantly and we feel powerless. But are we? Is there nothing we can do? Are there no real answers to these questions?
In the pages of "Interrogating God: Seven Questions That Cause You To Doubt His Goodness", author John R. Spencer brings to these inquiries a broad and diverse experience in law enforcement, social work, and teaching, plus over twenty years of pastoral ministry. "Interrogating God" was not written from an ivory tower but from life's trenches, including deep personal tragedy.
Are there answers? Spencer's reply is a resounding Yes -- powerful answers that will refocus, even redefine our lives. Spencer walks us carefully through each solid, frank answer, and even takes on those who say we should not even ask the questions.
Critique: As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring, "Interrogating God: Seven Questions That Cause You To Doubt His Goodness" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to church, seminary, community, and college/university library Christian Studies collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated and concerned Christians that "Interrogating God: Seven Questions That Cause You To Doubt His Goodness" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).
Editorial Note: John R. Spencer grew up in Kansas and Colorado, and holds a degree in English Literature from the University of Northern Colorado, where he was, for two years, editor-in-chief of the campus literary magazine NOVA. In addition to writing, he has enjoyed a diverse career as a police detective, emergency medical technician, coroner's investigator, social worker, and community corrections supervisor. He has also worked as a dramatic director for several community and children's theaters in Colorado, Wisconsin and Illinois. The father of three grown children, he lives with his wife, Candice, in eastern Iowa.
God's Phone Number
9781733120500, $12.99, PB, 182pp
Synopsis: Have you ever heard God speak to you? And have you ever responded?
Daniel Essien has. And with the simple steps outlined in his book, "God's Phone Number: Instantly Talk to God and Quickly Turn Your Wishes into Fulfilled Prayers", you can too!
"God's Phone Number" is thought-provoking, inspirational and comforting prayer guide describes how God speaks to all of us every day. We just need to be better listeners and learn to keep the conversation going...through prayer!
Essien's down-to-earth dialogue with God provides clear steps that will: Empower you to have your own conversation with God; Help you to tap into prayer's undeniable power to manifest your desires; Teach you the basic principles of prayer and how to create clear intentions; Explain who God is (faith and pure love) and how to pray -- and so much more!
Perhaps you're looking for answers or a new spiritual path. Maybe you need help coping with troubles in your world. You might even need a miracle. With your new skills as a joyful prayer warrior, you'll be able to hear from God and know exactly how to respond.
Critique: An inspired and inspiring DIY instructional guide and manual, "God's Phone Number: Instantly Talk to God and Quickly Turn Your Wishes into Fulfilled Prayers" is an extraordinarily inspiring, life-enhancing, spiritually nourishing, thoughtful and thought provoking read that is highly recommended for personal, clergy, seminary, and college/university library Christian Self-Help and Christian Devotional collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "God's Phone Number" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Editorial Note: Daniel Essien forged a direct relationship with God after being tired of feeling lost in life and feeling left out in church. He's an author and entrepreneur living in Columbus, Ohio, where he enjoys spending time with his family and friends. His conversations with God have brought him joy, and his mission is to share that joy with others. Prayer inspires him daily.
Walking in Love: Why and How?
c/o Author House
9781532094965, $20.99, HC, 88pp
Synopsis: "Walking in Love: Why and How?" by Suzanne Miller presents and explains a simple process for overcoming our human limitations on wisdom and strength and fulfilling our potential to love.
Totally consistent with Christian scripture but free from dogma, "Walking in Love: Why and How?" uses the personal confirming experience of the reader and a core understanding of the spirituality common to all human beings as the source of authority.
"Walking in Love: Why and How?" builds on and puts the cap on the messages of the author Susan Miller's previous two books, "Spirituality 101" and "Spirituality 202".
Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Walking in Love: Why and How?" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Walking in Love: Why and How?" will prove to be a welcome and appreciated addition to the personal reading lists of all dedicated Christians regardless of denominational affiliations. It should be noted for seminary students, clergy, and lay members of the Christian community that "Walking in Love: Why and How?" is also readily available in a paperback editions (9781532094644, $10.99).
The Jobs/Careers Shelf
Harness Your Butterflies
9781734608106, $14.99, 162pp
Synopsis: Young men and women are told to follow their dreams and work hard because that is how they will build a successful career for themselves. But when starting out as a professional, that advice can feel empty and confusing. No one provides 'real world' steps to do it.
"Harness Your Butterflies: The Young Professional's Metamorphosis to an Exciting Career" by Benjamin Preston offers an action plan that will demystify a professional future and help the reader to create a career full of passion and purpose by learning job-building strategies designed to guide the reader through the following decades of their career.
In today's rapidly changing business world and ever evolving technologies, there are very few set job paths. "Harness Your Butterflies" offers the foundational development tools that professionals have taken years to learn on their own in one easy-to-follow handbook. It's all that is needed by way of an instruction guide and manual to ensure a satisfying and successful career.
Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "Harness Your Butterflies: The Young Professional's Metamorphosis to an Exciting Career" is an impressively informative and thoroughly 'user friendly' guide upon which to launch a career that will be rewarding financially and emotionally. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Jobs/Careers instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Harness Your Butterflies" is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Benjamin Preston is a marketer and business strategist with extensive experience in businesses of many different sizes and industries. He has an MBA from the University of North Carolina, and he's done it all: Launched several businesses, joined the leadership team at a startup, took a job at a billion-dollar communications company, and also worked at a Native American economic development firm. Benjamin now consults with small businesses to develop their strategies and scale their operations across various industries. He's received an entrepreneurship award from PM360 Magazine and served as a mentor for the PRSSA chapter at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Benjamin now lives in Arlington, Virginia. Learn more at BenjaminPreston.com
The Business Shelf
Gamification: Playing for Profits, third edition
Syndicate X Publishing
9781733394543, $24.95, HC, 184pp
Synopsis: Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. It can also be defined as a set of activities and processes to solve problems by using or applying the characteristics of game elements. Gamification commonly employs game design elements to improve user engagement, organizational productivity, flow, learning, crowdsourcing, employee recruitment and evaluation, ease of use, usefulness of systems, physical exercise, traffic violations, voter apathy, and more. A collection of research on gamification shows that a majority of studies on gamification find it has positive effects on individuals. However, individual and contextual differences exist. (Wikipedia)
The explosion of Gamification is why noted "turnaround" specialist and sales trainer Chris Collins has written, "Gamification: Playing for Profits". From establishing goals to selecting games, prizes and spiffs, Chris walks you through the tools and techniques developed to enhance production, employee morale, and much more - no matter your business or industry.
Gamification begins with the effect of human psychology on performance and illustrates the many ways to use behavior to build a better workplace culture. You'll learn things like: Why every Gamification system starts with a goal and a prize; How your MVP (Most Value Product) can make or break results; Why a shift meeting to present the game is an essential pivot point to success.
"Gamification: Playing for Profits" has become the "go-to playbook" for corporate and business managers looking to motivate their employees and increase productivity every single day.
Critique: Expertly written, deftly organized, accessibly presented, and now in a fully updated and expanded third edition, "Gamification: Playing for Profits" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, corporate, and college/university library Contemporary Business Management collections and MBA supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Gamification: Playing for Profits" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781733394536, $19.99) and in digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Innovator's Spirit
Fast Company Press
c/o Greenleaf Book Group Press
9781732439160, $24.95, HC, 288pp
Synopsis: Everyone wants to create new products and services, find new customers and markets, stay ahead of the competition, and work smarter instead of harder. Yet with all the focus and attention on innovation, the term has become an overused buzzword rather than a real, tangible concept. If you want to seriously pursue innovation you need to strip away the hype.
Real innovators need to transcend the existing ideas, rules, and patterns to discover exciting new outcomes. They must step outside the best practice box and get their hands dirty. The spirit of a true innovator is rooted in wanting to do something that has never been done before, to solve problems that have never been solved, and to run through walls and leap over tall buildings to get there.
In "The Innovator's Spirit: Discover the Mindset to Pursue the Impossible", author Chuck Swoboda (who is the retired chairman and CEO of Cree, a company that fundamentally changed the way people experience light and drove the obsolescence of the Edison light bulb) explains that innovation is fundamentally about people and shows his readers how to develop a mindset of creativity, risk-taking, and hard work. He also instills in his readers an unshakeable belief that there is always a better way!
Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "The Innovator's Spirit: Discover the Mindset to Pursue the Impossible" is an extraordinary, thought-provoking, inspiring, and unreservedly recommended contribution to personal, professional, community, corporate, college and university library Business Management collections in general, and Business Decision-Making & Problem Solving supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for business students, academia, entrepreneurs, business managers, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Innovator's Spirit" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Millennials' Guide to Management & Leadership
Jennifer P. Wisdom
Winding Pathway Books
9781733097734, $19.99, PB, 342pp
Synopsis: In these currently troubled times facing the triple stresses of a lethal pandemic, a brutal recession, and nation wide change demanding racial justice protests, just how can Millennials become successful managers and leaders? In their 20s and 30s, once they learn the basics of navigating the world of work, many of young adults start moving into management and leadership positions.
Today's Millennials are also still striving to identify who they are, what they want, and how to get it. That's why "Millennials' Guide to Management and Leadership" by Jennifer P. Wisdom will help Millennials become skilled managers and leaders who are prepared to tackle the complex problems of today and the future.
In the next decade, Millennials will become 60% of the U.S. workforce. "Millennials' Guide to Management & Leadership" is a practical and effective guide that includes: Advice on overcoming more than 80 workplace challenges; Strategies in growing into management and leadership roles; Tips for managing a staff and/or a boss; An action plan for accomplishing your work and life goals.
Critique: Expertly written, accessibly organized, effectively presented, "Millennials' Guide to Management & Leadership" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in commentary and practical in approach. Comprised of workplace wisdom seldom taught in a classroom, "Millennials' Guide to Management & Leadership" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and college/university library Contemporary Business Management collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Millennials' Guide to Management & Leadership" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Editorial Note: A licensed clinical psychologist based in New York City and Portland, Oregon, Jennifer P. Wisdom has previously been a photojournalist, soldier, therapist, marathoner, surfer, academic, and teacher. She currently leads Wisdom Consulting, where she helps people and organizations make things work better and reach their potential. She relates to Millennials' struggles at work and has been delighted to pull together suggestions and ideas from more than 30 years of work experience to help Millennials and others navigate the workplace. In addition to leading Wisdom Consulting, she is affiliated faculty at the City University of New York and at Portland State University-Oregon Health and Science University.
Management Practices of Successful CEOs
James P. Armatas
Desert Haven Publishing Company
9781734641424, $27.95, HC, 284pp
Synopsis: Over a fifty-year career as a psychological consultant to corporate management, James Armatas had long-term relationships with some of the most successful CEOs in America. Among their greatest achievements: the longevity of the companies they led.
With few exceptions, the companies are still in existence or have been successfully merged or sold at significant gain for their managers and stockholders. "Management Practices of Successful CEOs" is a personal and professional memoir that chronicles the performance of more than twenty-five CEOs and their companies, profiles the operational and management models critical to their success, and reveals the idiosyncratic accomplishments of these uniquely American CEOs.
Included are such names and companies as Harold Geneen (ITT), George Strichman (Colt Industries), Harold Hook (National Fidelity Life and General American Insurance), Del Dunmire (Growth Industries), Garry Drummond (Drummond Companies, Inc.), and Dave Noble (American Equity Investment Life).
"Management Practices of Successful CEOs" is a detailed study of management and operational practices as defined and refined during the unprecedented American business boom following World War Two.
Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "Management Practices of Successful CEOs: Memoir of a Psychological Consultant to Management" is impressively insightful and will prove to be an exceptional and welcome addition to community, corporate, and college/university library Business Management and Organizational Psychology collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Management Practices of Successful CEOs" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781734641400, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
Editorial Note: James P. Armatas has enjoyed a fifty-year career as a psychological consultant to a diverse group of successful CEO clients and their companies. With a background in clinical counseling and organizational psychology, Armatas has also held positions in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, as a visiting professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Kansas, and as the owner and CEO of Alvarado Manufacturing Company, Inc.
The Humor Shelf
Ken Wachsberger's Puns and Word Plays for the Job Seeker
9780945531111, $9.99, PB, 142pp
Synopsis: Is job seeking in these economically depressed times getting you down? Ken's friends have been there and they're here to help lighten the mood in "Ken Wachsberger's Puns and Word Plays for the Job Seeker", a compendium of puns and word plays that includes nearly 150 touching testimonials, horror stories, close calls, hard-luck adventures, and words of wisdom from experienced job seekers everywhere.
Critique: A fun and laugh out loud little read that is ideal for our currently troubled times, "Ken Wachsberger's Puns and Word Plays for the Job Seeker" will prove a welcome and much appreciated addition to both community and college/university library Contemporary Humor collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ken Wachsberger's Puns and Word Plays for the Job Seeker" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
The Political Science Shelf
The Irrelevance of Power
9781716990342, $18.00, PB, 327pp
Synopsis: In the pages of "The Irrelevance of Power", by Frank Seeburger (Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Denver) provides his readers with an exploration of how they might free ourselves from the coercive power of governments and find our way along diverse wandering paths to the Promised Land of peace and freedom together in universal community.
Seeburger maintains that real politics, the building of a human home, can only happen outside and in a continual, unruly revolt against everything that passes for "politics as usual" in all governed places.
Critique: Thoughtful and thought provoking, original and iconoclastic, "The Irrelevance of Power" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Political Science & Philosophy collections as an absorbing, insightful study that is especially relevant reading for political science students, academia, political activists, non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.
The Criminology Shelf
Real Prison Real Freedom
9781400330355, $32.99, HC, 212pp
Synopsis: Prisons, while an integral part of society, are generally are not familiar to most people. Length of sentence and treatment by others in the prisons vary widely. The immediate "Man-in-charge" of each prison unit is the warden, who has some flexibility within TDCJ guidelines.
Warden Dr. Keith Price gained a reputation for turning around some chaotic prison units. He knows from experience that at best, prisons are very difficult places for people, whether they are behind the bars or in front of them.
"People that wind up in prison, inmates, generally are society's rejects," Price said. "They've been unable to do the things other people do to make life a success, whether it's because of an abusive parent, addiction to some substance, stupidity, being unable to read or write, they've been failures and have chosen alternate means, that is crime."
Price also knows officers have a challenging life, "The correctional officer, has to deal with people so maladjusted that society says they can't live amongst them anymore. It's conflict day after day, hour after hour and it really takes a toll, from broken marriages to financial problems to substance abuse. It's continual."
The Texas Prison System was named "one of the best" in the country by a leading penology expert. However, shortly after that, a Federal Judge took control of the entire Texas Department of Corrections for "unconstitutional treatment" of inmates. TDC denied and resisted many of the reforms the judge ordered. The result was chaos. Too few guards, rampant gangs, gang wars and overcrowding were the norm for several years. The court kept control 20 years and finally the prison system adapted to the new (and constitutional) ways of operating. At the same time Texas prison population doubled, and more than doubled, again.
During that time, 19-year-old Rickie Smith began a 10-year sentence in TDC on a drug charge. He joined the gang wars, in the Aryan Brotherhood and then made his own personal war with prison officers. He could have been released in a few short years, but, in 3 separate trials juries added 3 ninety-nine-year sentences for him to serve. Trial transcripts have many references in testimonies to how dangerous Rickie Smith is -- even calling him "the most violent inmate" in TDC.
"Real Prison Real Freedom" is a biography of Rickie Smith by Rosser McDonald and show his life intersects with the woes of the prison system and with Warden Keith Price. Naturally, he wanted out, knowing that realistically it will never happen. Officials told him he'll never get out. Then came the impossible that shocked everyone, especially Rickie.
Critique: An inherently fascinating life story with profound implications for penal reform, "Real Prison Real Freedom" is an extraordinary account and a deftly crafted biography with immense attention to background and detail. While especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and college/university library Contemporary American Biography collections in general, and Penology/Criminology supplemental curriculum studies lists in particular, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Real Prison Real Freedom" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781400330348, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Editorial Note: Rosser McDonald is an experienced writer and for sixteen years reporting news on TV in Oklahoma and Texas. Then twenty-eight years he served as a producer at the Radio and Television Commission, SBC. Twelve of those, Rosser produced and scripted documentaries for use on NBC TV stations. Two brought Emmy Award nominations. He has many Telly Awards (Cable TV version of Emmies) and other recognitions.
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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