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Unwired: Gaining Control over Addictive Technologies
Cambridge University Press
One Liberty Plaza, Fl. 20, New York, NY 10006
9781009257930, $24.95, HC, 248pp
Synopsis: Smartphones, screens, and social media -- our society has a technology problem. One that often leads to a form of addiction and mental health issues.
Many of us want to disconnect from screens but can't help themselves. These days we spend more time online than ever. Some turn to self-help-measures to limit their usage, yet repeatedly fail, while parents feel particularly powerless to help their children.
With the publication of "Unwired: Gaining Control over Addictive Technologies", Professor Gaia Bernstein shows us a way out. Rather than blaming users, "Unwired: Gaining Control over Addictive Technologies" shatters the illusion that we autonomously choose how to spend our time online. It shifts the moral responsibility and accountability for solutions to corporations.
Drawing lessons from the tobacco and food industries, "Unwired: Gaining Control over Addictive Technologies" demonstrates why government regulation is necessary to curb technology addiction. It describes a grassroots movement already in action across courts and legislative halls. Groundbreaking and urgent, "Unwired: Gaining Control over Addictive Technologies" provides a blueprint to develop this movement for change, to one that will allow us to finally gain control.
Critique: Simply stated, every parent concerned with the adverse impact that social media and the other new technologies (such as Artificial Intelligence) that are coming on-line will have on their children, as well as adults who are becoming aware of the addictive seductions of algorithms are having upon their lives and emotional well being, "Unwired: Gaining Control over Addictive Technologies" must be considered essential reading. Timely and an important, informative contribution to today's on-going national conversation regarding the deleterious impact that addictive technologies are having and how to deal with them, "Unwired: Gaining Control over Addictive Technologies" is an unreservedly and exceedingly important addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Computer History/Culture collections and supplemental Networking/Cloud Computer Social Issues curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, governmental policy makers, political activists, technology developers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in this subject that "Unwired: Gaining Control over Addictive Technologies" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99).
Editorial Note: Gaia Bernstein (https://gaiabernstein.com) is the Technology, Privacy and Policy Professor of Law, Co-Director of the Institute for Privacy Protection, and Co-Director of the Gibbons Institute of Law Science and Technology at Seton Hall University School of Law. She writes, teaches, and lectures on subjects at the intersections of law, technology, health, and privacy. Professor Bernstein developed a nationally recognized outreach program on technology overuse for school-aged children and their parents.
The SideRoad Columnist: Observations from an Upper Michigan Author
Sharon M. Kennedy
Modern History Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615997374, $32.95, HC, 168pp
Synopsis: Penned by author and local newspaper columnist Sharon M. Kennedy in recent years, "The SideRoad Columnist: Observations from an Upper Michigan Author" presents a very special collection of her newspaper columns.
To delight the reader, each installment tells a complete story in miniature. "The SideRoad Columnist" showcases Sharon own particular mixture of nostalgia, humor, shared experiences and sundry observations. The featured stories are short (under two pages) making "The SideRoad Columnist" an ideal choice for readers who have limited time or are passengers on a journey.
Readers will smile as they recall a time when boys slathered hair cream on their locks, women sported a bouffant hairdo and barnyards were a common sight.
Whether recovering from her many domestic and kitchen disasters, navigating the U.P.'s notoriously bad roads or trying to properly celebrate a lifetime of holidays, Kennedy's adventures will bring groans of recognition.
Critique: A combination of nostalgia, humor, insights, and representations of the human condition and experience, "The SideRoad Columnist" is certain to delight and amuse -- especially mature readers as they remember the old days. Younger readers will laugh as the Sharon Kennedy describes the way things were, her struggle to understand technology and the green dot following everyone on Facebook. Kennedy's ability to entertain, while simultaneously writing terse columns, is undeniable. She's a writer for our times -- both past and present. While highly recommended and a guaranteed popular addition to community library rural life humor and American Midwest biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The SideRoad Columnist" is also available in a paperback edition (9781615997367, $18.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.95).
Editorial Note: Sharon M. Kennedy (https://www.authorsharonkennedy.com) lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula on the land of her youth. As an opinion writer for Gannett Media, her newspaper columns reflect a keen observation of people and their experiences. Whether humorous, serious, or poignant, she records events and situations relatable to individuals of various ages. Kennedy has the remarkable ability to communicate with readers as if they were sitting at her kitchen table, sharing a cup of coffee and a laugh with her.
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
How to Create Snappy Sassy Salty Success for Authors and Writers
Dr. Judith Briles
9781885331984, $20.00, PB, 174pp
Synopsis: Being a writer and trying to get published can (and often is) a lonely occupation. That's why "How to Create Snappy Sassy Salty Success for Authors and Writers" by Dr. Judith Briles (a successful author who is known throughout the publishing industry as 'The Book Shepherd" can be inspiring and useful in get an author through the inevitable 'writer's block', writer fatigue, or those isolation blues.
Briles' favorite advice over the years to her many author clients is repeated in "How to Create Snappy Sassy Salty Success for Authors and Writers" as it is comprised of some 400 of her favorite quotes that over the years she has created and shared with her clients and followers.
Divided into six sections, read them one at time and highlight what talks to or inspires you. Open it randomly or start at the beginning. This is a collection of quotes that writers and authors (and bibliophiles!) will go to over and over again.
Critique: A fun read that is also a seriously useful resource for inspiration, motivation, and encouragement, "How to Create Snappy Sassy Salty Success for Authors and Writers" by Dr. Judith Briles is an impressive compendium of memorable and thought-provoking quotations that is especially and unreservedly recommended for anyone aspiring to, or in the business of, writing for a living -- or are engaged in a writing project just for personal satisfaction. While also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.31), "How to Create Snappy Sassy Salty Success for Authors and Writers" fully lives up to the promise of its title and highly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Literary Humor and Writing/Publishing collections.
Editorial Note: Dr. Judith Briles (http://www.milehighpress.com) is the author of 43 books and known as The Book Shepherd, working with authors globally to create and publish books in all subject categories and genres. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Briles) A number of her titles have been previously reviewed and archived by the Midwest Book Review website at https://search.freefind.com/find.html?id=8779737&pid=r&mode=ALL&n=0&query=%22Judith+Briles%22
The Education Shelf
Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English
Bob Cox, et al.
Crown House Publishing
81 Brook Hills Circle, White Plains, NY 10605
9781785836671, $24.95, PB, 160pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English: Pitching high and including all" co-authors Bob Cox, Leah Crawford, Angela Jenkins and Julie Sargent, provides both big principles and a toolkit of strategies all carefully selected to support the design of a deeper, more creative and more expansive English curriculum.
"Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English: Pitching high and including all" is rich resource, enhanced with vivid illustrations by Victoria Cox, and intended to help classroom teachers enhance their student's engagement with challenging texts and develop their writing skills as budding wordsmiths. Working in association with the Opening Doors network of schools, the authors address the vital concept of pitching high but including all pupils and how this approach can be delivered in practice.
"Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English" also explains and models top quality ways of thinking, planning and teaching. The resources, case studies and authors' innovative ideas on theory will help you to make primary English vibrant, creative and challenging in your school. It also provides frameworks and principles for any school wishing to be more ambitious in developing pupils' speaking, listening, reading, writing and thinking with a greater sense of curiosity and more originality.
Of special note is that "Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English" contains chapter by chapter explanations of how English in primary schools can be developed in ambitious ways. Supported by research references, examples of pupils' work and illuminating case studies, "Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English" provides teachers with a toolkit of strategies which schools can adapt and apply to their own contexts.
"Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English" is supported by the Opening Doors series of books which contain units of work based around selected texts. The authors hope "Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English" will act as a starting block from which to develop an Opening Doors approach to English, and have suggested key concepts around which the curriculum can be built, with the units providing examples to work from.
Critique: Especially suitable for teachers and curriculum leads in primary settings, "Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English: Pitching high and including all" is enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a ten page Bibliography, a two page End Note, a two page List of Online Resources, and a two page List of Downloadable Resources. Exceptionally informative, impressively organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, "Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English: Pitching high and including all" is solidly recommended for personal, professional, school district, college, and university library English studies collections and supplemental curriculum lists. It should be noted that "Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English: Pitching high and including all" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $23.70).
Editorial Note #1: Bob Cox (http://crownhousepublishing.com/bob-cox) has taught English for 23 years and is now an independent education consultant, writer and teacher coach who works nationally and internationally to support outstanding learning. Bob also delivers keynotes for national associations, multi-academy trusts and local authorities, as more schools integrate Opening Doors' strategies into their curriculum design.
Editorial Note #2: Leah Crawford (http://leahcrawford.com/opening-doors) has 15 years' experience as a local authority English inspector and adviser, working across both the primary and secondary phases, and now leads the Thinktalk education consultancy. She is an associate tutor on King's College London's Let's Think in English cognitive acceleration programme and also works in support of a European Erasmus project on the assessment of thinking skills.
Editorial Note #3: Angela Jenkins (http://www.angelajenkinsconsulting.com/about) has extensive experience in English education and school improvement having worked as an adviser in three different local authorities and two multi-academy trusts in the last 20 years. As well as providing link adviser support for individual schools she also took strategic responsibility for English and assessment. Recently, Angela has worked as an independent consultant, providing specialist advice and support for the development of exceptional curriculum, pedagogy and assessment both in primary and secondary settings. She is currently co-chair of the National Association of Advisers in English (NAAE).
Editorial Note #4: Julie Sargent (https://www.innovateducation.co.uk/about-me-2) has over 10 years' experience of working across the whole of the primary sector as an English Consultant. This includes developing bespoke CPD for individual schools, multi-academy trusts and local authorities. She has a particular interest in Early Years/KS1 and using high-quality texts to promote and develop all aspects of English.
The Assistant Principal Identity
Baruti K. Kaffle
1703 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311-1714
9781416632269, $27.95, PB, 124pp
Synopsis: Given the demands placed upon our public schools today, the job of a school leader is more challenging and important than ever. To be effective, administrators need to support their students and staff, but they also need to take care of themselves. With the publication of "The Assistant Principal Identity: Protecting Your Leadership Mindset, Fervor, and Authenticity" by seasoned public education leader Baruti K. Kafele brings this motivational message to the pivotal members of the leadership team who are too often overlooked: assistant principals.
Kafele explains that even as assistant principals gain knowledge and build their leadership identity, their leadership values and skills can be compromised or lost without intentional care. Along with stories from his own years as a transformational school leader, Kafele also offers assistant principals 35 thought-provoking questions for reflection and conversation centered on the idea of protection, from How am I protecting my leadership purpose? to How am I protecting my leadership optimism? and How am I protecting my leadership integrity?
Whether you are a new or experienced assistant principal, "The Assistant Principal Identity: Protecting Your Leadership Mindset, Fervor, and Authenticity" is an insightful and instructional guide will help you hold a mirror up to your own practice and more effectively navigate your powerful role in improving outcomes for students and schools.
Critique: Expertly written, deftly organized, exceptionally comprehensive, impressively well presented, "The Assistant Principal Identity: Protecting Your Leadership Mindset, Fervor, and Authenticity" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, school district, college and university Education Leadership collections and supplemental Education Administration curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "The Assistant Principal Identity: Protecting Your Leadership Mindset, Fervor, and Authenticity" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.49).
Editorial Note: Baruti K. Kafele (www.principalkafele.com) is a highly regarded urban educator in New Jersey for more than 20 years. He has distinguished himself as a master teacher and a transformational school leader. As an elementary school teacher in East Orange, New Jersey, he was named East Orange School District and Essex County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, and he was a finalist for New Jersey State Teacher of the Year. As a middle and high school principal, he led the transformation of four different New Jersey urban schools. He is the author of 13 books, including The Aspiring Principal 50 and his seven ASCD bestsellers: The Assistant Principal 50, Closing the Attitude Gap, The Equity and Social Justice Education 50, Is My School a Better School Because I Lead It?, Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life, The Principal 50, and The Teacher 50.
The Social Issues Shelf
The Practice of Belonging
Lisa Kentgen, Ph.D
North Atlantic Books
2526 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94704-2607
9781623177638, $17.95, PB, 208pp
Synopsis: After two years meeting with different communities in the US, psychologist Lisa Kentgen identified 6 key traits of vibrant, healthy communities that we can all apply to our own lives and networks: Commitment to care; Acceptance; Diversity; Skillful conflict resolution; Bonding rituals; Hospitality.
Each chapter of her new book, "The Practice of Belonging: Six Lessons from Vibrant Communities to Combat Loneliness, Foster Diversity, and Cultivate Caring Relationships" focuses on one of these traits, highlighting a particular community as a case study of how it can be put into practice.
The reader will learn about a wide range of successful community models, including a tiny-home village for people who had been chronically houseless in Austin, Texas; a study circle to build connection between Native and non-Native people in a small town in South Dakota; a 500-member community choir in Columbus, Ohio; and a Buddhist center in Barre, Massachusetts committed to bringing greater diversity to the Dharma.
Throughout "The Practice of Longing", the reader will reflect on such questions as: How can we cultivate these traits of vibrant community in our own lives? What would it look like to prioritize caring and acceptance in our interactions with others? How can we create a climate of true inclusivity, one where our differences both challenge and strengthen us? How can we learn to feel more comfortable with tension and acquire the skills to move through conflict toward creative solutions? What would happen if we incorporated meaningful rituals into our communities and made a point of celebrating each other?
With intention and practice, we can transform our social relationships and build communities that appreciate difference, encourage authentic expression, and foster an environment of belonging and mutual care. "The Practice of Longing" will inspire the reader to make the transformative leap from "me" to "we", thereby creating communal and loving spaces in which to connect (and thrive) together.
Critique: Exceptionally 'user friendly' in its commentary style, organization and presentation, "The Practice of Belonging: Six Lessons from Vibrant Communities to Combat Loneliness, Foster Diversity, and Cultivate Caring Relationships" is ideal reading for professionals and non-specialist general readers alike -- making it a very special and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for those who are interested in communication, social skills development, motivation, and creating/supporting friendships that "The Practice of Belonging" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).
Editorial Note: Lisa Kentgen (https://www.lisakentgen.com) is a psychologist with over three decades' experience as a clinician, educator, and speaker. She is the author of An Intentional Life: Five Foundations of Authenticity and Purpose. Dr. Kentgen has published scientific articles on the development of conscious awareness, biological correlates of depression and anxiety, and identifying emotional difficulties in children. She believes that creating vibrant communities is the path forward through the unprecedented social, psychological, and existential crises we face. You can subscribe to her online newsletter at https://the3csofbelonging.substack.com
The Cookbook Shelf
Chetna's Indian Feasts
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9780600637677, $32.99, HC, 224pp
Synopsis: Chetna Makan is the queen of Indian home cooking. First introduced to us on The Great British Bake Off, Chetna has since authored several bestselling cookbooks that combine her inventive flavors with a love of simple Indian recipes.
"Chetna's Indian Feasts: Everyday meals and easy entertaining" is her newest collection. In this compendium of recipes Chetna provides us with flavor-packed feasts designed to please a crowd. Chetna's accessible style and supermarket-friendly ingredients prove that you don't need to be an expert to entertain. "Chetna's Indian Feasts" provides a varied array of delicious dishes, grouped together by theme so you know exactly how to pair your platters. Whether this is a big celebration or a quick-fix family dinner, there are enticing yet easy recipes for every occasion.
"Chetna's Indian Feasts" is deftly organized in sections dedicated to: Breakfast Feasts; Everyday Feasts; Festive Feasts; Sunday Lunch Feasts; Barbecue Feasts; Friday Night Feasts.
Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated with full color photos of finished dishes, "Chetna's Indian Feasts: Everyday meals and easy entertaining" is delightful to simply browse through and make up menus with. Thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' in organization and presentation, "Chetna's Indian Feasts" will become an immediately welcome, enduringly appreciated, and highly valued pick for personal, professional, and community library ethnic cookbook collections. It should be noted that "Chenta's Indian Feasts" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
Editorial Note: Chetna Makan (https://chetnamakan.co.uk) was born in Jabalpur, an ancient city in Central India. Chetna reached the semi-final of The Great British Bake Off in 2014, and her first book, The Cardamom Trail, is a celebration of baking with Indian flavours. She is the author of six other titles: Chai, Chaat & Chutney (2017), Chetna's Healthy Indian (2019), Chetna's Healthy Indian Vegetarian (2020), Chetna's 30 Minute Indian (2021) and Chetna's Easy Baking (2022). She has a very popular YouTube channel 'Food with Chetna' where she shares her creative flair for food. She can be followed on: Youtube.com/FoodwithChetna; Instagram.com/chetnamakan; and Twitter.com/chetnamakan.
Smith Street Books
300 Park Avenue South, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010
9781922754226, $19.95, HC, 128pp
Synopsis: Comprised of 80 authentic noodle recipes from Asia, "Noods" features the best of the noodle world ranging from ramen, to pho, lo mein, to pad see ew. With fifty 'slurpable' recipes embellished with truly beautiful photography of the finished dishs, each of which are as simple as they are packed with flavor. Paging through "Noods is (almost) as good as a culinary trip across Asia.
"Noods" can be considered as a culinary snapshot of the wide world of noodles, captured in four distinctive chapters: Stir-fried, Soups, Cold, and Instant. From the staples loved for years to contemporary creations that will have the family chef cooking them again and again, "Noods" recipes include: Pad thai; Dan dan noodles; Japchae; Vietnamese Hotpot; Zha Jianc Mian; Yum Woonsen, and so many more!
Critique: of particular interest to amateur, family, and professional cooks alike, "Noods" is a DIY compendium featuring the recipes for homemade noodles and basics, and along with plenty of vegetarian options -- making it a unique and prized addition to personal, family, and community library cookbook collections. It should be noted that "Noods" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.69).
Editorial Note: A premier publisher, Smith Street Books has an online website showcasing there complete title list at https://www.smithstreetbooks.com
The Biography Shelf
David Bowie Rainbowman: 1967-1980
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781800960633, $39.99, HC, 704pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "David Bowie Rainbowman: 1967-1980", Jerome Soligny presents a uniquely exhaustive work focused upon Bowie's 1967-1980 albums and drawing on over 150 interviews with the musicians, producers and friends who knew Bowie best, including Robert Fripp, Hermione Farthingale, Lou Reed, George Underwood, Mick Ronson, Carlos Alomar, Trevor Bolder, Mike Garson, Woody Woodmansey and many, many others.
With an essay by Soligny on each album followed by oral histories from the most trusted and influential figures in Bowie's musical life, "David Bowie Rainbowman: 1967-1980" is the definitive guide to a singular and mercurial genius -- the Rainbowman himself.
Critique: This massive and detailed biography of the life and work of music legend David Bowie includes an informative foreword by Tony Visconti, as well as an introduction by Mike Garson and cover photo by Mick Rock. Packed from cover to cover with iconic photographs and with striking cover design by Barnbrook, the edition of Jerome Soligny's "David Bowie Rainbowman: 1967-1980" from Monoray publishing is a 'must' for the legions of David Bowie fans. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Rock Band/Musician biographies and histories, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "David Bowie Rainbowman: 1967-1980" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).
Editorial Note: Jerome Soligny is a musician, writer and journalist based in Le Havre, France. Over the course of 25 years, Jerome spoke with Bowie many times, and interviewed him on numerous occasions for Rock&Folk magazine. He was made Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2019 and is described by Bryan Ferry as 'one of the great French authorities on contemporary music'. (https://www.discogs.com/artist/276977-J%C3%A9r%C3%B4me-Soligny)
The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries
Stephen L. Hauser, M.D.
St. Martin's Press
9781250283894, $29.00, HC, 304pp
Synopsis: Stephen L. Hauser is an acclaimed physician and neuroimmunologist who has spent his career performing cutting-edge research on multiple sclerosis (MS), a devastating brain disease that affects millions of people worldwide. His work has revolutionized our understanding of the genetics, immunology and treatment of MS, and led to the development of B cell therapies -- the most effective therapy for all forms of MS and the only therapy currently in place for progressive MS patients.
"The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries: The Education of a Doctor" is a riveting memoir that follows Dr. Hauser from his unorthodox upbringing among the colorful cast of characters responsible for his development into a tenacious and innovative researcher, to the life-changing medical breakthroughs he has made against extremely long odds. Along the way, readers will learn the incredible stories of many of his patients, whose bravery, strength, and optimism in the face of a debilitating illness were instrumental to the progress that has been made in the fight against MS.
Critique: "The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries: The Education of a Doctor" is a fascinating and inspiring memoir that is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in style, organization and presentation. Of particular relevance to readers with an interest in the diagnosis and treatment of nervous system diseases, as well as medical biographies, "The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries: The Education of a Doctor" is a highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community/academic Contemporary American Biography/Memoir collections. It should be noted that "The Face Laughs While the Brain Cries: The Education of a Doctor" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).
Editorial Note: Dr. Stephen L. Hauser (https://profiles.ucsf.edu/stephen.hauser) is a Distinguished Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, and Director of the Weill Institute for Neurosciences. His research as a physician-scientist has led to a powerful new approach to the treatment of multiple sclerosis, a disabling neurologic disease. His work has received numerous honors, such as the Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award, the John Dystel Prize, the Charcot Award, the Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Research, and the Scientific Breakthrough Award from the American Brain Foundation.
Boyhood Among the Woolies
Richard W. Etulain
c/o Washington State University Press
PO Box 645910, Pullman, WA 99164-5910
9781638640073, $19.95, PB, 150pp
Synopsis: Like many Pacific Northwest sheep herders, Sebastian Etulain emigrated from Europe's Basque country. He arrived in Yakima in May of 1921, convinced that hard work could overcome a lack of formal education and other shortcomings. It became his doctrine, and he advanced to ranch owner before marrying Mary Gillard Foster.
The Etulain sheep ranch lay among rock ridges, carved out coulees, rounded hills, and rich grasslands twenty miles east of Ritzville and almost seventy miles south of Spokane. Isolated and sprawling across nearly ten thousand acres, it included a sturdy ranch house surrounded by hay barns, a water pump house, corrals, and pens for sheep, goats, dogs, and pigs. The spread also had a milking parlor and creamery, as well as a blacksmith shop.
The Etulains adopted seasonal rhythms. For about one third of the year, their own abundant pasture grasses provided sufficient fodder. In the summer they moved most of their animals up to mountains around St. Maries, Idaho, to feast on rich grasses there. But from November to March the sheep and cattle needed purchased feed, and plenty of it.
Growing up on a sheep ranch afforded Sebastian's boys a magical upbringing with magnificent memories -- despite the demanding work. With the publication of "Boyhood Among the Woolies: Growing Up on a Basque Sheep Ranch", his youngest son, Richard Etulain, reveals the family's story, while providing a rare look at life on an early eastern Washington sheep ranch. He recounts endless chores related to supplying feed and water, lambing season, sheep shearing, keeping animals safe, and fighting one of the largest dangers -- grass fires. Richard also describes family activities, relationships with hired staff, favorite dogs, brotherly pranks and shenanigans, schooling and church in Ritzville, Basque history, and more.
Critique: A fascinating life story that is as inherently interesting and it is impressively informative as to what growing up on an American sheep ranch was like. Illustrated with black/white historical photographs, "Boyhood Among the Woolies: Growing Up on a Basque Sheep Ranch" is unique and especially recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library American Biography/Memoir collections.
Editorial Note: Glowing reminiscences aside, author Richard W. Etulain never fell in love with ranching. He became a town and city dude, an award-winning historian who specializes in the history of the American West. He has given more than two hundred presentations on western and United States historical, literary, and cultural topics. He is the author or editor of over sixty volumes, and his books and essays have won several major prizes. Recent titles include Thunder in the West: The Life and Legends of Billy the Kid, and Abraham Lincoln: A Western Legacy.
The Science Shelf
Predrag B. Slijepcevic
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
85 North Main Street, Suite 120, White River Junction, VT 05001
9781645021384, $24.95, PB, 272pp
Synopsis: What is life? Many scientists believe life can be reduced to 'mechanistic' factors, such as genes and information codes. Yet there is a growing army of scientists, philosophers and artists who reject this view. The gene metaphor is not only too simplistic but deeply misleading. If there is a way to reduce life to a single principle, that principle must acknowledge the creativity of life, turning genetic determinism on its head.
The term biocivilisations is the acknowledgement of this uncertainty of life, as opposed to a quasi-certainty of the human position governed by a narrow time window of the scientific revolution. Life existed without humans for more than 99.99 percent of the Earth's existence. Life will also continue without humans long after our inevitable extinction.
With the publication of "Biocivilisations: A New Look at the Science of Life", Dr Predrag Slijepcevic shows how bacteria, amoebas, plants, insects, birds, whales, elephants and countless other species not only preceded human beings but demonstrate elements of how we celebrate human civilization -- complex communication, agriculture, science, art, medicine and more.
Humans must try to adopt this wisdom from other biocivilisations that have long preceded our own. By rethinking the current scientific paradigm, Dr Slijepcevic makes clear that a transformation (from a naive young species into a more mature species in tune with its surroundings) will save us from our own violence and the violence we inflict on the rest of our living planet which, if unchecked, will result in the demise and extinction of our own species.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, and as fascinating as it is informative, thoughtful, and thought-provoking, "Biocivilisations: A New Look at the Science of Life" will have a very special appeal and relevance to readers with an interest in bacteriology, microbiology, evolution, nature and ecology. Enhanced with the inclusion of an two page Epilogue (A Report to an Academy), twenty-nine pages of Notes, and a six page Index, "Biocivilisations: A New Look at the Science of Life" will prove a highly prized and appreciated addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Biological Sciences collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "Biocivilisations: A New Look at the Science of Life" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (9781666638158, $24.99).
Editorial Note: Predrag B. Slijepcevic is a senior lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences at Brunel University London. He is bio-scientist interested in the philosophy of biology. In particular, Predrag investigates how biological systems, from bacteria to animals and beyond, perceive and process environmental stimuli (that is, biological information) and how this processing, which is a form of natural learning, affects the organism-environment interactions. He aims to identify those elements in the organization of biological systems that lead to forms of natural epistemology, or biological intelligence, that might qualify those systems as cognitive agents. He has published widely in peer-reviewed journals across all areas of this book. (https://www.chelseagreen.com/writer/predrag-b-slijepcevic)
The Parenting Shelf
Raising Good Humans
Hunter Clarke-Fields, MSAE
New Harbinger Press
5674 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
9781684033881, $16.95, PB, 184pp
Synopsis: A kinder, more compassionate world starts with kind and compassionate kids. With the publication of "Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids", Hunter Clarke-Fields shares with parents and caregivers powerful and practical strategies to break free from "reactive parenting" habits and raise kind, cooperative, and confident kids.
Whether you're running late for school, trying to get your child to eat their vegetables, or dealing with an epic meltdown in the checkout line at a grocery store -- being a parent is hard work! And, as parents, many of us react in times of stress without thinking -- often by yelling. But what if, instead of always reacting on autopilot, you could respond thoughtfully in those moments, keep your cool, and get from A to B on time and in one piece?
With the help of "Raising Good Humans", parents will find powerful mindfulness skills for calming their own stress response when difficult emotions arise. Also featured are strategies for cultivating respectful communication, effective conflict resolution, and reflective listening. In the process, you'll learn to examine your own unhelpful patterns and ingrained reactions that reflect the generational habits shaped by your parents, so that you can break the cycle and respond to your children in more skillful ways.
When children experience a parent reacting with kindness and patience, they learn to act with kindness as well -- thereby altering generational patterns and creating a kinder, more compassionate future. With this essential guide, parents and caregivers can see how changing "autopilot reactions" can create a lasting positive impact, not just for your kids, but for generations to come.
Critique: Given all the stresses, pressures, and anxiety creating conditions of modern life upon the family, "Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids" readily qualifies as essential reading for any and all parents wanting, seeking, and trying to create a better world for their children -- and grandchildren! While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Raising Good Humans" is especially and unreservedly recommended for professional, community and academic library Parenting and Family Conflict Resolution collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.
Editorial Note: Hunter Clarke-Fields, MSAE, (https://mindfulmamamentor.com) is a mindfulness mentor, coach, host of the Mindful Mama podcast, and creator of the Mindful Parenting online course. She coaches moms on how to cultivate mindfulness in their daily lives. Hunter has more than twenty years of experience in meditation and yoga practices, and has taught mindfulness to thousands worldwide.
The General Fiction Shelf
Islomanes of Cumberland Island
Rita Welty Bourke
Addison & Highsmith Publishers
c/o Histria Books
9780980116458, $29.99, HC, 246pp
Synopsis: Lucy Carnegie, wife of industrialist Thomas Carnegie, dreamed of creating on Cumberland Island a home where her children would be safe from the smoke and soot-filled skies over Pittsburgh. Protected by the waters of the Cumberland Sound, the estate she built encompassed nearly the entire island. It was a perfect paradise -- until the outside world intruded. Stone by stone it all came tumbling down. Wild horses now crop the grass around the burnt-out mansion. Rattlesnakes nest among the ruins.
A century later, another family comes to Cumberland to walk among the horses and to accept what gifts the island has to offer: solitude, unspoiled wilderness, and wildlife free to roam undisturbed. Returning year after year, Rhamy and her parents explore the island and swim in the ocean. They picnic on the beach where servants once served champagne, shrimp cocktails, and crab cakes to the Carnegie family and their guests. They gaze at the chimneys surrounding Stafford house, all that remain of slave quarters that once housed plantation field hands. They mourn for Zabette, daughter of a plantation owner and his black servant, sold to a man who fathered her six children, then abandoned her.
Always, everywhere on the island, the horses graze nearby, unaware of efforts by environmentalists to remove them from the island where they have lived for centuries.
Traveling to the north end of the island, the family sits for a quiet moment in the church where JFK Jr. married Carolyn Bessette. Across the pasture is the shack where naturalist Carol Ruckdeschel has lived for fifty years and the porch where her lover lay dead, shot through the heart.
In the campgrounds, on the beach, at the Dungeness dock, wild horses graze. For now, they are safe.
Critique: "Islomane" is a word invented by writer Lawrence Durrell to explain the feeling one gets when one is on an island. "Islomanes of Cumberland Island" by Rita Welty Bourke is a carefully crafted novel that deftly blends historical family life fiction with an appreciation of the wild horses of Cumberland Island, Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island. Cumberland Island is also home to over 9,800 acres of Congressionally designated Wilderness. As a novelist, Rita Welty Bourke is able to conjure up in the mind's eye of the ready the beauty of land, the horses, and the lives of her characters.
A masterful work of impeccable literary elegance, and a novel that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "Islomanes of Cumberland Island" is fully and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary American Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Islomanes of Cumberland Island" is also available in a paperback edition (9781592112043, $19.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).
Editorial Note: Rita Welty Bourke (https://ritaweltybourke.com) is also the author of "Kylie's Ark: The Making of a Veterinarian", She has published over forty works of fiction and non-fiction in literary magazines including The North American Review, Cimarron Review, Louisiana Literature, Shenandoah, Witness, and the Black Warrior Review. One of her stories, Gunnison Beach, has been included in an anthology entitled "Naked" compiled by Susan Zakin. Five of her works have been nominated for Pushcart prizes.
Walking on Fire
She Writes Press
9781647424381, $17.95, PB, 368pp
Synopsis: Greece. Reeling from a failed marriage and spurred on by a burgeoning sense of feminism, twenty-five-year-old Kate accepts a position as a speech therapist in a center for children with cerebral palsy in Thessaloniki, Greece.
It is 1974, and the recent end of Greece's seven-year dictatorship has ignited a fiery anti-American sentiment within the country. Despite this, as her Greek improves, Kate teaches communication to severely disabled children, creates profound friendships, and finds a home in the ancient and historied city. From a dramatic Christmas pig slaughter to a mesmerizing fire walking ceremony, her world expands rapidly -- even more so when she falls in love with Thanasis, a handsome Communist.
Through Thanasis, Kate meets people determined to turn a spotlight on their former dictators' massacre of university students, as well as their record of widespread censorship and torture of dissidents. The more she learns, the more her loyalty to her country and almost everything she was taught in her conservative home state of Texas is challenged.
Kate is transformed by her odyssey, but when her very safety is threatened by the politics of her lover, she must choose: risk everything to stay with Thanasis and the Greece that has captured her heart, or remove herself from harm's way by returning to her homeland?
Critique: "Walking on Fire" by novelist Kathryn Crawley (who aptly draws upon her expertise and experience working with Greek children with cerebral palsy) is an impressive and deftly scripted mix of politics. romance, and danger that will hold immense appeal to readers with an interest in political thrillers and coming of age stories. An original and fully entertaining read from first page to last, "Walking on Fire" is unreservedly recommended for community library fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Walking on Fire" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).
Editorial Note: Kathryn Crawley (https://kathryncrawley.com/about) received undergraduate and graduate degrees in speech pathology from Baylor University. Unforeseen events and an adventurous spirit led her to Casper, WY, Colorado Springs, CO, and Thessaloniki, Greece, where she worked in a center for Greek children with cerebral palsy from 1974 to 1976. She went on to establish roots in Boston, where she continued her career as a speech pathologist.
Forever Hold Your Peace
Liz Fenton, author
Lisa Steinke, author
9781639103522, $19.99, PB, 320pp
Synopsis: When their newly engaged kids ask all four divorced parents to meet each other over brunch, everyone RSVPs yes -- secretly hoping someone at the table will get to the bottom of the bottomless mimosas fast enough to say what they're all thinking: that this engagement, coming after a whirlwind romance between two people barely out of college, is too much too soon.
But at that brunch it's not the impulsive couple's decisions that end up under the microscope, as it turns out June, mother of the bride, and Amy, mother of the groom, certainly do know each other. They are ex-best-friends who haven't spoken since their explosive falling out more than twenty-five years ago! Reeling from their unwanted reunion and eager to shift the spotlight off their past as decades-old secrets and rivalries come to light, the two moms battle it out for the prize of Most Enthusiastic About This Wedding.
But when their history (and their present-day shenanigans) threaten to crack the foundations of the happy couple's future, June and Amy find themselves becoming unexpected allies in an all-hands-on-deck effort to get their kids (and themselves) a happily-ever-after two generations in the making.
Critique: A messy, complicated family novel by an author with a complete mastery of the kind of narrative driven storytelling that keeps the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end, "Forever Hold Your Peace" by co-authors Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke is an original and fun read from cover to cover. While a highly recommended addition to community library comedic family and friendship fiction, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Forever Hold Your Peace" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666641448, $22.99, CD).
Editorial Note: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been best friends for twenty-five years and survived high school and college together. Liz lives in San Diego with her husband and two children. Lisa, a former talk show producer, now lives in Chicago with her husband, daughter, and two bonus children.
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780063270282, $30.00, HC, 400pp
Synopsis: Sassy, streetwise Sammy is a teenage girl who is falling through the cracks. Neglected by an alcoholic mother, the problems she endures at school and home lead her into the hands of adults who don't have her best interests in mind. Failed by them at every turn, Sammy acts out, seeking attention from boys, then men, when what she wants most is protection.
Meanwhile, in a small village in Eastern Europe, preternaturally beautiful and naive Nico is about to turn thirteen and as her family falls upon desperate times, her father is approached to marry her off. Her family knows that the nice life this stranger seems to be offering Nico is too good to be true, but they and Nico hope for the best as she's shuttled across the border into Ireland, where she and Sammy find one another in their new home -- a suburban brothel.
As Nico and Sammy journey into this dark underbelly and out the other side, their friendship (and the unexpected acts of kindness they give and receive) form a potent bond.
Heartbreaking and breathtakingly beautiful, "Cloud Girls" exposes the failings of polite society and the cruelty that exists beneath its surface, yet reminds us that goodness and love can flourish in the darkest times.
Critique: Deftly scripted by an author with a genuine flair for the kind of memorable character creation and narrative driven storytelling style, "Cloud Girls" is a compelling read from cover to cover that will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in psychological and friendship literary fiction. While very strongly recommended for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cloud Girls" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212216227, $41.99, CD).
Editorial Note: Lisa Harding (https://lithub.com/author/lisaharding) is an Irish actress, playwright, novelist and screenwriter decided to change her life when she applied for the MPhil in creative writing at Trinity College Dublin as a mature student. She graduated in 2014, having pursued a tumultuous career as an actress until that time. SEvery day now, as a writer, she can produce work and practice her craft.
The Cyclone Release
PO Box 358, Lake Dallas, TX 75065
9781956440089, 21.95, PB, 258pp
Synopsis: It's the late 90s Internet boom, and Brendon Meagher has just lost his wife Sadie in a freakish car accident at the edge of Silicon Valley. "The Cyclone Release" follows Brendon as he emerges from tragedy and lands in a pre-IPO start-up that promises astonishing riches.
Mo Gramercy, a bright and commanding colleague with her own deep secret, joins Brendon, disrupts his malaise, and takes him as her lover. The characters' careen toward IPO millions, their secrets suddenly converging, and both are shaken without mercy from bucolic notions of work, life, and impending fortune.
Critique: A deftly crafted and compelling novel of Silicon Valley that is truly impressive when considering that, "The Cyclone Release" author Bruce Overby's debut as a novelist, he has written an original and entertaining story populated with memorable characters and the kind of intense and narrative driven storytelling style that will keep the reader vividly engaged from cover to cover. Blending romance with psychological fiction, "The Cyclone Release" is a highly recommended pick for community library fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Cyclone Release" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Born in California's Santa Clara Valley long before it became the Silicon Valley of today, Bruce Overby (https://www.bruceoverby.com) both participated in and keenly observed the transformation and evolution of an insular place that many still fail to understand. His fiction has appeared in several literary journals, and his story "Bookmarks" won First Prize in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition. He holds an MFA in Writing from Queens University of Charlotte and continues to live in Northern California with his wife Caroline.
The Historical Fiction Shelf
The Lost Diary of George Washington
Addison & Highsmith
9781592112005, $34.99, HC, 598pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "The Lost Diary of George Washington: The Revolutionary War Years" by novelist Johnny Teague you are invited to travel by horse with the General, stay in his quarters, hear what he thinks, weigh upon his decisions, listen to his prayers, and fight by his side.
Sometimes he will sound redundant. You will realize this is because many of the problems he faced were repetitive. Sometimes there will be little action. This will bother you. Please keep in mind, it bothered him more. You will see him in anguish and distress. You will experience his frustrations.
You will grieve because of those who betrayed him. You will be a fly on the wall as he strategizes with his men. You will see some of those strategies carried out, while others were not executed. Even knowing the glorious outcome beforehand, you will see no possible way for victory to be had - until finally it is.
You will be surprised to learn that this stoic figure had an inner turmoil few have ever faced. In the end, because of his own writings, you will know General George Washington more for who he was, above and beyond what he did or what others have said. You will hear it from his lips, in his own words.
Critique: Although a work of fiction, in writing "The Lost Diary of George Washington: The Revolutionary War Years" novelist Johnny Teague has paid meticulous attention to historically accurate details. The result is a true 'you are there' experience for the reader. Especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Historical/Biographical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists tht "The Lost Diary of George Washington" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).
Editorial Note: Dr. Johnny Teague (https://links.johnnyteague.com/home) is an author and historian, having earned five degrees, culminating with a doctorate in exposition from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
c/o Penguin Group USA
9780593184042, $28.00, HC, 368pp
Synopsis: New York City, 1956: Nineteen-year-old Marion Brooks knows she should be happy. Her high school sweetheart is about to propose and sweep her off to the life everyone has always expected they'd have together: a quiet house in the suburbs, Marion staying home to raise their future children. But instead, Marion finds herself feeling trapped. So when she comes across an opportunity to audition for the famous Radio City Rockettes (the glamorous precision-dancing troupe) she jumps at the chance to exchange her predictable future for the dazzling life of a performer.
Meanwhile, the city is reeling from a string of bombings orchestrated by a person the press has nicknamed the "Big Apple Bomber," who has been terrorizing the citizens of New York for sixteen years by planting bombs in popular, crowded spaces. With the public in an uproar over the lack of any real leads after a years long manhunt, the police turn in desperation to Peter Griggs, a young doctor at a local mental hospital who espouses a radical new technique: psychological profiling.
As both Marion and Peter find themselves unexpectedly pulled in to the police search for the bomber, Marion realizes that as much as she's been training herself to blend in (performing in perfect unison with all the other identical Rockettes) if she hopes to catch the bomber, she'll need to stand out and take a terrifying risk. In doing so, she may be forced to sacrifice everything she's worked for, as well as the people she loves the most.
Critique: Of immense appeal to readers with an interest in historical fiction and murder mysteries, "The Spectacular" by author Fiona Davis showcases her undeniable storytelling talents. Original, deftly crafted, and with more unexpected plot twists and turns than a Kansas tornado, "The Spectacular" is the stuff of which blockbuster movies are made and is unreservedly recommended for community library fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Spectacular" is also readily available in a digital book format ($14.99).
Editorial Note: Fiona Davis (https://www.fionadavisbooks.com) is the author of several novels, including The Dollhouse, The Address, The Masterpiece, The Chelsea Girls, The Lions of Fifth Avenue, and The Magnolia Palace. She is a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School.
The LGBT Fiction Shelf
Wild with All Regrets
E. L. Deards
She Writes Press
9781647424879, $17.95, PB, 288pp
Synopsis: A decade has passed since Lucas Connolly lost his best friend (and the only man he's ever loved) in World War I, but he still can't shake his guilt over Jamie's death. In fact, ever since losing Jamie, Lucas has heard his friend's voice inside his head -- confused about what happened to him, begging him for help. And now, suddenly, it's not just Jamie's voice anymore; now, a specter who looks and acts exactly like Jamie did before his death, and who is demanding answers from Lucas about what happened to him, has begun to haunt him.
Concerned about Lucas's deteriorating mental state, his friend Angela encourages him to move on with his life, and even sets him up with a co-worker whom she suspects is also gay. But Lucas is too consumed with the secret he still keeps about the part he played in Jamie's death to even begin to form a healthy connection with someone new -- and as Jamie's ghost begins to recover his memories and get closer to the truth, Lucas's obsession only deepens.
Ultimately, Lucas realizes that his only path forward is to first go backward --that only in examining his troubled youth, facing his deepest self, and shining a light on the shadowed parts of his past will he finally be able to set his old friend, and himself, free.
Critique: A deftly crafted story that is all the more impressive considering that it is author E. L. Deads' debut as an author, "Wild With All Regrets" will be of particular interest to readers of LGBTQ+ and Historical Fiction.
"Wild With All Regrets" by E. L. Deards is a particularly and well recommended read -- making it a welcome addition to community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wild With All Regrets" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).
Editorial Note: Emma Deards (https://www.authorsanswer.com/interviews/emma-deards) grew up in New York City and earned her undergraduate degree at Barnard College at Columbia University, where she studied Japanese literature and biology. She was then accepted to The University of Edinburgh, where she completed her veterinary degree. She remained in the UK afterward, and since then has split her time between her day job as a vet and her truest passion: writing. Emma has authored a number humor articles for In Practice, a veterinary magazine, and was the recipient in college of two writing awards: Oscar Lee Award and the Harumatsuri Award.
The Literary Fiction Shelf
Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, author
Margaret Jull Costa, translator
Robin Patterson, translator
c/o W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9781324090700, $27.95, HC, 288pp
Synopsis: Originally published in 1899, "Dom Casmurro" is widely considered to be Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis's masterpiece and a progenitor of twentieth-century Latin American fiction. This exuberant new translation captures all the hilarious, maddening, and utterly compelling idiosyncrasies of one of Machado's most complex characters.
Bento Santiago, our charismatic yet exceedingly unreliable narrator, nicknamed by his enemies Dom Casmurro, has become a bit of a recluse in old age. He spends his days reading and mourning the past in a house built as a replica of his childhood home. One day, musing over the painted busts of Nero, Augustus, Masinissa, and Caesar, he is inspired to write his own story, a tale of equally epic proportions. Or so, at least, he thinks.
"Yes, let us begin by evoking a famous November afternoon, one I will never forget," he writes, recalling the day he fell in love with his childhood sweetheart, Capitu. Thus he transports readers back to his youth in a once fashionable neighborhood, when he and Capitu were neighbors playing innocently in the backyard. But after overcoming many obstacles, Bento's happy-ever-after ending proves short-lived when he is consumed by paranoia and jealousy.
At once oblivious and obsessive, Bento becomes a strangely engaging antihero as he mines the repercussions of his suspicions against the backdrop of a rapidly modernizing Rio de Janeiro.
Critique: Eloquently and collaboratively translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson (the same duo that sparked a Machado renaissance with their brilliant translations of The Collected Stories and Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas) and brimming with the signature literary charm of author Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, "Dom Casmurro" is a subversive and groundbreaking dark comedy from one of Brazil's greatest authors and now readily available to an American readership. A highly recommended pick for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dom Casmurro" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).
Editorial Note #1: Machado de Assis (21 June 1839 - 29 September 1908) was born in Rio de Janeiro and, along with seven short-story collections, wrote such groundbreaking novels as Quincas Borba and The Alienist. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machado_de_Assis)
Editorial Note #2: For her translations of Spanish and Portuguese, Margaret Jull Costa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Jull_Costa) has won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize four times as well as the Premio Valle-Inclan, the International Dublin Literary Award, and the 2008 PEN Prize for best translation from any language for The Maias, by Eca de Queiros (New Directions, 2007).
Editorial Note #3: Award-winning translator Robin Patterson lives in England. he has participated in both the Birkbeck and the BCLT literary translation summer schools and in 2013 was mentored by Margaret Jull Costa as part of the BCLT mentorship program. His translation of Our Musseque by Jose Luandino Vieira was published by Dedalus Books. Additionally, his translations have appeared in Ninth Letter, on the Bookanista website, and in The Football Cronicas. (https://wordswithoutborders.org/contributors/view/robin-patterson)
The Country of Too
Rodrigo Rey Rosa, author
Stephen Henighan, translator
9781771965149, $16.95, PB, 120pp
Synopsis: Raised on his wits on the streets of Central America, the Cobra, a young debt collector and gang enforcer, has never had the chance to discern between right and wrong, until he's assigned the murder of Polo, a prominent human rights activist -- and his friend.
When his conscience gives him pause and his patron catches on, a remote Mayan community offers the Cobra a potential refuge, but the people there are up against predatory mining companies. With danger encroaching, the Cobra is forced to confront his violent past and make a decision about what he's willing to risk in the future, and who it will be for.
Following the Cobra, Polo, are a faction of drug-dealing oligarchs, and Jacobo, a child caught in the crosshairs, Rey Rosa maps an extensive web of corruption upheld by decades of political oppression. A scathing indictment of exploitation in all its forms, "The Country of Too" offers a particularly gripping account of what it means to consider societal change under the constant threat of violence.
Critique: Ably translated into English by Stephen Henighan, the narrative driven and distinctive storytelling style of novelist Rodrigo Rey Rosa raises "The Country of Too" from a basic crime thriller to that of a work of literary excellence making it unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary International Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Country of Too" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note #1: Born and raised in Guatemala City, Rodrigo Rey Rosa is the author of five collections of short stories and more than a dozen novels that have been published in sixteen languages. Among his works available in English are The Beggar's Knife, The Pelcari Project (both translated by expatriate American author Paul Bowles), The Good Cripple, The African Shore, Human Matter, and Chaos: A Fable. Rey Rosa has been awarded Guatemala's national literature prize, China's Best Foreign Book Award, and, for his life's work, the prestigious Jose Donoso Prize in Chile. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodrigo_Rey_Rosa)
Editorial Note #2: Stephen Henighan's translations have twice been longlist finalists for the Best Translated Book Award and once for the International Dublin Literary Award. He is the author of ten books of fiction, most recently the short story collection Blue River and Red Earth (2018) and the novel The World of After (2021). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Henighan)
The Romantic Fiction Shelf
The Cafe at Beach End
Canary Street Press
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9781335652836, $30.00 HC, 320pp
Synopsis: When Meredith Collins was a child, the little beach town of Cape Sanctuary lived up to its name. Spending summers there with her grandmother, Meredith finally felt safe and loved.
Now she's returning in disgrace. Her late ex-husband swindled investors out of millions of dollars and made Meredith a figure of scorn -- even though she knew nothing about his scheme.
But she still has the beach cottage she inherited from her grandmother and half ownership of the local cafe. It's a place to work and earn a little money. That's if her cousin, Tori, will let her through the door. Once, Tori and Meredith were as close as sisters -- until Meredith chose her neglectful parents' expectations over their bond. Now widowed with a teenage daughter, Tori isn't setting out a welcome mat for the woman who let her down so badly.
While Meredith tries to make a fresh start, she is drawn to a mysterious writer renting the cottage next door. Liam Byrne's kindness is a balm, though she worries he might not be so friendly if he knew who she was. But Liam has his own secret and a mission that will help Meredith confront her past -- and maybe, claim a surprising future...
Critique: The newest addition to novelist RaeAnne Tahyne's 'Cape Sanctuary' series (Summer at the Cape; The Path to Sunshine Cove; The Sea Glass Cottage; The Cliff House), "The Cafe at Beach End" is another original, deftly crafted, fun and heartwarming story that will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in Contemporary Romance fiction. Especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Cafe at Beach End" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781335458162, $17.99), in a digital book format ($11.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212658980, $41.99, CD).
Editorial Note, As a novelist and storyteller, RaeAnne Thayne (www.raeannethayne.com) finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including seven RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews magazine.
34 West 27th Street, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10001
9781639102822, $18.99, PB, 336pp
Synopsis: American consultant Kat is staffed on a six-month project in London and has two very small, very reasonable ambitions before returning home: get promoted to partner and fall in love with a handsome English aristocrat. No problem, right?
But work is a grind, and the British men she meets are a far cry from her royal ideal. Then one morning, she sees a man on a double-decker bus and just knows that he's the person she's been looking for. But when Kat finally musters the courage to board the bus and introduce herself, he turns out to be very different from the Prince Charming she expected.
Can Kat open herself up to a love that's not like the movies, or is she too imprisoned by her rom-com expectations? And just as importantly, will she be able to see that success isn't about landing a C-suite job, but rather living a life that's aligned with her soul?
Critique: Unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Romance Fiction collections, "Double Decker Dreams" by gifted novelist Lindsay MacMillan is a deftly crafted and modern love story offering readers with an interest in fun, memorable, contemporary romantic comedies.
Editorial Note: Lindsay MacMillan (https://www.lindsaykatmacmillan.com) is a bestselling author, TEDx speaker, and business leader. She graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College and was formerly a vice president at Goldman Sachs. Double-Decker Dreams is her second published novel. She wrote this book in London tea shoppes while watching double-decker busses pass by.
9781639103768, $18.99, PB, 336pp
Synopsis: Twenty-nine-year-old Penina longs for true love and marriage, but being infertile in the Orthodox Jewish community means she's rarely matched with the cream of the crop -- or even skim milk two weeks past its expiration date. Matchmakers either set her up with men twice her age or those with serious mommy issues. At this point, she might as well wear a sign around her neck that says "professional virgin."
As if things weren't bad enough, her sister Libby then shares a terrible secret: her husband's failed businesses have already put strain on their marriage, and now they might also lose their family home. Penina is desperate to help, so when a secretly gay Orthodox Jew offers a payout in exchange for a fake marriage, it feels like kismet. Who needs true love anyway?
Enter Sam Kleinfeld. Rude, secular, undeniably sexy, and also... Penina's new boss. The last thing he wants is a relationship, especially not with a beautiful, smart-mouthed employee. But soon an attraction builds that they both can't ignore. Will Penina follow her heart and find true love, or will she stick to the traditions she knows best?
Critique: Original, funny, and of particular appeal to readers with an interest in a Jewish take on romantic comedy, "Unorthodox Love" by Heidi Shertock will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary Romance collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated rom-com fans that "Unorthodox Love" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666641462, $22.99, CD).
Editorial Note: Heidi Shertok (https://www.heidishertok.com) is an Orthodox Jewish wife and mother of three. When she isn't writing, she can be found walking her eight pound attack dog, admiring other people's gardens, or hiking in high heels.
One Tough Cookie
9781639103782, $19.99, PB, 336pp
Synopsis: All cookies are made with love -- even if twenty-seven-year-old Karina Cortes doesn't believe in the concept. For her, a simple life with no attachments is a good life. And her life is indeed good -- even though her biggest accomplishment is passing the GED exam.
Karina is able to secure an incredible and well-paying job at Singular Cookies, Inc., a small family-owned cookie manufacturing plant in Fort Pierce, Florida. And although the founders of the company treat her like family, Karina insists she doesn't need or want one. Not after her mother chose a man over her own daughter, pushing the young Karina to move out and make it on her own.
And she couldn't be happier with her single life, unlike her friends, whose lives revolve around men.
But work and play collide when she meets the company's hot new mechanic, Ian Feliciano, who stirs up feelings she tends to avoid. Karina knows she shouldn't date him, but she's strong; she'll never turn pathetic like her friends or, especially, her mom. And with a looming plant inspection and trying to break up the CEO's new romance, Karina has enough to distract herself.
As the inspection draws near and Karina battles her heart, she'll have to decide whether to continue holding on to deeply ingrained beliefs that keep everyone at bay, or learn that love is not as dangerous as she fears and in the end, it is our history (our singular recipe) that shapes how we live.
Critique: A simply riveting, fun and funny read from first page to last, "One Tough Cookie" is all the more impressive when considering that it is author Delise Torres' debut as a novelist. With a special appeal to readers of rom-com novels, "One Tough Cookie" is an unreservedly recommended pick for personal and community library Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted that "One Tough Cookie" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) as well.
Editorial Note: Delise Torres grew up in Puerto Rico, watching telenovelas and re-enacting scenes with her Barbies. Once she outgrew her dolls, she turned to daydreaming, and it wasn't until her late thirties when she finally put her own stories to paper, and her passion for writing was born.
She has a PhD in Food Science and former work experience as a quality assurance manager in the food industry. When not writing, you can find her trying to time-manage her life, singing, reading, and streaming shows and movies. She lives in Germany with her daughter and German husband. One Tough Cookie is her first novel.
In the Shadow of the River
Ann H. Gabhart
Fleming H. Revell Company
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
9780800741723, $16.99, PB, 352pp
Synopsis: In 1881, Jacci Reed is only five years old when a man attempts to kidnap her from the steamboat her mother, Irena, works on. Badly wounded during the confrontation, Irena takes Jacci aboard the Kingston Floating Palace, a showboat tied up beside them. There, Jacci's actor grandfather tends to her mother and Jacci gets a first taste of the life she will come to lead.
Fifteen years later, Jacci is an actress aboard the Kingston Floating Palace, and largely contented with her adopted family of actors, singers, and dancers. Especially Gabe, who has always supported her, and the gruff grandfather she has come to know and love. Jacci's mother has been gone for years, but the memory of the altercation that ultimately took her life (and the cryptic things Jacci has overheard about her past) is always there, lurking in the back of her mind.
When someone on the showboat tries to kill Jacci, it's clear her questions demand answers. But secrets have a way of staying in the shadows, and the answers she craves will not come easily. Gabe only hopes they come in time for him and Jacci to have a future together.
Critique: A deft blend of historical romance and mystery, "In the Shadow of the River" by gifted novelist Ann H. Gabhart is a riveting and entertaining read from cover to cover. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99), "In the Shadow of the River" is an especially recommended pick for community library Historical Romance collections. It should be noted by librarians that there is also a large print hard cover edition of "In the Shadow of the River" available (Center Point Pub., 9781638087878, $38.95, 500pp).
Editorial Note: Ann H. Gabhart (www.annhgabhart.com) is the author of many novels, including Where the Meadow Blooms, Along a Storied Trail, An Appalachian Summer, River to Redemption, These Healing Hills, and Angel Sister.
Planes, Trains, and All the Feels
9781649373922, $16.99, PB, 352pp
Synopsis: As the black sheep of the family, choreographer Cassidy Bliss vowed she'd do anything to get home in time to help with her sister's wedding and avoid family disappointment -- again. She just never expected "anything" would involve sharing the last rental car with the jerk who cut her off in line at the airport this morning. But horrible times apparently call for here-goes-nothing measures.
Driving across the country with Luke "life can be solved with a spreadsheet" Carlisle must be a penance for some crime she committed. Because the second he opens his mouth, it's all she can do to not maim him with her carry-on. But somewhere between his surprisingly thoughtful snack sharing and his uncanny ability to see straight to the core of her, her feelings go unchecked.
Suddenly, their crackling chemistry is just one more thing they have to navigate - and it couldn't come at a worse time. But after a lifetime of letting the expectations and needs of others drive her life, Cassidy must decide if she's ready to take the wheel once and for all.
Critique: A riveting, rollicking, and fun read from cover to cover, with the publication of "Planes, Trains, and All the Feel", author Livy Hart demonstrates her genuine flair for, and mastery of, the Contemporary Rom-Com genre. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Romance Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated rom-com fans that "Planes, Trains, and All the Feel" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Editorial Note: Livy Hart (https://www.livyhart.com) has two children, too many Funko Pops, and a husband who's workin' on the railroad -- literally. She currently resides in Dallas, Texas where she enjoys long walks on the concrete and people-watching at malls so big they have their own zip codes. When she's not writing romance novels, she's bickering with her KitchenAid stand mixer, road-tripping to her sleepy Florida hometown, or sipping espresso on her Nonna's porch.
The Comeback Summer
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
9780593440179, $17.00, PB, 480pp
Synopsis: Hannah and Libby need a miracle. The PR agency they inherited from their grandmother is losing clients left and right, and the sisters are devastated at the thought of closing. The situation seems hopeless -- until in walks Lou, an eccentric self-help guru who is looking for a new PR agency. Her business could solve all their problems -- but there's a catch. Whoever works with Lou must complete a twelve-week challenge as part of her "Crush Your Comfort Zone" program.
Hannah, whose worst nightmare is making small talk with strangers, is challenged to go on twelve first dates. Libby, who once claimed to have period cramps for four weeks straight to get out of gym class, is challenged to compete in an obstacle course race. The challenges begin with Hannah helping Libby train and Libby managing the dating app on her sister's behalf. They're both making good progress -- until Hannah's first love rolls into town, and Libby accidentally falls for a guy she's supposed to be setting up with her sister.
Things get even more complicated when secrets come to light, making the sisters question the one relationship they've always counted on: each other. With their company's future on the line, they can't afford to fail. But in trying to make a comeback to honor their grandmother, are they pushing themselves down the wrong path?
Critique: A deliciously fun rom-com by a master of the genre, "The Comeback Summer" by novelist Ali Brady will also be of genuine appeal to readers with an interest in stories about family life in genral, and women domestic life in particular. "The Comeback Summer" is ideal for summer vacation reading lists -- and for any other time of the year! Highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary Romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Comeback Summer" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).
Editorial Note: Ali Brady (https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/2262236/ali-brady) is the pen name of writing BFFs Alison Hammer and Bradeigh Godfrey. The Beach Trap is their first book together. Alison lives in Chicago and works as a VP creative director at an advertising agency. She's the author of You and Me and Us and Little Pieces of Me. Bradeigh lives with her family in Utah, where she works as a physician. She's the author of the psychological thriller Imposter.
And Then There Was You
c/o St. Martin's Press
9781250794178, $18.00, PB, 352pp
Synopsis: Reeling after falling prey to a Romeo con-artist who just waltzed away with the better part of her belongings, Natalie Maynard works closely with the detective assigned to her case, only the few leads have led nowhere.
Detective Randy Fellowes can't promise Natalie restitution, but he's determined to find the culprit and serve up justice. Married to his work, he's caught off guard when Natalie has his thoughts wandering to more than the case.
Natalie soon seeks refuge in the one thing she still owns -- an old fishing cabin in the mountains of Chestnut Ridge. She quickly falls in love with the town and the eccentric people who are teaching her so much about the area and its heritage.
Through these people, and the determination of Detective Fellowes, she rediscovers her courage, self, and a reason to risk love again.
Critique: Of special appeal to readers with an interest in deftly crafted, clean and wholesome contemporary romance novels, "And Then There Was You" by Nancy Naigle is a fun and heartwarming read from cover to cover. The stuff of which Hallmark Channel movies are made (and several of her earlier novels have been), "And Then There Was You" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Romance collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "And Then There Was You" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).
Editorial Note: Nancy Naigle (https://nancynaigle.allauthor.com) whips up small-town love stories with a whole lot of heart. Several of Nancy's novels have been made into Hallmark movies, and most recently The Shell Collector was adapted as the first Fox original movie to stream on Fox Nation.
Tracie Peterson, author
Kimberly Woodhouse, author
Bethany House Publishers
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton Road, Ada, MI 49301
9780764238987, $29.99, HC, 336pp
Synopsis: After witnessing a wrongful conviction as a young girl, Rebecca Whitman (the first female court reporter in Montana) is now determined to defend the innocent. During a murder trial, something doesn't sit well with her about the case, but no one except the handsome new Carnegie librarian will listen to her.
Librarian Mark Andrews's father sent him to college hoping he would take over the business side of the family ranch, but Mark would rather wrangle books than cows. When a patron seeks help with research in hopes of proving a man's innocence, Mark is immediately drawn to her and her cause.
In a race against time, will Rebecca and Mark find the evidence they need (and open their hearts to love) before it's too late?
Critique: Christian historical romance fiction at it's very best, "The Heart's Choice" by romance novel and veteran co-authors Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse is clean, wholesome, fun, and unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of the legions of co-author Peterson and Woodhouse fans that "The Heart's Choice" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780764238970, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note #1: Tracie Peterson (www.traciepeterson.com) is the bestselling author of more than 100 novels, both historical and contemporary, with more than 6 million copies sold. She has won the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award and the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. Her avid research resonates in her many best selling series.
Editorial Note #2: Kimberley Woodhouse (www.kimberleywoodhouse.com) is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than 30 fiction and nonfiction books.
With Every Memory
Fleming H. Revell Company
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
9780800744663, $29.99, HC, 304pp
Synopsis: After a tragic accident robs her of the last nine years of memories, Lori Mendenhall comes home to a family completely different than she remembers. As her memory returns and past secrets resurface, it will take all of them to repair what's been broken and find a new future together.
Critique: Eloquent, original, memorable, compelling, "With Every Memory" by Janine Rosche will hold a special interest to fans of contemporary Christian romance novels. entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking, this paperback edition of "With Every Memory" from Revell is an especially recommended addition to community library Contemporary Romance collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "With Every Memory" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).
Editorial Note: Prone to wander, Janine Rosche (http://janinerosche.com) finds as much comfort on the open road as she does at home. This longing to chase adventure, behold splendor, and experience redemption is woven into each of her rustic romance novels in the Whisper Canyon Romance series and the Madison River Romance series. When she isn't writing or traveling, she teaches family life education courses to college students.
Her Only Wish
Shelley Shepard Gray
Fleming H. Revell Company
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
9780800741686, $16.99, PB, 288pp
Synopsis: Sheltered yet adventurous, Betsy Detweiler is on a mission to get out of Kentucky and experience new things in life. She's got a list -- a life list. What better place to start than with her friends in beautiful Pinecraft, Florida?
From the moment Betsy walks into the Snow Bird Golf Course to sign up for lessons, August Troyer is mesmerized. Betsy is a mass of contradictions -- beautiful yet awkward, outgoing yet unsure, joyful yet hesitant. She's like no one he's ever met before, and as the only child of missionary parents, he's met a lot of people.
As Betsy and August embark on a month of enjoying life to the fullest, they'll encounter several reasons to back off and play it safe. But playing it safe has its own consequences. This tender romance reminds us that life (and love) requires a fair amount of risk.
Critique: Of special and particular interest to fans of Amish romance novels (of which author Shelley Shepard Gray" is a complete master), "Her Only Wish" is the second volume in novelist Shelley Shepard Gray's 'A Season in Pinecraft' series and a welcome, unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary Romance collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of the legions of Shelly's fans that "Her Only Wish" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99). For libraries there is also a Library Binding/Large Print edition (Thorndike Large Print, 9798885788700, $35.99).
Editorial Note: Shelley Shepard Gray (www.shelleyshepardgray.com) is the author of more than 100 books. She is a two-time winner of the HOLT Medallion and a Carol Award finalist.
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Blind Man's Bluff
American Mystery Classics
c/o Penzler Publishers
c/o W.W. Norton (distribution)
9781613164198, $15.95, PB, 264pp
Synopsis: The Miners Title and Trust is typically dead quiet, having gone bankrupt. Then, late one evening, the bank's blind president, Blake Hadfield, plummets eight stories to his death in the building's lobby. The only witnesses are the security guard and Blake's estranged wife, who were both on the first floor. Blake's son, Seth, is found drunk and dazed on the eighth floor, making him the prime suspect in what the police believe to be murder.
That's when Harold Lawson and Sybella Ford call upon Captain Maclain for help. Maclain doesn't think the banker's death was a suicide or an accident. He believes someone else was in the building -- and when more murders follow, he suspects the villain is still at large. Now, Maclain will push his powers of deduction to their limits to solve one of the strangest cases of his career.
Critique: Following the loss of his sight in World War I, ex-intelligence officer Duncan Maclain honed his other senses and, with the help of his two German Shepherds, became one of the most successful and well-known private investigators in New York City, picking up on the unseen clues that often slip beneath the visual surface. That's the basis for author Baynard Kendrick's mysteries starring Duncan Maclain. Introducing a new generation of dedicated mystery fans to a brilliantly gifted novelist with a complete command of the genre, "Blind Man's Bluff" has been newly released as part of the American Mystery Classics series from Mysterious Press and will prove to be an immediately popular pick for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections.
Editorial Note: Baynard Kendrick (April 8, 1894 - March 22, 1977) was one of the founders of the Mystery Writers of America, later named a Grand Master by the organization. After returning from military service in World War I, Kendrick wrote for pulp magazines such as Black Mask and Dime Detective under various pseudonyms before creating the Duncan Maclain character for which he is now known. The blind detective appeared in twelve novels, several short stories, and three films.
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781639103676, $29.99, HC, 336pp
Synopsis: Joey Jessop enjoys working behind the scenes. As key costumer for the next epic superhero movie, her role is to make others look good while staying out of the spotlight. That means making sure to be professional around Eli Logan, her ex and the First Assistant Director, and Courtney Lisle, Eli's newest love interest and the Second Assistant Director. But this isn't a problem for Joey -- especially when the movie is shooting at a gorgeous Malibu location.
All of that changes when Joey finds Courtney's dead body on the first day of principal photography and she soon becomes the primary suspect. When the press takes hold of the story and social media begins to run with it, Joey watches her well-ordered life behind the scenes become front and center for all to see.
But that isn't even the worst of it. In the midst of this newfound and unfortunate stardom, she must also contend with the reckless behavior of the movie's predatory director and producer, Marcus Pray, who seems driven to continue his practice of making another blockbuster hit while making sure his crew endures a toxic and potentially lethal work environment. As a result, Joey finds herself embattled both personally and professionally.
With tensions building on set and a murder investigation looming over her life and future, Joey takes it upon herself to clear her name. Will she be able to expose the truth before it's a wrap?
Critique: A carefully crafted and thoroughly entertaining read from cover to cover, "Final Cut" expertly showcases author Marjorie McCown's genuine flair for original and the kind of narrative driven and unexpected plot twists that make for a riveting story that will be of particular interest to fans of the cozy mystery featuring amateur women sleuths solving complicated murder mysteries. While highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Final Cut" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666638073, $22.99, CD).
Editorial Note: Marjorie McCown (https://marjoriemccown.com) has spent her entire professional life in the story-telling business, though she started out on the visual side of the craft. She spent more than twenty-five years in Hollywood working as a key member of the costume design teams for a string of successful movies that includes Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, The Firm, A Bronx Tale, Wag the Dog, The Aviator, Hairspray, Angels and Demons, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and X-Men Days of Future Past. McCown has a BA in Theater from the University of Virginia and an AAS in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.
Take the Honey and Run
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781639103072, $28.99, HC, 336pp
Synopsis: As a successful mystery author, Bailey Briggs writes about murder, but nothing prepares her for actually discovering the dead body of the founder of her hometown of Humble Hills, Colorado. Bailey grew up at Honeybuzz Mountain Ranch and was raised by her beekeeping grandmother, Blossom Briggs, aka Granny Bee, and her two eccentric sisters, Aster and Marigold -- which is why she drops everything to come home and help Granny Bee after a bad fall.
A broken foot doesn't stop her grandmother from ruling The Hive, her granny's book club, or continuing to prepare and package her bee-inspired products. But when Bailey's grandmother's infamous "Honey I'm Home" hot spiced honey turns out to "bee" the murder weapon and her granny is now the prime suspect, Bailey has no choice but to use her fictional detective skills to help solve the murder and "smoke out" the real culprit.
With the help of Bailey's witty bestie, a pair of meddling aunts, the feisty members of The Hive, and her computer-savvy daughter, this amateur sleuth is determined to solve the case. A malicious attack and an ominous threat reveal that someone wants Bailey to butt out of the investigation, but there's no way she's backing down. She must use her skills to uncover the truth and catch the clever culprit before her grandmother ends up bee-hind bars.
Critique: An impressively well crafted and distinctively original cozy mystery by an author with a complete mastery of the genre, "Take the Honey and Run" is a novelist Jennie Marts' Bee Keeping Mystery and a thoroughly fun read from cover to cover. While highly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated cosy mystery fans that "Take the Honey and Run" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666636963, $22.99, CD).
Editorial Note: Jennie Marts (https://jenniemarts.com) is an author of award-winning books filled with love, laughter, and always a happily ever after. She loves genre-mashups, and her books range from western romance to cozy mysteries but all have the charm and appeal of quirky small-town life.
How the Murder Crumbles
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781639102808, $29.99, HC, 304pp
Synopsis: Wingate, Connecticut, is famed as one of the top ten shopping destinations in the state, and home to Mallory Monroe's beloved Cookie Shop -- a place where patrons are greeted with the heavenly aroma of freshly baked cookies that are as beautifully decorated as they are insanely delicious.
But things aren't going so smoothly for Mallory. Her two employees are a disaster in the kitchen, she catches her boyfriend with another woman, and she's seen having a fierce argument with food blogger Beatrice Wright, who accuses Mallory of stealing her cookie recipe. Then Beatrice turns up dead in her kitchen, flour outlining her body and a bloodied marble rolling pin nearby. Mallory immediately becomes suspect number one, her sales plummet, and she desperately tries to clear her name -- but that's not the only murder the killer is baking up.
Critique: With the publication of "How the Murder Crumbles, novelist Debra Sennefelder has cooked up another a perfect recipe for cozy mystery fans replete with endearing characters, a picture-perfect evocation of small-town life, and a quaint sweets shop. And just when things get a little too comfy, there's always a murder or two for good measure! A fun read from first page to last, "How the Murder Crumbles" is a top pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fans with an interest in amateur female murder mystery solving sleuths that "How the Murder Crumbles" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).
Editorial Note: Debra Sennefelder (http://debrasennefelder.com) is the author of the Food Blogger Mystery series and the Resale Boutique Mystery series. When she's not writing, she's either baking or reading.
Death Knells and Wedding Bells
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781639102723, $28.99, HC, 272pp
Synopsis: Lucy and Connor planned for the perfect Outer Banks wedding -- and that's exactly what they got. Aside from typical rumblings of familial tensions, the late spring weather allowed for a beautiful day, the food was delicious, and everyone had a good time, until one of the guests goes missing.
Before Lucy can look forward to the rest of her life in Nags Head and the work she does at the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library, she gets a phone call from her boss, Bertie James. Eddie, Bertie's friend, never made it back home after the reception. Initially, Lucy doesn't think anything of it -- sometimes wedding guests simply have a little too much fun. But this quickly turns to something darker when she discovers the body of a wedding guest strangled in a locked closet, and the police immediately start asking questions about Eddie. Lucy must figure out if the two are connected before it's too late -- both for Bertie's friend and the rest of her wedding guests.
With the Classic Novel Reading Club reading the Selected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Lucy wonders if the master of the macabre can assist her investigation or if the hunt for the killer's identity will remain as nothing more than an unsolved mystery.
Critique: The newest addition to author Eva Gates' 'A Lighthouse Library Mystery' cozy mystery series, "Death Knells and Wedding Bells" is a riveting read that is as original as it is fun and a 'must' for all dedicated fans of amateur women sleuths who must solve an embedded plot twister of a murder mystery. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition for community library Murder/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of Eva Gates fans that "Death Knells and Wedding Bells" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666634549, $59.99, CD).
Editorial Note: Eva Gates (https://cozy-mystery.com/Eva-Gates.html) began her writing career as a Sunday writer: a single mother of three high-spirited daughters, with a full-time job as a computer programmer. Now she has more than twenty novels under her belt in the mystery genre, published under the name Vicki Delany. She lives in Ontario, "Death Knells and Wedding Bells" is her tenth Lighthouse Library mystery.
A Botanist's Guide to Flowers and Fatality
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781639102785, $27.99, HC, 352pp
Synopsis: 1920s London isn't the ideal place for a brilliant woman with lofty ambitions. But research assistant Saffron Everleigh is determined to beat the odds in a male-dominated field at the University College of London. Saffron embarks on her first research study alongside the insufferably charming Dr. Michael Lee, traveling the countryside with him in response to reports of poisonings. But when Detective Inspector Green is given a case with a set of unusual clues, he asks for Saffron's assistance.
The victims, all women, received bouquets filled with poisonous flowers. Digging deeper, Saffron discovers that the bouquets may be more than just unpleasant flowers -- there may be a hidden message within them, revealed through the use of the old Victorian practice of floriography. A dire message, indeed, as each woman who received the flowers has turned up dead.
Alongside Dr. Lee and her best friend, Elizabeth, Saffron trails a group of suspects through a dark jazz club, a lavish country estate, and a glittering theatre, delving deeper into a part of society she thought she'd left behind forever.
Will Saffron be able to catch the killer before they send their next bouquet, or will she find herself with fatal flowers of her own in Kate Khavari's second intoxicating installment.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and deftly crafted Saffron Everleigh mystery by talented novelist Kate Khavari, "A Botanist's Guide to Flowers and Fatality" will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in historical mysteries and amateur female sleuths. An ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated cozy mystery fans that 'A Botanist's Guide to Flowers and Fatality" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666634006, $22.99, CD).
Editorial Note: Kate Khavari (https://www.kkhavari.com) is the author of fiction ranging from historical mysteries to high fantasy epics. She has her parents to thank for her fascination for historical mysteries, as she spent the majority of her childhood memorizing Sherlock Holmes's and Poirot's greatest quips. A former teacher, Kate has a deep appreciation for research and creativity, not to mention the multitasking ability she now relies on as an author and stay at home mother to her toddler son. She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas with her husband, son, and a lovely garden that contains absolutely no poisonous plants.
Viviana Valentine Goes Up the River
Emily J. Edwards
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781639102686, $26.99, HC, 288pp
Synopsis: 1950, New York. Once again, Viviana Valentine (Girl Friday turned partner to New York's top investigator, Tommy Fortuna) finds herself drawn into a sordid new case when Buster Beacon, a wealthy man of science, beckons them to a party at his mansion north of the city. There, Buster entertains blue-blooded friends as well as investors keen to make a dollar on the many advancements made in his home laboratory, but he's been hearing strange noises in the night coming from his expansive estate, and he doesn't know who to trust.
Once Viviana and Tommy arrive, the party is snowed in. And suddenly, there is a dead body and nowhere to hide. Who killed the disguised federal agent in their midst? And how have details from the top-secret lab become public? Once chomping at the bit to be brought into this mysterious life, Viviana wonders if she's ready for the risks that come with the territory - risks that rise treacherously high as the killer targets the next victim.
Critique: Set in the gritty, noir world of 1950 New York City, the latest addition to author Emily J. Edwards's 'A Girl Friday' mystery series, "Viviana Valentine Goes Up the River" packs all the elements cozy mystery fans have come to expect in the form of 'an irresistibly clever protagonist, a posh cast of heroes and villains, and a murder case that could defy even the most seasoned investigator'. A fun read with a narrative driven, plot twisting, and inherently fascinating mystery that plays fair with the reader, "Viviana Valentine Goes Up the River" is a highly regarded and highly recommended pick for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted that "Viviana Valentine Goes Up the River" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99), as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666633337, $22.99, CD) -- and it will be also become available in a paperback edition in October 2023 (9781639105175, $19.99).
Editorial Note: Emily J. Edwards (https://www.msemilyedwards.com) earned her degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and took the long road to becoming an author, working for over a decade as a wine and spirits journalist, radio producer, and podcaster.
The Long Way Back
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781982115104, $17.99, PB, 384pp
Synopsis: Mother and daughter Charlie and Eva never sought social media fame, but when a stunning photo of Eva went viral, fame found them. Now, after more than two years documenting life on the road in their vintage Airstream trailer, the duo has temporarily settled on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Eva is happily finishing her senior year of high school and applying to college, but Charlie longs for the adventures they left behind.
When Eva goes missing less than a week before her graduation, it's Charlie who is immediately suspected of foul play -- not just by their fans, but also by the police and the FBI. As a fight about one more road trip comes to light, and the truth about their relationship is questioned, Charlie realizes the rosy facade they portrayed online hid a complicated and potentially dangerous reality. Now, to clear her name and find out what has happened to her daughter, she'll have to confront her own role in Eva's disappearance -- and whether she knows her daughter at all.
Critique: An original novel in which author Nicole Baart deftly blends family life fiction with elements of a suspenseful mystery thriller, "The Long Way Back" is well crafted and absorbing read from beginning to end. While unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Fiction and Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Long Way Back" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781797160092, $38.95, CD).
Editorial Note: Nicole Baart (www.NicoleBaart.com) is the author of ten novels, including Everything We Didn't Say. She is also the cofounder of a nonprofit and mother of five, who lives in Iowa with her family.
Jeremy P. Bushnell
46 John Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781685890322, $18.99, PB, 352pp
Synopsis: The year is 1909, and Artie Quick (an ambitious, unorthodox and inquisitive young Bostonian) wants to learn about crime. By day she holds down a job as a salesgirl in women's accessories at Filene's; by night she disguises herself as a man to pursue studies in Criminal Investigation at the YMCA's Evening Institute for Younger Men.
Eager to put theory into practice, Artie sets out in search of something to investigate. She's joined by her pal Theodore, an upper-crust young bachelor whose interest in Boston's occult counterculture has drawn him into the study of magic. Together, their journey into mystery begins on Boston Common (where the tramps and the groundskeepers swap rumors about unearthly screams and other unsettling anomalies) but soon Artie and Theodore uncover a series of violent abductions that take them on an adventure from the highest corridors of power to the depths of an abandoned mass transit tunnel, its excavation suspiciously never completed.
Will Theodore ever manage to pull off a successful spell? Is Artie really wearing that men's suit just for disguise or is there something more to it? And what chance do two mixed-up young people stand up against the greatest horror Boston has ever known, an ancient, deranged evil that feeds on society's most vulnerable?
Critique: With a particular appeal to readers with an interest in historical fantasy, cozy mystery, and women sleuths in a male dominated society, "Relentless Melt" by Jeremy P Bushnell is original, entertaining, and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Relentless Melt" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.00).
Editorial Note: Jeremy P. Bushnell (http://jeremypbushnell.com) is the author of two earlier novels with Melville House: The Weirdness and The Insides. He teaches writing at Northeastern University in Boston. He is also the cofounder of Nonmachinable, a distributor of optically interesting zines and artists' books.
What the Neighbors Saw
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
9781250876560, $28.00, HC, 304pp
Synopsis: When Alexis and her husband Sam buy a neglected Cape Cod house in an exclusive DC suburb, they are ecstatic. Sam is on the cusp of making partner at his law firm, Alexis is pregnant with their second child, and their glamorous neighbors welcome the couple with open arms. Things are looking up, and Alexis believes she can finally leave her troubled past behind.
But the neighborhood's picture-perfect image is shattered when their neighbor Teddy (a handsome, successful father of three) is found dead on the steep banks of the Potomac River. The community is shaken, and as the police struggle to identify and apprehend the killer, tension in the neighborhood mounts and long-buried secrets start to emerge.
In the midst of the turmoil, Alexis takes comfort in her budding friendship with Teddy's beautiful and charismatic widow, Blair. But as the women grow closer, the neighborhood only becomes more divided. And when the unthinkable truth behind Teddy's murder is finally uncovered, both Blair and Alexis must reexamine their friendship and decide how far they are willing to go to preserve the lives they have so carefully constructed.
Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "What the Neighbors Saw" is author Melissa Adelman's debut as a published novelist, this deftly crafted murder mystery is a simply riveting read from first page to last. Certain to be of special and particular interest to readers with an interest in 'whodunnit' thrillers, "What the Neighbors Saw" is unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "What the Neighbors Saw" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and will leave mystery buffs looking eagerly toward her next deftly scripted novel.
Editorial Note: Melissa Adelman (https://us.macmillan.com/author/melissaadelman) was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, a first-generation American with parents from Haiti and Chile. When she is not traveling the world for her job as an international development economist, her favorite place to be is at home, an old house full of surprises just outside D.C. Melissa lives with her husband, two energetic little boys, and a long-suffering shih tzu. She holds a Ph.D. and B.A. in economics from Harvard University.
Flop Dead Gorgeous
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
9781250828903, $28.00, HC, 272pp
Synopsis: Retired lawyer Andy Carpenter remembers every dog that's come through the Tara Foundation's doors, but the most well-known alum of the dog rescue organization that Andy founded in Paterson, New Jersey, may be Mamie. Adopted by famous actress Jenny Nichols (Andy's high school girlfriend) the miniature French poodle is now practically a starlet in her own right.
Andy doesn't hold it against his friend. In fact, he and his wife, Laurie, have dinner with Jenny while she's in town filming her next big hit. But after an eventful meal, there's a plot twist the next morning that none of them see coming: Jenny's costar is found dead, a knife in his back. It's not long before Jenny is arrested for the murder and finds herself in need of Andy's legal services.
While Mamie becomes reacquainted with Tara, Andy's golden retriever, Andy digs into the lives of the rich and famous to prove his old friend innocent of murder.
Critique: The latest Andy Carpenter cozy mystery by novelist David Rosenfelt, "Flop Dead Gorgeous" is a fun read and a 'must' for all dedicated mystery buffs who appreciate a deftly scripted 'whodunnit' story with many an unexpected plot twist and turn. A thoroughly entertaining read by an author with a full mastery of the genre, "Flop Dead Gorgeous" is a top pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the growing legions of David Rosenfelt fans that "Flop Dead Gorgeous" is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Macmillan Audio, 9781250325303, $29.99, CD).
Editorial Note: David Rosenfelt (https://davidrosenfelt.com), was the former marketing president for Tri-Star Pictures before becoming a writer of novels and screenplays. "Open And Shut" was his first novel; "First Degree," his second novel, was named a best book of 2003 by Publishers Weekly.
Emily Bestler Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
9781668013014, $27.99, HC, 336pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "The Chateau" by novelist Jaclyn Goldis we are welcomed to picturesque Provence, where the Lady of the Chateau, Seraphine Demargelasse, has opened its elegant doors to her granddaughter Darcy and her three friends.
Twenty years earlier, the four girlfriends studied abroad together in France and visited the old woman on the weekends, creating the group's deep bond. But why this sudden invitation?
Amid winery tours, market visits, and fancy dinners overlooking olive groves and lavender fields, it becomes clear that each woman has a hidden reason for returning to the estate after all these years. Then, following a wild evening's celebration, Seraphine is found brutally murdered.
At the same time a sinister Instagram account pops up, exposing snapshots from the friends' intimate moments at the chateau, while threatening to reveal more. Can they discover who is behind this lethal act of violence before it is too late for them to avoid suffering a similar fate?
Critique: An impressively original and plot twisting novel of 'sex, lies and secrets', Jaclyn Goldis' latest novel, "The Chateau" will be of particular appeal to readers with an interest in psychological suspense thrillers. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781668013021, $17.00), a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781797156125, $39.99, CD), "The Chateau" is especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections.
Editorial Note: Jaclyn Goldis (https://www.jaclyngoldis.com) is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and NYU Law. She practiced trust and estate law at a large Chicago firm for seven years before leaving her job to travel the world and write novels.
1620 Main Street, Suite 11, Sarasota, FL 34236
9781608095568, $27.95, HC, 336pp
Synopsis: In the back alley of a bar on Hawaii Island, a young man is found stabbed to death. When Hilo Chief Detective Koa Kane begins investigating the crime, the murder weapon is recovered only a few feet away from the body. Crime scene technicians find fingerprints on the knife -- they are a perfect match for Koa's younger brother, Ikaika.
As the brothers scramble to prove Ikaika's innocence, another crime sends shockwaves through the Hilo police force. A sniper tries to take out Makanui, Koa's closest colleague. As Koa tries to figure out whether these crimes are linked, the sinister force continues their killing spree, threatening Koa and his loved ones at every turn.
Could Koa be the real target? If so, who is behind this trail of retribution? With his own secret criminal past, Koa confronts an all-out offensive against those closest to him and his police force to which he has devoted his life. As the bodies pile up, Koa finds himself the ultimate target of a ruthless adversary and must risk it all to survive.
Critique: Another simply riveting novel by an impressively talented author with complete mastery of the suspense/thriller genre, "Retribution" by author Robert McCaw is the fifth in his Koa Kane Hawaiian Mystery Series. While highly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the growing legions of Robert McCaw fans that "Retribution" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Editorial Note: Robert McCaw (https://robertbmccaw.com) grew up in a military family, traveling the world. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, served as a U.S. Army lieutenant, and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. Having lived on the Big Island of Hawaii, McCaw's writing is imbued by his more than 20-year love affair with this Pacific paradise.
The Man in the Corduroy Suit
Bitter Lemon Press
9781913394844, $15.95, PB, 320pp
Synopsis: Leonard Flood is ordered to investigate -- and quickly. Notorious for his sharp elbows and blunt manner, Leonard's only objective is to get the job done, whatever the cost. When Leonard discovers that he is also a suspect in the investigation and that Willa's story is less a story of betrayal than one of friendship and a deep sense of duty, he must decide whether to hand her to her masters or to help her to escape.
Critique: "The Man in the Corduroy Suit" is the third title in novelist James Wolf's espionage trilogy "The Discipline Files", which also includes "Beside the Syrian Sea", and "How to Betray Your Country". James Wolff 's experience as a British intelligence officer for over ten years before leaving to write spy fiction brings a special authenticity to his action/adventure espionage thrillers. Against the backdrop of increasing Russian spying and interference (including assassination) in the UK, "The Man in the Corduroy Suit" is a deftly scripted novel that explores themes of loyalty and betrayal in modern intelligence work, threatened from the inside by whistle-blowers, serial leakers and Robin Hood hackers.
A taut and timely thriller about the thin line between following your conscience and following orders, "The Man in the Corduroy Suit" is a riveting read and highly recommended for community library Spy Fiction collections. It should be noted for the growing legions of James Wolff fans that "The Man in the Corduroy Suit" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: James Wolff (https://jameswolffauthor.com) grew up in the Middle East and was a British intelligence officer for over ten years before leaving to write spy novels. He currently resides in London, England.
Arte Publico Press
4902 Gulf Freeway, Bldg 19, Rm 100, Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558859609, $18.95, PB, 160pp
Synopsis: Willie Cuesta (a former Miami Police Department detective-turned-private investigator), is swinging in his hammock, estimating the number of mango daquiris he can squeeze from a ripe piece of fruit about to fall from his tree. He's also waiting for a prospective client who refused to discuss her case over the phone.
Ellie Hernandez hasn't seen her fiance, Roberto "Bobby" Player, in ten days, and she wants Willie to find him. Bobby has been obsessed with the suspicious death of his parents more than thirty-five years ago in Cuba, and he recently went to the island to find their killers. Only six years old when they were murdered, he was living in the United States, where they were supposed to join him. He was one of the "Peter Pan" kids smuggled out when Fidel Castro took over.
Willie learns the Players controlled one of the most successful casinos on the island and a large sum of money (half a million dollars) disappeared with their deaths. His investigation reveals an assortment of suspicious characters who were in Havana when the Players were killed, including a former Cuban spy now living in Little Havana, Mafia gangsters involved in gambling institutions and even an undercover US intelligence agent. Were they murdered by the Cuban government for being involved in the counter-revolution underground movement? Did the Mafia kill them to steal their fortune? Or did anti-communist Cubans believe they were traitors and execute them?
Rumors and questions abound, but when men in rubber masks firing machine guns turn up, Willie knows someone is trying to keep a long-buried secret under wraps!
Critique: Original, riveting, and with more plot twists and turns than a Disneyland roller coaster, "Player's Vendetta" by the gifted novelist and storyteller John Lantigua is a terrific and fast-paced read from cover to cover. Of special appeal and interest to P.I. mystery buffs and Hispanic American novels, "Player's Vendetta" is the third title in the Willie Cuesta mystery series and a highly recommended pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Player's Vendetta" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).
Editorial Note: John Lantigua (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lantigua) is an award-winning journalist and novelist. His novels include The Ultimate Havana (Arte Publico Press, 2022), Remember My Face (Arte Publico Press, 2020), On Hallowed Ground (Arte Publico, 2011) and The Lady from Buenos Aires (Arte Publico Press, 2007). His novel, Heat Lightning (Putnam, 1987), was a finalist for the Edgar Awards Best First Novel. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his journalistic writings, including two Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards (2004, 2006) and the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting (1999).
A Crime of Secrets
P.O. Box 3671, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106-3671
9781612942698, $18.95, PB, 242pp
Synopsis: A city on the cusp of a new century, New York City in 1899 is a city growing taller, faster, a city of new inventions, new ideas -- and old dangers on its shadowy streets where crime, misery, and murder lurk.
When Pauline Godfrey, a young woman embodying the coming modern age, is viciously murdered, her throat cut, private inquiry agents Finola "Fin" Donner and Devorah Longstreet must navigate a world of violence and passion, lust and betrayal, where duty is twisted into bitter obedience and love is soiled.
Fin, a tough survivor of the dockside slums, and her beloved companion, the elegant, intellectual socialite Devorah, probe deep into the festering secrets of a family, the rot and corruption of the police department, and the sinister world of the city's thieves, whores, and thugs to find the killer.
Critique: A carefully crafted historical mystery, "A Crime of Secrets" by novelist Ann Aptaker will have a very special appeal to the LGBTQ community, as well as fans of women sleuths having to deal with finding out 'whodunnit' in a dangerous and devious underworld of passion, corruption -- and murder. "A Crime of Secrets" is very confidently recommended as a popular pick for community library Historical Mystery/Suspense collections and for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs.
Editorial Note: Native New Yorker Ann Aptaker (http://www.annaptaker.com) is the author of the Cantor Gold Crime series and has been the recipient of Lambda Literary and Golden Crown Literary Society Awards. Her short stories have appeared in two editions of the crime anthology Fedora, Switchblade Magazine's "Stiletto Heeled" issue, and the Mickey Finn crime anthology. Culminating a career as a curator for museums and galleries and a professor of Art History, Ann is currently an art writer for various New York clients.
A Cryptic Clue
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781639102525, $29.99, HC, 320pp
Synopsis: Sixty-year-old Jane Hunter, forced into early retirement from her job as a university librarian, is seeking a new challenge to keep her spirits up and supplement her meager pension. But as she's about to discover, a retiree's life can bring new thrills -- and new dangers!
Cameron "Cam" Clewe (an eccentric 33-year-old collector), is also seeking an archivist to inventory his ever-expanding compendium of rare books and artifacts. Jane's thrilled to be hired on by Cam and to uncover the secrets of his latest acquisition, a trove of items related to the classic mystery and detective authors. But Jane's delight is upended when a body is discovered in Cam's library. The victim, heir to a pharmaceutical fortune, was the last in line of Cam's failed romances -- and now he's suspect number one.
Cam vows to use his intelligence and deductive skills to clear his name -- but with a slight case of agoraphobia, rampant anxiety, and limited social skills, he'll need some help. It comes down to Jane to exonerate her new boss -- but is he truly innocent?
Critique: Combine a traditional 'whodunnit' murder mystery with an amateur female sleuth and you have "A Cryptic Clue" -- an ideal cozy mystery by Victoria Gilbert who is a master of the genre. The first of a new 'Hunter & Clewe' mystery series, "A Cryptic Clue" is a fun read that will fully engage and entertain the reader from first page to last. While especially recommended as an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, "A Cryptic Clue" is also readily available to dedicated cozy mystery fans in paperback edition (9781639106417, $19.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99), and as a complete an unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666636987, $22.99, CD).
Editorial Note: Victoria Gilbert (https://linktr.ee/victoriagilbertauthor) turned her early obsession with books into a dual career as an author and librarian. Now retired after over 30 years in the library field, she's worked as a reference librarian, research librarian, and university library director. Victoria writes the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series, the Booklover's B&B Mystery series, and the Hunter and Clewe traditional mystery series for Crooked Lane Books. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers.
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Marvel Wastelanders: Star-Lord
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781839082276, $16.95, PB, 352pp
Synopsis: In "Marvel Wastelanders: Star-Lord" by Sarah Cawkwell, Star-Lord and Rocket are a little older, a little slower, and a lot saltier than they were during their glory days. When they crash land in the desolate Midwest, they soon discover that Earth isn't what it used to be either, thirty years after Doctor Doom seized control and created his new domain: the Wastelands.
They aren't there by choice: the former Guardians are working for The Collector, who's sent them to find the Black Vortex (an ancient relic reported to yield cosmic powers) before the guillotine collars of their employer snap their necks. In the Wastelands, they encounter the ageless telepath Emma Frost, outlaw Ghost Riders, and the bloodthirsty Kraven the Hunter. Who will find the Black Vortex first and what will be the price of its power?
Critique: Essential reading for the legions of Guardian of the Galaxy fans, "Marvel Wastelanders: Star-Lord" is a welcome and fun read from first page to last. Another gem that continues to expand the Marvel Universe, "Marvel Wastelanders: Star-Lord" is highly recommended for community library Science Fiction collections and available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).
Editorial Note: Sarah Cawkwell is a sci-fi and fantasy writer based in the North East of England. Old enough to know better, she's still very much young enough not to care. She's been a writer for many years, and her published works include several novels and short stories within the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universes and an original alternate-history fantasy novel. There is a listing of her books at www.goodreads.com/author/list/4483467.Sarah_Cawkwell
Assassin's Creed: The Resurrection Plot
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781839082351, $16.95, PB, 336pp
Synopsis: Cairo, 1869. When a bomb goes off at the Khedivial Opera House celebrating the opening of the new Suez Canal, visiting Assassin Pierrette Arnaud investigates, only to uncover a plot to eradicate free will.
To her surprise, her old friend and teacher Simeon Price arrives in Egypt on the same trail, seven years after they allied to stop the Templars in London. But there's no time to reminisce as the Templars maneuver Europe and Africa like pieces on a chessboard, wreaking havoc on a global scale.
As Simeon and Pierrette race to stop further attacks, they unearth plans suggesting a mysterious tower is the key to the ultimate Templar takeover -- and with the puzzling Engine of History in their grasp, the Assassins might be outmatched at last.
Critique: The conspiracies of the Templars reverberate across nineteenth century Europe as they seize control of the future, and only the Brotherhood of Assassins can hold them back, in this globetrotting adventure from Assassin's Creed. Continuing and expanding the Assassin's Creed series, "The Resurrection Plot" by Kate Heartfield is a simply riveting read by an author with a full mastery of the genre and a highly recommended pick for personal reading lists and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections.
Editorial Noe: Kate Heartfield (https://kateheartfield.com) is the Aurora Award-winning author Armed in her Fashion, and the bestselling The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel. Her novellas, stories, and games have been finalists for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781839082313, $16.95, PB, 336pp
Synopsis: When a long-lost member of the Lion Clan, Itagawa Mosu, seemingly returns from the dead to claim the hand of his betrothed, it's up to Daidoji Shin to determine the truth of this miraculous reappearance. The Lion reluctantly permit Shin's involvement, even if they have to let him plan the wedding as part of his investigation. Shin must navigate dangerous political waters to discover if Mosu really is the man he claims to be, or is he a cleverly disguised imposter? It will take all of Shin's charm, wit, and flair to find out before the wedding begins. And the guests are already starting to arrive.
Critique: In "Three Oaths" by Josh Reynolds is the newest addition to the author's 'Legend of the Five Rings' series and finds the debonair samurai detective Daidoji Shin returning to once again solve a fresh mystery -- this one offers a surprise resurrection. Also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95) and an especially recommended pick for the reader list of anyone with an interest in historical fantasy, myth and legend set in Japan during the age of the samurai, "Three Oaths" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Fantasy Fiction collections.
Editorial Note: Josh Reynolds (https://joshuamreynolds.co.uk) is the author of over thirty novels and numerous short stories, including the wildly popular Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000.
Watch Dogs Legion: Cold Reboot
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781839082238, $16.95, PB, 352pp
Synopsis: Freya Bauer's revolutionary fervor has dimmed with age, but just as she's about to hang up her DedSec mask, she's recruited for one last mission to Berlin -- and with her ex-husband of all people. Yet upon her arrival in Germany, a series of betrayals mean she's suddenly unable to distinguish between friends and foes.
Meanwhile, Freya's past has caught up with her in the form of a mysterious hitman determined to take out the Bauer family in London. However, if he can't immediately remove Freya from the board, her son might be the next best thing. Freya must navigate competing tech-gangs, reconcile with her ex, and save her son before everything she loves is destroyed.
Critique: Of particular appeal to readers with an interest in techno-thriller science fiction stories, "Watch Dogs Legion: Cold Reboot" is a compulsive page turner of a read from cover to cover. As a novelist, Robbie MacNiven has a genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven and imaginative storytelling style that makes "Cold Reboot" such a fun and unreservedly recommended pick for personal and community library Science Fiction collections.
Editorial Note: Robbie MacNiven is lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy who has had over a dozen novels published in settings ranging from Marvel's X-Men, to Descent: Legends of the Dark, to Warhammer 40,000. Having completed a doctorate in Military History from the University of Edinburgh in 2020, he also possesses a keen interest in the past.
Mockingbird: Strike Out
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781839082177, $16.95, PB, 336pp
Synopsis: S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent and superspy Bobbi Morse needs to get out of LA. Like, yesterday!
With her painful divorce from Hawkeye still being hashed out, Bobbi could do with a new job to take her mind off the mind-numbing mediations. Luckily, an old friend and mentor of Bobbi's is missing, so a jaunt to the UK might be the perfect distraction.
What Bobbi isn't anticipating is having to team up with the snarky and handsome Lance Hunter, but her options are limited if she wants to solve this mystery. Someone is trying to recreate and weaponize the original Super-Soldier Serum which could spell global disaster.
To save the world, Bobbi will have to face her past, put her problems behind her, and let the Mockingbird take flight.
Critique: A part of the Marvel Heroines series, "Mockingbird: Strike Out" will delight the legions of Marvel Universe fans with another story of a strong female character that can hold here own in a world of superheroes, colorful villains, and would-be world conquerors. An original and fun read by novelist Maria Lewis, "Mockingbird: Strike Out" is a welcome addition to the growing library of Marvel Universe stories and a welcome addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy action/adventure collections. It should be noted that "Mockingbird: Strike Out" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).
Editorial Note: Maria Lewis (https://www.marialewis.com.au) is a screenwriter, best-selling author, film curator and pop culture etymologist currently based in Australia. She has built an international reputation as a storyteller across a diverse range of mediums including the award-winning Supernatural Sisters series. In film and television space, she has worked on projects for Netflix, AMC, BBC, Ubisoft, DC Comics, ABC, Marvel and many more. She is also the writer, researcher, presenter and producer of audio documentaries Josie and the Podcatsand The Phantom Never Dies, about the world's first superhero.
The Massacre at Yellow Hill
C. S. Humble
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit #7, Forest Hill, MD 21050
9781587678912, $16.99, PB, 260pp
Synopsis: When George Miller is killed in the mines of Yellow Hill, his wife and children are left to try and piece their lives back together. Tabitha Miller, George's widow, is thrown into deeper chaos when she discovers that George's death had nothing to do with the cave's collapse, but was caused by some terrible predator deep within the earth. His death covered up by the mine's Proprietor-Jeremiah Hart.
In nearby Big Spring, freed slave-turned-occult bounty hunter Gilbert Ptolemy arrives with his adopted son in search of a murderous vampire. New revelations in Yellow Hill draw the duo toward the struggling Miller family, the strange mine, and the horrors lurking within.
The Miller and Ptolemy families are pitted against mundane and supernatural forces in this Weird West adventure by novelist C. S. Humble.
Critique: Family struggles, heart-stopping gunfights, and nightmare creatures from dark realms. "The Massacre at Yellow Hill" is an unique and extraordinary blending of western, vampire, and occult horror elements that result in a simply riveting read and an unreservedly recommended pick for community library fiction collections and the personal reading lists for readers with an interest in Western/Fantasy/Vampire books. It should be noted that C. S. Humble's "The Massacre at Yellow Hill" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Editorial Note: C. S. Humble (www.cshumble.com) is an award-winning American novelist and short story writer. His Twitter handle is @cshumble
The Phoenix Chase
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781839082085, $16.95, PB, 352pp
Synopsis: Kid Omega's latest scheme to set up his own mutant school goes horribly awry when mysterious aliens called The Remaining kidnap his "students", demanding a rare Phoenix Egg (source of the awesome Phoenix Force) in exchange for their lives. Wildly out of his depth, Kid Omega turns to Cyclops for help. He gets a ride with space pirates the Starjammers, and someone more responsible: Cyclops' brother Alex "Havok" Summers. Their mission: rescue the students, recover the Egg, save the day. But it won't be easy. Galaxy-hopping sleuthing, heists, and action lead the X-Men to clues that reveal a monstrous plot using the Phoenix Egg to ultimately conquer the universe.
Critique: The latest Marvel 'School of X' novel that further expands the Marvel Universe world of the X-Men, "The Phoenix Chase" by Neil Kleid is a deftly scripted, original, fun and compelling read from cover to cover. While highly recommended for community library Science Fiction collections and the personal reading lists of all dedicated X-Men fans, it should be noted that "The Phoenix Chase" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).
Editorial Note: Neil Kleid (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Kleid) is the Xeric Award winning graphic novelist who authored Ninety Candles, a novella about life, death, legacy and comics, and the acclaimed graphic novels Brownsville and The Big Kahn. He has written several comic books and graphic novels; adapted Jack London's novel Call of the Wild into sequentials for Penguin Books; did the opposite for the seminal Marvel Comics' storyline Spider-Man: Kraven's Last Hunt; and co-authored Powers: The Secret History of Deena Pilgrim, a novel based on the award-winning comic book series. Savor, his culinary adventure graphic novel with John Broglia and Frank Reynoso, was released by Dark Horse Comics.
Isle of the Undead
C. L. Werner
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781839082139, $16.95, PB, 336pp
Synopsis: The Zombie Black Plague's terrible toll never ends, unleashing a new wave of zombies with disastrous consequences. Low on hope, Knight Alaric von Mertz and his companions flee their crumbling sanctuary, and soon come under the unlikely wing of murderous pirates. There, they learn of a legendary artifact called Mournshroud that could destroy swathes of the undead, but to claim it they must defeat an evil sorceress on an isolated island. Guarded by a dragon! A knight's honor demands he defend his kingdom, no matter the cost. Yet, as the undead hordes close in on them, a familiar evil waits in the shadows, plotting revenge on Alaric and everything he holds dear.
Critique: Truly impressive, original, action packed, and zombie fan's delight, "Isle of the Undead" by veteran author C. L. Werner (who has a complete mastery of the genre) is particularly and whole heartedly commended addition to personal reading lists and community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted that "Isle of the Undead" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95) from Aconyte Books.
Editorial Note: C. L. Werner is a voracious reader and prolific author. His many novels and short stories span the genres of fantasy and horror, and he has written for Warhammer's Age of Sigmar and Old World, Warhammer 40,000, Warmachine's Iron Kingdoms, and Mantic's Kings of War. (https://ageofsigmar.lexicanum.com/wiki/C._L._Werner)
c/o Tor/Forge Books
9781250862488, $28.99, HC, 304pp
Synopsis: July 25th, 2234: The crew of the Adamura discovers the anomaly on the seemingly uninhabited planet Talos VII: a circular pit, 50 kilometers wide. Its curve not of nature, but design. Now, a small team must land and journey on foot across the surface to learn who built the hole and why. But they all carry the burdens of lives carved out on disparate colonies in the cruel cold of space. For some the mission is the dream of the lifetime, for others a risk not worth taking, and for one it is a desperate attempt to find meaning in an uncaring universe.
Each step they take toward the mysterious abyss is more punishing than the last. And the ghosts of their past follow.
Critique: "Fractal Noise" is the second volume of science fiction and fantasy author Christopher Paolini's "The Fractalverse" series. A deftly crafted, imaginative, impressively detailed, and original story, "Fractal Noise" is a solid pick for community library Science Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of the growing legions of Christopher Paolini fans that "Fractal Noise" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Macmillan Audio, 9781250871589, $$39.99, CD).
Editorial Note: Christopher Paolini (https://www.paolini.net) is also the author of the World of Eragon and the Fractalverse novel "To Sleep in a Sea of Stars".
c/o Simon & Schuster (distribution)
9781637585115, $18.00, PB, 272pp
Synopsis: On Jenn's side of the city's impenetrable walls: power, military discipline, and unimaginable technology. On Mykol's: darkened streets, deteriorating infrastructure, and a tedious job prying haunted memories from the electronic devices of those long departed. When the orphan Jenn risks everything to learn about her hidden past and her father's possible connection to the world's collapse, she and Mykol discover a secret that binds them together while glimpsing the strange reality behind the all-powerful Thomas Gibson and his Provisional Authority. Their next desperate step is attempting to save humanity from what it has wrought.
Critique: A deftly crafted, original, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian science fiction novel, "Project Chrysalis" by novelist Willard Joyce offers a fascinating (if terrifying) story of how human technology might create a post-human world. It is also a story about what place love, family, and society could be like within such a post-global plague devastated world. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "Project Chrysalis" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Willard Joyce's work focuses on the intersection between humanity and technology, and the fertile realm where the two will meet.
The Military Shelf
Pirin Planina: Tragic and Comic Episodes from Captivity
Center for Romanian Studies
c/o Histria Books
9781592111497, $29.99, HC, 220pp
Synopsis: With the posthumous publication of "Pirin Planina: Tragic and Comic Episodes from Captivity", Romanian a Romanian poet, short story writer, and humorist, who in 1926 was awarded the National Poetry Prize. The late George Topirceanu (1886-1937) provides a new generation of readers with an account of his experiences as a soldier during World War I.
Despite his bleak surroundings and vivid descriptions of death and tragedy that he witnessed, Topirceanu managed to find humor in the most unusual circumstances, making "Pirin Planina" a truly unique account of the War. His experiences will leave the reader perplexed as Topirceanu's unique blend of drama, tragedy, and humor immerses the reader into the world of a soldier during World War I.
Critique: Illustrated with black/white drawings by Olga Bogozenco, ably translated into English by Diana Livesay, and featuring an informative introduction by A. K. Brackob, the military memoir of the late George Topirceanu, "Pirin Planina: Tragic and Comic Episodes from Captivity" is a valued and unreservedly recommended contribution to personal, professional, community, college, and university library World War I military history/biography collections. It should be noted for students, academia, military historians, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Pirin Planina: Tragic and Comic Episodes from Captivity" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Business Shelf
Built for People
Kogan Page Inc.
8 W 38th Street, Ste 902, New York, NY 10018
9781398608047, $127.99, HC, 256pp
Synopsis: Specifically written and intended for corporate Human Resource professionals and business leaders, With the publication of "Built for People: Transform Your Employee Experience Using Product Management Principles" the Chief Operating Officer for Whereby Inc. Jessica Zwaan explains how to improve workforce and business performance by developing people-centred ways of working, evidence-based decision making and a culture of continuous feedback and iteration.
Zwaan explains everything from what this approach means for business professionals, what the benefits of it are and how to do it effectively. It covers how to proactively develop an employee experience which attracts, engages and retains the talent the business needs and supports them to operate at their full potential. There is also practical guidance on the importance of user research, sprint planning, vision development and how to encourage a continuous feedback loop in your team.
"Built for People" also includes the importance of testing and iteration and how to define metrics for success, as well as showing you how to handle organizational change, company culture clashes and how to build and improve overall business performance and employee experience at scale.
Critique: A thoroughly 'user friendly' compendium of tools, case studies, exercises and advice from those who are already seeing the benefits of a product-management approach, "Built for People: Transform Your Employee Experience Using Product Management Principles" is essential reading and an invaluable reference for all entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and business leaders needing to develop an agile, innovative and evidence-based approach to their people operations. "Build for People" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, corporate, and academic library Personnel Management, Business Administration, and Workplace Culture collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies list. It should be noted that "Build for People" is also available in a paperback edition (9781398608023, $39.99, PB) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $36.22).
Editorial Note: Jessica Zwaan (https://www.jessicamayzwaan.com) is the Chief Operating Officer at Whereby, a video meetings company. Prior to this she was the Chief People Operations at Being People, Group Head of Talent at McCann Worldgroup and VP People and Talent at Wonderbly.
The Experience Mindset
c/o Penguin Group USA
9780593542699, $30.00, HC, 288pp
Synopsis: In fierce competition for customer acquisition, businesses have invest millions of dollars to improve customer experience. They deliver packages faster, churn out new products, and endlessly revamp their UI, often putting greater strain on employees for diminishing returns. This siloed focus on customer experience (without considering the impact on company staff members) can actually hinder growth in the long run. The most successful companies adopt an Experience Mindset that strengthens both employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX) at the same time.
Based on exclusive research from two Salesforce-sponsored studies of thousands of employees and c-suite executives, "The Experience Mindset: Changing the Way You Think About Growth" by Tiffani Bova details exactly how your company can adopt an Experience Mindset, at scale. It's not enough to know that happy employees equals happy customers. You must have an intentional, balanced approach to company strategy that involves all stakeholders - IT, Marketing, Sales, Operations, and HR - with KPIs and ownership over outcomes.
"The Experience Mindset is ground-breaking and instructive guide that is filled with case studies of leading companies and never-before-seen research covering: How people, processes, technology, and culture contribute to the "virtuous cycle" of EX and CX; Why the best companies have programs that minimize the customer's effort as well as the employee's effort (and how companies like Southwest and Best Buy get this right); How to effectively roll out technology solutions that boost both EX and CX (hard truth: only 20% of customer-facing employees believe technology makes their job easier. Employees want a seamless technology experience, just like your customers.); What metrics you can use to measure EX, CX, and ultimately, the effect of the two together.
You can't improve what you can't measure. Employees are the heart of your business. If you want to remain competitive in today's marketplace, investing in people is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a must have for success and profitability.
Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of an Appendix (Research Methodology), twenty-four pages of Notes, and a thirteen page Index, "The Experience Mindset: Changing the Way You Think About Growth" is essential reading and highly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, college, and university library Business Management/Organizational Change collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for MBA students, academia, corporate personnel managers, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Experience Mindset" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99).
Editorial Note: Tiffani Bova (https://www.tiffanibova.com) is the global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, and the author of "Growth IQ". Over the past two decades, she was an executive that led large revenue-producing divisions at businesses ranging from start-ups to the Fortune 500. As a Research Fellow at Gartner, her cutting-edge insights helped Microsoft, Cisco, Salesforce, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Oracle, SAP, AT&T, Dell, Amazon-AWS, and other prominent companies expand their market share and grow their revenues. She has been named one of the Top 50 business thinkers in the world by Thinkers50 twice.
Seeing the How
Allen P. Adamson
Matt Holt Books
c/o BenBella Books
9781637742952, $30.00, HC, 320pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Seeing the How: Transforming What People Do, Not Buy, To Gain Market Advantage", Allen P. Adamson invites you to reimagine your brand, company, or idea through the lens of consumer experience. It gives today's disruptors a path to offering consumers a new and better way to do what they do, clearly demonstrating how to see opportunities, and how to seize them to great advantage.
Two years ago, Zoom was unknown to most, six years ago, Netflix was a DVD delivery service. We ride in Ubers and stay with our families in Airbnb homes. We share Spotify playlists, refresh our closets with Bonobos, and pamper our pets with Chewy. We set up meetings with Calendly and pay bills with Venmo. The speed with which these disruptions to how we do things, and the enormous profits that come with changing daily routines, is breakneck and only point the way for other industries to carve out market dominance.
"Seeing the How" brings together data-driven research on consumer behavior, behavioral psychology, marketing analysis, and storytelling to provide a framework to help identify the methods by which business leaders can make these experience disruptions possible. It's author, Allen P. Adamson, is an expert in branding, experience creation, and innovation strategy and offers businesses a step-by-step guide to breaking into the market based on the tactics of the biggest experience disruptors out there, including Netflix, Apple, Warby Parker, and Stitch Fix.
These businesses speak to market segments and consumers that are diverse and far-flung. What they share is the extent to which they are experience disruptors. Their successes derive from their ability to make the stuff of daily life different, better, and easier.
Successful experience disruption is the de facto new competitive advantage across all categories. With "Seeing the How" you will have the strategy necessary to bring your disruption to life, command market segments, and cultivate consumer loyalty.
Critique: Impressively informative, well written, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Seeing the How: Transforming What People Do, Not Buy, To Gain Market Advantage" offers extraordinary insights and a DIY motivation that will be of particular interest to entrepreneurs and business personnel managers. While especially and unreservedly recommended as a core addition to professional, community, corporate, and academic library collections and MBA curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Seeing the How: Transforming What People Do, Not Buy, To Gain Market Advantage" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99).
Editorial Note: Allen P. Adamson (https://allenadamson.com) is a noted industry expert in all disciplines of branding. He's worked with a broad spectrum of clients in industries ranging from packaged goods and technology, to health care and financial services, to hospitality and entertainment, as well as brands in the non-profit sector. Allen is Co-founder of Metaforce, a team of "special forces" that help organizations identify and activate the right growth strategies. Prior to Metaforce, Allen was Chairman, North America of Landor Associates, a global branding firm. Under his leadership, the company partnered with a wide array of iconic brands, including Accenture, GE, Johnson & Johnson, FedEx, HBO, Marriott, MetLife, P&G, Sony, and Verizon. Before Landor, Allen was an executive at Unilever, responsible for leading marketing for a number of major packaged goods brands. Previously, he held senior management positions at Ogilvy & Mather and DMB&B.
The Political Science Shelf
Class War: A Literary History
20 Jay Street, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201-8346
9781839760693, $29.95, PB, 304pp
Synopsis: In political science, the term class conflict (also class struggle, class warfare, capital-labour conflict) identifies the political tension and economic antagonism that exist among the social classes of society, because of socioeconomic competition for resources among the social classes, between the rich and the poor. In the political and economic philosophies of Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin, class struggle is a central tenet and a practical means for effecting radical sociopolitical changes for the social majority, the working class. (Wikipedia)
A thrilling and vivid work of history, with the publication of "Class War", Mark Steven deftly weaves together literature and politics to chart the making and unmaking of social class through revolutionary combat. In a narrative that spans the globe and more than two centuries of history, Steven ably traces the history of class war from the Haitian Revolution to Black Lives Matter movement.
Surveying the literature of revolution, from the poetry of Shelley and Byron to the novels of Emile Zola and Jack London, exploring the writings of Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, and Assata Shakur, "Class War" reveals the interplay between military action and the politics of class, showing how solidarity flourishes in times of conflict.
Written with verve and ranging across diverse historical settings, "Class War" traverses industrial battles, guerrilla insurgencies, and anti-colonial resistance, as well as large-scale combat operations waged against capitalism's regimes and its interstate system.
In our age of economic crisis, ecological catastrophe, and planetary unrest, "Class War" tells the stories of those whose actions will help guide future militants toward a revolutionary horizon.
Critique: "Class War" is a seminal, iconoclastic, and ground-breaking literary history of global class war. This new study by Mark Steven is an inherently fascinating, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking study that is informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of an Introduction (Class War Now), a Postscript (No War But Class War), twenty-six pages of Notes, and a fifteen page Index. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99), "Class War" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Political Science & History collections, and supplemental Social Theory/Social Class curriculum studies lists.
Editorial Note: Mark Steven (https://english.exeter.ac.uk/staff/steven) is Senior Lecturer in Twentieth- and Twenty-first Century Literature at the University of Exeter, UK. He is the author of Red Modernism: American Poetry and the Spirit of Communism (2017) and Splatter Capital (2017).
The Computer Shelf
Python QuickStart Guide
ClydeBank Media LLC
9781636100371, $34.99, HC, 396pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Python QuickStart Guide: The Simplified Beginner's Guide to Python Programming Using Hands-On Projects and Real-World Applications", Robert Olver has created the ideal DIY curriculum textbook for anyone interested in learning Python fundamentals that can be used in any programming setting -- using the guidance in instructional reference guide to program their own game in a unique and practical Python learning experience.
Python powers the services of household names like Google, Netflix, and Spotify along with tech pioneers like NASA, IBM, and Intel. Put simply, Python is the in-demand and easy-to-learn programming language that gets stuff done.
Critique: So well organized and 'use friendly' in presentation, it just doesn't matter if the reader is a new or existing programmer, a job seeker looking for a career change or promotion, or just someone who wants to learn how to automate basic tasks with Python-Robert's step-by-step approach, complete with a hands-on companion Python game project -- "Python QuickStart Guide is the perfect starting point to master Python fundamentals! While also available in a paperback edition (9781636100357, $26.99), a spiral-bound edition (9781636100388, $32.99), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), the "Python QuickStart Guide" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Computer Science & Programming collections.
The Photography Shelf
Idurre Alonso, editor
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1682
9781606068199, $60.00, HC, 288pp
Synopsis: Alfredo Boulton (1908-1995) is considered one of the most important champions of modern art in Venezuela and a key intellectual of twentieth-century modernism. He was a pioneer of modern photography, an art critic, a researcher and historian of Venezuelan art, a friend to many of the great artists and architects of the twentieth century, and an expert on the imagery of the heroes of his country's independence.
Yet, Boulton is shockingly is not well known outside of his native land. The few exhibitions related to his work have focused exclusively on his photographic production; never has there been a project that looks at the full range of Boulton's efforts, foregrounding his influence on the shaping of Venezuelan art.
With the publication of "Alfredo Boulton: Looking at Venezuela, 1928-1978", Getty Museum art curator Idurre Alonso addresses these lacunae by analyzing Boulton's groundbreaking photographic practice, his central role in the construction of a modern national artistic canon, and his influence in formalizing and developing art history and criticism in Venezuela. Based on the extensive materials held in Boulton's archive at the Getty Research Institute, curator Alfredo Boulton brings together essays by leading scholars in the field to offer a commanding, original perspective on his contributions to the formation of a distinctive modernity at home and beyond.
Critique: It should be noted that "Alfredo Boulton: Looking at Venezuela, 1928-1978" is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the Getty Research Institute at the Getty Center from August 29, 2023, to January 21, 2024. This large format (8.50(w) x 10.75(h), 1.74 pounds) edition is profusely illustrated, impressively informative, and expertly presented account of the life and accomplishments of the Venezuela artist and photographer Alfredo Boulton and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Photography & Biography collections. It should be noted that "Alfredo Boulton: Looking at Venezuela, 1928-1978" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $57.00).
Editorial Note: Idurre Alonso (https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/author/ialonso) is curator of Latin American collections at the Getty Research Institute.
The Art Shelf
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
9780760381434, $24.99, PB, 128pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Creative Wanderlust: Unlock Your Artistic Potential Through Mixed-Media Art Journaling Techniques", mixed-media artist and author Kasia Avery shows how to set up and begin an art journaling practice, and then how to fully enjoy and benefit from it with ideas and tools for moving beyond obstacles such as perfectionism, self-criticism, and finding space and time to create.
The founder of the Everything Art mixed-media online learning platform and the lead teacher of its yearlong mixed-media course Wanderlust, Kasia knows what artists need, having coached thousands of students over the years and listened to their struggles while helping them break through and find joy in art.
"Creative Wanderlust" is includes: Comprehensive information on supplies and the fundamentals for getting started in an art journaling practice; Sections focusing on overcoming common creative and personal issues, supported by related prompts, lessons, and projects that incorporate a diverse range of mixed-media techniques; Insights and inspirational artworks offering a variety of styles and ideas from well-known Wanderlust artist-teachers, including Helen Colebrook, Finnabair, Amy Maricle, and Dyan Reaveley.
Critique: Profusely and effectively illustrated throughout in full color, "Creative Wanderlust: Unlock Your Artistic Potential Through Mixed-Media Art Journaling Techniques" is an ideal DIY instructional guide to mixed media artwork and the development of your personal style. Exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Creative Wanderlust" is an ideal instructional guide and 'how to' manual for personal use and as a textbook for art school curriculums. Also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "Creative Wanderlust" is a highly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and art school library collections.
Editorial Note: Kasia Avery (www.everything-art.com) is the co-founder of Everything Art, an online art education platform that offers classes in all aspects of mixed-media art and features well-known guest artists. She started Wanderlust, an online yearlong course in mixed-media art journaling, in 2016, which has attracted more than 25,000 students. Kasia has also designed stencils for The Crafter's Workshop and stamps for The Scrapbook Diaries, and has worked with Prima Marketing Inc. as a design team member and educator. Her work has been published in Somerset Life, Somerset Apprentice, and Art Journaling magazines.
Burning Man: Art on Fire, revised edition
Jennifer Raiser, author
Scott London, photographer
Sidney Erthal, photographer
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780760379837, $45.00, HC, 288pp
Synopsis: For one week a year, a remote desert lakebed in Nevada becomes Black Rock City, the home of Burning Man, where 80,000 participants create a temporary community devoted to expression and play. There is no money, no running water -- and no constraints. Artists bring enormous sculptures for participants to climb. Outrageous Mutant Vehicles glide through an opulent mirage. This is a dreamscape of permission. For seven days and nights, the artistic movement of our time materializes -- and then disappears without a trace.
Now in a newly updated and revised edition, "Burning Man: Art on Fire" features: Over 150 new photographs and descriptions of individual pieces of Burning Man art from over two decades, including art from the 2022 Burning Man event; Over 32 new pages featuring incredible sculptures and Mutant Vehicles; A fully updated text, which considers Burning Man's evolving significance in the art world, and how Burning Man is the art movement of our time; A foreword from Burning Man CEO and Co-Founder Marian Goodell; A new epilogue about the growing importance of Burning Man art beyond Black Rock City, including museum exhibits, public art, and over 100 regional Burning Man events worldwide; A tribute to Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey, with highlights of his philosophical approach to art.
Critique. Published in a large format (7.99 x 10 x 1.85 inches, 3.9 pounds), this new, hardcover edition of "Burning Man: Art on Fire" is brilliantly visual and impressively informative homage to an annual ephemeral event is unreservedly recommended to the attention of Burners, artists, creative thinkers, and anyone who has ever imagined a visit to Burning Man -- one of the most extraordinary places on earth. While a valued pick for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Art/Sculpture/Pop Culture history collections, it should be noted that this newly revised and updated edition of "Burning Man: Art on Fire" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $42.75).
Editorial Note #1: Jennifer Raiser (https://bentlyfoundation.org/leadership-team/jennifer-raiser) is a writer, nonprofit leader, and Burner. Burning Man: Art on Fire (2014/2016/2023, Quarto/Epic Ink,) is a love letter to her happiest place on earth, Black Rock City. Known on playa as CocoCabana, she volunteers with the Black Rock Rangers and Gate, Perimeter, and Exodus departments; she has served as the Treasurer and Board Member of the nonprofit Burning Man Project since its founding.
Editorial Note #2: Scott London (https://www.scottlondon.com/photography/about) has been documenting the art and culture of Burning Man for nearly two decades. His images from the event have appeared in many books, newspapers, and magazines, including Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Forbes, Architectural Digest, San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times. They have also been exhibited at museums and shows across the United States and Europe.
Editorial Note #3: Sidney Erthal (https://www.facebook.com/SidneyErthalPhotography) is acclaimed for his photography, with a special emphasis on spontaneous portraiture. His work has been featured in many international publications and an increasing number of exhibits. He has spent the last decade engaging with and photographing the people and phenomenon of Burning Man.
The Spirit of the City
Michigan State University Press
1405 South Harrison Road, Suite 25, East Lansing, MI 48823-5245
9781611864540, $49.99, HC, 240pp
Synopsis: Marshall Fredericks's Detroit sculptures capture the spirit of the Motor City and its dramatic transformation from the 1950s to the present day.
With the publication of "The Spirit of the City: Marshall Fredericks Sculptures in Detroit ", Janna Jones analyzes eight of these enormous works of public art, situating them and their structures in metro Detroit's distinctive mid-century milieu and bringing much-needed critical attention to this sculptor's oeuvre.
Sadly, some of these artworks have suffered along with the city as it shrank from its postwar zenith. Both the buildings and the sculptures erected for them deserve to be rescued from neglect, and then maintained and preserved for the future.
Critique: Of particular and special interest to readers concerned with public art and the appreciation of sculpture, "The Spirit of the City: Marshall Fredericks Sculptures in Detroit" is an extraordinary study that is enhanced with the inclusion of black/white images and illustrations. While also available for personal reading lists from Michigan State University Press in a paperback edition (9781611864557, $29.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.45), "The Spirit of the City" will prove a welcome and enduringly appreciated addition to community, college, and university library American Public Art & Architecture History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.
Editorial Note: Janna Jones (https://www.networkisa.org/profile/janna-jones) is Professor of Creative Media and Film in the School of Communication at Northern Arizona University. She is also the author of the books The Southern Movie Palace: Rise, Fall, and Resurrection and The Past Is a Moving Picture: Preserving the Twentieth Century on Film. She has published dozens of journal articles and book chapters, which include articles in the Journal of Curatorial Studies, Liminalities, The Moving Image, and the Michigan Historical Review.
The Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf
Cliffhanger!: Cinematic Superheroes of the Serials: 1941-1952
Christopher Irving, author
10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614
9781605491196, $39.95, HC, 160pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Cliffhanger!: Cinematic Superheroes of the Serials: 1941-1952" popular culture historian Christopher Irving deftly explores the origins of the first on-screen superheroes and the comic creators and film-makers who brought them to life.
"Cliffhanger!" touches on the early days of the film serial, to its explosion as a juvenile medium of the 1930s and '40s. Readers will see how the creation of characters like Superman, Captain America, Spy Smasher, and Captain Marvel dovetailed with the early film adaptations.
Along the way, the reader will be introduced to the stuntmen, directors (Spencer Bennett, William Witney, producer Sam Katzman), comic book creators (Siegel & Shuster, Simon & Kirby, Bob Kane, C.C. Beck, Frank Frazetta, Will Eisner), and actors (Buster Crabbe, George Reeves, Lorna Gray, Kane Richmond, Kirk Alyn, Dave O'Brien) who brought them to the silver screen - and how that resonates with today's cinematic superhero universe.
Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, "Cliffhanger!: Cinematic Superheroes of the Serials: 1941-1952" by Christopher Irving is essential reading for dedicated fans of the now legendary superhero characters that influenced popular culture for a mid-20th century decade through comics and movies. Exceptionally informative and impressively organized/presented, "Cliffhanger!" must be considered as a core and mandatory addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Popular Culture and Cinematic History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.
Editorial Note: There is an online and comprehensive listing of a 'Curriculum Vitae' of Christopher Irving works at (http://www.christopherirving.com/p/curriculum-vitae.html)
Act Naturally: The Beatles on Film
c/o Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group
9781493059010, $24.95, PB, 350pp
Synopsis: The Beatles produced five films during their time together: A Hard Day's Night, Help!, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine, and Let It Be. Some were cinematic successes, and some were not, but (along with subsequent reissues, bonus material, and Peter Jackson's The Beatles: Get Back, a documentary companion to Let It Be) they comprise an endlessly fascinating document of key phases in the group's career.
With the publication of "Act Naturally: The Beatles on Film", their fans are offered a comprehensive deep-dive into the band's movies, by author and longtime music journalist Steve Matteo who follows the origins, filming, and often frenzied fan reception of projects from the 1964 premiere of A Hard Day's Night through 1970's Let It Be to the release of Get Back in 2022.
Matteo also explores the production process, original theatrical film releases, subsequent VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray releases, and bonus materials, along with the US and UK soundtracks. In addition to copious anecdotes and behind-the-scenes details, he also places these films in their larger context, a period of unprecedented artistic and commercial innovation in British and world cinema.
Filled with stories and insights that will satisfy collectors, buffs, and casual fans alike, this is the definitive account of an underappreciated part of the Beatles' creative output.
Critique: Featuring occasional black/white illustrations, a ten page Selected Bibliography, and a nineteen page Index, "Act Naturally: The Beatles on Film" is an impressively informative, meticulously researched, exceptionally well organized and presented study that will be of special appeal and interest to the continuing legions of Beatles fans. While a highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library 20th Century Cinematic Studies and Pop-Music History collections, it should be noted for students, fans, and academia that "Act Naturally" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).
Editorial Note: Steve Matteo is the author of the books Let It Be and Dylan and contributed to the collection The Beatles in Context. He has written for such publications as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, New York, Time Out New York, Rolling Stone, Spin, Elle, and Salon. He often appears on radio in his capacity as a music journalist and author. A complete listing of his books is available at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/173990.Steve_Matteo
PO Box 71426, Albany, GA 31708
9798887711751, $42.00, HC, 416pp
Synopsis: In its centennial year, "Enchanted Disney: Stories of Walt, Hollywood, and Live-Action Film" by Spencer Wright take the reader on a journey through the history of the Walt Disney Company as viewed through the lens of the studio's live-action films, and the life of its co-creator Walt Disney. By discussing the life and work of fifteen people who contributed to live-action features, Walt Disney fans will learn about what influenced the studios' films, and how they related to Hollywood as a whole.
How did Walt's experience in 1920's Los Angeles compare to others, such as silent queen Pola Negri? How did major celebrities see Walt and his studio, as it fit into the landscape of the industry? Which star was inspired to help preserve Hollywood memorabilia as a result of spending time with Walt in Disneyland at the Park's opening? These questions and a great many more are answered in fifteen informative chapters, each of which takes the reader on a fascinating journey from the early 1900's and into the 21st Century.
Critique: A simply fascinating and extraordinarily informative combination of biographic and cinematic history, "Enchanted Disney: Stories of Walt, Hollywood, and Live-Action Film" is an extraordinary read from cover to cover. Enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a section of black/white illustrations, an informative four page Introduction, a three page bibliography of Further Reading, five pages of Notes & Resources, and a four page Index, "Enchanted Disney: Stories of Walt, Hollywood, and Live-Action Film" is a strongly recommended and enduringly popular addition to personal, community, college, and university library Movie History/Criticism and American Biography/Walt Disney collections. It should be noted for students, academia, and the legions of Walt Disney fans that "Enchanted Disney: Stories of Walt, Hollywood, and Live-Action Film" is also available in a paperback edition (9798887711744, $32.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).
Editorial Note: Spencer Wright is passionate about Disney History and Old Hollywood. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/spencer-wright-ba769869_enchanted-disney-stories-of-walt-hollywood-activity-7072327757552082944-3s0K
The Music Shelf
All the Leaves Are Brown
Scott G. Shea
c/o Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group
9781493072118,$32.95, HC, 422pp
Synopsis: Few songs have captured the contradictions and ambiguities of the 1960s as memorably as "California Dreamin'," the iconic folk music single that catapulted the Mamas & the Papas into rock and roll history. With the publication of "All the Leaves Are Brown: How the Mamas & the Papas Came Together and Broke Apart", author and documentary producer Scott Shea details how John Phillips, Denny Doherty, Michelle Phillips, and "Mama Cass" Elliot became standard-bearers for California counterculture, following their transformation from folk music wannabes to rock sensations and chronicling the tumultuous events that followed their unexpected success.
Shea gives a definitive account of the group's short time together, from their hitmaking approach with legendary producer Lou Adler to John's unique songwriting to tours and friendships with other musicians riding the folk-rock wave. He also explores the emotional vicissitudes that came with being in the Mamas & the Papas, from Cass's unrequited love for Denny, his affair with Michelle, and the ebb and flow of dysfunction in John and Michelle's marriage.
And he explains how it all came to a crashing end with John's brainchild, the Monterey Pop Festival, which should have launched the group even further into the musical stratosphere, but only served to be their undoing. Drawing on new interviews with former bandmates, session musicians, family members, and many others, "All the Leaves Are Brown" is a layered, revelatory tale of overnight stardom and its many pitfalls.
Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a ten page Epilogue, a four page Bibliography, and a thirty-one page Index, "All the Leaves Are Brown: How the Mamas & the Papas Came Together and Broke Apart" is the definitive and fascinating history of the Mamas & the Papas -- and a 'must read' choice for their legions of fans. While highly recommended as a core addition to personal, community, and academic library 20th Century American Music History and Rock Band Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "All the Leaves Are Brown: How the Mamas & the Papas Came Together and Broke Apart" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.18).
Editorial Note: Scott G. Shea (https://scottsheaauthor.com) is a longtime radio producer who currently works on the show Seize the Day with Gus Lloyd on SiriusXM. He has produced five original audio documentaries that have aired nationally.
The Graphic Novel Shelf
160 Broadway, Ste. 700, East Wing, New York, NY 10038
9781681123158, $19.99, PB, 152pp
Synopsis: When the repulsively ugly Coddie unintentionally saves a fairy, Coddie wishes for beauty, but she does not understand the poisonous nature of the fairy who grants the wish. The village folk no longer see Coddie as repulsive and stinking of fish. They now perceive her as magnetically beautiful - which does not help her. The villagers plot to gang rape her, and when she attempts to escape, her mother is killed.
A young local lord rescues Coddie, but her ultimate destiny may be far greater - or perhaps far more terrible - than anyone ever imagined. No one is truly safe in the wake of Coddie's preternatural beauty; not her loved ones, not her country, not even her enemies.
Critique: A dark, caustic, and violent fairy tale for adults, Beauty an engrossing take on the nature and corrupting power of beauty and our obsession with it. A highly recommended pick for personal reading lists and community/academic library Graphic Novel collections, "Beauty", by the late author Hubert and artist/illustrator Kerascoet, is now available for the legions of Hubert fans in a paperback edition and in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).
Editorial Note #1: Hubert started at first making a reputation for himself as a colorist but soon turned to scriptwriting where he established himself as a leading voice in graphic novels for an adult audience. Hubert thus spoke of anorexia, gender, or even homosexuality in tales and stories that have become as essential as Miss Pas Touche or Beauty (both from NBM), drawn by the duo Kerascoet. He passed away on February 12, 2020.
Editorial Note #2: Kerascoet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerasco%C3%ABt) is the joint pen name of the French illustrators, comics and animation artists Marie Pommepuy (born 1978) and her husband Sebastien Cosset (born 1975).
Darkly She Goes
Vincent Mallie, illustrator
160 Broadway, Ste. 700, East Wing, New York, NY 10038
9781681123134, $29.99, HC, 160pp
Synopsis: Once upon a time there was a fallen knight, who believed that saving a princess would allow him to atone for his crimes. Once upon a time there was a dark princess, who believed that it was up to her to atone for the crimes of her parents.
Banished for a fault that forever taints his reputation, Arzhur wanders from tavern to field of battle in search of the next contract which will fill his purse. One night, three mysterious old women offer him to regain honor and fortune if he frees the daughter of a neighboring king, held captive in the ruins of an abandoned castle.
But Islen is not the damsel in distress that he expected to save...
Critique: Enhanced on every page by the museum quality art of Vincent Mallie, author Humbert's graphic novel, "Darkly She Goes" reveals the weight of a family legacy in the form of a compelling fairytale with a message about facing one's inner demons. "Darkly She Goes" is a riveting ode to redemption that pits free will against fate, and brought vividly and memorably to life by the collaboration of two true masters of the fantasy genre. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Graphic Novel collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Darkly She Goes" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).
Editorial Note #1: Hubert started at first making a reputation for himself as a colorist but soon turned to scriptwriting where he established himself as a leading voice in graphic novels for an adult audience. Hubert thus spoke of anorexia, gender, or even homosexuality in tales and stories that have become as essential as Miss Pas Touche or Beauty (both from NBM), drawn by the duo Kerascoet. He passed away on February 12, 2020.
Editorial Note #2: Vincent Mallie (http://vincentmallie.com) was born in Paris in 1973. He graduated in graphic arts in Paris. Since 1998 he has been a comic artist collaborating with many top French authors in the field and working on a number of bestselling novels and series. Renowned for the aesthetics of his semi-realistic line, the efficiency of his layouts and his gift for fabulous natural compositions, Vincent started collaborating with the late Hubert (Beauty, Miss Don't Touch Me) on Darkly She Goes, which gave him the opportunity to offer an epic and seductive drawing, in a feminist tale as powerful as it is striking.
PO 710, Cooperstown, NY 13326
9798985586312, $19.95, PB, 148pp
Synopsis: Robert Sergel's Best American Comics selection and Ignatz Award nominated series, Eschew, captures those awkward, private, hilarious moments of our past with the publication of "Satan's Kingdom", a new collection that illustrated and documents that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. "Satan's Kingdom" tours America's haunted history of spite houses and bad babysitters. Readers will meet Napoleon in New Jersey, and find themselves somewhere between Desolation Bay and Satan's Kingdom.
Critique: Distinctively illustrated with author/illustrator Robert Sergel's black/white artwork, "Satan's Kingdom" is a memorable and entertaining read from beginning to end. This trade paperback edition of "Satan's Kingdom" published by Secret Acres is highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Contemporary Graphic Novel collections.
Editorial Note: Robert Sergel (http://www.robertsergel.com) has a degree in Photo & Imaging from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. In the mid-2000's he was a member of the Transplant web comic collective. He is the author of the graphic novel, Bald Knobber, and draws the Ignatz-nominated comic series Eschew, a Best American Comics selection. SPACE: An Eschew Collection was published by Secret Acres and counted on Paste Magazine's best comics of the year.
PO 710, Cooperstown, NY 13326
9798985586343, $23.95, PB, 224pp
Synopsis: Environmental disturbances and a mysterious epidemic wreak havoc on the remote, struggling town of Shadow Hills. The rivalrous townsfolk race to find a cure and uncover the source of the threat before it destroys the entire community. Their search for answers leads them into the depths of a long buried past.
Critique: "Shadow Hills" is the long-awaited follow-up to Sean Ford's perennial favorite graphic novel, "Only Skin". A decade in the making, Shadow Hills collects all ten serialized chapters and brings the highly acclaimed series to a new, stunning conclusion. Of special appeal to readers with an interest in dystopian and mystery fiction, "Shadow Hills" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library Graphic Novel collections.
Editorial Note: Sean Ford is a founding editor of the Best American Comics notable comic anthology, Sundays. He graduated from the Center for Cartoon Studies in 2008. His comics and illustrations have appeared in the Alternative Comics anthology series, Alternative Comics are Dead, online at Slate and Narratively, and in Verso Books titles. His design work includes books by authors Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson, Dan Simmons, Joshua Ferris, Anita Shreve and others. (https://www.cartoonstudies.org/tag/secret-acres)
The Audiobook Shelf
When We Let Go
Rochelle B.Weinstein, author
Amanda Leigh Cobb, narrator
9781713661504, $24.99, MP3-CD (9 Hours 19 Minutes)
Synopsis: When Avery Beckett is proposed to by Jude Masters, a widowed father and the man she loves, it should be a time of great joy. Instead, Avery is on edge. She's wary of the idea of family, doubtful of happy endings, and too afraid to take the leap. It's the kind of fear that comes from having secrets.
Before Avery commits to a new life, she must reconcile with the one she left behind.
When Avery returns to her childhood farm in the North Carolina mountains, she's surprised to be saddled with a companion: Jude's teenage daughter, Elle, who's grappling with the loss of her mother and the complicated emotions of first love. On a path of mending wounds and breaking down walls, Avery and Elle form an unexpected alliance. It's giving them the courage to move forward. And for Avery, everything she needs to confront the past.
An emotional tale of mothers and daughters, loss and acceptance, "When We Let Go" by novelist Rochelle B. Weinstein is about the lessons that come from heartbreak and the healing it takes to embrace the joy of a second chance.
Critique: Now in a complete and unabridged audio book edition perfectly and adroitly narrated by professional vocal artist Amanda Leigh Cobb, "When We Let Go" is specifically recommended to the attention of those with a particular interest in contemporary family life and women's domestic fiction. An impressive production that will hold the listener's rapt attention throughout, "When We Let Go" is particularly and specifically recommended for personal and community library audio book collections.
Editorial Note #1: Rochelle B. Weinstein (www.rochelleweinstein.com) is also the author of This Is Not How It Ends, Somebody's Daughter, Where We Fall, The Mourning After, and What We Leave Behind. When she's not writing, Rochelle can be found on Miami's NBC 6 in the Mix sharing book recommendations, teaching workshops at Nova Southeastern University, hiking, reading, and finding the world's best nachos. She is currently working on her eighth novel.
Editorial Note #2: Amanda Leigh Cobb (https://www.amandaleighcobb.com) is an award winning narrator and producer. She is an Earphones Award winning actress who made her mark on Broadway working with some of the biggest names in the industry including Hugh Jackman, Mike Nichols, and Morgan Freeman. She has narrated around 100 titles, including books for The Library of Congress.
What She Said
D. S. Butler, author
Henriette Meire, narrator
9781713661399, $14.99, MP3-CD (9 Hours 7 Minute)
Synopsis: When a woman is abducted from a quiet suburban street and bundled into the back of a white van, the only witness to the crime is a child with a reputation for telling tall tales.
The police doubt the girl's story, except for Detective Karen Hart, who is determined to follow her instincts -- perhaps because the shy little girl reminds her of the daughter she's still grieving.
When a playing card is found at the scene, Karen finds her first clue. And when a second card is found at the home of a missing woman, Tamara, Karen finds her victim. But before the team can catch their breath, another woman linked to Tamara is snatched. And then a body turns up in a farmer's field.
With the crimes having escalated from kidnap to murder, Karen must unlock the killer's calling-card code before any more victims are taken. But getting to the truth isn't going to be easy when Tamara's family has so much to hide.
Can DS Karen Hart rely on the word of a little girl to save the life of a woman in grave danger?
Critique: A 'must' for dedicated fans of police procedural murder mysteries, "What She Said" by novelist D. S. Butler has a complete and unabridged audio book edition that is deftly and effectively narrated by professional voice actor Henriette Meire. Offering a compelling 'theatre of the mind' experience for the listener from beginning to end, this Brilliance Audio version of"What She Said" is especially and unreservedly recommended as a prized pick for personal and community library Mystery/Suspense audio book collections.
Editorial Note #1: Born in Kent, D. S. Butler (https://dsbutlerbooks.com) grew up as an avid reader with a love for crime fiction and mysteries. She has worked as a scientific officer in a hospital pathology laboratory and as a research scientist. After obtaining a PhD in biochemistry, she worked at the University of Oxford for four years before moving to the Middle East. While living in Bahrain, she wrote her first novel and hasn't stopped writing since. She now lives in Lincolnshire with her husband.
Editorial Note #2: Henriette Meire is member of SAG-AFTRA and has an informative page on the Tantor Media website at https://tantor.com/narrator/henrietta-meire.html
What Can't Be Seen
9781713638216, $14.99, MP3-CD (9 Hours 49 Minutes)
Synopsis: Psychologist and criminologist Dr. Gretchen White, top consultant for the Boston PD, has solved countless cases -- but never her own. Since the age of eight, she has lived her life thinking she killed her aunt. After all, she was found standing over the body, clutching a bloody knife. Most people, including Detective Patrick Shaughnessy, believe the little sociopath got away with murder. Thirty years later, Detective Lauren Marconi wants to prove them wrong.
When plucking at the threads of the past unravels a decades-old case tied to the White family, both Lauren and Gretchen grapple with the question, What if Gretchen really is guilty? As old secrets come to light and Gretchen's lifelong grip on her darkest impulses threatens to erode, Shaughnessy is there watching, waiting for her to lose control one more time.
Everyone thinks they know what happened that night. But the truth is beyond what anyone imagines -- even Gretchen herself.
Critique: A compelling mix of psychological thriller, police procedural, and murder mystery, "What Can't Be Seen" by novelist Brianna Labuskes is vividly co-narrated by the simply impressively story telling talents of Kate Marcin and Chris Ciulla. Providing a true 'theatre of the mind' listening experience, this complete and unabridged edition from Brilliance Audio is a perfect pick for personal and community library Crime Fiction audio book collections.
Editorial Note #1: Brianna Labuskes (www.briannalabuskes.com) graduated from Penn State University with a degree in journalism. For the past eight years, she has worked as an editor at both small-town papers and national media organizations such as Politico and Kaiser Health News, covering politics and policy. Her historical romance novel, "One Step Behind", was released by Entangled Publishing.
Editorial Note #2: Professional voice over artist Kat Marcin has a professional and informative website page at https://katemarcinvoiceover.com/audiobook-narration
Editorial Note #3: Chris Ciulla (http://chrisciulla.com) is an award-winning narrator with over 425 credits. He has been reviewed by AudioFile Magazine over 25 times, been granted five Earphones Awards, a SOVAS win on a multi-cast, four Audie nominations, and both an Odyssey and an Audie win for muti-cast titles.
Ruth Cardello, author
Rock Engle, narrator
Laurie West, narrator
9781713659815, $22.99, MP3-CD (8 Hours 50 Minutes)
Synopsis: "I just found out I have an identical twin. Wasn't looking for one. Would have preferred to not have one, but here we are. We have nothing in common. I was adopted by a successful businessman who raised me to see life as a game and gave me the skills to win it. Him? He is about to lose his family's farm. You heard me -- farm.
Lucky for him, I'm a firm believer that when it comes to family, no one goes to battle alone. I'm in. I've switched lives with him and will use every business trick I know to save his farm.
However, my initial plan did not take into account a drop-dead gorgeous oil rep or the secrets I uncover about my brother. And worst of all, I'm starting to like the farm and all its inhabitants. I can't stop thinking about that oil rep. This will definitely take longer to resolve than anticipated."
Critique: A riveting novel that has a particular appeal for fans of truly steamy and volatile romances, author Ruth Cardello's "Strictkly Business" is deftly performed by co-narrators Rick Engle and Lauie West in this complete and unabridged Brilliance Audio edition that is a guaranteed popular pick for personal and community library Contemporary Romance audio book collections.
Editorial Note #1: Ruth Cardello (www.RuthCardello.com) is the author of The Legacy Collection, the Barrington Billionaires, and the Corisi Billionaires -- just a few of the many sizzling series she's written.
Editorial Note #2: Rick Engle has a complete and up to date listing of the audio books he has narrated at https://www.audible.com/search?searchNarrator=Rock+Engle
Editorial Note #3: Professional and experience romance audio book narrator Laurie West has an informative and dedicated website at https://www.lauriewestromance.com
Aurora Rose Reynolds, author
Avie Page, narrator
Oliver Clarke, narrator
9781713657736, $14.99, MP3-CD (5 Hours 54 Minutes)
Synopsis: Everly never expected to move back in with her parents, and she definitely didn't expect to do so as a single mother. But with the father of her son suddenly out of the picture, she's had to make some adjustments to her plans.
Now Everly has one priority: to make a life for herself and her boy. And Blake, her sometimes infuriating but admittedly handsome employer at Live Life Adventures, doesn't factor into her future as anything more than her boss.
But it seems the guy who's about as friendly as a grizzly bear has a soft spot for her and her son -- and the more time she spends with him, the more difficult it is to remember why giving in to the chemistry between them is a bad idea.
Now, with their future on the line, they'll have to decide if love is a risk worth taking.
Critique: The narrator team of Avie Page and Oliver Clarke bring author Aurora Rose Reynolds novel, "Risky" brilliantly to life in this complete and unabridged edition from Brilliance Audio. With a special appeal for fans of contemporary romantic comedies, "Risky" is fully and unreservedly recommended pick for personal and community library Romance Fiction audio book collections.
Editorial Note #1: Aurora Rose Reynolds (www.AuroraRoseReynolds.com) is the author of wildly popular series that include the Until, Until Him, Until Her, Fluke My Life, Underground Kings, How to Catch an Alpha, and Shooting Stars series. Her writing career started in an attempt to get the outrageously alpha men who resided in her head to leave her alone and has blossomed into an opportunity to share her stories with readers all over the world. She can be followed on Instagram and Twitter (@Auroraroser) or on Facebook (@AuthorAuroraroser).
Editorial Note #2: There is an online listing of books narrated by Avie Page at https://www.audible.com/search?searchNarrator=Avie+Page
Editorial Note #3: Professional narrator and voice over actor Oliver Clarke has a detailed website at https://www.oliverclarkenarrator.com
The Ice Ghost
Kathleen O'Neal Gear, author
Shauna Taylor-Corbett, narrator
Sisi Aisha Johnson, narrator
9781713562559, $29.99, MP3-CD (9 Hours 23 Minutes)
Synopsis: In the brutal Ice Age caused by the ancient Jemen war, many archaic human species, including Denisovans and Homo erectus, hover on the verge of extinction. There seems no way out, until the greatest Neandertal holy man, Trogon, has a vision.
Legends say the truce that ended the old war left one hostage in the hands of the victorious rebels: the godlike Jemen leader known as the Old Woman of the Mountain. According to Trogon's vision, only one person knows the location of that burial cave. Trogon must capture young Quiller and force her to lead him there... for the Old Woman may not be dead. She may only have been in stasis for a thousand summers, and when reawakened she will save them from oblivion.
But according to the Denisovans (Quiller's people) Trogon is the most powerful witch alive. He's up to something evil that will surely spell their destruction. He must be stopped before it's too late. Quiller's best friend Lynx must brave towering glaciers, dire wolves, and prides of giant lions to save her and stop Trogon.
Critique: "The Ice Ghost" is the second book in a science fiction series by Kathleen O'Neal Gear, a nationally recognized anthropologist who explores a frozen future where archaic species struggle to survive an apocalyptic Ice Age. With the exceptional story telling talents of co-narrators Shauna Taylor-Corbett and Sisi Aisha Johnson, this complete and unabridged audio book edition is unreservedly recommended for both personal and community library Science Fiction audio book collections.
Editorial Note #1: Kathleen O'Neal Gear (https://www.gear-gear.com) is a nationally award-winning archaeologist who has been honored by the United States Congress. She is also a New York Times bestselling author with 48 books and over 200 non-fiction articles in print.
Editorial Note #2:Shaun Taylor-Corbett shares his thoughts on narrating "The Brave", James Bird's moving audiobook for young listeners, in this video in the online article at: https://audiofilemagazine.com/articles/narrator-shaun-taylor-corbett-on-the-brave
Editorial Note #3: There is an impressive listing of books narrated by Sisi Aisha Johnson at https://www.audible.com/search?searchNarrator=Sisi+Aisha+Johnson
Crazy To Leave You
Marilyn Simon Rothstein, author
Dara Rosenberg, narrator
9781713657859, $14.99, MP3-CD (8 Hours 34 Minutes)
Synopsis: Forty-one years old, the last of her friends to marry, and down to a size 12, Lauren Leo is in her gown and about to tie the knot. There's just one thing missing: the groom. With one blind siding text, Lauren is unceremoniously dumped at the altar.
In the aftermath, her mother is an endless well of unsolicited advice (Stay on your diet and freeze your eggs). Her sisters only add to the Great Humiliation: one is planted on Lauren's couch while the other is too perfect.
Picking her heart up off the floor, Lauren turns to her work in advertising as she gathers courage to move on and plan her next step. She should know by now that nothing in life goes according to plan. What lies ahead is the road to self-acceptance and at long last feeling worthy. With a new way to measure love and success, Lauren chucks her scale -- and finds a second chance in the most unexpected place.
Critique: Brilliantly narrated by the vocal storytelling talents of Dara Rosenberg effectively brings to life "Crazy To Leave You", the deftly crafted novel of Marilyn Simon Rothstein. This complete and unabridged recorded edition from Brilliance Audio will have a special appeal to fans of contemporary women's friendship/domestic fiction -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended pick for personal and community library audio book collections.
Editorial Note #1: Marilyn Simon Rothstein (https://www.marilynsimonrothstein.com) is also the author of Lift and Separate, winner of the STAR Award for Outstanding Debut presented by the Women's Fiction Writers Association, and a second novel, Husbands and Other Sharp Objects.
Editorial Note #2: Dara Rosbenberg (http://www.dararosenberg.com) is an accomplished voiceover artist who has been recognized nationally for her extensive work in audiobooks and commercial work. She has more than 500 audiobooks to her name, as well as dozens of television and radio commercials.
The Music CD Shelf
Nnenna Freelon and Pierce Freelon
$TBA CD / $12.87 digital
Grammy-nominated, mother-and-son duo Nnenna Freelon and Pierce Freelon present AnceStars, a music album for all ages about the wonders of the ancestral spirit world. The original songs explore themes about life, afterlife, transformation, healing, and the legacies that pass between generations. Individual songs embrace Afrobeat rhythms, jazz, call-and-response, and more. AnceStars is a tribute to those who have gone before, and a resoundingly positive message to current and future generations, highly recommended. The tracks are Ancestars, ABC You (feat. Stella Freelon), CelebraShine, Build an Altar (feat. Las Cafeteras), Sing Me Down (feat. Jarrett Johnson & Alvin Chea), Side by Side (interlude), You Live in my Memories, Cry a Rainbow, Help You Do The Work (feat. Jarrett Johnson), Little Mushroom, Everything Comes and Goes, SonShine (feat. DL Zene), and Not So Far Away (interlude).
The Blue Light
$TBA CD / $10.89 MP3
Keyboard player Peter Calandra presents The Blue Light, an instrumental music album that he personality composed, mixed, and mastered. The Blue Light is a gentle album, featuring songs that ease the mind and spirit into a state of relaxed meditation. Beautiful, captivating, and inspirational, The Blue Light is highly recommended. The tracks are The Gambit, The Highlands, The Blue Light, Lost Island, The Softest Touch, Morning Light, Bremen, Rainy Autumn, Dark Starlight, The Talking Poet, and The Seance.
Is This a Dream?
Is This a Dream? is the fourth album by jazz pianist Will Bonness, with contributions by associates on clarinet, alto saxophone, bass, drums, and Jocelyn Gould providing vocals for three songs. Five of the songs are Will Bonness' original compositions; four songs are covers of works by great music artists. Is This a Dream? revels in unusual rhythms, virtuoso performances, and interlaced melodies, and is highly recommended especially for jazz connoisseurs. The tracks are Round and Round, I Get Along Without You Very Well (Hoagy Carmichael), Contraption, Dusk, Blood Count (Billy Strayhorn), Rapture (Tom Harrell), Reverie, Odd Serenade, and Don't Fence Me In (Cole Porter).
James McGowan Ensemble
$TBA CD / $15.00 CAD digital
Reaching In is the first half of a story presented through a combination of jazz music, spoken-word program notes, and visual art. James McGowan's original compositions are performed by a grand gathering of talented musicians including McGowan on piano and keys, Jamaal Amir Akbari contributing spoken words, and others on violin, viola, cello, trumpet, tenor saxophone, trombone, guitar, bass, and drums. The story is about the turbulence of confronting personal challenges, and cultivating hope for the future. Reaching In is thoughtful, inspirational, and highly recommended as a motivational listening experience. The tracks are Imagine, Thoughts and Prayers, Internal Conflict, Grief and Despair, Uncertain Future, Reaching In, Imagine (Part 2), Time to Rise (ft. Petr Cancura), Tripping Triceratops, Augmented Reality, Simple Reality, Imagine (Part 3), Inner Peace, Inner Child, Through My Tears | Smile, and Acceptance. The second half of the story will be in the album Reaching Out, when it is released in 2024.
The Nimmons Tribute Volume 2 - Generational
The Nimmons Tribute
$20.00 CAD compact disc / $15.00 CAD digital
The Nimmons Tribute Volume 2 - Generational is the second volume of a tribute project in honor of legendary Canadian jazz artist Phil Nimmons, who celebrated his 100th birthday on June 3, 2023. A gathering of masterful Canadian musicians, including multiple JUNO Award winners, combine their talents into this selection of Phil Nimmons' vintage compositions, as well as brand new arrangements and two original creations by Phil's talented grandson Sean Nimmons. The Nimmons Tribute Volume 2 - Generational is an extraordinary multi-instrument performance showcasing extraordinary music artists on trumpet, flugelhorn, alto and soprano sax, clarinet, trombone, bass, drums, and more, with Sean Nimmons on piano. The Nimmons Tribute Volume 2 - Generational is a rapturous listening experience, highly recommended for connoisseurs of both classic and modern jazz. The tracks are Arf, Islands (from The Atlantic Suite), Generational (Sean Nimmons), Under a Tree, Transformations (2nd Movement), Bella Shores (Sean Nimmons), Carey Dance, and Night Night Smiley (feat. Heather Bambrick).
The Christian Studies Shelf
Searching for Agabus
510 Marquette Avenue N, Minneapolis, MN 55402
9781506485294, $22.66, HC, 112pp
Synopsis: An overlooked background figure in the grand narrative of the apostle Paul, Agabus (Acts 21:10-14) bursts from the epistles with an audacious prophecy. In a world where everyone wants to be the main character, Agabus remains a minor one with powerful relevance for today. Gleaning from the story of Agabus we can bravely be our authentic selves, honoring what God has assigned us to do, no matter how small or insignificant it seems.
With the publication of "Searching for Agabus: Embracing Authenticity and Finding Your Way to You", Pastor Michael Walrond conveys the countercultural message that an anonymous life of authenticity and service is more important than approval of others or even fame. In "Searching for Agabus", Pastor Walrond dares us to be our authentic selves and to fulfill our callings in joyful anonymity. Pastor Walrond also shares a painful personal loss that taught him this lesson.
Based on this minor prophet's role in the formation of the early church and his significance as represented by feast days that continue even now, we can release the societal need for "likes" and "follows" and instead enter a journey of self-discovery. There are blessings in anonymity; we can live quietly and find our way home to ourselves and to God.
Critique: A fascinating, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking read, "Searching for Agabus: Embracing Authenticity and Finding Your Way to You" is unreservedly recommended for personal, church, seminary, and academic library New Testament Studies collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists for readers with an interest in Christian personal and spiritual growth that "Searching for Agabus" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.99).
Editorial Note: Michael Walrond (www.huffpost.com/author/reverend-michael-walrond-jr) is a popular keynote speaker and the pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church of New York City. He has lectured widely, including at Yale Divinity School and Morehouse College. He is a co-host with Al Sharpton of the nationally broadcast weekly radio program Keepin' It Real. He has appeared on or written for NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, New York Amsterdam News, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, CNN, and more.
When Church Stops Working
Andrew Root, author
Blair D. Bertrand, author
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
9781587436055, $39.99, HC, 176pp
Synopsis: To face the crisis of decline, the church seeks more resources and people, but it is never enough. With the publication of "When Church Stops Working: A Future for Your Congregation Beyond More Money, Programs, and Innovation", Andrew Root and Blair D. Bertrand (two ministry leaders) show that this busyness blinds the Christian church to its real crisis: it can no longer see and hear the God it purports to worship. The church must actively wait for God to act in a way that brings life out of death.
Critique: With mainstream Christian Churches experiencing a steady decline in membership over the past two decades, "When Church Stops Working: A Future for Your Congregation Beyond More Money, Programs, and Innovation" is as timely as it is necessary of community churches (especially in small towns and rural communities) are to survive -- and hopefully thrive. Exceptionally informative, insightful, well written, deftly organized and 'reader friendly' in presentation, "When Church Stops Working: A Future for Your Congregation Beyond More Money, Programs, and Innovation" is unreservedly recommended for personal, church, and seminary library Christian Pastoral & Evangelical Resources collections. It should be noted that "When Church Stops Working: A Future for Your Congregation Beyond More Money, Programs, and Innovation" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781587435782, $21.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.49) for clergy, seminary students, and non-specialist general readers throughout the Christian community with an interest in the subject.
Editorial Note #1: Andrew Root (https://www.andrewroot.org), teaches classes on youth ministry, young adults, family, church, and culture (all with a deep theological bent) at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. He has written twelve books that are out (and two on the way). His wife Kara is a Presbyterian minister. He can be followed on Facebook (www.facebook.com/andrew-root) and on Twitter (www.twitter.com/rootandrew).
Editorial Note #2: Blair D. Bertrand (https://pccweb.ca/missionblog/the-rev-dr-blair-bertrand) serves as a Malawi Liaison with the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) in the Synod of Blantyre. Based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Blair serves as full-time mission staff, staying connected with the PCC's partners in Malawi. Working with the Principal of Zomba Theological College (ZTC), Blair assists with the development of curricula and policies of the College, coaches the Malawian PhD candidate who is a ZTC lecturer, develops the ZTC library and encourages research and academic exchanges. At Theological Education by Extension in Malawi (TEEM), Blair assists with lay training materials, revisions to the Diploma workbooks and development of lay Bible curricula.
P.O. Box 866, Harrisonburg, VA 22803
9781513811840, $31.99, HC, 192pp
Synopsis: What if the imperfections and contradictions in Scripture aren't an accident? What if they were allowed to be there by the Holy Spirit in order to draw us beyond the literal words on the page and deeper into the spiritual truth God is trying to teach us? As provocative or unorthodox as that might sound, it is in fact a very ancient way of understanding what it means for the Bible to be divinely inspired.
"Godbreathed: What It Really Means for the Bible to Be Divinely Inspired" is a thorough and disarming study in which Zack Hunt explains how we got here and offers a practical and easily accessible approach for reading and understanding the Bible that doesn't require a PhD in biblical languages.
As the disillusioned leave the Church in droves and the deconstructing search for better answers to eternal questions, "Godbreathed" repositions Scripture in the life of the Church to allow it to be what it was meant to be all along: a source of life, hope, and freedom for all. "Godbreathed" will reclaim the idea of biblical truth and reveal it to be not a list of beliefs to affirm or laws to be followed, but an invitation into a new way of living and loving on earth as it is in heaven.
Critique: Offering skeptics and believers alike a practical approach to dealing with the imperfections of the Old and New Testaments, "Godbreathed: What It Really Means for the Bible to Be Divinely Inspired" is an unreservedly recommended addition to church, seminary, community, college, and university library Biblical Studies collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of clergy, seminary students, biblical scholars, and all members of the Christian community that "Godbreathed" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781513811833, $18.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99)
Editorial Note: Zack Hunt (https://zackhunt.net/about-me) has spent the last decade writing about the interplay of faith and politics in the public sphere on his eponymous blog, Substack, and Patheos as well as contributing articles to multiple publications. He's also made appearances in Rolling Stone, The Boston Globe, Huffington Post, and various other media outlets. He is the author of Unraptured: How End Times Theology Gets It Wrong and Godbreathed: What It Really Means For The Bible To Be Divinely Inspired
The Life of Bishoi
Tim Vivian, editor
Maged S. A. Mikhail, editor
American University in Cairo Press
200 Park Avenue, Suite 1700, New York, NY 10166
9781617979996, $59.95, HC, 390pp
Synopsis: Saint Bishoi of Scetis (d. ca. 417) enjoys tremendous popularity throughout the Christian east, particularly among the Copts. He lived during a remarkable era in which a litany of larger-than-life monastics lived and interacted with one another. Even then, Bishoi stood out as the founder of one of the four great monasteries of Scetis (Wadi al-Natrun): those of Macarius, John the Little, Bishoi, and the Baramus. Yet in spite of Bishoi's prominence, the various recensions of his hagio-biography have only received sporadic, scattered attention.
"The Life of Bishoi: The Greek, Arabic, Syriac, and Ethiopic Lives" joins other Lives of eminent monastics of early-Egyptian monasticism including: the Lives of Antony, Daniel, John the Little, Macarius, Paphnutius, Shenoute, and Syncletica. These Lives are vital for what they tell us about monastic politeia (way of life), spirituality, and theology, both of the early monastics and of those who later wrote, translated, and revised the Lives. They appeared first in Greek and Coptic, and later generations translated and revised them into Syriac, Arabic and Ge'ez (Ethiopic).
This definitive volume contains the first English translation of the Greek, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic Lives of Bishoi, with each translation being accompanied by an introduction that focuses on certain aspects of the source text. It also has the first transcription and English translation of an important early Greek text. The General Introduction provides rich context about the texts and textual traditions in the various languages, and thoroughly revises our knowledge about the Syriac tradition, the translation of the Syriac text here now consequently providing what is the best translation in any modern language.
Critique: A work of seminal and ground-breaking scholarship, "The Life of Bishoi: The Greek, Arabic, Syriac, and Ethiopic Lives" will be of particular value to readers with an interest in Christian Monasticism & Asceticism and early Syrian Christian history. Featuring an informative Foreword by Mark N. Swanson and collaboratively compiled and co-edited by professors Tim Vivian and Maged S. A. Mikhail, "The Life of Bishoi" also includes a complete listing of the contributors and their credentials, as well as a twelve page Bibliography. This biography of Saint Bishoi of Scetis is a welcome and unreservedly recommended acquisition for personal, community, church, seminary, college, and university library collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.
Editorial Note #1: Tim Vivian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Vivian) is professor emeritus of religious studies at California State University, Bakersfield, and a retired priest of the Episcopal Church. He has published, among many books, The Life of Antony (with Apostolos N. Athanassakis, 2003), The Holy Workshop of Virtue: The Life of Saint John the Little (with Maged S.A. Mikhail, 2010), Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers (2009) and The Sayings and Stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (vol. 1, 2021).
Editorial Note #2: Maged S.A. Mikhail is professor of history at California State University, Fullerton. His research and teaching focus on Coptic Christianity, late antiquity, and the Islamic Middle East. He is the author of The Legacy of Demetrius of Alexandria (2017) and From Byzantine to Islamic Egypt: Religion, Identity and Politics after the Arab Conquest (2014).(https://hist.fullerton.edu/faculty_staff/profiles/Maged%20Mikhail.aspx)
The Judaic Studies Shelf
The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel
Koren Publishers Jerusalem Ltd.
PO Box 8531, New Milford, CT 06776-8531
9789657766729, $49.95, HC, 338pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel", Rabbi Jonathan Sacks offers an innovative and refreshing approach to the Hebrew Bible.
By fusing extraordinary findings by modern scholars on the ancient Near East with the original Hebrew text and a brand new English translation. "The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel" clarifies and explains the Biblical narrative, laws, events, and prophecies in context with the milieu in which it took place.
It also features stunning visuals of ancient civilizations including artifacts, archeological excavations, inscriptions, and maps, along with brief articles on Egyptology, geography, biblical botany, language, and more.
By showcasing material that was unknown to previous generations of Torah scholars, "The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel" opens a new view into the revolutionary impact of the Tanakh, published for the first time in English.
Critique: This bilingual (Hebrew & English), large format, hardcover edition of "The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel" by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is a beautifully illustrated, exceptionally informative, admirably comprehensive, very well organized, and impressively presented study that is unreservedly and unequivocally recommended as a core addition to personal, professional, synagogue, yeshiva, community, college, and university library Judaic Studies collections and supplemental curriculum lists.
Editorial Note: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was awarded the 2016 Templeton Prize in recognition of his "exceptional contributions to affirming life's spiritual dimension". Since stepping down as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth (a position he served for 22 years between 1991 and 2013) Rabbi Sacks held a number of professorships at several academic institutions including Yeshiva University, New York University and King's College London. Rabbi Sacks authored over 35 books. Rabbi Sacks passed away on 7th November 2020, aged 72. There is a Wikipedia entry for Rabbi Sacks at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Sacks,_Baron_Sacks
The Metaphysical Studies Shelf
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9781577153467, $16.99, HC, 168pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Celtic Mysticism: Your Personal Guide to Celtic and Druid Tradition" by Tracie Long it is now possible for metaphysical studies students and practitioners to reclaim Celtic ancestral traditions and older ways of connecting with the earth and spirituality by going straight to the heart of mystical traditions.
"Celtic Mysticism" explores the folk magic that has thrived in the British Isles for thousands of years. With this guidebook for both newcomers to magical practice and for those searching for a concise reference to a long history, you will discover how to honor your connection to nature and the rhythms of the seasons in the Celtic way. Exploring the history behind Celtic practices, rituals, and spells and then engaging with them firsthand, forming a deeper bond with Mother Earth.
Illuminated by beautiful illustrations, fascinating and informative guide presents: The lore and history of the Celts; Rites and spells based in green magic and natural cycles; Meditations and rituals to bring the ancient wisdom into modern life; Key concepts, figures, and legends of Celtic tradition.
Critique: "Celtic Mysticism" provides a thoroughly 'user friendly, engaging, accessible, and hands-on introduction to the deep magic and spirituality of the Celts. A definitive guide to mystical and spiritual Celtic traditions and magical practices drawn from around the world and understood from a modern perspective, "Celtic Mysticism" will be of particular value to readers with an interest in the origins of mystical practices, including explanations of key concepts, figures, and legends in these traditions -- as well as reliable and effective instruction on how to connect directly with these practices through rituals, spells, and more. While highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Druidism, Celtic Religion, and Metaphysical Studies collections, it should be noted for students and practitioners that "Celtic Mysticism" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Tracie Long began to see and hear spirits when she was about six years old and finally embraced her gift in her early thirties. She has worked in the body, mind, spirit industry for almost thirty years now. She specializes in tarot, angels, spiritual development, meditation, shamanic healing and coaching, and moon cycles. She has worked with sensitive children and run a few paranormal investigations, but today she most often helps spirits who are stuck or causing problems for families. A former chairwoman of the British Astrological and Psychic Society, she earned her BTEC in business management and a teaching degree and tutors alongside the Spiritual Workers Association.
Cosmic Valeria, author
Marie-Noel Dumont, illustrator
Leaping Hare Press
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780711281059, $20.00, HC, 144pp
Synopsis: Self-Love Potions are herbal recipes and accompanying rituals to help you make the most of your 'me' time. Simply packed with ideas from talented moon witch Valeria Kapusta (@cosmicvaleria) to help you mindfully explore your craft, "Self-Love Potions: Herbal recipes & rituals to make you fall in love with YOU" is a compendium of DIY recipes ranging from teas, tinctures, oils and tonics, to bath mixes and fragrances
Featured recipes include: Heart-soothing lilac-infused honey to ease heartbreak; Energy cleansing empath bath; Thyme infusions for courage and self-confidence; Dandelion bath salt for inner joy; Floral hair rinse to remove creative blocks; Violet infused sugar to sweeten gloomy days.
With "Self-Love Potions" even the most novice of Wiccan and metaphysical studies student can develop their self-love practice, enhance their wellbeing, and connect with themselves and nature with this guidance of this gorgeous, herbal handbook.
Critique: "Self-Love Potions: Herbal recipes & rituals to make you fall in love with YOU" by Wiccan author is a simply beautiful volume filled with the stunning illustrations of Marie-Noel Dumont. A thoroughly 'user friendly' compendium of rituals and potions to help you boost wellbeing and fall in love with yourself through the power of magick, "Self-Love Potions" is a desirable and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Wiccan and Metaphysical Studies collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Self-Love Potions" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.49).
Editorial Note #1: Valeria Kapusta (https://www.instagram.com/cosmicvaleria) aka @cosmicvaleria, is a witch and herbalist whose work brings magic and self-care together. She has also created Moon Witch Tarot, Moon Witch Oracle, and Moon Witch Coloring Book.
Editorial Note #2: Marie-Noel Dumont is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Rome. (https://ca.linkedin.com/in/marie-noel-dumont-a2bb71a)
Open for Interpretation: A Doctor's Journey into Astrology
She Writes Press
9781647424701, $17.95, PB, 232pp
Synopsis: As a young doctor working in the middle of the HIV epidemic in the early '90s, Alicia Blando felt unsure of the effectiveness of the medical profession. To gain insight into her life's path, she sought advice in some unconventional places, and lands on astrology as her way forward. Astrology, based in astronomy, has specific rules; it can't be easily manipulated. The scientist in her can't help but respond to this idea.
At a pivotal group demonstration, Alicia found a mentor, Iris, who introduces her to the study of astrology. By learning to read the horoscope, Alicia gained insight into her potential and manifests her ambition to travel and explore healing techniques from indigenous cultures. Eventually, her search for new teachers and past knowledge takes her from Manhattan to the Peruvian Amazon, Belize, and Bolivia, where she discovered ancient ways of healing among people who consider the sky to be a continuation of nature on earth. She connects with the tenets of astrology as the language that describes man's connection to the sky environment. Alicia learned that the horoscopic map gives information that can assist in making better choices in life. That it has the potential to analyze a person's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and health concerns.
Alicia's journey off the beaten path ultimately would lead her to true self-exploration and connection with the world around her, as well as a desire to share her knowledge. With the publication of "Open for Interpretation: A Doctor's Journey into Astrology ", she shares her story of finally finding the map she's been seeking -- and explains how we can all use that map to access our true selves and untapped potential.
Critique: Fascinating, informative, and of special interest to readers engaged in the study of astrology and alternative medicine, "Open for Interpretation: A Doctor's Journey into Astrology" is a definitely recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and academic library Astrology collections and supplemental Alternative Medicine curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "Open for Interpretation: A Doctor's Journey into Astrology" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
Editorial Note: Alicia Blando (https://aliciablando.com) trained and practiced in the medical specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation. While working as a physician, she became interested in how indigenous healers diagnosed and treated their patients without the technology present in modern medicine. This curiosity was supported by what she learned about herself through the study of astrology. As a Western physician who has followed the tenets of astrology in her life, she believes that the practice of astrology can function as an adjunct method to study many aspects of life, including the tendencies for certain disease processes. Alicia currently works as a medical consultant.
The Self-Help Shelf
The Island of the Four Ps
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781510776173, $24.99, HC, 168pp
Synopsis: "The Island of the Four Ps: A Modern Fable About Preparing for Your Future", a spinoff of Ed Hajim's bestselling memoir "On The Road Less Traveled", is a modern fable about a young man, Marketus, who leaves home for the first time and travels to an island on a quest to answer some of life's basic questions.
"The Island of the Four Ps", is a conversation with the hero's inner voice, and is divided into four fundamental sections (passions, principles, partners, and plans) which are the key ingredients to making a successful life.
This magical trip takes Marketus and his guide to four villages named after the four Ps. As he enters each place, Marketus places a green pea into a special device, which allows him to store his thoughts, retrieve them, and integrate them.
"The Island of the Four Ps" is an engaging tale that features full-color illustrations throughout in a parable comes to life in the most unusual way.
Critique: Engaging, thought-provoking, and ideal for anyone seeking or in need of inspiration in our ever-changing and complicated world, "The Island of the Four Ps: A Modern Fable About Preparing for Your Future" is reminiscent of such classic parable stories as "A Pilgrim's Progress" and offers a timeless message and is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Self-Help and Personal Transformation collections. It should be noted that "The Island of the Four Ps" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).
Editorial Note: Ed Hajim (https://www.edhajim.com), the son of a Syrian immigrant, is a seasoned Wall Street executive with more than fifty years of investment experience. He has held senior management positions with the Capital Group, E. F. Hutton, and Lehman Brothers before becoming chairman and CEO of Furman Selz. Hajim has been the cochairman of ING Barings, Americas Region; chairman and CEO of ING Aeltus Group and ING Furman Selz Asset Management; and chairman and CEO of MLH Capital. In 2009, he became president of Diker Management and is now the nonexecutive chairman at HighVista Strategies. In 2008, after twenty years as a trustee of the University of Rochester, Hajim began an eight-year tenure as chairman of the university's board.
The Little Frog's Guide to Self-Care
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781837991013, $11.95, HC, 96pp
Synopsis: "Don't forget about the subtle magic that is happening all around you every day."
Meet the little frog! With its mushroom hat and endless collection of fabulous footwear, this adorable amphibian is here to be your new best friend. Whether you need an emotional boost, some friendly encouragement or an honest view on the world, the little frog will be your guide.
Created by the California-based artist Maybell Eequay, "The Little Frog's Guide to Self-Care: Affirmations, Self-Love and Life Lessons According to the Internet's Beloved Mushroom Frog" is a small volume of perfectly compassionate affirmations for yourself or others.
"The Little Frog's Guide to Self-Care" features: More than 40 hand-drawn illustrations of the little frog; A series of beautiful life lessons and empowering reminders that it's okay to be gentle with yourself and to feel your feelings; and a humorous, no-nonsense approach to positivity.
These illustrations alone will fill your heart with love for yourself and others, and remind you that it's brave and wonderful of you to exist!
Critique: "The Little Frog's Guide to Self-Care: Affirmations, Self-Love and Life Lessons According to the Internet's Beloved Mushroom Frog" is an uplifting little book comprised of positive affirmations on self-love and empowerment -- all as told by the internet's most fashionable frog. Of special appeal and value to readers with an interest in motivational self-help resources, improving self-esteem, and enhancing the 'happiness' factor in their personal lives and the lives of their loved ones, "The Little Frog's Guide to Self-Care" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.
Editorial Note: Maybell Eequay (https://www.facebook.com/maybell.eequay) is an Oakland-based artist who works in many different mediums. Born and raised in the breathtaking St. Croix River Valley, Maybell draws a lot of inspiration from her childhood home life as well as her love of vintage children's books and knickknacks. Growing up in a creative household and the daughter of two artists, Maybell has been making art since she was old enough to hold a pen. Today, she enjoys making art that has a vaguely nostalgic feel paired with tender messages and light humor.
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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