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Wisconsin Bookwatch

Volume 19, Number 5 May 2024 Home | WBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Photography Shelf Biography Shelf General Fiction Shelf
LGBTQ Fiction Shelf Romantic Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Poetry Shelf Art Shelf Needlecraft Shelf
Gardening Shelf Antiques/Collectibles Shelf Sports Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf DVD Shelf
Business Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Judaic Studies Shelf
Wine/Beer/Liquor Shelf Self-Help Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

To the Last Man: A Memoir
Lloyd K. Walund
Sweet Grass Press
c/o Farcountry Press
9781591523277, $24.95, HC, 226pp

Synopsis: Some years ago, Lloyd Kenneth Walund began writing a memoir of his experiences as a United States Army combat infantryman of the 34th Infantry 'Red Bull' Division in World War II and its military campaigns in North Africa and Italy. The original handwritten and typed pages of the "manuscript" suggest that the work had been in progress for several decades following the end of the war.

At some point, having decided that his manuscript represented his thorough and complete recollection of his experiences, he collaborated with some members of his family to transcribe from his existing handwritten and typed manuscript, a document from which multiple copies were printed and distributed to each of his children and to a few other relatives.

Years after he shared his story, Lloyd passed away at the age of eighty-five. It is the wish of Lloyd's family to share his book, To the Last Man, with a larger audience. The greatest tribute to Lloyd's service that can be offered, is to present his story, in his words.

An easy but compelling read, the account of Lloyd Kenneth Walund's World War II service, "To the Last Man" is a deeply authentic personal memoir, reflective of the culture of the time and the vernacular of the farm country from which members of the 34th Infantry Division were mustered. Lloyd completed school only through the eighth grade, but his writing is an eloquent and truthful account of the horrors of combat he experienced, and his recollections contain insights into how the man who would later become husband, father, and devoted American citizen, developed his sense of humor, his patriotism, and many of the values he carried with him and demonstrated throughout his life.

Critique: An authentic, eloquent, informative, and inherently fascinating account of Lloyd K. Walund's wartime experiences, the combat horrors, and the military values that were to shape the rest of his life, "To the Last Man" intimately and vividly chronicles Walund's experiences as a combat infantryman in World War II (transcribed from Walund's original handwritten manuscript) and is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library World War II History & Biography collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Lloyd K. Walund was born in Leola, South Dakota, in 1920, and grew up in farm country in Forbes, North Dakota, during the Great Depression. He left school after completing the 8th Grade, served in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and, like many of his generation, he enlisted in the Army to serve the United States during World War II. As a member of the 34th Infantry Division, he spent nearly 600 days in combat in Northern Africa and Europe.

Upon his return to the United States, Lloyd opened and operated the Club Cafe with his brother in Sheridan, Montana, where he met and married Dorothy Jane Burnett. Lloyd and Dorothy later moved to Anaconda, Montana, where Lloyd was employed with the Anaconda Company until his retirement. Lloyd and Dorothy raised seven children. He passed away at the age of eighty-five in 2005.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

The Amazon Author Formula
Penny C. Sansevieri
Independently Published
9798874429799, $9.79, PB, 238pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Amazon Author Formula: Insider Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Selling More Books!", legendary book marketing expert Penny C. Sansevieri unlocks the secrets to growing your book's visibility and sales on, the world's largest and dominating online marketplace.

As an author, the key to success lies in getting your title into the hands of the right readers. In this comprehensive combination of instructional guide and DIY 'how to' manual, marketing expert, book publicist and successful author Penny Sansevieri unveils a game-changing strategy to optimize your Amazon presence and support long-term book sales.

With a close reading of "The Amazon Author Formula" authors, publishers, and publicists will:

Discover the Hidden Language of Amazon -- Learn how to speak Amazon's language by mastering the art of keywords and categories. The Amazon Formula takes you on a step-by-step journey to demystify the complex algorithms that drive book discoverability. Dive into proven techniques to choose the most effective keywords and categories for your genre, ensuring that your book stands out in the crowded digital marketplace.

Ignite Your Book's Visibility with Amazon Ads -- Crack the code to Amazon advertising and turn casual browsers into dedicated readers. The Amazon Formula provides expert insight into creating compelling ad campaigns tailored to your book's unique appeal. From budgeting strategies to ad design, you'll learn how to elevate your book's visibility and reach a wider audience.

Optimize Your Author Page for Maximum Impact -- Your author page is your digital storefront - make it irresistible! The Amazon Formula empowers you to create an enticing author profile that captivates readers and boosts your credibility. Leverage the power of compelling author bios, engaging visuals, and strategic cross-promotion to transform your page into a magnet for genre and topic fans.

Data-Driven Success -- Uncover the secrets of interpreting Amazon data to refine your marketing strategy. From tracking keyword performance to analyzing ad conversion rates, you'll gain the confidence needed to make informed decisions that drive ongoing success.

Master the Amazon Ecosystem -- "The Amazon Author Formula" goes beyond the basics, providing a comprehensive understanding of Amazon's ever-evolving ecosystem. Stay ahead of the curve with updates on algorithm changes, platform enhancements, and emerging trends, ensuring your book remains a top contender in the competitive Amazon marketplace.

Achieve Authorial Greatness -- Whether you're a publishing veteran or a debut author, "The Amazon Author Formula" is your roadmap to achieving unparalleled success on Amazon. Transform your passion for telling stories or sharing your expertise into a lucrative career with the proven strategies outlined in The Amazon Formula.

Critique: Knowledgeable, comprehensive, detailed, practical, effective, and impressively well organized and presented, "The Amazon Author Formula: Insider Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Selling More Books!" is a premier DIY course of instruction that while specific to book marketing on Amazon, is also quite relevant for successful book marketing on the internet with other on-ling bookseller sites -- as well as the author and publisher's own website. Penny Sansevieri is a publishing industry veteran and one of the best at bringing a book to the author's intended readership. "The Amazon Author Formula" will especially be appreciated by authors and publishers having to work on a 'shoestring' or even 'no-string' marketing budget. Whether you are a novice author marketing your first book, or a seasoned self-published writers, because Amazon remains the 800 pound gorilla of online book marketing you need to give "The Amazon Author Formula" careful (and profitable) attention. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99), "The Amazon Author Formula" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Writing/Publishing collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Penny C. Sansevieri ( is the Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., a successful author, and an internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is also an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.

She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon visibility campaigns as well offering national media pitching, online book marketing, author events, and other strategies designed to build the author/book visibility.

She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors, and From Book to Bestseller. She also hosts the top ranking podcast Book Marketing Tips and Author Success.

Word of the Day
Marilyn Horowitz
O Books
c/o Collective Ink Books
9781803415161, $12.95, PB, 184pp

Synopsis: Offering a unique creativity-and-time-management technique, "Word of the Day: Transform Your Writing in 15 Minutes a Day" by Marilyn Horowitz presents a practice that assists writers to create at will and write as much as they want, all while acquiring accurate self-acknowledgment in the process.

The practice immediately connects writers with their innate storytelling ability as reflected in their dreams.

The techniques synthesize the right and left sides of the brain so that writers can draw upon the entirety of their creative tools, fusing the verbal and visual mind, unleashing structural instincts and creativity, allowing them to dance together.

Writers are asked to put a notebook by their bed so they can write first thing in the morning when they wake up and just before bedtime.

Studies have shown that our most creative moments happen immediately upon waking and just before falling asleep. Writing adjacent to these moments, even briefly, gives writers access to their unlimited imagination, powerful tools of imagery, and the full scope of their memory.

Critique: A novel and effective approach to writing, "Word of the Day: Transform Your Writing in 15 Minutes a Day" by the award-winning author Marilyn Horowitz (with the assistance of Elizabeth Wiserman) is an inherently fascinating and thoroughly 'user friendly' DIY instructional guide to improving the scope, practice, and performance in the art and craft of writing. It's also a welcome tool for dealing with writer's block, experimentation and inspiration. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99), "Word of the Day" is an ideal, highly recommended, and prized pick for novice and experienced writers alike.

Editorial Note: Marilyn Horowitz ( is an award-winning author, New York University professor, TV show creator, and writing coach, working with successful novelists, produced screenwriters, and award-winning filmmakers. Horowitz received the coveted New York University Award for Teaching Excellence in 2004 and has an active online audience comprising 5,000 Facebook friends, over 10,000 connections on LinkedIn, and 2,500 readers of her weekly blog.

The Crossroads of Crime Writing
Meghan P. Nolan & Rebecca Martin, co-authors
Anthem Press
9781839991172, $110.00, HC, 250pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Crossroads of Crime Writing: Unseen Structures and Uncertain Spaces", the contributors collectively argue that we must examine the boundaries in fiction and non-fiction crime writing with an awareness of and turn toward the unseen structures and spatial uncertainties that so often lead to and reflect collective fears and anxieties.

Drawing upon the insights and expertise of an international array of scholars, the ten chapter articles comprising "The Crossroads of Crime Writing" deftly explore the interplay of the literary, historical, social, and cultural in various modes of crime writing from the 1890s to as recent as 2017. They examine unseen structures and uncertain spaces, and simultaneously provide new insights into the works of iconic authors, such as Christie, and iconic fictional figures, like Holmes, as well as underexplored subjects, including Ukrainian detective fiction of the Soviet period and crime writing by a Bengali police detective at the turn of the twentieth century.

The breadth of coverage (of both time and place) is an indicator of a text in which seasoned readers, advanced students, and academics will find new perspectives on crime writing employing theories of cultural memory and deep mapping.

Critique: A erudite, insightful, and thought-provoking compendium of ten original, seminal, and ground breaking studies, "The Crossroads of Crime Writing: Unseen Structures and Uncertain Spaces" is essential reading for novice and experienced crime fiction and true crime non-fiction novels and stories. With each of the ten extended articles including Notes and Bibliographies, as well as expertly co-edited by the team of professor Meghan P. Nolan and Rebecca Martin, this hardcover edition of The Crossroads of Crime Writing" from Anthem Press is unreservedly recommended as a highly prized addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for aspiring authors with an interest in writing crime novels and true crime stories that "The Crossroads of Crime Writing" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $26.49).

Editorial Note #1: Meghan P. Nolan, MFA, MA, PhD, is an Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Honors program at SUNY Rockland Community College. She is a multigenre writer, who focuses on (Neo-)Victorian and Modern literature/crime writing and fragmented perceptions of self-hood through many published academic works, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Editorial Note #2: Rebecca Martin, PhD, is Professor Emerita of English at Pace University in New York. In addition to her PhD, which focused on the eighteenth-century Gothic novel in England, she holds a graduate certificate in film studies from CUNY Graduate Center, and her interest in crime writing focuses on the hardboiled tradition.

The Cookbook Shelf

Deliciously Chocolatey Cakes & Bakes
Victoria Glass
Ryland, Peters & Small
9781788795838, $24.99, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: Showcasing 100 indulgent recipes for a treat is needed for celebration or consolation, with the publication of "Deliciously Chocolatey Cakes & Bakes", food writer and recipe developer Victoria Glass features original ideas that will be appreciated by all chocolate cake lovers, with child-friendly recipes that use exciting ingredients like popping candy and homemade marshmallows, afternoon offerings for ladies who lunch, cakes to impress a new love interest, and recipes for the ultimate birthday cake.

Clear step-by-step instructions make even the most complicated recipes feel achievable at home and there are guides on how to present your chocolate cakes and bakes as the ultimate eye candy.

From cookies and small bakes to larger cakes, pastries and desserts, Victoria Glass charts the delicious range of some of our much-loved classics with a chocolatey twist. Smaller bakes such as Orange and Choc Chip Madeleines and Chocolate and Mint Teacakes feature alongside indisputable classics such as Chocolate Mud Cake, Torta Caprese, and Caramelized White Chocolate Cheesecake. Also included are recipes for delicate and decadent petit fours, such as Chocolate and Whiskey Truffles, Chocolate Marshmallows, and White Chocolate and Champagne Nougat.

Whatever the occasion, chocolate cakes never go out of fashion!

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated with full page, full color images of finished chocolate cakes and baked treats, "Deliciously Chocolatey Cakes & Bakes" is a culinary delight to browse through from cover to cover -- and will prove a prized and appreciated pick for personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections in general -- and chocolate cake lovers every where in particular!

Editorial Note: Victoria Glass ( is a London-based food writer and recipe developer. She has made cakes for, among others, The Prince's Trust and The Royal British Legion, and was the Roald Dahl Museum's first ever Gastronomic Writer in Residence. She has written six cookbooks, including Deliciously Vintage Baking & Desserts, Baking Mash-up, and Boozy Shakes for Ryland Peters & Small.

At Nonna's Table
Paola Bacchia
Smith Street Books
c/o Rizzoli
9781922754745, $35.00, HC, 216pp

Synopsis: "At Nonna's Table: One Italian Family's Recipes, Shared with Love" by Paola Bacchia is an impressive and illustrated compendium of authentic Italian cuisine.

Inspired by her Mamma Livia's cherished recipes, Paola presents 60 delicious dishes that celebrate the best of Italian home cooking. From soups and appetizers through to main courses, sides, desserts, and pickles and preserves, this book is a treasure trove of traditional and contemporary Italian dishes made with love and care.

Complete with beautiful photography to accompany each delicious recipe, "At Nonna's Table" showcases the fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and simple techniques that make Italian food so beloved. From the hearty Peperonata con melanzane e pomodori (Eggplant and Tomato Stew) to the crowd-pleasing Pollo Ripieno (Celebration Chicken) and the indulgent Torta arancia e cocco con albicocche (Orange Cake with Apricots), alongside heartfelt stories from Paola's childhood and her mum's life, this book will delight lovers of food and family.

Critique: A prized addition to personal, professional, and community library Ethnic/Italian cook book collections, "At Nonna's Table: One Italian Family's Recipes, Shared with Love" is an ideal choice for novice family cooks and has much to offer even experienced chefs. "At Nonna's Table" is the ideal, step-by-step, DIY guide to creating authentic Italian dishes for all dining occasions. Thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' in organization and presentation, "At Nonna's Table) is unreservedly recommended!

Editorial Note: Paola Bacchia ( was born to Italian migrant parents and into their food culture. Her award-winning blog, Italy On My Mind, explores the connection between family memories and food through stories, photos, and recipes. She returns to Italy every year to expand her knowledge of Italian food and traditions. Previously, Paola has published Adriatico (2018), Istria (2021) and Italian Street Food (2021) -- all with Smith Street Books.

End of the Trail Eats
Natalie Bright
TwoDot Books / Globe Pequot
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
9781493076994, $24.95, PB, 172pp

Synopsis: In the yesteryear of the American West, life in the saddle tested the toughest men on the cattle drive trail and the food they consumed during the greatest controlled movement of Texas Longhorns was equally as hearty. Tired of beans and sourdough biscuits, dining establishments located at the railhead shipping points swarmed with trail-weary wranglers eager for a fine meal. "End of the Trail Eats: Cowboy-Approved Recipes from the Cowtown Cafe to the Saloon" by Natalie Bright offers authentic and original trail driving cooking at its finest.

No matter where you are, whether a campsite pit, grill, or home stove using your grandmother's best cast iron, the recipes comprising "End of the Trail Eats" are imminently suitable for the modern kitchen.

Discover the iconic taste of the American West with these 80 wrangler-tested and approved recipes from mule-powered chuck wagons to cowtown cafes. In End of the Trail Eats, Natalie Bright has compiled a collection of dishes from ranch kitchens, saloons, supply stations, cowtown cafes, and cook shacks. Sprinkled with archival photographs, Old West history, first-hand accounts, and profiles of the cooks who keep the traditions alive, this cookbook has something for everyone.

Critique: Unique, illustrated throughout with B/W historical photos, "End of the Trail Eats: Cowboy-Approved Recipes from the Cowtown Cafe to the Saloon", with recipes that range from South Dakota Farm Pancakes, Homemade Hot Sauce, Chocolate Pound Cake, and Sweet Onion Corn Bread, to Simple Hash, Turnips and Pork, Arizona Pot Stew, and Traditional Whisky Toddy, is a very special and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, family, and community library cookbook collections. It should be noted for family kitchen cooks that "End of the Trail Eats" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $23.50).

Editorial Note: Natalie Bright ( is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of twenty books for kids and adults. Her first cookbook for TwoDot, Keep 'Em Full and Keep 'Em Rollin', won a first place Will Rogers Medallion Award. She serves on the Board of Directors of Western Writers of America and is a member of Women Writing the West and the American Chuck Wagon Association. Texas High Plains Writers honored her with its 2022 lifetime achievement award.

BBQ Pit Boys Book of Real Guuud Barbecue
BBQ Pit Boys
Firefly Books Ltd.
9780228105114, $24.95, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: With over 2.2 million subscribers, and more than 1 billion views, the BBQ Pit Boys are by far the most-watched barbecue cooks on YouTube. And they are Facebook's number 1 BBQ show. They have millions of people in their online BBQ "community" (the largest in the world) and there are good reasons for that.

Dressed casually in black T-shirts, jeans and sunglasses, the BBQ Pit Boys are the antithesis of your typical cooking-show host with their usual fast patter and gleaming kitchen countertops. Instead they show backyard grillers how to make great BBQ with a few simple elements: charcoal, a grill, a sharp knife and marinades or rubs. And they do it in a low-key, Southern-inflected and confident way, with blues music in the background and an average-joe script.

Their videos have taught millions of people how to grill and slow-barbecue steaks, fish, pork shoulder, lamb and sides like onion wedges and ears of corn -- and make it fun. Those viewers go back to the BBQ Pit Boys content over and over. They are a loyal audience who will strongly identify with a book.

"BBQ Pit Boys Book of Real Guuud Barbecue" is their first book and it is derived from the thousands of recipes and live-action infotainments featured on their YouTube channel. It contains recipes and methods for almost every backyard griller's experience and desires, with full-color photos throughout and a design that will resonate with the BBQ Pit Boys' identity and appeal.

Ready for the prime barbecue season, Mother's and Father's Day, and any time you'd like to learn how to make "guuud eatin,"BBQ Pit Boys Book of Real Guuud Barbecue" will be a solid choice for summer fun.

Critique: From Grilling, Slow Roasting and Smoking, to Beer-can Burgers and Fireball Whiskey Meatballs, to Popcorn Chicken, Venison Stew, Stuffed Alligator, Rubs, Marinades and more, this large print (8 x 0.75 x 10 inches, 2.3 pounds) paperback edition of "BBQ Pit Boys Book of Real Guuud Barbecue" from Firefly Books is a 'must have' for the legions of dedicated BBQ practitioners and aspiring BBQ masters. Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout with full color photography, "BBQ Pit Boys Book of Real Guuud Barbecue" is fun to browse through and a delight to plan BBQ based menus with -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections.

The Photography Shelf

Utah Splendor
Dennis William Linnehan
Sweetgrass Books
c/o Farcountry Press
9781591523284, $29.95, HC, 144pp

Synopsis: "Utah Splendor" features 200 stunning photos of the Beehive State. It is Dennis Linnehan's 8th photography book and displays inspiring images of Utah national parks, Utah state parks, views of majestic mountains and dramatic waterfall scenery near Provo and Salt Lake City and extraordinary wilderness in mesmerizing light.

Linnehan has photographed Utah for over 20 years usually near sunrise or sunset. His photos also include scenes of Mount Nebo and Mirror Lake Scenic Byway in early fall with a touch of snow. Near Salt Lake City Dennis has photographed the Red Butte Garden formal gardens in their breathtaking beauty.

From iconic rock formations, fins, pinnacles, crimson-colored hoodoos, canyons, domes, natural sandstone arches, and rivers flowing through steep red cliffs. "Utah Splendor" will transport the armchair traveler to this enchanting landscape through Dennis Linnehan's unique perspective.

Critique: This large format (9781591523284, 2.5 pounds) hardcover edition of Dennis Linnehan's "Utah Splendor" from Sweetgrass Books is visually spectacular and of particular interest to amateurs and professional on the subject of Landscape Photography. Packed from cover to cover with beautifully rendered and captioned full color photographs, "Utah Splendor" is an ideal and solidly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Contemporary American Photography collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Dennis William Linnehan, a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography, is an accomplished photographer and dedicated hiker. With 32 years of invaluable experience at Eastman Kodak Company, Dennis honed his photographic artistry, eventually becoming a prominent member of the Kodak Travel Club, where he presented four captivating travelogue shows. His passion for photography and the great outdoors converge in his 8th photography book, Utah Splendor, inviting readers to experience the stunning landscapes and remarkable vistas that have fueled his lifelong love for the art of photography.

The Biography Shelf

The Real Coco Chanel
Rose Sguelglia
White Owl
c/o Casemate Publishers
9781526761019, $34.95, HC, 184pp

Synopsis: Coco Chanel lived her own life as a romantic heroine. Fueled by 19th century literature, she built a life which was partly myth and partly factual. She was the fashion designer everyone admired. The business woman whose fortune was impossible to track. She was also a performer, lover of many high profile intellectuals and, as believed by many, a Nazi spy.

Her life was, extraordinarily, affected by history (the Nazi movement and World War II), symbolism and literature. "The Real Coco Chanel" by Rose Sgueglia is a compelling biography that explores her life from her troubled and poor past to the opening of her first hat shop, passions and secrets. "The Real Coco Chanel" draws parallelisms between myths and facts and how, and if ever, they match at all.

"The Real Coco Chanel" also features chapters on the Chanel Maison and the creation of her iconic trademark as well as her 'little black dress' and 'Chanel No 5'.

Finally, "The Real Coco Chanel" ends with a reflection on how the myth of Coco Chanel is represented today in pop culture.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and memorable read from start to finish, "The Real Coco Chanel" is exhaustively researched, exceptionally well written, and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and college/university library 20th Century Women's Biography collections. It should be noted that "The Real Coco Chanel" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781526799739, $24.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Rose Sgueglia ( is a writer and marketing consultant based in Cardiff, Englnd. She is founder and director of Miss Squiggles, a magazine, marketing agency and online shop. As part of her role at Miss Squiggles, she works with clients on their social media, digital marketing and PR strategies. Rose is also a freelance journalist. Her work has been published in different publications including GQ, La Repubblica, and Yahoo. She holds a BA in Journalism, Film and Media and a Post Graduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism from Cardiff University.

Nora Ephron: A Biography
Kristin Marguerite Doidge
Chicago Review Press
9781641603751, $30.00, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Nora Ephron: A Biography", Kristin Marguerite Doidge provides the first comprehensive portrait of the Manhattan-born girl who forged a path of her own, earning accolades and adoration from critics and fans alike.

Journalist, cultural critique, academician and biographer Kristin Marguerite Doidge explores the tremendous successes and disappointing failures Ephron sustained in her career as a popular essayist turned screenwriter turned film director. She redefined the modern rom-com genre with bestselling books such as Heartburn and hit movies including When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and Julie & Julia. Doidge also examines the private life Ephron tried to keep in balance with her insatiable ambition.

Based on rare archival research and numerous interviews with some of Ephron's closest friends, collaborators, and award-winning colleagues including actors Tom Hanks and Caroline Aaron, comedian Martin Short, composer George Fenton, and lifelong friends from Wellesley to New York to Hollywood (as well as interviews Ephron herself gave throughout her career) Doidge has written a captivating story of the life of a creative writer whose passion for the perfect one-liner and ferocious drive to succeed revolutionized journalism, comedy, and film.

Critique: Nora Ephron (May 19, 1941 - June 26, 2012) was one of the most popular, accomplished, and beloved writers in American journalism and film. "Nora Ephron: A Biography" by Kristin Marguerite Doidge is the first in-depth biography to explore the complex themes that ran through Ephron's literary work and to examine why so many of them still grab the attention of readers today. Enhanced for the reader's beneft with copious Notes, a Selected Bibliography, Book Club Questions, and an Index, "Nora Ephron: A Biography" is unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library 20th Century American Women's Biography collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers that "Nora Ephron: A Biography" from the Chicago Review Press is also available in a paperback edition (9781641609531, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49).

Editorial Note; Kristin Marguerite Doidge ( is an award-winning journalist, professor, and speaker based in Los Angeles. Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic, Marie Claire, FORTUNE, xoJane, Bustle, KCRW/NPR, Time Out Los Angeles, GOOD magazine,, GIRLBOSS, and the Los Angeles Business Journal. She earned multiple NAEJ Awards and Los Angeles/Southern California Press Club Award nominations. She has a master's degree in specialized journalism from the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism and teaches journalism and strategic public relations at Loyola Marymount University.

The General Fiction Shelf

Nothing Can Erase You
Michel Bussi, author
Sam Taylor, translator
Amazon Crossing
c/o Amazon Publishing
9781662509049, $16.99, PB, 463pp

Synopsis: Maddi Liberi is a successful doctor living an idyllic life in the South of France. On the morning of her son's tenth birthday, they walk to the beach together. The boy presses for a quick swim, but when the surf is too rough, she sends him off to buy a baguette instead.

He never returns.

Ten years later, Maddi stands at the spot where she last saw her son. A pilgrimage of sorts. And she can't believe her eyes. There, standing at the water's edge, is a young boy -- and he looks exactly like her son. Same face, same suit -- and even the same birthmark!

Rattled, Maddi becomes obsessed with the boy. She upends her life to get closer to him. And the more she learns about her son's doppelganger, the more unhinged she becomes. Dangerous secrets brought to light put people's lives at risk, and plot twists reveal truths you'll never see coming.

Critique: A riveting thriller of a read from start to finish, the reader should be aware that "Nothing Can Erase You" is a finely crafted novel by French novelist Michel Bussi and contains a few occurrences of upside-down text. Ably translated into English for an American readership by Sam Taylor, "Nothing Can Erase You" is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and college/university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nothing Can Erase You" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note #1: With over thirteen million copies of his books sold in France, Michel Bussi is one of the most successful French authors of all time. Known as "the master of the plot twist," he has published seventeen suspense novels with Presses de la Cite. Three of his books have already been adapted for French TV. (

Editorial Note #2: Sam Taylor is a British novelist and literary translator. He is the 2017 Fiction Winner of the French-American and Foundation Florence Gould Translation Prize for his translation of The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal.

The Education of Aubrey McKee
Alex Pugsley
9781771965835, $18.95, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: The scene is Toronto, early 1990s, and at a house party the young writer Aubrey McKee falls in love with a bewitching stranger who talks him into stealing a piece of cake. This woman (a poet named Gudrun Peel) rapidly becomes the person for whom he would do anything at all.

Together, Aubrey and Gudrun make a life of delirious idiosyncrasy. Surrounded by friends, frenemies, lovers, and rivals in the underground arts scene, the possibilities of their destiny remain radically open. But as their relationship deepens, and their creative and professional lives stumble, stall, and then suddenly blow up, Aubrey and Gudrun struggle against their own inexperience -- as well as each other.

The much-anticipated sequel to Canadian author's Alex Pugsley's first novel, "Aubrey McKee", this edition of "The Education of Aubrey McKee" from Biblioasis is a campus novel in which the city of Toronto is the institute of higher education and the setting for a glittering story about the incandescence of first love.

Critique: A fun and fascinating read from start to finish, "The Education of Aubrey McKee" continues to showcase author Alex Pugsley's genuine flair for original, distinctive, and narrative driven storytelling style. While of particular interest to fans of 'city life' fiction laced through and through with humor and acute observation, "The Education of Aubrey McKee" is unreservedly recommended for community and college/university Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Education of Aubrey McKee" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49).

Editorial Note: Alex Pugsley (" is the author of the novels "Aubrey McKee" and "The Education of Aubrey McKee", as well as the short story collection "Shimmer". Following the publication of "Aubrey McKee", he was named one of CBC's Writers to Watch. He has been nominated for Canadian Comedy Awards, Gemini Awards, Hot Doc Awards, National Magazine Awards, and is a winner of the Writers' Trust Journey Prize. His feature film Dirty Singles is available on Apple TV and Prime Video. His next novel, "Silver Lake", is the third book in a series about Aubrey McKee, and is forthcoming from Biblioasis.

The Lies Among Us
Sarah Beth Durst
Lake Union Publishing
9781662514722, $16.99, PB, 333pp

Synopsis: After her mother dies, Hannah doesn't know how to exist without her. Literally. In fact, Hannah's not even certain that she does exist. No one seems to see or hear her, and she finds herself utterly alone. Grief-stricken and confused, her sense of self slowly slipping away, Hannah sets out to find new purpose in life -- as well as answers about who (and what) she really is.

Hannah's only remaining family is her older sister, Leah. Yet even Leah doesn't seem to notice her. And while Hannah can see and hear her sister, she also sees beautiful and terrible things that don't (or shouldn't) exist. She learns there's much more to this world than meets the eye and struggles to make sense of it all.

When Hannah sees Leah taking the same dangerous path that consumed their own mother (where lies supplant reality) she's desperate to get through to her. But facing difficult truths is harder than it looks.

Critique: An extraordinary and deftly scripted novel by an obviously talented author, "The Lies Among Us" by Sarah Beth Durst is impressively original and will hold a very special appeal to readers with an interest in stories about family, friendship, and the psychological impact of domestic trauma. While very highly recommended for community library Women's Domestic/Family Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Lies Among Us" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Sarah Beth Durst ( is the author of over twenty books for adults, teens, and kids, including "The Bone Maker", "Drink Slay Love", and "Spark". She won an American Library Association Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for SFWA's Andre Norton Nebula Award three times.

The North Line
Matt Riordan
Hyperion Avenue
c/o Buena Vista Books
9781368100076, $27.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Everyone believes Adam to be something he's not. Sometimes that's because he's told them a story. Sometimes he's told himself one. But when Adam joins an Alaskan fishing crew that's promising quick money, the dangerous work and harsh lifestyle strip away all fabrications and force a dark-hearted exploration of who he really is.

On the unforgiving Bering Sea, Adam finds the adventure and authenticity of a fisherman's life revelatory. The labor required to seize bounty from the ocean invigorates him, and the often crude comradery accompanies a welcome, hard-earned wisdom. But when a strike threatens the entire season and violence stalks the waves, Adam is thrust into a struggle for survival at the edge of the world, where evolutionary and social forces collide for outcomes beyond anyone's control.

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "The North Line" is author Matt Riordan's debut as a novelist, his genuine flair for the kind of distinctive and narrative driven storytelling style makes for a fun and thoughtfully reflective read from start to finish. Original, exceptional, and a truly compulsive page turner of a novel, "The North Line" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library contemporary psychological suspense thrillers. It should be noted that "The North Line" is also readily available from Hyperion Adventure in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Matt Riordan ( grew up in Michigan but spent his early twenties working on commercial fishing boats in Alaska. After college, Matt drifted from commercial fishing through a variety of jobs before landing in law school. He then became a litigator in New York City, where he practiced for twenty years. He now lives with his family in Australia.

Christa Comes Out of Her Shell
Abbi Waxman
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin/Random House
9780593198780, $18.00, PB, 400pp

Synopsis: After a tumultuous childhood, Christa Barnet has hidden away, both figuratively and literally. Happily studying sea snails in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Christa finds her tranquil existence thrown into chaos when her once-famous father (long thought dead after a plane crash) turns out to be alive, well, and ready to make amends.

The world goes wild, fascinated by this real-life saga, pinning Christa and her family under the spotlight. As if that weren't enough, her reunion with an old childhood friend reveals an intense physical attraction neither was expecting and both want to act on... if they can just keep a lid on it.

When her father's story starts to develop cracks, Christa fears she will lose herself, her potential relationship, and (most importantly) any chance of making it back to her snails before they forget her completely.

Critique: "Christa Comes Out of Her Shell" continues to demonstrate author Abbi Waxman as a master storyteller with a genuine flair for originality, complex characters, unexpected plot twists, and providing her readers with the kind of fun read that would especially appeal to readers with an interest in contemporary women's fiction. A prime and recommended pick for community library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of Abbi Waxman fans that "Christa Comes Out of Her Shell" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Abbi Waxman ( was born in England in 1970, the oldest child of two copywriters who never should have been together in the first place. Once her father ran off to buy cigarettes and never came back, her mother began a successful career writing crime fiction. Naturally lazy and disinclined to dress up, Abbi went into advertising, working as a copywriter and then a creative director at various advertising agencies in London and New York. Eventually she quit advertising, had three kids and started writing books, mostly in order to get a moment's peace.

A Better World
Sarah Langan
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
Blackstone Audiobooks
9781982191061, $28.99, HC, 368pp

Synopsis: You'll be safe here. That's what the tour guide tells the Farmer-Bowens when they visit Plymouth Valley, a walled-off company town with clean air, pantries that never go empty, and blue-ribbon schools. On a very trial basis, the company offers to hire Linda Farmer's husband, Russell (a numbers genius) and relocate her whole family to this bucolic paradise for the .0001 percent.

Though Linda will have to sacrifice her medical career back home, the family jumps at the opportunity. They'd be crazy not to take it. With the outside world falling apart, this might be the Farmer-Bowens' last chance.

But fitting in takes work. The pampered locals distrust outsiders, snubbing Linda, Russell, and their teen twins. And the residents fervently adhere to a group of customs and beliefs called Hollow...but what exactly is Hollow?

It's Linda who brokers acceptance, by volunteering her medical skills to the most influential people in town through their pet charity, ActHollow. In the months afterward, everything seems fine. Sure, Russell starts hyperventilating through a paper bag in the middle of the night, and the kids have become secretive, but living in Plymouth Valley is worth sacrificing their family's closeness, isn't it? At least they'll survive.

The trouble is, the locals never say what they think. They seem scared. And Hollow's ominous culminating event, the Plymouth Valley Winter Festival, is coming.

Linda is warned by her husband and her powerful new friends to stop asking questions. But the more she learns, the more frightened she becomes. Should the Farmer-Bowens be fighting to stay, or fighting to get out?

Critique: Original, timely, and a clarion call for what the very near future could bring giving the expanding divide between the ultra wealthy and the other 99% -- "A Better World" by novelist Sarah Langan is a piercing indictment and keenly felt analysis of the looming dangers representing by wealth inequality, power inequality, and inequality privilege timely in its depiction of a self-destructing world -- and a clarion call prescient warning to us all. A prophetic novel in the ranks of prophetic literary works as George Orwell's "1984"). A riveting and thought-provoking read from start to finish, "A Better World" is highly recommended for community and college/university Contemporary Literary Fiction collection. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Better World" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781797176512, $44.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Sarah Langan ( grew up on Long Island and now lives in Los Angeles with her family. She got her MFA from Columbia University, and her MS in Environmental Toxicology from NYU. She writes genre, literary, and everything in between.

The LGBTQ Fiction Shelf

Here We Go Again
Alison Cochrun
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
Blackstone Audiobooks
9781668021194, $17.99, PB, 368pp

Synopsis: A long time ago, Logan Maletis and Rosemary Hale used to be friends. They spent their childhood summers running through the woods, rebelling against their conservative small town, and dreaming of escaping. But then an incident the summer before high school turned them into bitter rivals. After graduation, they went ten years without speaking.

Now in their thirties, Logan and Rosemary find they aren't quite living the lives of adventure they imagined for themselves. Still in their small town and working as teachers at their alma mater, they're both stuck in old patterns. Uptight Rosemary chooses security and stability over all else, working constantly, and her most stable relationship is with her label maker. Chaotic and impulsive Logan has a long list of misguided ex-lovers and an apathetic shrug she uses to protect herself from anything real. And as hard as they try to avoid each other (and their complicated past) they keep crashing into each other. Including with their cars.

But when their beloved former English teacher and lifelong mentor tells them he has only a few months to live, they're forced together once and for all to fulfill his last wish: a cross-country road trip. Stuffed into the gayest van west of the Mississippi, the three embark on a life-changing summer trip from Washington state to the Grand Canyon, from the Gulf Coast to coastal Maine. A trip that will chart a new future and perhaps lead them back to one another.

Critique: An LGBTQ+ contemporary romance novel that is laced through and through with smile inducing humor, "Here We Go Again" by author Alison Cochrun is a fun read from start to finish. Original, deftly crafted, and memorable, "Here We Go Again" is an especially recommended pick for personal reading lists and community library collections. It should be noted that "Here We Go Again" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781797170763, $39.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Alison Cochrun ( is a former high school English teacher and a current writer of queer love stories, including The Charm Offensive and Kiss Her Once for Me. She lives outside of Portland, Oregon, with two giant dogs, her small wife, and too many books. You can find her online on Instagram as @AlisonCochrun

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

One Last Word
Suzanne Park
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780063216099, $18.99, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: Sara Chae is the founder of One Last Word, an app that allows you to send a message to anyone you want after you die. Safeguards are in place so the app will only send when you're definitely, absolutely, 100% dead, but when another woman with the name Sara Chae dies and her obituary is posted online, Sara discovers that drafted messages she had drunkenly uploaded on one night have been released -- one each to her emotionally charged mother, to her former best friend who ghosted her, and to her unrequited high school crush, Harry Shim.

Still reeling from this disaster, Sara finds out she's been accepted into a venture capital mentorship program -- and that the mentor she's been assigned to is none other than Harry, who's now a major VC superstar. With her life going from uncertain to chaotic overnight, Sara has to deal with the havoc that ensues and reopen wounds from the past to find a true path forward.

Critique: An original and a fun read from start to finish, "One Last Word" is romantic comedy at its best and reveals author Suzanne Park as having a genuine flair for the genre with her distinctive storytelling style, wit and humor. While an especially appreciated pick for community library Contemporary Romantic Comedy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "One Last Word" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212902021, $45.95, CD).

Editorial Note: Suzanne Park is a Korean American writer who was born and raised in Tennessee. In her former life as a stand-up comedian, she appeared on BET, was the winner of the Seattle Sierra Mist Comedy Competition, and placed as a semi-finalist in NBC's "Stand Up For Diversity" showcase in San Francisco. She currently resides in Los Angeles.

If the Boot Fits
Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House Publishers
c/o Baker Publishing Group
9780764242892, $29.99, HC, 368pp

Synopsis: Convinced that his stepmother and half brothers have been wrongfully evicted by cattle king Eli Dearing, Asher Ellis uses the cover of an extravagant ball to break into the Three Cedars' ranch house to search for proof. On the verge of discovery, he flees, but a boy's cry compels him to make a daring rescue.

Spunky and independent Samantha Dearing balks when she learns the ball her father is hosting is nothing more than a matrimonial ambush. Taking a break from unwanted suitors, Samantha spots a thief fleeing her home. When the stranger ends up saving her brother's life, she hides the only clue to his identity left behind (his boot) and resolves to find him herself.

When Samantha encounters the older brother of a student she tutors, all thoughts of the bootless mystery man vanish. Asher values family above wealth, a rare trait that opens her heart. Afraid she will discover his past misconduct, Asher tries to keep his distance, but when a series of suspicious accidents befall her, he vows to protect her, even though saving her life could mean losing her love.

Critique: An utterly charming and fun read from start to finish, "If The Boot Fits" continues to showcase author Karen Witemeyer's genuine flair for deftly crafted and original historical romance novels. Memorable characters, an engaging storyline, and a distinctive, narrative driven storytelling style, "If The Boot Fits" is a welcome and recommended pick for community library Historical Romance collections. It should be noted for the growing legions of Karen Witemeyer fans that "If The Boot Fits" is also available in a paperback edition (9780764240423, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Karen Witemeyer ( writes warmhearted historical romance novels with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Voted #1 Readers' Favorite Christian Historical Author in 2023 by Family Fiction Magazine, Karen is a multiple award-winning author and a firm believer in the power of happy endings.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Lost Birds
Anne Hillerman
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780063344785, $30.00, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Joe Leaphorn may be long retired from the Navajo Tribal Police, but his detective skills are still sharp, honed by his work as a private detective. His experience will be essential to solve a compelling new case: finding the birth parents of a woman who was raised by a bilagaana family but believes she is Dine based on one solid clue, an old photograph with a classic Navajo child's blanket. Leaphorn discovers that his client's adoption was questionable, and her adoptive family not what they seem. His quest for answers takes him to an old trading post and leads him to a deadly cache of long-buried family secrets.

As that case grows more complicated, Leaphorn receives an unexpected call from a person he met decades earlier. Cecil Bowleg's desperation is clear in his voice, but just as he begins to explain, the call is cut off by an explosion and Cecil disappears. True to his nature, Leaphorn is determined to find the truth even as the situation grows dangerous. Investigation of the explosion falls in part to Officer Bernadette Manuelito, who discovers an unexpected link to Cecil's missing wife.

Bernie also is involved in a troubling investigation of her own: an elderly weaver whose prize-winning sheep have been ruthlessly killed by feral dogs.

Exploring the emotionally complex issues of adoption of Indigenous children by non-native parents, Anne Hillerman delivers another thought-provoking, gripping mystery that brings to life the vivid terrain of the American Southwest, its people, and the lore and traditions that make it distinct.

Critique: An absolutely recommended read for the growing legions of Anne Hillerman fans, "Lost Birds" is the latest Joe Leaphorn mystery novel and certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. A fun read for dedicated 'whodunnit' murder mysteries from start to finish, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lost Birds" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99). Of particular interest to fans of police procedurals with a Native American twist, librarians should also note that there is a large print paperback edition of "Lost Birds" (9780063360433, $34.00) as well.

Editorial Note: Ann Hillerman ( is the author of the Leaphorn, Chee & Manuelito series. "Lost Birds" is her ninth novel in the series, which was created by her father, Tony Hillerman.

Death in the Details
Katie Tietjen
Crooked Lane Books
Blackstone Audiobooks
9781639107186, $29.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: Maple Bishop is ready to put WWII and the grief of losing her husband, Bill, behind her. But when she discovers that Bill left her penniless, Maple realizes she could lose her Vermont home next and sets out to make money the only way she knows how: by selling her intricately crafted dollhouses. Business is off to a good start -- until Maple discovers her first customer dead, his body hanging precariously in his own barn.

Something about the supposed suicide rubs Maple the wrong way, but local authorities brush off her concerns. Determined to help them see "what's big in what's small," Maple turns to what she knows best, painstakingly recreating the gruesome scene in miniature: death in a nutshell.

With the help of a rookie officer named Kenny, Maple uses her macabre miniature to dig into the dark undercurrents of her sleepy town, where everyone seems to have a secret -- and a grudge. But when her nosy neighbor goes missing and she herself becomes a suspect, it'll be up to Maple to find the devil in the details -- and put him behind bars.

Critique: Drawing inspiration from true crime and offering her readers a smartly plotted puzzle of a mystery to be solved by an amateur female sleuth cozy mystery style, -- and all the more impressive when considering that "Death in the Details" is author Katie Tietjen's debut novel (which was inspired by the real-life mother of forensic science, Frances Glessner Lee), "Death in the Details" is a deftly crafted and thoroughly entertaining read for the dedicated mystery buff from start to finish. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798874769277, $45.95, CD), "Death n the Details" is a prized pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Katie Tietjen ( is an award-winning writer, teacher, and school librarian. A dedicated Frances Glessner Lee enthusiast, she has traveled thousands of miles to visit her homes, see her nutshells, and even attend her birthday party. Katie lives in New England with her husband and two sons.

The Mayfair Dagger
Ava January
Crooked Lane Books
9781639107513, $29.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: London, 1894. Albertine Honeycombe never wanted a husband and certainly not the one with fifteen children that her cousin, Aubrey, is trying to marry her off to. She reinvents herself as Countess Von Dagga, a private detective aiding the upper echelons of women in society. As the Countess, she is a married woman, with a conveniently absent husband who doesn't exist, which allows her far more freedom than being single.

When Lord Grendel, from whom she has recovered blackmail letters, is murdered, Albertine is suspect number one -- having been the last person to see him. And when the Duke of Erleigh comes looking for her utterly fictitious husband, she realizes she has landed herself in hot water, without a tea bag. When Albertine also becomes the prime suspect in her fictional husband's death, things are looking grim.

Critique: A fun and compelling read from start to finish, novelist Ava January's "The Mayfair Dagger" clearly confirms the author's full mastery of the cozy mystery genre. An historical mystery set in a yesteryear England and featuring a memorably crafted amateur female sleuth suddenly thrust into having to defend herself from a murder charge by finding out 'whodunnit' amid a wealth of unexpected plot twists and turns, "The Mayfair Dagger" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for dedicated cozy mystery fans that "The Mayfair Dagger" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Ava January ( is an historical writer with a passion for mystery, and when she's not found soaking up the Queensland sun with her two young sons, she can be found eavesdropping on conversations in cafes and making up entire backstories (and murderous intents) for unsuspecting bystanders. When she grows up, she'd like to be Miss Marple.

The Last Word
Taylor Adams
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780063222892, $30.00, HC, 252pp

Synopsis: Emma Carpenter lives in isolation with her golden retriever Laika, house-sitting an old beachfront home on the rainy Washington coast. Her only human contact is her enigmatic old neighbor, Deek, and (via text) the house's owner, Jules.

One day, she reads a poorly written (but gruesome) horror novel by the author H. G. Kane, and posts a one-star review that drags her into an online argument with none other than the author himself. Soon after, disturbing incidents start to occur at night. To Emma, this can't just be a coincidence. It was strange enough for this author to bicker with her online about a lousy review; could he be stalking her, too?

As Emma digs into Kane's life and work, she learns he has published sixteen other novels, all similarly sadistic tales of stalking and murder. But who is he? How did he find her? And what else is he capable of?

Critique: A master of the psychological suspense/thriller genre, and with the publication of "The Last Word" novelist Taylor Adams continues to showcase his genuine flair for the kind of narrative driven, starkly atmospheric, and truly memorable plot twists and turns. Also available in a paperback (9781399717977, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99), "The Last Word" will prove to be of particular interest to fans of deftly crafted mysteries and a popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Taylor Adams ( is the author of several acclaimed thrillers including Hairpin Bridge and No Exit. No Exit has been published in 32 languages and was recently released as a Hulu Original film.

Hot Stage
Anita Nair
Bitter Lemon Press
9781913394967, $17.95, PB, 416pp

Synopsis: When elderly Professor Mudgood, a well-known rationalist and fervent critic of right-wing forces in India, is found dead in his home in Bangalore by his daughter, Assistant Commissioner of Police Borei Gowda is quite certain that this is a homicide.

Although all evidence points to the murder being politically motivated, the more Gowda delves into the case, the more convinced he is that it isn't an assassination. As he and his team launch a parallel investigation, they stumble upon a secret and murky world where there are no rules or mercy.

When Gowda's hand is forced, he takes a calculated risk and infiltrates the sinister domain to bring the truth out into the open... Will he succeed? And at what price?

Critique: "Hot Stage" is the third book in novelist Anita Nair's 'The Inspector Gowda Mystery Series and is 'vivid with detail and taut with suspense'. With the author's distinctive use of a narrative driven style of storytelling, "Hot Stage" will have a particular interest to fans of police procedural crime novels, international mystery novels, and contemporary novels set in the culture and milieu of India. While unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hot Stage" is also available from Bitter Lemon Press in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Anita Nair is one of India's most acclaimed authors. Her oeuvre ranges from literary fiction to noir to children's literature. Her books have been translated into thirty-two languages around the world. Anita is the recipient of several prizes and honours, including the Indian National Film Award in 2013 and the Central Sahitya Akademi award. Her novel Ladies Coupe, first published in the US ten years ago, is a feminist classic. The other two novels in the Inspector Gowda series are Cut-Like Wound and Chain of Custody.

Bone Whispers
Rosalind Brackenbury
Coffeetown Press
c/o Camel Press
9781684921454, $16.95, PB, 228pp

Synopsis: Nessa, a woman who is now in her seventies, is back in England from the US to take care of her inherited house on the coast of Dorset. She arrives to hear news of human bones (a woman's bones) has been dug up on the beach after exposure from a cliff fall.

As she walks the paths of her childhood again, memories begin to return. Whose bones are these? Why does she have the growing feeling that they are connected with her? How does the present echo the past? What place do guilt and recrimination take in her present life-and who, apart from her childhood love, Ted, can help her find the truth of what really happened?

Critique: A carefully crafted mystery that will hold a very special appeal to readers with an interest in stories that feature an amateur female sleuth working their way through a wealth of unexpected plot twists and turns, "Bone Whispers" by Rosalind Brackenbury is a an original and read from start to finish. While an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all cozy mystery fans that "Bone Whispers" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.49) as well.

Editorial Note: Rosalind Brackenbury ( has been writing all her life and has published novels and collections of poetry, as well as award-winning short stories. She was Creative Writing Fellow at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg VA, in 2006 and 2012. In Key West she has run yearly poetry and prose workshops at The Studios of Key West and she has been featured both as panelist and moderator at the Key West Literary Seminar. She was Key West's second Poet Laureate in 2014-15.

The Father She Went to Find
Carter Wilson
Poisoned Pen Press
c/o Sourcebooks Inc.
Blackstone Audiobooks
9781728293479, $16.99, PB, 448pp

Synopsis: Penny has never met anyone smarter than her. That's par for the course when you're a savant -- one of less than one hundred in the world. But despite her photographic memory and super-powered intellect, there's one mystery Penny's never been able to solve: why did her father leave when she was in a coma at age seven, and where is he now?

On Penny's twenty-first birthday, she receives a card in the mail from him, just as she has every year since he left. But this birthday card is different. For the first time ever, there's a return address. And a goodbye.

Penny doesn't know the world beyond her mother's house and the special school she's attended since her unusual abilities revealed themselves, but the mystery of her father's disappearance becomes her new obsession. For the first time ever she decides to leave home, to break free of everything that has kept her safe, and use her gifts to answer the questions that have always eluded her.

What Penny doesn't realize is she might not be able to outsmart a world far more complicated and dangerous than she'd ever imagined!

Critique: A proven master of the psychological suspense/thriller genre, Carter Wilson's latest novel, "The Father She Went To Find" is another compulsively riveting, impressively original, and deftly crafted story from start to finish. While unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, "The Father She Went To Find" is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798874747336, $45.95, CD).

Editorial Note: Carter Wilson ( has written nine critically acclaimed, standalone psychological thrillers, as well as numerous short stories. He is an ITW Thriller Award finalist, a five-time winner of the Colorado Book Award, and his works have been optioned for television and film. Additionally, he is the host of the Making It Up podcast and founder of the Unbound Writer company, which provides coaching services, writing retreats, and online classes.

Moscow Exile
John Lawton
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
9780802158031, $18.00, PB, 448pp

Synopsis: In his latest novel, "Moscow Exile", author John Lawton departs from his usual stomping grounds of England and Germany to jump across the Atlantic to Washington, D.C., in the fragile postwar period where the Red Scare is growing noisier every day.

Charlotte is a British expatriate who has recently settled in the nation's capital with her second husband, a man who looks intriguingly like Clark Gable, but her enviable dinner parties and soirees aren't the only things she is planning. Meanwhile, Charlie Leigh-Hunt has been posted to Washington as a replacement for Guy Burgess, last seen disappearing around the corner and into the Soviet Union. Charlie is soon shocked to cross paths with Charlotte, an old flame of his, who, thanks to all her gossipy parties, has a packed pocketbook full of secrets she is eager to share.

Two decades or so later, in 1969, Joe Wilderness is stuck on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, held captive by the KGB, a chip in a game way above his pay grade -- but his old friends Frank and Eddie are going to try to spring him out of the toughest prison in the world. All roads lead back to Berlin, and to the famous Bridge of Spies.

Critique: A master of the suspense/thriller/espionage genre, and featuring crackling dialogue, brilliantly plotted Cold War intrigue, and the return of beloved characters, including Inspector Troy, "Moscow Exile" by John Lawton is a is a fun read from start to finish. Populated by larger-than-life personalities in a Cold War plot that feels strangely in tune with our present day tensions between Russia and American, "Moscow Exile" will prove an enduringly popular pick for community library fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of the growing legions of John Lawton fans that "Moscow Exile" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: John Lawton ( has written previous novels starring Joe Wilderness (Then We Take Berlin, The Unfortunate Englishman, and Hammer to Fall), as well as eight Inspector Troy thrillers, one standalone novel, and a volume of history. His novels have been named Best Books of the Year by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times Book Review. He lives in England and Italy.

King of New York
Kathy Iandoli
Kingston Imperial
9781954220539, $29.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "King of New York: A New Mafia Tale" by novelist Kathy Iandoli, the reader will step into the shadowy corners of New York City, where the mafia's influence has long been a fixture in its storied underworld.

An electrifying mafia thriller that follows the story of Jimmy Martello, a man who is thrust into the highest ranks of organized crime after a series of family tragedies. As the new Don, Jimmy must master the complex art of mob leadership, from strategic killings to the murky alliances that hold his empire together.

Set in the ever-volatile landscape of New York City's crime network, Jimmy's journey weaves through the dark alliances and brutal betrayals that define the mafia world. Engage with notorious factions such as the Russian Mob, the Yakuza, the Cartel, and the Black Mafia Family. Each page crackles with action and strategic maneuvering as Jimmy seeks to claim his title and solidify his power.

"The King of New York" is the ultimate mafia narrative, blending high-stakes drama with a deep dive into the criminal underworld. It's a must-read for fans of mob lore, true crime enthusiasts, and lovers of action-packed narratives.

In the pages of "King of New York", you will discover a world where the title of Don is synonymous with power and fear, and where becoming the King of New York is the most coveted, and dangerous, achievement.

Critique: Fully on par with Mario Puzo's "The Godfather Perfect" and Mark Seal's "Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli", readers who enjoy mafia thrillers, organized crime dramas, crime boss biographies, underworld non-fiction, mob warfare, crime syndicate histories, tales of organized crime power struggles in general, and New York City crime sagas in particular, "King of New York: A New Mafia Tale" is a simply terrific read from start to finish and the stuff of which block buster movies are made. While unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for community library Organized Crime/Mafia Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "King of New York: A New Mafia Tale" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Kathy Iandoli ( is a critically acclaimed journalist and author. Her first book, God Save The Queens: The Essential History of Women In Hip-Hop (2019, Dey Street Books / HarperCollins) was named an NPR Best Book Of the Year. She is also the author of the biography Baby Girl: Better Known As Aaliyah (2021, Atria Books / Simon & Schuster), as well as the co-author of rapper Lil' Kim's upcoming memoir The Queen Bee (2023, Hachette Books). Kathy has written about music and gender for two decades, with bylines in VIBE, The Source, XXL, Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Pitchfork, BUST, Teen Vogue, PAPER, Playboy, i-D, Cosmopolitan, Maxim, The Guardian, VICE, and many others. Kathy is Professor of Music Business at New York University, and has served as a pundit (television, radio, and panels) for discussions on hip-hop and gender.

Speculations in Sin
Jennifer Ashley
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin/Random House
9780593549919, $18.00, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: Kat Holloway is distressed to learn that Samuel Millburn, husband of the woman who looks after her daughter, has been accused of embezzling funds from the bank where he works as a clerk. The accusation is absurd, and Samuel's wife fears that her husband will not only lose his post but be imprisoned. Kat vows to uncover the truth.

When she discovers the bank is involved in shockingly murky business dealings, Kat realizes she's treading in dangerous waters. She turns to her confidante and handsome suitor, Daniel McAdam, for help. To exonerate Samuel, Kat and Daniel may have to expose the unseemly financial dealings of prominent aristocrats and government officials, and even those working to bring down the royal family. Kat will risk everything to protect the man who has sacrificed so much for her daughter, even if it means endangering herself and the friends she has come to love.

Critique: Historical cozy mystery at its very best, with the publication of her new novel, "Speculations in Sin" confirms Jennifer Ashley to be a master of the genre. A fun read from start to finish for the legions of cozy mystery fans,"Speculations in Sin" will prove to be a prized pick for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted that "Speculations in Sin" is also available in a Library Binding edition ($38.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Jennifer Ashley ( is also the author of the Below Stairs Mysteries, the Shifters Unbound paranormal romances, and the Mackenzies historical romances. She also writes under the pen name of Ashley Gardner (

Off the Air
Christina Estes
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
Dreamscape Media
9781250863850, $28.00, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Jolene Garcia is a local TV reporter in Phoenix, Arizona, splitting her time between covering general assignments (anything from a monsoon storm to a newborn giraffe at the zoo) and special projects. Stories that take more time to research and produce. Stories that Jolene wants to tell.

When word gets out about a death at a radio station, Jolene and other journalists swarm the scene, intent on reporting the facts first. The body is soon identified as Larry Lemmon, a controversial talk show host, who died under suspicious circumstances. Jolene conducted his final interview, giving her and her station an advantage. But not for long.

As the story heats up, so does the competition. Jolene is determined to solve this murder. It's an investigation that could make or break her career -- if it doesn't break her first.

Critique: Deftly combining a traditional detective murder mystery with the elements of cozy mystery in the form of an amateur female sleuth, "Off The Air" is a fun read from beginning to end. It is impressively clear how well author Christina Estes (a journalist/reporter) has drawn upon her life experiences to create and craft a fully entertaining and plausible work of fiction that quite realistic and plausible. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Off The Air" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9798874743116, $45.95, CD).

Editorial Note: Christina Estes ( is a journalist who has spent more than 20 years covering crime, public policy, and business in Phoenix, Arizona. Her reporting has been heard on National Public Radio (NPR) and appeared in the Arizona Republic, Arizona Business Gazette, and Phoenix Business Journal. Christina's career inspired Off the Air, which won the Tony Hillerman Prize for Best First Mystery Set in the Southwest.

What Cannot Be Said
C. S. Harris
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin/Random House
9780593639184, $28.00, HC, 368pp

Synopsis: July 1815: The Prince Regent's grandiose plans to celebrate Napoleon's recent defeat at Waterloo are thrown into turmoil when Lady McInnis and her daughter Emma are found brutally murdered in Richmond Park, their bodies posed in a chilling imitation of the stone effigies once found atop medieval tombs. Bow Street magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy immediately turns to his friend Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, for help with the investigation. For as Devlin discovers, Lovejoy's own wife and daughter were also murdered in Richmond Park, their bodies posed in the same bizarre postures. A traumatized ex-soldier was hanged for their killings. So is London now confronting a malicious copyist? Or did Lovejoy help send an innocent man to the gallows?

Aided by his wife, Hero, who knew Lady McInnis from her work with poor orphans, Devlin finds himself exploring a host of unsavory characters from a vicious chimney sweep to a smiling but decidedly lethal baby farmer. Also coming under increasing scrutiny is Sir Ivo McInnis himself, along with a wounded Waterloo veteran (who may or may not have been Laura McInnis's lover) and a charismatic young violinist who moonlights as a fencing master and may have formed a dangerous relationship with Emma. But when Sebastian's investigation turns toward man about townBasil Rhodes, he quickly draws the fury of the Palace, for Rhodes is well known as the Regent's favorite illegitimate son.

Then Lady McInnis's young niece and nephew are targeted by the killer, and two more women are discovered murdered and arranged in similar postures. With his own life increasingly in danger, Sebastian finds himself drawn inexorably toward a conclusion far darker and more horrific than anything he could have imagined.

Critique: An historical murder mystery by novelist C. S. Harris that rises to an impressive level of literary excellence, "What Cannot Be Said" is another in her Sebastian St. Cyr series. Original, deftly crafted, and a fun read for dedicated mystery buffs from start to finish, "What Cannot Be Said" will prove an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated historical mystery fans that "What Cannot Be Said" is also very readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: C. S. Harris ( is the author of more than twenty-five novels, including the Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries; as C. S. Graham, a thriller series coauthored by former intelligence officer Steven Harris; and seven award-winning historical romances written under the name Candice Proctor.

The Blood of Patriots and Traitors
James A. Scott
Oceanview Publishing
9781608095261, $27.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Former CIA Russia expert Max Geller is recovering from an intense mission while lying low in Australia, enjoying his sudden wealth in the company of his new girlfriend. But his beachy bliss is short-lived when Max, while relaxing by the ocean, is ambushed by the CIA.

He soon learns that his girlfriend, Vanessa, is being used as blackmail by his former CIA boss, Rodney, to convince Max to go to Moscow. His mission? Smuggle out a defector with knowledge of a secret Kremlin war plan. Max is wanted by the Russians, so the defector could be bait to lure him into the hands of his old enemy, FSB Colonel Zabluda. But it's either Max or Vanessa who must go, so Max takes the bait and heads off.

When Max is spotted in Moscow, Zabluda launches a manhunt, pursuing him and the defector across country lines. Max and the defector race to evade countless attacks and attempts at capture as they escape to the United States.

Will they make it in time? And what happens when the defector reveals crucial information that indicates U.S. democracy could be in peril? Max must figure out a way to avoid capture and halt imminent attacks -- before it's too late.

Critique: A deftly crafted international action/adventure spy thriller of a read from start to cliff-hanger finish, "The Blood of Patriots and Traitors" is the second novel in author James A. Scott's 'Max Geller Spy Thriller Series' and follows "The President's Dossier" -- which was named the 2020 Best Thriller/Adventure Novel by American Book Fest. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Espionage/Political suspense thriller collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Blood of Patriots and Traitors" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781608096053, $18.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49).

Editorial Note: James A. Scott ( is a former Army officer, a paratrooper, and combat veteran with Pentagon experience in oversight of Army intelligence operations. For twenty years, he lived in Europe and travelled to Russia, North Africa, and the Far East. His first novel, The Iran Contradictions, is an international historical thriller and was a finalist for the Foreword Book of the Year Award and USA Best Book Award.

The Sleuth of Blackfriars Lane
Michelle Griep
Barbour Publishing
Oasis Audio
9781636097947, $15.99, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: Wife. Mother. Homemaker. Detective. Kit Forge wears many hats, and if that's not enough, she's partnered with her father to open a new detective agency. It's hard to be all things to all people, but Kit never shies away from the impossible. Despite her hard work and good intentions, some things fall through the cracks. -- Namely, her husband.

But Jackson barely notices. He's too busy putting out his own fires. As the new chief inspector of a busy London station, he must salvage the disaster left behind by the former police chief -- an obstacle made all the harder when the superintendent breathes an ultimatum down his neck.

Against her father's advice, Kit takes on a case involving a missing child, one in which she and Jackson become a little too emotionally involved. . .and end up endangering their own little girl in the process.

Can Kit and Jackson learn that just because they can say yes doesn't mean they should?

Critique: A fun read from start to finish, "The Sleuth of Blackfriars Lane" by novelist Michelle Griep will be of special interest to fans of the cosy mystery genre. Original, deftly crafted, wonderfully entertaining, "The Sleuth of Blackfriars Lane" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Christian Historical Mystery/Romance collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Sleuth of Blackfriars Lane" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book ( Oasis Audio, 9781685924881, $37.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Michelle Griep ( is the Christy Award-winning author of historical romances: A Tale of Two Hearts, The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper's Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood's Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan.

The Poetry Shelf

Black Bell
Alison C. Rollins
Copper Canyon Press
9781556597008, $22.00, PB, 136pp

Synopsis: Inspired by the nineteenth century image of an enslaved woman wearing iron horns and bells, the poetry comprising Alison C. Rollins's "Black Bell" from Copper Canyon Press continues an exploration of cataloging individual experience and collective memory.

As Rollins sets out to resuscitate and embody the archive, we see a chorus of historical figures like Eliza Harris, Henry "Box" Brown, and Lear Green; readers can listen in as Phillis Wheatley takes a Turing test or venture through Dante's Inferno remixed with Wu-Tang Clan's 36 Chambers.

The poems of Alison Rollins travel across time and space, between the eighteenth century and futuristic fabulations, vibrating with fugitive frequencies, sounds of survival, and nerve-wracking notes tuned toward love and liberation.

Black Bell navigates what it means to be both invisible and spectacle, hidden and on display, allowing lyric language to become the material for fashioning wearable sculptures akin to Nick Cave's "soundsuits." Integrating performance art practices, metalwork, and sonic, Black Bell becomes multimedia meditation on freedom seeking, furthering the possibilities of both the page and the canvas of the poet's body.

Critique: Sweeping from the eighteenth century to futurist fabulations, "Black Bell" showcases the elegant, eloquent, deftly crafted, memorable poetry and clearly marks her as an accomplished and gifted wordsmith of the first order. Unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary American Poetry collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Black Bell" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.20).

Editorial Note: Alison C. Rollins ( is the author of "Library of Small Catastrophes", a 2020 Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award nominee. She is a recipient of fellowships with Cave Canem, Callaloo, the National Endowment for the Arts, and The Poetry Foundation, Rollins was awarded support from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and Brown University's Artist Grant. Her work has been published in American Poetry Review, Iowa Review, The New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere. She has held faculty and librarian appointments at institutions including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Colorado College, and Pacific Northwest College of Art.

A Muckleshoot Poetry Anthology
Susan Landgraf
Washington State University Press
9780874224283, $10.00, PB, 91pp

Synopsis: When Susan Landgraf received an Academy of American Poets' Laureate in 2020, her project proposal included teaching more than a dozen workshops on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation that would culminate in a Muckleshoot poetry book.

A journalist and poet, Landgraf sees writing as both opening oneself to vulnerability and to a feeling of empowerment. She believes that poetry can save lives, and worked to facilitate a teaching environment that welcomed each voice. Her exercises, prompts, and discussions sparked creativity and critical thinking, and invited young people and elders to reflect on their history, culture, and current lives in a meaningful way.

Ultimately, fifty-four poets (most from the Muckleshoot Tribal School) participated in the collection. Expressive and moving, their pieces are about searching and belonging. Loss and finding. The writers range from elementary school age to adult, but all share a common theme--a reaching back and a reaching forward--sometimes in the same poem. Their work highlights Muckleshoot history and culture, but also spotlights individual histories, lessons, and beliefs.

Muckleshoot is the Native name for the prairie on which the 6.128 square-mile reservation was established in 1857. Federally recognized as descendants of the Duwamish and Upper Puyallup people who inhabited Central Puget Sound thousands of years before non-Indian settlement, approximately 3,600 people live on the reservation, making the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe one of the largest Native American tribes in Washington State.

Critique: Eloquent, memorable, unique, "A Muckleshoot Poetry Anthology: At the Confluence of the Green and White Rivers" will be of immense interest to readers with an affinity for poetry in general, and Contemporary Native American poetry in particular. This unique compendium of free verse from Native American perspectives, experiences, and observations, is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Contemporary American Poetry collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Poet and journalist Susan Landgraf is the author of What We Bury Changes the Ground and The Inspired Poet, a book of writing exercises. Her newest title is Crossings. She has taught at Highline College and Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, as well as the Port Townsend Writers' Conference. She served as Poet Laureate of Auburn, Washington, from 2018 to 2020. (

The Art Shelf

Draw Like a Mangaka
Marcel Kuhn
Walter Foster Publishing
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760389126, $19.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: In "Draw Like a Mangaka", the creative force behind the wildly popular Draw like a Sir YouTube channel, Marcel Kuhn, compiles and presents the secrets he has honed over a decade of manga drawing, demystifying manga illustration for artists of all skill levels. Learn about the essential tools and materials, foundational drawing techniques, and the secrets of crafting expressive faces, well-proportioned bodies, and intricate hairstyles.

With every page, "Sir" (the author's manga avatar) injects humor and warmth into the learning process, offering insightful tips and encouragement that resonate with both beginners and seasoned artists. Whether you are sketching with pencil and paper or exploring digital drawing platforms, the guide provides step-by-step instructions that cater to various preferences. The book's approachable and engaging narrative transforms these complex concepts into achievable milestones.

In this fun, easy-to-follow guide, you'll find: Guidance for both traditional and digital drawing, catering to your artistic preferences; In-depth tutorials on crafting captivating faces, features, and expressions that convey emotion and depth; Detailed insights into understanding bodies, proportions, and anatomy, enhancing the realism of your characters; Step-by-step instructions for rendering hair and clothing, adding texture and personality to your creations; Guidance on dynamic poses and perspective, infusing your manga illustrations with movement and energy.

Critique: An ideal and effective introduction to drawing in the manga style, this large format (8.5 x 0.36 x 11 inches, 1.4 pounds) paperback edition of 'Draw Like a Mangaka: The Complete Beginner's Guide to Learning to Draw Manga" ranges from essential tools to dynamic poses, all while equipping the aspiring manga illustrator/artist with the skills needed to bring manga characters to life. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Draw Like a Mangaka" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, art school, and college/university library Art & Drawing Instruction collections and curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Constantly overtired, dependent on sweets, and permanently at his drawing table, that's Marcel "Draw like a Sir" Kuhn. Marcel shares his manga drawing expertise in entertaining and informative videos on YouTube @DrawlikeaSir. In addition to Draw Like a Mangaka, Marcel has illustrated and published eight books including the six-part manga series MYTH.

The New Silversmith
Nicole Ringgold
Quarry Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760385692, $35.00, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: Taking an innovative approach that challenges metalworking's conventional wisdom, with the publication of "The New Silversmith: Innovative, Sustainable Techniques for Creating Nature-Inspired Jewelry", jewelry making expert Nicole Ringgold reveals how to create intricate designs by fusing and carving metal scraps, and minimize the need for chemicals by using tools in visionary ways.

"The New Silversmith" covers; Essentials (An overview of safety rules, as well as metal, tools, and torch and how to use them); Projects (A variety of techniques, illustrated by stunning projects ranging from simple chain designs to a textured branch to a delicate dragonfly, provide inspiration as well as instruction); Access to online tutorials (QR codes throughout the book link to concise how-to videos).

With "The New Silversmith" aspiring jewelry makers will learn to create sumptuous earrings, pendants, bracelets, and rings in sterling silver that celebrate natural forms with an effective, revolutionary, zero-waste approach to jewelry making.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, this large format (8.75 x 0.65 x 10.75 inches) hardcover edition of "The New Silversmith: Innovative, Sustainable Techniques for Creating Nature-Inspired Jewelry" from Quarry Books is the ideal DIY instructional guide and DIY 'how to' manual that is thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation. A 'must' for the novice and with a great deal of value for even the more experienced jewelry maker, "The New Silversmith" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99) and is an extraordinary and recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Jewlry Crafting & Metal Working collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Nicole Ringgold ( is a silversmith living in Winthrop, Washington, located in the North Cascade mountains. Her art is inspired by her natural surroundings: plants she encounters while hiking through the mountains, the shapes of rocks she plucks from a river, a sound, glimpse, or smell. Her botanical jewelry is hand fabricated, starting with silver sheets and wire, with every piece sawed, soldered, filed, textured, formed, oxidized, and polished. Her intention is to recreate natural forms in silver with as much detail as possible, with the goal of making the metal appear alive. She teaches silversmithing workshops in her home studio and around the world. For more about Nicole's work, workshops, and tutorials, she can be followed on Instagram @ringgoldnicole

Kawaii Birdies
Jen Budrock
Rock Point
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9781577154310, $21.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Kawaii Birdies: Learn to Draw 80 Adorable Feathered Friends" you are welcomed to the world of kawaii in the format of a new drawing class instructional for Kawaii Birdies!

These birdies are so cute they can fit right in your palm. From their chubby bodies to the anatomy of their wings to the beautiful colors of their plumage, there is so much to learn and love about our fair-feathered friends. Thanks to artist and graphic designer Jen Budrock (an advocate and all-out bird nerd), "Kawaii Birdies" is a thoroughly 'art student'' guide will teaching you how to create little birds with big personalities on the page, and even give you some tips on how to go about bringing a real companion bird home.

In a two-spread Bird Order Directory, you will learn the order in which each specie included in this volume belongs in. With a wide variety of birds spanning the old world and the new world, as well as domestic and wild species, this is just the surface of the expansive world of birds. In true Birdhism style, this drawing class comes with a no holds barred on fun, as you will discover in the chapters Birdie Activities, Birdie Shenanigans, and Birdie Dress-Up. Learn to draw the cutest birds doing all types of silly activities, including: Cuddling, Stealing, Peekabooing, Pouting, Camping, Baking, Surfing, Battling -- and so much more!

There are fun and helpful tips for creating your own birds with this easy-to-follow drawing class that beginners will love and experts can expand their resumes with. Even after you have done all the tutorials, the back of "Kawaii Birdies" is loaded with unique Inspiration and Coloring pages so that you can continue creating kawaii birdies wherever you are.

More than your standard how-to drawing guide, Kawaii Birdies is guaranteed to turn you into a certified bird lover. Grab your favorite art utensil, and explore the world of birds in this art class today!

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Kawaii Birdies: Learn to Draw 80 Adorable Feathered Friends" will prove to be a highly prized and recommended pick for for personal DIY art instruction/how-to manual for novice and experienced artists alike with an interest in learning how to produce manga style images of bird themed art.

Editorial Note: Jen Budrock ( is a graphic designer, advocate, all-out bird nerd, and the creator of Birdhism. One day she hopes to open a bird sanctuary and rescue. She lives in Austin, Texas. She can be found on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @Birdhism

Inky Meditations
Inky Inky (author)
Walter Foster Publishing
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760388754, $22.99, PB, 128pp

Synopsis: With "Inky Meditations: Learn to Create Mindful Mesmerizing Paintings with Water and Ink" art students and seasoned artists alike will learn the unique ink-on-water technique that allows them to make beautiful paintings with just sumi ink, a paintbrush, watercolor paper, and water. From plants and flowers to birds and beasts, with "Inky Meditations" they can be successfully painting frame-worthy art in no time.

In 26 paintings, the reader will explore the art of brushstrokes as they watch the ink gracefully dance across the water's surface. With every movement, intricate patterns emerge, each stroke capturing a moment of artistic expression. "Inky Meditations" encourages the reader to go beyond technique and delve into a state of mindfulness with grounding exercises and breathwork that allow you to focus on their surroundings, be in the moment, and reduce stress.

Witness the ink spread, blossom, and transform and embrace the notion that there's no right or wrong in this art; there's only the journey of playful practice and mindful exploration. The captivating forms that emerge are a testament to the beauty of embracing artistic intuition and going with the flow. This technique is perfect for all levels, from beginner to advanced and requires no previous painting experience.

"Inky Meditations" includes: 26 step-by-step paintings, from leaves, flowers, and insects to birds, sea creatures, and more, including drawing templates; A grounding exercise and note on breathwork while painting to start each project; Detailed insights into brushstrokes, tips, and techniques, guiding you through the art of ink painting; QR codes to videos explaining the painting techniques and walking you through a number of paintings; Encouragement to embrace the practice of mindful intention and creative flow, creating organic and captivating compositions; Ideas for how to package and gift your finished paintings.

Critique: "Inky Meditations: Learn to Create Mindful Mesmerizing Paintings with Water and Ink" is an ideal means of unleashing your artistic creativity with this elegant and surprisingly easy technique. Now even he most novice of art students can learn to reduce stress and create enchanting, mindful paintings with this comprehensive and thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide and 'how-to' manual with respect to creating works of art with water and ink. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "Inky Meditations: Learn to Create Mindful Mesmerizing Paintings with Water and Ink" is a highly recommended and prized addition to personal, professional, community, art school, and college/university library Pen & Ink Art Instruction collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Inky ( shares hugely popular meditative painting videos with sumi ink and water. Begun in 2021 by an Australian experimental artist with a bachelor of fine arts degree in printmaking, Inky's work explores the spontaneous, organic, and imaginative movement of ink over water and the importance of uninhibited creativity. Inky Meditations offers a new video each week and now boasts hundreds of ink painting videos.

The Needlecraft Shelf

Embroidery Stitch Bible
Betty Barnden
Search Press Ltd.
9781782216025, $19.95, Flexibound, 256pp

Synopsis: Trends in embroidery styles come and go, but the basic stitches and techniques remain the same. "Embroidery Stitch Bible" from Search Press is a new and up-to-date edition of the immensely successful stitch bible by needlework designer and author Betty Barnden.

In this essential directory, hand sewers will have a collection of over 200 stitches at their fingertips - from basic chain worked into fabric through to Florentine work on a canvas. Each one is explained with written step-by-step instructions and how-to techniques to get you started, and are accompanied by clear artwork and a photo of the finished stitch.

Follow the diagrams and instructions in this beautifully illustrated and jam-packed instructional reference and guide to discover the wonderful variety of effects that can be created with just a needle and thread, and discover (or rediscover) the sensuous, tactile, wearable art of embroidery.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated throughout, this flexibound edition of Betty Barmdem's "Embroidery Stitch Bible" is an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Needlecraft instructional reference collections. Impressively 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, it should be noted that the Search Press edition of "Embroidery Stitch Bible" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.33)

Editorial Note: Betty Barnden is a freelance needlecraft designer who studied furniture design at the Royal College of Art (where she made her first tubular knitted chairs). Betty has designed knitting patterns for companies such as Sirdar, Patons, Jaeger and King Cole. Her knitwear, embroidery and crochet designs have appeared in many magazines over the years, and she has also designed embroidery projects and kits. Betty also regularly contributes to Sewing World magazine.

Amigurumi Friends
Jade Gauthier-Boutin
Quarry Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760385869, $24.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures. While the art of amigurumi has been known in Japan for several decades, the craft first started appealing to the masses in other countries, especially in the West, in 2003. By 2006, amigurumi were reported to be some of the most popular items on Etsy, an online craft marketplace, where they typically sold for $10 to $100. (Wikipedia)

There is nothing more satisfying for a needlecrater than creating something with your hands -- especially when it's your own design and it's cuddly and adorable. In "Amigurumi Friends: 20 Easy Patterns to Create 100+ Adorable Custom Crochet Critters", popular crochet designer Jade Gauthier-Boutin shares a variety of approaches to stitching, customizing, and designing your own crochet critters.

Jade first provides detailed patterns for five basic animal poses -- two standing, two sitting, and one lying down. You then choose your own crochet adventure by changing the muzzles, ears, tails, colors, and other details to create more than 100 adorable animals. With an overview of crochet techniques and amigurumi basics, even beginning crocheters will be able to stitch their chosen crochet animals.

This comprehensive DIY guide includes:

Clear instructions for the basic head and for five body shapes and poses
Twenty animal types with instructions for crocheting all five variations
Ideas for customizing the projects with different expressions, yarns, colors, and more
Inspiration and guidance to design your own amigurumi from scratch
QR codes linked to video tutorials to make creating amigurumi even easier

Whether you're new to crochet or amigurumi or looking for fresh ideas to make, gift, and even sell, "Amigurumi Friends" provides everything you need to know to stitch up your own marvelous menagerie of cuddly critters.

Critique: Fun and informative, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, this large format (8.5 x 0.36 x 11 inches, 1.5 pounds) paperback edition of "Amigurumi Friends: 20 Easy Patterns to Create 100+ Adorable Custom Crochet Critters - Explore Infinite Possibilities with Shapes, Colors, Details, and Yarns" from Quarry Books is specifically and enthusiastically recommended for personal, professional, and community library DIY crocheting instructional reference collections. It should be noted for novice and experienced needlecrafters alike that "Amigurumi Friends" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Jade Gauthier-Boutin ( is a crochet designer from Quebec, Canada. A self-taught crocheter, Jade loves to create easy-to-follow patterns for stitchers of all skill levels, which she sells through her hugely successful Etsy shop. She can be followed on: Instagram: @allfromjade; YouTube: @allfromjade; TikTok: @allfromjade; Facebook: All from Jade; and Etsy shop: AllFromJade

DIY Thrift Flip
April Yang
Quarry Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760383216, $24.99, PB, 152pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "DIY Thrift Flip: Sewing Techniques for Transforming Old Clothes into Fun, Wearable Fashions", expert thrift-flipper April Yang (aka Coolirpa), takes you through every phase of the process, including how to find the best clothes and fabrics and easy ways to alter and tailor shirts, dresses, pants, coats, and more.

"DIY Thrift Flip" covers: Getting Started (Essential materials and tools, setting up a workspace, organizing supplies, sewing machine basics, and a concise fabric primer); How to Shop for Alterable Clothes (Where to shop, what types of clothes to look for, what can and can't be fixed, and how to gauge size when you can't try something on); Altering Basics (How to use patterns to alter clothes or parts of garments, techniques for altering without using patterns, the basics of garment altering, adding sleeves, hems, and pockets, and how to custom-tailor an altered piece for a great fit); Projects (Beginner to intermediate-level projects inspire and guide you along your own thrift flips); and QR codes give you access to techniques, tutorials, and project details.

Also included in "DIY Thrift Flip" are basic sewing techniques, sewing and clothing terminology, clothing silhouettes, how to measure the body, and more. With "DIY Thrift Flip", you will learn how to build a wardrobe of original pieces that shows off your unique style and boosts your creativity in the process.

Critique: Of special and particular appeal to needlecrafters with an interest re-purposing, re-inventing, recycling all manner of old (and even worn out) clothing into new and attractive garments, "DIY Thrift Flip: Sewing Techniques for Transforming Old Clothes into Fun, Wearable Fashions" will prove to be an invaluable and budget conscious source of information, instruction, and inspiration. While highly recommended as an addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Sewing/Needlecrafting collections and supplemental Fashion Design curriculum lists, it should be noted for both novice and experienced seamstresses that this large format (9780760383216, 1.5 pounds) paperback edition of "DIY Thrift Flip" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: April Yang ( is a Southern California - based thrift flipper who has an associate's degree in fashion design from Palomar Community College and has built a substantial following on Instagram and YouTube, where she posts sewing tutorials and thrift flip process videos. Her flips include turning a thrift-store find into a chic maternity dress, a worn-out black dress into a chic evening dress with lace appliques, a blah gingham dress into a cute jumpsuit, and a graduation gown into a glamorous black cocktail dress. She started sewing in high school out of necessity, when she wanted to wear new clothes but couldn't afford them. As she began to post her clothing flips on YouTube under the name Coolirpa, she found a like-minded community who was inspired by her creativity, and her popularity on social media soon skyrocketed. She lives in San Diego, California. To see more of her work go to @coolirpaa on TikTok, and @coolirpa on YouTube and Instagram.

The Gardening Shelf

The Gardener's Guide to Native Plants of the Southern Great Lakes Region
Rich Gray & Shaun Booth, co-authors
Firefly Books Ltd.
9780228104605, $35.00, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: Gardening with native plants is perhaps the fastest-growing sector in the gardening world. More and more gardeners are discovering the pleasure and benefits of growing native plants, particularly for our dwindling pollinator and bird populations. Co-authored by gardening experts Rich Gray and Shaun Booth, "The Gardener's Guide to Native Plants of the Southern Great Lakes Region" is unique in that it distills all the information essential for growing 150 species of garden-worthy native plants into a single, at-a-glance guide.

For each profiled plant, this informative guide tells you:

What conditions the plant needs for soil type, moisture and light
How big the plant will get, when the plant will be in bloom and what color the flowers will be
How to propagate the plant
Which pests a plant may be susceptible to
Which USDA Plant Hardiness Zones it grows in
What the wildlife value of the plant is including if its a host for butterfly & moth caterpillars.

Of special note is The Species At Risk status of the plant in Ontario, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania

A detailed description of the plant along with photos of the flower, leaf and seed head or berry help you to easily identify each plant. Unique to gardening guide book is a detailed map of the native range of the plant within the southern Great Lakes region (including Ontario, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania) which will help to ensure success in the garden.

A thorough introductory section covering subjects like shade requirement, naming conventions, plant hardiness zones and more, as well as a common name index and handy tables for quick reference, round out this comprehensive volume.

Critique: An ideal introduction and DIY guide for novice and experienced gardners alike, this large format (7.5 x 1 x 10 inches, 2.79 pounds) profusely illustrated paperback edition of "The Gardener's Guide to Native Plants of the Southern Great Lakes Region" from Firefly Books is a core addition and recommended pick for personal, community, and college/university library Native Plant Gardening collections and will be the preferred reference on native plants for amateurs and professionals alike.

Editorial Note #1: Rick Gray is an avid gardener who over the years has created a fully native garden with over 300 species of native plants. His website features blogs, book reviews on native plant gardening books, and Plant of the Month articles. (

Editorial Note #2: Shaun Booth ( has a background in ecosystem management, runs an ecological garden design company and native plant nursery called In Our Nature. He uses his knowledge and experience to promote the benefits of native gardening through webinars, volunteering and his Ontario Native Plant Gardening Facebook group, which has over 22,000 followers.

The Antiques/Collectibles Shelf

Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2024-2025
Judith Miller
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Books
9781784729431, $49.99, HC, 600pp

Synopsis: "Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide" remains the essential and trusted guide to the antiques market. It has earned the reputation of being the book no dealer, collector or auctioneer should be without. Compiled by the late Judith Miller, world-renowned antiques expert and co-founder of the book, this new 2024-2025 edition guide features more than 8,000 antiques.

Comprehensive sections cover Ceramics, Asian Antiques, Furniture, Glass, Silver and Metalwares, Jewellery and objets de vertu, Clocks and Watches, Books, Textiles, Toys, Decorative Arts and Modern Classics. Special features explain why one piece is worth more than another, show how to value an item and teach you to be your own valuer. Biographies of designers and factories give the background information you need to help date and value objects, while special 'Judith Picks' sections give fascinating background and valuation details for particularly interesting or unusual objects.

Critique: Simply but accurately stated, "Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2024-2025" is the 'bible' of the antiquarian/collectibles market for dealers, appraisers, collectors, and investors. Profusely and effectively illustrated on every page, market price reliable, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, this large format (7.9 x 1.75 x 9.6 inches, 4.39 pounds) hardcover edition of "Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2024-2025" from Mitchell Beazley is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Antiques/Collectibles reference collections. It should be noted that "'s Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2024-2025" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $27.99).

Editorial Note: Judith Miller (16 September 1951 - 8 April 2023) was one of the world's leading antiques experts. She first began collecting in the 1960s while a student at Edinburgh University, and continued to extend and reinforce her knowledge of antiques through international research. In 1979 she co-founded the international best-seller Miller's Antiques Price Guide and went on to write more than 100 books which are held in high regard by collectors and dealers.

The Sports Shelf

The Story of Golf in Fifty Holes
Tony Dear
Firefly Books Ltd.
9780228103486, $19.95, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Story of Golf in Fifty Holes" author and golf enthusiast Tony Dear explores the 600-year history of the "game of honor" This profusely illustrated history of golf reveals the excitement and despair, the challenges overcome and the sweet victories, the sportsmanship and the stars bursting onto the scene. Also described are the developments in course design, like the first manmade water hazard, and the first central fairways bunkers.

A definitive history in 50 chapters, "The Story of Golf in Fifty Holes" informatively describes the holes, their contribution to golf course architecture, their importance to the careers of specific players, and their place in the overall story of golf.

Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader's benefit with: "Design and Layout" illustrations of the 50 holes; The year, course, location and map, distance and par for each hole; Color and archival photographs of the players and tournament events; and sidebars with additional stories of interest.

Also included: 5th North Berwick (the original Redan hole); 18th Glen Abbey (where Tiger Woods had what many call the greatest shot ever hit); 12th Atlantic Country Club (where the term "birdie" was first used); and the18th Royal Birkdale (home to "the concession")."

Critique: For players and fans alike, "The Story of Golf in Fifty Holes" is a phenomenal history and a 'must read' selection for anyone who has enjoyed the game of golf as recreation or as a profession. Simply stated, this paperback edition of Tony Dear's "The Story of Golf in Fifty Holes" from Firefly Books is a high prized pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Sports & Golf collections.

Editorial Note: Tony Dear, a former British PGA apprentice professional and member of the University of Liverpool golf team, is now an award-winning freelance golf writer. He contributes to numerous golf publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including Golf World, The Open Championship magazine and Links. He has also written for the Guardian, Dallas Morning News, San Diego Union-Tribune and National Post, and is a former golf correspondent of the New York Sun. (

The Graphic Novel Shelf

The Case of the Bleeding Wall
Kasey Lansdale, author
Joe R. Lansdale, author
Tom Serra, illustrator
Dead Sky Publishing
9781639511648, $14.99, PB, 112pp

Synopsis: Author/storyteller Joe R. Lansdale (Hap & Leonard, Bubba Ho Tep) and his daughter, author/country singer Kasey Lansdale (Creepshow, Impossible Monsters), join forces with award-winning artist Daniele Serra (Hellraiser, The Crow) and colorist Tom Napolitano (Batman/Spawn, We Have Demons) to bring you Dana and Jana -- the new dynamic duo of supernatural -- er, supernormal sleuthing with the publication of "The Case of the Bleeding Wall" from Dead Sky Publishing.

Dana Roberts, seasoned investigator of the supernormal, is called to Italy by an ex-lover to investigate a strange phenomenon -- the mystery of a bleeding wall. Due to an odd experience of her own, Jana Davis attends a book signing event focused on strange occurrences. The twosome meet, team up and together head to Italy in search of answers.

Are they dealing with a haunted house? A demon perhaps? Or a vengeful specter from the other side? Dana has battled angry jinns, malevolent shadows, ancient travelers, and soul-sucking shapeshifters, but in "The Case of the Bleeding Wall", she and her new sidekick, Jana, will face their most dangerous challenge yet.

Critique: This graphic novel edition of "The Case of the Bleeding Wall" is a compilation of the comic book issues 1-4 from Dead Sky Publishing. A compellingly scripted, aptly illustrated, and original story, "The Case of the Bleeding Wall" will have a special attraction for readers with an interest in mystery and horror themed graphic novels. Highly recommended for community and college/university library Graphic Novel collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Case of the Bleeding Wall" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note #1: Kasey Lansdale is the author of several short stories & novellas from Harper Collins, Titan Books, & others. Lansdale is also the editor of assorted anthology collections and her collaboration, THE COMPANION was adapted for the 2019 TV remake of Shudder TV' s, CREEPSHOW.

Editorial Note #2: Joe R. Lansdale is the author of more than fifty novels, including the popular, long-running Hap and Leonard series. Many of his cult classics have been adapted for television and film, most famously the films Bubba Ho-Tep and Cold in July and the Hap and Leonard series on Sundance TV and Netflix.

Editorial Note #3: Daniele Serra is an Italian illustrator. Three-time winner of the British Fantasy Award as Best Artist (2012, 2017 & 2021) and finalist at the World Fantasy Award 2021, his work includes covers, internal illustrations and comic adaptations for such highly esteemed authors as Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Lansdale and Joyce Carol Oates. His main influences and inspiration come from the world of weird and horror literature from H.P. Lovecraft and William H. Hodgson, Ridley Scott's films, Japanese horror and the works of Clive Barker.

The Music CD Shelf

I Can Be Two People at Once
Privately Published
$10.00 CD / $10.00 digital

Touching (a.k.a. Michael Falk) presents I Can Be Two People at Once, an original electronic jazz album, showcasing his gift for vocals, keyboards, guitars, and sound design. Created with contributions from an eclectic array of talented musicians providing vocals and performances on drums, saxophones, flute, guitar, drums, and more, I Can Be Two People at Once is an inspirational work that entices the listener to experience a creative journey. Highly recommended! (It should be noted that the songs "Feeling Swell", "Jitterbug", and "Harvest in the Time of Children" contain explicit language.) The tracks are It's So Hard to Change, Ocean of Smiles, Geoff's Twitter Account, Blue Shoes aka David Duchovny's Dirty Laundry, Feeling Swell, Cauldron, Rickshaw... and Gone, Jitterbug, Scattershot, Stand Inside, Oil + Water, and Harvest in the Time of Children.

Kari van der Kloot
TPR Records
$15.00 US CD / $10.00 CAD digital

Kari van der Kloot personally composed and sings the vocals for her third album Window, supported by Elsa Nilsson on flutes, Jamie Reynolds on piano and synthesizers, Gary Wang on bass, and Nathan Ellman-Bell on drums. A dulcet beautiful medley of contemporary jazz, embellished with elements from various other musical genres, Window is a multifaceted work of emotion, highly recommended for jazz connoisseurs. The tracks are Outside, Trust Exercise, Tiny Threads, Sprout, Tattoo, Cost, Snow Angels, In Between, Totem, and Keeping Quiet (words by Pablo Neruda).

Dan Loomis
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $15.00 digital

Revolutions is an original musical suite composed by Dan Loomis, featuring rousing lyrics celebrating the ideals of the Haitian Revolution and the South American liberation from Spain. Dan Loomis performs bass and vocals, with contributions from Taina Ligonde performing additional vocals, Owen Broder on clarinet, Sebastian Noelle and Jeff Miles on guitar, Rodrigo Reccabarren on drums, and Ches Smith on tanbou (a type of barrel drum from Haiti). Bold, powerful, and passionate, Revolutions is a memorable tribute to the people who put their lives on the line to free their nations, and highly recommended. The tracks are "...every revolution makes a new world...", "Americas Overture", "...a conversion of heat into light...", "Skies", "...the spark of liberty...", "Toussaint", "...simon's choice...", "Over the Andes", "...a ride through the night...", "The Road", "...a new mix of peoples ready to become itself...", "Centaur of the Plains", "...spring back from the roots...", "The Trunk of Liberty", "...where the light comes in...", "Ember", "...from slavery to the formation of a nation...", "Dessalines", "...the cost...", and "Hay Una Mujer".

Hodges: Front and Center, Vol. 2
Owen Broder
Outside In Music
$8.00 digital / $30.00 vinyl

Saxophonist Owen Broder presents Hodges: Front and Center, Vol. 2, a second tribute album to the great alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges. Additional selections from Hodges' songbook are brought to vibrant life through the performances of Owen Broder on saxophone, Riley Mulherkar on trumpet, Carmen Staal on piano, Barry Stephenson on bass, and Bryan Carter on drums. Jazz connoisseurs will thoroughly enjoy both Hodges: Front and Center, Vol. 2 and the first album Hodges: Front and Center as worthy celebrations of a legend. Highly recommended! The tracks are Used To Be Duke, Wabash Blues, Back Beat, Big Smack, St. Louis Blues, Shady Side, Stompy Jones, and The Star-Crossed Lovers.

Standards II
Noah Haidu, Buster Williams, and Billy Hart
$12.98 CD / $9.00 digital

Jazz pianist Noah Haidu, bassist Buster Williams, and drummer Billy Hart combine their talents in Standards II, a jazz performed with passion, expertise, and the joy of improvisational freedom. Standards II is a worthy follow-up to Haidu's 2023 album Standards, a treasure for jazz connoisseurs, and highly recommended. The tracks are Over The Rainbow, Someone to Watch Over Me, Up Jumped Spring, Obsesion, Days of Wine and Roses, After You've Gone, and I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good).

Chris Rottmayer
Shifting Paradigm Records
$13.98 CD / $9.49 MP3

Jazz pianist Chriss Rottmayer presents his fourth album Being, a set of his original compositions superbly performed along with Russ Johnson on trumpet and flugelhorn, Matt Endres on drum set, and Rufus Reid on acoustic bass. Rottmayer created five of the songs in the process of studying jazz pianist Mulgrew Miller; the other five songs are previously unrecorded originals written about the city of Paris. Being is vivacious, emotional, outgoing, and highly recommended especially for jazz piano connoisseurs! The tracks are On The Street Where Woody Lives, Re-United, Pigalle, Chatelet, Autumn Evening, Song of Modes, Ballerina Dance, La Seizieme, Pont Neuf, and Rue des Lombards.

The DVD Shelf

Destroy All Neighbors
1 h 25 min., 2024 (18+)
Rent HD $4.99, Buy HD 14.99

Synopsis: "Destroy All Neighbors is the bizarre story of struggling prog-rock musician William Brown who finds himself in a living nightmare when he accidentally kills Vlad, his neighbor from hell.

Critique: Shudder has an unbeatable collection of edge-of-your-seat programming, from Hollywood favorites and cult classics to critically-acclaimed new releases you won't find anywhere else. "Destroy All Neighbors" is just one of their new titles added weekly to their website and highly recommended fun viewing for mature audiences ages 18 and older. In addition to the movie itself, this DVD edition from Shudder also features exclusive behind the scenes clips, interviews with Alex Winter and Jonah Ray, as well as Cast Commentaries.

The Business Shelf

Cultural Intelligence for Marketers
Anastasia Karklina Gabriel
Kogan Page Inc.
9781398614055, $134.00, HC, 280pp

Synopsis: A brand today can build a marketing strategy that not only effectively resonates with audiences but also meaningfully impacts society at large. To be successful it is critically important to learn how to produce inclusive marketing using an approach grounded in critical perspectives on society and the impact brands wield in shaping it.

With the publication of "Cultural Intelligence for Marketers: Building an Inclusive Marketing Strategy", cultural theorist and strategist Anastasia Karklina Gabriel draws upon social analysis, media theory, and semiotics to help marketers improve cultural fluency and future-proof brand strategy by embedding equity and inclusion into every aspect of marketing.

"Cultural Intelligence for Marketers" also explains how to create an inclusive marketing strategy using an actionable approach that draws on advanced insights into culture, identity, representation, and the power of media in driving social change.

Furthermore, "Cultural Intelligence for Marketers" offers an in-depth dive into the urgent need for cultural competence in marketing using a framework rooted in 4Cs: Culture, communication, critical consciousness, and community. It delves into practical aspects of conscious marketing, inclusive innovation, cultural insights, brand activism, social impact, and responsibility in business. It features insights from current and former marketing leaders at Wieden+Kennedy, Mindshare, Dentsu, and Saatchi & Saatchi, among others.

Drawing on case studies from brands that are actively pursuing inclusive marketing strategies, including Microsoft, Pinterest, Billie, and REI, "Cultural Intelligence for Marketers" outlines the process of deploying cultural intelligence to attain commercial advantage while transforming society for the better.

Critique: Exceptional, comprehensive, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Cultural Intelligence for Marketers: Building an Inclusive Marketing Strategy" is essential reading for anyone charged with marketing research, web marketing/e-commerce responsibilities. A recommended and core addition to personal, professional, corporate, and college/university library Business Marketing collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists, it should be noted that "Cultural Intelligence for Marketers" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781398614031, $37.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $36.09).

Editorial Note: Dr. Anastasia Karklina Gabriel is a cultural theorist and strategist who specializes in inclusive marketing. Currently a cultural intelligence lead at Reddit, Dr. Gabriel earned her doctorate in cultural studies from Duke University and consulted for the world's top brands at agencies like Wieden+Kennedy, McCann, Kantar and Dentsu Creative. A lifelong activist, she helps brands increase cultural fluency and leverage a socially conscious approach to cultural strategy and innovation. Her activism has been covered in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today and WSJ. Dr. Gabriel is based in New York City, New York.

The Logistics and Supply Chain Toolkit
Gwynne Richards, author
Susan Grinsted, author
Kogan Page Inc.
9781789660876, $196.00, HC, 424pp

Synopsis: Co-authored byGwynne Richards and Susan Grinsted, this newly updated and expanded third edition of "The Logistics and Supply Chain Toolkit: Over 100 Tools for Transport, Warehousing and Inventory Management" provides practical tools for warehouse, inventory and transport managers and students to help them tackle the challenges of logistics and supply chain management.

This new edition of "The Logistics and Supply Chain Toolkit" is packed from cover to cover with practical ideas and information on optimizing the management of logistics and supply chain processes.

"The Logistics and Supply Chain Toolkit" also offers solutions and plans spanning across a variety of sub-disciplines such as warehousing, logistics, supply chain management, inventory and outsourcing. Each toolkit addresses key principles within its area of discipline, providing the reader with a precision approach to be used in complex and sensitive circumstances.

The toolkit presents a number of major management tools such as Fortna's Product Flow Smart Design, SMART, DMAIC and Gantt charts. General management, performance management and problem-solving tools have also been included to provide a broader, transferable scope of tools for the reader.

Critique: The importance of logistics and supply chains for American businesses and the American economy was dramatically brought into focus with the impact of the world wide Covid plague. Impressively comprehensive, exceptionally 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Logistics and Supply Chain Toolkit: Over 100 Tools for Transport, Warehousing and Inventory Management" must be considered essential reading for anyone charged with responsibilties concerning company/corporate distribution and warehouse management, production and operations. A critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, corporate, and college/university library Business Management collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists, it should be noted that "The Logistics and Supply Chain Toolkit: 3rd Edition" from Kogan Page is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781789660869, $62.99).

Editorial Note #1: Gwynne Richards has over thirty years' experience in warehouse management and logistics. As well as running his own successful logistics consultancy, he provides a number of courses on warehouse and transport management for practitioners. He is also a visiting lecturer at the University of Warwick and the University of Aston. He is the author of Warehouse Management andThe Logistics and Supply Chain Toolkit, published by Kogan Page.

Editorial Note #2: Susan Grinsted is an independent educator, trainer and consultant, who works with a number of educational institutions in Britain, France and Finland, as well as with multinational companies all over the world. Her work focuses on transferring knowledge and skills to enable companies to improve their performance.

Campfire Lessons for Leaders
Tony Martignetti
9781032428994, $42.95, PB, 160pp

Synopsis: "Campfire Lessons for Leaders: How Uncovering Our Past Can Propel Us Forward" by Tony Martignetti is invaluable reading for business leaders heading into a milestone moment and in need of practical, 'real world' advice to help them take something that can seem amorphous and abstract -- Living an intentional, purposeful life and turn it into reality.

Though it might seem counterintuitive, "Campfire Lessons for Leaders" demonstrates that to move forward in the right direction, you must understand and integrate your past into your present. Readers will see how they too can step back and consider the "flashpoints" of their past in a way that will serve them as they take the next step of their life, from navigating a significant life change to simply living each day feeling less stuck and more purposeful.

Leading coach Tony Martignetti shares the most powerful lessons from over 200 "Virtual Campfire" podcast interviews he's conducted with driven individuals who decided to live intentionally rather than by default. As no two interviewees have faced the same challenges or pursued the same goals, readers will be inspired by these diverse insights to embark on (and sustain) their own unique transformations.

Packed from cover to cover with questions, journaling prompts, and real-world exercises to help readers understand their past at a deeper level and integrate it into their present, "Campfire Lessons for Leaders" provides a valuable toolkit for business leaders and professionals in any industry who feel unfulfilled and uncertain about what's next for them.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, "Campfire Lessons for Leaders: How Uncovering Our Past Can Propel Us Forward" is particularly and especially recommended reading for business managers and corporate executives charged with mentoring, coaching, organizing, and inspiring their peers and subordinates. While highly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, and college/university library Business Management & Occupational Psychology collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for MBA students, academia, management executives, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Campfire Lessons for Leaders" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $32.64).

Editorial Note: Tony Martignetti ( is the Chief Inspiration Officer at Inspired Purpose Partners. He is a trusted advisor, leadership coach and facilitator, best-selling author, podcast host, and speaker who brings together over 25 years of business and leadership experience and extreme curiosity to elevate leaders and equip them with the tools to navigate through change and unlock their true potential.

Employee-Generated Learning
Kasper Spiro, author
Videhi Bhamidi, author
Kogan Page Inc.
9781398613195, $131.00, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: Most companies adopt a learning strategy where content is created by a centralized learning and development (L&D) department, with no input from existing employees. This process is slow, expensive and makes it impossible to keep content updated.

The solution to this state of affairs is shifting content creation from a top-down approach to a bottom-up one, allowing employees to share their knowledge across the business. This approach is called Employee-generated Learning. Through it, L&D professionals have more time to focus on learning strategy and culture, analytics, ROI and addressing any knowledge gaps.

Co-authored by Kasper Spiro and Videhi Bhamidi, "Employee-Generated Learning: How to develop training that drives performance" is a practical guide that explains what Employee-generated Learning is, the benefits of this approach and how to implement it. It provides a framework for organizations of any size, enriched by detailed how-to's, industry insights and case studies from companies that have successfully implemented this bottom-up approach.

"Employee-Generated Learning" covers the shift in learning trends from formal to informal learning and from theoretical learning to performance support. It outlines the performance, financial and productivity gains from kickstarting a knowledge-sharing culture. Most importantly, it is a practical manual on implementing Employee-generated Learning step by step.

"Employee-Generated Learning: How to develop training that drives performance" is ideal for all learning professionals looking to upskill their workforce at pace, capture the knowledge and experience of their staff and improve both individual and business performance.

Critique: An essential and core addition to personal, professional, community, corporate, and college/university library Business Leadership Training and Human Resources/Personnel Management collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists, it should be noted that "Employee-Generated Learning: How to develop training that drives performance" is also readily available from Kogan Page in a paperback edition (9781398613171, $34.47) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $32.75).

Editorial Note #1: Kasper Spiro is the Co-founder and Chief Learning Strategist at Easygenerator. He has been involved in e-learning and content development for over two decades. Aiming to improve the e-learning creation process, he developed the Employee-generated Learning (EGL) approach in 2013. Since then, he and Easygenerator have guided thousands of companies to adopt EGL, including Danone, Astra Zeneca, and DHL Group. Kasper is also an international speaker, podcast host, blogger, and L&D author.

Editorial Note #2: Videhi Bhamidi is the Director of Research at Easygenerator. An Oxford University alumna, she has Dual Master's degrees in Education and HR Management, specializing in social, mobile, and blended learning methods. She has worked with diverse L&D teams worldwide, and now leads the e-learning product research studies that help shape Easygenerator. Since 2016, Videhi's extensive theoretical knowledge and research have been instrumental in developing and improving the Employee-generated Learning model.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Parenting with Hope
Melissa B. Kruger
Harvest House Publishers
9780736986267, $22.99, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: As children mature, it's important for Christian parents to prepare for the unique changes and challenges of adolescence. With so many cultural pressures and influences vying for teens' attention, parents need a secure foundation for creating an environment where faith can flourish.

With the publication of "Parenting with Hope: Raising Teens for Christ in a Secular Age", Melissa B. Kruger invites you to anchor your hopes and expectations in Jesus Christ -- the true source of wisdom, strength, contentment, and fruitful parenting. Integrating sound biblical teaching, insights from developmental experts, and her own experiences as a teacher and mother, Melissa Kruger will wisely guide you through today's most common concerns. Emphasizing principles over prescriptions, Melissa will also help you to understand how you can build up and bless your teens in God-honoring ways.

When you recognize God as the ultimate parent, you will begin to truly understand that he is presently at work in the hearts of both parents and teens. "Parenting with Hope" is an encouraging and practical guide that will equip you with the wisdom to cultivate a Christ-centered household, passing on a legacy of faithfulness to your teenage children.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Parenting with Hope: Raising Teens for Christ in a Secular Age" should be considered essential reading for all members of the Christian community wanting to help teens and young adults maintain and practice their faith in an increasingly secular society. Highly recommended for family, church, seminary, community, and college/university library Parenting collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Parenting with Hope" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.49).

Editorial Note: Melissa B. Kruger ( is vice president of discipleship programming at The Gospel Coalition and author of multiple books, including Growing Together, Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood, and the popular children's book Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know. Her husband, Mike, is the president of Reformed Theological Seminary, and they reside with their three children in North Carolina.

This Is Our Faith: An Introduction to Catholicism
Thomas P. Rausch, SJ
Paulist Press
9780809157044, $24.95, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "This Is Our Faith: An Introduction to Catholicism", Thomas P. Rausch, SJ offers a concise outline of the Catholic faith based on the Apostles' Creed. This new edition from Paulist Press provides more recent developments of the church as it has developed through the Second Vatican Council and the vision of subsequent popes. "This Is Our Faith" concludes with an important chapter on the challenges of living in a global society with multiple religions and cultures that the church must embrace to be significant throughout the twenty-first century.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "This Is Our Faith: An Introduction to Catholicism" is an ideal resource to introduced and explain the Catholic faith to non-Catholics and Catholic parishioners alike. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.36), "This Is Our Faith" is especially and unreservedly recommended for clergy, seminary students, members of the Catholic community, and anyone with a curiosity about what it means to be Catholic.

Editorial Note: Rev. Thomas P. Rausch, SJ, has a PhD in religion from Duke University and is the Emeritus T. Marie Chilton Professor of Catholic Theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. A specialist in the areas of Christology, ecclesiology, and ecumenism, he has published many books and over three hundred articles and reviews. He has lectured internationally, and his works have been translated into nine different languages.

The Judaic Studies Shelf

Empowering Seder Conversations Passover Haggadah
Eitan Ashman
Urim Publications
c/o KTAV Publishing House
9789655243703, $25.00, HC, 128pp

Synopsis: This bilingual (English/Hebrew) edition of "The Empowering Seder Conversations Passover Haggadah" presents clear and inspiring insights to foster broad inclusion and engagement at the Seder. This Haggadah features the voices of Eitan Ashman and other individuals who offer unique perspectives gained through their perseverance and encounters with language, communication, and other challenges. It also includes meaningful thoughts shared by contemporary Jewish leaders and educators.

The Seder text and succinct conversational ideas appear in large fonts with an accessible layout. Practical inclusion tools and instruction icons help navigate the Seder and make the Koach Eitan Haggadah a valuable resource for facilitating a welcoming Passover experience.

Critique: With the full traditional Passover Haggadah text being included in Hebrew, and with the commentary and instructions in provided in English, this Urim Publications hard cover edition of "Empowering Seder Conversations Passover Haggadah" is fully and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Judaic Studies collections and supplemental curriculum reading lists.

Editorial Note: Eitan Ashman is a volunteer paramedic in Israel's Magen David Adom Emergency Medicine Organization, CrossFit coach, business owner, and Torah scholar. He suffered a massive stroke in the summer of 2017, that he barely survived. After years of rehabilitation, therapies, and relearning, Eitan has made a surreal comeback in his journey of recovery. He and his wife, Leora, an educator, launched the Koach Eitan Initiative, an organization that strives to educate, advocate, support, and raise awareness about stroke, aphasia (a little-known language impairment), and disability.

Leviticus: A Parsha Companion
Rabbi David Fohrman
Maggid Books
c/o Koren Publishers Jerusalem Ltd.
9781592646777, $29.95, HC, 248pp

Synopsis: Leviticus is not an easy book to read. It presents topics that seem arcane to the ear, including the laws of animal offerings, the baffling purification ritual for tzara'at, and an origin story for the holiday of Yom Kippur that treats forgiveness almost as an afterthought.

With the publication of "Leviticus: A Parsha Companion", Rabbi Fohrman shows that an important key to understanding Leviticus lies in the previous books of Genesis and Exodus. In the process, he makes this book accessible and its study deeply meaningful.

In this third of five Parsha Companions, Rabbi David Fohrman asks questions that, in hindsight, seem like they were staring you in the face the whole time. He discerns nuance. He detects patterns in the original Hebrew that (once you see them) seem to leap off the page. And he shows how many of these discoveries, astoundingly, aren't really "new" at all, but were suggested thousands of years ago by the ancient sages of the Talmud and Midrash themselves.

Critique: Essential reading for students and scholars, this large format (10 x 8 x 1 inches, 1.97 pounds) hardcover edition of Rabbi David Fohrman's "Leviticus: A Parsha Companion" from Maggid is an exceptionally well organized and presented study. Informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Leviticus: A Parsha Companion" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Judaic Studies and Old Testament Studies collections and supplemental curriculum lists.

Editorial Note: Rabbi David Fohrman ( is an internationally renowned lecturer on biblical themes, and the founder and principal educator at Aleph Beta. He has served as an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, and as a lead writer and editor for ArtScroll's Talmud translation project. Rabbi Fohrman has also served as scholar for the Hoffberger Foundation for Torah Study. He is the author of The Beast That Crouches at the Door, a finalist for the 2007 National Jewish Book Award, The Queen You Thought You Knew, and The Exodus You Almost Passed Over. His most recent publication is Genesis: A Parsha Companion, the first of a five volume set on the weekly Torah portion.

The Promise of Liberty: A Passover Haggada
Stuart Halpern, author
Jacob Kupietzky, author
Maggid Books
c/o Koren Publishers Jerusalem Ltd.
9781592646258, $29.95, HC, 264pp

Synopsis: Co-authored by Stuart Halpern and Jacob Kupietzky in a bilingual (Hebrew/English) edition, "The Promise of Liberty: A Passover Haggada" (a traditional Haggada text) how American abolitionists and artists, pilgrims and presidents, rabbis and revolutionaries, jazz critics and generals found inspiration in the Exodus story.

From Sojourner Truth to the struggle to free Soviet Jewry, from Harriet Tubman to Harry Truman, from Mark Twain to Martin Luther King Jr., the Jewish story of redemption has inspired Americans of all backgrounds, from the country's inception to today.

"The Promise of Liberty: A Passover Haggada" is unique Haggada that shows on each page how the prism of Passover has framed our understanding of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and how the Jewish people have been at the center of the march toward freedom from the time of Moses to today.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout in full color, and reading from right to left, "The Promise of Liberty: A Passover Haggada" is unique, informative, exceptional, inspiring, well organized, and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Jewish Holiday collections and supplemental Judaic Studies curriculum lists.

Editorial Note #1: Rabbi Dr. Stuart Halpern is Senior Adviser to the Provost of Yeshiva University and Deputy Director of Y.U.'s Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought. His books include "Esther in America", "Gleanings: Reflections on Ruth" and "Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land: The Hebrew Bible in the United States".

Editorial Note #2: Jacob Kupietzky is a health care entrepreneur and is the President of HCT Executive Interim Management & Consulting.

Why On This Night?: A Passover Haggadah for Family Celebration
Rahel Musleah, author
Louise August, illustrator
Kalaniot Books
9798986396552, $19.99, PB, 112pp

Synopsis: The rich traditions of Passover come alive in the pages of "Why On This Night?: A Passover Haggadah for Family Celebration", a contemporary haggadah by author Rahel Musleah and illustrator Louise August for Jewish families with young children.

Newly updated and from the original 2000 edition, "Why On This Night?: A Passover Haggadah for Family Celebration" is holiday favorite is available again for families to treasure. As children and adults gather at the seder dinner to remember the Israelites' journey from slavery to freedom, this creative, yet authentic haggadah will guide and engage them.

Lushly illustrated throughout with blessings and text of every major section of the haggadah in Hebrew, in English translation, and in transliteration, the welcoming and accessible style of "Why On This Night?: A Passover Haggadah for Family Celebration" will make it a treasured seder companion year after year.

Critique: This large format (9.25 x 0.45 x 9.95 inches, $1.05 pounds) paperback edition of "Why On This Night?: A Passover Haggadah for Family Celebration" from Kalaniot Books is exceptionally 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family and community library collections for use with children ages 7-11.

Editorial Note #1: Rahel Musleah ( is an award-winning journalist, author, singer, storyteller and educator. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Hadassah magazine, and numerous other publications. She was born in Calcutta and leads Jewish heritage tours of India. She is the author of several books including Apples and Pomegranates: A Family Seder for Rosh Hashanah, and has recorded a CD of Shabbat and holiday melodies, Hodu: Jewish Rhythms from Baghdad to India.

Editorial Note #a: Louise August, was a painter, printmaker, and muralist whose works have been acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Butler Institute of American Art. She illustrated several children's books, including The Way Meat Loves Salt. (

Reading Reform Responsa
Rabbi Mark Washofsky
CCAR Press
9780881236439, $23.75, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: The responsa literature, in which rabbis answer questions about halachah (Jewish law), is a vast treasury reaching back nearly fifteen centuries. Reform rabbis have been writing responsa since the 1800s.

With the publication of "Reading Reform Responsa: Jewish Tradition, Reform Rabbis, and Today's Issues", Rabbi Mark Washofsky, PhD, presents a deep dive into this literature, as he boldly argues that Reform Judaism is indeed a movement fundamentally based on halachah.

By inviting and guiding readers to understand Reform responsa with a critical eye, Rabbi Washofsky shows that the Reform movement has always been informed by Jewish law, as well as Reform history. A teacher and mentor of generations of students at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Washofsky in the pages of "Reading Reform Responsa" gives us a peek inside his classroom, making Reform responsa (and their history, framing, and context) engaging and accessible for all.

Critique: Eloquent, thoughtful, insightful, inspiring, "Reading Reform Responsa: Jewish Tradition, Reform Rabbis, and Today's Issues" is a welcome, erudite, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, synagogue, and college/university library Contemporary Judaic Studies collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Rabbi Mark Washofsky, PhD, is an Emeritus Professor of Jewish Law and Practice at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, where he received his rabbinical ordination (1980) and his Ph.D. (1987), and where he taught Talmud and Jewish legal literature from 1985 to 2021. He served as chair of the Responsa Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis from 1996 to 2017. He is currently the chair of the Solomon B. Freehof Institute of Progressive Halakhah. His publications include Jewish Living: A Guide to Contemporary Reform Practice, Reform Responsa for the Twenty-First Century, Reading Reform Responsa: Jewish Tradition, Reform Rabbis, and Today's Issues, and numerous articles on the development of halachah, the application of legal and literary theory to Jewish legal writing, and Jewish bioethics.

The Wine/Beer/Liquor Shelf

The Great Atlas of Italian Wines
Alessandro Avataneo, author
Vittorio Manganelli, author
9788891838551, $85.00, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: Co-authored by Alessandro Avataneo and Vittorio Manganelli, "The Great Atlas of Italian Wines" takes the reader on a lovely and informative wine country journey through Italy. It tells of and illustrates the main denominations, region by region, with a description of the most widespread international grape varieties and the most important native Italian grape varieties. Maps combined with infographics describe the organoleptic characteristics of the wines of each area in a clear and immediate way.

Unique in terms of its narrative and scientific content and suitable for wine professionals, experts, and curious people alike, "The Great Atlas of Italian Wines" is an indispensable tool for novice and experienced wine lovers alike. It provides a wealth of well-organized information to keep on hand at all times. It is also a useful reference for traveling, studying, choosing a wine at a restaurant or wine bar, or creating your own wine cellar.

The 1500 best Italian wine producers are geolocated in the detailed maps, with a list of the 3000 wines most representative of Italian excellence, regardless of the vintage, resulting from years of cross-checks on the data from the main national and international guides and magazines from the sector.

"The Great Atlas of Italian Wines" also features the stories of 300 wines that mark the past, present, and future of Italian wine, with wonderful full color reproductions of their labels.

Critique: This large format (9.16 x 1.31 x 11.29 inches, 5.09 pounds) coffee-table style hardcover edition of "The Great Atlas of Italian Wines" from Rizolli is beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout and includes regional maps, a glossary, a 'Description of the Parameters', a bibliography, and an index. The exhaustively comprehensive and informatively definitive resource fo choosing and discussing Italian wines, "The Great Atlas of Italian Wines" is a pleasure to browse through and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections.

Editorial Note #1: Alessandro Avataneo is a director, teacher, and publisher. He has worked in more than thirty countries across Europe and in the United States and Japan.

Editorial Note #2: Vittorio Manganelli is a long-time collaborator of Vini d'Italia and has edited the volumes Atlante delle vigne di Langa and The Art of Italian Wine for Slow Food Editore.

Delish Ultimate Cocktails, revised edition
Joanna Saltz
Hearst Home Books
9781950785957, $25.00, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: Now in a newly updated, expanded and revised edition, "Delish Ultimate Cocktails: Why Limit Happy to an Hour?" by Joanna Saltz provides everything you need to make amazing drinks at home -- and then some.

Each one of the 100+ easy and fun recipes was dreamed up by the editors of Delish as an excuse to throw a party -- even if it's just a party of two. These imaginative cocktail recipes will shake things up and elevate your mixology game with best-ever versions of the classics (like Flamin' Hot Bloody Marys and Blueberry Lemonade Margaritas) plus inventive new ideas for Jell-O shots and boozy bites like Banana Pudding Shots and Pickle Bloody Mary Shooters.

For designated drivers there are recipes for delicious mocktails so everyone can join the fun, including Apple Cider Slushies and Cranberry Basil Sansgria.

As for the cocktails, they range from: Moscow Mule Punch; Dole Whip Margaritas; Brown Sugar; Old-Fashioned; Spicy Grapefruit Side Car, and Rosemary Gin Fizz; to Strawberry Jalapeno Mint Juleps; Caramel Hot Toddys; Negroni Jell-O Shots; Gin and Tonic Pops and more!

This revised edition from Hearts Home Books offers even more clever and Instagram- or Tik Tok-ready recipes. Of special note is the inclusion of a color photograph for every recipe, along with easy-to-follow recipes for every event imaginable from brunch to girls' night to summer parties and holiday gatherings, recipe servings range from individual drinks to big batch punches, perfect for any sized celebration, and invaluable tips on how to stock a bar cart and which glass to use for each drink.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated with full page, full color photos of finished drinks, "Delish Ultimate Cocktails: Why Limit Happy to an Hour?" is a delight to browse through and impressively 'user friendly' in organization and presentation. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Delish Ultimate Cocktails: Why Limit Happy to an Hour?" is very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Wine/Beer/Liquor reference collections and DIY 'how to' cocktail guides.

Editorial Note: Joanna Saltz ( is the Editorial Director of Delish, which she relaunched with her team in 2015. She is also the author of Delish Eat Like Every Day's the Weekend, Delish Insane Sweets, and Delish Ultimate Cocktails. Delish is the fastest growing food website, with more than 48M monthly views. Every week Delish publishes hundreds of stories, videos and recipes that are some of the most engaged with content on the Internet. The Delish motto is, "Come for the food, stay for the fun."

The Self-Help Shelf

Untapped Magic
Chloe Panta
New World Library
9781608688906, $18.95, PB, 232pp

Synopsis: According to successful mindset coach Chloe Panta, we all have the power to change our lives, but all too often we leave that seemingly magical power untapped. After years of honing techniques for achieving her biggest goals, Chloe established her coaching practice to pursue her passion for helping others. Now, with the publication of "Untapped Magic: Manifestation Methods for Living a Limitless Life" she offers her evidence-based, proven system for overcoming obstacles, getting unstuck, manifesting desired results, and giving back.

In the pages of "Untapped Magic", Chloe shares her inspiring personal journey from growing up in Detroit to creating the life of her dreams. Drawing deeply from ancient wisdom and foundational spiritual principles, she presents powerful exercises, affirmations, and mantras that will help you overcome limiting beliefs, demolish anxiety, and replace a scarcity mindset with an outlook of abundance. "Untapped Magic" is an empowering read for anyone who wants to create a more positive, fulfilling, and joyous life while contributing to the greater good.

Critique: Life enhancing, life changing, life affirming, "Untapped Magic: Manifestation Methods for Living a Limitless Life" is an especially informative instructional guide to achieving happiness and success through personal transformation. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Untapped Magic" is a solid recommendation for community and college/university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Untapped Magic" is also readily available from the New World Library in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Chloe Panta ( is a highly sought-after transformational life coach dedicated to helping individuals achieve their ultimate goals. She has been featured by numerous media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, CBS, ABC, and Fox.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

The Cosmo Tarot: The Ultimate Deck and Guidebook
Sarah Potter
Hearst Home Books
9781950785513, $22.00, Card Deck, 78pp

Synopsis: The ultimate self-empowerment tool, with "The Cosmo Tarot: The Ultimate Deck and Guidebook", tarot expert and practitioner enables even the most novice of tarot readers to put the power of of the tarot to work. They will discover that "The Cosmo Tarot" card deck and guidebook will strengthen intuition and deliver a fresh perspective on everything in life. That they can use these cards and their special powers of divination to discover the deeper meaning in life, be it past, present, and future, all in service to making dreams become a reality.

"The Cosmo Tarot" will provide answers to all of the pratitioner's most burning questions no matter how small or large including : Where's this relationship heading? What are their true feelings about me? Is it a good idea to ask for a raise right now? What's my best career step to take today?

"The Cosmo Tarot: includes: A 78-card tarot deck, featuring major and minor arcana suits, illustrated with full-color, original, modern, photo collages; A full-color 48-page guidebook, by Sarah Potter, a professional witch and tarot reader, with step-by-step instructions for how to read cards and FAQs for beginners and practiced tarot readers alike; Detailed descriptions of tarot card spreads and advice on how and when to use them; Easy-to-remember meanings behind each card, as well as reversed card meanings.

Critique: Of special and particular interest for novice tarot readers, and of immense value for even the more experienced readers, this edition of "The Cosmo Tarot: The Ultimate Deck and Guidebook" from Hearst Home Books is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Metaphysical/Tarot collections.

Editorial Note: Sarah Potter ( is a much sought-after professional witch, psychic medium, and tarot reader who is based in New York City.

Runes for the Green Witch: An Herbal Grimoire
Nicolette Miele
Destiny Books
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
9781644118665, $22.99, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: "Runes for the Green Witch: An Herbal Grimoire" is magickal grimoire, in which author and herbalist witch Nicolette Miele immerses her readers in the wisdom and folklore of the 24 Elder Futhark runes as well as their correspondences with deities, astrology, tarot, crystals, and plants.

Each individual chapter begins by discussing the etymology, meanings, mythology, divination, correspondences, and magick of a particular rune and culminates with profiles of several herbs and plants that possess similar magickal energies. Each plant profile delves into the magickal, metaphysical, traditional, and medicinal applications as well as how to work with these incredible plant allies.

For example, "Runes for the Green Witch" connects Fehu, the rune of wealth and value, with the practice of altar-building, making offerings, and with alfalfa, cedar, dandelion, and other plants traditionally used in abundance and prosperity magick. In the chapter on Kenaz, the rune of heat and illumination, the nature connection is nurtured through the element of fire and a step-by-step bindrune candle ritual. The plants connected with Kenaz are those that embody the characteristics of fire (such as passion, ferocity, and sexuality) and include clove, damiana, and kava kava.

Guiding the green witch through the benefits and strengths of synergistic magick, this book helps eclectic magickal practitioners advance their craft through folk magick and medicine, rituals, meditations, spells, and the soulful process of rewilding and connecting with Mother Nature.

Critique: A grimoire is a book of magic, typically including instructions on how to create magical objects like talismans and amulets, how to perform magical spells, charms, and divination, and how to summon or invoke supernatural entities such as angels, spirits, deities, and demons. "Runes for the Green Witch: An Herbal Grimoire" is a magickal guide to working with runes and plant allies for manifestation, healing, and spellwork. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Runes for the Green Witch" is a fascinating, elegant, erudite, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Metaphysical Studies collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for Wiccans and metaphysical studies students and practitioners that "Runes for the Green Witch" is also readily available from Destiny Books in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99).

Editorial Note: Nicolette Miele ( is a pagan, writer, rune worker, and herbalist. She has practiced witchcraft for more than 20 years with focuses on runes, folk herbalism, alchemy, and trance meditation. She is the owner and operator of Handfuls of Dust Apothecary LLC, offering rune readings and handmade ritual products.

Developing Your Supernatural Awareness
Fredrick Woodard
6th Books
c/o Collective Ink Books
9781803414782, $14.95, PB, 216pp

Synopsis: The challenges of examining the subjective experience of supernatural events prompted clinical psychologist and certified hypnotherapist Fredrick Woodward to write "Developing Your Supernatural Awareness: Connecting with an Interactive Universe".

A blending of memoir relating his personal history with supernatural experiences and mention key people who influenced him, Woodward reveals his earliest experiences with hypnosis, the study of consciousness, how he evolved as a professional, and how he came to develop deeper connections to his heritage.

In "Developing Your Supernatural Awareness, Woodard also discusses how he improved his own understanding of supernatural awareness and was able to forge even stronger connections with the universe -- a universe alive with invisible beings, energies, and information that can interact with us.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read from start to finish, "Developing Your Supernatural Awareness: Connecting with an Interactive Universe" is a valued contribution to the growing body of spiritual/supernatural themed biographies and memoirs. Thoughtful and thought provoking, inspired and inspiring, "Developing Your Supernatural Awareness" is especially recommended reading for anyone with an interest in the supernatural as a means of self-help/self-improvement. A prized addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Metaphysical Studies collections, it should be noted that "Develping Your Supernatural Awareness" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.49).

Editorial Note: Dr. Fredrick Woodard is a clinical psychologist and certified hypnotherapist who conducts original research on the supernatural/paranormal, hypnosis, and psychotherapy. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology and Doctor of Clinical Hypnotherapy (DCH) degree, as well as three psychology-related masters degrees. In 2021 he was voted Hypnotist of the Year for 2021 in the Merrimack - Souhegan Valley Region of New Hampshire.

Seidr Magic
Dean Kirkland
Destiny Books
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
9781644119440, $17.99, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: While Norse rune work is well known, there is another major ancient Norse magical practice: seidr (pronounced "sayther"), a form of trance spirit work and divination. Although seidr is often considered an ancient form of witchcraft, recent archaeological evidence suggests it is more closely related to shamanism.

"Seidr Magic: The Norse Tradition of Divination and Trance" is a practical guide in which Dean Kirkland, reconstructs the magical and shamanic techniques of the seidr priest or priestess using the sagas and other literature from the Viking age, tools found in the archaeological record, and surviving indigenous shamanic traditions.

Also addressed is the misconception that seidr was a practice reserved only for women and shows how anyone called to this work would have been accepted in ancient Norse society. Further more, "Seidr Magic" discusses the tools of seidr and how to create them, empower them, and care for them. He explores the use of protective songs (vardlokkur) that involve forming bonds with spirits, a practice he likens to the medicine songs of Amazonian shamans. Additionally, "Seidr Magic" explains the techniques used to achieve trance in seidr and how they are based on finding balance between the light and the darkness.

Looking at trance journeying in the Nine Realms of the Norse cosmos, Dean Kirkland discusses the different gods and spirits the seidr practitioner may encounter in the Upper Realms, the Middle Worlds, and the Lower Realms. He shares exercises on the Wyrd, divination methods in seidr, as well as ways to alter Orlog, or fate, through spiritual work. Discussing soul-healing techniques in seidr, the author looks in depth at the Norse shamanic practices of soul retrieval and reintegration of the soul parts. He then explores seidr's role in death, dying, and dealing with the dead, including work with the Valkries and the ancestors.

Presenting a historically based handbook for contemporary heathens, "Seidr Magic" offers a practical path for anyone seeking to explore Norse trance magic and mysticism.

Critique: A seminal work on the subject, "Seidr Magic: The Norse Tradition of Divination and Trance" is of particular informative value for readers with an interest in divination using Nordic Runes, Viking Era Shamanism, and Scandinavian History. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99), "Seidr Magic" must be considered as a core and basic addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Metaphysical & Nordic Magic collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Dean Kirkland, Ph.D., has been a practicing reconstructionist heathen for more than 35 years. A godi, or spiritual/ritual specialist, to Three Castles Heathen Kindred located in the English Danelaw, he is also an associate of the Rune Gild and part of the ritual specialist team for Asatru UK. He completed his shamanic apprenticeship with the Sacred Trust in Dorset UK and studied traditional Andean shamanism for several years with an indigenous paco. He lives in Lincolnshire, UK. (

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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