Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Wisconsin Bookwatch

Wisconsin Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 10 October 2023 Home | WBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Halloween Shelf Education Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Business Shelf General Fiction Shelf Historical Fiction Shelf
LGBTQ Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf Romantic Fiction Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Christian Studies Shelf
Travel Shelf Music Shelf Art Shelf
Photography Shelf Needlecraft Shelf Woodworking Shelf
Audiobook Shelf Music CD Shelf DVD Shelf
Sports Shelf Hunting/Fishing Shelf Interior Design Shelf
Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Computer Shelf Biography Shelf
Theatre/Cinema Shelf Wine Shelf Agriculture Shelf
Metaphysical Studies Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Secret Wisconsin
Tom & Kristi Flick Manus
Reedy Press
9781681064949, $27.00, PB, 192pp

Synopsis: Wisconsin is known for its outdoor recreation, supper clubs, and being "America's Dairyland," but intriguing wonders and obscure events lie hidden in plain sight.

Why does a temporary circus billboard from 1885 still exist on a building? Did someone really exchange water with aliens for extraterrestrial pancakes? Where can you honor deceased postal letter carriers? Have you been eating brats the wrong way?

"Secret Wisconsin: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure" takes you on an unforgettable trip to discover the state's quirkiness and some of its best kept secrets. Find out where famous people secretly get turkeys in the basement and where Al Capone let floatplanes land with his illegal booze before he shipped it by truck to Chicago. Learn about the state's two Walls of China and the place where gravity can pull your vehicle uphill. Discover why JFK made a deposit in Spooner or how Teddy Roosevelt's long speech saved his life from an attempted assassination. From donuts to whitefish livers, find out where Wisconsin delicacies hide.

Local authors Tom and Kristi Flick Manus love uncovering stories that must be told. They are passionate about finding Wisconsin's out-of-the-ordinary, hidden, and quirky side and then sharing them with you.

Critique: Profusely illustrated in full color throughout, "Secret Wisconsin: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure" is an ideal resource for exploring nooks and crannies of the Badger State that are all too often obscure and unknown -- even to native Wisconsinites. Whether you are an on-site visitor or an armchair traveler, "Secret Wisconsin" is a unique, informative, and fun pick for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Wisconsin Travel Guide collections.

Editorial Note: Tom and Kristi Flick Manus are freelance travel writers for print and online publications, along with their website Kristi is a Madison area native while Tom happily adopted Wisconsin after their marriage in 1995. After living in many states across the country, they moved to Eau Claire. They enjoy exploring different cultures, history, roadside attractions, and nature by road trips on backroads and two-lane highways. Along with international travel, they have visited 48 states, with only Hawaii and the elusive Rhode Island remaining. (

The House that Cheese Built
Miguel Leal
c/o Wiley Professional Trade Group
9781394184026, $28.00, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: Miguel Leal came to the U.S. from his home in Mexico as penniless teenager, speaking almost no English. He literally slept in the boiler room of a Wisconsin cheese factory for months before he was caught. Through hard work, grit, and ingenuity Leal would go on to launch his own business. He is widely credited with introducing Mexican cheeses to the U.S. market and grew his company to a multimillion-dollar success story that defined an industry. Yet, like many successful entrepreneurs, Leal's great successes were matched by personal failures -- the end of a marriage; trouble with law enforcement; and the deeply felt sense that there must be something more to life than great wealth.

"The House that Cheese Built: The Unusual Life of the Mexican Immigrant who Defined a Multibillion-Dollar Global Industry" is the astounding memoir of a Mexican immigrant who worked his way to success in the American cheese industry. Readers will find find inspiration in Miguel Leal's determination and refusal to give up on his dream. They will learn how Leal persevered in the face of obstacles and setbacks in his personal life. They will eagerly follow Miguel's personal story as he finds peace, purpose, and grace -- and ultimately realizes that money isn't everything.

Critique: A riveting and inspiring read from cover to cover, "The House that Cheese Built: The Unusual Life of the Mexican Immigrant who Defined a Multibillion-Dollar Global Industry" is the extraordinary memoir of an extraordinary man who was able to accomplish something truly extraordinary and against all odds. Exceptionally well written and presented, "The House that Cheese Built: The Unusual Life of the Mexican Immigrant who Defined a Multibillion-Dollar Global Industry" is a stellar and unreservedly recommended pick for community and academic library Contemporary Biography/Memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The House that Cheese Built: The Unusual Life of the Mexican Immigrant who Defined a Multibillion-Dollar Global Industry" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.00).

Editorial Note: Miguel Leal ( founded Mexican Cheese Producers in 1994. Leal eventually sold his business to Sigma Alimentos, which used his recipes to win the 2020 World Championship Cheese Contest. Today, Miguel is deeply invested in a new passion project: supporting Mexico's organic farming movement with a farm of his own.

Herbert Bayer's World Geo-Graphic Atlas and Information Design at Midcentury
Benjamin Benus
RIT Press
9781939125835, $58.80, HC, 128pp

Synopsis: Between 1947 and 1953, the Austrian-born, Bauhaus-trained artist Herbert Bayer (1900-1985) oversaw the design and production of the World Geo-Graphic Atlas, a landmark work of graphic design and data visualization.

Commissioned by Container Corporation of America to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Chicago-based company's founding, the Atlas would ultimately become much more than the promotional publication its patrons had initially envisioned.

The Atlas's imaginative presentation methods have had a lasting impact within the fields of information design and visual education, transforming the look and character of subsequent geographic atlases and popular scientific illustration. Characterized by Bayer as "the concept of a 'visualist'", the Atlas's graphic presentations made complex and specialized information comprehensible and engaging for readers -- a point he underscored in giving the Atlas's title its distinctive, hyphenated formulation "geo-graphic".

The Atlas's narrative proved to be prescient as well, highlighting challenges related to economic globalization and human-caused environmental destruction -- crises that have only grown more acute in the seventy years since its publication.

In "Herbert Bayer's World Geo-Graphic Atlas and Information Design at Midcentury", Benjamin Benus tells the story behind this work's creation. Richly illustrated and drawing on extensive archival documentation, Benus's account reconstructs the working methods and intellectual exchanges through which Bayer and his circle of scientific collaborators realized this remarkable work.

Reflecting on Bayer's attempt to balance and resolve the commissioned work's educational and advertising functions, Benus's study offers broader insights into the roles twentieth-century artists and designers played in popularizing scientific knowledge and shaping audiences' geographical worldviews.

Critique: A large format volume, "Herbert Bayer's World Geo-Graphic Atlas and Information Design at Midcentury" includes a twenty-four page Introduction, a six page Conclusion, a four page Bibliography, and a three page Index. Organized into four major sections (Lessons and Legacy of the Bauhaus; Production and Style; Sources and Methods; Advertising and Information), "Herbert Bayer's World Geo-Graphic Atlas and Information Design at Midcentury" will be of substantial value to readers with n interest in Historical Geography and Graphic Design, it is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and academic library Atlas/Maps collections.

Editorial Note: Benjamin Benus ( is an associate professor of art and design history at Loyola University New Orleans. He specializes in the history of modern art, with a focus on twentieth-century graphic design in Europe and the United States. He completed his PhD in art history at the University of Maryland in College Park, and he earned a BFA and an MS in art history from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. His scholarship, which examines historical connections between modernist design and data visualization, has been supported with research fellowships from the Vienna Circle Institute at the University of Vienna, the Wolfsonian-Florida International University in Miami, and the Newberry Library in Chicago. Benus is the co-curator of the exhibition "Concept of a Visualist: Herbert Bayer's World Geo-Graphic Atlas," which opened in June 2023 at the Aspen Institute's Resnick Center for Herbert Bayer Studies in Aspen, Colorado.

The Halloween Shelf

Oh My Gourd!: How to Carve a Pumpkin Plus 29 Other Halloween Activities
Jack Hallow
Smith Street Books
c/o Rizzoli
9781922754028, $19.95, HC, 72pp

Synopsis: As the sun sets on summer, there's no need to be sad. Fall is here, and it's time to carve some gourds!

But pumpkins aren't just for teenagers to smash on Halloween -- there are a multitude of uses for this versatile produce, and "Oh My Gourd!: How to Carve a Pumpkin Plus 29 Other Halloween Activities" by Jack Hallow (who lives in Melbourne, Australia and has been a Halloween fan since he was born) is your go-to gourd guide, with how-to-carve step-by-step, illustrated instructions, 20 pumpkin recipes, 9 other uses for pumpkins and gourds, as well as 2 pumpkin carving stencils.

With "Oh My Gourd!: How to Carve a Pumpkin Plus 29 Other Halloween Activities" you can get back to the basics with a handy step-by-step for carving a pumpkin that will have your callers commenting on your crafty cutting pumpkin art.

Use one of the included templates to carve your creation! Then discover how to turn a simple gourd into a water bottle or a colorful animal feeder that will bring all sorts of critters to your garden. After, why not whip up a batch of smoky pumpkin deviled eggs, pumpkin chips, or a warming pumpkin spiced latte to sip while you watch your favorite holiday movie?

And that's just the beginning; you'll find lots of things can be improved with a little sprinkle of pumpkin spice! Transform your festive fun with 29 ideas that will have you saying, "Oh my Gourd!"

Critique: Fun, inspiring, and a 'must' for personal, family, and community library Halloween pumpkin-based activities and pumpkin based recipe cookbook collections, "Oh My Gourd!: How to Carve a Pumpkin Plus 29 Other Halloween Activities" is a delight to browse through and an enduring pick for dedicated fans of Halloween.

The Education Shelf

The Best 389 Colleges: 2024
Robert Franek, et al.
The Princeton Review
c/o Random House Inc.
9780593516867, $26.99, PB, 880pp

Synopsis: The Princeton Review's college rankings started in 1992 with surveys from 30,000 students. Over 30 years and more than a million student surveys later, they stand by their claim that there is no single "best" college -- only the best college for you. This new 2024 edition of "The Best 389 Colleges, 2024: In-Depth Profiles & Ranking Lists to Help Find the Right College For You" is the resource that will help you find it!

"The Best 389 Colleges: 2024" is a compendium of 389 in-depth school profiles based on candid feedback from 165,000 students, covering academics, administration, campus life, and financial aid. It offers useful insights on unique college character, social scene, and more. Of special note are the cirect quotes from students about their school's professors, campus culture, career services, and more.

"The Best 389 Colleges: 2024" also lists of the top 25 colleges in 50 categories based on students' opinions of academics, campus life, facilities, and much more. Plus there are the ratings for every school on Financial Aid, Selectivity, and Quality of Life.

With its detailed admissions information, "The Best 389 Colleges: 2024" provides useful information on competitive applications, test scores, tuition, and average indebtedness, as well as selectivity, freshman profiles, and application deadlines at each school.

Of special note is the free access to 2 full-length practice tests online (1 SAT and 1 ACT) to help aspiring students prep for the important admissions-exams part of their college admissions journey.

Critique: "The Best 389 Colleges, 2024: In-Depth Profiles & Ranking Lists to Help Find the Right College For You" is an absolutely essential addition to personal, professional, community, and highschool College Admissions instructional reference collections and should be made available to every graduating highschool students aspiring to go to college. It is also a vital and important informational resource for adults seeking to obtain a college degree after an absence from school due to their own particular and personal life circumstances.

Editorial Note: Zaneena Nabeel, aka Aurora by Z, is an architect by profession and an artist by vocation. She returned to artmaking after completing her architecture studies, finding healing and happiness through drawing, painting, and playing with color, inspiring her to start and Instagram page, where she shares her work. In addition to teaching many classes on Skillshare, she hosts art workshops and organizes exhibitions both locally and internationally. Originally from India, she is currently based in Dubai. To see more of Zaneena's work, visit, @AurorabyZ on YouTube, and @aurorabyz on Instagram.

The K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Differences, 16th edition
Marybeth Kravets, author
Imy Wax, author
The Princeton Review
c/o Random House Inc.
9780593517406, $35.99, PB, 752pp

Synopsis: College bound students with a learning difference, their parents, and their highschool counselors require the most up-to-date informational resources. And that can only mean the newly updated "The K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Differences, 16th Edition: 325+ Schools with Programs or Services for Students with ADHD, ASD, or Learning Differences" by the team of Marybeth Kravets and Imy Wax, and published by The Princeton Review.

Critique: Comprehensive and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Differences, 16th Edition: 325+ Schools with Programs or Services for Students with ADHD, ASD, or Learning Differences" is an essential, necessary, and required resource that is unreservedly recommended for family, highschool, and community library College Admission Reference & Guidance collections. It should be noted that if purchased from a third-party seller, "The K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Differences, 16th Edition: 325+ Schools with Programs or Services for Students with ADHD, ASD, or Learning Differences" is not guaranteed by the publisher for quality or authenticity.

Editorial Note #1: Marybeth Kravets, MA, formerly the President of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, served as a counselor and college consultant at Deerfield High School for over 30 years and is currently the Director of College Counseling at Wolcott College Prep High School in Chicago, Illinois.

Editorial Note #2: Imy F. Wax, MS, is a licensed psychotherapist, educational consultant, and founder of the Aspire Group, a private educational consulting practice. She has written numerous articles about learning differences, and serves clients throughout the world.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Cheese Life: Recipes, Cheeseboards and Pairings
Mathew Carver, author
Patrick McGuigan, author
Kyle Books
c/o Octopus Publishing
9781804191545, $29.99, HC, 208pp

Synopsis: Cheese has been around almost as long as human have. Now, as a new wave of artisan cheese appreciation sweeps the globe, "The Cheese Life: Recipes, Cheeseboards and Pairings " by co-authors Mathew Carver and Patrick McGuigan is an essential and inspirational companion for any and all cheese lovers. With gloriously gooey recipes, perfectly put-together cheeseboards and mouth-watering flavor pairings, this culinary compendium has everything you need to live the cheese life.

"The Cheese Life" begins with an introduction to the wonderful world of cheese, and how to buy, taste and cook with it, followed by over 50 recipes divided into Grill, Melt, Bake and Grate. From Baked Feta with Stewed Peppers & Honey to a Grilled Brie & Mushroom Sandwich, the recipes are creative, indulgent and let the quality and flavor of the cheese shine through. A final section explores the art of the cheeseboard, featuring 5 thematic cheeseboard suggestions, recipes for perfect accompaniments and a simple guide to drink pairing.

Interspersed throughout "The Cheese Life" are handy profiles for all key varieties, from mozzarella to halloumi, and nuggets of cheesy wisdom, including what to do with leftover rinds, the importance of temperature and how to store and slice your cheeses.

Critique: An absolute 'must' for the cookbook collections of all dedicated cheese fans, "The Cheese Life: Recipes, Cheeseboards and Pairings" is beautifully illustrated compendium of palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, and truly memorable ways to grill, melt, bake, grate, or simply utilizing sliced cheeses for any dining occasion. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99), "The Cheese Life: Recipes, Cheeseboards and Pairings" is a very special and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note #1: Mathew Carver founded The Cheese Truck in 2014 after a brief 'research' trip across the States. Since then, he's become a well-respected and vocal advocate of British cheese, judging at the World Cheese Awards since 2017, the British Cheese Awards and Young Cheesemonger of the Year. He has three restaurants in London - The Cheese Bar, Pick & Cheese and The Cheese Barge. Patrick McGuigan has written about cheese for publications including the Telegraph, The Financial Times and delicious. His first book, The Philosophy of Cheese, was published by the British Library in 2020.

Editorial Note #2: Patrick McGuigen ( is a UK-based cheese writer and teacher, who has travelled from the Swiss Alps to the pastures of Vermont to interview the world's best cheesemakers, maturers and cheesemongers. He writes extensively on the subject for national newspapers and magazines, such as The Telegraph and delicious, and has appeared on BBC Radio 4's The Food Programme. His first book, The Philosophy of Cheese, was published by The British Library in 2020.

A Very Vegan Christmas
Sam Dixon
c/o Octopus Books
9780600638032, $19.99, HC, 176pp

Synopsis: For most of us, Christmas is a feast of meat, cheese and chocolate, but with more people turning to a plant-based diet, there is a growing need for a festive vegan cookbook.

With the publication of "A Very Vegan Christmas: Plant-based recipes for celebrating in style", vegan expert Sam Dixon showcases fabulous vegan recipes along with stellar color images so that a Christmas (or any other holiday) celebratory occasion everyone, vegan and non-vegan, can sit at the table and enjoy some fantastic Christmas cooking.

Critique: "A Very Vegan Christmas" offers a wide range of palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, kitchen cook friendly, solidly vegan recipes that include such culinary delights as a Spinich & Apricot Wreath, Mushroom Wellington, Creamy Hispi Cabbage, Nut Roast Raps, Pastry Serap Suyn Dried Tomato Pinwheels, and so much more! -- Then there are vegan deserts that range from Chewy Ginger Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches, to Sticky Stem Ginger Toffee Pudding, to Mincemeat & Apple Studel -- and more! Simply stated, "A Very Vegan Christmas" will prove an immediately welcome and enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, and community library Vegan/Vegetarian cook book collections.

Editorial Note: Sam Dixon ( is a self-taught food stylist for cookbooks, magazines, film and TV, learnt through industry with a background in baking. She officially started her career in food at Violet bakery in East London. A love for seasonal ingredients, creativity and aesthetics was developed here. Since then, she has worked with numerous publications and brands such as The Guardian, GQ, The Telegraph, Hix, the White Company, Kyle Books, Quadrille and Hodder and Stoughton. She is also the co-creator of Studio Feast, a food photography studio in Hackney, London.

Paddy's Pub
Laurel Randolph
Hyperion Avenue
c/o Disney Books
9781368083799, $22.99, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: Are you a dedicated fan of 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'? Have you ever wanted to try Frank Reynolds's iconic Rum Ham? Have you been dying to make your own Trash Bag Full of Chimichangas to rival Fat Mac's? Does the mere sight of Charlie's delectable Milk Steak (raw jelly beans on the side) make your mouth water? If not, you're clearly a jabroni.

But if you have any sense of taste or class, then this 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' themed cookbook is the one for you.

"Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar in Philadelphia" is a wonderfully illustrated with full page, full color shots drawn from the series with its memorable characters and features more than 45 recipes straight from the Gang. Now you can learn to cook Guigino's special $44 Snapper so you can demonstrate your value even when your fish supplier has an incident at their facility. Try your hand at making the McPoyles' Milk Punch, this time without the bath salts to save someone an eye or two. And don't forget Mac's Famous Mac and Cheese, where you can live your perfect suburban life with a simple whip of a spoon.

From breakfast to dinner, and plenty in between, this is a unique cookbook that turns your favorite meals from the show into innovative and easy-to-follow recipes. Filled with playful photography and quotes, "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar in Philadelphia" is the ultimate guide to all the iconic dishes and is a must-have for every fan. Whether you're the golden god or the wild card, pick up this book and impress your own Gang with sick culinary skills. So . . . where's the food?

Critique: An absolute 'must' for the legions of 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' fans, "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar in Philadelphia" is fun to browse through and thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' to plan and create memorable and celebratory dining occasions with friends and family. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar in Philadelphia" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, family, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Laurel Randolph ( has been a food writer for over ten years and a cook since she was old enough to properly hold a whisk. She is the best-selling author of The Unofficial Simpsons Cookbook, The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook: Easy Recipes for Fast & Healthy Meals, The Instant Pot No-Pressure Cookbook: 100 Low-Street, High Flavor Recipes, and Instant Pot Desserts. She has developed hundreds of recipes and written for numerous publications including The Spruce Eats, The Kitchn, Eaten Magazine, Food 52, Simply Recipes, Los Angeles Magazine, EatingWell, Paste Magazine, and Serious Eats.

Food With Spirit: Alcohol-Infused Recipes
Alicia Shevetone
Gaudium Publishing
c/o Histria Books
9781592113118, $39.99, HC, 124pp

Synopsis: "Food With Spirit: Alcohol-Infused Recipes" is a culinary compendium showcasing outstanding fifty recipes spread across five sections: Appetizers, Soups, Entrees, Sides, and Desserts. All fifty recipes are infused with some of our favorite intoxicants ranging from spiced rum to the smooth flavors of cognac. Each individual recipe is complemented with beautiful full page photos, and accompanied by culinary author Alicia Shevetone's wonderfully entertaining stories of her career as a Las Vegas chef.

Critique: While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), this large format (8.5 x 0.6 x 11 inches, 1.77 pounds) coffee-table style edition of "Food With Spirit: Alcohol-Infused Recipes" is a unique, menu inspiring, unique and prized addition to personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Alicia Shevetone ( is a chef, an author, a television personality, and the creator of DINK Cuisine (Dual Income No Kids) where there are no leftovers, cooking is easy, and you leave the kitchen with a smile. She curates customized cooking experiences across print, digital, social media, and live media. Alicia's ambition is to become the culinary voice for couples of all flavors. She is a frequent guest on lifestyle television programs, and a provocative writer on topics ranging from overeating due to overcooking and the reduction of food waste through portion control.

How to Fall in Love with Tofu
Emma de Thouars
Smith Street Books
c/o Rizzoli
9781922754479, $29.95, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: Tofu is a food prepared by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into solid white blocks of varying softness: silken, soft, firm, extra (or super) firm. There are many varieties of tofu. It has a subtle flavor, so it can be used in savory and sweet dishes. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish and its flavors, and due to its spongy texture, it absorbs flavors well. It is a traditional component of East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines, and has been consumed in China for over 2,000 years. In modern Western cooking, it is most often treated as a meat substitute. (Wikipedia)

Nutritionally, tofu is low in calories, while containing a relatively large amount of protein. It is high in iron, and can have a high calcium or magnesium content depending on the coagulants (e.g. calcium chloride, calcium sulphate, magnesium sulphate) used in manufacturing.

Tofu is the perfect canvas to soak up a pan's flavors. Much more than a meat substitute or a health food alternative, tofu is a delicious staple with endless, delicious possibilities.

With the publication of "How to Fall in Love with Tofu", culinary expert Emma de Thouars shares 40 of these recipes in her new cookbook dedicated to tofu. Mostly inspired by cuisines across Asia, there are recipes for Mapo Tofu, Korean Tofu Pancakes, Stuffed Tofu with Minced Pork, Omelets with Chili Oil, and Dumplings, as well as some Western favorites like Sloppy Joes and Chocolate Mousse.

De Thouars also shares how all the varieties of tofu can shine as the centerpiece of a meal that's very much worth eating, whether you're a vegan or a devoted meat eater. Anyone can learn to love tofu, and de Thouars is here to show you how.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout with full color photography of finished dishes and showcasing the forty 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes for tofu based dishes that are ideal for all dining occasions ranging from breakfast, to lunch, to dinner and dessert, "How to Fall in Love with Tofu" will prove to be an immediately inspiring and enduringly welcome addition to personal, family, professional, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Emma de Thouars is a culinary writer and recipe developer. She has a great fondness for Asian cuisines and spends as much time as possible on that part of the globe. She has previously written Amazing Asia and Emma's Amazing Asia: Vegan. You can find all her culinary inspiration on her Instagram (@emmadethouars), where she posts recipe videos almost daily, from simple scrambled eggs with tomato to homemade tofu.

The Grace-Filled Homestead Cookbook
Lana Stenner
Ten Peaks Press
c/o Harvest House Publishers
9780736984782, $24.99, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: More than just a chore, home cooking can be a wonderful gift that you give yourself and your loved ones, encouraging connection and simpler, slower living. Now, with the publication of "The Grace-Filled Homestead Cookbook: Garden-Fresh Recipes Celebrating Food, Family, and the Farm", Lana Stenner enables you to experience a taste of the good life with these mouth-watering recipes that incorporate some of the best ingredients each season of the year has to offer.

Make your SPRING sing with bacon-wrapped asparagus, lilac-glazed donuts, and wild-violet hot cross buns.

Soak up SUMMER as you savor sweet zucchini scones with apricot compote, ladybug caprese mini salad, and raspberry lemonade bloom popsicles.

FALL for a new favorite, including rosemary roasted concord chicken, stuffed acorn squash, and salted caramel cookie cake.

Cozy up in WINTER with sugar plum cream cheese stuffed French toast, creamy baked potato soup, and buttermilk biscuits with sage sausage gravy.

Are you hungry for more wholesome, homemade meals? As promised in its title, "The Grace-Filled Homestead Cookbook: Garden-Fresh Recipes Celebrating Food, Family, and the Farm" is the cookbook offering you the fresh start you've been looking for.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated throughout with full page color photographs of finished dishes, "The Grace-Filled Homestead Cookbook: Garden-Fresh Recipes Celebrating Food, Family, and the Farm" is an impressively 'kitchen cook friendly' compendium of seasonally based, palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, kitchen cook friendly dishes for every dining occasion. This large format (7.75 x 0.75 x 9.75 inches) paperback edition from Ten Peaks Press is a very special pick for personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections. It should be noted that "The Grace-Filled Homestead Cookbook" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99).

Editorial Note: Lana Stenner ( shares stories about faith, family, and the farm (and more than a few recipes) on her blog and podcast. She also teaches business classes at a local university. Along with her fireman husband and five children, Lana lives on a small farmstead in Kansas City, Missouri, where she raises goats, chickens, and bees.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

The Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer
Dan Buettner
National Geographic Press
9781426223471, $32.50, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: Dan Buettner has traveled the globe to uncover the best strategies for longevity, which he found in the blue zones: places around the world where higher percentages of people enjoy remarkably long, full lives.

With the publication of "The Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer: Lessons From the Healthiest Places on Earth", Buettner returns to Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula; and Loma Linda, California to check in on the super-agers living in the blue zones and interprets the not-so-secret sauce of purpose, faith, community, down-time, natural movement, and plant-based eating that has powered as many as 10 additional years of healthy living in these regions. Buettner also reveals an all-new blue zone -- the first man-made blue zone yet explored.

Throughout his two decades of research, Buettner has worked with some of National Geographic's top photographers to document the healthy habits of the world's longest living communities. In this informative collection, their work punctuates Buettner's lively text, offering a beautiful tour of the blue zones.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout with full color images, "The Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer: Lessons From the Healthiest Places on Earth" will prove to be of particular appeal and value for readers with an interest in longevity, physiology, health promoting diets. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer: Lessons From the Healthiest Places on Earth" is an extraordinary, potentially life change, and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Health/Medicine collections. It should be noted that "The Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer: Lessons From the Healthiest Places on Earth" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) to students, academia, health/medicine professionals, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.

Editorial Note: Dan Buettner ( is the founder of Blue Zones, an organization that helps Americans live longer, healthier lives. His groundbreaking work on longevity led to his 2005 National Geographic cover story "Secrets of Living Longer" and a second, "The Search for Happiness," in 2017. Buettner has authored seven national bestsellers including: The Blue Zones Kitchen, The Blue Zones, Thrive, The Blue Zones Challenge, The Blue Zones of Happiness, and The Blue Zones Solution. He is a National Geographic Explorer.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Birds & Blooms Birds in Every Season
Birds & Blooms, editor
Trusted Media Brands
9781621459774, $19.99, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: Reader-submitted stories and photos from Birds & Blooms magazine highlight the beauty of birds in every season and from a variety of habitats in this all-new collection. More than 300 brilliant photos, stories from today's birders, photography tips, and hints and ideas for attracting birds to your yard round out this keepsake book.

Now with the publication of "Birds & Blooms Birds in Every Season: Cherish the Feathered Flyers in Your Yard All Year Long", anyone can now go birdwatching without leaving their house as they page through "Birds & Blooms Birds in Every Season".

Incredible nature photography makes this large format (8.13 x 0.4 x 10.88 inches, 1.36 pounds) coffee-table style volume that will be visited time and timeagain. The impressive and inherently interesting reader-submitted stories, hints and tips offer insight into the rewarding hobby of birding.

Created by the pros at Birds & Blooms magazine, this keepsake highlights the beauty of birds in a variety of habitats around the country, from brightly colored warblers and elegant egrets to stoic-looking owls and tiny finches. Birding enthusiasts will full enjoy the photos and tales from fellow bird lovers about their encounters with these feathered friends, and learn tips and tricks for successful seasonal birding in special sections at the end of each chapter.

Critique: Gorgeous full color photography, insightful and informative commentary, "Birds & Blooms Birds in Every Season: Cherish the Feathered Flyers in Your Yard All Year Long" is a bird watcher's delight and a welcome, enduringly popular, highly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Aviary and Wildlife collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Birds & Blooms Birds in Every Season: Cherish the Feathered Flyers in Your Yard All Year Long" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Birds & Blooms ( is the #1 bird and garden magazine in North America with more than 1 million subscribers. It prides itself on inspiring a lifelong love of birding, gardening and nature by celebrating beauty in the backyard and beyond.

The Business Shelf

The Entrepreneurial Brain
Jeff Hays
HarperCollins Leadership
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9781400243198, $22.99, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: When your biggest superpower is also your most critical weakness, it helps to have a manual on how to control it. Entrepreneurs are creative, bold thinkers and risk-takers capable of great accomplishments. At the same time, for every success story, there is a counter story of an epic collapse caused by a lack of a moral compass, values, or proper guidance.

The author of "The Entrepreneurial Brain: How to Ride the Waves of Entrepreneurship and Live to Tell About It", Jeff Hays knows the highs and the lows having ridden that rollercoaster many times in his life and career and provides a much-needed user's manual for entrepreneurs everywhere and the people in their work and personal lives.

With "The Entrepreneurial Brain", you will:

Gain insights into the mindset entrepreneurs need to develop in order to survive. And when Hays says survive, he means it: Your money, your relationships, your sanity, and even your life are at stake if you don't come to understand why you are the way you are, and how to manage it.

Learn specific business tools to enjoy even more success than you've imagined. From real-world step by step instruction in how to raise money for your venture, to how to build a build an email list and market to that list, Hays shares hard won experience that isn't taught in any theoretical school.

Increase your perspective on the common pitfalls you need to avoid. Hays has learned the pitfalls the hard way, letting his entrepreneurial brain drive him off a cliff over and over again. Failure has been one of his greatest teachers, showing him how to work with his brain and how to work with others.

Access the wisdom and insights of mentors and other leaders. Throughout this groundbreaking instructional guide and how-to' manual, Hays shares the transformational wisdom he learned from his own mentor along with insights and perspectives from a variety of industry leaders and influencers to help you experience all of the ups, and more, while protecting yourself against some of the downs.

Critique: Essential reading for anyone aspiring to, or already engaged in, and entrepreneurial venture of any kind, anywhere, "The Entrepreneurial Brain: How to Ride the Waves of Entrepreneurship and Live to Tell About It" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in style, organization, and presentation. Impressively comprehensive, exceptionally insightful, "The Entrepreneurial Brain" is an important and highly recommended pick for community, corporate, and academic library Business/Entrepreneur collections and curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of MBA students, academia, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, business managers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Entrepreneurial Brain" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Jeff Hays ( is a serial entrepreneur and filmmaker with a long colorful history of visionary projects. In the mid-nineties he started Capstone Entertainment, a film and television production and distribution company. Within its first year the company generated over $10 million in revenue and received numerous awards in the children's programming category. Since then he has started over twenty companies including, NextFitness, Podfitness, Zingback, and Talk 2 Technologies. The companies he's founded have collectively raised over $100 million in capital through both private investors and VCs. Recently he has also launched several wildly successful crowd-funding campaigns, in addition to personally funding several ventures. He holds eight patents in the tech industry.

Belonging Rules
Brad Deutser
Matt Holt Books
c/o BenBella Books
9781637744024, $30.00, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: The need to belong is innate and enduring, yet often elusive. Genuine belonging requires a bold approach, one that offers both depth and credibility to the work required from leaders whose organizations are craving a sense of connection, security, and acceptance.

With the publication of "Belonging Rules: Five Crucial Actions That Build Unity and Foster Performance", Brad Deutser offers nuanced, direct guidance for navigating both the pre-existing and ever-evolving social and organizational demands of today's workplace. The five rules within, based on extensive research and application, create a framework to dissect and decode the complex, complicated, and controversial issues of the modern workforce.

An executive coach and award-winning management consultant Brad Deutser gives leaders the confidence to address the most critical societal imperative -- belonging. His approach doesn't tell leaders what to do, rather he provides leaders with the how to: Identify the heart of existing power structures and societal mandates; Reframe the impact of inclusion at an individual and organizational level; Challenge and fundamentally redefine the relationship with diverse stakeholders.

Leading can be uncomfortable. "Belonging Rules" is a guide will empower leaders to shift attention, understanding, and effort toward bridging differences and uniting the "movable middle" which depowers the extremes, driving necessary change and desired performance.

Critique: Instructive, informative, inspiring, effective, "Belonging Rules: Five Crucial Actions That Build Unity and Foster Performance" is especially and remarkably well written and organized, as well as impressively 'reader friendly' in style and presentation. While an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Business Management/Leadership collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for students, academia, business managers, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Belonging Rules" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Brad Deutser ( is the visionary leader behind Deutser and Deutser Clarity Institute (Houston, New York, Bermuda and Arizona). Brad is recognized for his ability to navigate complex, contentious, ambiguous business and people challenges, both inside and outside organizations. He is sought after as an authority and innovative thinker on matters of organizational change, belonging, DEI, and complexity in leadership. He is also the author of "Leading Clarity: The Breakthrough Strategy to Unleash People, Profit, and Performance".

The General Fiction Shelf

Christmas at Corgi Cove
Annie England Noblin
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
HarperCollins Audio
9780063222243, $18.99, PB, 352pp / $41.99 audio CD

Synopsis: Rosie Reynolds had come to lakeside Corgi Cove as a lost, lonely girl abandoned by her own mother, but there she discovered a true place to call home. She loves her Corgis, Bonnie and Clyde; loves the lakeside life; and loves her aunt and uncle most of all. But when she discovers their struggling inn is about to be bought out by some big city chain, she hatches a plan: to win a contest naming theirs the best Christmas-themed inn in the USA. It's a long shot, but she knows if the whole town pulls together that they can do it.

But she didn't count on Everett St Claire, who emerged from his gleaming, black BMW, straightening his tie and asking himself how did a big-city guy like him find himself in a speck on the map like Corgi Cove? And how fast could he get back to the city? After all, it couldn't be that difficult to convince one elderly couple to take the money to retire.

He didn't count on getting sucked into life on the lake. Sure, the people might be... eccentric, and Rosie might seem like a pain in the backside, but there is something alluring about the place. And with the holidays nearing, and the deadline looming, Rosie and Everett are about to discover the magic of a Christmas at Corgi Cove.

Critique: A 'feel good' novel with the proverbial 'Happy Ending', "Christmas at Corgi Cove" by novelist Annie England Noblin will be of special and particular interest to fans of contemporary women's friendship fiction. Carefully crafted with memorable characters and a fully reader engaging storyline, "Christmas at Corgi Cove" showcases the author's genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling that makes for a truly memorable and fun read from start to finish. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Christmas at Corgi Cove" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (HarperCollins Audio, 9798212698580, $41.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.

With Regrets
Lee Kelly
Crooked Lane Books
Dreamscape Media
9781639104673, $29.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: When recent NYC-transplant Liz Brinkley and her husband are invited to an exclusive soiree by their neighbor, "lifestyle guru" Britta Harris-Che, Liz's immediate thought is hell no. Britta is insufferable, and Liz is wary to leave her young children with a barely-teenage babysitter. And yet she RSVPs anyway, trying to extend an olive branch to her withdrawing husband, who seems desperate to get in with the cliquey elite.

They've barely made it through their first round of champagne when a "red alert" comes through their phones, and every channel on the television tells the same story: strange atmospheric masses, reported to look like "glimmering clouds," have been spreading through major U.S. cities and killing anyone they touch. Authorities have just one clear directive: Find shelter. Immediately.

A collective panic seizes the dinner party; all the guests have children at home. In the mad dash to their cars, they see it: a shimmering net floating over the town. The street is littered with wrecked cars and dead bodies. Leaving now is not an option. Instead, the group launches into survival mode, grabbing supplies to take shelter in the hosts' wine cellar. But everyone has very different opinions about the best plan from there.

Liz becomes increasingly willing to do anything it takes to get back to her children. As the glimmering clouds continue to kill anyone who steps outside, the tensions and suspicions among the party guests near a boiling point. But she begins to realize that there may be others in that cellar even more desperate than she is.

Critique: With a very particular and special appeal to readers with an interest in deftly crafted science fiction technothrillers, "With Regrets" by novelist Lee Kely reveals this author's genuine flair for originality, urban fantasy, and a distinctive, narrative driven, apocalyptic storytelling style. A memorable and unreservedly recommended pick for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted that "With Regrets" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape, 9781666645422, $59.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Lee Kelly ( is the author of "City of Savages", "A Criminal Magic", and "The Antiquity Affair" (co-written with Jennifer Thorne). Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Gingerbread House, Orca, and, among other publications. She holds her MFA degree from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

Away from the Dead
David Bergen
Goose Lane Editions
9781773103105, $24.95, PB, 226pp

Synopsis: Violence is the domain of both the rich and poor. Or so it seems in early 20th-century Ukraine during the tumult of the Russian Revolution.

Anarchists, Bolsheviks, and the White Army all come and go, each claiming freedom and justice. In his novel, "Away from the Dead", author David Bergen embeds his readers into the lives of characters connected through love, family, and loyalty.

Lehn, a bookseller south of Kiev, deserts the army and writes poetry to his love back home; Sablin, an adopted Mennonite-Ukrainian stableboy, runs with the anarchists only to discover that love and the planting of crops is preferable to killing; Inna, a beautiful young peasant, tries to stop a Mennonite landowner from stealing her child.

In a world of violence, Sablin, Lehn, and Inna learn to love and hate and love again, hoping, against all odds, that one can turn away from the dead.

Critique: Memorable, emotional, and thought-provoking, in the pages of "Away from the Dead", novelist David Bergen reveals a world of yesteryear in which chaos reigned and where both the beauty and the horror of what humanity is capable of are revealed. Simply stated, that "Away from the Dead" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Literary Fiction and Historical Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: David Bergen ( is the author of numerous acclaimed novels and short-story collections, including The Time In Between, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and Out of Mind, winner of the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. "Away from the Dead" is his thirteenth book of fiction. He lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The Last True Templar
Boyd & Beth Morrison
Head of Zeus
9781801108683, $20.99, HC, 432pp

Synopsis: Italy, 1351. English knight Gerard Fox and the resourceful Willa have come through a death-defying journey across war-torn Europe. Now looking towards their future together, they must first find a way to reconcile with their difficult pasts.

In a small village between Florence and Siena, Fox and Willa are caught up in a deadly ambush. After rescuing the enigmatic woman who is the target of the attack, they take refuge in her opulent villa and learn her heartbreaking story -- a tale of loss, deception, as well as a burning desire for freedom.

Soon, Fox and Willa are involved in a perilous quest to save her family's legacy. To do so, they will have to solve a mystery that points the way to the fabled lost treasure of the Knights Templar.

Critique: A carefully crafted and original medieval action/adventure novel, "The Last True Templar" is the sequel to co- authors Boyd and Beth Morrison's historical novel "The Lawless Land". A perilous quest, a deadly legacy, knights in not- so-shining armor, "The Last True Templar is a fun and riveting read from first page to last. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Last True Templar" is also available in a paperback edition (9781801108706, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note #1: Boyd Morrison ( is author of twelve thrillers, including six with Clive Cussler. His first novel, The Ark, was an Indie Next Notable pick and was translated into over a dozen languages. He has a PhD in industrial engineering from Virginia Tech. You can follow Boyd on: @BoydMorrison IG: @BoydMorrisonWriter

Editorial Note #2: Beth Morrison ( is Senior Curator of Manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum. She has curated major exhibitions including 'Imagining the Past in France, 1250-1500', and 'Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World'. She has a PhD in the History of Art from Cornell University and can be followed on: @BethMorrisonPhd IG: @BethMorrisonWriter

The LGBTQ Fiction Shelf

Disorderly Men
Edward Cahill
Empire State Editions
c/o Fordham University Press
9781531504441, $28.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Roger Moorhouse is a Wall Street banker and Westchester family man with a preciously guarded secret. As the shouting begins and flashlights blaze in his face, the life he's carefully curated over the years (a fancy new office overlooking lower Broadway, a house in Beechmont Woods, his wife and children) is about to come crashing down around him.

Columbia literature professor Julian Prince lives a comparatively uncloseted life when he finds his first committed relationship tested to its limits. How could he explain to Gus, a fearless young artist, that he couldn't stay with him that weekend because the woman who was still technically Julian's fiancee would be visiting? But when Gus is struck unconscious by a police baton, Julian comes out of hiding to protect him, even if exposure means losing everything.

For Danny Duffy, an Irish kid from the Bronx with a sassy mouth and a diverse group of friends, the raid is a galvanizing, Spartacus moment. Danny doesn't have too much left to lose; his family has just disowned him. But once his name appears in the newspaper, he'll be fired from his job at Sloan's Supermarket, where he's risen to assistant manager of produce, and begin a journey that veers between political enlightenment and violent revenge.

The three men find themselves in a police wagon together, their hidden lives threatened to be revealed to the world. Blackmail, a private investigator, Gus's disappearance, and Danny's quest for retribution propel "Disorderly Men" to its piercing conclusion, as each man meets the boundaries of his own fear, love, and shame. The stakes for each are different, but all of them confront a fundamental question: How much happiness is he allowed to have -- and what share of it will he lay claim to?

Critique: The story of three gay men in pre-Stonewall New York City who find their fates thrown together in the police raid of a Village bar, "Disorderly Men" by novelist Edward Cahill will be of special and particular interest to readers in the LGBTQ community. Although a work of fiction, the author has so accurately portrayed the times and events that were to overcome centuries of abuse towards gay men in America and create changes that would go on to cultural and political reforms that would ultimately result in a Supreme Court decision that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in the eyes of the law. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $27.50), "Disorderly Men" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library LGBTQ literary fiction collections and supplemental LGBTQ demographic & gay history curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Edward Cahill ( is Professor of English at Fordham University. He is the author of Liberty of the Imagination: Aesthetic Theory, Literary Form, and Politics in the Early United States. Disorderly Men is his first novel.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

She's A Killer
Kirsten McDougall
Gallic Books
9781913547653, $18.95, HC,

Synopsis: ALICE: 30-something, IQ of 159 (almost a genius), only communicates with her mother in Morse code. -- And her imaginary friend is back.

ERIKA: 15, daughter of hot 'wealthugee' who loves Russian literature, is genuine genius, appreciates killer eyeliner and possess killer instincts.

The climate is in crisis and wealthy immigrants are flocking to New Zealand for shelter, stealing land, driving up food prices and taking over. But Alice has far more important things to worry about: hating her best friend's husband, getting free wine and quiet-quitting her dull day job. Until she meets Erika.

Now, Alice is about to find herself drawn into action of the most radical (and dangerous) kind. Just what is a slacker to do?

Critique: Original, iconoclastic, bold, brilliant, bizarre, and a compulsive page turner of a read from start to finish, "She's a Killer" is a unique and very special satirical dystopian thriller. While highly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "She's a Killer" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).

Editorial Note: Kirsten McDougall ( is a New Zealand novelist, short story writer and creative writing lecturer. She has published three novels, and won the 2021 Sunday Star-Times short story competition.

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Every Duke Has His Day
Suzanne Enoch
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
9781250842541, $17.99, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: Michael Bromley, Duke of Woriton, has a passion, but it's not for chasing ladies or gambling till dawn. No, his is the far more dangerous pursuit of the science of chemistry. He may be a tad eccentric, but he can navigate a society ballroom, and manage a polite conversation -- if he must. He's certainly capable of taking care of his aunt's perfectly behaved poodle, Lancelot, while she's on holiday.

Elizabeth "Bitsy" Dockering, third daughter of a viscount, is enjoying her second, spectacular Season in London. She is a Diamond of the Season and is adored by all -- and especially by her precious black poodle, Galahad. To everyone else, however, Galahad is a demon dog. So much so that Bitsy's most insistent beau and particular victim of Galahad's bad manners, has hired a thief to steal the dog, clearing the way for his suit.

But none of them can plan for a chaotic encounter in the park, resulting in lost notes, a soaking in the Serpentine and an accidental dog swap... and Lancelot being kidnapped instead of Galahad! Determined to locate the dog, Michael isn't thrilled to be saddled with a flighty female insisting on helping - except that Bitsy has a great deal more sense than he expected. And a sharp tongue to match. Still, what's a scientist to do but continue to pursue an outcome, however unexpected it may be? But chemistry is all about attraction, and this is one formula with some hilariously romantic results.

Critique: A deftly crafted and fun read from cover to cover, "Every Duke Has His Day" by Suzanne Enoch will have a very special interest for fans of Regency Romance novels. Offering the kind of wonderfully entertaining and original story that BBC television series and movies are made, "Every Duke Has His Day" is fully recommended for community library Historical Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of growing legions of Suzanne Enock fans that "Every Duke Has His Day" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Suzanne Enoch ( loves movies almost as much as she loves books. She has written more than 50 books, including Regency romances, historical romances, and contemporary romantic suspense.

Four Seasons at Cutler's: A Year to Choose the One
Caroline McBride
Post Hill Press
9798888451182, $17.99, PB, 306pp

Synopsis: Serial dater Charlotte believes she has finally found her soul mate in Wyatt, but his elusive behavior leads her to question his feelings for her. Completely devoted to him, she desperately tries to sustain their relationship while navigating a demanding public relations career. When Charlotte meets Travis, her new boss, he offers a reprieve from the doldrums caused by Wyatt's mixed signals. Dating the owner of the restaurant group who recently acquired her company in a hostile takeover is a conflict of interest, but she can't resist his Southern charm. Until Wyatt resurfaces...

This neurodivergent love triangle takes place during a whirlwind year of travel (both for business and for pleasure) as Charlotte faces challenges and self-discovery in vibrant destinations including Dubai, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas, Boston, Houston, East Hampton, and Park City. Escaping her tiny studio apartment in New York City, she visits her family in Southern California and enjoys romantic interludes in Cannes, Florence, Sirmione, Toronto, Puerto Rico, and Santa Barbara.

Critique: "Four Seasons at Cutler's: A Year to Choose the One" by Caroline McBride is a fun romantic comedy about falling in love with someone who communicates differently than those smooth operators who appear perfect. The author's genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling and sense of humor is fully demonstrated in the carefully constructed characters and a memorably entertaining story that will have a very special appeal for fans of Rom- Coms. While a very strongly recommended pick for community library Contemporary Romance Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Four Seasons at Cutler's: A Year to Choose the One" is also readily available in digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Caroline Alexa McBride ( grew up in sunny Southern California and remained there for college to earn her B.A. in Political Science at Loyola Marymount University. She holds an M.A. in International Relations from the Universiteit van Amsterdam in The Netherlands where she studied as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar. As a publicist, she spent the past decade marketing, branding and launching restaurants across the globe, as well as consulting for private clients. "Four Seasons at Angelino's" is McBride's debut novel. She was encouraged by the love of her life to venture into writing fiction as a creative outlet inspired by her work experiences and personal escapades around the world.

Lost and Found
Suzanne Woods Fisher
Fleming H. Revell Company
c/o Baker Publishing Group
9780800739522, $17.99, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: Trudy Yoder shares a passion for birding with Micah Weaver -- and she has an even greater passion for Micah. Their friendship is finally turning romantic when Micah abruptly grows cold. Worse still, he wants to leave Stoney Ridge.

Micah Weaver thought he was over Trudy's older sister. A year and a half ago, Shelley had broken his heart when she ran away from Stoney Ridge to pursue a singing career in Nashville. Then, out of the blue, she's started to leave distressing phone messages for him.

When the bishop asks for volunteers to scout out a possible church relocation in Tennessee, Micah is the first to raise his hand. Despite scant details, he's confident he can find Shelley. After all, his reputation as a field guide is based on finding birds that don't want to be found.

What Micah doesn't know is that what you're looking for isn't always what you find.

Critique: An Amish romance at its very best, author and storyteller Suzanne Woods Fisher's latest novel, "Lost and Found" is a fun read from cover to cover. While a highly recommended pick for personal reading lists and community library romance fiction collections, it should be noted that "Lost and Found" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Suzanne Woods Fisher is the award-winning, bestselling author of more than 30 books, including The Moonlight School, Anything but Plain, The Sweet Life,and The Secret to Happiness, as well as the Three Sisters Island, Nantucket Legacy, Amish Beginnings, The Bishop's Family, The Deacon's Family, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series. She is also the author of several nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and Amish Proverbs. She lives in California. You can learn more at her at and follow her on Facebook @SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor and Twitter @suzannewfisher

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Malibu Burning
Lee Goldberg
Thomas & Mercer
9781662500671, $28.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Hell comes to Southern California every October. It rides in on searing Santa Ana winds that blast at near hurricane force, igniting voracious wildfires. Master thief Danny Cole longs for the flames. A tsunami of fire is exactly what he needs to pull off a daring crime and avenge a fallen friend.

As the most devastating firestorms in Los Angeles' history scorch the hills of Malibu, relentless arson investigator Walter Sharpe and his wild card of a new partner, Andrew Walker, a former US marshal, suspect that someone set the massive blazes intentionally, a terrifying means to an unknown end.

While the flames rage out of control, Danny pursues his brilliant scheme, unaware that Sharpe and Walker are closing in. But when they all collide in a canyon of fire, everything changes, pitting them against an unexpected enemy within an inescapable inferno.

Critique: Given a timely sense of authenticity with respect to the fires currently plaguing Southern California, "Malibu Burning" by Lee Goldberg will have a special appeal to fans of police procedure mystery thrillers. Original and compelling from first page to last, "Malibu Burning is highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Malibu Burning" is also available in a paperback edition (9781662500688, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Lee Goldberg ( wiki Lee_Goldberg) is an American author, screenwriter, publisher and producer known for his bestselling novels and TV crime series. He is the author of the .357 Vigilante, True Fiction and The Man with the Iron-On Badge series, as well as the .357 Vigilante TV series. He also wrote and produced Diagnosis Murder, A Nero Wolfe Mystery, Monk and other shows.

Death in the Reeds
John Gibson
Stark House Press
9781951473853, $15.95, PB, 302pp

Synopsis: At the start of the Iraq War, a priceless antiquity is stolen from the Iraq Museum. The three thousand year old Death in the Reeds which once decorated an ancient throne. There are only two in the world, and billionaire collectors will pay hundreds of millions of dollars to secure it. The thief escapes Iraq with his prize, but is murdered before he can sell it. And now the missing antiquity becomes the object of a frantic chase.

In San Francisco, sexy TV star Cass Popadop (a close friend to Mickey Judge, recently hired by one of the local stations after being fired from New York) finds out about the stolen art and tries to score a multi-million dollar commission. She tempts the brother of the dead thief to fly to the Mideast, track it down and bring it back to San Francisco.

All the while, hired killer Pete Grand is stalking the object himself, dispatching anyone who gets in his way with a quick toss from a fatal height.

And in the midst of all this grasping, greedy collection of crooked politicians, media moguls and rich eccentrics, Mickey Judge finds himself becoming the ultimate bait in a chase for the billion dollar prize.

Critique: A deftly crafted an inherent engaging 'Mickey Judge Mystery' by novelist John Gibson is a simply riveting read from start to finish. Memorable characters, original storyline, and more unexpected twists and turns than a Texas tornado, "Death in the Reeds" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated crime fiction fans that "Death in the Reeds" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: John Gibson ( was a television news reporter, a network news correspondent, a cable news anchor and a radio talk show host for over four decades. He lives in Texas. OJ's Knife was his first novel, also published by Stark House. He previously published non fiction titles The War On Christmas, Hating America, and How the Left Swiftboated America.

Murder and Mamon
Mia P. Manasala
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin/Random House
9780593549162, $17.00, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: Lila Macapagal's godmothers April, Mae, and June (aka the Calendar Crew) are celebrating the opening of their latest joint business venture, a new laundromat, to much fanfare (and controversy).

However, what should've been a joyous occasion quickly turns into a tragedy when they discover the building has been vandalized -- and the body of Ninang April's niece, recently arrived from the Philippines, next to a chilling message painted on the floor. The question is, was the message aimed at the victim or Lila's gossipy godmothers, who have not-so-squeaky-clean reputations?

With Ninang April falling apart from grief and little progress from the Shady Palms Police Department in this slippery case, it's up to Lila and her network to find justice for the young woman.

The Calendar Crew have stuck their noses into everybody's business for years, but now the tables are turned as Lila must pry into the Calendar Crew's lives to figure out who has a vendetta against the (extremely opinionated yet loving) aunties and stop them before they strike again.

Critique: A 'Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery', "Murder and Mamon" by novelist and book coach Mia P. Manansala is a deftly crafted amateur lady sleuth cozy mystery novel that is an original and fun read from first page to last. Memorable characters and more plot twists that a Kansas tornado, "Murder and Mamon" is a truly riveting read and will prove to be a welcome and popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Murder and Mamon" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Mia P. Manansala ( is a talented writer from Chicago who loves books, baking, and badass women. She uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture.

Harlem After Midnight
Louise Hare
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin/Random House
9780593439289, $28.00, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: Harlem, 1936: Lena Aldridge is a woman who grew up in a cramped corner of London, hearing stories of the bright lights of Broadway. She always imagined that when she finally went to New York City, she'd be there with her father. But now he's dead, and she's newly arrived and alone, chasing a dream that has quickly dried up.

When Will Goodman (the handsome musician she met on the crossing from England) offers for her to stay with his friends in Harlem, she agrees. She has nowhere else to go, and this will give her a chance to get to know Will better and see if she can find any trace of the family she might have remaining.

Will's friends welcome her with open arms, but just as Lena discovers the stories her father once told her were missing giant pieces of information, she also starts to realize the man she's falling too fast and too hard for has secrets of his own. And they might just place a target on her back.

Especially when she is drawn to the brightest stage in town.

Critique: A finely fashion, deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine flair for the kind of original and narrative driven storytelling that keeps the reader's total attention from first page to last, "Harlem After Midnight" by novelist Louis Hare is especially and unreservedly recommended pick for community library contemporary African/American mystery and suspense thriller fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Harlem After Dark" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Louise Hare ( is the London-based author of Miss Aldridge Regrets. Her debut novel, This Lovely City, was published in the UK to wide acclaim, and was a Between the Covers Book Club Pick on BBC Two. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of London.

The Messenger
Megan Davis
Pegasus Crime
c/o Pegasus Books
9781639364473, $27.95, HC, 448pp

Synopsis: After moving back to Paris to live with his French dad, Alex Giraud is struggling to fit in among the kids of the rich elite at his exclusive school and he feels stifled by the expectations of his overbearing father. Eddy Giraud used to be one of the most fearless journalists in Paris, but his professional and personal disappointments have made him a cynical, opportunistic man who has little patience for his son's lack of ambition.

Desperate to escape the increasingly suffocating atmosphere at home, Alex seeks freedom in the French metropolis where his new-found friend Sami teaches him the rules of the street. But everything has a price -- and one night of rebellion changes their lives forever. A simple plan for a robbery takes a sinister turn when Alex's father is found dead.

Despite protesting their innocence, Alex and Sami are imprisoned for murder. Seven years later, Alex is released from prison with a single purpose: discover who really killed his father.

As he searches for answers, Alex is tormented by his sense of guilt for his father (and for Sami) and, as he begins to uncover the truth about his father's killer, other shocking revelations with far-reaching consequences come to light. Will Alex be able to survive his own personal demons and, after all this time, bring the murderer to justice?

Critique: An elegant, original, deftly crafted, and inherently fascinating, memorable read from cover to cover, "The Messenger" by novelist Megan Davis will be of special interest to fans of murder mysteries and suspense thrillers. While a very highly recommended pick for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "The Messenger" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Megan Davis ( has worked in the film industry and her credits include Atonement, In Bruges, Pride and Prejudice, and the Bourne films. Megan is also a lawyer at Spotlight on Corruption. Her debut The Messenger, won the Bridport Prize for a first unpublished novel, judged by Kamila Shamsie, as well as the Lucy Cavendish Prize. She currently resides in London.

Code Crisis
Joseph Purpura, MD
Greenleaf Book Group Press
9798886450132, $27.95, HC, 360pp

Synopsis: Dr. Vince DeLuca would normally take a Tito's straight up with two olives after a ruptured ectopic pregnancy nearly flatlined a patient. Maybe follow it up with a one-night stand to chase away memories of the trauma that has kept his emotional life stagnant for so long.

But when he overhears one of his recovering patients (married to the CEO of a defense contractor) mumbling about "stingers", "revenge", and her affair with a mysterious man named Salaam, Vince's PTSD alights. Sure, it could just be the ramblings of a woman on too much morphine, or she could be talking about the missing anti aircraft weapons he read about and a highly sought-after terrorist.

Vince decides to leave it to the FBI, not suspecting that they would send him Carolyn, a drop-dead gorgeous, slightly insane CIA agent who needs his help. Vince is soon thrown into the fray and finds himself both utterly in love and using everything he ever learned in his medical career (including how to clamp a subclavian artery with a zip tie) to help home in on the terrorists' plot, but not before they discover him and come looking for blood.

Critique: It is clear that as an author, Joe Purpura effectively draws upon his professional career experiences as a doctor to provide "Code Crisis", his action/adventure mystery suspense thriller of a novel, with an air of authenticity. Showcasing his genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that holds his reader's rapt attention from start to finish, "Code Crisis" will prove a welcome and enduringly popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of Medical Thriller and Terrorism themed fans that the "Code Crisis" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Joseph Purpura, MD, is an obstetrician-gynecologist, patient safety expert, and award-winning faculty member at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. He lives in Santa Barbara, CA. This is his first novel.

Opulence and Ashes
Kate Belli
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105304, $31.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: It's Spring, 1890, and the long New York winter is over, the buds are blossoming, and romance is in the air. But not all's right in Gilded-Age Manhattan. Genevieve, a society journalist, and her fiance, Daniel, are working with photographer Dagmar Hansen on an investigation into the House of Refuge, a children's workhouse, inspired by Daniel's near incarceration when he was young. Genevieve is also working on her own piece for the Globe about the Sunflower Mission House, which burned down in a suspicious fire.

When a blaze consumes Dagmar's studio (and Genevieve barely escapes with her life in another) Daniel urges her to stop her investigation. But Genevieve is determined to finish the story, and her leads take her deep into the heart of the Bowery. When Genevieve suddenly goes missing, Daniel searches the city in a desperate effort to find her. When their new Fifth Avenue home is also set ablaze, Daniel fears the worst.

Someone has their sights on Genevieve -- and if she can't escape, she could be the next to go up in flames!

Critique: An historical murder mystery set in the Gilded Age of late 19th Century New York City and involving an amateur female sleuth and a ruthless, unknown killer, "Opulence and Ashes" by novelist Kate Belli is an expertly crafted and thoroughly fun read that will hold a special interest for cozy mystery fans and fans of historical crime fiction. While highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted "Opulence and Ashes" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note: Kate Belli ( writes historical mysteries and contemporary thrillers. Fascinated by history from an early age, she earned a PhD in American art and has variously worked as an antiques appraiser, a museum curator and a college professor. Kate has lived all over, from Florence, Italy, to Brooklyn, New York, to the Deep South, to a cottage next to Monet's gardens in Northern France. Today she lives and works in Central Pennsylvania with her husband and son.

The Socialite's Guide to Death and Dating
S. K. Golden
Crooked Lane Books
9781639104857, $29.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: New York, 1958. Even though Evelyn Murphy has made progress conquering her agoraphobia by leaving the Pinnacle hotel, she still feels most comfortable in her father's hotel. With Malcolm Cooper, her new boyfriend and fellow employee at the hotel, Evelyn feels prepared for whatever happens next. In this case, it's throwing a big fundraiser with the who's who of New York City.

The night is a success, and Evelyn finally takes up Malcolm's offer to finally visit his apartment in Yonkers. As the party ends, they sneak away to the garage to get Evelyn's car. But Evelyn's always been good at finding things, and she discovers the dead body of a guest, Judge Baker, in a car -- with a needle in his arm.

Detective Hodgson and his new partner, Detective McJimsey, arrive on the scene, but before they can begin to question Evelyn, they are startled by another mysterious discovery: there's a woman in the trunk of the car, and she screams as soon as she sees Evelyn's face. Tangled up in the police investigation, Evelyn's got another problem, too -- her father insists she break off her relationship with Mac. The next day, her father is found attacked just like the judge, only this time the detectives find a dead woman nearby.

With Mac accused of the attacks and in police custody, Evelyn will have to find the killer on her own before she's checked out of the hotel -- this time, for good!

Critique: With all the elements of a terrific cozy mystery beginning with an amateur female sleuth trying to solve the mystery and discover the culprit behind a deadly series of murders, "The Socialite's Guide To Death & Dating" once again showcases author S. K. Golden's impressively original and narrative driven storytelling style and her complete mastery of the cozy mystery genre. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99), "The Socialite's Guide To Death & Dating" will prove to be a particularly welcome and enduringly popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Sarah K Golden ( is also the author of the cozy mystery "The Socialite's Guide to Murder".

Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas
Vicki Delany
Crooked Lane Books
9781639104635, $30.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: It's the beginning of December in Rudolph, New York, America's Christmas Town, and business is brisk at Mrs. Claus's Treasures, a gift and decor shop owned by Merry Wilkinson. The local amateur dramatic society is intensely preparing a special musical production of A Christmas Carol. But it is not a happy set, as rivalries between cast and crew threaten the production.

Tensions come to a head when a member of the group is found dead shortly after a shopping excursion to Mrs. Claus's Treasures. Was someone looking to cut out the competition? Everyone in the cast and crew is a potential suspect, including Aline, Merry's mother, and Merry's shop assistant Jackie O'Reilly, who was desperate for a starring role.

It could be curtains for Christmas (and for Merry!) unless the killer can be ferreted out of the wings.

Critique: Dedicated fans of the cozy mystery genre will not want to miss author Vicki Delany's latest (and arguably best yet) novel, "Have Yourself A Deadly Little Christmas" featuring an amateur lady sleuth urgently needing to solve a 'whodunnit' murder mystery with clues and plot twists aplenty. A stellar and fun read from cover to cover, and also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) is an especially recommended pick for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Vicki Delany ( is the author of more than thirty novels/novellas in several of mystery's subgenres. Born in Manitoba and raised in Ontario, she is the former president of the Crime Writers of Canada, a member of Capital Crime Writers, and a member of Sisters in Crime.

A Nutcracker Nightmare
Christina Romeril
Crooked Lane Books
9781639104918, $$31.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Twin sisters, Hanna and Alex, are the owners of the Murder and Mayhem book and chocolate shop who are busy preparing for the Harriston High School's reunion weekend.

Neighbors will connect with old friends and perhaps try to avoid old foes. But one person no one can avoid is Kyle, the former star quarterback, who is busy using his entire playbook to try and score with Hanna, even threatening her if she doesn't play nice. At the reunion, Alex glimpses more drama than nostalgia as insults are flung around like a football at a Friday night game. The party is put on hold when Alex finds the dead body of none other than Kyle himself, bludgeoned to death by a nutcracker that the sisters admired earlier in the night.

Hanna quickly becomes the prime suspect -- someone saw her slap Kyle in the face at the reunion dance. She'll need her sister, their sleuthing canine, Watson, and their old friends and colleagues to help break this case wide open. While looking through old yearbooks and taking a stroll down memory lane, Alex uncovers a few secrets about Kyle, now, it seems like everyone had a motive to kill him.

But when the suspects start becoming the victims, Alex and Hanna know that they can't melt under the pressure -- they must find the killer before they become just another yearbook memory.

Critique: A fun and deftly crafted read for delighted cozy mystery fans, "A Nutcracker Nightmare" by author Christina Romeril showcases her impressive skills and mastery of the genre. Cozy mystery buffs will enjoy the many unexpected plot twists and turns as our intrepid amateur female sleuths are once again caught up in a riveting 'whodunnit' murder mystery the must solve before the killer can strike again. While a riveting and highly popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it must be noted for personal reading lists that "A Nutcracker Nightmare" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99).

Editorial Note: Christina Romeril ( is a dedicated and talented cozy-mystery writer. She grew up in Kitchener, Ontario, and has been devouring stacks of books since third grade when the Trixie Belden series sparked her love of the genre. She has lived on both coasts of Canada as a member of the Canadian military and later as a military spouse.

Murder at Midnight
Katharine Schellman
Crooked Lane Books
9781639104321, $29.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Regency widow Lily Adler is looking forward to a quiet Christmastide away from the schemes and secrets she witnessed daily in London. Not only will she be visiting the family of her late husband; she will be reunited with Captain Jack Hartley, her friend and confidante, finally returned after a long voyage at sea.

But secrets aren't only found in London. Jack's younger sister, Amelia, is the center of neighborhood scandal and gossip. She refuses to tell anyone what really happened, even when an unexpected snowstorm strands the neighborhood families together after a Christmas ball. Stuck until the snow stops, the Adlers, Hartleys, and their neighbors settle in for the night, only to be awakened in the morning by the scream of a maid who has just discovered a dead body.

The victim was the well-to-do son of a local gentleman -- the same man whose name has become so scandalously linked to Amelia's.

With the snow still falling and no way to come or go, it's clear that someone in the house was responsible for the young man's death. When suspicion instantly falls on Jack's sister, he and Lily must unmask the true culprit before Amelia is convicted of a crime she didn't commit.

Critique: Cozy mystery writing at its very best, "Murder at Midnight" by Katharine Schellman is an original 'whodunnit' novel with all the elements of a fun read -- an amateur female sleuth and many an unexpected plot twist and turn. Certain to be a cozy mystery fan favorite, "Murder at Midnight" is absolutely recommended for personal and community library Historical Mystery collections. It should be noted for dedicated cozy mystery fans that "Murder at Midnight" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Katharine Schellman ( is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and currently the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries. A graduate of the College of William & Mary, Katharine currently lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her family and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering.

Seams Deadly
Maggie Bailey
Crooked Lane Books
9781639104697, $29.99, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: Editorial Note: Lydia Barnes is excited for a fresh start when she moves to the quaint mountain town of Peridot, Georgia. Her friend, Fran, offers her a job at the Measure Twice fabric store and even sets her up on a date with the handsome Brandon Ivey, who also happens to be Lydia's new next-door neighbor. Finally, things are looking up. But after a disaster first date that ends with a fist bump instead of a kiss, Lydia doesn't think her night can get any worse. She's soon proven wrong when she later stumbles upon Brandon's dead body.

Considered the prime suspect by the police, Lydia calls on her friends to help her hunt for the truth and prove her innocence. But when another body is soon found inside the Measure Twice store, Lydia knows that the killer must be close by, and that this town has more than its fair share of secrets. Who would want to frame the newest addition to Peridot for these terrible murders -- and why?

Lydia may discover that while sewing might have a pattern, killing rarely does. Will she be able to stitch together the clues and clear her own name before the killer strikes again?

Critique: With a special appeal to readers with an interes in craft/hobby themed cozy mysteries featuring amateur female sleuths and impressively reader engaging and unexpected plot twists and turns, "Seams Deadly" introduces a new 'Measure Twice Sewing Mystery' cozy mystery series by Maggie Bailey. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666645101, $22.99, CD), "Seams Deadly" is a highly recommended pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Maggie Bailey ( an enthusiastic seamstress and maker, is a graduate of Stanford, Oxford, Brown, and Sewanee Universities, Maggie Bailey has previously published two volumes of poetry. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, her dogs, and a growing fabric stash she can't help but add to on a regular basis.

Death by a Thousand Sips
Gretchen Rue
Crooked Lane Books
9781639104536, $30.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Ever since she moved to Raven Creek, Washington, Phoebe Winchester knew she would have to grow accustomed to having a lot on her plate. She's beginning to make the Victorian manor she inherited from her dear and adventurous Aunt Eudora feel more like home, successfully running the bookstore and tea shop, The Earl's Study, and learning to harness her recently discovered magical powers. But when she discovers a dead body at an estate sale -- even Phoebe wonders if this is simply too much.

Rumors of Phoebe's involvement force her to take action; she needs to find the killer and clear her own name, once again. She enlists Rich Lofting, the handsome private detective and her childhood friend, in her investigation, all while she sorts out her unresolved feelings for him. Is there something more sinister lurking in the shadows of this small tight-knit town? And does Phoebe really want to find out?

With a dash of magic, a pinch of sleuthing skills, and a spoonful of friendly assistance, Phoebe needs to uncover the killer to keep Raven Creek safe once again. But if she doesn't -- will she find herself in even more hot water?

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, and a fun read from first page to last, "Death by a Thousand Sips" is a cozy mystery reader's delight from cover to cover. While also available for the personal reading lists of all dedicated cozy mystery fans in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99), "Death by a Thousand Sips" by impressively talented novelist Gretchen Rue is especially and unreservedly recommended pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Gretchen Rue ( lives in the Canadian prairies, which affords her ample time to read during the six months of winter. She plays cat mom to four mostly indifferent fur children, and plant mom to roughly 100 very demanding flora. When she isn't sipping tea and working on her next novel, she enjoys swimming, hiking, and watching baseball.

In the Wick of Time
Valona Jones
Crooked Lane Books
9781639105076, $31.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: December in Savannah, Georgia, is a sight to behold. With all the festivities (including the traditional riverfront luminary display during the boat parade) twin sisters Tabby and Sage Winslow are busier than ever setting up for the big celebration. But that isn't the only thing on the sisters' minds. Both Sage and her fellow employee Mary Nicole are vying for the sought-after assistant manager job at the plant nursery. But when Loren Lee, their boss, is found dead, and Sage becomes the police's favorite suspect, both Winslow girls know that they'll need more than a flicker of magic and their sisterhood to solve the murder and clear Sage's name.

Soon, Tabby realizes that this is just one of the many problems they have. If being a suspect for murder wasn't enough, there are more magical problems that they have to fix: Sage's boyfriend is having a paranormal experience of his own he can't control, there's an energy vampire searching for his supposedly lost cousin, her cat suddenly dislikes her, and oh -- every time Tabby hiccups, she turns completely invisible. The suspect list grows with each day and it seems everyone has a reason or a connection to Loren Lee.

Tabby and Sage are burning the candle at both ends -- but will it be enough to keep their friends safe and find this killer? Or will they be burned by their efforts?

Critique: A delicious combination of magic and the cozy mystery, "In The Wick of Time" is the latest title in author Valona Jones' unique 'Magic Candle Shop' mysteries series and a fun read from cover to cover. While certain to be an instantly and enduringly popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "In The Wick of Time" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note: Valona Jones ( worked as a scientist for many years, and then she accidentally became a freelance reporter for a weekly paper, all while the stories in her head demanded to be written.

Murder by the Seashore
Samara Yew
Crooked Lane Books
9781639104932, $31.99, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Southern California is where dreams come true -- or so thought Scarlett Gardner.

When she moved there and opened the Palm Trees and Page Turners bookshop, she thought her boyfriend and business partner would be part of the story. When he leaves her for a better job, Scarlett finds herself struggling to keep her new business afloat. That's not the only thing she has to worry about -- she discovers something underneath the pier by her bookshop that she didn't outline for her life's story: the dead body of a book-buying customer.

After Scarlett gives a statement to the police, she thinks her life can go back to business as usual. But when a lawyer, representing someone named Lorelai Knight, tells Scarlett that she now stands to inherit a small fortune, she's left with more questions than answers. Before she can make sense of any of it, the police bring her in for questioning; the body she found was Lorelai Knight. And the evidence they have against Scarlett doesn't look good.

Business is booming as Scarlett returns to Palm Trees and Page Turners, but for all the wrong reasons -- curious tourists don't want books, they want a glimpse of the Bookshop Killer.

Who could really be behind all of this? And why frame Scarlett? To clear her name, she's going to have get creative - and hope she can remain one page ahead of the killer.

Critique: Cozy mystery writing at its very best, "Murder by the Seashore" showcases author Samara Yew's considerable flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that fits the genre perfectly. "Murder by the Seashore" is part of her 'California Bookshop Mystery' series from Crooked Lane Books and a fun read from cover to cover. While available for all dedicated cozy mystery fans in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99), "Murder by the Seashore" is a stellar and unreservedly recommended pick for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Samara Yew ( is a cozy mystery author who writes about adorable bookshops and dead bodies. She is also a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers.

Caught on the Book
Laura Gail Black
Crooked Lane Books
9781639104819, $31.99, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: The annual fishing tournament and festival in Hokes Folly, North Carolina, is the high-water mark event of the year. Antiquarian bookseller Jenna Quinn, owner of the Twice Upon a Time bookstore, is ready to catch some new customers with her fishing-themed book display at the festival. That is, until a local author is found dead in his booth.

All fingers point to Frank Sutter, a former detective with the police department. His soon-to-be ex-wife had been dating the victim, and Frank had been seen having an argument with him earlier that day. When Keith Logan, Jenna's boyfriend and detective with the local police, asks Jenna for help to solve the case, she's shocked. Frank was Keith's former partner and someone who had been determined to pin more than one murder on Jenna. Frank doesn't want Jenna's help any more than Jenna wants to help him, but the two will have to put aside their animosity for each other if they want to reel in the killer.

This bookselling sleuth knows she will have to cast a wide net in order to catch the killer, even if means dangerously luring them in. Will her novel idea help her catch the killer, or is she bound for a more deadly ending?

Critique: Herself a dedicated bibliophile, as an author Laura Gail Black has a complete mastery of the cozy mystery genre which, combined with a genuine flair for originality, offers her readers yet another deftly crafted and fun with the publication of "Caught on the Book", the latest addition to her 'An Antique Bookshop Mystery' series. Available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99), "Caught on the Book" will prove an enduringly welcome and appreciated pick for community library Cozy Mystery collections.

Editorial Note: Laura Gail Black ( writes cozy mysteries from her home on 10 acres, with a view of the Sauratown Mountains in northern North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and four rescue dogs. She began collecting antique books when she worked in a used and antique bookstore in college. Today, Laura's bookshelves contain many antique books, some of which are close to 200 years old.

Stalking Around the Christmas Tree
Jacqueline Frost
Crooked Lane Books
9781639104512, $31.99, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: For inn keeper Holly White, Christmas time in Mistletoe, Maine, is the ultimate holiday gift. Business at the Reindeer Games Inn is booming, her wedding to Sheriff Evan Gray is nearly here, and the annual parade is about to begin. The town is lucky to have another gift this year with the state's ballet company staying for several performances of The Nutcracker. But disaster strikes when Tiffany, the lead ballerina, shows up dead on a float during the parade, the Rat King's mask nearby. Holly will have to spruce up her sleuthing skills if she wants to catch the killer before Christmas -- and her wedding day.

Immediately, Holly discovers that Tiffany had more than a few secrets. She finds out that the star of the show had a super fan that no one knows anything about. And the show's understudy slips some other intriguing information Holly's way: not only was Tiffany secretly seeing someone romantically, but there seems to be more than one rat in this company. When Holly discovers a secret passage leading to Tiffany's dressing room, with footprints leading out; she wonders if this is evidence of a secret lover -- or a stalking killer.

With an impending snowstorm and the ballet company on the way out of town, Holly must act quickly if she wants to find the person responsible for this terrible murder. Will she be able to save Christmas -- or will her investigation turn cold like the weather?

Critique: A genuine treat for cozy mystery fans at any time of the year, "Stalking Around the Christmas Tree" is the newest addition to author Jacqueline Frost's 'A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery' series from Crooked Lane Books and an impressively well crafted and entertaining 'whodunnit' murder mystery from beginning to end. While available for cozy mystery fans in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99), "Stalking Around the Christmas Tree" is very highly recommended, especially and particularly for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Jacqueline Frost ( is a mystery loving pet enthusiast who hopes to make her readers smile. Jacqueline is a member of the International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

The Christmas Guest: A Novella
Peter Swanson
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
Blackstone Audiobooks
9780063297456, $19.99, HC, 112pp

Synopsis: Ashley Smith, an American art student in London for her junior year, was planning on spending Christmas alone, but a last-minute invitation from fellow student Emma Chapman brings her to Starvewood Hall, country residence of the Chapman family. The Cotswold manor house, festooned in pine boughs and crammed with guests for Christmas week, is a dream come true for Ashley. She is mesmerized by the cozy, firelit house, the large family, and the charming village of Clevemoor, but also by Adam Chapman, Emma's aloof and handsome brother.

But Adam is being investigated by the local police over the recent brutal slaying of a girl from the village, and there is a mysterious stranger who haunts the woodland path between Starvewood Hall and the local pub. Ashley begins to wonder what kind of story she is actually inhabiting. Is she in a grand romance? A gothic tale? Or has she wandered into something far more sinister and terrifying than she'd ever imagined?

Over thirty years later the events of that horrific week are revisited, along with a diary from that time. What began in a small English village in 1989 reaches its ghostly conclusion in modern-day New York, many Christmas seasons later.

Critique: Carefully crafted and featuring an eloquent blending of psychological and suspense in a Christmas backgrounded crime thriller of a read from start to finish, "The Christmas Guest" by novella author Peter Swanson is certain to be an enduringly popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense and Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Christmas Guest" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212698603, $27.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Peter Swanson ( is the author of nine novels, including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.

Dead on Target
M. C. Beaton, author
R. W. Green, author
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
9781250898647, $27.00, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: A visit to the local village fete for a spot of fun and relaxation turns into a nightmare for Agatha Raisin when she discovers the body of the local landowner in the woods -- with an arrow in his chest and trousers round his ankles.

Agatha Raisin's old adversary, Detective Chief Inspector Wilkes, declares the death a tragic accident, believing the victim has been hit by a stray arrow from an archery demonstration. Agatha is convinced of foul play, however, and is shocked when Wilkes eventually agrees...with her as his prime murder suspect.

Determined to clear her name and find the real killer, Agatha launches her own investigation, quickly becoming involved with a family at war, an unscrupulous gangster -- and a killer who is determined to make her the next victim!

Critique: A fun read from cover to cover, "Dead on Target" by the late cozy mystery novelist M. C. Beaton (and posthumously co-authored by R. W. Green) features an iconic amateur lady sleuth, numerous plot twists and turns, in this inherently engaging 'whodunnit' murder mystery that plays fair with the readers from start to finish. While especially and unreservedly recommended pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the legions of M. C. Beaton fans that "Dead on Target" is also readily available in a

Editorial Note #1: M. C. Beaton (1936-2019), aka "Queen of Crime" was the author of the Agatha Raisin mystery novels (which were also the basis for the hit show on Acorn TV and public television), as well as the Hamish Macbeth series, as well as the Edwardian Murder Mysteries featuring Lady Rose Summer. Born in Scotland, she started her career writing historical romances under several pseudonyms and her maiden name, Marion Chesney. In 2006, M.C. was the British guest of honor at Bouchercon.

Editorial Note #2: R.W. Green ( is a long-time friend of M. C. Beaton, and has written numerous works of fiction and non-fiction.

Let It Crow! Let It Crow! Let It Crow!
Donna Andrews
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
9781250893963, $27.00, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Meg has been roped into participating in a weapon-smithing competition, a Forged in Fire wannabe organized by a blacksmith friend. Meg originally turned down an invitation to participate, but the night before the filming starts, someone attacks Faulk, her blacksmithing mentor, breaking his arm and eliminating him from the contest before it begins.

Meg agrees to step in as his replacement to keep the project from failing. She's not thrilled that the filming will take place during December - Christmas is already a crazy time for her. Since the competition is taking place on Ragnarshjem, the picturesque estate that her friend Ragnar, the retired heavy metal drummer, is turning into a Goth castle, Meg won't have to spend Christmas alone and gets to bring Michael and her twin sons with her.

So Meg joins the cast, to the dismay of several old-school blacksmiths who think women have no place in the profession anyway. And if the show's producers were hoping for drama, they're in luck. The blacksmithing world is a small one, and some of the contestants arrived already laden with grudges and feuds.

It's a high-stakes, cutthroat competition between people who wield large hammers and make swords and have forges full of fire at their disposal. What could possibly go wrong?

Critique: As a cozy mystery novelist, Donna Andrews is as prolific as she is talented and original. "Let It Crow! Let It Crow! Let It Crow!" is the thirty-fourth title in her 'Meg Langslow Mysteries' series and a riveting great read for her legions of fans. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99), and an unreservedly recommended pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, "Let It Crow! Let It Crow! Let It Crow!" has humor, suspense, and one of the most adventuress of amateur female sleuths in Meg Langslow who once again finds herself compelled to discover 'whodunnit' this time!

Editorial Note: Donna Andrews ( has won the Agatha, Anthony, and Barry Awards, an RT Book Reviews Award for best first novel, and four Lefty and two Toby Bromberg Awards for funniest mystery. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Novelists, Inc. Andrews lives in Reston, Virginia. She has written over 30 books in the Meg Langslow mystery series.

The Secret Hours
Mick Herron
Soho Crime
c/o Soho Press
9781641295215, $27.95, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: Two years ago, a hostile Prime Minister launched the Monochrome inquiry, investigating "historical over-reaching" by the British Secret Service. Monochrome's mission was to ferret out any hint of misconduct by any MI5 officer -- and allowed Griselda Fleet and Malcolm Kyle, the two civil servants seconded to the project, unfettered access to any and all confidential information in the Service archives in order to do so.

But MI5's formidable First Desk did not become Britain's top spy by accident, and she has successfully thwarted the inquiry at every turn. Now the administration that created Monochrome has been ousted, the investigation is a total bust -- and Griselda and Malcolm are stuck watching as their career prospects are washed away by the pounding London rain.

Until the eve of Monochrome's shuttering, when an MI5 case file appears without explanation. It is the buried history of a classified operation in 1994 Berlin -- an operation that ended in tragedy and scandal, whose cover-up has rewritten thirty years of Service history.

Critique: "The Secret Hours" by Mick Herron is a deftly crafted novel that is at once unsettling, compelling, and laced throughout with humor. A fun read from start to finish, "The Secret Hours" has that inherent feel of authenticity that is essential for a successful secret history spy thriller. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), "The Secret Hours" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library espionage themed historical and political thriller fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Mick Herron ( is a British novelist and short story writer who was born in Newcastle and studied English at Oxford. He is the author of the Slough House espionage series, four Oxford mysteries, and three standalone novels. His work has won the CWA Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel, the Steel Dagger for Best Thriller, the Theakston's Novel of the Year Award, the Palle Rosenkrantz Prize, the Ellery Queen Readers Award and the USC Libraries Scripter Award, and been nominated for the Macavity, Barry and Shamus Awards.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Soul of Iuchiban
Evan Dicken
Aconyte Books
9781839082290, $16.95, PB, 368pp

Synopsis: The Emerald Empire stands on the brink of destruction. The dark sorcerer Iuchiban has escaped his tomb, and desires dominion over all. Unicorn samurai Iuchi Qadan has been welcomed home and celebrated for her part in destroying the Blood- speaker rebellion. Yet she is not herself... Possessed by Iuchiban, Qadan can do nothing but watch as the undying sorcerer lord draws tight the noose he has wrapped around the throat of an unsuspecting empire. And hope that someone will realize she is not who she seems. But the other survivors of Iuchiban's tomb are few, and made speechless by the horrors they've endured. To stop Iuchiban's evil, new alliances between old enemies must be formed. They will be brittle, untested, and marred by mistrust. Should these alliances fail, there will be no Rokugan.

Critique: A deftly crafted 'Legend of the Five Rings' novel, "The Soul of Iuchiban" will have an immense interest for dedicated fans of Samurai sword & sorcery fantasy novels. Original, memorable, and just plain fun read from cover to cover, "The Soul of Iuchiban" is a very special and unreservedly recommended pick for personal reading lists and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted that "The Soul of Iuchiban" is also very readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Evan Dicken ( studies old Japanese maps and crunches data for research at The Ohio State University. His fiction has most recently appeared in: Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Strange Horizons, and he has stories forthcoming from Black Library and Rampant Loon Press.

The Court of Shadows
Victor Dixen, author
Francoise Bui, translator
Amazon Crossing
Brilliance Audio
9781662505690, $28.99, HC, 382pp

Synopsis: Louis XIV transformed from the Sun King into the King of Shadows when he embraced immortality and became the world's first vampire. For the last three centuries, he has been ruling the kingdom from the decadent Court of Shadows in Versailles, demanding the blood of his subjects to sate his nobles' thirst and maintain their loyalty.

In the heart of rural France, commoner Jeanne Froidelac witnesses the king's soldiers murder her family and learns of her parents' role in a brewing rebellion involving the forbidden secrets of alchemy. To seek her revenge, Jeanne disguises herself as an aristocrat and enrolls in a prestigious school for aspiring courtiers. She soon finds herself at the doors of the palace of Versailles.

But Jeanne, of course, is no aristocrat. She dreams not of court but of blood. -- The blood of a king!

Critique: Not since Ann Rice has their been an author whose new take on the Vampire been as original, as seminal, and as fun -- until French author Victor Dix sat down to write "The Court of Shadows". With a very special appeal for readers with an interest in deftly crafted gothic fiction, dark fantasy, and vampire sagas, "The Court of Shadows" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated vampire fans that "The Court of Shadows" is also readingly available in a paperback edition (9781662505706, $16.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, $29.99, MP3-CD).

Editorial Note #1: Victor Dixen ( is the two-time winner of the Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire and stands at the forefront of French fantasy. His acclaimed series include Animale, Phobos, Cogito, Extincta, and Vampyria. A nomadic writer, he has lived in Paris, Dublin, Singapore, New York, and now Washington, DC, drawing inspiration from the promises of the future as much as the ghosts of the past.

Editorial Note #2: Francoise Bui ( spent twenty years as an executive editor at Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, where her list of edited books included numerous novels in translation. Of these, four received the Mildred L. Batchelder Award (for most outstanding children's book initially published in a foreign language), and two were Honor titles. Originally from France, Bui lives in New York City.

Witches of Bone Hill
Ava Morgyn
Griffin Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
9781250835437, $18.00, PB, 416pp

Synopsis: Cordelia Bone's meticulously crafted life and career in Dallas is crashing down around her thanks to a philandering husband with criminal debts. When her older, carefree sister, Eustace (a cannabis grower in Boulder) calls to inform her that the great aunt they never met has died and they must now travel to a small town in Connecticut to deal with the estate, she sees an opportunity to unload the house and save herself.

But once there, the sisters learn they are getting much more than they bargained for. The Victorian mansion they stand to inherit is bound in a dynasty trust controlled by their late aunt's aging attorney, who insists they retain and inhabit the house but keeps them in the dark about the peculiar rituals of their ancestors.

And there is also that sexy, tattooed groundskeeper with a shrouded past who refuses to leave the carriage house and a crypt full of dead relatives looming at the property line.

As both women grapple with their current predicament, they come face to face with a haunting family secret, the truth of what happened to their mother, and the enemy that's been stalking them from the shadows for generations.

In a twisting torrent of terror and blood, the sisters must uncover the power within them to heal their fractured relationship, reverse their mysteriously declining health, and claim the lineage they wanted to escape but now must embrace if they are to survive at Bone Hill.

Critique: A simply riveting read brought vividly to life by the exceptional narrative driven storytelling skills of author Ava Morgyn, "The Witches of Bone Hill" is an impressively original and unreservedly recommended pick for community library Paranormal/Romantic Fantasy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Witches of Bone Hill" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Ava Morgyn ( grew up falling in love with all the wrong characters in all the wrong stories, then studied English Writing & Rhetoric at St. Edward's University. She is a fan of witchcraft, tarot, and powerful women with bad reputations. When not at her laptop spinning darkly hypnotic tales, she writes for her blog on child loss, hunts for vintage treasures, and reads the darkest books she can find. She is also the author of YA novels Resurrection Girls and The Salt in Our Blood.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Healthy Feelings, Thriving Faith
Bill & Kristi Gaultiere
Fleming H. Revell Company
c/o Baker Publishing Group
9780800742812, $18.99, PB, 272pp

Synopsis: If you have ever taken a personality test, you may have found yourself in enthusiastic agreement about the positive aspects of your personality, while the less desirable traits listed may have made you a bit defensive. Maybe you read up on a different personality type and wished you had more of those qualities. But the truth is, every type can get stuck in unhealthy emotional and spiritual patterns. And no matter what your personality, you have the potential to grow into the healthiest and most loving version of yourself.

With the publication of "Healthy Feelings, Thriving Faith", Drs. Bill and Kristi Gaultiere use the Enneagram to lead you through a journey of discovery, showing you how God can transform unhealthy patterns of anger, shame, anxiety, and sadness into freedom, joy, peace, and love. Through eye-opening insights, engaging stories, and simple soul care practices and spiritual disciplines, this book offers an avenue to renewed hope and personal growth you may not have thought possible.

If you want to go from knowing your personality type to growing in wholeness, empathy, and faith, let the Gaultieres and "Healthy Feelings, Thriving Faith" be your guide.

Critique: Exceptionally 'reader friendly' in style, organization and presentation, "Healthy Feelings, Thriving Faith" is impressively informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring. While from a Christian perspective and highly recommended for personal, professional, community, church, seminary, and academic library Personal Growth & Self-Help collections, it should be noted for clergy, seminary students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Healthy Feelings, Thriving Faith" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.49).

Editorial Note: Bill and Kristi Gaultiere ( have been counseling and ministering to people for thirty years and are the authors of Journey of the Soul. Bill is a psychologist who has served in private practice, co-led a New Life psychiatric day hospital, and pastored churches. Kristi is a marriage and family therapist who has also served in private practice and church ministry. Together they are the founders of Soul Shepherding, a nonprofit ministry to help believers discover their next steps for growing in intimacy with Jesus, emotional health, and loving relationships.

Get Past Your Past
Jason VanRuler, author
9780310367413, $19.99, PB, 208pp

Synopsis: As Christians, any of us can get stuck in our struggle. Jesus came to set us free and give us life (abundant life) but while we believe it for everyone else, it's hard to accept his forgiveness and grace for ourselves. We continue in our old ways, living as one with no hope because we're afraid of failing if we try to get better.

But what if brokenness (the array of behaviors and symptoms that show us that all is not as it should be with us) isn't all there is? What if we can change?

As a licensed therapist and a man who's dealt with his own problems (including childhood trauma, alcohol abuse, drug use, and bouts of depression) Jason VanRuler understands what you're going through. With the publication of "Get Past Your Past: How Facing Your Broken Places Leads to True Connection", he offers empathy, grace, and a hand to hold as he shares from his own places of brokenness and his professional knowledge to help you:

1. Overcome the lie that you're the only one who struggles with brokenness
2, Look your brokenness square in the face and take small, doable steps to overcome it
3. Learn to love and be loved in your most cherished relationships
4. Cultivate authentic connection with those around you and with God
5. Find the courage to be vulnerable about your story and embrace the freedom that comes from sharing it

The life you dream of isn't that far away. But you can't stay where you are. It's time to embark on your journey toward healing. "Let Get Past Your Past" be your guide along the way.

Critique: Written from a distinctively Christian perspective, "Get Past Your Past: How Facing Your Broken Places Leads to True Connection" is a life-healing, life-enriching, life-affirming, and life-changing read. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99), "Get Past Your Past" is especially recommended for readers throughout the Christian community that have an interest in Christian Counseling and Spiritual Growth.

Editorial Note: Jason VanRuler ( began his career in 2011 and has worked with many populations over the years, ranging from persons who are incarcerated to top CEOs, performers and artists, and just about everyone in between. Jason has extensive experience as a clinician, coach, and speaker and operates a multistate private practice. In 2018, Jason joined Bethesda Workshops in Nashville, TN, where he serves as a group leader and facilitator. Jason is known for his ability to relate and connect with his clients and offer hope to those who have felt hopeless. He has an engaged and rapidly growing online audience for his insightful, short videos sharing practical tips for psychological care, self-help, and healthy relationships.

The Catholic Parents' Survival Guide
Julianne Stanz
Loyola Press
9780829455175, $16.99, PB, 128pp

Synopsis: Raising a Catholic family is never easy, especially when it comes to discussing our faith with our children. Despite trying our best, sometimes we all need help addressing issues of faith respectfully, honestly, and accurately.

Written by author, catechist, lay church leader, and mother of three, Julianne Stanz, "The Catholic Parents' Survival Guide" is a practical manual for talking with children about how to navigate life through the lens of the Catholic faith.

Featuring an accessible question-and-answer format, Julianne not only equips readers with tools to help explain Catholic beliefs, ethics, morality, and faith practices, but she also prepares us for how to deliver this information in a manner that will resonate with children.

She addresses such questions as:

Who is God?
What is the Holy Spirit?
What happens if you miss Mass?
What happens after we die?
Does God answer prayers?
What will we do in heaven?
Why do Catholics pray to Mary?
Why can't women become priests?

In addition, each individual chapter includes key takeaways, notes for reflection, recommended resources, and tips for putting these insights into practice. "The Catholic Parents' Survival Guide" provides reliable information about the Catholic faith and parent-tested methods for sharing it with children.

Critique: A welcome, informative, inspiring, and thoroughly 'parent friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Catholic Parents' Survival Guide: Straight Answers to Your Kids' Toughest Questions" is especially and unreservedly recommended reading for every Catholic parent wanting to instill in their child Catholic Christian Values. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49), "The Catholic Parents' Survival Guide: Straight Answers to Your Kids' Toughest Questions" is a stellar pick for family, church, and seminary Catholic Parenting collections and reading lists.

Editorial Note: Julianne Stanz ( is a nationally known speaker, retreat leader, storyteller, and the Director of Parish Life and Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay and a consultant to the USCCB Committee on Catechesis and Evangelization.

The Travel Shelf

Spain: The Monocle Handbook
Tyler Brule, author
Andrew Tuck, author
Joe Pickard, author
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
9780500978672, $50.00, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: Hot on the heels of Portugal: The Monocle Handbook, Monocle's latest title turns its focus to sunny Spain in the next of its country-specific books. This practical guide will steer you from the streets of Seville to the mountains of Mallorca, introducing Monocle's favorite places to stay, eat, shop, and visit across the country.

Discover the sleekest beachside boltholes in the Costa Brava, the family-run restaurants plating up the tastiest tapas in Andalucia, and the buzziest bars in Barcelona before getting your cultural fix in Valencia, Bilbao, or Madrid. You'll meet the Spaniards making waves in the fashion industry, visit the artisans turning out beautiful contemporary designs, and hear from the chefs shaking up the country's food scene. And of course you'll find out about the finest stretches of sand on which to lay down your towel.

For those looking to put down roots in Spain, the book also profiles the cities, towns, and neighborhoods worth investing in, the architects and designers to commission, and even some interior design inspiration for your apartment or holiday home. Whether you are putting together an itinerary for a sun-soaked weekend or planning to stay a little longer, Spain: The Monocle Handbook makes the perfect companion.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated in color throughout, "Spain: The Monocle Handbook" by co-authors Tyler Brule (editorial director and chairman of Monocle), Andrew Tuck (the magazine's editor-in-chief), and Joe Pickard (its head of book publishing), the traveler will discover Monocle's favorite and recommended places to stay, eat, shop, and visit all across Spain. Creating lifetime memories of places, people, cuisine, and more, "Spain: The Monocle Handbook" is an ideal resource for planning all manner of itineraries at all budget levels. Whether an on-site visitor or an armchair traveler, "Spain: The Monocle Handbook" is a very special and unreservedly recommend addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library European: Spain travel guide collections.

National Geographic Traveler: Florence and Tuscany, fourth edition
National Geographic, author
National Geographic Press
9788854419704, $21.99, PB, 400pp

Synopsis: Simply stated, "National Geographic Traveler: Florence and Tuscany" offers the best of Florence and Tuscany. A 'user friendly' compendium of illustrations, history, and practical information, National Geographic Traveler: Florence and Tuscany" allow even the most novice of travelers to learn much about the monuments of Florence, from the Duomo to Piazza della Signoria, museums and galleries, Renaissance palaces, and churches.

After Florence, with "National Geographic Traveler: Florence and Tuscany" travelers can easily move toward Siena and San Gimignano, visit the Chianti region if a wine lover or the Apuan Alps for some excursions, or head to the south of the region to learn about the history and culture of the Etruscans on a beach holiday.

In central-southern Tuscany, you can appreciate the abbeys, historic villages, and the sublime countryside, stopping in Pienza or Montalcino for excursions. Witness historical re-enactments and events and enjoy the pleasure of cooking, including wines are an inseparable part of the trip. As well as indulging in shopping for fashion, art, and antiques.

Critique: Comprehensive, beautifully illustrated, thoroughly 'traveler friendly' in organization and presentation, "National Geographic Traveler: Florence and Tuscany" is a handy and portable paperback (4.97 x 1.09 x 7.92 inches, 1.51 pounds) Italian travel guide that is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Italian Travel Guide collections in general and Florence/Tuscany itinerary planning in particular.

Editorial Note: National Geographic is one of the world's leading nonfiction publishers, having published more than 1,700 titles in categories such as history, travel, nature, photography, space, science, health, biography, and memoir. A portion of its proceeds is used to fund exploration, conservation, and education through ongoing contributions to the work of the National Geographic Society.

Scenic Driving Arizona
Stewart M. Green
The Globe Pequot Press
9781493070541, $24.95, PB, 272pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Scenic Driving Arizona: Including the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Sedona, and Saguaro National Park" by photographer and travel writer Stewart M. Green, it has never been easier to simply pack up the car and enjoy 25 drives ranging from 20 to 200 miles long through Arizona's most spectacular landscapes. Included in this paperback edition from Globe Pequot are route maps; in-depth descriptions of special attractions and historical points; and invaluable tips on lodging, camping, and dining.

Critique: Profusely illustrated, impressively informative, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, and an ideal resource for planning on-site day trips and extended vacations with, "Scenic Driving Arizona: Including the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Sedona, and Saguaro National Park" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library American Travel Guide and Arizona Travel Guide collections. It should be noted that "Scenic Driving Arizona" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.34).

Editorial Note: Stewart M. Green is a freelance photographer and writer who is the author and photographer of many books for Globe Pequot and FalconGuides, including five Scenic Driving Guides. His photographs have appeared in many publications including Climbing, Rock and Ice, Outside, National Motorist, On The Edge, Alp, Sierra, and others. He has a photo/writing website at:

The Music Shelf

Metallica All the Songs
Benoit Clerc
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Books
9781784728939, $60.00, HC, 528pp

Synopsis: Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles by vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and has been based in San Francisco for most of its career. The band's fast tempos, instrumentals, and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer.

Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members and primary songwriters Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine, who formed Megadeth after being fired from Metallica, and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton, and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

From their widely circulated demo, No Life 'til Leather, all the way to their 10th studio album Hardwired... to Self-Destruct - Metallica has earned the title of the biggest heavy metal band on the planet. Their albums, including the hugely influential Master of Puppets, are now considered classics of rock and metal, while singles such as Enter Sandman, Fade to Black and For Whom the Bell Tolls have stood the test of time. Follow the epic journey of the godfathers of thrash metal, song-by-song, and see how they became one of the biggest selling bands in the world.

With the publication of "Metallica All the Songs: The story behind every track" by Benoit Clerc is impressively comprehensive and illustrated throughout with incredible photography. Ranging from the inspiration behind the lyrics and melodies, to the recording process, and noting the musicians and producers who worked on each track, "Metallica All the Songs" pesents the stories behind the music in this truly definitive history of Metallica.

Critique: Fascinating, informative, comprehensive, exceptionally well organized, 'reader friendly' in presentation,, and a must-have for the legions of Metallica fans, "Metallica All the Songs: The story behind every track" is the most in-depth exploration of Metallica's songs ever written. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99), "Metallica All the Songs: The story behind every track" is an impressive and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library American Heavy Metal Music & Rock Band History collection and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Author and composer BenoŚt Clerc has been a professional musician for over fifteen years. In addition to composing music for film and television, in 2018 Benoit formed his own production company, Tivoli Songs.

The Jive 95
Hank Rosenfeld
Backbeat Books
c/o Globe Pequot
9781493070862, $32.95, HC, 346pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Jive 95: An Oral History of America's Greatest Underground Rock Radio Station, KSAN San Francisco", Hank Rosenfeld provides an oral history of America's first hippie underground FM station which broadcast the countercultural consciousness of the '60s and '70s to a new generation. It was a communal radio band of intrepid hellraisers, pranksters, and drug-enlightened geniuses who defined this psychedelic era from the Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park, to the rebellion and bitter end of the late 1970s which was to launch the Reagan Revolution.

Founded in San Francisco by Tom Donahue, a 1996 inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, an entire generation of Americans discovered a new musical universe among dance clubs, light shows and street fests -- the original pop-ups. Almost overnight, KSAN became an audio clubhouse, where anyone could belong with friends and the cool cats and hipsters they just met.

Rock gods, political stars, and literary celebrities, including Jerry Garcia, Ken Kesey, Sly Stone, and John Lennon were all interviewed by founder Tom Donahue and his cohorts, whose listeners "tuned in and turned on" to bands like Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Quicksilver, Country Joe and the Fish, Hot Tuna, The Beatles and Santana, among others.

Folk journalist Hank Rosenfeld was there during those final years -- writing, producing, and announcing. His warm, funny voice presents a behind-the-mic experience at KSAN, the beloved, "Jive 95," whose delicious dose of enlightened sunshine and 33 rpm LP dreamscapes ignited a radio explosion from coast to coast.

So, how did KSAN go from a liberating voice to a corporate cliche? It's all here in Rosenfeld's insightful, hilarious account, which includes countless exclusive interviews with iconic performers and never before available in print or audio form.

Critique: Fascinating, informative, exceptional, surprising, insightful, thoughtful and thorought-provoking, "The Jive 95: An Oral History of America's Greatest Underground Rock Radio Station, KSAN San Francisco" is an extraordinary and unique contribution to the history of 20th Century American Rock Music History. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Jive 95" is also readily availble in a digital book format (Kindle, $22.99) from Backbeat Books.

Editorial Note: Hank Rosenfeld ( produced news and comedy at KSAN, "The Jive 95." He is co-author of the as-told-to memoirs, The Wicked Wit of the West by Marx Bros and MGM scenarist Irving Brecher, and Memorie by Benjamin Mandil. He has written for The Realist, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Forward, Village Voice, NY Post, etc. He produced radio shows in NYC, Minneapolis, and on The Voice of Peace pirate radio ship broadcasting "from somewhere in the Mediterranean." He also told stories on NPR, and was on the staff of Spy Magazine.

The Art Shelf

Bold and Beautiful Watercolor Skies
Zaneena Nabeel, author
Quarry Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760382943, $22.99, PB, 152pp

Synopsis: Art challenges are a popular way for artists at all skill levels to learn about and master a medium and establish a consistent creative practice. Written and illustrated by Zaneena Nabeel, popular Instagram artist and online art instructor also known as Aurora by Z, "Bold and Beautiful Watercolor Skies: Learn to Paint Stunning Clouds, Sunsets, Galaxies, and More - A Master Class for Beginners" teaches aspiring artists how to master simple techniques to create inspiring images of striking skies through 30 sky projects.

"Bold and Beautiful Watercolor Skies" covers the essential supplies, techniques, and color knowledge through easy exercises that give you the skills you will need to create the projects and provides 30 DIY projects. You can follow the 30 step-by-step tutorials to create a range of stunning, colorful skies and light effects, from a bright blue morning to a fiery red sunset, from a starry night to the aurora borealis.

Whether you follow the program to make a painting a day or choose to create your paintings over a longer time frame, "Bold and Beautiful Watercolor Skies" will teach you how to master basic techniques to create amazing images through the support of a structured approach.

Critique; An ideal and effective DIY introduction to painting with watercolors, "Bold and Beautiful Watercolor Skies: Learn to Paint Stunning Clouds, Sunsets, Galaxies, and More - A Master Class for Beginners", while unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and art school collections, is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Zaneena Nabeel, aka Aurora by Z, is an architect by profession and an artist by vocation. She returned to artmaking after completing her architecture studies, finding healing and happiness through drawing, painting, and playing with color, inspiring her to start and Instagram page, where she shares her work. In addition to teaching many classes on Skillshare, she hosts art workshops and organizes exhibitions both locally and internationally. Originally from India, she is currently based in Dubai. To see more of Zaneena's work, visit, @AurorabyZ on YouTube, and @aurorabyz on Instagram.

Watercolor Made Simple
Nicki Traikos
Quarry Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760383193, $24.99, PB, 144pp

Synopsis: Watercolor is a wonderful medium to explore your creativity, unwind, and have fun. Whether you're new to watercolor painting or looking to expand your skills, with "Watercolor Made Simple", artist and watercolor expert Nicki Traikos will deftly guide you to connect more personally with your watercolor practice and build your painting skills in a relaxing, welcoming way. Nicki (who teaches popular watercolor classes through life i design), will help you avoid the struggles and frustrations she experienced when first learning to paint with watercolors by providing encouraging instruction, easy tutorials, and beautifully illustrated step-by-step projects.

Consider this your invitation to the world of watercolor as you: Get familiar with paints, brushes, and papers; Learn fundamental watercolor washes and brush strokes; Explore simple color theory and color mixing; Use a sketchbook to gather inspiration; Paint more than 15 popular subjects, such as flowers, leaves, feathers, still lifes, and simple landscapes, step by step.

"Watercolor Made Simple" also includes: QR codes that link to helpful video tutorials; Traceable line drawings that allow you to jump right into painting; Charming papercrafting projects to feature your watercolor paintings; Tips for storing and displaying your art -- and even what to do with paintings you don't love.

With gentle encouragement and techniques she has honed through teaching tens of thousands of watercolor students, Nicki will soon have you painting your favorite subjects with ease and enjoyment.

Thoroughly novice and aspiring watercolor artist friendly in organization and presentation, "Watercolor Made Simple" is an ideal and comprehensive introduction to the medium and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and art school instructional reference collections. Of special note is that "Watercolor Made Simple" is also readily available for the personal reading lists of art students and amateur watercolorists in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Nicki Traikos is the founder of life i design, through which she teaches thousands of students to paint in watercolor, produces books, and inspires people to live their most creative lives. A self-taught artist who has also worked in the corporate world and as a makeup artist, she has taught more than 50,000 students from around the world in her Watercolors Made Simple courses. Nicki and her work have been featured in a number of magazines, including Where Women Create, In Her Studio, and UPPERCASE magazine's Compendium. Nicki has published two books of trace-and-paint images and also teaches monthly live classes on the Michaels website. Currently residing in Unionville, Ontario, Canada, she has a website at and can be followed on: Instagram: @lifeidesign, YouTube: Nicki Traikos @lifeidesign, Facebook: life i design @lifeidesign, Pinterest: life i design @nickitraikos

The Photography Shelf

Michael Freeman On... Black & White
Michael Freeman
Ilex Press
c/o Octopus Books
9781781579053, $29.99, PB, 176pp

Synopsis: A quiet revolution has been gathering pace in photography -- a new enthusiasm for exploring the subtleties, excitement and pleasure in making images in black and white. This is not a case of old traditions reasserting themselves, but rather a rediscovery of what imagery made purely out of tones can offer to the creatively curious.

The fourth book in Michael Freeman's newest series, "Michael Freeman On... Black & White: The Ultimate Photography Masterclass" is a clear and concise guide to a unique, enduring and very popular subset of photography. Broken down into chapters covering every type of monochrome photography, the book provides both a practical guide to working without the distraction colour, details of the unique challenges posed by a genre that is so defined by shape and light and the ways in which working in monochrome can hugely improve your photographic practice.

Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "Michael Freeman On... Black & White: The Ultimate Photography Masterclass" is an ideal DIY combination of instructional guide and illustrated 'how-to' manual that will be of special and particular interest to both novice and experienced photographers alike. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99), "Michael Freeman On... Black & White: The Ultimate Photography Masterclass" is a thoroughly 'user friendly' and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Photography instructional reference collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Michael Freeman ( is a professional photographer and best-selling author, who was born in England in 1945, took a Masters in Geography at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and then worked in advertising in London for six years. In 1971 he made the life-changing decision to travel up the Amazon with two secondhand cameras, and when Time-Life used many of the pictures he came back with, he embarked on a full-time photographic career. Since then, working for clients that include all the world's major magazines, most notably the Smithsonian Magazine (for which he has shot more than 40 stories over 30 years), Freeman's reputation as one of the world's leading reportage photographers has been consolidated. He is the author of more than 60 titles on the practice of photography. For this photographic educational work he was awarded the Prix Louis Philippe Clerc by the French Ministry of Culture.

Queen Elizabeth II: A Photographic Portrait
Philip Ziegler, photographer
Emma Blau, foreword contributor
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
9780500026359, $55.00, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: Queen Elizabeth II was a remarkable figure on the global stage for well over half a century. Hundreds of thousands of visitors to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle each year are attracted by an image of this exceptional monarch that has been shaped, in significant part, by the work of royal photographers, many of whom are internationally distinguished practitioners of their art.

Drawing on an unparalleled collection of official portraits of the queen, each of the book's chapters begins with a text by best-selling historian and biographer Philip Ziegler, covering the key royal and historical events of the period, with some contextual photographs, followed by a sequence of plates in chronological order.

With over two hundred images of the queen by photographers such as Cecil Beaton, Lord Snowdon, and Rankin, the queen is captured in a variety of poses, from formal photographs as a working monarch to intimate portraits relaxing with her family at Balmoral and Windsor.

All the images have been officially approved by the palace, making this the ultimate illustrated book chronicling the life of England's longest-reigning monarch!

Critique: Impressively illustrated throughout with what are arguably the finest photographs taken of the life of Queen Elizabeth II, from her first official photograph as a baby in 1926 to her Platinum Jubilee in 2022, "Queen Elizabeth II: A Photographic Portrait". Expertly compiled with accompanying citations by Philip Ziegler, this truly exceptional large format (9 x 1.1 x 11.4 inches, 3.62 pounds) hardcover edition from Thames & Hudson is enriched for the reader with the inclusion of an impressively informative Foreword by Emma Blau. Extraordinary and memorable, "Queen Elizabeth II: A Photographic Portrait" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Photography & Biography collections -- and a 'must' for the legions of the late Queen Elizabeth II -- the longest serving British ruler in the history of this island kingdom.

Editorial Note #1: Philip Ziegler ( is the author of Mountbatten: The Official Biography, King Edward VIII: The Official Biography, Diana Cooper: The Biography of Lady Diana Cooper, and London at War, 1939 - 1945.

Editorial Note #2: Emma Blau ( is an award-winning photographic artist, curator, and commentator. She is co-owner of Camera Press, the photo agency founded by her grandfather that hosts the work of royal photographers from throughout the queen's life. She directed and produced the documentary Camera Press at 70: A Lifetime in Pictures. Her photography is held in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the Parliamentary Art Collection, U.K.

The Needlecraft Shelf

The Art of Weaving
Betty Briand
Stackpole Books
9780811771849, $39.95, HC, 284pp

Synopsis: "The Art of Weaving: Master the Techniques, Understand the Weave Structures, Create Your Own Designs" by Betty Briand is a comprehensive instruction guide to floor loom weaving. It begins with the basics (parts of the loom, how to wind your warp and dress your loom; how to read and weave drafts) but then goes so much farther, explaining the different types of weaves and how to read and weave from charts, and exploring a variety of weaves in depth.

"The Art of Weaving" covers each topic in detail, with illustrations, photos, and charts to guide you. The first half of the book is devoted to the basics of weaving, and the second part teaches a variety of weave structures and how to use them and adapt them to whatever you want to make.

"The Art of Weaving" is extensive in its scope, and a reference book appropriate for all skill levels as it covers: Preparing your yarn and threading your floor loom; Understanding and working from drafts; Exploring weave structures; Finishing; Troubleshooting.

Critique: Comprehensive, illustrated, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Art of Weaving: Master the Techniques, Understand the Weave Structures, Create Your Own Designs" is an ideal introduction to loom weaving wither as a DIY how-to manual or as an academic curriculum textbook. While highly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and community library collections, it should be noted that "The Art of Weaving" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $32.49) as well.

Editorial Note: Betty Briand's interest in textiles is rooted in the childhood skills she learned from her grandparents who were passionate about fiber arts: weaving, spinning, vegetable dyeing, knitting, and making ropes. After solid training from several instructors, she became a full-time weaving teacher. Today, she works with students in her ARTissage workshop/school located in Chinon in Touraine, France, while continuing her own explorations in weaving.

Made to Measure
Elisalex Jewell
Quarry Books
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760382806, $29.99, PB, 176pp

Synopsis: When you learn to draft and sew your own customized clothes that fit you perfectly and make you feel fantastic, you no longer need to feel confined by the boundaries of a sewing pattern in order to make clothes that fit beautifully and represent your style in a way that store-bought clothes never can.

Designer and founder of popular pattern brand By Hand London, Elisalex Jewell is known for designing beautiful, fun garments that look fabulous on women of all sizes. With the publication of "Made to Measure: An Easy Guide to Drafting and Sewing a Custom Wardrobe - 16 Pattern-Free Projects", she guides even the most novice of seamstresses in creating stylish garments while empowering them to learn new skills, be creative, and feel confident.

Following an overview of essential sewing tools, a primer on fabrics, and a guide to essential sewing techniques, you will learn how to: Draft simple patterns based on your measurements; Take a pattern from an existing garment; Identify and fix common fit issues.

The sixteen pattern-free projects for dresses, skirts, tops, a pantsuit, and more are a springboard for creating a versatile, personalized wardrobe. The designs include: Sweet Shirred Top and Dress; Faux-Cute Jumpsuit; Paneled Wrap Skirt; Prairie Dress; Not Your Grandma's Quilted Circle Skirt; Siren Slip Dress; Refashioned Sweater Dress.

In today's world of "fast fashion," sewing your own clothes is a wonderful way to slow down and create garments that are sustainable and unique. While most sewing books show you how to create garments from specific patterns, "Made to Measure" takes sewing clothes to the next level by allowing you to customize the designs to fit you.

Critique: Whether you are new to sewing clothes, or simply want to add to your garment-making skills, "Made to Measure: An Easy Guide to Drafting and Sewing a Custom Wardrobe - 16 Pattern-Free Projects" is the ideal combination of instructional guide and 'how-to' manual for creating an impressive and personalized wardrobe that is specifically tailored to and for you. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), "Made to Measure" is an outstanding and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, and community library Needlecraft, Fashion, and Sewing collections.

Editorial Note: Elisalex Jewell ( is the co-founder of the independent sewing pattern label and sewing education platform By Hand London. She went to the London College of Fashion, where she trained as a shoemaker, then worked in the fashion industry for four years. She founded By Hand London out of an interest in wanting to equip people with the skills and confidence needed to sew their own clothes. She also teaches sewing and handicrafts and contributes to various sewing and craft publications. She lives in London, United Kingdom and can be followed on Instagram: @elisalex and Facebook: By Hand London

Customize Your Cross-Stitch
Lizzy Dabczynski-Bean
Walter Foster
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760385357, $22.99, PB, 112pp

Synopsis: "Customize Your Cross-Stitch: Friends & Family: Learn to customize, prepare, stitch, and finish your very own personalized cross-stitch creations" by Lizzy Dabczynski-Bean is a very helpful and 'user friendly' guide that introduces you to the basics of needlecraft stitching with easy-to-follow written directions and photographic instructions.

You will learn everything from using the tools of the trade to reading a pattern, creating basic stitches, and tweaking an already-existing design. The beautiful, modern designs in this combination of 'how-to' manual are accompanied by simple instructions appropriate for all skill levels.

The easy-to-follow lessons (complete with patterns, detailed instructions, and photographs) ensure success in customizing patterns to create your very own unique pieces. You will discover how to swap out colors, alter hairstyles, change clothing, and much more, to make your scene depict you and your own friends and family!

The instructive examples include: A couple sitting on a porch; A family portrait with a pet; Friends on a road trip; A meeting for coffee at the cafe; A baby birth announcement; A family sledding scene; A family in the garden; A pool party; A family picnic at the park.

An inspiration gallery at the end includes full-color images of additional finished pieces to inspire you to continue your learning with even more patterns from Stitch People, which has offered patterns and instruction for do-it-yourself cross-stitched family portraits since 2014.

Critique: Simply stated, "Customize Your Cross-Stitch: Friends & Family: Learn to customize, prepare, stitch, and finish your very own personalized cross-stitch creations" by needlecraft expert Lizzy Dabczynski-Bean is fun, informatively instructive, and a highly prized pick for personal, professional, and community library Needlecraft instructional reference collections.

Editorial Note: Lizzy Dabczynski-Bean started her service business Stitch People in 2013. The first Stitch People portraits were Christmas gifts for her family in 2011; now countless customized portraits have been stitched for families all over the world based off of her designs. Stitch People is now a wife-and-husband team headed by Lizzy and has expanded its pattern collections with digital patterns available for purchase and downloading online at

The Woodworking Shelf

Whittling Woodland Animals
Peter Benson
The GMC Group
9781784946586, $19.99, HC, 136pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Whittling Woodland Animals", expert wood carver Peter Benson introduces the simple art of whittling with 15 wilderness creatures to create from scratch.

The relaxing and rewarding craft of whittling is synonymous with a woodland setting and time spent by the campfire. The cunning projects included in this new step-by-step 'how to' guide from seasoned woodcarver, Peter Benson will inspire budding whittlers of all ages.

Intricately carved and infused with character, this collection of wood carving projects makes a perfect beginner's guide to the hobby. Making delightful gifts and trinkets for nature lovers, you'll want to carve every single animal in the book. The main tools and techniques are clearly explained, how to carve safely and clear step-by-step instructions for each animal. A handy campfire-friendly size, simply grab your whittling kit and head out into the woods to while away the hours.

Critique: Beautifully, profusely, and expertly illustrated throughout with full color photography, "Whittling Woodland Animals" is an ideal introduction to the art and craft of woodcarving. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in style, organization and presentation, "Whittling Woodland Animals" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and community library Arts & Crafts Wood Carving instructional reference collections.

Editorial Note: Peter Benson set up the Essex School of Woodcarving in 1996. He travels often and runs many workshops overseas as well as judging competitions around the world. He writes regularly for woodcarving journals and is the author of The Art of Carving Netsuke, Whittling Handbook and Woodland Whittling published by GMC Publications.

The Audiobook Shelf

Strawberried Alive
Jenn McKinlay, author
Susan Boyce, narrator
Dreamscape Media
9781666540765, $22.99, CD (6 Hours 36 minutes)

Synopsis: Life is smooth as buttercream at the Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery, and newlyweds Mel and Joe are stopping to smell the flours. But things start to crumble one night when an unknown gunman takes a shot at Mel. Even though the bullets miss their mark, the cupcake crew goes on high alert to figure out who would want to kill a small-town baker -- and why.

When more business owners are attacked, things turn fatal, and locals begin to wonder if the killer could be one of their own. Every shop owner in town starts to fear it's only a matter of time before they too become victims of the mystery murderer. Despite the cupcake crew's superb baking skills, it will be anything but a piece of cake to catch the killer, as they try to prevent anyone else from being 'berried'.

Critique: Another of author Jenn McKinlay's 'Cupcake Bakery' murder mysteries, "Strawberried Alive" is expertly and effectively narrated by the talented vocal performance of professional storyteller Susan Boyce. The result is a fun and unabridged audio book from Dreamscape Media that is unreservedly recommended to the attention of the growing legions of Jenn McKinlay fans and community library Cozy Mystery audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Jenn McKinlay ( is the author of several mystery and romance series. She is also the winner of the RT Reviewer's Choice Award for romantic comedy and the Fresh Fiction award for best cozy mystery. A TEDx speaker, she is always happy to talk books, writing, reading, and the creative process to anyone who cares to listen. She can be followed on Facebook: JennMcKinlayAuthor; Instagram: @mckinlayjenn; Twitter: @JennMcKinlay

Editorial Note #2: There is an extensive listing of Susan Boyce narrated audio books at

Original Sin
Gavin G. Smith, author
Qarie Marshall, narrator
Dreamscape Media
9781666623574, $TBD, CD (8 Hours 28 Minutes)

Synopsis: Uatu the Watcher, a mysterious being who observes mankind from the Moon, is dead. Nick Fury leads a cosmos-spanning investigation into the murder, forging unlikely alliances and sending Marvel's mightiest heroes to the farthest corners of the universe.

To uncover the truth, Doctor Strange and the Punisher must cross deadly dimensions, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Moon Knight and the Winter Soldier head into deep space, and Emma Frost, Ant-Man and Black Panther journey to the center of the Earth. All the while, Unseen forces gather, and just when the Avengers think they've cornered their murderer, everything explodes - unleashing the Marvel Universe's greatest secrets and rocking the heroes to their core!

In this novelization of the epic storyline by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato Jr., truths will come tumbling into the light and the original sins of our heroes will be exposed for all to see.

Critique: This thrilling Marvel Universe murder mystery written by Galvin G. Smith and so ably narrated by Quarie Marshall comes a fun wealth of shocking plot twists and turns in an exciting re-imagining of the comic crossover sensation. A 'must' for the legions of dedicated Marvel superhero/supervillian fans, this complete and unabridged audio book edition of "Original Sin" from Dreamscape Media is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to both personal and community library Science Fiction/Fantasy audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Jason Aaron ( is an American comic book writer, known for his work on titles such as The Other Side, Scalped, Ghost Rider, Wolverine and PunisherMAX

Editorial Note #2: Quarie Marshall is a prolific audio book narrator who has a lengthy listing of his titles at

The Water Outlaws
S. L. Huang, author
Emily Woo Zeller, narrator
Dreamscape Media
9781666634990, $59.99, CD (19 Hours 44 Minutes)

Synopsis: Lin Chong is an expert arms instructor, training the Emperor's soldiers in sword and truncheon, battle axe and spear, lance and crossbow. Unlike bolder friends who flirt with challenging the unequal hierarchies and values of Imperial society, she believes in keeping her head down and doing her job. But then a powerful man with a vendetta rips that carefully-built life away. Disgraced, tattooed as a criminal, and on the run from an Imperial Marshall who will stop at nothing to see her dead, Lin Chong is recruited by the Bandits of Liangshan. Mountain outlaws on the margins of society, the Liangshan Bandits proclaim a belief in justice, for women, for the downtrodden, for progressive thinkers a corrupt Empire would imprison or destroy. They're also murderers, thieves, smugglers, and cutthroats. Apart, they love like demons and fight like tigers. Together, they could bring down an empire.

Critique: Raising an action/adventure heroic fantasy to a stellar level of literary excellence, "The Water Outlaws" by novelist S. L. Huang is brought vividly to life with the simply outstanding storytelling performance of Emily Woo Zeller. This complete and unabridged audio book edition from Dreamscape Media is a particularly special, enduringly popular, and truly memorable addition to personal and community library Fantasy Saga audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: S.L. Huang ( is a Hugo-winning author who justifies an MIT degree by using it to write eccentric mathematical superhero fiction. The author of the Cas Russell novels as well as Burning Roses and The Water Outlaws, she has had short fiction published in Analog, F&SF, Nature, and more, including best-of anthologies. She is also a Hollywood stunt performer and firearms expert, with credits including Battlestar Galactica and Top Shot.

Editorial Note #2: Emily Woo Zeller is an Earphones award-winning audiobook narrator. After beginning her voiceover career with Asian animation, she returned to the United States and began narrating a broad spectrum of audiobook genres. Her multilingual, multicultural framework brings a particularly unique, clear-eyed, and intimate perspective to the Asian American narratives she specializes in. (

A Nobleman's Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel
K. J. Charles, author
Martyn Swain, narrator
Dreamscape Media
$17.99, CD (10 Hours 39 Minutes)

Synopsis; When Major Rufus d'Aumesty unexpectedly becomes the Earl of Oxney, he finds himself living in a remote Norman manor on the edge of Romney Marsh with his noble, hostile, and decidedly odd family.

His position is contested both by his greedy uncle and by unexpected claimant Luke Doomsday, a dashing member of the local smuggling clan. They should be natural enemies, but cocksure, enragingly competent Luke is a secretary by trade and quickly becomes an unexpected ally, the partner Rufus needs -- and soon the lover he can't live without.

Unfortunately, Luke's not telling anything like the truth. He came to Stone Manor with an ulterior motive, one he's hiding even from the lord he can't resist. And as family secrets unspool on both sides, master and man soon find their positions and their partnership in danger of falling apart.

Critique: Especially commended to the attention of the LGBTQ community, this complete and unabridged audio book edition of novelist K. J. Charles' "A Nobleman's Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel" from Dreamscape Media is deftly narrated by the vocal storytelling talents of Martyn Swain and a highly recommended pick for personal and community library Historical Mystery audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: KJ Charles ( spent twenty years as an editor in British publishing before fleeing the scene to become a full-time historical romance novelist. She has written over twenty-five novels since then and her books have been translated into eight languages. She lives in London.

Editorial Note #2: Martyn Swain ( has for more than 30 years been a simultaneous interpreter, telling other peoples stories in various languages.

Feathers So Vicious
Liv Zander, author
Shaina Summerville, Tor Thom, and Tommy Fuller, narrators
Dreamscape Media
$17.99, CD (13 Hours 40 Minutes)

Synopsis: Perched between branches and shadows, We watch, we scheme, Fighting for a kingdom forgotten and forlorn. Until we rip her away with our claws, Our prisoner, our pawn, our plaything. She's innocent and pure, Fragile and helpless... ...but oh so guilty by blood. She calls us beasts, Wicked and evil, Vicious and cruel. We are all that and worse. One of us offers her shelter beneath his wings, Whispering promises of pleasure, Seeking redemption. The other longs to shatter her into a million pieces, Whispering promises of pain, Seeking revenge. Caught between our feathers, She endures our deranged desires, Our secrets, our lies, Our twisted plans. Will she surrender to our darkness, or fight for a destiny growing ever elusive?

Welcome to the Court of Ravens, little white dove. "Feathers So Vicious" is a full-length dark fantasy romance novel and the first book in the Court of Ravens duet. The two-part story features two morally gray raven shifters, a young woman at the mercy of their shadows, and a HEA. This world contains dark elements, violence, and themes some may find disturbing. What this book doesn't contain is a hero -- because villains do it better. And two do it better than one.

Critique: Unique, deftly crafted, ably narrated, "Feathers So Vicious" is a compelling, memorable, and fascinating novel by Liv Zander brought vividly to life in a true 'theatre of the mind' experience by the storyteller performances of Shaina Summerville, Tor Thom, and Tommy Fuller in this complete and unabridged audio book edition from Dreamscape Media making it an unreservedly recommended pick for dedicated fantasy fans and community library audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Liv Zander ( has an unhealthy love for sexy villains. To cure herself of her poor choice in men, she's currently undergoing therapy, but who can afford that these days? To fund her co-pays, she's writing deliciously dark fantasy romance about the men who would burn the world to the ground for their women. Is that counter-productive? Probably, but it's also a lot of fun!

Editorial Note #2: Shaina Summerville ( is a professionally gifted storyteller in a good many mediums.

Editorial Note #3: Tor Thom ( is an audiobook narrator of romance whose dulcet baritone captures the softness of love and the deep passion of desire.

Editorial Note #4: Tommy Fuller has a lengthy listing of his work on the Audible website at

The Music CD Shelf

Diatom Ribbons Live at the Village Vanguard
Kris Davis and the Diatom Ribbons band
Pyroclastic Records
$15.98 CD / $18.98 MP3

Diatom Ribbons Live at the Village Vanguard is an album that pianist and composer Kris Davis and the Diatom Ribbons band (Terri Lyne Carrington on drums, Val Jeanty on electronic instruments and turntables, Travor Dunn on bass, and new band member Julian Lage on guitar) performed before a live audience at the end of a weeklong club stint. Adventurous and explosive, Diatom Ribbons Live at the Village Vanguard is an unforgettable jazz celebration, highly recommended! Three particularly standout -songs are the "Bird Suite" trio, which are inspired by the saxophone performances of the legendary Charlie Parker and from recorded bird calls. The tracks are Alice in the Congo, Nine Hats, The Dancer, VW, Dolores (Take 1), Bird Suite Pt 1: Kingfisher, Endless Columns, Bird Suite Pt 2: Bird Call Blues, Bird Suite Pt 3: Parasitic Hunter, Brainfeel, and Dolores (Take 2).

Shaping the Invisible
Teri Parker
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $TBA digital

Pianist Teri Parker presents Shaping the Invisible, her sophomore album as a bandleader. The original contemporary jazz songs (most of which were composed by Parker herself) feature Teri Parker on piano, Luis Deniz on alto and soprano saxophones, Andrew McAnsh on trumpet, Mark Godfrey on bass, and Ernesto Cervini on drums. An enthralling, adventurous studio recording of jazz-club-tested music, Shaping the Invisible is a treat for connoisseurs of modern-day jazz, highly recommended. The tracks are Becoming, Humph, K.T.T. Bass Intro, Kitchen Timer Tune, Desolate Places, Segment (composed by Charlie Parker), Paw Prints, Retrograde (composed by James Blake), and Strolling.

Wild Child
Charlotte Morris
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Charlotte Morris presents Wild Child, an original country music album with inspiration from folk and Americana. Wild Child is Morris' first album since moving to Music City (also known as Nashville, Tennessee); the songs resonate with the intensity, curiosity, and boldness of a wild child grown into a wild woman! Wild Child is adventurous, heartfelt, and highly recommended especially for connoisseurs of modern-day country. The tracks are Tennessee, Your Number One, Love Ain't Real, Wild Child, Good Kind of Hurt, Breathe, The Day We Lost You, Time Will Tell, If My Heart Had a Say, and This Time 'Round.

The Diva Jazz Orchestra "30": Live at Dizzy's Club
The Diva Jazz Orchestra
Privately Published
$17.99 CD / $TBA digital

A fold-out cardboard sleeve full of photographs and a paper insert with comments on song selections enhances the physical CD of The Diva Jazz Orchestra "30": Live at Dizzy's Club, an album celebrating the band's 30 years of performances. The song selection for this special celebratory live performance showcases band and fan favorites - widely beloved classic songs that transcend the era of their creation. The Diva Jazz Orchestra "30": Live at Dizzy's Club is a choice pick for audiophile connoisseurs who appreciate world-class talent, highly recommended. The tracks are Something's Coming, In a Mellow Tone, Here's to Life, I'm Gonna Go Fishin', Every Day I Have the Blues, I Feel Pretty, Three Sisters and a Cousin, A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Inka Dinka Doo, and Airmail Special.

The DVD Shelf

Cannes Confidential
Acorn Original / Acorn Media
c/o RLJ Entertainment
AMP-2989, $39.99 DVD

Synopsis: A popular television action/adventure mystery series, "Cannes Confidential" stars a no-nonsense detective Camille and a charming international ex-conman Harry who are forced into an uneasy alliance and must cooperate in an unlikely crime-fighting partnership dedicated to solving murder cases on the French Riviera.

Critique: "Cannes Confidential" is a beloved television series packed with excitement and intrigue throughout! This 6 episode, 4.5 hrs, 2 DVD edition of "Cannes Confidential" is a fun and unreservedly recommended pick for personal and community library DVD collections.

The Sports Shelf

A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range, fourth edition
Reynold Jackson & Leigh N. Ortenburger, authors
Greg Winston, photographer
Mountaineers Books
9781680511970, $49.95, PB, 544pp

Synopsis: This fourth edition of "A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range" (which was years in the making) includes 932 routes on more than 235 peaks and canyon walls. For each route, longtime Teton climbing ranger Renny Jackson supplies difficulty classification, first ascent information, and access to the route, and, as needed, also includes approach considerations, route and/or pitch details, and route of descent. He also notes the estimated time needed for the climb and any additional protection needs. Cross-references for each route shown on the topographic figures help climbers quickly find the route details they need.

In this newly updated and expanded 4th edition of "A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range", aspiring climbers, both novice and experienced, will find a greatly expanded section on the history of climbing in the Tetons along with updated information about geology, climatology, preparation, regulations, and ethics. Jackson also covers possible traverses and enchainments (linking up several routes).

Of special note is the inclusion of a new section explaining route descriptions, maps, and difficulty ratings enhances this edition's usability, and a complete list of Jackson's favorite climbs rounds out this essential guide.

Critique: Co-authored by Renny Jackson and Leigh N. Ortenburger, and featuring 932 routes (including dozens of new routes) and a new chapter on the Grand Traverse and all-new aerial photography by Greg Winston, with detailed route overlays, "A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range: 4th Edition" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, making it an ideal resource for planning itineraries. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99), "A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range: 4th Edition" is a valued and recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and academic library Rock Climbing, Mountain Climbing, and Western USA Travel Guide collections.

Editorial Note #1: Renny Jackson ( is a climber with over 50 years of experience, worked as a climbing ranger for 34 years at Denali and Grand Teton National Parks before retiring in 2010.

Editorial Note #2: Leigh Ortenburger (1929-1991) was the original author of "A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range" and his work continues to inform the current edition. (

Editorial Note #3: Greg Winston ( creates landscape and nature images which are widely published, and he has helped create natural history documentaries broadcast by National Geographic and the BBC.

The Hunting/Fishing Shelf

Waterfowling These Past Fifty Years
David Hagerbaumer
Stackpole Books
9780811772471, $39.95, HC, 182pp

Synopsis: "Waterfowling These Past Fifty Years" is a waterfowling classic that recounts the esteemed artist and skilled duck hunter David Hagerbaumer's half century of experiences hunting brant and other species along the Pacific Coast.

Since his early days on the marsh in the 1920s, Hagerbaumer perfected the art and sport of waterfowling both painting wood ducks and mallards and hunting every sporting bird species across North America. He especially appreciated the black brant of the Pacific, saying they symbolized all that is wild and free.

Critique: In this recognized classic which was originally published in 1998, and is now newly re-published for a new generation of appreciative readers by Stackpole Books, David Hagerbaumer presents a compendium of his best-loved stories and recollections of waterfowl hunting and is enhanced for his readers with his finely drawn grey/white illustrations throughout.

Editorial Note: David Hagerbaumer is waterfowler, naturalist, and artist who grew up during the Great Depression and began duck hunting, trapping, and fishing at the age of eight in order to help support his family. He went on to spend most of his life drawing and painting the birds he loved. (

The Crimson Wave
Bill Horn
Stackpole Books
9780811772426, $39.99, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: The word "Alaska" conjures visions of jagged icy peaks, smoking volcanoes, vast crimson tundra, sweeping blue rivers and lakes, shaggy brown bears, bush airplanes and pilots, remote Native villages, flashing rainbow trout, and rivers teeming with crimson salmon. These visions are realized, on a stupendous scale, in southwest Alaska's Bristol Bay region. Each year 60 million or more wild salmon pour into the Bay to fight their way upstream past nets, anglers, bears, swirling rapids, and cascading waterfalls in lake and river systems with magical names -- Iliamna, Kvichak, Naknek, Alagnak, Becharof, Egegik, Nushagak, Togiak, and Ugashik.

Sport anglers travel to the region to pursue all five species of Pacific salmon, dolly varden and arctic char, grayling and giant rainbow trout that provide unmatched thrills on the end of a line with their explosive runs and twisting leaps. This unparalleled fishing (driven by the salmon) makes Bristol Bay the place of fly fisher's dreams.

With the publication of "The Crimson Wave: Sockeye Salmon, Rainbow Trout, and Alaska's Bristol Bay", author and Alaskan fishing expert Bill Horn provides a detailed and compelling account of the natural history and life cycle of these fish as well as a glimpse into the culture, management, and politics that are part of the sockeye salmon story. "The Crimson Wave" also offers essential information for anglers planning a trip to the region, including best times of the year for fishing, strategies and fly choices, and planning your trip.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated throughout with full color photography, "The Crimson Wave: Sockeye Salmon, Rainbow Trout, and Alaska's Bristol Bay" by Bill Horn is informative, inspiring, and a 'must' for anyone who has ever aspired to fishing the fabled waters of Alaska. This large format hardcover edition (7.75 x 0.66 x 9.36 inches, 1.43 pounds) of "The Crimson Wave" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Hunting/Fishing collections and supplemental Fish Biology curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "The Crimson Wave" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.99).

Editorial Note: Bill Horn has had a fifty-year connection (professional and personal) with Alaska. He was part of a 1972 Trout Unlimited team making recommendations to the U.S. Department of the Interior for salmon and trout conservation in the Bristol Bay region. He then worked for the Alaska Congressional delegation on the major Alaska Lands Bill enacted in 1980. From 1981 - 84 he was Deputy Under Secretary of the Interior overseeing implementation of the 1980 Act and continued that role as "Mr. Alaska" within the agency when he was nominated and confirmed in 1985 as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Following government service, Horn joined an Alaska law firm and represented an array of clients in the state including sport fishing lodges, bush pilots, Native corporations, hunting guides, the State of Alaska, and Trout Unlimited-Alaska. Throughout these decades, he always found time to pursue char, grayling, salmon, and trout in the Bristol Bay region. His on-the-ground angling experience includes all of the major river and lake systems of Bristol Bay and all of the angling seasons there. He has written two previous books, Seasons on the Flats (Headwater Books/Stackpole, 2012) and On the Bow (Stackpole, 2021).

The Interior Design Shelf

The Home Style Handbook
Lucy Gough, author
Simon Bevan, photographer
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Books
9781784728632, $40.00, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: We all want to live in a home that reflects our personalities, our experiences, our life's journey. But if we are not a professional decorator or stylist, where do we start?

"The Home Style Handbook: How to make a home your own" is an inspirational and helpful DIY 'how-to' manual and guide in which interiors stylist and tutor Lucy Gough will teach you how to understand your true style and how to implement it in how you decorate your living space.

Your dream home needn't be a spacious, architecturally designed building -- it well could be small or rented. With "The Home Style Handbook" you will discover what you love and what makes you happy -- all so that you can surround yourself with the colors, furniture, furnishings and finishing touches that inspire you.

For Lucy, every good room scheme starts with a moodboard and she explains how to create your own and features them throughout this instructive guide that explores the elements within a series of home case studies and why they work.

"The Home Style Handbook" includes: How to translate magazine imagery into your home; How to create impact with art, plants and accessories; How to style your kitchen, living room, bathroom, home office and hallway; Key inspirational case studies.

Critique: Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout with the full color photography of Simon Bevan, "The Home Style Handbook: How to make a home your own" is a complete, comprehensive, and 'user friendly' course of inspiring instruction that will enable even the most novice of DIY home interior design aspirants to successfully remake, remodel, rearrange their personal abode to reflect their particular interests, preferences, and ideas. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "The Home Style Handbook: How to make a home your own" is a solid and unreservedly recommended pick for community library DIY Home Interior Design collections.

Editorial Note: Lucy Gought ( is an Australian-born interior stylist who has lived and worked in London for the last 12 years, but is currently based in New South Wales. Lucy has art directed, styled and created concepts for brands and publications including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, The Sunday Times, You Magazine, Dulux, Crown Paint, Heal's and many others, and continues to create unique and inspiring imagery for all her clients. She writes regularly for The Sunday Times and has a monthly 'design your space' column in House Beautiful UK.

The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Florian Schafer, author
Janin Pisarek, author
Hannah Gritsch, author
Eye of Newt Books
9781777791810, $34.95, HC, 197pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Hausgeister!: Household Spirits of German Folklore: Household Spirits of German Folklore", interested readers will enter the world of ancient Germany where household spirits once held sway and linger within the tales that we know and love today.

The household spirits of German folklore inhabit the pages of this fascinating volume just as they settled the homesteads of ancient Germany. Belief in these creatures was ubiquitous and shaped daily life for the German people for centuries. The legends of these creatures, first shared orally and later written down and compiled, most famously by the Brothers Grimm, has shifted and changed through the tides of time.

Now, in the 21st century, a team of three German creators have set themselves the mission of bringing these creatures back from oblivious references and foggy recollections to the international public. Domestic dragons and wild women, Kobolds and Wichtel are portrayed through the lens of narrative and mythological research showing their regional peculiarities within German folktales. Each creature is brought to life as a detailed sculpture in original size, based on historical descriptions and beautifully photographed in Germany, in the landscape that these creatures might once have walked.

"Hausgeister!: Household Spirits of German Folklore: Household Spirits of German Folklore" offers a new, spectacular approach that combines both art and cultural studies in an innovative way.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, "Hausgeister!: Household Spirits of German Folklore: Household Spirits of German Folklore" is an inherently fascinating, impressively informative, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' compendium of German folklore and of special appeal to anyone with an interest in mythical creatures and Germanic fantasy. Extraordinary and very special, "Hausgeister!: Household Spirits of German Folklore: Household Spirits of German Folklore" is an unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and academic library Germanic Myth/Folklore collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Florian Schafer ( is the driving force behind Forgotten Creatures. The biologist has been fascinated by the sagas and fairy tales of his homeland since childhood. In his artistic work he combines his knowledge of anatomy and ecology, as well as his in-depth knowledge of cultural science. In this way Florian creates unique creatures and spirits that give us insight into our own cultural past.

Editorial Note #2: Janin Pisarek ( is a folklorist and responsible for the technical quality control at Forgotten Creatures. She studied folklore, cultural history, and educational science at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. Her thesis on wolves and werewolves in oral stories and German folk belief, including the current return of the wolf, received the Special Promotion Prize from the Marchenstiftung Walter Kahn.

Editorial Note #3: Hannah Gritsch ( is a communication designer with a focus on photography and graphic design. With her unique style, Hannah manages to breathe life into Florian's sculptures in a fascinating way. She is the designated contact person for all graphical and aesthetical issues and supports the project with her experience in the advertising industry.

The Computer Shelf

Modeling and Simulation in Python
Allen B. Downy
No Starch Press
9781718502161, $39.99, PB, 280pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Modeling and Simulation in Python: An Introduction for Scientists and Engineers", Allen B. Downy provides a thorough but easy-to-follow introduction to physical modeling -- that is, the art of describing and simulating real-world systems.

Readers are guided through modeling things like world population growth, infectious disease, bungee jumping, baseball flight trajectories, celestial mechanics, and more while simultaneously developing a strong understanding of fundamental programming concepts like loops, vectors, and functions.

Clear and concise, with a focus on learning by doing, "Modeling and Simulation in Python: An Introduction for Scientists and Engineers" spares the reader abstract, theoretical complexities and gets right to hands-on examples that show how to produce useful models and simulations.

Critique: An ideal introduction to Python and its predictive applications, "Modeling and Simulation in Python: An Introduction for Scientists and Engineers" is comprehensive, exceptionally well organized, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in presentation. While a strongly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Computer Software and Python Programing collections, as well as supplemental Data Modeling/Programing curriculum studies lists. It should also be noted that "Modeling and Simulation in Python: An Introduction for Scientists and Engineers" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $23.99).

Editorial Note: Allen Downey ( is a Staff Scientist at DrivenData and Professor Emeritus at Olin College, where he taught Modeling and Simulation and other classes related to software and data science. He is the author of several textbooks, including Think Python, Think Bayes, and Elements of Data Science. Previously, he taught at Wellesley College and Colby College. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1997. His undergraduate and master's degrees are from the Civil Engineering department at MIT. He is the author of Probably Overthinking It, a blog about data science and Bayesian statistics.

The Biography Shelf

Cougars on the Cliff
Maurice Hornocker, author
David Johnson, author
The Lyons Press
c/o The Globe Pequot Press
9781493073290, $29.95, HC, 328pp

Synopsis: Maurice Hornocker is recognized worldwide as the first scientist to unravel the secrets of America's most enigmatic predator -- the mountain lion. A story of redemption, "Cougars on the Cliff: One Man's Pioneering Quest to Understand the Mythical Mountain Lion" (written with the assistance of David Johnson) is a memoir about the never-before-told adventures, challenges, and controversies surrounding Hornocker's groundbreaking study of cougars in the remote reaches of the Idaho Primitive Area.

North America's biggest cat was once killed for bounty dollars, slaughtered with impunity and driven toward extinction. But today's cat of intrigue, despite our lingering fears and misconceptions, has returned to much of its native range in the western United States and gained respect as a predator integral and necessary to wild ecosystems. This turnaround was triggered by one man: Maurice Hornocker. Cougars on the Cliff recounts the early years of his research (1964-1973) when he tracked lions following a dog's nose and footprints in the snow - before telemetry was available.

Hornocker was first to learn that mountain lions living in stable populations limit their own numbers through territoriality and a concept he called "mutual avoidance." This insight flew in the face of long-held beliefs that cougars were prolific and wanton killers that needed to be controlled as vermin. Thanks to Hornocker's work, today cougars can be found throughout the West and have even started to reclaim their place in New England.

Critique: Of particular appeal to readers with an interest in the biology of mountain lions, the environmental issues with respect to their habitats, and the biographies of naturalists, "Cougars on the Cliff: One Man's Pioneering Quest to Understand the Mythical Mountain Lion" is an inherently fascinating, impressively informative, expertly organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary American Biography/Memoir collections and curriculum Wildlife Biology curriculums, it should be noted that "Cougars on the Cliff: One Man's Pioneering Quest to Understand the Mythical Mountain Lion" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.49).

Editorial Note #1: Maurice Hornocker ( is a wildlife biologist best known for advancing our knowledge of the elusive mountain lion's behavior and ecology. During his fifty-five years of research in Idaho, New Mexico, and Yellowstone National Park, he published numerous scientific papers about cougars and edited books that include "Cougar: Ecology & Conservation," "Yellowstone Cougars" (which was the recipient of a 2020 The Wildlife Society Publication Award), and "Desert Puma" (which was the recipient of the 2002 The Wildlife Society Book of the Year Award). His writing, research, and mountain lion photographs have appeared in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, and National Wildlife magazine. He and his colleagues have also conducted pioneering research on other big cat species throughout the world including Siberian tigers, jaguars, leopards, ocelots, lynx, and bobcats. Hornocker and his wife, Leslie, live in Bellevue, Idaho, with their bird dogs, dressage horses, and a domestic cat named Redd.

Editorial Note #2: David Johnson ( is a retired roving regional reporter-columnist for the Lewiston Tribune in Lewiston, Idaho. He holds bachelor's degrees in wildlife management from the University of Minnesota and journalism from the University of Idaho. Johnson lives with is wife, Linda Weiford, in Moscow, Idaho.

The Theatre/Cinema Shelf

50 Movie Music Moments
Vasco Hexel
9781032249575, $160.00, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: "50 Movie Music Moments" by Vasco Hexel comprises a wide-ranging collection of analyses of some of the most fascinating uses of music in modern Hollywood cinema. Considering narrative strategies, filmmaking techniques, functions of film music, audience engagement and conditioning, cultural implications, and intertextuality, the case studies gathered here introduce music as a crucial element of film.

In 50 examples drawn from popular and critically acclaimed Hollywood films from the late 1950s to the present, the collection showcases the many dimensions of film music and its role in cinematic storytelling. Each example includes an analysis addressing the film's context and providing a close reading of how music, narrative, and visual elements of the scene interact.

Case studies exploring the role of music in film include Amadeus, Gladiator, Baby Driver, The Dark Knight, Philadelphia, Schindler's List, and Black Panther.

"50 Movie Music Moments" is an invaluable collection that offers an ideal resource to support undergraduate and graduate courses in film music history, film scoring, and filmmaking, as well as readers with a general interest in music in film.

Critique: Original, thoroughly researched, expertly written, organized and presented, "50 Movie Music Moments" is a seminal work of meticulous scholarship and a unique, especially recommended addition to personal, professional, college, and university library Cinematic History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for the reading lists of students, academia, film historians, film makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "50 Movie Music Moments" is also available in a paperback edition (9781032249551, $44.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $31.69).

Editorial Note: Vasco Hexel ( is a composer, author, and educator. He led the Master's Programme in Composition for Screen at the Royal College of Music, London from 2008 to 2020 and most recently was a visiting lecturer in film music at the University of Cambridge.

The Wine Shelf

Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine 2024
Hugh Johnson, author
Margaret Rand, editor
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Books
9781784729141, $17.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: The world's best-selling annual wine guide, "Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2024" is the essential reference book for everyone who buys or invests in wine from shops, restaurants, or on the internet. Now in its 47th year of publication, this premier wine-focused resource has no rival as the comprehensive, up-to-the-minute annual guide.

It provides clear succinct facts and commentary on the wines, growers and wine regions of the whole world. It reveals which vintages to buy, which to drink and which to cellar, which growers to look for and why. As with its predecessors, "Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine 2024" gives clear information on grape varieties, local specialities and how to match food with wines that will bring out the best in both.

"Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine 2024" also includes a color supplement on Chardonnay, the world's most obliging grape, discussing everything from history and taste to texture, fashion and the role oak.

Critique: Simply stated, this handy and easily portable edition of "Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2024" from Mitchell Beazley is as informed and informative as it is 'user friendly' in organization and presentation -- making it an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted that "Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book 2024" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note #1: Hugh Eric Allan Johnson OBE is an English journalist, author, editor, and expert on wine. He is considered the world's best-selling wine writer. A wine he tasted in 1964, a 1540 Steinwein from the German vineyard Wurzburger Stein, is considered one of the oldest to have ever been tasted. (

Editorial Note #2: Margaret Rand ( has been general editor of Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book for some 15 years and now, with Hugh's retirement, has taken over the hot seat. The book's mix of personal insight and informed recommendations have made it the world's best-selling annual wine book. Margaret Rand's curiosity about wine started several decades ago and led her to a career of writing about wine and editing wine magazines, with the occasional foray into whisky. Her books include Grapes & Wines and 101 Wines to Try Before You Die; she also writes regularly for The World of Fine Wine, and

The Agriculture Shelf

The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer, revised edition
Jeff & Melanie Carpenter
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
9781645021124, $39.95, PB, 416pp

Synopsis: In the first edition of "The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer", authors Jeff and Melanie Carpenter (who co-run Zack Woods Herb Farm in Hyde Park, Vermont) presented a comprehensive seed-to-bottle guide for aspiring and experienced growers alike, from basic business considerations to planting and propagation to creating value-added products.

Now they are back with a revised and updated edition of "The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer", sharing the lessons they've learned throughout their twenty-five years of operating a medicinal herb farm that prizes quality over quantity.

The Carpenters offer their insights and tips on every aspect of herb farming, including: Size and scale considerations; Data management for profit maximization; The herbal marketplace and choosing which herbs to grow; Field and bed preparation and planting, including building soil fertility; Plant-positive weed, pest, and disease control; Harvest and post-harvest processing, including scalable dryer construction; value-added products and marketing; A new chapter on growing cannabis -- and so much more!

The Carpenters make the case that growing organic medicinal herbs is not only viable and profitable, but also an important step for improving the ecological health of farmland, taking pressure off of wild medicinal plant populations, and increasing biodiversity. While local foodways are more often the focus of attention, local medicine ways are equally critical and in need of restoration.

This newly updated and expanded edition of "The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer" is a one-of-a-kind resource, complete with detailed profiles of 50 medicinal herbs and over 200 color photographs. Whether you're looking to grow an herb farm from the ground up, incorporate medicinal plants on an existing farm, or add tools to your belt as a seasoned grower, you will find the information you need in this unique guide.

Critique: Very nicely and profusely illustrated in color throughout, "The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer: Revised Edition" from Chelsea Green Publishers is a complete and comprehensive instructional guide to successfully operating a medicinal herb farming operation. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $29.99), "The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer: Revised Edition" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Herb Gardening/Remedies collections and supplemental Sustainable Agriculture curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Jeff Carpenter has farming in his blood. Descended from generations of Vermont farmers, Jeff deepened his love and understanding of plants through an apprenticeship with Rosemary Gladstar and as the former co-owner of Sage Mountain Herb Products and the International Herb Symposium. Since those early days, Jeff's work as a farmer, agricultural consultant, author, educator, and researcher has focused on the cultivation, conservation, and marketing of medicinal herbs. His passion for the green world is evident as he spends his days working in the fields and in the community.

Editorial Note #2: Melanie Carpenter grew up at Sage Mountain with her stepmother, herbal visionary Rosemary Gladstar. It was from Rosemary that Melanie first cultivated a love for medicinal plants. Over the last twenty years, Melanie has worked in the field of medicinal herbs as a farmer, community herbalist, educator, and mother. She believes that some of the most profound teachings and healings come from working on the land with the plants and works to help people explore and deepen their connection to the green world.

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Pagan Portals - Blodeuwedd
Jhenah Telyn Dru
Moon Books
c/o Collective Ink Books
9781785352126, $12.55, PB, 136pp

Synopsis: In Welsh lore and mythology, Blodeuwedd is the wife of Lleu Llaw Gyffes. She was created from the flowers of broom, meadowsweet and oak by the magicians Math and Gwydion, and is a central figure in Math fab Mathonwy, the last of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi.

Like a gathering of flowers from hedge and field, or a cloak made of owl feathers, Blodeuwedd is a figure of great complexity. She is both Flower Maiden and Owl of Wisdom, an unfaithful wife and a representative of Sovereignty, a fallen woman and a feminist heroine, a medieval cautionary tale and a reclaimed divinity.

Yet, for all of these seeming inconstancies, the key to understanding Blodeuwedd is being able to see her as a whole. Bringing together strands of Celtic lore, Welsh literature, British folk practice, and modern devotion, with the publication of "Pagan Portals - Blodeuwedd: Welsh Goddess of Seasonal Sovereignty", Celticist Jhenah Telyndru weaves a solid foundation from which scholars and seekers alike can come into deeper relationship with this oft-misunderstood figure.

Ultimately, this journey to reclaim Blodeuwedd's identity as a Sovereignty Goddess who ensured the cycle of the seasons by choosing, in turn, to partner with the Solar Hero of Summer and the Otherworldly Champion of Winter, she is here revealed a transformational mythic pathway that can also guide us in the reclamation of our own sovereignty.

Critique: Fascinating, informative, thought-provoking, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Pagan Portals - Blodeuwedd: Welsh Goddess of Seasonal Sovereignty" is a prized and much appreciated contribution to the growing library of Welsh Mythology and especially commended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Pagan Goddess collections and supplemental Welsh Folklore/Mythology curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Jhenah Telyndru ( is an author, educator, and Priestess. Founder of the Sisterhood of Avalon, she presents Avalonian Training Intensives around North America, and facilitates pilgrimages to sacred sites in the British Isles. Jhenah holds an MA in Celtic Studies from the University of Wales, and a BA in Archaeology from Stony Brook University. She founded the Sisterhood of Avalon in 1995, and serves as Academic Dean of the Avalonian Thealogical Seminary. She hosts residential training retreats, presents internationally at conferences and festivals, teaches online workshops and immersion programs, and facilitates pilgrimages to sacred sites in the British Isles. A priestess in the Avalonian Tradition for over 35 years, she has walked a Pagan path since 1986.

Floating World Tarot
Oliver Luke Delorie, author
Mia Komatsu, illustrator
Epic Ink
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760385814, $26.99, Card Deck/Pamphlet, 80pp

Synopsis: Ukiyo (which can be translated into English as a floating/fleeting/transient world) is the Japanese term used to describe the urban lifestyle and culture (and especially the pleasure seeking aspects) of the Edo period (1600 - 1867) in Japan. "Floating World Tarot" from Epic Ink creatively reimagines the ukiyo lifestyle through the lens of manga art and pairs it with the ancient art of tarot to create an all-inclusive kit that gives you everything you need to master this powerful divination tool.

"Floating World Tarot" features 78 tarot cards encompassing both Major and Minor Arcana, each illustrated in a unique and gorgeous manga style and an 80-page illustrated guidebook with detailed explanations, guiding keywords, and reversed meanings of each card .

With this deck and pamphlet, even the most novice of tarot users can gather the knowledge and master the ability to analyze the symbolism that comes with each archetype. Then apply that wisdom to your everyday life.

Critique: An effective and impressive blending of Japanese spiritualist traditions and the ancient metaphysical format of the Tarot, "Floating World Tarot" will be of special appeal and value to anyone with an interest in exploring the immersive world of manga art as adapted to the Tarot. Unique, inspiring, fun, "Floating World Tarot" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal and professional Tarot collections.

Editorial Note #1: Steeped in Eastern philosophy and martial arts, multidimensional creative professional Oliver Luke Delorie ( has a black belt in self-help, penning the playful 100 Small Ways to Quit Worrying and 100 Small Ways to Manage Time, the philosophical Wabi Sabi and Shinrin-Yoku, and the inspirational Creative Manifestos, among several other books. He lives on Vancouver Island.

Editorial Note #2: Mia Komatsu ( is a Japanese artist and calligrapher, currently based in Germany. She specializes in modern ukiyo-e style illustrations and brush-and-ink calligraphy, but is increasingly experimenting with digital art and photography. Primarily a freelance artist, Mia has designed everything from shop logos to vinyl jackets. You can see more of her art on Instagram @miacomart

Practical Crystals: Crystals for Holistic Wellbeing
Kathy Banegas, author
Viki Lester, illustrator
Leaping Hare Press
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780711284609, $22.00, HC, 144pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Practical Crystals: Crystals for Holistic Wellbeing", its readers will discover the powerful, healing and nurturing properties of 150 different crystals, and learn which ones are best to help you in a range of scenarios. Learn which and why crystals work best for a specific purpose -- and how to empower yourself to nurture your wellbeing every day with crystals.

Organised by theme, "Practical Crystals" reveal which crystals you can use for: Spiritual Wellbeing - use crystals to manifest abundant love, gratitude, and creativity; physical wellbeing - use crystals to encourage better sleep, aid relaxation, and promote good dreams; Unblocking Your Chakras - improve your feeling of balance and contentment by nurturing your 7 chakras; Connecting with Nature - sync with the four seasons and four stages of the moon cycle; Adding Magic to Special Occasions - celebrate birthdays, weddings, promotions, and more; Enhancing or Starting Your Career - boost your career or help manifest your dream job using crystals.

Critique: From rose quartz for self-love and self-care, to amethyst for tranquility and relaxation, there's a crystal to meet all your wellbeing needs and "Practical Crystals: Crystals for Holistic Wellbeing" is your instructive, inspiring, and comprehensive guide to selecting and using them. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99), "Practical Crystals: Crystals for Holistic Wellbeing" is an especially recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Kathy Banegas is the founder of The Healing Gem (@thehealinggem). After losing her mum to cancer in 2014, she looked for more holistic ways of healing and discovered the power of crystals. She created the Healing Gem in May of 2015, and in 2016, went on to become a Crystal Healing Master Teacher, Sound Healing Master Teacher and Reiki Master Teacher. In 2020, her Instagram page and shop gained popularity, amassing nearly 100k followers in one year, and starting a trend for bite-sized crystal content.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design