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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 8 August 2015 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Helen's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Laurel's Bookshelf Lorraine's Bookshelf Micah's Bookshelf
Richard's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf



Cowper's Bookshelf

Brain Flexers
Kristin Einberger & Janelle Sellick
Health Professions Press
409 Washington Avenue, Suite 500, Towson, MD 21204
www.healthpropress.com
9781938870378, $39.99, 224pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The collaborative work of Alzheimer's and memory loss experts Kristin Einberger and Janelle Sellick, "Brain Flexers: Games and Activities to Strengthen Memory" is a collection of 86 one-page activities designed especially for individuals with early memory loss to help strengthen brain functioning, promote social interaction, and provide hours of meaningful entertainment. Using trivia, reminiscence, and word association, individuals can test their memory and gain new knowledge on a wide variety of topics related to people, places, and things. Activities use an assortment of matching, fill-in-the-blank, and brainstorming skills and can be enjoyed either by individuals or with groups. "Brain Flexers" is divided into the following themes: Warm-ups, Sharpening Your Senses, Language, Geography, Creativity, History and Culture, Logic and Sequence, Music. Each individual activity includes answers as well as facilitator instructions.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Brain Flexers: Games and Activities to Strengthen Memory" will prove to be an enduringly useful and popular addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library collections. Indeed, no senior citizen center should be without a copy of "Brian Flexers" and it would be an invaluable addition to Alzheimer's and Adult Memory Loss supplemental studies reading lists.

Solve Common Teaching Challenges in Children with Autism
Lara Delmolino
Woodbine House
6510 Bells Mill Road, Bethesda, MD 20817
www.woodbinehouse.com
9781606132531, $29.95, 166pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Even veteran teachers of students with autism sometimes need help to determine why their instructional methods are not getting the desired results. "Solve Common Teaching Challenges in Children with Autism" by Lara Delmolino (Clinical Associate Professor at Rutgers University, and Director of the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center -- and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst), is comprised of behavior and education experts descriptions of 8 potential problem areas, and the provision of teaching strategies to promote successful learning including: Motivation (provide appropriate reinforcement); Manding (teach requesting & responding skills); Learning-to-Learn (teach basic prerequisite skills: attending, waiting for feedback, etc.); Prompting (when to use physical guidance, gesturing, verbal instruction); Language Environment (comprehension aid or distraction?); Learning Opportunities (provide quality over quantity); Individualizing Instruction (tailor it to the student's needs); Skills & Goals (make it meaningful & purposeful). Each individual chapter offers an illustrative case study, a critical examination of why the problem arises, and practical instructional solutions. Additional material within the chapters include a table, glossary, checklist, Q & A, chart, or form, which helps readers to further assess the issue. Educators, therapists, and parents familiar with ABA methods will feel empowered by this handy guide and reinvigorated to solve their teaching challenges.

Critique: As comprehensive as it is practical, "Solve Common Teaching Challenges in Children with Autism" will prove an invaluable diagnostic and curriculum planning aid for any classroom instruction charged with the education of an autistic child at any level K-12. An essential addition to school and university Autism educational reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, "Solve Common Teaching Challenges in Children with Autism" is so exceptionally well written as to be quite accessible and of substantial value to parents involved with the education of their autistic child -- especially in a public school setting.

Going Solo While Raising Children with Disabilities
Laura E. Marshak
Woodbine House
6510 Bells Mill Road, Bethesda, MD 20817
www.woodbinehouse.com
9781606131800, $24.95, 374pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: It's a fact that children with disabilities are more likely than other children to be living in single-parent homes. If you're raising a child with disabilities on your own whether by choice or circumstance, you'll find a wealth of support, affirmation, and practical ideas in this guide to living well. "Going Solo While Raising Children with Disabilities" is the first book for single parents (whether they are 'solo parents' by becoming widowed, separated, divorced, single by choice, adoptive or foster parents, or military spouses with deployed partners) whose kids have a wide variety of disabilities whether they are physical, neurodevelopmental, and/or psychiatric. In "Going Solo While Raising Children with Disabilities", by Laura Marshak (is a psychologist and professor whose career focuses on the quality of life and needs of parents raising children with disabilities) skillfully weaves together extensive interviews and survey results of solo mothers and fathers (and grandparents, too) with reliable coping strategies gleaned from 25 years as a practicing psychologist and specialist in disability adjustment. "Going Solo While Raising Children with Disabilities" is replete with insightful personal narratives and the author's deconstruction of these to offer universal lessons ranging from the basic (e.g., practice mindfulness to de-stress), to the profound (e.g., cultivate gratitude as the antidote to resentment), and will help readers assess and transform their own lives for the better. Agencies, extended family, and friends will want a copy of this book, too, to support the solos they care about.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented by a truly knowledgeable practitioner, "Going Solo While Raising Children with Disabilities" is as informed and informative as it is thoroughly 'user friendly' from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for personal, family, social service agency, community, and academic library Parenting Studies instructional reference book collections, it should be noted that "Going Solo While Raising Children with Disabilities" is an absolute 'must" for anyone charged with the responsibility of providing for the needs of children with disabilities.

The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts with You
Ryan Leak & Amanda Leak
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
www.waterbrookpress.com
9781601427441, $17.99, 224pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Most people will admit that they are looking for an amazing love story. We've all seen those couples, the ones holding hands or whispering to each other as they stare into one another's eyes as if they share an awesome secret. We watch them and wonder, what's up with those two? We never anticipated becoming one of "those couples." When we met, we just worked on listening to God and preparing ourselves for the story he planned for us. What we learned and want to share is that no matter what your relationship status may be, this amazing story begins with you. In "The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts with You" we share more than the events happening around "The Surprise Wedding." We share our triumphs and our mistakes, both before and after that day. You'll learn healthy habits you can start practicing today, ones that will help you lay the groundwork for an incredible marriage later. God has something amazing in mind for you, but he can't get you there without your help.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts with You" is an inherently fascinating, informed and informative read that is both inspired and inspiring. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts with You" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.78).

Hutterite Diaries
Linda Maendel
Herald Press
1251 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802
www.heraldpress.com
9780836199468, $12.99, 150pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: What would it be like to share all your possessions and live in Christian community in much the same way as early Christians did in the first century A.D.? In "Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom from My Prairie Community", Linda Maendel (a Hutterite author, blogger, and teacher who lives in Elm River Colony outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) offers a rare glimpse into the daily routines and communal faith of her people, the Hutterian Brethren. From stories of working together to bring in the fall potato harvest to laugh-out-loud tales of sisterly love laced with revenge, Maendel invites readers into her Bruderhof, or colony, nestled on the prairie of western Canada. Here children and adults work, play, eat, and worship together, crafting a community of goods and living out an alternative to the individualism and consumerism of mainstream society.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom from My Prairie Community" is as informed and informative as it is an inherently fascinating read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Christian Studies reference collections in general, and Hutterite Studies supplemental lists in particular, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hutterite Diaries" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Creating Capable Kids
Bruce Howlett & Caitlin Howeltt
New Horizon Press
PO Box 669, Far Hills, NJ 07931
www.newhorizonpressbooks.com
9780882824970, $15.95, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Creating Capable Kids: Twelve Skills That Will Help Kids Succeed in School and Life" is a compelling, thought provoking and practical guide to parenting and educating today's children. It is derived from Amartya Sen's Nobel Prize-winning approach to human development which has proven highly effective at freeing people from the chains of poverty. Educators Bruce and Caitlin Howlett apply Sen's approach to child development at home and in school and offering fresh, effective ways to rescue parenting and revive education, while providing parents, teachers and care givers with a proven foundation for creating rewarding childhoods, academic success and fulfilling lives. By incorporating the twelve key capabilities, such as sensory awareness, creative imagination, emotional and self-awareness, parents and educators can promote the three most critical tools for children's survival and success: continuous learning, problem solving, and increased knowledge and meaning. Using stories of three different types of children (Zoe, Mia and Daniel) "Creating Capable Kids" demonstrate the value of life and of the Capabilities Approach theory on how to cultivate inquisitive, actively engaged, motivated, perceptive and resilient children.

Critique: An impressively written, organized and presented collaboration by Bruce Howlett (a former biological researcher at Cornell University, has over two decades of teaching experience that includes working in settings as diverse as a Montessori primary school and a residential school for emotionally disturbed teens. For the last twelve years he has been an elementary school special education teacher and has founded two educational technology companies, Sound Reading Solutions and Mind4Learning, which span the gap between cognitive research and the classroom.) and Caitlin Howlett (who has a Masters Degree in Philosophy from the University of Oregon where she studied the effects of social and economic inequality on students' outcomes and educational experiences and she is working on a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education at Indiana University with a minor in gender studies.), "Creating Capable Kids: Twelve Skills That Will Help Kids Succeed in School and Life" is especially recommended for the non-specialist general reader seeking to raise children to reach their maximum potential in every aspect of life. Very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Parenting Studies instructional reference collections, it should be noted that "Creating Capable Kids" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.13).

Develop Your Medical Intuition
Sherrie Dillard
Llewellyn Publications
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125
www.llewellyn.com
9780738742014, $16.99, 312pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The wise inner voice of our spirit is always communicating with us through our intuition if only we can learn to listen. "Develop Your Medical Intuition: Activate Your Natural Wisdom for Optimum Health and Well-Being" by professional psychic, medium and therapist who draws upon her more than twenty-five years of experience and expertise to show how to improve your health with easy step-by-step exercises, guided visualizations, case studies, and practical advice. Thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and beliefs play an important role in our ability to heal. "Develop Your Medical Intuition" provides everything you need to know to repair, remedy, and enhance your health, including: Quizzes to determine your medical intuitive type and assess your energy health; Four main medical intuitive types: mental, emotional, physical, spiritual; Five basic medical intuitive skills: clairvoyance, clairsentience, clairaudience, claircognizance, and vibrational sensitivity. Developing your intuitive ability will help you make informed health care decisions and gain first-hand experience of the vast cosmic network of love and wisdom that supports mind, body and spirit wellness.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Develop Your Medical Intuition: Activate Your Natural Wisdom for Optimum Health and Well-Being" is an informed and informative contribution to personal and community library Alternative Medicine instructional reference collections. Very highly recommended, instructive, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone and substance, for personal reading lists it should be noted that "Develop Your Medical Intuition" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Bubba Done
Maggie Toussaint
Five Star Books
10 Water Street, Suite 310, Waterville, ME 04901
9781432830670, $25.95, 307pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Amateur sleuth and dreamwalker Baxley Powell is called in on a stabbing case. She arrives in time to hear the dying man whisper, "Bubba done it". Four men named Bubba in Sinclair County, Georgia, have close ties to the victim, including her goofball brother-in-law, Bubba Powell. She dream walks for answers, but the victim can't talk to her, leaving Baxley to sleuth among the living. The suspects include a down-on-his-luck fisherman, a crack-head evangelist, a politically- connected investor, and her brother-in-law, the former sweetheart of the victim's ex-wife. The more Baxley digs, the more the Bubbas start to unravel. Worse, her brother-in-law's definitely more than friendly with the victim's ex-wife. Between pet-sitting, landscaping, and dream walking, Baxley's got her hands full solving this case.

Critique: A terrifically entertaining and engaging read from beginning to end by a master of the genre, "Bubba Done" by Maggie Toussaint is a very highly recommended addition to mystery buff and community library Mystery/Suspense collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Bubba Done" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Peers Inc
Robin Chase
Public Affairs Books
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 West 57th Street, #1321, New York, NY 10107
www.publicaffairsbooks.com
9781610395540, $26.99, 204pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When Robin Chase cofounded Zipcar, she not only started a business but established the foundation for one of the most important economic and social ideas of our time: the collaborative economy. With "Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism", she broadens our thinking about the ways in which the economy is being transformed and shows how the Peers Inc model is changing the very nature of capitalism. When the best of people power is combined with the best of corporate power to form "Peers Inc" organizations, a potent creative force is released. The "Inc" in these collaborations delivers the industrial strengths of significant scale and resources, and the "Peers" bring together the individual strengths of localization, specialization, and customization, unlocking the power of the collaborative economy. When excess capacity is harnessed by the platform and diverse peers participate, a completely new dynamic is unleashed. In Peers Inc, Robin Chase brings her provocative insights to work, business, the economy, and the environment, showing: How focusing on excess capacity transforms the economics of what's possible and delivers abundance to all; How the new collaboration between the Inc and the Peers enables companies to grow more quickly, learn faster, and deliver smarter products and services; How leveraging the Peers Inc model can address climate change with the necessary speed and scale; How the Peers Inc model can help legacy companies overcome their shortening life cycle by inviting innovation and evolution; Why power parity between the Peers and the Inc is a prerequisite for long-term success; How platforms can be built within the existing financial system or outside of it; What government can do to enhance economic possibility and protect people working in this new decentralized world. Chase casts a wide net, illuminating the potential of the Peers Inc model to address broader issues such as climate change and income inequality, and proves the impact that this innovative economic force can have on the most pressing issues of our time.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism" is an informative, thought-provoking, and inherently absorbing read. Enhanced with the inclusion of eighteen pages of Notes and a seventy-five page Index, "Peers Inc" is strongly recommended for community and academic library Business Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Peers Inc" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.57).

360 Degrees Of Success
Anna Weber
Morgan James Publishing
4410 E Claiborne Square, Suite 334, Hampton VA 23666-2071
www.morganjamespublishing.com
9781614489139, $39.95, 150pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "360 Degrees of Success: Money, Relationships, Energy, Time: The 4 Essential Ingredients to Create Personal and Professional Success in Your Life" gives you the tools and the formulas to create your 360 degrees of personal, professional and business success. You will learn how to successfully link the 4 essential ingredients, Money, Relationships, Energy, Time . in just 90-180 days.

Critique: An extraordinarily well written and presented do-it-yourself manual for improving the quality of life through success by achieving whatever goals are set, "360 Degrees of Success: Money, Relationships, Energy, Time: The 4 Essential Ingredients to Create Personal and Professional Success in Your Life" is especially recommended to the attention of professionals having to cope with the competitive world of commerce; students attaining degrees and seeking appropriate employment; small business entrepreneurs; homemakers seeking to cope with domestic issues, and anyone having to deal with the stresses of ordinary life in today's complex and ever evolving world. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement instructional reference collections, it should be noted that "360 Degrees of Success: Money, Relationships, Energy, Time: The 4 Essential Ingredients to Create Personal and Professional Success in Your Life" is also available in a paperback edition (9781614489108, $17.95); in a Kindle format ($9.99); and in an unabridged Audio Audile edition ($14.95).

Sisters of the Revolution
Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer
PM Press
PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623
www.pmpress.org
9781629630359, $15.95, 352pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology" gathers an impressive selection of feminist speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, and more) chosen by one of the most respected editorial teams in speculative literature today, the award-winning Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Including stories from the 1970s to the present day, the collection seeks to expand the conversation about feminism while engaging the reader in a wealth of imaginative ideas. From the literary heft of Angela Carter to the searing power of Octavia Butler, "Sisters of the Revolution" gathers daring examples of speculative fiction's engagement with feminism. Dark, satirical stories such as Eileen Gunn's "Stable Strategies for Middle Management" and the disturbing horror of James Tiptree Jr.'s "The Screwfly Solution" reveal the charged intensity at work in the field. Including new, emerging voices such as Nnedi Okorafor and featuring international contributions from Angelica Gorodischer and many more, this collection seeks to expand the ideas of both contemporary fiction and feminism to new fronts. Moving from the fantastic to the futuristic, subtle to surreal, these stories will provoke thoughts and emotions about feminism like no other book available today. Other contributors include Anne Richter, Carol Emshwiller, Eleanor Arnason, Hiromi Goto, Joanna Russ, Karin Tidbeck, Kelley Eskridge, Kelly Barnhill, Kit Reed, L. Timmel Duchamp, Leena Krohn, Leonora Carrington, Pamela Sargent, Rose Lemberg, Susan Palwick, Tanith Lee, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Vandana Singh.

Critique: An impressively compiled roster of female science fiction fantasy authors whose work is comparable (and often superior) to that of their male counterparts, "Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology" is a terrifically entertaining read and highly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections in general, and Speculative Fiction collections in particular. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Sisters of the Revolution" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The Complete Guide to Drying Foods at Home
Terri Paajanen
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
1405 S.W. 6th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34471
www.atlantic-pub.com
9781601386021, $24.95, 288pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A recent U.S. study revealed that the dried and dehydrated food industry made more than $6 billion in revenue in 2009 alone. Thanks to advances in technology, dehydrating foods at home has become easier than ever, allowing you to lock in food s nutritional value while eliminating the water content that causes foods to grow bacteria and mold. Drying foods also gives you a source of raw, nutrient-rich food that is easily available and requires no additional preparation. "The Complete Guide to Drying Foods at Home: Everything You Need to Know about Preparing, Storing, and Consuming Dried Foods" provides you with all the information necessary for drying fruits, vegetables, meats, herbs, grains, and even dairy products. "The Complete Guide to Drying Foods at Home" will provide you with instructions on how to dry foods using a food dehydrator and will also offer you simpler alternatives for how to dehydrate foods using an oven, microwave, or even the sun. You will learn what equipment you need to get started and how to properly store your food to ensure optimal freshness. "The Complete Guide to Drying Foods at Home" also provides you with recipes for any meal of the day, whether you are looking for an easy breakfast alternative or a quick soup you can prepare for lunch. You will even learn how to prepare foods for young children and pets. Drying your foods will not only provide you with timesaving options for ways to prepare your meals, it will also allow you to reduce the amount of food you throw out each month.

Critique: As comprehensive and expertly presented as it is thoroughly 'user friendly', "The Complete Guide to Drying Foods at Home: Everything You Need to Know about Preparing, Storing, and Consuming Dried Foods" is now in a newly updated, revised and expanded second edition. Of special note are the chapters on 'Dried Food Recipes' (Soup Mixes; Trail Mixes; Drink Mixes; Baking Mixes); 'Cook Raw Food with a Dehydrator' (Recipes for Making Raw Food); 'Crafts and Other Uses' (Making Pet Treats; Drying Flowers; Helping with Crafts; Humidifying). Simply stated, no home or community library should be without a copy of "The Complete Guide to Drying Foods at Home: Everything You Need to Know about Preparing, Storing, and Consuming Dried Foods". It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Complete Guide to Drying Foods at Home" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Mary Cowper
Reviewer


Donovan's Bookshelf

Rowdy
Christopher Madsen
CPM Publishing
9780996026000, $55.00

The title Rowdy perhaps implies a story of mayhem and parties - and in a strange way, you wouldn't be far off identifying this saga as a spirited account, even though 'Rowdy' does not identify a state of mind, but is the name of a sailboat author Christopher Madsen discovered in 1998.

At that point Rowdy was certainly not living up to her name: derelict, leaky, and neglected, the yacht and her former owner were largely a mystery - and, as author Christopher Madsen began rebuilding his new acquisition, so he became intrigued by her past and became determined to not just rebuild her, but also to solve all of her mysteries. The surprising course of this investigation traversed East and West coasts, involved exhaustive research, and ultimately drew the author as much into researching Duell and nautical history as into the physical act of restoring an old, once-grand boat. In fact, over sixteen years went into the making this story; and so Rowdy is not a quick nautical adventure so much as an in-depth and personal investigation, made all the more gripping by the fact that the story is completely true, historically significant and meticulous footnoted throughout.

The book quickly transitions from Christopher's restoration of the yacht and whisks the reader back in time to the 1920's era of Hemmingway and Gatsby. It is in this setting that the dynamic story of the original owner, Holland Sackett Duell, seems to magically unfold and blossom back to life. The reader will share in the journeys and struggles of Holland Duell, decorated World War I major, celebrated New York state senator, powerful patent attorney, and highly accomplished sailor, as he is immersed in the Great War, politics at the highest level, the birth of Hollywood, fortunes and mansions, love and romance, and scandalous affairs. It is this rich and diverse content makes Rowdy a strong recommendation for sailors and non-sailors alike.

It should be noted that color and vintage, historical black and white photos and illustrations are liberally peppered throughout: something missing in many a nautical tale, and a feature which lends a visual touch to the story line.

Rowdy offers many unusual facets that set it apart from other nautical titles. Of course there is the nautical theme:

"To be honest, when I arrived at the marina and saw Rowdy, my first impression of her was so decidedly mixed that I would equate it to seeing a beautiful purebred dog that had been beaten, abused, neglected, and left to die in a pitiful state....while I know I glanced over all the flaws, my gaze was held by the clean design of her flush deck, with no built-up cabin, and her long, graceful sweeping shear. I could picture how easily and quickly her bow, with its immensely long overhang, must have sliced through the water in her heyday. Looking at her sleek yet sad appearance, I saw nothing but potential and the obvious signature of her master designer, Captain Nat Herreshoff."

A central theme which develops and steadily builds towards a given outcome at the end of the book centers on a secret love affair conceived on the 1918 battlefields of France:

"In my absence, your family life would survive on its own, or it would fail on its own, and it's probably best to let that course play out. I would still like to be a familiar presence, and we can certainly continue to share the happiness and friendship that we have brought to each other in that capacity. But at the same time, I think I would curl up and die and blow away like dust if I were denied one ounce of the intimacy and closeness that we shared last night. With that, the basic foundation of their clandestine relationship had been laid."

Another faceted inclusion in the book, Holland Duell's war journal, provides vivid, personalized descriptions of his experiences in the Great War, and is represented to be the most detailed accounting ever written on the 306th Field Artillery, 77th Division:

"The French citizens laughed and cried hysterically as they embraced their liberators. The French and American flags were hoisted, and a makeshift band played "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "La Marseillaise." To see those French men who, but a blink of the eye ago with all their worldly possessions upon their back, had impressed us as being the most pitiful, destitute, beaten-down souls in existence - to see them now infused with craziness and hilarity, running about madly, throwing their hats in the air and joyously shouting, "Fini la Guerre!" and "Vivent les Americains!" and "Vive l'Amerique!" was a sight to behold. Fini la Guerre indeed! So it was true. The war was finally over."

But finally - and perhaps, most importantly - Rowdy is a history journal of a boat, its owner, and the process of tracking down a multifaceted story of her life and times: a process that immersed the author not only in the original owner's remarkable story; but also afforded him the most wonderful and special opportunity to meet and become friends with many of Holland Duell's descendants.

And so readers anticipating a singular story of a boat's restoration, or a yachting adventure, or even a new owner's discoveries about his impulsive purchase will find so much more here. The historical research and vintage history is simply extraordinary, making Rowdy an exceptional standout presentation that neatly moves far above and beyond the multitudes of books competing for similar shelf space.

The Midnight Shrink
Edward A. Dreyfus
Edward A. Dreyfus, Publisher
1421 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404
www.docdreyfus.com
www.edwardadreyfus.net
9781508691389, $14.95, www.amazon.com

The Midnight Shrink is loosely based on the author's experience growing up in New York, and on his background as a psychologist: these facets lend a sense of reality to the story of a desperate search for a serial killer and the involvement of a psychologist in the hunt.

Dr. David Edminson isn't just any psychologist; he's committed to social change, and so his patients don't come to his rich office: he goes out into the streets of Los Angeles in his van and seeks to help those who ordinarily don't get treatment, working night hours that coincide with the routines of his clients, who are largely sex workers and junkies.

Many passages describe this lifestyle, the reasons why people become involved, and insights into the personalities of those who made choices to enter lucrative if not dubious street careers: "She had tried a short stint at prostitution in order to support herself. Being young and attractive on the streets of LA made her easy prey, so she hooked with a pimp and found a modicum of protection. By the time she was twenty she had seen it all and decided that what she saw, she didn't like. She wanted more out of life. She had witnessed where others ended up and decided it wasn't for her."

But The Midnight Shrink is about more than a killer at large: it's about a psychologist's self-inspection as he comes to discover his heritage isn't what he thought it was, leading him on a journey that changes his career, his ideals, and his very life.

It's difficult to adequately describe a story that toes the line between murder mystery and psychological drama. Emotions are probed, rationales analyzed, and satisfying tension is built in the course of examining motivations and dangers - and as the good doctor comes to better understand himself, so he draws ever closer to the true identity of a dangerous killer.

Fans of psychological dramas and murder mysteries alike will find The Midnight Shrink a complex, revealing story that brings both social issues and the underworld of the LA streets to life in a uniquely compelling fashion.

Johnson Road
Clayton E. Spriggs
Penn Mill Publishing
http://www.pennmillpub.com/contact-us
9780986121128, $10.99, www.pennmillpub.com

http://www.amazon.com/Johnson-Road-Clayton-E-Spriggs/dp/0986121126/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432136441&sr=8-1&keywords=9780986121128

How is a predator made? Often he evolves when a cage is rattled, when circumstances prove the tipping point into insanity, and when quiet observational habits turn into deadly motivations - and that's where Detective Robert Stallworth enters the picture, piecing together a puzzle that begins and ends on Johnson Road.

Readers who seek the usual formula genre writing from a mystery format will find Johnson Road is more aptly described as a story incorporating the undertones of a murder mystery with the psychological depth typical of many a novel. For this reason, it's a recommendation for both novel readers and mystery fans - and the latter audience should be prepared for far more than the usual 'whodunnit'.

Readers should anticipate a chilling saga set in the rural South where unacceptable change proves the breeding ground for disaster. Johnson Road excels in creating logical characters, motivations, and events; then tweaks their progress just a little to keep readers on their toes.

It's rare to find a finely-tuned story line that takes a neighborhood's evolution to its outer limits, weaving disparate elements into a novel of terror that is powerfully laced with Southern dialogue and a sense of place. Johnson Road is such a creation: a heady mix of brooding psychological insight and analysis that takes the course of progress and adds an extra dimension of intrigue.

The result is highly recommended not for genre readers seeking simple 'whodunnit' reads; but for those who appreciate the progressive action of a thriller in a novel that offers up far more psychological depth, driving the characters, their choices, and the outcome.

Thinkerox: A Brain in a Box
Dr. Brian Whitestone
Dr. Brian Whitestone, Publisher
http://www.authorbrianwhitestone.com/contact.html
9780993732218, $3.99 Kindle, www.authorbrianwhitestone.com

http://www.amazon.com/Thinkerox-Brain-Box-Brian-Whitestone-ebook/dp/B00W5RDDZK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1432124446&sr=8-1&keywords=thinkerox

Thinkerox: A Brain in a Box holds, as its underlying message, insights on children's interactions with technology, but uses a first-person rhyming fable to tell of one Billy McDew, a boy who loves to tinker and invent - until Thinkerox, a thinking computer, changes the lives of those around him.

The age group targeted here will be past the picture book reader stage and involved in chapter book formats, but even though Thinkerox is not a chapter book per say (it's all one long story), these readers will find it thought-provoking and intriguing.

As Thinkerox takes over Billy's world, Billy is tasked with finding a way to stop its mind-numbing effects: a creative solution must be found.

It's a challenge to take an adult message and couch it in terms an elementary-level reader can understand; but Whitestone accomplishes this job for the age group that needs it the most: kids raised on screens and computers who need to receive a message about their underlying effects and how to set aside the computer and engage in creative activities.

The color drawings throughout, rhyming lines, and fun story clearly outline the dilemma and the unique solution in a manner that chapter book readers will find both engaging and true to modern life.

The Unruly Spirit: A New Look at Human Behavior
Frank A. J. Braun
Ruah Publishing
Smashwords, distributor
P.O. Box 627, Billings MT 59103
9781310149764, $3.99

Ordering Links:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/533500
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-unruly-spirit-frank-braun/1121709739?ean=2940151857666
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-unruly-spirit-a-new-look-at-human-behavior

The Unruly Spirit: A New Look at Human Behavior sounds as though it will be a light psychological read; but nothing could be further from the truth: it's dense, challenging, analytical reading, and so 'pop psychology' readers seeking quick reads and even quicker answers should look elsewhere.

Just a sample of the many subjects touched upon in Braun's process of examining the 'unruly spirit': sentient life's processing systems and how cognizance is developed, theories of the different levels of consciousness and how they interact, theological discussions and frameworks for understanding the faculties of consciousness, and inherited norms and the effects of social training on consciousness.

The intersection of spiritual and psychological analysis forms a fine line, so readers should be prepared for a study that incorporates elements of both Biblical reference and psychological theory as human behavior is closely examined using a scholarly tone, graphs, and scrutiny of how a living soul is formed and influenced.

Theological collections, in particular, will find The Unruly Spirit a welcome addition.

Firebrand
Aaron Barnhart
Quindaro Press
www.quindaropress.com
9780966925869, $19.95, www.amazon.com

Firebrand is a young adult historical novel for ages 10-15, is set in 1848, where an immigrant family sets sail for America, bringing with them a teen who has discovered newfound purpose in a political struggle in Vienna, and diverges from many young adult reads in that fifteen-year-old protagonist August is more cognizant of the social and political issues of his times than most of his peers.

Having a politically aware teen as the center of a young adult read is refreshingly different, for August Bondi is already well aware of freedom, repression, and the effects of civil liberties in his daily life before he even reaches America's shores, and becomes similarly involved in struggles over slavery in his new home.

Firebrand is rooted in fact (based on a prior autobiography of Bondi) and thus lends life and a reality-based atmosphere to its saga of Bondi's involvement in three major struggles for freedom; one of which (Bleeding Kansas) many a reader will not have heard of.

The majority of young adult reads that center around an involvement in social issues and civil liberties begin with the young adult's newly-awakened views of the wider world outside his home. The fact that August comes into America already politically savvy and is able to contrast the values, issues, and experiences of three very different freedom struggles with those in his new home lends an additional layer of complexity and depth to Firebrand.

Add gripping action, attention to detail in setting and character, and the coming of age from boy to manhood in turbulent frontier times and you have a story line that is gripping and involving from start to finish, firmly rooted in the events of its times.

Into the Sunrise
Carolyn Haley
The Wild Rose Press
P.O. Box 708, Adams Basin, NY 14410
9781509201433, $5.99, (digital)

http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=242_176_145&products_id=6229

All it takes is one fateful day for Linny to lose her dreams of becoming a horse-riding champion and the love of her life. One dream she can tweak and begin again (the dream of horse-riding success); but the other - a healthy romance with one who won't betray her - seems ever-elusive. And so Linny sets aside her longing for love in favor of horses, which seem like a much more achievable goal, in comparison.

There's only one problem with her newfound goal and rejection of romantic entanglements: love has a way of entering even the horse pen to ride away with one's heart; and when she meets a stable boy with dreams, the entanglements begin again.

Only this time it's two love-shy individuals with their own powerful, different goals in life - both horse-oriented - which come together with a clash. In some ways they are perfect matches; in other ways, their paths in life seem quite different.

One of the pleasures of Into the Sunrise lies in its exploration of how two very independent individuals change courses to stay true to their dreams while slowly evolving a love for one another. Another strength is the book's attention to presenting romance as just one of the lures in each individual's life. With such perspectives, depth is achieved - and under such a hand, attraction is tempered with realistic success, tragedies, strife, and mental compromises for both characters.

While Into the Sunrise is most definitely a romance, it's also a story steeped in horses, psychological twists and turns, and revelations that indicate how relationships past and present influence future choices: "Though I was dying to know what dear-old-daddy had done that could provoke my prince to violence, I didn't want to sidetrack Con or have him clam up. Better to show I could respect his privacy, since he was clearly confiding, and I wasn't sure I wanted to know all the gritty truth."

Readers of horse stories, romances, and novels will find Into the Sunrise satisfyingly complex.

Fatal Serum
Sam Black
Morgan James Publishing
5 Penn Plaza 23rd Floor, New York, New York 10001-1810
9781630473396, $17.95, www.amazon.com

Sam makes two important discoveries while he's working on his doctorate degree: a serum that blocks contagious diseases, and another that keeps air pollution from getting into the lungs. It would seem a simple matter to get drug companies interested in his discoveries so he can dig out from under his student loans; but surprisingly, nobody seems interested.

The only answer is to get a financial backer in the form of a wealthy benefactor and start his own company marketing his discoveries. All this background is deftly explained in a simple prologue designed to set the stage for events to come: now fast forward to the future, when Sam is the owner of a successful company facing the kidnapping of his wife and a vial of international conspiracy influences revolving around a deadly power play that could kill his family, his dreams, and perhaps his invention.

While readers might expect a Robin Cook-type medical drama from the title of Fatal Serum (or perhaps the story of a mad scientist intent on destroying the world), to its credit, this story is so much more, reaching deftly into the thriller market by offering a complex blend of intrigue and special interest struggles.

The first few action-packed chapters can be confusing as past and present swing back and forth like a pendulum, painting the story of Sam's loving relationship with Jen, the evolution of his company and home life, and the dangers in her disappearance. It takes a few chapters for all these facets to come together, even given the background presented in the book's prologue: by then the reader is hooked into a solid first-person story that captures Sam's urgency and world.

The refreshing character of Sam, who sets out to do good only to find evil forces at work, the involvement of his family, and the influence of drug companies around the world make for a multi-faceted saga packed with twists, turns, and all the hallmark vigor and enthusiasm of a thriller that offers up more than a few surprises.

Price of Life
Danielle Singleton
Privately Published
0692446389, $9.99 paperback; $2.99 e-book, www.daniellesingleton.com

Ordering links:
Paperback: http://tinyurl.com/PriceOfLifePRINT
Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/PriceOfLifeKINDLE
NOOK: http://tinyurl.com/PriceOfLifeNOOK
iBooks: http://tinyurl.com/PriceOfLifeIBOOKS

Thirteen-year-old Luisa lives in a violent, drug-controlled town in Honduras and daily prays for escape. Be careful what you wish for, however: she gets to escape only because her mother has sold her into slavery, and there Luisa's story really begins, telling of two years, four countries, and seven different owners that represent the realities of child sex slavery.

Very few stories provide details of child sex slavery, so Price of Life stands out right away; but its real strength lies in the ability to deftly portray a young girl's struggles after her grandmother dies and her mother comes to view her daughter as a monetary resource: "Abuela is so lucky. She gets to live with Jesus - we have to live with our mother."

At first things aren't so bad: her mother pulls herself together and the young daughters have something of a home life, even if it is in rough circumstances: "In the beginning, Luisa was surprised by how well her mom pulled herself together. She picked up various temporary jobs answering phones, washing dishes, and working in a clothing factory. Luisa and Josefina weren't in school - after a boy in their building got shot walking to class, their mom said they didn't need an education. She would bring home books for them to read, though, and the girls didn't mind that they only left the one-room apartment a couple times a week. They had a decent amount of food to eat, their mom was sober, and they had each other. It could be worse, Luisa often thought."

Be forewarned: Danielle Singleton pulls no punches in describing the terror of the children and their abuse. Her descriptions are vivid, realistic representations of human trafficking events: "This kind of attention, nearly five hundred men (and women) staring at her naked body as she paraded up and down a stage, was too much for Luisa to handle. After she made it back to the end of the catwalk and climbed down the stairs, Luisa collapsed on the rotting wooden floor in a heap of nerves and tears. Luckily for both Dominguez sisters, unlike many auctions in Europe and the Middle East, the Tuxtla sale did not allow 'product sampling' before purchases were made."

If political awareness presented through the eyes of a young protagonist caught in a nightmare adult world is desired, then Price of Life is the item of choice: a powerful revelation of human sex trafficking's processes and its impact on all involved.

Girl in the River
Patricia Kullberg
Bygone Era Books, Ltd.
7665 E. Eastman Ave. #B101, Denver, CO 80231
9781941072240, $19.95 paperback, $6.99 ebook, www.amazon.com

Today Portland, Oregon is seen as a gentrified, urban mecca of culture; but such was not the case in the 1930s-50s, the setting of Girl in the River. During those times a sense of lawlessness, government corruption, and drugs and sex permeated the town: such is the atmosphere captured in this rich historical novel that centers upon one Mae, who is in the process of escaping from her pimp.

The opening is July 1951: one war is over, but the battle in Portland's streets is just beginning. Mae is caught in a police bust of an illegal underground abortion clinic, but in true feisty fashion she's just as concerned about their brash entry techniques as in the fact that she's being arrested: "The doorknob had smashed a fist-sized dent into the plaster when the whole gang burst through the door. No cause for that. Place wasn't locked. It wouldn't have hurt these officers of the peace to step in like gentlemen. Mae scanned the room. Who was in charge of this circus, anyway?"

From the popular culture and atmosphere surrounding World War II to the work of a popular abortion doctor (true-life character Ruth Barnett, who is known for not just abortion work, but grand parties), Girl in the River doesn't just capture the politics, culture, and sentiments of its times: it presents them in living color.

Readers are immersed in bygone Portland through Mae's eyes and experiences, and will find the glow and allure of night clubs, arrangements between legal establishments and abortion efforts, and the smoky allure of a noir atmosphere makes for solid descriptions and alluring interplays between protagonists: "Nels couldn't see her clearly enough to make the connection between her and Leonard. She was background, the bottle of booze on the table, the pillow on the sofa."

All this contributes to a captivating historical story powered by feisty, believable protagonists, a smoky noir atmosphere, and a story based on real-life events.

Retribution
Jan Domagala
Kindle Direct Publishing
ASIN: B00FNK10UQ, $4.62
http://jandomagala.wix.com/jan-domagala
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/ColSecSeriesByJanDomagala

Retribution is Book 4 in the Col Sec series (other books not seen by this reviewer), and while it should be noted that coming into a series midway often proves a challenge, given that plot, setting, characters and action have long ago been set in previous books (in this case, Ronin, OMEGA and Discovery), the joy of this series appears to be (if Retribution is any indication) that the books do succeed in standing alone. In this case, a prologue sets the scene where a quasi-sleeping woman aboard a starship, Zara, is puzzled about her surroundings and how she came to be there - and her discoveries help readers learn about the background of OMEGA and other facets presumably covered in prior adventures.

Tension builds: there's a woman in a lab exploring what memories she has of the past (including a lost love); there's a man buried alive yet regenerating amid memories and the rubble of a discovery that may have caused his downfall; and there's a deadly political enemy that demands that Kurt and his Wildfire Team confront and play a dangerous game indeed.

All this is presented against the backdrop of a military struggle that revolves around a serum and a plot to involve violent creatures which may be set loose within Col Sec to kill everything. Add clones, a cat-and-mouse game that is ongoing and unpredictable, and plenty of action, and readers who enjoy politically charged, military-based sci-fi will find in Retribution a satisfying read that stands well alone, powered by believable protagonists and richly-drawn scenarios.

Manhattan Morning
Fowler W. Martin
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B00V5MW30W, $2.99

http://www.amazon.com/Manhattan-Morning-Fowler-Martin-ebook/dp/B00V5MW30W/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428519416&sr=1-1&keywords=manhattan+morning

It's unusual to find a story complete and powerful using only three chapters (that's the fine art of the novella format, and one which is too rarely used to its best advantage); but one example of such prowess lies in Manhattan Morning, a Proust-like exploration of New York that centers on one man's long walk and his internal and external sensory impressions during it.

As Dan revisits his past ("Dan had lived in New York during a previous marriage and couldn't abide the thought of having drinks in a hotel room on his first night back. He had wanted to experience a sense of place, a sense of belonging, however briefly. He had wanted to pay by leaving a few bills on the bar and walking away - just the way he had always done.") and chooses deliberate, purposeful methods for juxtaposing past habits with present situations, he carries the reader along a journey down memory lane that is steeped in New York atmosphere and culture.

During the course of a walk through Manhattan, Dan is challenged on many levels and is forced to consider risks, the tricks and traps of musing on old memories ("How many times had Dan turned that story over in his brain? He certainly hadn't needed to do it again today. Why had he stopped in St. Patrick's? Of course it would happen. Self-flagellation. In a church. How appropriate!"), and the methods by which the few women in his life have successfully changed its course.

Take the impressions of Proust, mix them with the introspection of Bellow, add a healthy dose of Manhattan atmosphere to the concoction, then stir. What emerges is an evocative self-reflection that translates the sights, sounds and culture of Manhattan and blends them with a protagonist's contrast of 'then and now' in a novella recommended for readers interested in vivid impressions of New York and one man's attempt to make sense of this world.

Greenfields: A Novella
William Graham
Amazon Audible
http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Greenfields-Audiobook/B00XRESS6E/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1433776807&sr=1-1

In the land of Aradmore, a great migration has decimated the land's fields. Families lose farms, social chaos begins, and a group of wealthy individuals, seeing opportunity in adversity, buy up land, create corporate entities, and place the former landowners on reservations owned by 'the titans'.

Only the people of Greenfields have resisted the lure of these reservations to stay firmly on their lands and in control of their businesses. Only they will enjoy freedom - as well as the special challenges in maintaining it. And one special family (the subject of attention in Greenfields) could change the structure of a world that is polarized between urban privileged titans and the surfs who are restricted in freedom and opportunities on reservations.

In this present world of changing climate and drought, the futuristic setting of Greenfields feels all too possible. This lends a special, compelling fascination to a story which comes alive in audio format.

Narrator Michael Gilboe is clear, brisk, and easy to understand, adding quiet drama to the story which creates its setting in a prologue, then moves to an opening chapter which tells of a doctor's treatment of an inexplicable gunshot wound and its ramifications.

Gilboe does more than provide a straightforward reading: he changes his voice to reflect each character's dialogue, and so his reading assumes the tone of a dramatic presentation; not a monologue. Only a multi-voiced production could have done better (at times the feel of a male reader adopting the high voice of a female character's dialogue comes across as somewhat forced).

Food shortages, reservation hardships, character interactions: all this blends in a fine novella detailing how one family struggles with injustice and makes decisions that will ultimately change the world.

A Time of Change
Paul Greene
BookBaby
9781483554464, Free Download, http://www.atimeofchange.net

A Time Of Change: On The Necessary Return To A Rational Understanding Of The Nature Of Man And The Universe is a weighty blend of philosophy, psychology, science, history, and spiritual reflection, and is recommended not for the light new age reader who expects an easy discussion of future trends, but for the thinker who wants an in-depth, reasoned argument that humans are living in a time of change that can lead to a transformation process across the board, from social and political to psychological and spiritual spectrums.

If all this sounds daunting: be advised: A Time of Change is not intended - or recommended - for casual pursuit (its 1,200 pages alone should serve as fair warning of this fact).

Readers who persevere will find in this treatise a powerful examination of the past, present and future of humanity's course, with strong spiritual analysis added into the process. Of necessity, such an investigation into the roots of humanity's progress, inhibitions, and discontents will be intimidating; but Greene's task is to synthesize the wisdom and historical progression of the human race with an investigative reporter's critical eye.

As such, expect many potentially controversial and thought-provoking, challenging perspectives; such as the notions that America was founded not on Christian beliefs but on Mason ideals with direct Biblical influence and connections, that faith has been marketed and merchandised to death from early to modern times, and that evolutionary theory itself holds traps and lies that should be critically examined.

One might expect from the diversity of themes and approaches that A Time of Change would be too wide-ranging to prove accessible: any one of these topics could make a book-length discussion. That the book ultimately succeeds in drawing seemingly-disparate topics together with a decidedly spiritual inspection process is one of its strengths.

Controversial? Absolutely. A Time of Change actually reflects the process of change by examining (and often refuting, with equal deftness) the contentions of Christianity and Islam, right- and left-leaning ideals, and new age and traditional religious thinking alike: "...man does not find eternal life by submitting to the demands of an imaginary god and of the church and its hierarchy, or by believing that Jesus died on the cross for his sins, as the Bible and the church claims. The idea that one day there will be a flesh and bone resurrection of the dead represents a crass distortion of what Jesus and Paul taught regarding the spiritual aspect of man and about incarnation. This desecration of their message was introduced in the Bible to give death fearing people false hopes and to make them dependent of an institution that claims it has the ability to persuade god to make those hopes come true."

The survey isn't just about research, evidence, and trends: it's about posing food for thought, honing analytical paths, and creating processes that challenge the boundaries of those who have already mostly 'made up their minds' about life's purpose, spiritual paths, and historical precedent.

So who will be the likely appreciator of A Time of Change? Quite simply, the reader whose values, ideals, and life perspectives aren't already set in stone; a reader who appreciates being challenged on many levels and one who reads history, religion, philosophy and science with an eye to absorbing challenging new concepts and formulating new world views.

And, strangely enough, one will find the book offered for free through iBooks for iPad, Barnes&Noble for Nook, Goodreads and many other e-book retailers, and as a downloadable .pdf on the author's website. That fact reinforces that this is a labor of love and not a profit-making venture, and lends to its accessibility to anyone with a computer. Its dense yet intriguing message will reach anyone with an open mind, offering a unique ability to reach and touch those not already wedded to their belief systems.

The Mountain Place of Knowledge, 2nd Edition
Marshall Chamberlain
The Grace Publishing Group
428 Childers St. #24550, Pensacola, FL 32534
9781493554355, $22.99, www.gracepublishing.org

Be forewarned: The Mountain Place of Knowledge is not a stand-alone creation, but Book One in the 'Ancestor' series. Therefore, one can expect an action story that will link to future books. That said: it's a thriller highly recommended for readers who like their action nonstop, their characters well-drawn, and tension revolving around an archaeological discovery: an ancient Mayan sorceress's tomb.

Investigators of the Belize discovery face a mysterious death light which has already killed a U.N. official - but this is just the tip of the iceberg as strange new forces are unearthed that might better have been left undiscovered: powers described in a Mayan diary and experienced by the ancient Mayans.

The first two chapters contrast mistakes of past and present with the seeming inability of man to learn from the warnings of past experience. As events involve investigative teams around the world, they slowly build in complexity as special interest groups, politicians, and others become involved in the discovery and its potential to threaten world order.

With its strong characters, plot, and attention to infusing high drama with the convergence of special interests, The Mountain Place of Knowledge represents Indiana Jones-style intrigue and adventure writing at its best.

The Ice Cap and the Rift, 2nd Edition
Marshall Chamberlain
The Grace Publishing Group
428 Childers St. #24550, Pensacola, FL 32534
9781500511999, $22.99, www.gracepublishing.org

On the heels of Book One of the 'Ancestor' series comes Volume Two, The Ice Cap and the Rift, another spell-binding adventure that opens with a prologue summing up events that transpired in The Mountain Place of Knowledge and presenting another potentially world-altering disaster. Having the prior events summarized offers the rare opportunity for newcomers to become instantly familiar with the actions that preceded The Ice Cap and the Rift. (This summary approach provides the basics, yet retains enough mystery about these proceedings to offer the idea that Book One will prove equally compelling, inducing interest for newcomers to turn to the first adventure saga for more detail.)

In this case a 'comboquake' rolls up the Atlantic ridge and creates a fifteen-mile rift across an Icelandic ice cap, revealing a huge hidden cave and further challenges to humanity's existence.

Satellite inspection reveals frozen objects and structures in the cavern; and because curiosity killed the cat and may ultimately destroy mankind, further probes are destined to take place when a geologist and ex-Marine is charged with the task of investigating.

As events unfold here, it becomes evident that competing national interests, new technology, possible otherworld involvements, and fresh dangers are at the forefront of an adventure that turns a strange scientific discovery into a cat-and-mouse game of politics and confrontation between competing forces.

Strong characterization, a healthy dose of scientific mystery, and violently conflicting political interests permeate what can only be described as an Indiana Jones-style action thriller, replete with satisfying twists and turns sure to satisfy readers of the action-adventure genre.

This audience will appreciate Chamberlain's attention to detail, his ability to build believable characters and political situations, and especially, his attention to keeping the mystery alive and the tension exquisite throughout the story line - no mean feat given that so many disparate threads are created, to be joined together at a later date.

Beware the Little White Rabbit
Shannon Delany and Judith Graves, Editors
Leap Books
P.O. Box 63, Otego, NY, 13825
9781616030209, $15.99 (pbk), $5.99 (ebook)
http://leapbks.net/product/beware-the-little-white-rabbit
Buy links:Amazon | iTunes | B&N | Smashwords

Readers of Carroll's classic Alice in Wonderland should ideally have recent familiarity reading or re-reading this classic, because the interpretations and extrapolations in the young adult short story collection Beware the Little White Rabbit offer alternative visions of the underlying meaning and power of the Alice character and her world, and perfectly compliment Carroll's original creation.

Take the opener by Charlotte Bennardo, 'Alice Through the Wormhole', for one example. The story begins unexpectedly, in a seedy bar frequented by killers, where Alice has definite opinions of the white rabbit figure that are far from Carroll's original dream: "An Oryctolagian, a species resembling a white rabbit once popular on the now-dead Earth but here as big as a human, hopped past, his gravity boots clunking heavily on the stone floor. She had no use for the creatures. Sneaks, thieves, and liars, they fit in with these bottom-feeders. The only good Oryctolagian was a stuffed one - on the dinner table."

In this story Alice flirts with death, takes even bigger risks than her original namesake, and chases down a pick pocketing rabbit for stealing her canister of rare tea - with deadly consequences.

Elsewhere in the collection, in 'Human Construct' by Laura Lascarso, Alice takes the form of a Bradford Halls prep student whose encounter with a talking rabbit (who maintains that 'white is a human construct', among other things) lures Alice into a world far from the reality of her politician father's disappearance and small town rumors about her family.

Each story is carefully crafted to make the most of Alice's personality, setting, and experiences. Each requires of its young adult (and many an adult) reader both a familiarity with the original saga and a willingness to think outside the box of Carroll's universe.

Diverse, satisfying, intellectually thought-provoking and entertaining, Beware the Little White Rabbit is an outstanding collection that should be assigned in conjunction with the original Alice, and is a highly recommended read for not just the young adult audience it's intended for, but for adults and reading groups who will want to contrast and discuss the variety of Alice personas in both this short story collection and Carroll's original.

The Dark Side
Cheryl Wilfred
CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781512008821, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Cheryl Wilfred's The Dark Side provides a rollicking good read for audiences ages 7-12 and is a notable achievement for several reasons; not the least of which is that its young author achieved what few others her age have accomplished: writing a publishable fantasy adventure when she was only nine years old.

Now eleven, Wilfred is seeing the book's actual publication thanks to Amazon's publishing platform; and to say that her story rivals many an adult writer's work for young adult audiences would be a fair assessment of her ability to spin an involving yarn and see it through to a satisfying conclusion.

When Anna and her good friend Courtney Brown cross over to another world, The Dark Side, they discover an earthly boy who has become trapped there, a manipulative queen, a plot to take over Earth and other connected planets, and an opportunity to take charge of forces that could bring about positive changes - even if their 'army' does consist of Santa and his elves.

Wilfred's inclusion of a host of seemingly disparate forces succeeds in creating different and unexpected threads of involvement and weaving a story that ties all of them together with twists, turns, and action. Characters are well drawn, time is taken to outline dilemmas, motivations, and to explain seeming diversions in logic, and the overall flavor is of a whimsical and light fantasy that is clearly intended for younger fantasy audiences (most young adult fantasies suffer from overly complex tales designed to reach into adult circles: clearly, The Dark Side is perfect for its intended age group and does not attempt to straddle the line between young adult and adult readers).

The Dark Side's strengths lie in its bubbly interactions between protagonists, its specific writing suitable for ages 7-12, and a whimsical approach that lends refreshingly unexpected turns to an otherworld encounter. The fact that Courtney Brown and her friend are realistic, well-developed protagonists, and thoughtful adventurers who don't just react to life circumstances, but use creative problem-solving techniques in the process of making a difference in two worlds provides a story that is lively and fun.

Regina Shen: Defiance
Lance Erlick
Finlee Augare Books
PO Box 1805, Palatine, IL 60078
9781943080045, $12.95 (print), $3.99 (Kindle), www.amazon.com

This Regina Shen story joins others in the series and also stands well on its own, allowing newcomers the pleasure of learning about a feisty female protagonist who faces down adversity in a futuristic world replete with challenges.

Regina Shen: Defiance opens with a bang ("Soon we would light up infrared sensors like fireflies.") and is set in the year 298 ACM, when an ongoing attempt to rescue Regina's sister Colleen (explored in a previous book) once again fails. Seventeen-year-old Regina's unique DNA is key to saving the human race and could reverse a worldwide fertility crisis - so why wouldn't she willingly make some sacrifices for the sake of humanity? Because there's so much more at stake, here, than one life - even if it's hers.

The dystopian future in which Regina operates is quickly sketched in the opening chapter so that newcomers quickly come up to speed with her issues, enemies, and friends; but once again it's Erlick's attention to exploring Regina's logic and psychological processes which lends full body to the character and involves readers in not just the outer layers of her world, but Regina's innermost concerns and ambitions.

As the story progresses, readers are treated to a healthy dose of cat-and-mouse intrigue ("Chang's boss sounded like the logical successor to keep the peace. However, there were no guarantees. After Demarco delivered the goods, they could execute her for opportunism or treason.") in a rollicking rescue attempt that leads Regina into uncertain contact with more of her family.

Regina Shen: Defiance continues to reveal the character of a mature teen who is thoroughly savvy about her choices in life and their consequences. Its strength lies in a combination of swift action and psychological insight on all sides which makes events anything but cut-and-dried and predictable. By taking the time to flesh out Regina's actions and adventures over a series of books, Erlick succeeds in creating a series of stories that are interconnected with a common focus, yet stand well alone - and that's no mean fete: skirting the line between a stand-alone story and one that follows a progressive, evolutionary line.

It should be advised that another cliff-hanger evolves, portending more in the series - so readers who want their novels to begin and conclude in one book should be forewarned: Regina Shen intends to live on - and so her cause's success remains uncertain and in balance.

On the Brink
Philip Fitzell
Connect-Disconnect Publications
c/o Exclusive Brands, LLC
147 Vreeland Avenue, Bergenfield, NJ 07621
www.exclusivebrandsourcing.com
9781495157745, $22.95, www.pl-eb.com

It's unusual to find the mixed genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror under one cover: while readers of these genres can and do cross over, books usually limit their attention to one genre to make for simpler marketing. The joy of On the Brink, however, lies in a demonstration of how similar devices can be effectively used across all three genres as it presents a trio of tales that are interlinked only in their ability to provide ethereal models for imaginative speculation.

Take the science fiction story 'Chapter & Verse', for example. This novelette takes place in the mind of a monk who not only interacts with his shut-down computer, but enters the surreal world of a space/time existence in the process of witnessing and experiencing a strange phenomenon that evolves from the shutdown.

Introspection provoked by poetry and sizzling energy bring readers into the monk's dazzling explorations of the paradoxes of reality itself, creating a journey bathed in philosophical and poetic introspection, recommended for readers with a special interest in works that blend a science fiction setting with analytical processes.

In contrast, 'Icy' takes place in the mind of a seamstress who imagines her own fashion line, is centered upon the fashion world, and assumes an almost Cinderella-like mystery as it explores the process whereby fantasy (and fantasizing) spills into reality itself. A combination of surreal setting and image-driven description lends to this novelette's striking scenes: "An imprint of Clotho continuously tattoos his memories." To add to the fashion world explored in 'Icy', original pen-and-ink drawings are at their strongest when providing simple images of dressmaker's dummies and women's profiles.

'Tee Hee Hee' is an unusual title for a horror piece (or any piece, for that matter), and presents the chilling scenario of a grade school teacher who takes out her hostility on those around her, who are unable to handle her growing insanity.

The common denominators in all three pieces include surreal settings, circumspect descriptions that evolve into impossible situations for each protagonist, and a slow buildup of chilling revelations.

Readers who seek obvious action, linear plots, and predictable results should look elsewhere: On the Brink is a top recommendation for the thinker, the poet-philosopher, and the enthusiast of Twilight Zone-style devices that excel in abrupt twists of story line and ethereal, spooky atmospheres.

Mortgage Matters: Demystifying the Loan Approval Maze
Sylvia M. Gutierrez
RealWorks Press
www.sylviagutierrez.com
9780990400417 $24.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle www.amazon.com

Mortgage Matters: Demystifying the Loan Approval Maze comes from an author who has worked in the mortgage industry since 1993, and whose years of experience coincided with some of the biggest changes in the mortgage industry in years. While the loan approval process has always been mercurial, at no time has it presented such confusion or barriers as during these times, making Mortgage Matters a requirement for understanding this maze of regulations, laws, and changing lending practices.

Readers might expect it to be a review of industry history and changing regulations; but will be surprised to find it's as much an actionable strategic plan as a loan industry history.

Chapters also delve into a far more diverse series of perspectives and approaches than competing books on the mortgage process; primarily because the author isn't just a loan officer: she's worked in a variety of related roles (and at different sized companies), from being a banker, a mortgage banker, a mortgage broker, and a private money lender to working at a mid-size bank, a community bank, a mortgage company, and in a small mom-and-pop operation.

This diversity of experience sets her approach in Mortgage Matters: Demystifying the Loan Approval Maze apart from most others, utilizing a diverse professional background of experience in a range of settings to produce the kinds of insights and plans that are backed by tips, notes, and a step-by-step examination of the loan application and the process of analyzing it.

Any seeking clear explanation of the loan process, its underlying structure and influence, and methods for circumventing common obstacles must read Mortgage Matters, notable for its clear and experienced-based survey of the industry's processes.

I Was a Champion Then
Alfred A. Meyer, author
Christopher Paul Meyer, editor
Amazon Digital Services
9781512158335, $0.99 Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/Was-Champion-Then-Injustice-Rebellions-ebook/dp/B00V944MA0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435592358&sr=8-1&keywords=I+Was+a+Champion+Then&pebp=1435592418400&perid=0NAEAX6EB0C88BGXJG4A

When Alfred Meyer passed away in 2012, he left over 30,000 unpublished writings going back to 1964, and it fell to his son, Christopher Meyer, to see that some of these writings were published.

I Was a Champion Then: Twelve Stories About Quiet Injustice, Small Rebellions and Restless Hope is the result of this effort, presenting some twelve short stories culled from Alfred's efforts to produce a novel (among other writings).

The first thing to understand is that these works are based on several themes, including baseball, and come from a lawyer, Christian Scientist, and father who never stopped writing, even though many of his fictional works remained unpublished.

Many of these pieces were abandoned in his all-out effort to produce a novel: an effort that never panned out. That his family supported his efforts during hard economic times and in the face of numerous rejections from agents and publishers alike is tribute to both family tenacity and to the determination of a man who wanted to fulfill his dream against all odds.

As for the short stories themselves, they reflect life experiences and provide unique observations, from 'Beckett at the Ball Park', originally published in the Christian Science Monitor and capturing a father's observation of his son Christopher's game ("I sit on the steps beneath the 59th Street Bridge on a sunny spring Saturday. Before me cavort the Expos. Not the ones from Montreal. The ones that are in a nine-year-old's Little League. And today, they are playing the Orioles. Not the ones from Baltimore. The ones from the Upper West Side.") to 'On Cracked Earth', which injects the ever-ominous specter of Hitler and war into a quiet story of boys interacting at swimming class: "I can't swim and I don't want to learn because I don't like it when my head gets stopped up and my eyes start burning from the chlorine. And the pool always leaves me cool and sweat-less and runny-nosed, and I like to be hot and dusty like a cowboy or a second basemen. Eddie doesn't say anything. He lets me have my tantrum."

Quite simply, these are exquisite autobiographical vignettes capturing bygone worlds and impressions. Much like Proust's classic (but wordier) works, they lap up the sights, sounds, impressions of their times and transport readers to a world where there is not necessarily a point to be made: just a impressionistic survey of what matters at that moment.

Readers who appreciate these jewel-like moments for what they are will find I Was a Champion Then to be the perfect example of autobiographical short story writing at its best: lyrical, captivating, and without the concluding judgments and morals so commonly attached to the modern short story format.

Under Meyer's hand, prefaced by his son, there is no end. Only beginnings, and only experiences of the times, captured in a liquid amber set of images, here to reside forever for future generations; all prefaced by son Christopher's added value insights. Perhaps if this collection had been made available to publishers decades earlier, using just this format, Meyer would be alive to see the successful fruition of his efforts.

Nobody's Children
Hana Hindráková
http://www.hindrakova.cz/en
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hana-Hindrakova/457385480962006
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nobodys-Children/978920738786408

Three children are orphaned, face a cruel uncle, and decide to run away, leaving a little sister behind with the intention of returning to rescue her: so far the story line sounds quite familiar; much like Joan Aiken's Wolves of Willoughby Chase. But there are many differences in Nobody's Children that set it apart from your usual saga of child abuse: for one thing, Nobody's Children is set in (and steeped in the culture of) Kenya, and this background departs from the usual Western story, flavoring it with African culture and traditions that come alive under Hindráková's hand.

Contrasts between slum life and middle-class households are immediately evident in the experiences of two very different children, from spoiled Joy's privileged morning rituals (""Habari, Miss Joy! You still are in your pyjamas, is it? You should be ashamed of yourself. For long time your breakfast is ready." Joy shuffled slowly into the dining-room and, when she saw the bowl of porridge on the table, it had the same effect on her spirits as the rain outside. She knelt down on her chair, bent over the bowl and wrinkled her nose.") to Moraa's very different life in the Mathore slum in Nairobi ("She hated herself for what she was doing, sending her daughter to beg in the centre of Nairobi, in the government district, which was crawling with policemen carrying kalashnikovs. She knew how dangerous it was for her daughter; those men were capable of anything - they would regard beating a child as amusement. But there was no alternative, and Moraa was good at running away and she was clever - she would often bring home more money than Sarah made from her clients.")

These two worlds are about to clash when protagonists move from one to the other, bringing alive the street culture of Nairobi, struggles to survive, and the elusive hope of a better life. Graft, poverty, child gangs, corruption: stories with sad endings flock around the newly displaced children (""Our mama die'... an' we have use' up all di money she lef' us. Yestaday di rent collecta said di rent is goin' up, an' I could no' pay, so he troo us out. Now we don' have anywhere to go." Odek knew dozens of similar stories with sad endings.") to bring alive Nairobi's underworld. Can anything good come of connections made under such circumstances?

Nobody's Children is anything but cut and dried: it's a top recommendation for novel readers who seek insights into Nairobi's peoples and social strata, but be forewarned: it provides no easy or trite answers in the process of exploring how each protagonist not only survives, but attempts to thrive.

Expect some graphic sexual scenes, lurid accounts of gang rape and trials, and candid descriptions that pull no punches. Readers looking for light stories need not linger here; but those who want powerful sagas of survival and the unexpected successes of orphans who band together for a greater good will find in Nobody's Children a blend of social expose and an exploration of Nairobi that is layered with African culture and insight.

The Legend of War Creek
Randall Reneau
CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781506130927 $11.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle
https://www.amazon.com/author/randallreneau

The Legend of War Creek is the fourth in a series centered on geologist Trace Branden, and presents the scenario of a long-lost mineral vein rediscovered by Branden over a hundred years after its initial discoverer lost it.

There's only one problem: it's a vein guarded by a skeleton and rests on sacred soil; both warnings to beware and be gone - and when Brandon ignores these signs and orders drilling, he faces the grisly ritualistic murders of his men and the sudden interest of an adversary determined to claim Brandon's find for his own.

On the face of it, The Legend of War Creek would seem to revolve around a lost gold strike in the West and thus would qualify as a Western; but that's not entirely true. Yes, the setting is Washington's Cascade mountains; but the protagonist is a modern geologist, the threats stem from ancient and modern sources alike, and Trace Branden must confront past and present evils if he's to make headway in what might be the greatest geologic discovery of his career.

Don't expect a cut-and-dried saga, either: the mystery permeating The Legend of War Creek takes readers on a ride presenting plenty of action, twists and turns, and enough intrigue that at times one has no idea where the story line is heading - and in a world of predictable formula writing, that's really a comment on Reneau's ability to spin a compelling yarn.

Think Tony Hillerman, add a dash of Margaret Coel-style intrigue, and adopt the passionate overlay of some of J.A. Jance's action thrillers, then sit back and enjoy the read. Not for those who want simple stories, The Legend of War Creek will delight readers with a saga that takes the typical trappings of a Western thriller (a police investigation into murders, a rich mineral find, two archenemies, and a killer who targets the wrong man) and evolves it into something greater than either a mystery or a Western alone could achieve.

The Eleventh Commandment
Norah Wilson and Heather Doherty
Something Shiny Press
P.O. Box 30046, Fredericton, NB E3B 0H8
9781927651223 $11.99 print
9781927651230 $3.99 ebook www.norahwilsonwrites.com

Yes, The Eleventh Commandment is a romance story: if the steamy embrace on its cover isn't enough to warn, then nothing will. But it's romance with a difference - a dystopian romance - and this means that science fiction readers with a special affection for dystopian survival sagas will be just as interested in a story that firmly straddles the line between the two genres.

Picture a near future in which society has collapsed after a global epidemic: one which, much like The Handmaid's Tale, has been taken over by a religious order that subjugates women as part of its new structure. Protagonist Maree serves as a concubine for the Prophet, but there's a difference between her and other obedient followers: the mind-wipe designed to purge her of past memories hasn't worked entirely, and has left her with the vestiges of independent thinking: something women in this unbrave new world no longer harbour.

So when her sister is identified as a 'breeder' destined for nonstop child production for the rest of her life, Maree induces her to escape into a wild (and even more deadly) world outside the religious order; there to find adversity, struggle, and unexpected romance as they search for a fabled refuge for non-believers and confront those who follow them. Kallem has been tasked by the Prophet himself to return these wayward sheep to the fold - but not before tracking them to the rebel enclave to take care of two problems in one fell sweep.

Nobody counted on emotions getting in the way. Nobody could predict that Maree, distrustful of Kallem even after he rescues them, could fall in love with the enemy. And nobody knows the meaning behind their immediate attraction: but Maree begins to guess, and her suspicions could change the world.

Under a lesser hand, The Eleventh Commandment could have held the potential for alienating romance and sci-fi readers alike: the two genres seldom cross in this manner (integrating steamy passion with a firmly dystopian setting and developing both in accordance with their different genre traditions). Sure, there's romance in sci-fi; but generally not the same trademarks of passion that one expects in a romance. Certainly, a few romances have sci-fi settings; but not the attention to detail that hard sci-fi holds for its followers.

The fact that The Eleventh Commandment does an outstanding job of integrating the strengths of both these genres makes it a unique contribution that will attract and hold both genre readers, presenting a stark, gripping world against which two characters hold a nearly predetermined attraction. They only need to uncover it - and, each other - in a well-written, cat-and-mouse interplay of choices and changes.

Bibi & Babu in Africa, Volume 1
Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen
Whistler House Publishing
c/o Signalman Publishing
17780 Ninth Line, Mount Albert, ON, Canada L0G 1M0
ISBN: 9781940145464 (print)
ISBN: 9781940145047 (e-book)
$16.99 softcover $9.99 e-format
www.bibiandbabu.com www.WhistlerHousePublishing.com

Young readers ages 8 and up will appreciate a memoir of adventure, following Bibi and Babu (Swahili names for Grandma and Grandpa) in a color photo-enhanced read about a couple's experience traveling in Tanzania and Kenya.

This journal of the authors' travels is designed to be used as an attention-getting, revealing saga for a younger age group which normally receives African information only from geography treatments, and it does an excellent job of juxtaposing facts about the country with personal observations capturing the cultural contrasts of the countries: "The soulful eyes and bright smiles of Tanzanian children remind us of an innocence lost in our fast-paced technological world of today. Yet, ironically, even in the primitive villages of the Maasai tribe, we see teenagers talking into cell phones."

Young readers won't anticipate this candid blend of geography and personal experience, but the observations pull no punches and succeed in capturing the realities and various nuances of modern Africa: "In Tanzania, there are more than 20 tribal cultures living peacefully together, whereas in the countries surrounding Tanzania - from west to east, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique - violent unrest and some civil wars still exist. We got a glimpse of this before flying into Tanzania, when we had to land in Nairobi, Kenya. Its international airport had been burned days before we landed. Temporary tents and confusion spread everywhere." Add question-and-answer sessions designed to make kids observe and think and you have even more added value than a typical travel story alone would offer.

Packed with color photos of wildlife and people on every page, Bibi & Babu in Africa provides a rare expose capturing Africa's world in just seventy-two pages for an age group that rarely receives a traveler's view of Tanzania and Kenya, and is a lively, educational, and fun leisure read all in one; certain to incite an interest in African peoples and their cultures.

Louise Brooks, Frank Zappa & Other Charmers & Dreamers
Tom Graves
Devault-Graves Digital Editions
Print Edition ISBN: 9781942531081
Ebook ISBN: 9781942531074
www.devault-gravesagency.com

Louise Brooks, Frank Zappa & Other Charmers & Dreamers comes from a journalist who has written about his encounters with a range of talented performing arts and literary figures, from silent film star Louise Brooks (Graves was the latest to interview the reclusive star) to the first Elvis impersonator, and rock stars such as Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders. This diverse collection of cultural icons and interviews alone would have made Louise Brooks, Frank Zappa & Other Charmers & Dreamers a treasure trove for performing arts and music readers; but it holds additional value as well.

First to note is its attention to profiling iconic classic stars and lesser-knowns alike. Tom Graves draws on a wide range of peoples and experiences and takes the interview format to the outer limits of possibility, tailoring his questions and discussions in such a manner as to interest not just fans of Frank Zappa and well-known figures, but audiences who may hold little (if any) prior familiarity with these figureheads.

Perhaps this is because of the author's family lineage, replete with master storytellers. Perhaps it's because he focuses as much upon entertainment as information, supercharging his interviews with a gift for asking the right questions to intrigue audiences with wider perspectives requiring no familiarity with his subject.

Or maybe this comes from a perspective honed by time and experience which formulates the right questions for each subject, then synthesizes them beyond a Q&A interview format to make for an easy, vivid read: "...it seemed to work because what I did was me and it was natural and wasn't like saying, 'Okay, he used two fingers to do this and he put his foot down here, and he...' You know, I didn't want to get into that at all. I would've been too embarrassed to do that. I have to do it my way." When Bill Haney got away from the piano and stood by himself in the spotlight, the effect was complete. The jumpsuits, the belts, the spangles, the shades, the red scarves, and the note-perfect song arrangements made Bill Haney's act much more than a clever illusion - they made it reality."

No casual effort, Louise Brooks, Frank Zappa & Other Charmers & Dreamers synthesizes some thirty years of interviewing experience and writings: as such, it traces the evolution of styles, genres, individual achievement, and cultural atmosphere alike, much in the style of Hunter Thompson and other great captors of modern culture.

Two audiences will especially find it a compelling approach: journalists (and students of journalism) attracted to the techniques of creating pieces that live beyond their times and original audiences, and readers of performing arts biographies who will find the juxtaposition of perspectives of different kinds of stars to be diverse, revealing, and ultimately compelling.

Immersion is what so many journalists strive for and so few achieve: it's present throughout this collection in writings which go beyond involving readers, mesmerizing them with a cultural immersion program using the written word as a vehicle for the kinds of interactions one normally only achieves in face-to-face conversation.

Divine Wisdom and Warning
Nicholas Gura
Hamilton Books
c/o Rowman & Littlefield
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706
9780761865728 (pbk : alk. paper) $19.99
ISBN: 9780761865735 (electronic) $14.99

http://www.amazon.com/Divine-Wisdom-Warning-Decoded-Messages-ebook/dp/B00Y2A3JW0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1435679879&sr=1-1&keywords=Divine+Wisdom+and+Warning&pebp=1435679935647&perid=04KZGX0A91HSF9XQD2FS

Divine Wisdom and Warning: Decoded Messages from God introduces an ancient system (Gematria) to new audiences, promoting an alternative method of 'decoding' God's purpose, and is a recommendation for the religious, secular and new age readers alike who wish to consider a different method to interpreting God's word.

Gura uses a math-based adaptation of this system to uncover hidden Biblical messages: an approach that requires no electronic assistance and which enables all Bible readers to conduct their own investigations into Biblical meaning.

There are many books that promise different systems for Biblical study, and many new age approaches that are more ethereal than practical in their applications. Divine Wisdom and Warning is more specific and methodical than most, explaining the basics of Gematria and specifying its use in Bible study.

Affection for Bible analysis and interpretation is not a prerequisite, because this math-based model of analysis works with both biblical and modern Hebrew and addresses religious and secular topics. These include: the environment, the mistreatment of women, and the mystery of quantum science. Flexibility is essential in order for readers to consider the specific passages and messages to be gleaned from this technique: In the chapter on "Who Wrote the Bible? Message 35 states: "The teacher that walked with me" (Moe-ree Sheh-hahlach), an alternative translation of the phrase "My teacher who has departed," found in the Yizkor prayer in memory of a deceased parent. The message here is that we should view the Torah as a scholarly companion who walks with us on the road of life."

It should also be noted that Divine Wisdom and Warning promises no quick reads, no hasty understanding, and no formula that portends instant comprehension: readers need to take time to absorb the spiritual and philosophical results of applying Gematria to Bible passages. The discussion pulls no punches, either, as in a section (for just one example) that warns: "A REMINDER TO RELIGIOUS FANATICS: Because people sometimes use the Bible to justify violence or harassment, the next four messages are very important as they clearly state that the Bible emphasizes life, goodness, and peace."

The result is an intriguing new method of viewing the Bible and its messages: one easily accessible to all spiritual thinkers, which offers further opportunity for reflection and understanding.

The God Test
Robert Bernhard, with Jamie Bernhard
MindBrain Books
4392 Brandywine Drive, Sarasota FL, 34241
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-god-test-robert-bernhard/1122097866?ean=2940151961646
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/549114

Many a spirituality book speaks of God, while many a science book refutes the notion; so it's a pleasure to read an alternative approach from an editor who has long worked in the sciences and who focuses on a method for testing and validation in The God Test: An Experiment to Prove or Disprove God Exists.

Its purpose isn't to reveal the experiment's results: it's to propose and define the parameters of such an investigation itself. Based on established scientific procedures it requires only a little more technological advancement on the part of mankind, to put it into place.

Having a game plan for testing before the equipment arrives at the dock might seem bold to some; but in fact the testing process itself is involved, must of necessity be neutral in approach, and avoids the usual quagmire of attempting to prove or disprove God's existence philosophically in favor of outlining procedures and tools the scientific community can utilize (when the technology becomes available in the not-too-distant future) to follow the process.

Chapters outline an approach that is unique to this book in comparison with other promises: there's no faith involved (as pro-God readers may be dismayed to learn), and there's no bias towards either religious beliefs or scientific atheism.

As for the examination itself, its heart lies in one (ultimately testable) general question: "...the test is targeted principally to determine whether a unique feature of our consciousness (the subjective first-person experience) can or cannot ever, in principle, be described or explained by natural laws."

By broadening the definition of God, focusing on observable data, and using the empirical processes of science to compile information, The God Test succeeds where others have failed. While some may consider it premature to crow 'success' when the technology has yet to be refined to proceed to its testing phase, the outline of experimental procedure is (as any scientist knows) key in this process.

From identifying the physical, measurable aspects of consciousness to applying natural laws to these measurements and determining whether scientific definitions and measurements of 'the soul' adequately reflects Judeo-Christian definitions, chapters tackle the most challenging aspects of creating such an experiment; all using language accessible to scientist and lay readers alike.

With its attention to definitions, scientific protocol, religious concepts and how they work in lab settings, and strategies for bringing the often-disparate worlds of science and religion together for a common cause, The God Test proves a satisfying, intriguing, and involving read recommended for religious thinkers, lay audiences who like a healthy blend of investigation and analysis of its methods, and scientists alike.

Plenty
Kelly K. Lavender
Kelly K. Lavender Press
9780990943129, $2.99 ebook
9780990943136, $9.99 pbk
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Z2D3IIQ
https://books.google.com/books?id=OXXYCQAAQBAJ
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/plenty-9

When you become involved in a group effort, sometimes you don't quite know what drives that effort, as Camille discovers when she volunteers for a small town youth outreach program, only to discover that its leaders are overseeing criminal activities and that her affair with the sheriff's son who co-presides over the program has landed her right in the path of danger.

Plenty is a novel about love and corruption, friendships and salvation, the descent into hell and the effort to survive: as such, it's not for those seeking either a romance story or an easy leisure read. Indeed, readers who expect a novel filled with positives (an innuendo perhaps provided in both title and the fact that the small town is ironically named 'Prosperity') will find it abundant, instead, with conflict, sexual and psychological angst, and the efforts of two women to change the course of their lives.

One of Plenty's many strengths is that the female protagonists are anything but helpless, the situation anything but hopeless. The reigns of control and domination are fluid and move steadily between oppressors to oppressed. Satisfying twists and turns of story line keep readers guessing, while underlying thoughts and psychology are realistically depicted as characters come to grips with the evil they are facing and their own part in events: "Her body trembled as the unmistakable truth tore away her protective shield of confidence. With each breath, she felt the stinging, choking sensation of ammonia inhaled. The more she breathed, the more she stressed. Moments filled with silence quieted the room. Camille paced and cried as the truth trampled her self-perception."

At times readers feel they are in an emotional meat grinder; at other times, protagonist strengths come to rescue. No easy or light read, Plenty is a vivid, revealing story recommended for any who would absorb two women's methods for regaining power in their worlds, and uses compelling, thought-provoking devices to bring this atmosphere to the forefront of attention. Female readers seeking an antithesis to Fifty Shades of Gray with more dynamic, powerful female characters will find Plenty more than fits the bill.

The Song That Seduced Paris
Cindy Irish
Enoch Publications, LLC
9781942627012, $12.99, www.amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/Song-Seduced-Paris-Homme-Quartet/dp/1942627017/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1435766060

The Song That Seduced Paris is Book One in the 'Bel Homme Quartet' and is romance reading at its best, outlining the dilemmas and dalliances of American music kingpin Teddy Wilson, whose approach to mixing the vocal prowess of opera singers with the appeal of pop stars creates a new genre accessible to both audiences.

Into this world drops French celebrity Gabriel, who accepts Teddy's offer at the cusp of his popular career, and Anne, an American music teacher who finds herself involved in recruiting and handling Gabriel, thanks to her employer Teddy's assignment.

That sparks will fly between the two is predictable. What is less conventional is the juxtaposition between a talented artist who values his freedom and is determined to make this new venture succeed and a woman still not over her husband's death. The satisfying interplays between them forms the heart of the story. One of the pleasures of The Song That Seduced Paris is its dual attention to career and personal choices and the clash and coming together of two very different personalities.

It should be mentioned that because seduction is such a strong part of the story line, some scenes are sexually explicit. It should also be cautioned (for some readers) that language can be candid and sometimes coarse (""Well, Ted is a breast man." Bruno slunk deeper into his chair when the women sent him dark looks. "What? He is. He'll love everything you guys are buying. I'll get to keep my balls after all." "Teddy's a pig," Harriet stated, pivoting back and forth again. "I don't know. I don't want to be a tease."").

That said, The Song That Seduced Paris is perfectly spun for what it is: a romance story of love and seduction with the backdrop of musical Paris holding everything together for two couples whose lives juxtapose and contrast in interesting ways. Romance readers will find the conclusion both decisive and open for more in Book Two.

A M M
Nick Totem
LucenGeist Literary Press
2810 Peaceful Grove, Las Vegas, NV 89135
9781943564002, $14.00, www.amazon.com

Physician Art Sand is at a banquet in a tux when he receives the call from his hospital that mentally retarded patient David Calweld has awakened from his coma and has said some strange things; and since he's part of the wealthy family who has supported the hospital, Art has no choice but to speed to the young man's bedside, there to embark on a strange journey indeed. His long-time patient has never verbally communicated; but now he is revealing some strange things indeed.

Some think he's possessed by the devil, but Art Sand believes the encephalitis may have forged new connections between the brain's neural pathways. In reality, something even stranger is going on, and physician Sand finds himself embroiled in the dangerous mystery of how a long-time mentally retarded patient suddenly becomes intelligent.

As he probes what has happened to David Caldwell, a bigger picture emerges that brings with it a series of challenging choices and evolving perceptions of new promises and dangers. Through events that circle through divorce and loss, recovery, and creatures that "...come from us; yet they are not us." comes the increasing revelation of strange new worlds that exist as a subset of the common flow of humanity.

Nick Totem's ability to add unexpected twists to a topic that begins as a Robin Cook-style thriller and evolves into something satisfyingly more complex is only equaled by his ability to craft well-rounded protagonists, different purposes, and discoveries that revolve around the Death Sleep and its implications for all.

In such a world there are few safe havens, and under such a hand as Totem's there is little opportunity for distraction. Readers will be gripped by the events that swirl around Art, and will find A M M nearly impossible to put down, ultimately calling into question the very nature of reality itself. For more detail, you'll just have to read the amazing story of a world gone apocalyptic.

Breaking the Silence
Diamante Lavendar
D&L Productions
9781502381255, $12.99 Paper, $2.99 Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Silence-Diamante-Lavendar/dp/1502381257/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436282911&sr=8-1&keywords=Breaking+the+Silence+Diamante&pebp=1436282949126&perid=1DPTWE197669WHQFJ9S3

Joan Eastman is put on bed rest for the length of her uncertain pregnancy and buys a diary to occupy her time and Breaking the Silence is what she reveals in her diary: a saga of growing up repressing psychological and sexual cruelty and falling into substance abuse as one reflection of the self-hatred she feels.

Plenty of fiction and nonfiction sagas stop here, chronicling that abuse and its lasting impact; but the strength of Breaking the Silence lies in its ability to proceed past the pain to the other side, using the forthcoming birth of Eastman's child and her diary to foster the process of moving beyond past injustices into healing.

Any who have struggled with past abuse, wondering how to shake its shackles and move into a future unencumbered by past tragedy, will relish the first-person diary entries in Breaking the Silence, which follows a way out of the maze. It's a powerful saga of a woman determined to undertake the work that will truly release her from self-destructive patterns and reactions that pass between generations.

Juxtaposing the progression of pregnancy with life lessons learned from her experiences, Joan's story is a haunting survey of life, death, and everything in between, and a powerful saga not for those who would lead the unexamined life; but especially recommended for readers struggling with their own dark pasts and its implications for the future.

Plenty of stories capture the experience. Too few chart the course between devastation and destruction to spiritual and emotional rebirth. Breaking the Silence is one such gem - and is a top revelation especially recommended for spirituality readers who want an account of finding not just a way out, but God.

Remembrance of Letters Past
Robert Ambros
Amazon Kindle
ASIN: B010YNM7W6 $3.99
Dedicated Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010YNM7W6?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
Dedicated author website: www.robertambros.wordpress.com
Dedicate Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RemembranceofLettersPast

Remembrance of Letters Past: Famous Authors Fake Letters and Other Parodies displays the finer art of parody at its best, and uses the style and approaches of Poe, Hemingway, Twain, Proust, and other famous writers to provide short pieces that are hilarious and unexpected.

These works take the form of letters and notes to the various authors - but don't expect serious exchanges: these are parodies and thus presume a basic, prior familiarity with the authors and their works.

Ergo, Mark Twain refutes a lawyer's extortion attempt by conjuring up a spirit's accusation on a snake oil remedy's devastating effects, Oscar Wilde's discussion with a jewelry store over a gem's mis-delivery turns increasingly hostile, and Melville's publisher expresses consternation that Twain's 'Jumping Frog' is somehow overselling his esteemed Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (Publisher: "If you have not heard, that one we turned down, Twain's The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County had been selling so quickly, they ran out of the first print already. But there is no sense in pondering over this pool of milk." Co-publisher: "I am very aware of Twain's success and am left speechless over the choices the public makes and what is reveals of this nation's mood and priorities. We both agreed the poems were first rate. Herman had dedicated the work to the three hundred thousand who fell for the Union but the public wants to read about a frog whose mouth is filled with lead.").

These are wonderful parodies which go to great lengths to successfully adopt the style and attitude of each writer. While general-interest readers could fail to fully appreciate the tongue-in-cheek approach of Remembrance of Letters Past, it's the student of literature (from high school through college levels) who will find the approach simply delightful, offering much rollicking laughter and food for literary thought.

If...Blurred Vision
Jackie Mae
Amazon Digital Services
www.jackiemae.com
9780991614981, $0.99 Kindle, www.amazon.com

The novelette form is necessarily demanding and unique; for it must accomplish many of the same goals of a wordier work (building setting, plot and characters) using a format greater than a short story and much less than a full-length novel. In this case, Jackie Mae has under fifty pages to accomplish her goal in If...Blurred Vision; and she does so with skill and style.

In some ways the novelette format is the true test of a writer's skill. It's demanding and exacting: no words can be wasted, and no scene left incomplete. Such is the case with If...Blurred Vision, which introduces the character of Timothy S. Graves, a good man and worker who thinks about life a lot, has a rock-solid 12-year marriage, and is on course for retiring in 18 years with plenty of money.

Everything is perfect .... Or is it? No sooner is the scene set than the undercurrents of trouble running under the surface of perfection emerge; because wife Shirley doesn't have her life mapped out quite firmly as Timothy, and has become increasingly critical of his vision of their set future.

It seems inevitable that Shirley, in her growing disappointment, will encounter another man who will coax her dissatisfaction to the forefront: "For once, she just might do something outrageous, something just for her, something shocking. A million wars were raging in her mind and she didn't know which side would win the day."

While events that follow (wild sex) are very quickly presented with a feeling of inevitability, what is sparked from her chance encounter is a growing revelation: "Her mind was made up; she didn't want to have an organized life plan anymore."

The crux of the matter lies in what Shirley's going to do about her self-discovery: that's the heart of If...Blurred Vision, the heart of life itself, and the focal point of a solid novelette that develops its scenario well and follows it through to a conclusion which involves an unprecedented free fall through extraordinary possibilities for both husband and wife.

"What if he had walked by his destiny every day but didn't realize it?" If...Blurred Vision seems to set a predictable path, but its departures and insights make it an unpredictable delight for fans of the novelette form: an exploration of life's course from two very different perspectives.

If...Second Chance
Jackie Mae
No ISBN, Publisher, Price
Prepublication Manuscript: ETA Fall 2015
www.jackiemae.com

If...Second Chance explores possibilities and alternate realities as it takes one little word ('if' something had changed) and explores the potentials for quite a different life.

The protagonist is one Shona, an energetic go-getter who has fallen into a world of depression and suicidal thinking, and who gets a 'second chance' for a new life.

In this case, her dreams of having her own profitable small business and equally successful marriage (both of which will lead to a perfect life) are spoiled by a confrontation with reality on two fronts: her struggling small business's horrible day and her discovery that the love of her life isn't whom she believed him to be.
Now what? If...Second Chance explores Shona's life from this point onward, setting its scenes quickly and then evolving from there. Once again (as in If...Blurred Vision) a psychic plays a role in Shona's transition. Once more the protagonist realizes new possibilities other than the vision and path she's forged for her life's course.

An exceptionally powerful, unexpected ending completes the carefully-penned scenario and lends a delightful touch of angst to the matter of Shona's evolution. Novelette readers will be delighted by the soaring heights and depths of Mae's creation, which is all about second chances won and lost.

If...Dangerous Waters
Jackie Mae
No ISBN, Publisher, Price
Prepublication Manuscript: ETA Fall 2015
www.jackiemae.com

When read separately, each 'If' novelette stands well and entirely on its own; but when each is read concurrently, Jackie Mae's real powers in crafting her scenarios become evident. Even though these three titles are separate entities, they work together to form a unified theory of possibilities; and so readers of all three will find in these separate tales a basic premise that ties all together but explores the different routes each protagonist takes to realize these choices in their lives.

If...Dangerous Waters revolves around Alena, a peppy, kind, happy-go-lucky nearly-twenty-two-year-old only child who still lives at home, has a 'dream' boyfriend, and likes everything about her life except for her appearance. She has big plans for her future and is set to graduate from college with a coveted degree in biotechnology when things change.

Alena also has a secret: she sees spirits, and has done so since a small child, when her first reaction to a sighting leads her to deny her abilities: "Never again did she mention seeing the "people" who came and went on their way throughout the house. When she saw one of them walking down the hall or into the kitchen, Alena looked away and pretended she didn't see them. Her parents pretended too; they never discussed the incident again."

Her aversion to psychics is modified by her concern about the big decisions coming up in her life ("What if she accepted the wrong job offer and her life took a very wrong turn? There were a lot of decisions to be made that would forever shape her world."), and as she comes to realize that all the pieces in the puzzle may not come together as planned, she becomes more open to other possibilities.

As with the others in the 'If' series, Dangerous Waters provides a thought-provoking tale that uses one protagonist's life changes to closely examine how events change life decisions. Romance, career, plans: everything's up for grabs as Alena probes dangerous new avenues and comes up with something different than she'd expected, with results that will both surprise and immerse the readers following her.

The joy of all the 'If' stories lies in their surprise twists. Mae is a master storyteller and an uncommon ruler of the novelette form. There are no wasted words, no lengthy explanations, and (especially notable) no predictable paths, even for lives that seem well set in their courses.

Fans of the novelette form and newcomers more familiar with longer novels or shorter stories will find these exquisite productions, able to be digested individually but at their most powerful when taken together.

Pet-Friendly Francie Scores a Pooch
Kat E. Erikson
Kat E. Erikson, Publisher
ASIN: B00X62UOEQ, $2.99, 62 pages
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X62UOEQ
www.kateerikson.com

Pet-Friendly Francie Scores a Pooch is illustrated by Mariel Garcia and tells of eight-year-old Francisca Waggit, who simply loves animals and is determined to 'score a pet' no matter how many times her parents turn her down. Francie's father is also particularly fond of baseball - and so Francie determines that the proper course of action is to find just the right pet before attempting a home run - and that's where the fun comes in.

It all makes sense to Francie: her mother is immersed in a wild animal rescue program, her father loves sports, and she's in the middle with her obsession over pets. It also makes sense that her father has finally agreed to hold a 'tryout' for one special homeless pooch named Scrimmy - with the stipulation that if he doesn't work out, the Waggits will need to find him another home.

Baseball references permeate this warm and playful action story, as Scrimmy scores both positive and negative while Francie tries her best to make sure that she and her foster dog both make it to home base. There are many bumps along the road that neither could foresee - and a process that involves not just family but many from their community, as Scrimmy starts to run out of options and important lessons are learned about animal welfare in the process of growth and learning.

In a story replete with a San Francisco atmosphere and a stray dog who captures the hearts of those around him despite obvious challenges, Francie is tasked with not only making him part of the family, but overcoming impossible odds; all the while learning more about herself and her world than she had believed possible.

The result is a compelling saga of sports and rescues: perfect for kids who love animals, baseball, and girls who just won't quit.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services
www.donovansliteraryservices.com


Dunford's Bookshelf

Sumter After The First Shots
Derek Smith
Stackpole Books
5067 Ritter Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6921
www.stackpolebooks.com
9780811716147, $29.95, 384pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: It is well known that the Civil War began at Fort Sumter when Confederate forces for the first time fired upon a Union military post. But what happened to Fort Sumter after the first shots were fired there? The North wanted to restore Sumter to its rightful place in the Union and close the vital Confederate supply port of Charleston while the South needed to defend its birthplace and keep the supplies flowing -- thus making Fort Sumter one of the most fervently attacked and most tenaciously defended pieces of real estate in the United or Confederate States of America throughout four years of war. In "Sumter After the First Shots: The Untold Story of America's Most Famous Fort until the End of the Civil War", journalist and Civil War historian Derek Smith deftly recounts the bombardments, naval battles, and amphibious attacks waged for possession of Fort Sumter, Charleston, and its harbor; focuses on the human element, from squabbling Confederate and Union commanders to the common soldiers inside the fort, to the men and women of Charleston; and features notable figures such as Robert E. Lee and P. G. T. Beauregard; the 54th Massachusetts, the black regiment made famous by the movie Glory; and the Confederate submarine Hunley.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "Sumter After the First Shots: The Untold Story of America's Most Famous Fort until the End of the Civil War" is an inherently compelling read that is both informed and informative. An ideal Civil War history for the non-specialist general reader, "Sumter After The First Shots" is valued and very highly recommended addition to community and academic library American Civil War collections and supplemental studies lists.

No Goodbyes
Barry Eaton
Jeremy P. Tarcher
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3657
www.tarcherbooks.com
9780399172656, $16.95, 320pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In "No Goodbyes: Life-Changing Insights from the Other Side", Australian journalist and broadcaster Barry Eaton reveals information about destiny and free will, world unrest, the effects of negativity and addiction, dealing with skeptics, soul energy guidance, consulting mediums and psychics, soul growth, and other facets of the bigger picture. "No Goodbyes" offers new information from advanced spirits in the afterlife who believe that the time has come to let people know the answers to mysteries that have puzzled them for generations.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "No Goodbyes: Life-Changing Insights from the Other Side" is an inherently informative and fascinating read. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "No Goodbyes" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99). Also highly recommended is Barry Eaton's earlier metaphysical study: "Afterlife: Uncovering the Secrets of Life After Death" (Tarcher, 9780399166129, $16.95 PB, $10.77 Kindle, 304pp).

Ecclesiastical Knights
Sam Zeno Conedera, SJ
Fordham University Press
2546 Belmont Avenue
University Box L, Bronx, NY 10458-5172
www.fordhampress.com
9780823265954, $55.00 PB, $41.49 Kindle, 280pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Warrior monks" is the misnomer applied to the Iberian military orders that emerged on the frontiers of Europe in the twelfth century and have long fascinated general readers and professional historians alike. Proposing "ecclesiastical knights" as a more accurate name and conceptual model-warriors animated by ideals and spiritual currents endorsed by the church hierarchy, author Sam Zeno Conedera (Adjunct Assistant Professor of History at Santa Clara University., Santa Clara, California) presents "Ecclesiastical Knights: The Military Orders in Castile, 1150-1330", a groundbreaking study of how these orders brought the seemingly incongruous combination of monastic devotion and the practice of warfare into a single way of life. Providing a detailed study of the military-religious vocation as it was lived out in the Orders of Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcantara in Leon-Castile during the first century.

"Ecclesiastical Knights" provides a valuable window into medieval Iberia. Filling a gap in the historiography of the medieval military orders, Professor Conedera defines, categorizes, and explains these orders, from their foundations until their spiritual decline in the early fourteenth century, arguing that the best way to understand their spirituality is as a particular kind of consecrated knighthood. Because these Iberian military orders were belligerents in the Reconquest, "Ecclesiastical Knights" informs important discussions about the relations between Western Christianity and Islam in the Middle Ages. Conedera examines how the military orders fit into the religious landscape of medieval Europe through the prism of knighthood, and how their unique conceptual character informed the orders and spiritual self-perception.

The religious observances of all three orders were remarkably alike, except that the Cistercian-affiliated orders were more demanding and their members could not marry. Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcantara shared the same essential mission and purpose: the defense and expansion of Christendom understood as an act of charity, expressed primarily through fighting and secondarily through the care of the sick and the ransoming of captives. Their prayers were simple and their penances were aimed at knightly vices and the preservation of military discipline. Above all, the orders valued obedience. They never drank from the deep well springs of monasticism, nor were they ever meant to. Offering an entirely fresh perspective on two difficult and closely related problems concerning the military orders-namely, definition and spirituality Professor Conedera illuminates the religious life of the orders, previously eclipsed by their military activities.

Critique: A masterpiece of meticulously researched scholarship, "Ecclesiastical Knights: The Military Orders in Castile, 1150-1330" is enhanced with the inclusion of eighty-four pages of Notes, a twenty-six page Bibliography, and a twenty-five page index. Of special note is the section of eight color plates. "Ecclesiastical Knights" is a seminal study that is strongly recommended for personal, community, seminary, and academic library collections.

The Notorious Luke Short
Jack DeMattos & Chuck Parsons
University of North Texas Press
PO Box 311336, Denton, TX 76203-1336
www.unt.edu/untpress
9781574415940, $29.95, 392pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Often times the smaller the man, the harder the punch -- this adage was true in the case of diminutive Luke Short, whose brief span of years played out in the Wild West. His adventures began as a teenage cowboy who followed the trail from Texas to the Kansas railheads. He then served as a scout for the U.S. Army during the Indian wars and, finally, he perfected his skills as a gambler in locations that included Leadville, Tombstone, Dodge City, and Fort Worth. In 1883, in what became known as the "Dodge City War," he banded together with Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and others to protect his ownership interests in the Long Branch Saloon -- an event commemorated by the famous "Dodge City Peace Commission" photograph. The irony is that Luke Short is best remembered for being the winning gunfighter in two of the most celebrated showdowns in Old West history: the shootout with Charlie Storms in Tombstone, Arizona, and the showdown against Jim Courtright in Fort Worth, Texas. He would have hated that. During his lifetime, Luke Short became one of the best known sporting men in the United States, and one of the wealthiest. He had been a partner in the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, as well as the White Elephant in Fort Worth. He became friends with other wealthy sporting men, such as William H. Harris, Jake Johnson, and Bat Masterson, who helped broaden his gaming interests to include thoroughbred horse racing and boxing. Before he died he would become a familiar figure in Chicago, Memphis, New Orleans, and Saratoga Springs, where he raced his string of horses. He traveled with other wealthy sporting men in private railroad cars to attend heavyweight championship fights. Luke Short was always a little man dealing in big games. He married the beautiful Hattie Buck, who could turns heads at all the top resorts they visited as man and wife.

Critique: An impressively written, exceptionally well researched, deftly organized and engagingly presented biography, "The Notorious Luke Short: Sporting Man of the Wild West" by Jack DeMattos and Chuck Parsons is an inherently fascinating read and very highly recommended for community and academic library American Biography and American Western History collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Notorious Luke Short" is also available in a Kindle edition ($21.43).

Malcolm X's Michigan Worldview
Rita Kiki Edozie & Curtis Stokes
Michigan State University Press
1405 South Harrison Road, Suite 25, East Lansing, MI 48823-5245
www.msupress.msu.edu
9781611861624, $39.95, 316pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The provocative debate about Malcolm X's legacy that emerged after the publication of Manning Marable's 2011 biography raised critical questions about the revolutionary Black Nationalist's importance to American and world affairs: What was Malcolm's association with the Nation of Islam? How should we interpret Malcolm's discourses? Was Malcolm anti-feminist? What is Malcolm's legacy in contemporary public affairs? How do Malcolm's early childhood experiences in Michigan shape and inform his world view? Was Malcolm trending toward socialism during his final year? "Malcolm X's Michigan Worldview" responds to these questions by presenting Malcolm's subject as an iconography used to deepen understanding of African descendent peoples' experiences through advanced research and disciplinary study. A Black studies reader that uses the biography of Malcolm X both to interrogate key aspects of the Black world experience and to contribute to the intellectual expansion of the discipline, the book presents Malcolm as a Black subject who represents, symbolizes, and associates meaning with the Black/Africana studies discipline. Through a range of multi-disciplinary prisms and themes including discourse, race, culture, religion, gender, politics, and community, this rich volume elicits insights about the Malcolm iconography that contribute to the continuous formulation, deepening, and strengthening of the Black studies discipline.

Critique: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by the team of Rita Kiki Edozie (Professor of International Relations and African Affairs at the James Madison College at Michigan State University) and Curtis Stokes (Professor of Political Theory and Black Politics in the James Madison College at Michigan State University), "Malcolm X's Michigan Worldview: An Exemplar for Contemporary Black Studies" is comprised of sixteen original and scholarly articles deftly organized into three sections: Malcolm as a Theoretical Framework; Malcolm and Community Engagement; Malcolm and Black World Struggle. Enhanced with the inclusion of a two page list of 'Works by Malcolm X', an eight page list of Contributors, and a useful three page Index, "Malcolm X's Michigan Worldview: An Exemplar for Contemporary Black Studies" is an extraordinary and seminal work of outstanding scholarship and a critically important addition to community and academic library Black Studies reference collections in general, and Malcolm X supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Malcolm X's Michigan Worldview: An Exemplar for Contemporary Black Studies" is also available in a Kindle edition ($23.13).

Walt Whitman's Selected Journalism
Douglas A. Noverr & Jason Stacy, editors
University of Iowa Press
119 West Park Road, Iowa City, IA 52242-1000
www.uiowapress.org
9781609383152, $29.95, 296pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Long before he was a celebrated poet, Walt Whitman was a working journalist. By the time he published the first edition of "Leaves of Grass" in 1855, Whitman had edited three newspapers and published thousands of reviews, editorials, and human-interest stories in newspapers in and around New York City. Yet for decades, much of his journalism has been difficult to access or even find. For the first time, "Walt Whitman's Selected Journalism" thematically and chronologically organizes a compelling selection of Whitman's journalism from the late 1830s to the Civil War. It includes writings from the poet's first immersion into the burgeoning democratic culture of antebellum America to the war that transformed both the poet and the nation. "Walt Whitman's Selected Journalism" covers Whitman's early years as a part-time editorialist and ambivalent schoolteacher between 1838 and 1841. After 1841, "Walt Whitman's Selected Journalism" follows his work as a dedicated full-time newspaperman and editor, most prominently at the New York Aurora and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle between 1842 and 1848. After 1848 and up to the Civil War, Whitman's journalism shows his slow transformation from daily newspaper editor to poet. "Walt Whitman's Selected Journalism" gathers journalism from throughout these early years in his career, focusing on reporting, reviews, and editorials on politics and democratic culture, the arts, and the social debates of his day. "Walt Whitman's Selected Journalism" also includes some of Whitman's best early reportage, in the form of the short, personal pieces he wrote that aimed to give his readers a sense of immediacy of experience as he guided them through various aspects of daily life in America's largest metropolis. Over time, journalism's limitations pushed Whitman to seek another medium to capture and describe the world and the experience of America with words. In this light, today's readers of Whitman are doubly indebted to his career in journalism. In presenting Whitman-the-journalist in his own words here, and with useful context and annotations by renowned scholars, "Walt Whitman's Selected Journalism" illuminates for readers the future poet's earliest attempts to speak on behalf of and to the entire American republic.

Critique: The latest addition to the outstanding 'Iowa Whitman Series' from the University of Iowa Press, "Walt Whitman's Selected Journalism" is the editorial collaboration of Douglas A. Noverr (Professor Emeritus in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures and the American Studies graduate program at Michigan State University) and Jason Stacy (Associate Professor of United States history at Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville). A impressive and seminal work of original research, "Walt Whitman's Selected Journalism" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition for personal, community and academic library American Journalism Studies reference collections in general, and Walt Whitman supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It
Anders Aslund
Peterson Institute for International Economics
1750 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036-1903
www.piie.com
9780881327014, $25.95, 277pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The Ukraine has been wracked by a year of unprecedented political, economic, and military turmoil. Russian military aggression in the east and a legacy of destructive policies and corruption have created an imminent existential crisis for this young democracy. Yet Ukraine also has a great opportunity to break out of economic under-performance. "Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It" is a seminal study in which leading expert on the Ukraine, Anders Aslund, traces Ukraine's evolution as a market economy starting with the fall of communism and examines the economic impact of its recent difficulties. Professor Aslund argues that Ukraine must undertake sweeping political, economic, social, and government reforms to achieve prosperity and independence. For its part, the West must abandon its hesitant approach and provide broad economic assistance to help Ukraine transform itself.

Critique: Writing with a particular expertise on the subject, Anders Aslund has been a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics since 2006. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University where he examines the economic policies of Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe, as well as focuses on the broader implications of economic transition. Indeed, Professor Aslund served as an economic adviser to the governments of Russia in 1991-94 and Ukraine in 1994-97. "Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It" is a seminal work that is impressively well written, organized and presented, making it a critically important addition to community, academic, and governmental library reference collections and Ukrainian Economics supplemental studies reading lists. Of immense interest for the non-specialist general reader concerned with Ukraine' current difficulties with the Russians, it should be noted that "Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Attack on Titan: Kuklo Unbound
Ryo Suzukaze
Vertical, Inc.
451 Park Avenue South, 7th floor, New York, NY 10016
www.vertical-inc.com
9781939130877, $14.95, 258pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A prequel to the outstanding YA science fiction 'Attack on Titan' series Before the Fall, we are introduced to a new character, a boy named Kuklo who was found as a baby crying in a mass of Titan vomit, amidst the dead titan corpses. He is called "a child of titan" and is essentially hated by the people inside the walls. Kyklo despite his horrible beginnings and a single-functioning eye also seems to grow unnaturally fast. He parts himself from his past and gambles on the fate of humanity by enlisting in the Survey Corps. This group functions primarily outside of the safety of the walls. And here with his strength and determination Kyklo survives and thrives. But to accomplish this he gets his hands on the Vertical Maneuvering Equipment. Although the gear is still imperfect and causes a troublesome incident for Kyklo, he fights the titans. Whether it is because it is his fate to fight them, or it is because of his past, he fights against them.

Critique: Impressively well written from beginning to end, "Attack on Titan: Kuklo Unbound" should be considered a 'must' for all 'Attack on Titan' fans. For those new to the Attack on Titan series, it is an excellent introduction and will motivate readers to seek out the other volumes in the series -- all of which are readily available on-line from Amazon.com or directly from the publisher at, www.vertical-inc.com. Very highly recommended for personal, highschool, and community library YA Science Fiction collections.

Michael Dunford
Reviewer


Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Organ Broker
Stu Strumwasser
Arcade Publishing
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
www.skyhorsepublishing.com
9781628725230, $24.99, 296pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "The Organ Broker" is the chilling story of an underground black market organ dealer known as "New York Jack." For eighteen years Jack has been a "transplant tourism director," sending wealthy Americans and Europeans in need of kidneys and other organs to third world countries where they would buy them from transplant centers on the take. The death of a client and a newfound relationship lead to a crisis of conscience as he is forced to choose between a two million dollar commission and participating in a murder. Jack races to South Africa, Brazil, and beyond, just one step ahead of his adversary and the FBI, in search of one small act of redemption. As a disaffected youth in the late eighties, Jack Trayner entered the criminal world, selling coke when he needed money to pay his way through college. Although he later graduated from law school, an opportunity to earn easy money eventually seduced him into the bizarre and illegal black market for organs -- a business that some consider horrendous and a small number of others deem to be heroic. The dual nature of this business assuaged Jack's guilt and allowed him to flourish, yet the death of a client makes what he is doing all too real. "The Organ Broker" represents Jack's confession.

Critique: A gripping novel based upon a very real international black market sale of organs that operates every day behind closed hospital doors in many cities all around the world, author Stu Strumwasser has been able to deftly construct a world that most people are only vaguely aware exists. A riveting read from beginning to end, "The Organ Broker" is very highly recommended for community library fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Organ Broker" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).

Drugs Without The Hot Air
David Nutt
UIT Cambridge Ltd.
c/o Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
www.ipgbook.com
9781906860165, $19.95, 384pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: From health to family to society, "Drugs Without The Hot Air" by David Nutt (a psychiatrist in the field of psychopharmacology) is an informative exploration takes an evidence-based view of all the factors involved in drug use. Applying the same objective criteria to legal and illegal substances, an argument is made that legality is not a clear measure for harm. Tackling a variety of questions, such as Which is more harmful -- Ecstasy or alcohol?; Can addiction be cured?; and Does the "War on Drugs" have serious unintended effects that can hurt children?, "Drugs Without The Hot Air" provides an analysis that equips readers with the ability to make educated decisions regarding drugs both personally and in their communities. Broadening the scope of the discussion, a framework is explored for formulating national drug policies that will minimize a myriad of social, medical, criminal, financial, and environmental harms.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Drugs Without The Hot Air" is impressively well written and exceptionally well organized and presented. A very highly recommended addition to professional, community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Drugs Without The Hot Air" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.49).

Self-Deliverance
Rabbi K. A. Schneider
Chosen
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
www.bakerpublishinggroup.com
9780800797751, $13.99, 176pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Demons are real. If you find this hard to believe, you are not alone. Yet many of the problems you deal with come directly from the realm of darkness. They are demonic. But this is no cause for fear. In fact, there's freedom in knowing you can overcome these problems! Help is available for you. And you do not have to wait for somebody else to deliver you. With Jesus' help, you can free yourself. In "Self-Deliverance: How to Gain Victory over the Powers of Darkness", Rabbi Schneider as he walks you through every aspect of the biblical self-deliverance process, including how to determine which thoughts and actions are inspired by demons; how to speak specific commands that force demons to leave; how to win against persistent spirits; how to close demonic access gained through generational sins, fear and trauma; how to experience God's healing presence; and so much more! As you move into Yeshua's freedom, you will see darkness dissipate and you will find yourself surrounded by a peace and clarity you have never known.

Critique: Rabbi K. A. Schneider is a Jewish believer in Jesus and host of the television show "Discovering the Jewish Jesus", which broadcasts into millions of homes in the United States and over two hundred countries around the world. Rabbi Schneider leads the congregation Lion of Judah World Outreach Center. He draws upon his years of study, experience and expertise in "Self-Deliverance: How to Gain Victory over the Powers of Darkness". The result is an impressively well written, organized, and informative presentation that is inspired and inspiring. Enhanced with discussion questions for personal or group use, "Self-Deliverance: How to Gain Victory over the Powers of Darkness" is very highly recommended for personal, seminary, church, and community library Christian Studies collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Self-Deliverance: How to Gain Victory over the Powers of Darkness" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Louis Botha's War
Adam Cruise
Zebra Press
c/o Casemate Publishers
908 Darby Road, Havertown, PA19083
www.casematepublishing.com
9781770227521, $20.00, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Louis Botha was prime minister of the Union of South Africa when Britain declared war on Germany in 1914. As South Africa was a dominion of the British Empire, Botha was asked to lead his country on a campaign against the Germans across the border in South West Africa. In light of the relatively recent Anglo-Boer War, many Afrikaners balked at the request, but the prime minister was committed politically to unifying Boer and Brit and came down heavily in favor of taking up arms against Germany. So began a war on two fronts. While Union Defence Force troops gathered on the border and prepared to launch an offensive, a handful of Botha's former comrades incited an Afrikaner rebellion intent on keeping South Africa out of the war, or worse, siding with Germany. "Louis Botha's War: The Campaign in South West Africa, 1914-1915" is the story of how a former Boer War fighting-general-turned-politician crushed a rebellion, rallied his country's first united army to fight in harsh conditions and defeated the enemy in the Great War's first successful Allied campaign. Botha's actions and these events would determine the fate of South West Africa, and its relationship with its southern neighbor, for the next eighty years.

Critique: An impressively researched, exceptionally well written, meticulously documented and detailed account, "Louis Botha's War: The Campaign in South West Africa, 1914-1915" by travel writer, conservation correspondent, and now historian Adam Cruise is an inherently fascinating and informative read which is strongly recommended for community and academic library 20th Century History collections in general, and Boer War supplemental studies reading lists in particular. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Louis Botha's War" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Setting Aside All Authority
Christopher M. Graney
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
www.undpress.nd.edu
9780268029883, $29.00, 280pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Setting Aside All Authority: Giovanni Battista Riccioli and the Science against Copernicus in the Age of Galileo" is an important account and analysis of seventeenth-century scientific arguments against the Copernican system. Christopher M. Graney (Professor of Physics at Jefferson Community & Technical College, Louisville, Kentucky) challenges the long-standing ideas that opponents of the heliocentric ideas of Copernicus and Galileo were primarily motivated by religion or devotion to an outdated intellectual tradition, and that they were in continual retreat in the face of telescopic discoveries. Professor Graney calls on newly translated works by anti-Copernican writers of the time to demonstrate that science, not religion, played an important, and arguably predominant, role in the opposition to the Copernican system. Anti-Copernicans, building on the work of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, were in fact able to build an increasingly strong scientific case against the heliocentric system at least through the middle of the seventeenth century, several decades after the advent of the telescope. The scientific case reached its apogee, Graney argues, in the 1651 New Almagest of the Italian Jesuit astronomer Giovanni Battista Riccioli, who used detailed telescopic observations of stars to construct a powerful scientific argument against Copernicus. "Setting Aside All Authority" includes the first English translation of Monsignor Francesco Ingoli's essay to Galileo (disputing the Copernican system on the eve of the Inquisition's condemnation of it in 1616) and excerpts from Riccioli's reports regarding his experiments with falling bodies.

Critique: A masterfully presented work of seminal scholarship, "Setting Aside All Authority: Giovanni Battista Riccioli and the Science against Copernicus in the Age of Galileo" is enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations and tables, two appendices, twenty-four pages of notes, an eight page list of works cited, and a fifteen page index. An essential and core addition to academic library Copernican Studies reference collections, for personal reading lists it should be noted that "Setting Aside All Authority" is also available in a Kindle edition ($22.99).

Ginger Snaps
Webb Hubbell
Beaufort Books
27 West 20th Street, Suite 1102, New York, NY 10011
www.beaufortbooks.com
9780825307775, $24.95, 360pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In Webb Hubbell's "Ginger Snaps", Attorney Jack Patterson returns to Little Rock, Arkansas after an old acquaintance, Dr. Douglas Stewart, is arrested for marijuana cultivation, possession, and distribution. Jack is no expert on drug cases, but meets with Stewart to fulfill a promise to his late wife, Angie, who was close to Stewart. Expecting to wrap up his involvement in an hour and enjoy the rest of the weekend golfing, Jack hears from Stewart that his arrest isn't about the marijuana. Teaming up with his bodyguard, Clovis, and defense attorney Micki Lawrence, Jack begins to investigate why this highly-respected scientist was growing marijuana. He learns that Stewart had alerted the government about the existence of his marijuana garden years ago. Why the arrest now? Why are the Feds claiming terrorist involvement? Stewart's wife, Liz, claims it has to be about her ginger snaps which are laced with marijuana to help ease the pain of cancer patients. As Jack delves deeper into the case, he discovers that both Stewarts and the federal government are hiding secrets, secrets that connect to a past Jack and all involved would rather forget.

Critique: Another terrifically entertaining novel by a master of his craft, Webb Hubell's "Ginger Snaps" is very highly recommended (especially for his established fans) and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Ginger Snaps" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Station 119: From Lifesaving to Marine Research
Kenneth W. Able
Down the Shore Publishing
PO Box 100, West Creek, NJ 08092
www.down-the-shore.com
9781593220969, $16.95, 128pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Station 119: From Lifesaving to Marine Research" by Kenneth W. Able (Distinguished Professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, and Director of the Marine Field Station at Rutgers University) is the story of the mission of the men and women who work at the Rutgers University Marine Field Station. It is also the story of the station itself -- while the station now may play a role in saving the planet, it began with a mission of saving lives. "Station 119" is the fascinating history of a remote former Coast Guard station near Little Egg Inlet on the Jersey Shore and its reincarnation as a marine research facility. The station is now staffed by scientists and students studying the environment in the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JCNERR), near Long Beach Island.

Critique: Impressively well researched, written, organized and presented, "Station 119: From Lifesaving to Marine Research" is as inherently fascinating a read as it is informed and informative. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Marine and Coastal History Studies reference collections.

Able Greenspan
Reviewer


Helen's Bookshelf

Not at Your Child's Expense
Judith Fitzsimmons
Morgan James Publishing
4410 E Claiborne Square, Suite 334, Hampton VA 23666-2071
www.morganjamespublishing.com
9781630475055, $16.95, 148pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: With "Not at Your Child's Expense: A Guide to Constructive Parenting" parents can equip themselves with the tools needed to parent with confidence, raise happy and independent children, and find the fulfillment. "Not at Your Child's Expense" is especially appropriate as an instructional resource for parents getting divorced; or who are just feeling angry, afraid, frustrated, and overwhelmed by the demands of parenting. A careful reading of "Not at Your Child's Expense" is the first step to getting the help navigating through the stages of establishing a long-term, mutually-beneficial co-parenting relationship.

Critique: Impressively practical, exceptionally well written, deftly organized and presented, "Not at Your Child's Expense: A Guide to Constructive Parenting" is strongly recommended for community library Parenting reference collections. Thoroughly 'user friendly' it should be noted that "Not at Your Child's Expense: A Guide to Constructive Parenting" for adding to personal reading lists is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Helen Andelin and the Fascinating Womanhood Movement
Julie Debra Neuffer
The University of Utah Press
295 South 1500 East, Suite 5400, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0860
www.uofupress.com
9781607813279, $19.95, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In 1961, Helen Andelin, housewife and mother of eight, languished in a lackluster, twenty-year-old marriage. A religious woman, she fasted and prayed for help. As she studied a set of women's advice booklets from the 1920s, Andelin had an epiphany that not only changed her life but also affected the lives of millions of American women. She applied the principles from the booklets and found that her disinterested husband became loving and attentive. He bought her gifts and hurried home from work to be with her. Andelin took her new-found happiness as a sign that it was her religious duty to share these principles with other women. She began leading small discussion groups for women at her church. The results were dramatic. In 1963, at the urging of her followers, Andelin wrote and self-published "Fascinating Womanhood". The book, which borrowed heavily from those 1920s advice booklets, the Bible, and classical literature, eventually sold over three million copies and launched a nationwide organization of classes and seminars led by thousands of volunteer teachers. Countering second-wave feminists in the 1960s, Andelin preached family values and urged women not to have careers, but to become good wives, mothers, and homemakers instead. A woman's true happiness, taught Andelin, could only be realized if she admired, cared for, and obeyed her husband. As Andelin's notoriety grew, so did the backlash from her critics. Undeterred, she became a national celebrity, who was interviewed extensively and appeared in sold-out speaking engagements. Andelin's message calling for the return to traditional roles appealed to many in a time of uncertainty and radical social change. "Helen Andelin and the Fascinating Womanhood Movement" by Julie Debra Neuffer (who currently teaches American history at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington) is a study that provides an evenhanded and important look at a crucial, but often overlooked cross section of American women as they navigated their way through the turbulent decades following the post-war calm of the 1950s.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, impressively written, deftly organized and presented, "Helen Andelin and the Fascinating Womanhood Movement" is a seminal work of original scholarship and a very highly prized addition for community and academic library Women's Studies, Women's History, and American 20th Century History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Helen Andelin and the Fascinating Womanhood Movement" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Hummingbird Plants Of The Southwest
Marcy Scott
Rio Nuevo Publishers
PO Box 5250, Tucson, AZ 85703
www.rionuevo.com
9781940322032, $18.95, 344pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Over millions of years, hummingbirds and plants have co-evolved. These little flying jewels need nectar and shelter, while many native plants need to be pollinated by the birds. Hummingbird fanciers along their migration routes can enjoy the flower/bird show and even help species threatened by loss of habitat with wise landscape choices. It's easy. Just add hummingbird-friendly native plants to your garden, and take some simple steps to enhance the habitat in your yard and beyond. In "Hummingbird Plants Of The Southwest", birder, botanizer, former wildlife rehabilitator, and garden consultant Marcy Scott draws upon her years of experience and expertise to provides a wealth of guidance that includes: 120 plant profiles, with detailed information on their significance to hummingbirds, distribution, known habitat, and appearance; Plant-focused profiles of the 14 regularly occurring hummingbird species; Hummingbird natural history, plant pollination, and how and why to create habitat; Tips on landscaping, finding plants, and gardening in the Southwest; and 15 ways you can help hummingbirds and their flowers.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, beautifully illustrated, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Hummingbird Plants Of The Southwest" is an extraordinary and comprehensive instructional guide that is enthusiastically recommended for both amateur and professional gardeners, as well as community and academic library aviary and horticultural reference collections.

Music and International History in the Twentieth Century
Jessica C. E. Gienow-Hecht
Berghahn Books
20 Jay Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY 11201
www.berghahnbooks.com
9781782385004, $95.00, 280pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Bringing together scholars from the fields of musicology and international history, "Music and International History in the Twentieth Century" investigates the significance of music to foreign relations, and how it affected the interaction of nations since the late 19th century. For more than a century, both state and non-state actors have sought to employ sound and harmony to influence allies and enemies, resolve conflicts, and export their own culture around the world. "Music and International History in the Twentieth Century" asks how we can understand music as an instrument of power and influence, and how the cultural encounters fostered by music changes our ideas about international history.

Critique: Knowledgeably compiled and deftly edited by Jessica C. E. Gienow-Hecht (Chair of the Department of History at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at the Freie Universitat Berlin), "Music and International History in the Twentieth Century" is the seventh volume in the outstanding Berghahn Books 'Exporations in Culture and International History' series. This scholarly compilation features an informative introduction (Sonic History, or Why Music Matters in International history), followed by eight major articles by experts in their respective fields. Enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, notes on the contributors, and a useful index, "Music and International History in the Twentieth Century" is a seminal work of collective scholarship that should be a part of every professional and academic library 20th Century Music History reference collection and supplemental studies reading list.

Heartfelt Memorial Services
Beverly Molander & Dave Savage
Memory Keepers Publishing
980 St. Charles Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30306
www.heartfeltmemorialservices.com
9780990980803, $12.99, 268pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Collaboratively written by Beverly Molander (an ordained minister with Centers for Spiritual Living, and is a radio host of a weekly show on Unity Online Radio) and Dave Savage (founder and producer of Memory Keepers Video, a company that helps individuals and families create a legacy through family storytelling and sharing that will be passed on for generations to come), "Heartfelt Memorial Services" is an instructional guide that will provide valued and practical information to families and individuals who are: Anticipating and preparing for the death of a loved one; Having "The Conversation" with their elders about end-of-life choices and options; Looking for ways to bring together friends and family with a sense of unity and integrity, even when different belief systems may appear to be a stumbling block; Creating an inspiring celebration-of-life / tribute gathering while the person is still there to enjoy it; Wishing to ease the burden on the family by planning for your own eventual death. Funeral professionals and service providers will especially value the unique ideas and advice to serve their clients.

Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally well organized, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in presentation, "Heartfelt Memorial Services: Your Guide for Planning Meaningful Funerals, Celebrations of Life and Times of Remembrance" will prove to be an enduringly valued and appreciated addition to professional and community library instructional reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Heartfelt Memorial Services" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Safekeeping
Jessamyn Hope
Fig Tree Books
https://figtreebooks.net
9781941493069, $15.95, 371pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: It's 1994 and Adam, a drug addict from New York City, arrives at a kibbutz in Israel with a medieval sapphire brooch. To redress a past crime, he must give the priceless heirloom to a woman his grandfather loved when he was a Holocaust refugee on the kibbutz fifty years earlier. But first, he has to track this mystery woman down which is a task that proves more complicated than expected. On the kibbutz Adam joins other lost souls: Ulya, the ambitious and beautiful Soviet emigree; Farid, the lovelorn Palestinian farmhand; Claudette, the French Canadian Catholic with OCD; Ofir, the Israeli teenager wounded in a bus bombing; and Ziva, the old Socialist Zionist firebrand who founded the kibbutz. Driven together by love, hostility, hope, and fear, their fates become forever entangled as they each get one last shot at redemption. In the middle of that fateful summer glows the magnificent brooch with its perilous history spanning three continents and seven centuries. With insight and beauty, "Safekeeping" tackles that most human of questions: How can we expect to find meaning and happiness when we know that nothing lasts?

Critique: An impressively written debut novel, "Safekeeping" established author Jessamyn Hope as an talented writer able to deftly craft a complex work of definitive originality that raptly holds the readers attention from beginning to end. Very strongly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Safekeeping" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.76) and as an unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781681411842, $29.99).

Who's Going to Watch My Kids?
Rachel Levy Lesser
Turning Stone Press
http://turningstonepress.com
www.RachelLevyLesser.com
9781618520944, $17.95, 187pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Who's Going to Watch My Kids?: Working Mothers' Humorous and Heartfelt Struggles to Find and Hold on to the Elusive Perfect Nanny" is the true story of working mom Rachel Levy Lesser's struggles to find and hold on to a nanny for her two young children. It also includes the stories of 15 other working moms and their humorous and heartfelt nanny tales. Each mother longs to employ the modern day Mary Poppins -- that perfect but fictional nanny who they soon learn doesn't exist. "Who's Going to Watch My Kids?" explores the unique relationships that develop between working mothers (and fathers) and the nannies and the kids they care for. These relationships are more than professional yet not as intimate as familial ones (or sometimes even more so!) The working mothers showcased in "Who's Going to Watch My Kids?" put up with more issues from their nannies than they ever would with their employees in their offices, but in turn they also learn many lessons from their nannies and grow closer than they ever imagined. Rachel includes her own nanny rules based off of lessons learned from her experiences and those of the other mothers in "Who's Going to Watch My Kids?".

Critique: As informed and informative as it is laced with humor and thoughtful observation, "Who's Going to Watch My Kids?: Working Mothers' Humorous and Heartfelt Struggles to Find and Hold on to the Elusive Perfect Nanny" is an inherently engaging and instructive read. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in both tone and presentation, "Who's Going to Watch My Kids?" is very strongly recommended for community library Parenting Issues collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Who's Going to Watch My Kids?" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Agnes Martin
Briony Fer, et al.
Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
www.artbook.com
9781938922763, $55.00, 272pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Agnes Martin (1912-1967) was one of the preeminent painters of the twentieth century, whose work has had a significant influence both on artists of her own time and for subsequent generations. A contemporary of the Abstract Expressionists though often identified with Minimalism, Martin was one of the few women artists who came to prominence in the predominately masculine art world of the late 1950s and 1960s, and she became a particularly important role model for younger women artists. This groundbreaking survey provides an overview of Martin's career, from lesser-known early experimental works through her striped and gridded grey paintings and use of color in various formats, to a group of her final pieces that reintroduce bold forms. A selection of drawings and watercolors is also included. With essays by leading scholars that give a context for Martin's work-her life, relationship with other artists, the influence of South-Asian philosophy-alongside focused shorter pieces on particular paintings, this beautifully designed volume is the definitive publication on her oeuvre.

Critique: Excellent production values with respect to reproducing visual images of Agnes Martin's artworks, combined with informed and informative commentaries, all contribute to an exceptionally informed presentation and does full justice to presenting the life's work of a significant American artist. A seminal work of impressive scope and scale, "Agnes Martin" is an essential and strongly recommended addition to personal, community, and especially academic library 20th Century American Artists reference collections.

Just Prayer
Alison M. Benders
The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
www.litpress.org
9780814649664, $24.95, 224pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Just Prayer: A Book of Hours for Peacemakers and Justice Seekers" by Alison M. Benders (Associate Dean at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California) is a four-week prayer cycle for morning and evening readings to support people who "hunger and thirst for justice." Patterned on the ancient monastic Hours, it offers psalms, intercessions, and reflections fashioned to strengthen a personal commitment to justice. The weekly themes are: recognizing God's command that we act justly; lamenting suffering and injustice in our world; repenting our failures and renewing our commitment to justice; and, finally, celebrating God's promise of justice lived as a new heaven and new earth. Weekly reflections encourage personal transformation by emphasizing the connection between justice action and peaceful communities. Created with parishes, youth groups, mission trip participants, and social justice organizations in mind, "Just Prayer" supports hands-on service work in local communities. By repeating and building upon the prayer sequences in "Just Prayer", Christians can conform their hearts more fully to Christ's living message of compassion and justice for the least among us. This edition of "Just Prayer" features a soft, leather-like cover and a durable ribbon for convenient daily prayer.

Critique: Truly exceptional, inspired and inspiring, "Just Prayer: A Book of Hours for Peacemakers and Justice Seekers" is very highly recommended for pastoral and lay readers alike. It will prove an enduringly popular addition to church, seminary, and personal Christian prayer book reference collections and mediation/spirituality reading lists.

Corridors of the Night
Anne Perry
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
www.randomhouse.com
9780553391381, $27.00, 288pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In "Corridors of the Night", nurse Hester Monk and her husband, William, commander of the Thames River Police, do desperate battle with two obsessed scientists who in the name of healing have turned to homicide. The monomaniacal Rand brothers (Magnus, a cunning doctor, and Hamilton, a genius chemist) are ruthless in their pursuit of a cure for what was then known as the fatal "white-blood disease". In London's Royal Naval Hospital annex, Hester is tending one wealthy Bryson Radnor, one of the brothers' dying patients, when she stumbles upon three weak, terrified young children, and learns to her horror that they've been secretly purchased and imprisoned by the Rands for experimental purposes. But the Rand brothers are too close to a miracle cure to allow their experiments to be exposed. Before Hester can reveal the truth, she too becomes a prisoner. As Monk and his faithful friends (distinguished lawyer Oliver Rathbone and reformed brothel keeper Squeaky Robinson among them) scour London's grimy streets and the beautiful English countryside searching for her, Hester's time, as well as the children's, is quickly draining away.

Critique: An extraordinarily gifted novelist, with "Corridors of the Night", author Anne Perry continues her solidly entertaining and deftly written series that once again takes her readers back into the life and times of Victorian England. A deftly crafted work that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Corridors of the Night" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.84).

Navigating Alzheimer's
Mary K. Doyle
ACTA Publications
4848 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640
www.actapublications.com
9780879469894, $14.95, 128pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In "Navigating Alzheimer's: 12 Truths about Caring for Your Loved One", journalist and author Mary K. Doyle has written a poignant but practical handbook for Alzheimer's caregivers that will enlighten anyone touched by this debilitating disease. She offers straightforward guidelines for caregivers and their families, important lessons she learned in the eleven years she has been caring for her beloved husband, Marshall. She writes frankly about: recognizing the warning signs of Alzheimer's; understanding the disease's typical progression; managing conflict with family and friends; the importance of caring for yourself; the emotional, physical, and financial costs of caregiving; and how, when, and where to find help -- including sound advice on making the critical choice among assisted-living facilities when that time comes.

Critique: An invaluable and practical extended commentary on caring for those afflicted with this debilitating and ultimately terminal condition, "Navigating Alzheimer's: 12 Truths about Caring for Your Loved One" is impressively well written, organized and presented, making it ideal for non-specialist general readers. "Navigating Alzheimer's' is very strongly recommended for community, social services, medical, and academic library Alzheimer's instructional reference collections.

Peer Coaching to Enrich Professional Practice, School Culture, and Student Learning
Pam Robbins
ASCD
1703 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311-1714
www.ascd.org
9781416620242, $26.95, 180pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: How can educators work together more effectively to improve professional practice in a way that enhances student performance? The answer, says former teacher, coach, director of professional development, and school leader Pam Robbins, involves combining collaborative activities and peer coaching teachers supporting teachers. "Peer Coaching to Enrich Professional Practice, School Culture, and Student Learning" describes how any school can implement these proven practices and experience positive changes in teaching, school culture, and learning. Robbins explains how to develop a collaborative, learning-focused culture and build trust among colleagues; offers strategies for participating in difficult conversations that yield useful feedback; clarifies how to develop, sustain, and evaluate peer coaching efforts; and showcases exemplary peer coaching practices used in real schools. She also includes coaching tools, scenarios, process guidelines, and reflection questions that make it easier to transfer these ideas into a school setting. Peer coaching offers a job-embedded learning strategy; it's a valuable structure for supporting school-wide and district-wide priorities such as analyzing data, improving instruction, integrating technology, and implementing standards. In short, it creates an effective way to support the growth of every teacher and enrich learning processes in any school.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Peer Coaching to Enrich Professional Practice, School Culture, and Student Learning" is particularly recommended for professional and academic library Educational Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists. It should be noted that "Peer Coaching to Enrich Professional Practice, School Culture, and Student Learning" is also available in a Kindle edition ($25.60).

In Good Company
Jen Turano
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
www.bethanyhouse.com
9780764212765, $14.99, 352pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: After growing up as an orphan, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her playfulness and enthusiasm aren't always well-received and she finds herself dismissed from yet another position. Everett Mulberry has quite unexpectedly become guardian to three children that scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he's desperate for competent childcare. At wit's end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance -- with each other. As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges, Everett focuses on achieving the coveted societal status of the upper echelons. But as he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the children's parents, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?

Critique: A terrifically entertaining read by a master of her craft, Jen Turano's "In Good Company" is a very highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted that "In Good Company" is also available in a paperback edition in a Kindle format ($7.46), as well as a large print edition (Thorndike Press, 9781410481535, $29.99).

Helen Dumont
Reviewer


Klausner's Bookshelf

The Year's Best Military SF & Space Opera
David Afsharirad (editor)
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
www.baen.com
9781476780580, $15.00, www.amazon.com

"Codename: Delphi" by Linda Nagata. The handler directs the unit in a war 5000 miles away.

"Persephone Descending" by Derek Kunsken. Sabotage forced the crash on toxic Venus.

"The End of the Silk Road" by David D. Levine. The P.I. returns to Venus for a client he hates who married the woman he loves.

"Picket Ship" by Brad R. Torgersen. Schumann needs to warn Earth the mantis queen ordered human extermination.

"Decaying Orbit" by Robert R. Chase. The Dominion finds an abandoned TransHumans vessel.

"Morrigan in the Sunglare" by Seth Dickinson. LaPorte and Simms struggle mentally to adjust to fighting "monsters".

"Light and Shadow" by Linda Nagata. Sakai refuses to wear the skullcap that dulls war's horrors.

"Icarus at Noon" by Eric Leif Davin. Obsessed Santiago wants to beat the robots to Icarus.

"Soft Casualty" by Michael Z. Williamson. Two U.N. soldiers eat at a Freehold of Graine diner until they realize what the meat is.

"Palm Strike's Last Case" by Charlie Jane Anders. Palm leaves Earth for a new home that needs his superhero skills.

"Brood" by Stephen Gaskell. On Mars Lena never believed the Slicers existed until she meets them in a hellhole.

"Stealing Arturo" by William Ledbetter. Kooper hopes to end slave labor on an asteroid starting with a child.

"Rules of Engagement" by Matthew Johnson. The implants keep hybrid warriors from wrongful acts in combat; but the soldiers are home.

"Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind)" by Holly Black. As a smuggler you learn your parents were right that there are bad things off Mars.

"War Dog" by Michael Barretta. Reverend-Inspector threatens the veterans in love.

This is an interesting anthology containing exciting, enjoyable entries including several thought-provoking.

Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson's Worlds
Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois (editors)
Baen
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
www.baen.com
9781476780597, $15.00

This excellent anthology achieves its objective of paying homage to one of the great twentieth century speculative fiction writers whose works crossed into science fiction, fantasy and a combo. Well written earnest essays like those authored by his widow Karen Anderson on how they met at an early 1950s convention and his son-in-law Greg Bear on entering his life through marrying his daughter humanize the late grandmaster. Thirteen short stories provide readers with a return to Mr. Anderson's myriad of mesmerizing worlds. I enjoyed the Anderson realms starting with a visit to Hugo Award winning "The Queen of Air and Darkness" (see "Outmoded Things" by Nancy Kress and "The Fey of Cloudmoor" by Terry Brooks); and accompanying the Time Patrol (see "A Slip in Time" by S. M. Stirling and "Christmas in Gondwanaland" by Robert Silverberg). My personal favorite is Eric Flint's "Operation Xibalba" with its dissimilar tone from the other entries but like the rest honors Mr. Anderson.

Dragon in Exile
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Baen
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
www.baen.com
9781476780719, $26.00

On Liad, in spite of Clan Korval saving the world, the Council of Clans argues over the proper punishment for the convicted Dragons. Longtime rival clans and enemies within the Liaden Department of the Interior demand mass executions of the Dragons, but allies prevail. Thus banished Clan Korval leaves their home planet for Surebleak, an orb known for felonious activity.

Though the transition proves somewhat difficult, many members of Clan Korval have traveled to much worse hellholes. The adjustment begins with the Dragon forcing the locals not just to accept their culture, but to adapt to their lifestyle or face terrible consequences. However, as rebellion against the outsiders' domination and strict enforcement of Liaden on Surebleak arises, Clan Korval stunningly learns their on planet foes have an insidious supporter.

The eighteenth Liaden outer space thriller (see Trade Secret) is an extremely complex science fiction that series fans will welcome as Sharon Lee and Steve Miller add depth to recent subplots, while also resolving some minor ones and beginning new threads. The lead Dragon frequently changes with Miri, Val Con and Rys serving as the prime players but others also take lesser moments on center stage. This is a terrific entry as Clan Korval reacts to their new world as if they never left Liad.

The Bomb Maker's Son: A Parker Stern Novel
Robert Rotstein
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
www.prometheusbooks.com
9781633880443, $15.95, www.amazon.com

In 1975 in Playa Delta, California, anti-Vietnam War advocates blow up the Veterans Administration building. Four people die in the domestic terrorism act. Four decades later, one of the accused Ian Holzner remains on the FBI fugitive list when he suddenly surrenders to authorities.

Ian insists he was not the leader of the deadly bombing in his home town although charged as such. He refuses a deal opting for a trial even with the evidence against him astronomical and demands attorney Parker Stern defend him in court. In spite of his mom's begging him to take on Ian as a client, Parker holds steadfast to his no until she informs him that Ian is his biological father and that he has a teenage half-sister. Though Parker wonders if his mother, the lying head of the Church of the Sanctified Assembly, is crapping on him again; he reluctantly agrees to mount a defense for his alleged dad for the sake of his sibling. Parker finds it impossible to defend his client who seemingly conceals something important. At the same someone uses deadly force to tamper with witnesses and the media is having an incest feeding frenzy.

The third Parker Stern legal thriller (see Corrupt Practices and Reckless Disregard) is a fantastic drama that uses a modern day trial to look back to the last year of the Nixon Presidency at a time when the final moments of the antiwar movement occurred. With several stunning twists especially an awesome climatic spin, Robert Rotstein authors a powerful look at that 1970s tumultuous era through the lens of forty years passing since the deadly incident happened.

Crooked Herring
L.C. Tyler
Felony & Mayhem Press
174 W 4th St., Suite #261, New York, NY 10014
www.felonyandmayhem.com
9781631940569, $14.95, www.amazon.com

Crime writer Henry Holiday informs his friend novelist Ethelred Tressider that he remembers two things about New Year's Eve. First he was very drunk while making the rounds in Sussex with his equally intoxicated crime writer friend Crispin Vynall; and second he believes he killed his drinking buddy. An upset Henry says his efforts to contact Crispin failed.

Calmly Ethelred asks where Vynall's body is, but Henry insists he has no idea as to where he may have left the corpse. Reluctantly Ethelred agrees to follow unobtrusively Henry's holiday binge with much less emphasis on imbibing. Leaving London, Ethelred's literary agent domineering Elsie Thirkettle visits him and warns him not to get involved.

The fifth Ethelred and Elsie amateur sleuth (see The Herring in the Library and Herring on the Nile) is a very amusing investigation into what the protagonist expects to be Much Ado About Nothing. Part of the jocularity comes from Elsie's wry journal; while much more from Ethelred's bumbling inquiry that has him in trouble with the law, and finally from the Amazon U.K. reviews of his novels.

From A High Tower
Mercedes Lackey
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.dawbooks.com
9780756408985, $25.95, www.amazon.com

In Freiberg, Friedrich Schnittel struggles to feed his eight children and pregnant wife Maria when he finds a plentiful garden. He brings home food, but on his third nocturnal raid, a cold female voice growls at him for stealing from her garden. Instead of her dogs attacking him or prison, the Earth Master allows him to continue to feed his children and spouse in exchange for the soon to be born baby.

Mother raises Giselle in isolation except somewhat for the Black Forest Foresters. Whenever Mother must leave Giselle by herself, she locks her daughter inside a tower allegedly to keep her safe. While Mother is in Fredericksburg, a handsome young man Johann Schmidt arrives at the Tower. She helps him up into the Tower, but when he attacks her, she displays the skills of an Air Master until Mother tosses the rogue out the window. When Mother dies, Giselle dressed as Gunther leaves her only home.

The Eleventh Elemental Masters (see Blood Red and Steadfast) is an engaging version of Rapunzel. Readers will appreciate the heroine's hairy misadventures, but lacks tension as Giselle's key adversary makes extremely limited appearances.

Nova
Margaret Fortune
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.dawbooks.com
9780756410810, $24.95

When the Aurora Colony fell, teenager Lia Johansen, her parents and other civilians became POWs living in the Tierstan Internment Camp. Over the next two years she watched her only family die there before she left as a refugee on the Xenia Aneli ship arriving at the New Sol Space Station.

Upon taking her first step onto her new home, a clock activates in her mind in which she has 36:00:00 to live before she explodes as a suicide bomber killing and maiming many people at the station. The human bomb also knows now she contains the memories of someone else, this sixteen years old Lia, but none of her own. When a childhood friend of Lia, Michael greets her, she becomes confused by the influx of good memories that flood her conscious. As her internal clock runs down to the final minutes, an error occurs that halts the mission. As Lia wonders what to do since there is no contingency plan; she finds she prefers spending time with Michael and other new friends she has made; though she also questions whether her desires are hers or those of the original.

Targeting young adults, Nova is a gripping science fiction thriller that looks deeply into what memory is and into the influence of friends. Lia keeps the intriguing tale focused as she struggles to accept the recall of what she is and was, and what she was supposed to do as Nova to her friends.

Masterminds
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG Publishing
PO Box 269, Lincoln City, OR 97367
http://www.wmgpublishinginc.com
9781561466252, $18.99, www.amazon.com

The Peyti clones of the mass murderer PierLuigi Fremont committed two deadly suicide bombings on Anniversary Days four years apart killing thousands and crippling the Moon. The terrorism has frightened residents and left authorities scrambling to prevent a third devastation that everyone expects soonest as the Mastermind(s) remain free to complete their mission.

Evidence collected by Moon's chief security officer Noelle DeRicci, Retrieval Artist Miles Flint, Police Detective Bartholomew Nyquist and Armstrong's shady business mogul Luc Deshin lead to the horrifying conclusion that countdown to another imminent terrorist attack to destroy the remaining functional domes has begun and that the leaders are Earth Alliance VIPs.
However, the plot began decades ago in the Frontier, inside an alliance prison and beneath the moon's surface.

The eighth and final Anniversary Day Saga science fiction completes a fabulous thrilling saga. The key subplots tie together in a way that has the appreciative audience following the countdown as seen through different people's minds but in a Bauer 24 like adventure. Fast-paced, this is a tremendous climax to an electrifying series that newcomers need to start at the beginning to fully appreciate Kristine Kathryn Rusch's talent (see A Murder of Clones, Blowback, Anniversary Day, Search & Recovery, The Peyti Crisis, Vigilantes and Starbase Human).

Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Beth K. Vogt
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
www.simonandschuster.com
9781476789781, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Though she prefers her current home Denver, Hawaii or just about any other place, Vanessa reluctantly acquiesces to marry Ted in Destin, Florida where he will attend a pediatric emergencies medical conference. Nessa also agrees to take time off from work to leave before Ted to arrange their Panhandle destination wedding.

In Destin, storm-chaser Logan Hollister has never moved on from the end of his marriage to Vanessa. If he ever sees her again, Logan believes they can make it work as he feels they were too young and immature as a teen couple. As a hurricane hammers the Panhandle, he and Vanessa meet for the first time since their divorce eight years ago. Resolute Logan campaigns for a second chance, but she is in town planning her wedding to Ted and besides has stormy gale-sized memories of when they were married.

Although the initial happenchance is over the top of Britton Hill, the first Destination Wedding is a well-written second chance. A large segment of the storyline occurs when the leads were teen newlyweds, which provides an appealing perspective but also limits the audience understanding of how far each has emotionally grown or shrunk as adults since they initially split. Still overall Beth K. Vogt authors an interesting contemporary.

Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor
Melanie Dobson
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
www.simonandschuster.com
9781476746142, $14.99

In 1954 Clevedon, England, yachtsman Elliot leaves behind pregnant Maggie Emerson. Though she comes to the docks in wintry weather, her lover never returns. When newspaper editor Walter Doyle proposes, Maggie accepts. Though many of the locals believe she was carrying before her wedding, Maggie persuades her husband that he sired their "premature" newborn tiny Libby. The family relocates to a servant's home at the Ladenbrooke Manor in Gloucester where Maggie becomes the housekeeper and in town Walter obtains a position as a postman.

Libby grows up as a free spirit who loves to paint butterflies while dreaming of being as free to fly as her subjects. In 1969 she and Ladenbrooke Manor family teenager Oliver Croft have sex. Soon afterward he drowns in the nearby river while she becomes pregnant though her parents hide her delicate condition. Nine months later Libby gives birth to Heather, whose grandmother raises her as her late in life second child since her first daughter cannot.

After a quarter of a century away from her home, divorced Heather Toulson leaves Portland Oregon for England to prepare her late parents' home for sale following the death of her estranged widow father Walter. She uncovers shocking secrets about her family, a cold case murder, and the man she loved and lost twenty-five years ago.

Moving effortlessly between three generations, Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor is a superb family drama as with each new revelation Heather uncovers further makes her believe that the truth will set you free is a bold lie. Though the wrap-up is too perfect for this convoluted family, the mysteries grip the audience with a need similar to that of Heather and her married daughter Ella to know more.

Eight Hundred Grapes
Laura Dave
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
www.simonandschuster.com
9781476789255, $24.95, www.amazon.com

Just before her marriage, thirty year old Georgia Ford learns a secret that her fiance concealed from her. Out of character as her brothers and parents know she is perfect infantry charging forward to take the hill; instead Georgia, in her wedding dress, drives nine hours from Southern California to her family-owned The Last Straw Vineyard in Sebastopol.

However, her first stop in Sonoma County is the Brothers' Tavern owned by her siblings. To her shock only her brother Finn is there; her dad and her other sib Bobby are not. At the house, she is greeted by a naked stranger coming out of her mom's bedroom. As Georgia learns more stunning revelations re family dynamics and happiness (or not), the grapes of wine (and wrath), and in vino veritas relationships; she questions what she always thought were universal bedrock truisms.

Georgia holds together a profound look at family as the female lead begins to understand her acceptance of "facts" is faulty due to her previously unaware of personal rosy-colored filter protecting her mental state from the complexities of relationships. Readers will toast Lara Dave for this insightful drama with California Chardonnay.

The Melody Lingers On
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
www.simonandschuster.com
9781476749112, $26.99

Just when his investment con collapses, hedge fund billionaire Parker Bennett vanishes while sailing the Caribbean. He leaves behind a stunned widow Anne and an equally shocked adult child Eric. Angry investors who lost five billion and law enforcement believe Parker's grieving survivors especially his son were partners in his nefarious schemes and perhaps murdered him to distant themselves from Parker if he is even dead.

No longer able to live the lifestyle of the Greenwich 1%, Eric buys a condo in Bergen County, New Jersey for his mom. They hire Manhattan interior designer Glady Harper to fix up her new home. When Gladys's thirtyish assistant and single mom of a five old, Elaine Harmon and Eric meet, each feels an attraction. While the Feds hound Eric to reveal where his father hides and to confess his own role in the scam; he employs a firm to prove his innocence. Filled with rage over Parker's swindle but unable to get even directly; recently widowed Ranger plans to murder Eric and Anne. At the same time undercover FBI agent Russo becomes Anne's neighbor.

This is a captivating suspense in which the audience wonders what Parker's plan is (readers will assume he lives) and if Eric abetted him in his scheme. Although none of the key players feel fully developed or likable, Mary Higgins Clark's fans will appreciate her latest thriller.

Watch The Lady
Elizabeth Fremantle
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
www.simonandschuster.com
9781476703121, $15.99

In 1581 pushed by her scheming mother who wants the family to regain their positon of influence, Penelope Devereux becomes a Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth. Beautiful and brilliant, Penelope manages to excel in the dangerous court filled with backstabbing intrigue to become one of the monarch's favorite; as does her brother the Earl of Essex. Only Robert Cecil seems to distrust the siblings. Penelope and her childhood betrothed Sir Philip Sidney remain in love, but Elizabeth marries her to Lord Rich. The couple makes a convenience deal in which she provides him with the heir and spare and he stays out of her life. However her brother's bungling ambition places them in jeopardy unless she intercedes before it wrecks her much more clever treacherous scheme.

The third Tudor tale (see Queen's Gambit and Sisters of Treason) is an enjoyable Elizabethian drama that focuses on the last decades of the Queen's long reign through the rotating viewpoints of enemies Penelope and Cecil. Although there are some incidents that feel like forced overdramatic padding into an interesting storyline, historical fans will relish watching the scramble by those of the inner circles and wannabes competing for power before the anticipated vacuum causes a free for all.

Antidote to Venom: British Library Crime Classics
Freeman Wills Crofts
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
www.poisonedpenpress.com
9781464203794, $12.95, www.amazon.com

Birmington Zoo Director George Surridge fears his life is near collapse. His marriage appears to be dying; he owes too much money; a disease threatens the animals in his care; and he loves Nancy Weymore. A desperate Surridge considers various options out of his spiraling worse quagmire while praying his elderly rich aunt dies.

New Scotland Yard Inspector Joseph French (see The Hog's Back Mystery) leads the investigation into the murder of a pathology professor. French believes he knows who the culprit is and the weapon; but cannot prove the prime suspect killed the victim in spite of a timetable that affirms the opportunity. French also struggles with how a venomous viper escaped from its Birmington Zoo totally sealed cage.

Told initially by the person who abetted the murderer and ultimately by the inspector, readers know very early on in this 1938 crime mystery the killer's identity, but not how the homicide was executed. Though the climax feels forced (in fairness part of the era's approach to justice), the tremendous storyline grips the audience as we learn the methodology.

The Hog's Back Mystery: British Library Crime Classics
Freeman Wills Crofts
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
www.poisonedpenpress.com
9781464203817, $12.95

Thirty miles from London at the Ash Train Station in Surrey, Julia Earle welcomes two visitors (her sister novelist Marjorie Lawes and their friend Ursula Stone) she has not seen in years. Not long after the trio call on another school mate Alice Campion.

Soon after their arrival, Julia's husband retired doctor James vanishes from their St. Kilda home near the Hog's Back Ridge. Arriving by train, Scotland Yard Inspector Joseph French leads the investigation into what he assumes is a domestic dispute most likely due to infidelities. He revises his first impressions when Superintendent Sheaf explains that only the two siblings were home when James failed to return from a walk. Soon after others also disappear before the first corpse is found.

This is a reprint of a terrific 1933 rural British police procedural. Most of the storyline centers on French's inquiry as he struggles to find motives and breaking alibis while slowly putting together a timeline (reminds me of Canadian Constabulary Detective Murdoch's chalkboard). The convoluted whodunit and why make for an interesting read although the storyline's intriguing methodology also keeps readers at armchair's length from the mostly off-page action.

Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries: A British Library Crime Classic
Edited by Martin Edwards
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
www.poisonedpenpress.com
9781464203756, $12.95

"The Adventure of the Devil's Foot" by Arthur Conan Doyle. In 1899 Holmes is on vacation when the vicar asks him to investigate a death.

"A Schoolmaster Abroad" by E. W. Horning. In Switzerland Dr. Dollar tries to prove his mentor did not prescribe the deadly strychnine pills.

"Murder!" by Arnold Bennett. The husband and the wannabe compete for the same woman.

"The Murder on the Golf Links" by M. McDonnell Bodkin. The final score is murder.

"The Finger of Stone" by G. K. Chesterton. In France, the tourists find a corpse-less homicide.

"The Vanishing of Mrs. Fraser" by Basil Thomson. Mother and daughter attend the Paris Exhibition when the older woman becomes ill before disappearing.

"A Mystery of the Sand-Hills" by R. Austin Freeman. Science tries to uncover what happened to a missing person.

"The Hazel Ice" by H. C. Bailey. At an Alpine resort, Fortune and Swiss policeman Stein investigate an avalanche death.

"Razor Edge" by Anthony Berkeley. An accident leaves one dead, but the inquiry questions what happened.

"Holiday Task" by Leo Bruce. On Normandy vacation, Sergeant Beef joins the inquiry into a body tossed off a cliff.

"A Posteriori" by Helen Simpson. A holiday in Paris does little good for prim and proper Miss Charters.

"Where is Mr. Manetot?" by Phyllis Bentley. Economic historian Manetot goes missing from his Yorkshire home.

"The House of Screams" by Gerald Findler. The ghost wants to be left alone.

"Cousin Once Removed" by Michael Gilbert. He plans to kill his cousin to inherit the estate.

These are engrossing British holiday mysteries written in the first half of the twentieth century with most entries from the 1920s. I enjoyed all but especially meeting authors I never heard of.

High Country Nocturne
Jon Talton
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
www.poisonedpenpress.com
9781464203985, $24.95

Phoenix police consider former Maricopa County Sheriff turned private investigator Mike Peralta as the suspect in a diamond heist in which a video shows him shooting a guard and stealing the million dollar loot at Chandler Fashion Center. His partner David Mapstone is in denial as he rejects the concept of Peralta being a thief. The fallout of Peralta's betrayal includes FBI SAC Pham exiled to Anchorage while replaced by Mann who distrusts uncooperative Dave as being in cahoots with the missing culprit. Mann interrogates Dave and Peralta's wife Sharon by her husband's abandoned truck. In spite of the evidence, Mapstone insists Peralta did not do it as he only wounded the guard instead of killing him.

As the Peralta case turns Twitter viral, trusting no one except his spouse Lindsey, Mapstone applies his historian background and his wife's computer skills to investigate. At the same time Maricopa County Sheriff Melton who replaced Peralta after an ugly election asks David to use his historian skills to work a cold case. Meanwhile, a killer whom David may have met just before his encounter with Mann, targets the Mapstone couple with Lindsey taking a bullet.

The eighth David Mapstone Arizona mystery (see The Night Detectives and South Phoenix Rules) is a sensational twisting noir, perhaps the best in this series as the hero lands in one dangerous mess after another. Confused Mapstone struggles between his loyalty to his best friend and the visual proof of his guilt; only to have his emotions further nuked when a brilliant lunatic shoots his beloved Sharon.

Night Tremors: A Rick Cahill Novel
Matt Coyle
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
www.oceanviewpub.com
9781608091492, $26.95, www.amazon.com

A decade ago in Santa Barbara someone murdered Colleen Cahill. The media and the police suspected her husband Rick, then a cop. Though never convicted of any crime, feeling guilty over their estranged relationship before her death, and well aware his brothers and sisters in blue treat him as a pariah they never will be back-up, Rick resigned. He became a La Jolla private investigator working for former LJPD detective Bob Reitzmeyer mostly handling cases in which clients seek proof of cheating spouses.

Eight years ago, then eighteen year old Randall Eddington was convicted of bludgeoning to death with a golf club his parents and sister. However recently new evidence has surfaced that challenges the proof the San Quentin resident killed his family. Randall's septuagenarian paternal grandparents retain attorney Timothy Buckley and want Rick to verify the validity of the new information. Knowing he may lose his PI job due to his boss' law enforcement connection and believing the young man committed the violent massacre; Cahill takes on the case when he learns La Jolla Police Chief Tony Moretti led the Eddington carnage investigation.

The second Cahill mystery (see Yesterday's Echo) is a tense hard-boiled noir that grips readers from the moment the emotionally damaged sleuth takes on the case. Loaded with suspense within a dark atmosphere, Matt Coyle authors a gritty detective thriller with an astonishing finish.

Heat of the Moment
Lori Handeland
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9781250020130, $7.99, www.amazon.com

In Three Harbors, Wisconsin, veterinarian Becca Carstairs fears she is losing her mind when she begins telepathically hearing animals "talking" to her. Perhaps even more frightening is Becca's unwanted attraction to wounded warrior Owen McAlister; as he broke her heart when he left town a decade ago.

Owen knows he hurt Becca badly ten years ago, but though he wants to reconcile, he focuses on recovering from his Afghan war wounds with the help of his BFF Reggie the bomb detection K9. However, Owen is stunned when he and Reggie enter his house to find dead animals in what looks like ritual mutilations. Meanwhile Prudence the wolf saves Becca's life from a deadly assault. While she has no idea why someone wants her dead; supported by their four-legged companions Becca and Owen investigate.

The second Sisters of the Craft romantic urban fantasy (see In The Air Tonight) is an exhilarating coming of witch age paranormal thriller; as the two human and three animal (to include Grenade the kitty) leads come together in an overall exciting paranormal. Though appearances by the stars of previous series will please the author's fans and hint at wider implications in the Handeland world; they add little to the good (women learning their DNA contain previously dormant witchcraft, and the loyal men and animals dedicated to keep them safe) and evil (hunters and probably much worse) plot.

A Duke but No Gentleman
Alexandra Hawkins
St. Martin's Paperbacks
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9781250064721, $7.99

Though best friends, their competiveness at everything also makes the Duke of Blackbern and Marquess Norgrave heated rivals in which all third parties beware of the fallout. By 1792 Norgrave fears he lost the game to his long-time foe.

They never competed for the innocent until now. Desperate to regain the edge he believes he lost, Norgrave bets Blackbern that he will have sex with virgin Lady Imogene Sunter first. Though he has some qualms about this amoral wager, Blackbern reluctantly accepts the bet as he cannot allow his buddy to win. As the wastrels seduce Imogene, she finds both attractive. However, Blackbern does the unthinkable when he falls in love with the stake while Norgrave obsesses over "owning" the stake.

Though bets have been used too frequently in historical romances, in this Georgian it feels fitting as an impetus of love; and psychopathic rage of rape and beating (of innocent Lady Charlotte). Not for everyone, as the villain, who makes the Lords of Vice seem like aristocratic paragons, "do not go gently into the good night" (Dylan Thomas).

The Devil Wears Spurs
Soraya Lane
St. Martin's Paperbacks
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9781250060082, $7.99

At a Texas rodeo, used to getting his way with women and horses, following the title run ultra-wealthy star performer Ryder is stunned when Chloe rejects his asking her out. However, her drunken friend Shelby gives him Chloe's number. Chloe tells "the hottest cowboy in Texas" that she might change her mind if he plays his cards right. Not long afterward, he informs his older brother that he just accepted a challenge from a non-groupie.

In that same evening, Ryder loses his ranch in a poker game. In shock as he always wins, Ryder is in disbelief at two strikeouts. Thus he accepts Chloe's proposal that she win back his spread in return for his paying her law school costs. Chloe and Ryder head to Vegas where the daughter of a professional card-player prepares for high stakes games of poker and love.

The first Texas Kings contemporary is an entertaining romance that takes readers from an earthy rodeo and ranch to the glitter of the Vegas night lights. The lead couple's jocular bluffs and calls make for a fine read; as the protagonists are unaware that the real ante in the game of love is the king and queen of hearts.

Beyond The Cut: Sinner's Tribe Motorcycle Club
Sarah Castile
St. Martin's Paperbacks
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9781250056610, $7.99

In Conundrum, Montana, three years have passed since Dawn Delgado was no longer Devil's Brethren MC biker Jimmy "Mad Dog" Sanchez's old lady. For the safety of her kids she left the man she once thought saved her from the street; but he proved more abusive and dangerous to her and the girls than those she knew from her previous outdoor lifestyle. Though physically she escaped from Mad Dog's hell, he uses her unhappy seven years old twins (Maia and Tia) to control her; while his odious sister Shelly-Ann demands money for Dawn to see her children.

Sinner tribe MC Cade "Raider" Tyson observes an incident involving Dawn, the kids and the former sisters-in-law at the twins' school. He becomes irate when Shelly-Ann uses the kids as pawns to extract money from financially strapped Dawn. Attracted to Dawn, as she is to him, Cade wants to protect the three females; but also knows the price could be his Sinner's Tribe status.

The second Sinner's Tribe Motorcycle Club (see Rough Justice) is an exciting Big Sky biker romantic suspense. The characters make for an appealing tale; as the good "bad" biker (Cade) confronts the bad wicked aunt (Shelly-Ann) and the ugly biker (Jimmy) over three damsels in distress.

At His Service
Suzanne Rock
St. Martin's Paperbacks
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9781250059253, $7.99

Exasperated by poor management starting with CEO Marco "Casanova" Perconti, Karin Norell needs to hang on for twelve weeks before she informs the Perconti Hotel leadership to "take this job and shove it" (Johnny Paycheck) up their dumb affluent butts. Once she obtains her hospitality degree, frustrated Karin plans to quit, but will do her best even if ideas from staff like her die in unopened voice mail.

Everyone is on edge with the General, Marco's demanding older brother Leo, arriving at the Boston hotel. The penthouse suite Leo will stay in was trashed last night by another brother "Martini". Trapped in the penthouse following a last second cleaning, Karin overhears Marco begging Leo for money for the hotel, but the General says no. After the sibling meeting, Leo sees Karin and assumes Marco sent her. Though she should retreat, they share sex in the tub and elsewhere. When Marco's female "gift arrives, Karin begs Leo not to fire her as she flees. Distracted Leo wonders who she is while Karin now knows why her friend Wes risks all for trysts with a Perconti even as the paparazzi sharks gather for the kill.

The first Playboys of Boston contemporary is an enjoyable romance though the premise has been done numerous times (see the Lopez-Fiennes movie Maid In Manhattan). There is some redundancy that affirms this originally were e-books serialization. Suzanne Rock brilliantly captures the hotel's hierarchy in which the actual value of an idea is equal to its worth and as critical the level of its highest supporters (paraphrasing one of Putt's Laws).

The Unlikely Lady
Valerie Bowman
St. Martin's Paperbacks
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9781250042095, $7.99

In 1816 London, to her mother's chagrin, Jane Lowndes prefers a book to meeting eligible gentlemen. To attend her friend Cass Monroe wedding to new Earl Julian Swift (see The Accidental Countess) in Surrey without the bothersome of a chaperone, Jane invents Mrs. Bunbury.

Still rebounding from the Napoleonic Wars, Lord Garrett Upton prefers a life of rakish no responsibility except sending money to the mother of a friend who died in combat. He looks forward to Julian's party but loathes the bluestocking pain in the butt Miss Jane Lowndes who also will be there. Having survived war, Garrett figures he could deal with this adversary for a sennight. At the gala, a kiss stuns Jane and Julian. However, as each reassesses their new found allure towards their loathsome foe, Garrett learns "no good deed goes unpunished" (Clare Booth Luce).

The third amusing Playful Brides Regency (see The Unexpected Duchess) is another lighthearted madcap romance starring beloved enemies falling in love. Though their change from arguing like cats and dogs to intense attraction feels abrupt, this is a pleasurable jocular historical.

Lawless In Leather
Melanie Scott
St. Martin's Paperbacks
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9781250040411, $7.99

Three jocks ((Alex Winters (see The Devil In Denim), Lucas Angelo (see Angel in Armani) and Malachi Coulter)) saw their college baseball careers go up in smoke when they were injured rescuing people from a fire in Queens. Years later, the three buy the failing New York Saints baseball team.

Seeking good publicity, Alex the businessman establishes the Fallen Angels cheerleading squad to the chagrin of veteran Mal and the neutrality of physician Lucas. Whereas Mal insists there is no room for a professional cheering squad outside of fans in baseball, Alex shockingly hires Madam R burlesque club owner Reina Easton as the head Angel. He may not want her as a dancer, but Mal knows he wants Reina as a lover. Though attracted to her recalcitrant boss, Reina refuses to let Mal get to first base let alone a walk-off homerun together.

The third New York Saints thrilling baseball romance stars two interesting protagonists who bring their best Mariano Rivera cutters to the game of love. Fast-paced, the fine storyline needs more sports, but contains delightful dueling Nolan Ryan heat.

In The Air Tonight
Lori Handeland
St. Martin's Paperbacks
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9781250020123, $7.99

Four hundred years ago in Scotland, King James' Chief Witch Hunter Roland McHugh and two of his Venatore Mali subordinates accuse Prudence and Henry Taggert of sacrificing innocent people in order to birth the devil's spawn. Pious people know that multiple births like the Taggert triplets can only happen if the devil enables evil. As the parents face their funeral pyre, they cast one last spell that leaves three men holding empty blankets that a moment earlier contained their female babies.

An investigation into a murder by an apparent serial killer sends New Orleans homicide detective Bobby Doucet to New Bergin, Wisconsin where a similar killing occurred. He soon finds an obsessed lunatic who wants to kill schoolteacher Raye Larsen. Bobby wants to know why Raye, whose dark hair and eyes make her look like an outsider amidst the blonde-blue Scandinavian community. Already concealing her unique ability to communicate with ghosts after overhearing her adopted father's concerns when she was a child, Raye begins to learn that her unknown heritage leaves her and two previously unaware of siblings at risk.

The first Sisters of the Craft romantic urban fantasy is a thrilling opening act as Lori Handeland deftly merges ghosts, serial killer, detecting, love and much more into an exhilarating storyline. Although Bobby's role takes too long to gel, readers will relish this suspenseful thriller due to the bewildered heroine struggling to accept each new revelation that drains her emotionally at a time when she needs diligent alertness to stay alive.

The Last True Vampire
Kate Baxter
St. Martin's Paperbacks
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.stmartins.com
9781250053763, $7.99

Hundreds of years ago, claiming the Fate ordained their extinction mission, the Sortiari hunters committed genocide of the Ancient Ones after torturing each of their enemy. The brutalized Last True Vampire to die from the stake Mikhail instead survives when the sharpened spike fails to strike directly into his heart.

In present day Los Angeles, Michael Aritsov remains tormented by what happened centuries ago to his species. Wallowing in self-pity and abject loneliness, Michael gave up on life and ignores his duty to the hybrid Dhampir who desperately need him and though he pretends otherwise he needs them too.

On her own since she was sixteen, Claire Thompson works as a waitress who reluctantly supplements her income with pickpocketing and pool hustling. Needing cash to pay the rent on her dump after giving away her money to her young neighbor, Claire selects Michael as her target. Instead he marks her as his savior mate from the first sniff of her blood. While most Dhampir rejoice, the horrified Sortiari realize a true Vampire exists.

The first Last True Vampire urban fantasy romance is a terrific opening act that introduces the audience to Kate Baxter's awesome paranormal spin of Southern California. The First Couple's behavior leads readers wanting to kick both their butts until he finds her (relatively early) and she finds acceptance of him (much later); their relationship eventually endears them to the subgenre audience and most Dhampir. However, it is Baxter's world with its competing final solutions that make for an exciting thriller with more to come.
The Islanders

Pascal Garnier; Emily Boyce (translator)
Gallic Books
59 Ebury Street, London, England, SW1W ONZ
www.gallicbooks.com
9781908313720, $13.95, www.amazon.com

Just a few days before Christmas in -17 degrees weather, Olivier Verdier's mother dies in Versailles. All the recovering alcoholic could think of is that she still is a pain in the ass even in death as her burial must wait until after the holiday; while he wants to return home to his wife in Nice. A snow storm adds to Olivier's misery.

While at his mom's pad, Olivier runs into neighbor Jeanne Mangin, a schoolteacher for two decades. Twenty-five years earlier in Le Chesnay when they were teens, the cops considered Olivier and Jeanne as the prime suspects in the murder of a child she babysat. She tells him that her mother and the twins died in an accident, and she lives with her blind brother Rodolphe whose only respite from his internal rage is the Louvre. At the same time that the deja vu relationship dynamics boil over, needing shelter from the unbearable weather, homeless Roland Toutin enters the out of control orbit.

This translation of a Pascal Garnier French middle class tragedy is another superb character-driven dark novella from an author who consistently provides insightful looks at the underbelly of human interactivity. Filled with mocking graveyard humor and anticipation that things will only turn worse, this like in his previous works I read (see The A26, The Front Seat Passenger, Moon in a Dead Eye, The Panda Theory and How's the Pain?) is why Monsieur Garnier has become one of my favorite auteurs.

Hope Harbor
Irene Hannon
Revell
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
www.bakerbooks.com
9780800724528, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Since the death of his wife eighteen months ago, Michael Hunter wallows in self-pity and loathing of God. Taking two months leave from St. Joseph Center not for profit, Michael drives almost non-stop from Chicago to his seaside destination, his late spouse's hometown Hope Harbor, Oregon. Tired and frustrated to learn his motel is closed due an electrical fire, when he steps onto a street without looking Michael causes a cyclist to crash to avoid hitting him. At Charley's food truck, Anna Williams thinks the stranger looks remarkably like someone she has not seen in two decades; thus the sexagenarian offers Michael a place to stay.

Bruised from her bike crash caused by the daydreaming pedestrian, Widow Tracy Campbell blames God for the death of her late husband and ignoring her furtive prayers. At her family's 80 acres farm Hope Harbor Cranberries, Tracy, works alongside her uncle on the 20% of their spread dedicated to cranberries. She also provides accounting services and volunteers at Helping Hands. After their first encounter, the widow and widower find commonality in their anger towards God and their grief. With help of townsfolk like Anna, Charley and her uncle; Michael and Tracy begin to move on from their respective deep loss as their broken spirits mend and restore their trust in God and in love.

This leisurely-paced inspirational second chance at faith, life and love is an engaging contemporary ironically due to the newcomer's invigorating impact on the townsfolk though they affect him even more than he does them. Containing humor mostly from Floyd the seagull and mysteriousness (Charley's perceptiveness and Anna's past), readers will enjoy visiting coastal Oregon with mostly Michael, Tracy and Anna as our guides.

Once Upon A Summertime
Melody Carlson
Revell
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
www.bakerbooks.com
9780800723576, $14.99

Anna Gordon's goal used to be to manage a major Manhattan hotel. Although she obtained her Masters in Hotel Management thanks to her Grandma, dumping her dream Anna is far from the Big Apple as she runs the Value Lodge in her hometown Springville. She runs into her best friend Marley Ferris who took leave from her international flight attendant job to help her parents manage Lou's Cafe while her mom recovers from back surgery. Marley sends a text to her brother Max to ask Vincent Newman if he would hire Anna to work at the Rothsberg of SoHo Hotel. Her decision to go or stay is out of hands when the Value Lodge owners dismiss her for doing her job when she fired their worthless nephew and his girlfriend.

She realizes during the day manager position interview that Vincent will not hire her as she just lost two years of references and has limited experience otherwise. In the bathroom, Anna meets Vincent's wife Denise who hires her as the housekeeping manager. Soon after that Anna meets the new head manager Sean O'Neil who also comes from Springville. As Sean and Anna work together, they fall in love; but fraternization is against the hotel's rules.

This New York romance is a pleasant contemporary starring a competent caring female, a very nice capable male, the hotel staff and the City. Readers will appreciate the first Follow Your Heart tale although the climax seems sudden.

Love's Rescue
Christine Johnson
Revell
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
www.bakerbooks.com
9780800723507, $14.99

In 1846 Key West, Elizabeth Benjamin loves wrecker Rourke O'Malley, but he is not what her parents want for her as her father believes the man a dangerous scoundrel beneath their social status. Instead they expect her to go to Charleston to make a high society match. Abetted by her brother Charlie, Elizabeth sneaks out to see her beloved; but a storm leaves her sibling crippled.

Four years later, escorted by Aunt Virginia exiled Elizabeth comes home following the death of her mother. Feeling guilt over failing her mom by not being the dutiful daughter and for what happened to Charlie, Elizabeth vows to achieve the goal her mom set for her. However, when their ship crashes onto the reef, Rourke and his crew arrive only his smelling of jasmine warns him Elizabeth is back. At her house, her sanctimonious father still believes Rourke is a pirate, acrimonious Charlie hates her, and the servants treat her with disdain. When Elizabeth learns the truth about her family, she considers deserting them for the love of her wrecker, but fears the consequences on them.

This Keys of Promise Antebellum romance is a fascinating Key West historical. The wreckers and the heroine's family provide solid anchors in terms of time and place, but the plot never dives into deep waters. However, this is Elizabeth's tale as she will hurt someone she cherishes with her Hobson's choice between love for a forbidden wrecker and love for her family.

Oathkeeper
J.F. Lewis
Pyr
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
www.prometheusbooks.com
9781633880542, $18.00, www.amazon.com

The Eldrennai created the Aern as slave warriors to defend the master race against the feral Zaur. Over seemingly endless time, the Aern eventually became freed but also remained Grudgebearers sworn to their oath to protect the Eldrennai.

Six centuries of peace between the races end when war breaks out between the Zaur and Eldrennai; at a time when the latter's oathbearer defenders rage at the recent affronts by their former masters. Whereas the Zaur remains with the same leadership; Rae'en replaces her late father Kholster as the Aern First knowing the Oath no longer exists with her father's passing enabling her to avenge his death against the Eldrennai; who also has a new leader Prince Rivvek if he completes the Test of Four. Each race seeks outside allies to strengthen their position with hostilities heating up between them.

The second Grudgebearer science fiction tale is a terrific thriller that augments the already superbly constructed Lewis realm with additional profound layers. The cultural and political interactions within a race and between the races and other parties make for an outstanding middle novel though it behooves newbies to start with the first act (see Grudgebearer) to better understand the grudges and oaths of a complex world.

Storm and Steel: The Book of the Black Earth, Part Two
Jon Sprunk
Pyr
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
www.prometheusbooks.com
9781633880108, $18.00, www.amazon.com

In Erugash Horace the ship's carpenter and mage smashed the Temple of the Sun and liberated Queen Byleth (see Blood and Iron) from their power; but also alienated nobles wanting to eliminate his influence with the monarch anyway possible. However, Horace failed to eliminate the Sun Cult priests; who fled across the border into Akeshia. There they obtain allies in an invasion of Erugash.

Ignoring the threats that remain to her rule from outside the kingdom and from within her palace, Queen Byleth orders her royal mage to viciously destroy a slave rebellion led by Horace's best friend Jirom and the latter's lover. Horace pleads with his liege to seek a peaceful solution at a time when he struggles with his sorcery and with a rash of magical mysterious murders from an unknown source.

The second Book of the Black Earth is an electrifying fantasy due to the ineptness of the lead character who recognizes his failures from a lack of magical control, lack of finesse within the royal court and lack of understanding of his love for Alyra. Horace wants to sail away from his responsibilities to this foreign culture and its enigmatic queen that he cannot comprehend; eliminate his unwanted magic that he cannot comprehend; and run away from love that he cannot comprehend. In the immortal words of the late comedian Joe E. Lewis: "Show me a friend in need and I'll show you a pest."

Virtues Of War
Bennett R. Coles
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 OUP, UK
www.titanbooks.com
9781783294206, $14.95, www.amazon.cm

Terran Astral Forces Captain of the Rapier Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane assigns Lieutenant Katja Emmes to lead a strike force of nine on an assault of Cerberus with no Corps backup. Emmes and her crew successfully complete the mission when they assassinate the target, a Centauri spy.

Thinking her military dad would be pleased with her first kill; Emmes' elation proves short-lived when the attack ignites hostilities between Terran and the Centauri colonies. Surprisingly, Centauri's military technology contains advance weaponry that quickly impairs the Terran' generals from achieving their expected quick victory and subsequent glory. Instead the war leaves many civilians dead from targeted kills and collateral damage; while many military grunts die or are maimed in combat. Stunned by the horrors of war, Emmes reconsiders her initial goal to earn her dad's approval.

This is a tremendous military science fiction that brilliantly combines awesome battles with a profound look at people on both sides of the conflict (more so the Terrans) especially their motives, goals and fears. The action-packed storyline looks into the hearts and minds of leaders whose personal objectives of fame and fortune often supersede their side's vision; and that of expendables (sacrificial military pawns and throwaway civilians) whose personal goal is to survive the battles with no loss of limbs supersede their side's vision too. Readers will appreciate this superb outer space thriller

Beauty & The Beast: Some Gave All
Nancy Holder
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 OUP, UK
www.titanbooks.com
9781783292202, $14.95, www.amazon.com

As her relationship with J.T. Forbes teeters, NYPD Captain Tess Vargas focuses on the mauled deaths of six people that appear to be beast related. Tess' lead detective on the serial killings case Catherine Chandler accompanies her lover Dr. Vincent Keller on a visit to dying Maurice Riley who recently buried his daughter Roxanne Lafferty, Delta Force soldier who died in Afghanistan. While chatting with the grieving Maurice, Tess contacts Cat to tell her to get to the scene of the seventh victim. Maurice shows the pair a letter he received from the Freedom Fighters of New York that claims Roxanne is alive but incarcerated by a nefarious group whose experiments changed her into a monster.

In the Bronx, Cat investigates the murder of eight year old Aliyah Patel's guardian Aunt Indira by a "monster" who invaded their home. The traumatized child has become mute and unable to cooperate. Cat feels an affinity to the frightened tweener as she knows firsthand what she child is going through. Vincent personally knows what it feels like to turn into an out of control berserker beast; speculating he asks his friend J.T. if he thought Lafferty is behind the rage homicides.

The second Beauty and the Beast urban fantasy mystery (see Vendetta) is an entertaining adaptation of the TV series in which relationships and even somewhat the title characters' adversaries take a back seat to the investigations. The cases engage the audience and the metamorphosis of veteran Keller, especially summed up by a late threat, adds tension.

Re-enter Fu-Manchu
Sax Rohmer
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 OUP, UK
www.titanbooks.com
9780857686145, $9.95, www.amazon.com

In London Peter Wellington hires American Brian Merrick to work under Sir Denis Nayland Smith who is away on a dangerous overseas mission. Ebullient Merrick looks forward to the job having met Nayland Smith at his father the US Senator's home two years ago.

In a much lesser of two evils Hobson's choice, Nayland Smith's current objective is to prevent the apparently resurfaced after years in hiding Fu-Manchu from achieving his first step to world domination: gaining control of China from the Communists. As the trail leads to Egypt and Manhattan; Wellington, Merrick and their American allies fear Nayland Smith has been out in the cold too long in his obsessive pursuit to stop Fu-Manchu or has been diabolically replaced by their fiendish adversary.

Though over the top (as usual for this series), this Fu-Manchu early Cold War thriller (see The Shadow of Fu Manchu) is an exciting pulp fiction that provides an intense glimpse of a world on the cusp of nuclear winter. Fast-paced from the moment Merrick obtains the job, the story line never slows down until after the final confrontation. Series fans will appreciate this entertaining entry as Fu-Manchu's foes abandon the official Kennan's containment policy while fearing their field leader is an enemy replacement.

The Queen Of The Swords
Michael Moorcock
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 OUP, UK
www.titanbooks.com
9781783291670, $9.95, www.amazon.com

After defeating the Knight of the Swords Arioch, but also grieving his loss of family due to the Mabden massacre, personal mutilation at their evil hands, and a body part replacement with a Silver Hand; Vadhagh Prince Corum wants to spend the rest of his life in peace with his Rhalina. However Chaos will not allow the Eternal Champion any respite. Instead Arioch's sister the Queen of the Swords Xiombarg is expected to destroy Corum, Rhalina and anyone allied with them.

The Eternal Champion's companion Jhary the Conel warns Corum that he cannot rest on his laurels, but instead must take the fight to the Queen of the Swords to save his world. Thus Jhary, a weary Corum and Rhalina enter hellish regions where Chaos has superseded the order of Law; lands dominated by Xiombarg.

The reprint of the enthralling middle Corum Eternal Champion sword and sorcery thriller is a Dante-like journey. The gripping freshness comes from the perilous trek into what Chaos has wrought though the confrontation is similar to that of the first novel.

Judgement Day
Andrew Neiderman
Pocket Star Ebook
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
www.pocketbooks.com
97814767929341, $1.99, www.amazon.com

In New York City, the Simon and James law firm names superstar attorney Warner Murphy a partner though he has been with them just a few years. The young lawyer plans to celebrate with his wife and daughter. However, he is alone in their luxurious Upper East Side apartment when a delivery person arrives. The newcomer forces Murphy to jump from the twentieth story patio in what looks like a suicide.

Not long after Murphy's deadly leap, John "Satan" Milton obtains a legal position at Simon and James as their new hotshot. Milton deploys his plans for the city, starting with his new job of defending the guilty and winning every time. Meanwhile, everyone else insists this is a tragedy for the Murphy family; NYPD Detective Matthew Blake finds anomalies, starting with a lack of a motive to kill himself especially at the victim's happiest moment.

As this is the prequel to The Devil's Advocate focusing on the pre steps leading to the establishment of the John Milton & Associates law firm, readers obviously know the outcome from having read the first novel or seen the Pacino movie. Still, Andrew Neiderman displays his talent as he turns the storyline into an electrifying good (Blake) and evil (Milton) urban fantasy legal thriller.

Silver Spurs
Miralee Ferrell
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
www.cookministries.com
9780781411134, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Due to extended unemployment, teenager Kate Ferris' parents moved the family from Spokane to her late maternal Grandpa Cooper's farm in ODell, Oregon. In her new home, her dream of A Horse for Kate soon comes true. Now, Kate wishes that her BFF Tori Velasquez also obtains a horse of her own.

To raise money for Tori's horse, Kate, assisted by her best friend, takes on boarders. The work is difficult, but made exponentially more stressful when the school's queen of mean Melissa brings her horse to stay at the Ferris barn and compete in a contest in which the winner receives Silver Spurs.

Tweeners, especially those who previously read A Horse for Kate, will relish the second Horses and Friends inspirational tale because each of the lead female trio comes across as genuine with differing personalities emphasized by how they relate with one another and with their horses. Kate keeps the plot focused as she pursues what she wants now while asking God to intervene or at least guide her to her goal; but Melissa steals the show.

London Tides
Carla Laureano
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
www.cookministries.com
9781434708229, $14.99

After ten years away from London and her beloved Ian MacDonald covering hot spots as a photojournalist, Irishwoman Grace Brennan left the field to come home. She lost her incentive when an explosion killed her over eager partner Brian in front of her in Syria. Suffering from PTSD made worse by survival guilt and self-accusation because as the experienced member Grace knows she should have reined Brian in. Thus Grace caught the plane to Great Britain rather than Aleppo.

Taking pictures of the Thames, Grace sees Ian amongst a crew. Once considered an Olympian prospect, Ian gave up everything he cherished for his Grace who abandoned him for Los Angeles and then the world. Grace hopes Ian forgives her enough to be her friend at a time she needs him; but also knows she was not there for him when she should have been at least honest if not supportive of his dreams.

The second MacDonald Family drama (see Five Days in Skye) is a captivating tale mostly because of the insightful look at emotionally battered Grace. She left love behind ten years ago filled with energy and enthusiasm; but now back suffering mentally from what she saw especially on her last assignment. Even with Ian putting Grace through a ringer to prove she will stay, he seems too forgiving and trusting after what he gave up for her.

Justified
Varina Denman
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
www.cookministries.com
9780781412162, $14.99

In Trapp, Texas, pregnant Fawn Blaylock knows she needs help as a soon to be single mom. However except for her "Jaded" remaining friend Ruthie Turner, Fawn distrusts everyone who should care about her and her unborn son. Her affluent rancher parents and the members of the church she and her family belong to pressure her to wed the father of her child, Tyler Cruz; but she has doubts since she knows first-hand the dark side of her former boyfriend.

When Fawn attended the funeral of Tyler's dad Byron, she gave her former lover renewed hope to persuade her to give him a second chance. Still she remains steadfast in her refusal because she believes he will never change into a responsible family man. Her angry family disowns her and her soon to be born baby for her sin; on the other hand the town high school football coach JohnScott and his kin befriend her.

The second Mended Hearts Christian romance is a wonderful inspirational starring a "fallen" woman and a hero who needs to protect mother and baby. Having lost her faith by how her hypocritical parents and the congregation she has known all her life excommunicate her, Fawn finds hope and support with JohnScott and his caring family. Though it behooves the audience to start with Jaded as much of how far from grace Fawn has fallen is written in book one (plus the tale of Ruthie and Dodd), readers will appreciate the saga of a second pariah finding the love of God and a good caring man

Jack Staples and The Poet's Storm
Mark Batterson and Joel N. Clark
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
www.cookministries.com
9781434707321, $14.99

So much has happened in a very short time to the three young friends since the scales fell from their eyes; enabling newly Awakened Jack Staples, Alexia Dreager and Arthur Greaves to truly see. Their elderly teacher Mrs. Dumphry informed Jack and Alexia that each is The Child of Prophecy who will lead the Awakened against the Assassin and his horde; and that Arthur is the Lightning Dancer (see Jack Staples and the Ring Of Time).

Barely escaping on flying animals from the City of Shadows (see Jack Staples and the City of Shadows), the trio, their mentor and dwindling allies have no time to rest as the Assassin, his horde of 10,000 troops and the rapidly expanding Darkness pursue them. A short respite at an oasis ends with their hosts fleeing or transforming into evil when the Darkness engulfs the locale as fawn and fauna must choose between the Assassin and the Author. Losing all faith in winning the Last Battle, mentally and physically exhausted Jack teeters on the brink of surrender. His sister Alexia struggles with guilt for leaving behind in the City of Shadows her Gang of Rogues friends and an obsession to rescue her mom whom she though was dead. Only Arthur having taken the critical Poet's Coffer from the Assassin provides a glimmer of hope.

The final Jack Staples (Alexia Dreager and Arthur Greaves) saga provides a stunning finish to an excellent Christian good and evil fantasy. Fast-paced throughout the tremendous trilogy, tweeners will anticipate the High Noon showdown between the Author and the Assassin while wondering which of the Children of Prophecy will go dark.

Palace Of Treason
Jason Matthews
Scribner
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
www.simonsays.com
9781476793740, $26.99, www.amazon.com

Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (Sluzhba Veshney Razvedki - SVR) Captain Dominika Egorova is a special double agent working for the Americans. Her synesthesia perceptions make her very valuable because she "reads" a person's inner secrets and much more. Recently Dominika gained access to Putin's most inner sanctum of advisors to the euphoria for what she can do for his country and fear for her safety by her American handler (and lover) Nate Nash.

In Vienna, Iranian nuclear scientist Dr. Parvis Jamshidi informs Nate and Dominika of his country's bomb-making ambitions. The two lovers try to defuse Iran's nuke efforts. Learning from a CIA mole about seditious acts by Russians, SVR operative Alexei Zyuganov plans to dish out vicious deaths to the traitors Lieutenant General Mikhail Solovyov and Egorova, and anyone abetting them.

Filled with the rare combo of violence and torture on one hand, and cerebral analysis and plans on the other, the second Egorova-Nash spy thriller (see Red Sparrow) is a terrific taut tale. The fully developed cast and settings make this work; as the heroes cope with odious abominations and political ambitious hacks in key positions. Local recipes add a sense of geography though my stomach tells me to read a few romances before trying them.

Clockwork Crown
Beth Cato
Harper Voyager
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
www.harpercollins.com
9780062313980, $14.99, www.amazon.com

Fleeing through the treacherous Kingdom of Caskentia, Medican Octavia Leander feels euphoric that she so far survived the assassination attempts and have not seen a killer in a few days, and her lover Alonzo Garrett the former Clockwork Dagger rides with her. On the other hand she fears what is going on in her life as her growing magical power feels out of control; assassins relentlessly pursue her to kill her before she crosses into the most southern part of the peninsula the Southern Nations where Garrett's family reside; and her beloved placed his life in peril for her.

However before seeking the safety of the Southern Nations the pair also searches for information re the Lady and her Tree, the source of Octavia's new found and rapidly increasing power. They know the answers Octavia needs probably lies in the extremely hostile Dallows better known by everyone as the Waste one should never voluntarily enter; a province where rebellion against the Kingdom of Caskentia has been brutal.

The second Clockwork fantasy (The Clockwork Dagger) is an exciting twisting entry with a gripping, major surprising spin. Beth Cato deftly balances insight into the beleaguered Medican's growing skills with a bloody rebellion, and old and new adversaries.

Beyond Redemption
Michael R. Fletcher
Harper Voyager
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
www.harpercollins.com
9780062387035, $15.99

Geborene Damonen High Priest Konig has begun the final countdown to creating a God who obeys only him. Fearing Doppels will pull a switch Konig directs his followers to protect Morgen the child he prepares to sacrifice into the Afterdeath and convert into his obedient deity.

A thief compelled to steal; a once mighty warrior seeking atonement through a final robbery; and a charismatic psychopath always ensnaring followers to destroy kidnap the future God-child. However the trinity differs on what to do with the abductee. Irate by the affront to the God-making priest by these infidels, raging Konig sends his deadliest horde (the arsonist Hassebrand, shapeshifters and the dead) to assassinate the heretics and bring the lad back for the conversion.

With a timely nod to Dante's Inferno, this extremely dark satirical theocratic fantasy grips readers to "... Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" with a grim world vision filled with lunatics running the asylum; as the pursuit of delusion supersedes reality. Numerous forms of mental illness run prevalent but exaggerated to a shocking extreme. This enables the most insane dedicated true believers to go solo or collective with fellow righteous pilgrims to seek powers ultimately to rule the Afterdeath heaven (or hell).

Dead Dog Like Me
Max Davis
Worthy Publishing
134 Franklin Road, Suite 200, Brentwood, TN 37027
www.worthypublishing.com
9781617955242, $15.99, www.amazon.com

Megachurch pastor Nick Gregory blames himself that his son Philip committed suicide, his daughter Carlee hates him and his wife Abbi left him because he lost his way. Adding to his mental disarray, his Grace Life Church flock wants to abandon him as he did them and likewise he believes God did the same to him. His publisher demands the book they paid a hefty advance and he cannot sleep without nightmares. Wallowing in guilt and despair, Nick considers joining Philip, but hungry Deuce intervenes with a need for food. However, not paying attention, Nick runs over Deuce who had the sin of loving him and his family; just one more reason for Carlee to hate him. Unable to cope Nick drives his Escalade into a cement pylon.

When he awakens, he no longer is in twenty-first century DC; or even in his body. Instead his mind resides inside King Saul's crippled grandson Mephibosheth, circa 800 BC. Mistreated by guards, who bring him to King David, a confused Nick begins seeing parallels between his life and that of his current host, a broken lost soul; leading Nick to think Mephibosheth is a "Dead Dog Like Me." That is until he wakes up confused from an induced coma in a hospital.

Dead Dog Like Me is a remarkable Christian drama that looks at how far a person can fall when they lose their way (faith), and seek atonement and a merciful second chance with God, family and believers. The juxtaposition of Mephibosheth and Gregory make for a captivating tale though more insight into the life of Saul's grandson would have enhanced the plot; hopefully Max Davis does a sequel reversing who morphs into whom.

Redemption Bay
RaeAnne Thayne
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373785063, $7.99, www.amazon.com

Five years ago, following the death of his father and just before he left his hometown permanently Ben Kilpatrick shut down his family factory in Haven Point, Idaho. Two hundred residents lost their jobs. Current Mayor McKenzie Shaw knows her beloved Haven Point has not recovered economically from what the pariah did.

His techie partner Aidan Caine (see Snow Angel Cove) insisted affluent businessman Ben return to a place he hates almost as much as the townsfolk loath him. Though he doubts this is the right spot, Ben considers whether Haven Point should be the locale for their new hi tech venture. Reluctantly McKenzie must eat her spittle and sell their town to the man who nuked the economy. After their opening war of words, neither McKenzie nor Ben expected to fall in love, but two dogs knowing no human boundaries thought otherwise.

The latest Haven Point Gem State contemporary is a delightful small town drama due to the colorful locals like the former Mayor. Though the storyline starts slow, once the cast is set and the gloves come off; the bout between the protagonists balances jocularity with serious economic and social issues, and romance.

In Too Deep
Kira Sinclair
Harlequin Blaze
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373798568, $5.50

Jackson Duchane, his girlfriend Lorelei Lancaster (see Under the Surface), Asher Reynold, and Knox McLemore filed with the US Government salvage rights to the Civil War wreckage Chimera near the Bahamas. However, Anderson McNair claims their vessel is not the Chimera, but instead another ship so that he owns the salvage rights. All parties involved in the dispute agree to allow a nautical archaeologist determine whether this sunken ship is the Chimera or not.

From the moment Knox sees the expert he feels the heat but relies on his SEAL experience and training to conceal his desire; especially since he assumes Dr. Avery Walsh works for McNair so he distrusts her almost as much as he hates his treacherous body's reaction to her. Using her icy demeanor Walsh also hides her attraction to McLemore. Knox takes Walsh to their ship the Amphitrite in the Caribbean. They soon become embroiled in a drug drop that leaves the pair alone on a deserted island. As they wait rescue and give in to their passion, they each keep secrets that when revealed will nuke their relationship before love can fully blossom.

The latest SEALs of Fortune contemporary is a pleasurable High Seas adventure romance. Leisurely-paced especially with revelations, readers will root for the Doc and the SEAL to reveal their souls on their "Blue Lagoon" retreat.

The Lawman Lassoes a Family
Rachel Lee
Harlequin Special Edition
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373658961, $5.50

A little over a year ago in Texas, Vicki Templeton's husband died in the line of duty. Recently, her persistent Aunt Lena Winston persuades her grieving niece to move in, along with Vicki's four year old daughter Krystal, to her home in Conard County, Wyoming.

Lena's next door neighbor Conard County Sheriff's deputy Dan Casey meets the two female newcomers when he helps unload their van. Vicki is attracted to the kind lawman, but refuses to act on her feelings out of guilt for her late husband and fear what could happen to Krystal if the child gets too attached to Dan whose job places him in peril. Widower Dan understands why Vicki hesitates, but can't comprehend why he wants her (and her daughter) in his life.

The latest Conard County: The Next Generation romance (see A Conard County Baby, The Widow of Conard County and Reuniting with the Rancher) is a charming rural contemporary starring two adults whose spouses passed away. The key to this wonderful Wyoming family drama is the leads place the needs of Krystal before their own desires even as their relationship nicely matures.

Best Man...With Benefits
Nancy Warren
Harlequin Blaze
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373798582, $5.50

At the Hotel Messina on a Southern California barrier island, Amy and Seth are getting married. Her Maid of Honor BFF Lauren Sanger and his Best Man and BFF Jackson Monaghan simply detest each other in spite of the bride and groom pleading with them to play nice. Others in the wedding party led by Willie and the Frat boys, well aware of the animosity, pull a prank in which the best man and the maid of honor share the same hotel room with only one bed.

Instead of killing each other, the enemy combatants share a tryst that has both stunned by the intensity. Lauren and Jackson continue their benefits even after they go home to their different towns while concealing their rendezvous from everyone who knows them. As they fall in love, tremors shake the perfect HEA marriage between Amy and Seth when pragmatic realism supersedes sexual idealism.

As Nancy Warren states in the forward of Best Man...With Benefits this is her riff on Much Ado About Nothing. Filled with humor and shrewd comparisons of relationships, this Wrong Bed entry (see Just One Night) is a delightful contemporary.

The Detective
Adrienne Giordano
Harlequin Intrigue
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373698479, $5.50

While on medical leave from CPD, Chicago homicide detective Brodey Hayward reluctantly agrees to help his Hennings and Solomon private investigator sister Jenna with solving the Jonathan Williams' murder that another cop has lead. He visits Williams' vacant house where the homicide occurred. There he runs into interior designer Alexis Vanderbilt; hired by the widow and mother of three Brenda to renovate the house.

Brodey persuades Lexi to delay her modifications and instead assist him on solving the case. However, determined Lexi fails to heed Brodey's warning of take no risks when she begins sleuthing on her own. This places her in the crosshairs of a cold killer with no compunction to murder a pretty, foolish but intelligent interior designer. Revising his mission from solving a murder to keeping the woman he loves safe, Brodey has never felt this scared even when he worked the nastiest streets of Chicago.

The latest Hennings romantic suspense (see The Marshal, The Defender and The Prosecutor) is an enjoyable investigative novel. The leisurely-paced storyline entertains the audience especially once the inane heroine goes rogue.

Small-Town Secrets
Pamela Tracy
Harlequin Heartwarming
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373367276, $6.50

In Scorpion Ridge, Arizona, Twice Told Tales used bookstore owner Yolanda Sanchez follows the smoke to a woman puffing on a cigarette days before her grand opening. The seasoned smoker states she seeks proof that can only be found in an old history book on the town; Yolanda says she has not unpacked all the books yet. Yolanda thinks of her pragmatic mom who's frugal and all business-like lifestyle she emulated. Just before her mom died, she advised her daughter to follow her dream. Thus with her inheritance she converted the family Victorian into a bookstore. The smoker explains she is staying with relatives, the Ventigmila family who along with the Moore clan founded the town.

Although radically different in demeanor than his employer whom he knew in school, Adam Snapp also left Scorpion Ridge to come home for a parent. He returned when his dad became ill and obtained work renovating Yolanda's home into Twice Told Tales. They become engrossed in the smoker's mystery especially when it shockingly agitates their grandparents and the other elderly who insist the smoking customer died decades ago.

The love subplot takes a backseat to the intriguing enigma of whom the first customer is, the history of the town, and a historiographer's theory of relativity when each person interviewed provides a different perspective to what happened years ago. Leisurely-paced, Pamela Tracy's return to Scorpion Ridge (see What Janie Saw, Katie's Rescue and Holiday Homecoming) is an entertaining romantic mystery.

Siren's Call
Debbie Herbert
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373009473, $5.75

In Bayou La Siryna, Alabama, ever since she entered puberty, males have tripped over their lower heads whenever beautiful Lily Borsage is near; women simply loathe her, holding her responsible instead of their salivating men. Lily conceals her hurt that except for family even her elementary school friends scorn and ostracize her ever since she turned into a sex symbol siren.

After years away, nature photographer and author Nashoba Bowman returns to Bayou La Siryna where he spent summers as a child with his grandfather. He not only ignores Lily, Nash initially fails to recognize the stunned beauty until she confronts him with knowing his eyes and owner of the lips of her first kiss. As Nash eludes her mermaid sex appeal; Lily seeks his love. However, Nash knows what happens to women he loves. Thus he will do anything including staying away from Lily, whose lips still burn his soul. When a stranger threatens his Lily, Nash risks his life to keep safe the woman he has loved ever since that youthful clumsy first kiss.

The third Dark Seas romantic suspense urban fantasy is a delightful thriller due to the conflicting relationship between the protagonists. Although the storyline mirrors that of Lily's sister Jet (see Siren's Treasure) and her cousin Shelby (see Siren's Secret), Debbie Herbert provides subgenre fans with the exciting Siren's Call of love.

Falling for the Bridesmaid
Sophie Pembroke
Harlequin Romance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373743414, $5.99

No longer willing to risk another broken heart, Violet Huntingdon-Cross prefers being the bridesmaid; though attending the marriage of her sister Lady "Daisy Waisy" (see Expecting the Earl's Baby by Jessica Gilmore) hurts due to family disapproval of her single status. Missing the Benefit Concert performance of her father and the Screaming Lemons, Violet heads to the airport to pick up author Tom Buckley; who is writing a biography of her famous musician dad.

Tom and Violet are attracted to each other from that first meeting, but she places barriers to prevent a relationship. Though he believes she feels the same way he does, Tom struggles with persuading a reluctant Violet to take a chance on him.

The key to the third Huntingdon-Cross Summer Weddings (see A Bride for the Runaway Groom by Scarlet Wilson for Rose's tale) is the fully-developed lead characters remain consistent to their respective personality even while their love grows stronger. Filled with drollery and angst, and enhanced by a solid support cast, this is a winning contemporary as true love answers the Bee Gees' question How To Mend a Broken Heart?

The Vampire's Fall
Michele Hauf
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373009466, $5.75

In "haunted" Darkwood, the mysterious stranger Sim accosts Blade Saint-Pierre the vampire with fairy wings. Mentioning the hybrid's craving for demon blood that he hides from everyone especially his caring family, Sim warns Blade that the Denizen grows rapidly and expects them soon to Rage against humanity if not stopped now.

One week later in Tangle Lake, amnesiac Zenia arrives; knowing she is not human, but confused over what she is. Blade sniffs demons as three accost Zen. He prevents the evil from abducting her while wondering what species she is. On a knowledge walk pursuing her Destiny, Zen has no time for her rescuer and wannabe protector even if he is a hunk she wants. Still Blade makes her feel a bit safe while he needs to shield her as his internal demon alert system is on high especially when near Zen. As they fall in love, someone else has royal plans for the black-blooded Zen.

The third Saint-Pierre urban fantasy romance (see Moonlight and Diamonds, and Ghost Wolf) is an intriguing suspense starring a mixed race hero and a beautiful enigma. The paranormal entertains due ironically to the mysterious lead female, who suffers from overused amnesia and equally commonplace a destiny quest in which her odd behavior make her twin afflictions seem genuine.

The Surgeon and the Cowgirl
Heidi Hormel
Harlequin American
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373755738, $5.50

Rationalizing that his feelings are out of concern for his very young patients especially Alex, pediatric surgeon Dr. Payson MacCormack is angry at the child's mother Karin for placing her son in the Hope's Ride equestrian therapeutic program. He insists to himself that his apprehensions are for the child and not due to his ex-wife and retired rodeo performer Jessie Leigh running the program on her ranch. His fears almost happen when Alex wanders towards an upset horse until Jessie rescues him at the cost of further injuring her bad knee.

Jessie needs Payson's certification to run her Hope's Ride therapy in order to save her ranch. He wants to delay their meeting, but knows the inevitable is coming. Payson soon invests his heart, soul and career in Jessie's program; while both dream of reconciliation built on trust.

The once high school sweethearts disagree with WC Fields' comment: "Never work with animals or children" as each protagonist insist they give you more than you give them even as Alex and Molly steal the show from Jessie and Payson. Heidi Hormel provides a pleasant second chance contemporary filled with plenty of heart.

Course of Action: Crossfire
Lindsay McKenna and Merline Lovelace
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373279234, $5.50

"Hidden Heart" by Lindsay McKenna. The Taliban ambush forced the 12-man Special Forces team to take shelter in a deserted Shinwari village. Several Americans die including Ben Moore and others like Sergeant Dan Taylor are wounded. Before Ben dies, he extracts a vow from Dan to take care of his sister Cait. This is a difficult mission for Dan who secretly loved Cait for years. In a Pearl Harbor hospital, Dan's physical therapist is the woman he promised to protect; but being near her leaves his "secret love became impatient to be free" (Secret Love by Doris Day).

"Desert Heat" by Merline Lovelace. In Oman on a joint medical rescue exercise set up by Prince Malik, Master Sergeant Pete Winborne oversees the test that everyone afterward is proud of the results. Later he attends an opera performance by singer Riley Fairchild whom he met at the wedding of Josh and Aly (see Course Of Action: The Rescue - Jaguar Night) though she gave him freezer burn. When they are kidnapped in Muscat, Pete and Riley rely on each other to survive. As they fall in love, both believe it is the danger rather than their heart.

The third Course of Action military romance duology contains two action-packed storylines showcasing captivating protagonists.

As the Peralta case turns Twitter viral, trusting no one except his spouse Lindsey, Mapstone applies his historian background and his wife's computer skills to investigate. At the same time Maricopa County Sheriff Melton who replaced Peralta after an ugly election asks David to use his historian skills to work a cold case. Meanwhile, a killer whom David may have met just before his encounter with Mann, targets the Mapstone couple with Lindsey taking a bullet.

The eighth David Mapstone Arizona mystery (see The Night Detectives and South Phoenix Rules) is a sensational twisting noir, perhaps the best in this series as the hero lands in one dangerous mess after another. Confused Mapstone struggles between his loyalty to his best friend and the visual proof of his guilt; only to have his emotions further nuked when a brilliant lunatic shoots his beloved Sharon.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer


Laurel's Bookshelf

Two Miles West
Gary Lee Entsminger
Pinyon Publishing
23847 V66 Trail, Montrose, CO, 81403
9781936671304, 16.00, paperback, www.amazon.com

In his first book of poetry, Entsminger takes readers through a time journey. The path he's chosen to follow is rich with imagery I found comforting, enticing, and unflinching as he gently guides us from Bach to bird songs, from ancient visions to modern psalms. Underlying every modern musing is a sense of antediluvian quiet.

A sense of wonder permeates Entsminger's world. "...feathery green leaves / sway / across black culms / as if the wind's / come to town..." Within this world, everything exists in tandem, connected by our similarities and differences. "...in this expanse / of ancient spans / and introspection / we see ourselves / microscopic / in the distance..." Through his words, readers examine the world in every direction, seeing our complicated modern lives with a fresh perspective. A simpler world is out there if only we stop long enough to see it. "...why weren't / we comfortable / with paradise / I make a note / as the cottonwood crackles / where are the angels / we fare no better now / in our interpreted worlds / beneath the higher stars..."

The poems here are lyrical and enlightening, the kind you'll want to reread whenever life turns harsh and dark. Entsminger's thoughts are exceptionally beautiful and highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer


Lorraine's Bookshelf

Irish Touches: Recipes and Traditions
James B. McConville, author
Penfield Books
215 Brown Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52245
9781932043969, $18.95, www.penfieldbooks.com

"Irish Touches: Recipes and Traditions" is a fascinating collection and review of favorite Irish customs, culture, literature, and cuisine, with patches of Irish history, geography, folklore, and even Irish blessings, toasts, and special recipes. The tour of all things Irish is organized into chapter 1: Irish History and Culture, chapter 2: Irish Oral and Written Traditions, chapter 3: The Irish Diaspora, Chapter 4: Irish Revelry, chapter 5: Travel in Ireland, chapter 6: The Irish Experience at Home, and Chapter 7: The Irish Kitchen. The author celebrates his Irish roots and heritage and is genuinely entranced by all things Irish, as will be the reader. Quite admirable and even stunning is the brief but definitive Historical Timeline of Ireland from 3,000 B.C. to 1998 in 13 pages, for a stimulating starter. The first chapter also includes more details about two famous battles, the Battle of Clontarf, and the Battle of the Boyne, as well as many precious bit of information about notable Irish saints, high crosses and other Irish symbols, and also the Irish Wolfhound. Black and white photos showcase famous landmarks and other Irish scenes and people. Many stories of Irish immigrants and famous Irish American authors and composers is included in the Diaspora chapter. All the succeeding chapters adhere to the standard of brevity, entertainment, and exciting descriptions of the many -hued cultural offerings of all things Irish. The chapter on Irish Travel Highlights makes a fine guide to explorations of Ireland, with commentary on Leinster, Munster, Connacht, and Ulster Provinces and more in only 30 pages. Perhaps the most amusing chapter is the one on Irish Revelry, chapter 4, which closes with "Sounds from the Pub: Toasts, Blessings, Curses and Insults!" Home is where the heart is, or in this case, where the author lists Irish American Museums, Heritage, and Cultural Centers, for those who are unable to make the pilgrimage to Ireland itself. This chapter even includes a list of top Irish American movies for St. Patrick's Day! Finally, there is an assortment of genuine Irish recipes for trusty Gaelic favorites, including Boxty, Crubeens, Irish Lamb Stew, Soda Bread, Frumenty and Flummery, Bannocks or Scones, and Shepherd's Pie. The signature saying is "A drop of Irish blood will make up for all the rest..." Here is a fine excursion, a joyous celebration and sampling of all things Irish, to be savored and enjoyed thoroughly.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer


Micah's Bookshelf

Double-Act
Brian McFarlane
Monash University Publishing
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
www.isbs.com
9781922235725, $39.95, 241pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Not many entertainers can boast of careers that lasted successfully for nearly 70 years, but that is what was achieved by Australian actors Googie Withers and John McCallum. Withers acted everything, from brazen murderesses to Lady Bracknell, as well as a broad range of everyman characters, such as blonde nitwits, wartime Resistance workers, lady farmers, and Shakespearean women. McCallum not only performed memorably in all the acting media, but he was also a pioneer ˜producer in Australian television, sending the popular series Skippy the Bush Kangaroo into the far corners of the world. He was also the managing director of a huge theatrical firm, a film director, a playwright, and an author. Just as remarkable was their 62-year marriage, not all that common in the entertainment world, and the way their marriage succeeded is as fascinating as their varied and prolific careers. There were plenty of disagreements along the way, but underlying all was their profound respect for each other's work and a kind of love that was essentially complementary. Together, in professional and personal matters alike, Googie Withers and John McCallum were an unbeatable combination.

Critique: "Double-Act: The Remarkable Lives and Careers of Googie Withers and John McCallum" is an extraordinarily well researched, impressively written, deftly organized, and engagingly presented biography of two truly exceptional and talented people who ultimately and successfully combined competitive acting careers and a marriage. An inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "Double-Act: The Remarkable Lives and Careers of Googie Withers and John McCallum " is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library biography collections.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Ecumenical Quest
Keith Clements
WCC Publications
c/o World Counsel of Churches
http://publications.oikoumene.org
9782825416563, $20.00, 344pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Ecumenical Quest" by British historian, theologian, and ecumenist Keith Clements aims to show how and why for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from the conclusion of his student years in Berlin to his death on the Nazi gallows at Flossenburg, the ecumenical movement was central to his concerns. Of course during these years he fulfilled several distinct roles: academic theologian and teacher, leading protagonist for the Confessing Church, pastor, seminary director, and most dramatically and controversially, a willing participant in the German resistance and the conspiracy to overthrow Hitler. But it is his commitment and active involvement in the ecumenical movement that forms the most continuous thread of his life and activity, and links all his various engagements. Equally, the challenge that he laid down to that movement in his time remains a legacy which has still to be fully claimed by the ecumenical world today.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Ecumenical Quest" is an impressive and valued contribution to the study of the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Very strongly recommended for personal, seminary, community, and academic library Ecumenism and 20th Century Christian History collections in general, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

JavaScript in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself
Phil Ballard
Sams
c/o Pearson Technology Group
801 East 96th Street, #300, Indianapolis, IN 46240-3759
www.mcp.com
9780672337383, $34.99, 398pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Part of the outstanding 'Teach Yourself" series from Sams, n just 24 lessons of one hour or less, "Sams Teach Yourself JavaScript in 24 Hours" will enable the novice computer science student to learn and master the fundamentals of programming using the JavaScript language. Specifically designed for beginners with no previous programming experience, ""Sams Teach Yourself JavaScript in 24 Hours" offers a straightforward, step-by-step approach shows you how to use JavaScript to add a wide array of interactive features and effects to your web pages. Every lesson builds on what you've already learned, giving you a rock-solid foundation for real-world success. Step-by-step instructions carefully walk you through the most common JavaScript programming tasks. Practical, hands-on examples show you how to apply what you learn. Quizzes and exercises help you test your knowledge and stretch your skills. There are a profession of notes and tips pointing out shortcuts and solutions. Those interested can upgrade to the online Learning Lab edition of the paperback edition for just $10 with purchase. Aspiring JavaScript students will be able to use JavaScript to build dynamic, interactive web pages; debug scripts; create scripts that work in all browsers; write clear, reliable, and reusable code; use object-oriented programming techniques; script with the DOM; access JSON data; work with HTML5 and CSS3; leverage the popular jQuery library; control CSS with simple JavaScripts; read and write cookies; use some of the new ECMAScript features today; get started with frameworks such as AngularJS; and build browser add-ons and extensions

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "JavaScript in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself " is especially recommended to the attention of those who have at least a basic understanding of HTML and web page design in general and want to move on to adding some extra interactivity to your pages; those who currently code in another programming language and want to see what additional capabilities JavaScript can add to your armory; and anyone who has never done any computer programming. It should be noted that it would prove useful to browse through an HTML primer before using "JavaScript in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself ", but it is not necessary to be an HTML expert to use JavaScript, but should a basic understanding would be essential. Also available in a Kindle edition ($15.39), "JavaScript in 24 Hours, Sams Teach Yourself " is strongly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Computer Science instructional reference collections.

Oracle Exadata Expert's Handbook
Tariq Farooq, et al.
Addison Wesley
c/o Pearson Technology Group
801 East 96th Street, #300, Indianapolis, IN 46240-3759
www.mcp.com
9780321992604, $54.99, 514pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The "Oracle Exadata Expert's Handbook" is a practical, authoritative, comprehensive technical guide to Oracle Exadata and covers everything from the initial setup, to administration, optimization, tuning, and troubleshooting. the Oracle Exadata Database Machine is being embraced by large-scale users worldwide including governments, the military, corporations, cloud service providers, academia, and anyone who needs extreme performance. Six renowned Oracle technology experts have brought together core technical information, experience, best practices, and insider tips in a concise reference. Covering both 11g and 12c versions of Oracle Exadata software, they deliver hands-on coverage of best practices, setup, migration, monitoring, administration, performance tuning, and troubleshooting. "Oracle Exadata Expert's Handbook" provides a 360-degree overview of the Oracle Exadata Database Machine; efficiently deploy RAC within the Oracle Exadata ecosystem; presents a fully leverage Storage Cell's extraordinary performance, via Offloading, Smart Scans, and Hybrid Columnar Compression; enables the management of Exadata with OEM 12c: perform setup, configuration, asset/target discovery, and day-to-day administration; as well as showing how to tune Oracle Exadata for even better performance; perform Exadata Backup/Recovery/DR with RMAN and Data Guard; migrate to Oracle Exadata from other platforms; use Oracle Exadata with the ZFS Storage Appliance; and consolidate within the Exadata Database Cloud.

Critique: A thoroughly successful and deftly organized instruction manual, "Oracle Exadata Expert's Handbook" will prove to be an invaluable reference for Oracle Exadata DBA, DMA, architects and managers. Thoroughly 'user friendly' throughout, "Oracle Exadata Expert's Handbook" is very highly recommended for personal, professional, corporate, and academic library Computer Science instructional reference collections. It should be noted that "Oracle Exadata Expert's Handbook" is also available in a Kindle edition ($31.72).

Common Information Models for an Open, Analytical, and Agile World
Mandy Chessell, et al.
IBM Press
c/o Pearson Technology Group
801 East 96th Street, #300, Indianapolis, IN 46240-3759
www.mcp.com
9780133366150, $39.99, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: To drive maximum value from complex IT projects, IT professionals need a deep understanding of the information their projects will use. Too often, however, IT treats information as an afterthought: the "poor stepchild" behind applications and infrastructure. That needs to change. "Common Information Models for an Open, Analytical, and Agile World" will help you change it. Five senior IBM architects show you how to use information-centric views to give data a central role in project design and delivery. Using Common Information Models (CIM), you learn how to standardize the way you represent information, making it easier to design, deploy, and evolve even the most complex systems. Using a complete case study, "Common Information Models for an Open, Analytical, and Agile World" explain what CIMs are, how to build them, and how to maintain them. You learn how to clarify the structure, meaning, and intent of any information you may exchange, and then use your CIM to improve integration, collaboration, and agility. In today's mobile, cloud, and analytics environments, your information is more valuable than ever. To build systems that make the most of it, start right here. "Common Information Models for an Open, Analytical, and Agile World" covers such topics as: Mastering best practices for building and maintaining a CIM; Understanding CIM components and artifacts: scope, perspectives, and depth of detail; Choosing the right patterns for structuring your CIM
Integrating a CIM into broader governance; Using tools to manage your CIM more effectively; Recognizing the importance of non-functional characteristics, such as availability, performance, and security, in system design; Growing CIM value by expanding their scope and usage; Previewing the future of CIMs.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Common Information Models for an Open, Analytical, and Agile World" will prove to be an indispensable instruction manual that is as informed and informative as it is comprehensive and 'user friendly. Very highly recommended for college level computer science curriculums, "Common Information Models for an Open, Analytical, and Agile World" should be considered a core acquisition for academic library Computer Science reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Common Information Models for an Open, Analytical, and Agile World" is also available in a Kindle edition ($17.27).

Cloud Computing Design Patterns
Thomas Erl, Robert Cope, Amin Naserpour
Prentice Hall Professional
c/o Pearson Technology Group
801 East 96th Street, #300, Indianapolis, IN 46240-3759
www.mcp.com
9780133858563, $49.99, 592pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Thomas Erl has brought together the de facto catalog of design patterns for modern cloud-based architecture and solution design. More than two years in development, "Cloud Computing Design Patterns" features more than 100 patterns illustrated and proven solutions to common cloud challenges and requirements. Its patterns are supported by rich, visual documentation, including more than 300 diagrams. "Cloud Computing Design Patterns" address topics covering scalability, elasticity, reliability, resiliency, recovery, data management, storage, virtualization, monitoring, provisioning, administration, and much more. Readers will further find detailed coverage of cloud security, from networking and storage safeguards to identity systems, trust assurance, and auditing. "Cloud Computing Design Patterns" presents an unprecedented technical depth that makes it a must-have resource for every cloud technology architect, solution designer, developer, administrator, and manager. Featured topics include: Enabling ubiquitous, on-demand, scalable network access to shared pools of configurable IT resources; Optimizing multitenant environments to efficiently serve multiple unpredictable consumers; Using elasticity best practices to scale IT resources transparently and automatically; Ensuring runtime reliability, operational resiliency, and automated recovery from any failure; Establishing resilient cloud architectures that act as pillars for enterprise cloud solutions; Rapidly provisioning cloud storage devices, resources, and data with minimal management effort; Enabling customers to configure and operate custom virtual networks in SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS environments; Efficiently provisioning resources, monitoring runtimes, and handling day-to-day administration; Implementing best-practice security controls for cloud service architectures and cloud storage; Securing on-premise Internet access, external cloud connections, and scaled VMs; Protecting cloud services against denial-of-service attacks and traffic hijacking; Establishing cloud authentication gateways, federated cloud authentication, and cloud key management; Providing trust attestation services to customers; Monitoring and independently auditing cloud security; Solving complex cloud design problems with compound super-patterns.

Critique: A complete course of instruction under one cover, "Cloud Computing Design Patterns" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation. Informed, informative, and comprehensive, "Cloud Computing Design Patterns" is very highly recommended for professional and academic library Computer Science instructional reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Cloud Computing Design Patterns" is also available in a Kindle edition ($31.19).

Sunbeam on the Astronaut
Steven Cerio
Alternative Comics
21607B Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino, CA 95014
http://indyworld.com
9781934460238, $9.95, 56pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Steven Cerio is a prominent rock poster and magazine illustrator. His work is best known from his ongoing collaboration with San Francisco-based performance art and music group The Residents. "Sunbeam on the Astronaut" is his long-awaited collection of comics, art, and stories in which he explores silly, psychedelic, and strange worlds. Smiling cartoon critters carouse with threatening cutout whales against a shifting comic landscape in these unique illustrated stories. The psychedelic meets Saturday morning cartoons in stories with such intriguing titles as "A Private History of Sunbeams and Head Colds", "The Add Witch in The Berry Patch", and "Ninny Noonday Ninny".

Critique: A mind-bender of a reading experience, "Sunbeam on the Astronaut" is a must for the legions of Steven Cerio fans and a unique experience for those unfamiliar with the underground comics of the 1960s to which this new literary production can be said to be paying a long over due homage too. "Sunbeam on the Astronaut" is very highly recommended to alternative comics enthusiasts of all ages.

Micah Andrew
Reviewer


Richard's Bookshelf

Letters from My Father's Murderer: A Journey in Forgiveness
Laurie A. Coombs
Kregel Publications
2450 Oak Industrial Dr. N. E., Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825442292, $14.99, 230 pages, www.amazon.com

From Vengeance to Forgiveness - A Search for Truth, Justice, and Understanding

Laurie Coombs' 'memoir "Letters from My Father's Murderer - A Journey in Forgiveness" opens with the details leading up to and the aftershock of the tragic death of her father, a murder victim.

Devastated, but determined. Laurie went on with her life; finished her college education, married her fiance, Travis, and began a family. On the surface things looked well, however, Laurie was experiencing a paralyzing anxiety and depression. Laurie walked away from her family's church as a teenager, her skepticism left her broken and angry. As the hatred of her father's murderer heightened she became obsessed with questions of justice and a spirit of bitterness.

Responding to a friend's invitation, Laurie, Travis, and her girls visited a nearby church. Although still skeptical, Laurie returned to the church week after week. She experienced a deepened awareness of the possibility of healing from her emotional and mental symptoms through faith. Jesus offered peace and forgiveness. Her hunger for truth led to her redemption, personal peace and a heartfelt passion to share her story.

Laurie's journey of forgiveness led to a definite step of obedience to connect with the murderer of her father. Her process of forgiveness and healing led to corresponding with Anthony, her father's murderer. These letters are recounted in the story of God's working in their lives through the process of forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation.

Coombs' writing is articulate, well organized, and authentic. I came away with a deeper awareness of the emotions felt by the survivors and the bitterness evidenced in victims who have lost loved ones due to tragic circumstances. "Letters from My Father's Murderer" is timely and relevant with an important message for the families who are grieving in response to the tragedy of crime, accidents brought about by others, and those losing loved ones while in the service of our country.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Thriving in Babylon - Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture
Larry Osborne
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434704214, $ 15.99, 199 pages, www.amazon.com

A Contemporary Perspective of the Person, Writing, Culture, and Spiritual Influence of the Man Daniel - the Old Testament Prophet

In his book "Thriving in Babylon," bestselling author, Larry Osborne introduces a new perspective on the character, writing, and the incredible spiritual influence of the prophet Daniel in the midst of the godless culture and society of ancient Babylon, known for its wickedness, evil, and debauchery. He parallels this with a challenge for Christians today to become a positive influence for change in a culture and society comparable to a modern day Babylon.

Although Osborne alludes to the well-known courage of Daniel, his deliverance from the lion's den, and the important prophecies found in his writings, his emphasis is on Daniel's hope, humility, and wisdom in carrying out God's purpose for his life.

Larry Osborne is senior pastor of the North Coast Church in Oceanside, California and a best-selling author. North Coast Church is among the top 10 most influential churches in America. His writing is clear, credible timely, articulate, and packed with personal application.

"Thriving in Babylon - Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture" contains a message for every Christian today seeking to make a positive impact on our culture by introducing the relevancy of the gospel message in the midst of the spiraling downward trend in Biblical core values in the world today.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

No Greater Love - An Afghan Memoir
Tim Moynihan
Trumpet Blast Press
2940015542363, $0.99, 2012, eBook, 31 pages

An Emotionally Charged Suspense Thriller

"No Greater Love - An Afghan Memoir" has a great beginning. Tim Moynihan had my attention within the first two paragraphs. By the end of chapter one I was hooked. I had to keep reading

Special Forces soldier Colonel Mike Sanchez served in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. As he began sharing experiences from his military experiences he soon entered into a new career as an "inspirational" motivational speaker. He was deeply moved by a painful memory of two brothers - who lost their lives in a bloody battle on a ridge in Afghanistan, when challenged by a college student in his audience.

Sanchez records the story of these brothers, Zachery and Daniel Taylor, in a book detailing events that led up to the dramatic circumstances surrounding the battle that took their lives. It is a dramatic story of how brotherly love overcame fear in a final act of sacrificial love.

The common denominator between the Taylor brothers and Sanchez is the fact they were all pastor's sons, who understood the message of the gospel; having a personal relationship as followers of Jesus. The message is seeker friendly, not pushy or preachy, but heartfelt.

I was so moved by the story I lost sight of the fact that I was reading Tim Moynihan's novella, not his memoirs. His characters are believable; the fast moving action is cutting edge. The reader is confronted with hard questions regarding war, fighting for the cause of freedom, and with the impact of faith on the battlefield.

Moynihan's writing is tight with a lot of action, drama, and descriptive word pictures. "No Greater Love - An Afghan Memoir" is an inspiring story of hope packaged in a three chapter novella.

A complimentary copy of this novella was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Fire That Never Stops: Keys for Sustaining Personal Revival
Michael L. Brown and John Kilpatrick with Larry Sparks
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407181, $15.99, 2015, 256 Pages

Igniting and Maintaining Personal Revival - Nourishing Your First Love and Passion for Jesus

Larry Sparks skillfully teams up with authors Dr. Michael L. Brown and apostolic leader John Kilpatrick to adapt and apply the stories, insights and principles gleaned from their writings to produce "The Fire That Never Stops: Keys for Sustaining Personal Revival."

After reading the forward by Jack Hayford and the endorsements of a number of international Christian leaders I knew I was in for a rich reading experience. I was not disappointed.

This is a remarkable work on the history of revival over the last 100 years and its impact on the American Church. The authors have captured the passion of personal renewal by applying spiritual lessons learned from the insights of revivalists and visionaries, including: Charles Wesley, Charles Finney, William Booth, George Whitfield Leonard Ravenhill, Vance Havner, A. W. Tozer, and D. L. Moody.

Although much of the book is uniquely Pentecostal and Charismatic in appeal Christians from mainline denominations, and evangelicals will benefit from these examples of the spiritual awakenings led by these men.

A unique feature embraced by the authors of this book is a respect for the dramatic conversions, conviction of sin, tears of repentance, and uncontrolled emotion manifest by people smitten by the Holy Spirit as they received, deliverance, healing, and salvation during these services. The resultant agonies and commotions were accepted as a natural part of the "outpouring of the Holy Spirit" in the revival setting.

The authors are genuine and passionate in their writing; they are expressive, and inspiring. The work is carefully researched and well documented.

"The Fire That Never Stops: Keys for Sustaining Personal Revival" is a book for anyone hungering for more of Jesus, His power, His strength, and desirous of living a Spirit filled life.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Inked for Eternity - Living in the Light of Heaven on Earth
Roxanne Wermuth with Peter Lundell
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407419, $ 15.99, 2015, 158 Pages

An Inspiring Testimony of a Near Death Experience - A Vision of God's Waiting Room in Heaven

Caught up in cycle of family abuse Roxanne Wermuth becomes driven to succeed. In an attempt to prove her worthiness she allowed her "Type A" personality and her fierce career ambition to become an obsession as she climbed the ladder of success to a lucrative position in the corporate world of sales.

Roxanne describes the years of her childhood, the verbal and physical abuse. She tells of the anger, hatred, low self-esteem, depression and of her thoughts of suicide. She relates incidents of her childhood friends, her mother's love, bonding with her brother, her first romance, and of her early exposure to church, the message of a personal God, the importance of making right choices, and of the long range impact of her father's verbal abuse on her development even into adulthood.

Complete exhaustion and a visit to her doctor led to a diagnosis of chronic progressive multiple sclerosis. After years of pain, hospital stays, and medical leaves from her employment; in a severe attack Roxanne entered a twenty-four hour comatose condition. She tells of an out of body experience and a foretaste of seeing the "outskirts" of heaven during the coma.

In telling her story Roxanne is candid; revealing the extremes of her struggles with the accepting the excruciating pain, and the negative impact of Multiple sclerosis on her body, her emotions, her personality, and of her self-centered pity.

Collaborator writer/author Peter Lundell captures Roxanne's change in perspective, after her heaven experience. He describes her new passion for life and the joy of sharing lessons she learned through adversity.

The brilliance of the colorful flowers Roxanne glimpsed in the meadow on her brief visit to the "outskirts of heaven" are now indelibly inked onto her scalp as a testimony of God's love and a reminder to put eternity into proper perspective.

Roxanne's story is being used to restore hope and inspiration to those struggling with chronic illness, broken relationships, anger, and depression. A remarkable story of courage and transformation.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Unhealthy Anonymous - Exposing the Greatest Threat to Your Health and Happiness
Dr. Pete Sulack
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768406887, $15.99, 2015, 200 pages

12 Simple Steps to Recapture Your Health

"Unhealthy Anonymous - Exposing the Greatest Threat to Your Health and Happiness" is made up of twelve steps to silence stress systematically by using a new paradigm of health balancing proper nutrition, attitude, rest, and movement. Dr. Pete Sulack introduces homeostasis as a process to fight disease by maintaining a state of balance in the internal system with the interaction of the body as a whole.

Illustrations from people who have benefited from their association with "Unhealthy Anonymous" exemplify the importance of: identifying our stress, the advantages of connecting with others, and choosing the right strategies. I found the wake up calls within each chapter to be very enlightening as reinforcements of the specific step being addressed within the chapter.

The book helped me get a new perspective and deeper understanding of the importance of genetics, the environment, detoxifying and the significance of incorporating organic foods in the diet, and their impact on neutralizing the stress that destroys health.

"Unhealthy Anonymous - Exposing the Greatest Threat to Your Health and Happiness" is an important book for anyone wanting to live healthy who is willing to implement these simple steps in exchange for unhealthy habits to recapture good health.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Dark Side of the Supernatural
Brynne Larson
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407082, $14.99, 2015, 160 Pages

A Glimpse into the Dangers of the Paranormal for Today's Millennial Generation

Through powerful stories of deliverance from the misery of years of spiritual oppression Brynne Larson offers hope and healing for victims caught up in experimentation in the unseen world of the paranormal, Her book "The Dark Side of the Supernatural" reveals the evil strongholds present in pop culture, and warns of the dangers of the occult, supernatural curses, witchcraft, and spell casting.

Throughout her childhood Brynne traveled with her father, Bob Larson, well known for his worldwide ministry in combatting the occult, Satanism, while exposing and exorcising demons. From the front row of these events Brynne observed her father as he drove back the darkness of the evil and demonic influence pervading society today. At age sixteen Brynne met the challenge of her father's calling and became an active participant in exorcising a demon from a close friend. Over the next five years Brynne continued in the work and has responded to God's call to openly battle the evil influencing many of her peers; to become a "spiritual culture warrior."

Brynne's writes with conviction and passion. Her message is timely and important. Her writing is articulate and relevant.

"The Dark Side of the Supernatural" is dedicated to today's Millennials; a clarion call to beware of the dangers of fascination with magical mystical beings, vampires, shape shifters, werewolves, and demons. Brynne Larson invites the reader to recognize that we are spiritual beings intended to delight in God's Holy presence.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Power to Deliver: A Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Freedom
Stephen Beauchamp
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310 Shippensburg, PA 17257
97807868407167, $15.99, 2015, 204 Pages

The Power of God Demonstrated - A Paradigm for Christian Living

In his book "Power to Deliver: A Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Freedom" Stephen Beauchamp relates the story of a radical encounter with Jesus at the time of his salvation and of how he was miraculously delivered from demonic bondage by the power of the Holy Spirit. He tells of his years of training in deliverance ministry at the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry and his three month internship ministry in Paris, France. He has since gained over ten years of experience in deliverance ministry and currently serves as director of Prophetic Healing and Deliverance training at the International House of Prayer University in Kansas City, Missouri. He equips leaders and pastors with solid ministry tools for strengthening their pastoral and deliverance ministries.

Beauchamp carefully develops and defines the meaning of "power" in the Biblical context and establishes evidence for a theology of present day operation of the gifts of the Spirit, the nature and character of God, and manifestations of the Spirit.

In the final chapters of the book Beauchamp looks at the reality of spiritual warfare, demonic strongholds, and operating in a deliverance ministry. He helps the reader understand their identity in Christ: as sons and daughters of God, as the bride of Christ, and as the priesthood of believers. He writes with clarity, transparency, integrity, sensitivity and authority.

"Power to Deliver: A Guide to Spiritual Warfare and Freedom" is a written for anyone seeking spiritual health, wholeness, and restoration. This is a book you will want to revisit frequently to review insights and perspectives on spiritual warfare and to pursue the power of God for your calling to deliverance ministry.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Modern Fig Leaf - Uncovering Your True Identity
Pablo Giacopelli
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407143, $ 16.99, 2015, 252 pages

Authentic Christian Living - Discovering the Real You through a Heart Relationship with the Savior

Pablo Giacopelli invites the reader to join him on his spiritual journey; one that is taking him on a path to learning to live from his heart; fully integrated with his humanity and his mind. In Part I of the book he builds the foundation to show why living from the heart is so important to our journey. In Part II Pablo becomes vulnerable as he shares a true account of who he is, as he lives out this new reality.

Each chapter ends with a prayer and a point of action. These became a high point of my reading experience, as I was moved to reflect on what I had read and to intentionally contemplate specific actions I could take; that would move me from trying to live out a performance based religion to move beyond man made rules to fully experience the peace and happiness that God has placed within me.

One thing that makes "The Modern Fig Leaf" so unique is Pablo's eagerness to put aside all pretenses and the masks he has been wearing to share the lessons he has been learning about living from a loving heart relationship. The reality of his personal relationship with God comes across as he respectfully, lovingly addresses the heavenly father simply as "Dad."

"The Modern Fig Leaf - Uncovering Your True Identity" will open the spiritual eyes of the reader to a new perspective of living life in the reality of the "now," while discovering a new and deeper heart relationship with Abba Father.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Prevail - Discover Your Strength in Hard Places
Cindy Trimm
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768406733, $ 21.99, 2015, 206 pages

Results of the Refining Work of Trials, Set Backs, and Challenges

Best-selling author Cindy Trimm known for her reputation as a catalyst of change uses the metaphor of the diamond in her book "Prevail" to challenge her readers to "Discover Your Strength in Hard Places." She looks at twenty-four facets of life as she guides the reader through: the seasons of life's struggles, chronic relational issues, life skills, making wise choices, learning through failure, and broadening the capacity, to inspire change.

From chapter one titled "Clarify" to the final chapter "Complete" or "Finish Well" the book is filled with inspiration, motivation, and instruction, on character development, making wise choices, and pursuing God's best.

I found the challenge to clarify the values I consider as non-negotiable and the chapter on the power of perspective particularly interesting. The daily declarations and confessions of faith provide short powerful reminders of the valuable lessons learned from the book and serve as a resource for ongoing assimilation and application of these powerful principles. Each of these declarations is keyed to a correlating scripture promise or life practice which adds another dimension to these affirmations.

This a book you will want to read, reread, recommend to your peers, and keep an extra copy on hand for impromptu giving or for gifts for special occasions. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

House on Fire - Revival Begins in the Home
Antonio and Christelle Baldovinos
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768406795, $15.99, 2015, 248 pages

A Wake Up Call to Alert Christians to the Impact of Today's Secular Society on Our Homes, Our Children, and on Future Generations

Antonio and Christelle Baldovinos alert the reader of extent the inroads the secular society has made into our homes and how we are being assaulted with the deceit and lies of world views that are contrary to God's ways. In their book "House on Fire - Revival Begins in the Home" the Baldovinos review God's intended chain of authority within a marriage and family relationships from a biblical perspective.

Drawing from personal experience and scriptural instruction they discuss pointers for maintaining a thriving marriage, effective parenting, and building in the lives of their children preparing; them for adulthood, marriage, and establishing homes of their own.

The pages are filled with examples of how to incorporate a successful marriage with parenting and ministry; and describe what it means to build a prophetic home in a New Testament culture.

"House on Fire - Revival Begins in the Home" is a timely wake up call to Christian parents. Antonio and Christelle write with profound insight, share powerful examples, and practical pointers for maintaining a thriving marriage and a successful family. The book is ideal for use in small community Bible study groups, family devotions, or adult Bible fellowships in a church setting.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Fight of Your Life - Manning Up to the Challenge of Sexual Purity
Tim Clinton and Mark Laaser
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768406993, $15.99, 2015, 240 pages

Conquering the Bondage of Sexual Addiction - Finding Freedom, Integrity, and Purity

Tim Clinton, Ed. D. and Mark Laaser, M.Div., Ph.D. alert the reader to the sobering reality of the devastating role of pornography on the breakdown of Christian marriages, families, churches, and friendships in the book "The Fight of Your Life - Manning Up to the Challenge of Sexual Purity."

The book discusses strategies for conquering the strongholds that lead to the bondage of sexual addiction; the biological, emotional, and spiritual consequences of these strongholds, the principles of accountability, healing, and restoring broken relationships.

Story and metaphor used for illustrations help the reader identify with cycle of addiction, the things that accompany the feelings of guilt, shame, emptiness, and loneliness. The central message of God's love, grace, and forgiveness give the reader hope for the future.

The book contains shocking statistics on the impact of the internet over the last 15 to 20 years. Thorough research and careful documentation add to the credibility of the book. Extensive resource lists are provided for additional reinforcement, reading, and study. "Strategy" or "Action" exercises and thought provoking questions for reflection and practical application are included throughout the book for added emphasis.

Dr. Clinton and Dr. Laaser are highly recognized as men of faith and for their work in Christian counseling, mental health issues, sexual health and addiction. "The Fight of Your Life - Manning Up to the Challenge of Sexual Purity" is a timely and important wake up call for men of all ages. Must reading for pastors, counselors, and youth leaders.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer
http://richardrblake.wordpress.com


Taylor's Bookshelf

Painted Journeys
Peter H. Hassrick & Mindy N. Besaw
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
www.oupress.com
9780806148298, $54.95, 308pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Artist-explorer John Mix Stanley (1814 - 1872), one of the most celebrated chroniclers of the American West in his time, was in a sense a victim of his own success. So highly regarded was his work that more than two hundred of his paintings were held at the Smithsonian Institution -- where in 1865 a fire unfortunately destroyed all but seven of them. "Painted Journeys: The Art of John Mix Stanley", featuring a comprehensive collection of Stanley's extant art, reproduced in full color, offers an opportunity (and ample reason) to rediscover the remarkable accomplishments of this outsize figure of nineteenth-century American culture. Originally from New York State, Stanley journeyed west in 1842 to paint Indian life. During the U.S.-Mexican War, he joined a frontier military expedition and traveled from Santa Fe to California, producing sketches and paintings of the campaign along the way - work that helped secure his fame in the following decades. He was also appointed chief artist for Isaac Stevens's survey of the 48th parallel for a proposed transcontinental railroad. The essays in this volume, by noted scholars of American art, document and reflect on Stanley's life and work from every angle. The authors consider the artist's experience on government expeditions; his solo tours among the Oregon settlers and western and Plains Indians; and his career in Washington and search for government patronage, as well as his individual works. With contributions by Emily C. Burns, Scott Manning Stevens, Lisa Strong, Melissa Speidel, Jacquelyn Sparks, and Emily C. Wilson, the essays comprising "Painted Journeys: The Art of John Mix Stanley" convey the full scope of John Mix Stanley's artistic accomplishment and document the unfolding of that uniquely American vision throughout the artist's colorful life. Together they restore Stanley to his rightful place in the panorama of nineteenth-century American life and art.

Critique: An impressive and seminal work of impeccable scholarship, "Painted Journeys: The Art of John Mix Stanley" by Peter H. Hassrick (Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming) and Mindy N. Besaw (Curator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas) is a critically important contribution to 19th Century American Art History collections and highly recommended for community and academic collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Painted Journeys" is also available in a paperback edition (9780806151557, $34.95).

Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video
Peter W. Rea & David k. Irving
Focal Press
c/o Taylor & Francis Group
711 3rd Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10017, USA
www.focalpress.com
9780415732550, $54.56, 496pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Now in a newly updated and expanded fifth edition, "Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video" is the definitive instruction manual on the subject for the serious film student or beginning filmmaker. Its unique two-fold approach looks at filmmaking from the perspectives of both the producer and director, and clearly explains how their separate roles must work together to create a successful short film or video. Through extensive examples from award-winning shorts and insightful interviews, aspiring filmmakers will learn about common challenges the filmmakers encountered during each step of film making process from preproduction to production, postproduction, and distribution, as well as the techniques they used to overcome them. This new fifth edition includes: Two all-new, in-depth cases studies of esteemed short films (Memory Lane and the Academy Award-winning God of Love); A revised chapter progression that reinforces the significance of the actor - director relationship; Interviews with the filmmakers integrated alongside the text, as well as new images and behind-the-scenes coverage of production processes; Revamped sections on current financing strategies, post-production work flows, and the wide variety of distribution platforms now available to filmmakers; A "Where are They Now" appendix featuring updates on the original filmmakers covered in the first edition. There is also an expanded companion website (www.focalpress.com/cw/rea) containing useful forms and information on distributors, grants and financing sources, film and video festivals, film schools, internet sources for short works, and professional associations.

Critique: An excellently written, organized and presented collaboration by Peter W. Rea (Associate Professor of the Undergraduate Film and Television Department at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. He has been a producer, cinematographer, editor, production manager, and postproduction supervisor on numerous short films, TV movies, and features.) and David k. Irving (Associate Professor of the Undergraduate Film and Television Department at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. He has directed six feature films, fifteen award-winning short documentaries, three short narrative films, and has written and produced three feature films.), "Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video" offers a complete and comprehensive course of instruction under one cover, making it very highly recommended for personal, professional, technical college, and university library Cinematic Studies instructional reference collections and as a film school curriculum course text book. It should be noted that "Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video" is also available in a Kindle edition ($41.96).

On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel
Andrew Humphreys
American University in Cairo Press
420 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10018-2729
www.aucpress.com
9789774166938, $34.95, 216pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Since Antony and Cleopatra honeymooned on the Nile on a gilded barge, visitors to Egypt have taken to the river as the best way to experience the country's wonders. Early travelers took a dahabiya (an elegant triangular-sailed houseboat) and leisurely meandered from riverside site to site for three months or more. Then from the late nineteenth century, Thomas Cook of Leicester, England, revolutionized the journey with a fleet of specially built paddle steamers. For the next sixty years these 'floating palaces,' with their private cabins, and dining, smoking, and viewing salons, red-uniformed dragoman guides, and organized donkey excursions, carried the aristocratic, moneyed, and adventurous of international society of the time
Using period photography, and colorful vintage posters and advertising material, "On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel" tells the story of the people, the places, and the boats, from pioneering Nile travelers like Amelia Edwards and Lucie Duff Gordon, through to famed later passengers, such as Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, and, of course, Agatha Christie, whose staging of a death on the Nile only added to the allure.

Critique: A unique and seminal work of impressively detailed research, "On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel" is impressively well written, organized and presented. An informative and inherently fascinating history, "On the Nile in the Golden Age of Travel" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections.

Maya
C. W. Huntington, Jr.
Wisdom Publications
199 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144
www.wisdompubs.org
9781614291985, $16.95, 328pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: American Stanley Harrington arrives to study Sanskrit philosophy and escape his failing marriage. When he finds himself witness to a violent accident, he begins to question his grip on reality. "Maya" introduces us to an entertaining cast of hippies, expats, and Indians of all walks of life. From a hermit hiding in the Himalayan jungle since the days of the British Raj, to an accountant at the Bank of India with a passion for Sanskrit poetry, to the last in a line of brahman scholars, Stanley's path ultimately leads him to a Tibetan yogi, who enlists the American's help in translating a mysterious ancient text. "Maya", literally "illusion," is an extended meditation on the unraveling of identity. Filled with rich observations and arresting reflections, it mines the porous border between memory and imagination.

Critique: Impressively well written from first page to last, "Maya" is author C. W. Huntington's debut novel and marks him as an especially talented storyteller. Huntington writes with a special expertise being a Professor at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, where he translates and interprets classical Sanskrit and Tibetan texts. A deftly crafted and multilayered entertainment, "Maya" is very highly recommended for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Maya" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

The Bacterium of Many Colors
Robert M. Harveson
APS Press
3340 Pilot Knob Road, St. Paul, MN 55121
9780890544624, $185.00, 288pp, www.shopapspress.org

Synopsis: "The Bacterium of Many Colors" by veteran plant pathologist and history buff Robert M. Harveson (University of Nevada, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, Scottsbluff) imparts lessons of the past through a fascinating collection of historical stories behind plant pathogen and disease discoveries, as well as the important lessons plant pathologists learned while researching them. An entertaining and informative work, "The Bacterium of Many Colors" was written for a diverse audience that includes historically minded plant pathologists, agricultural and biological science enthusiasts at the high school and college levels, and virtually anyone else interested in plant biology and history. Early chapters of "The Bacterium of Many Colors" provide foundational knowledge about the major pathogen groups and how the diseases they cause were discovered and studied. The remaining chapters feature a variety of engaging stories and can be read independently in any order. Many of these chapters address specific diseases and are arranged in three broad parts: consequences of human error; novel control strategies; important findings related to key pathological and scientific concepts. "The Bacterium of Many Colors" presents a range of diseases from the more obscure, forgotten, or unfamiliar outbreaks to some of the most infamous plant disease epidemics in history. "The Bacterium of Many Colors" will have significant value for all plant pathologists, as it includes examples representing the majority of pathogen groups, including fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes, phytoplasmas, and prokaryotes. Topical focus and biographical profile sidebars add more 'color' to the stories and help the reader explore subjects in greater depth. They also help provide readers with a greater understanding of and insights into the key topics and the individuals who shaped the plant pathology discipline. Throughout, "The Bacterium of Many Colors" is well illustrated with nearly 300 images.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized, illustrated and presented, "The Bacterium of Many Colors" is an exceptional and very highly recommended volume -- especially for academic library Medical and Plant Biology reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Introduction to Mycology in the Tropics
Meike Piepenbring
APS Press
3340 Pilot Knob Road, St. Paul, MN 55121
9780890544563, $189.00, 366pp, www.shopapspress.org

Synopsis: "Introduction to Mycology in the Tropics" by Meike Piepenbring (Professor of Mycology at the University of Frankfurt, Germany) is a key reference that provides critical information on all major groups of fungi found throughout the world's tropical regions. It provides solid theoretical knowledge of tropical mycology presented in a logical, easy-to-use format for academics, professionals, and enthusiasts. "Introduction to Mycology in the Tropics" is not just for those studying mycology in the tropics, but applies to a wide range of disciplines, including phytopathology, medicine, naturalism, ecology, botany, zoology, chemistry, biotechnology, and food engineering. Mycologists and readers interested in related plant science disciplines will find basic knowledge on fungal diversity, enabling them to recognize fungal groups in the field, analyze cellular structures, and understand the ecological importance of fungi. Those in the food engineering, biotechnology, and medical science disciplines can learn about edible and poisonous mushrooms, as well as medicinal and clinically important fungi used for antibiotics and other active compounds. "Introduction to Mycology in the Tropics" thoroughly covers Basidiomycota, Ascomycota, lichens, further groups of Fungi, Straminipila (Heterokonta), and slime molds. It offers details on their etymology, systematics, geographical distribution, ecology, morphology, life cycle, biochemical aspects, and importance for humans (positive and negative). In addition to these systematically organized chapters, special topics (e.g., fungi in symbiosis with social insects, mycorrhizae, ethnomycology, fungi pathogenic to humans) are presented in helpful call-out boxes. "Introduction to Mycology in the Tropics" features numerous color photographs offer stunning visual coverage of tropical fungi, their interactions with insects and other animals, and plant disease symptoms caused by fungi, helping readers to not only identify fungal groups, specific fungi, and fungus-like organisms but also interpret their interactions. "Introduction to Mycology in the Tropics" presents diagrams of significant fungal species' life cycles - some presented for the first time in a didactically suitable format, helping readers understand the dynamic - and sometimes highly complex - development of fungi over time.

Critique: A seminal work of outstanding and definitive scholarship, "Introduction to Mycology in the Tropics" is an essential and very highly recommended for professional and academic library reference collections. It should be noted that "Introduction to Mycology in the Tropics" is also available in a Spanish edition (9780890544563, $99.00, 366pp).

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC (2015 release) / Lightroom 6 Learn by Video
Rob Sylvan
Adobe Press
c/o Pearson Technology Group
801 East 96th Street, #300, Indianapolis, IN 46240-3759
9781133928426, $64.99, www.adobepress.com

Synopsis: This critically-acclaimed interactive training program from Adobe Press offers exceptional quality high-definition video to teach the fundamentals of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC (2015 release) / Lightroom 6. Including more than 10 hours of video tutorials, the course comes complete with lesson files, assessment quizzes, and review materials. Experienced instructor Rob Sylvan presents a comprehensive introduction to Photoshop Lightroom, including best practices as well as fundamental photography and image editing concepts. Beginning with an overview of the Lightroom interface and working with the Library Module, Rob goes on to cover Lightroom's powerful editing tools, tools for local adjustments, the Map Module, exporting, printing, and creating slideshows, web galleries, and books. At the conclusion, Rob dives into project explorations and explains how to use Smart Previews, the new HDR feature, the new Merge to Panorama feature, and the improved Lightroom Mobile. The video is wrapped in a unique interface that allows you to jump to any topic and also bookmark individual sections for later review. The unique "Watch and Work" mode shrinks the video into a small window to allow you to work alongside in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom as you view the video. Project files used in the lessons are included on the disc so you can practice what you've learned. At the end of every lesson, you can test your knowledge by taking interactive quizzes.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentaton, "Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC (2015 release) / Lightroom 6 Learn by Video " by NAPP Lightroom Help Desk Specialist Rob Sylvanis very highly recommended for photoshop applications in general, and Lightroom 6 interfacing in particular. It should be noted that the DVD-ROM can be easily and readily viewed on a computer, but it will not play in a DVD movie player.

James: Revised Edition
Douglas J. Moon
InterVarsity Press
PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426
www.ivpress.com
9780830842872, $18.00, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The genius of the letter of James lies in its powerfully simple call for repentance, for action, for a consistent Christian lifestyle. In this revised commentary Douglas J. Moo (Kenneth T. Wessner Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School) allows James's words to cut through our theological debates, our personal preconceptions, our spiritual malaise and return us to an invigorating, transforming Christianity. This newly revised and expanded second edition includes a new extensive introduction, analysis and section-by-section commentary of the book of James. "

Critique: The sixteenth volume in the acclaimed 'Tyndale New Testament Commentaries' series, "James: Revised Edition" is a masterpiece of theological scholarship and very highly recommended for personal, community, church, seminary, and academic library New Testament Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

John Taylor
Reviewer


Vogel's Bookshelf

County and City Extra: Special Historical Edition, 1790-2010
Deirdre A. Gaquin & Mary meghan Ryan, editors
Bernan Press
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
http://www.bernan.com
9781598888041, $125.00, 300pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "County and City Extra: Special Historical Edition, 1790-2010" is a single volume reference that compiles information from many sources to provide all the key demographic and economic data for every state, county, metropolitan area, congressional district, and for all cities in the United States with a 2010 population of 25,000 or more. In this one volume are conveniently and easy-to-read data from 1990 to 2014 including: Population by age and race; Government finances; Income and poverty; Manufacturing, trade, and services; Crime; Housing; Education; Immigration and migration; Labor force and employment; Agriculture, land, and water; Residential construction; Health resources; Voting and elections. The main body of "County and City Extra: Special Historical Edition, 1790-2010" contains five basic parts and covers the following areas: Part A-states; Part B-counties; Part C-metropolitan areas; Part D-cities with a 2010 census population of 25,000 or more; Part E-congressional districts. In addition, County and City Extra: Special Historical Edition, 1790-2010" includes: Figures and text in each section that highlight pertinent data and provide analysis; Ranking tables which present each geography type by various subjects including population, land area, population density, educational attainment, housing values, race, unemployment, and crime; Multiple color maps of the United States on various topics including median household income, poverty, voting, and race; Several appendixes include: Notes and explanations for further reference; Definitions of geographic concepts; A listing of metropolitan and micropolitan areas and their component counties; A list of cities by county; Maps showing congressional districts, counties, and selected places within each state.

Critique: Exceptionally comprehensive and thoroughly 'user friendly', "County and City Extra: Special Historical Edition, 1790-2010" is an essential and critically important addition to professional, governmental, corporate, NGO, community, and academic library American Demographic Studies and American Economic Studies reference collections.

Starting A Practice: A Plan Of Work
Simon Foxell
RIBA Publishing
c/o Taylor & Francis Group
270 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
www.ribaenterprises.com
9781859465806, $54.95, 160pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The newly published second edition of the popular "Starting a Practice: A Plan of Work" by Simon Foxell is a fully revised and updated guide to planning, setting up and running your architectural practice. Mapped to the RIBA Plan of Work 2013, it approaches starting a business as if it were a design project complete with briefing, sketch layouts and delivery. Comprehensive, accessible and easy to use, "Starting a Practice" provides essential guidance on the many issues involved in establishing a successful business, including preparing a business plan, choosing the right company structure, seeking advice, monitoring finances, getting noticed and securing work; and much more. "Starting a Practice" is full of practical advice gained from the author's more than 30 years in practice but is aimed at starting up now, in the second decade of the 21st century, with its particular challenges and opportunities.

Critique: Simon Foxell is Principal of The Architects Practice. He has designed buildings across the UK including houses, schools and offices and in 1996 was awarded the prestigious Benedictus Prize by the Union of International Architects. In recent years he has worked with schools and local authorities, designing new facilities and advising on development programmes. He was lead design adviser to Birmingham City Council's Transforming Education programme from 2007 to 2010. Simon is a core member and co-ordinator of the Edge, the built environment think tank, and is on the Green Construction Board's Routemap group. He is a former member of the RIBA Council and Board and was Chair of both Policy and Strategy and RIBA London region. He was Chair of the RIBA Small Practice committee and vice-chair of Practice committee and was instrumental in setting up the RIBA Client Adviser service and the Guerrilla Tactics conference series. This newly revised, updated and expanded second edition of "Starting A Practice: A Plan Of Work" will prove to be quite invaluable and instructive reading for students, young practitioners and those considering starting up on their own or wanting to consolidate an existing business. "Starting A Practice: A Plan Of Work" is an important and highly recommended addition to professional, community, and academic library Business Studies instructional reference collections.

Folksongs of Another America
James P. Leary
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
www.uwpress.wisc.edu
9780299301507, $60.00, 300pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: America's Upper Midwest is a distinctive region where many indigenous and immigrant peoples have maintained, merged, and modified their folk song traditions for more than two centuries. In the 1930s and 1940s, Sidney Robertson, Alan Lomax, and Helene Stratman-Thomas - with support from the Library of Congress and armed with bulky microphones, blank disks, spare needles, and cumbersome disk-cutting machines - recorded roughly 2,000 songs and tunes throughout Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Spanning dance tunes, ballads, lyric songs, hymns, laments, versified taunts, political anthems, street cries, and recitations, these field recordings - made by people born before or shortly after 1900 - were captured at a transformative moment when America was in the throes of the Great Depression, World War II was erupting, and market-driven mass entertainment media were expanding rapidly. Yet, except for a handful of Anglo-American performances, these remarkable field recordings in more than twenty-five languages have remained largely unknown, along with the lives of their mostly immigrant, indigenous, rural, and working-class performers. Since the 1970s, folklorist James P. Leary has worked steadily to bring the folk music of the Upper Midwest to a larger public. "Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937 - 1946" presents 187 representative performances by more than 200 singers and musicians, carefully restored in digital form from deteriorating original formats. The accompanying book provides an introduction, full texts of all lyrics in the original languages and in English translation, extensive notes about each song and tune, biographical sketches and photographs of many of the performers, and details about Robertson, Lomax, and Stratman-Thomas and their fieldwork efforts as song collectors. These restored performances reveal with clarity and power a nearly lost sonic portrait of another America.

Critique: Featuring 5 CDs and a DVD documentary film, "Folksongs of Another America: Field Recordings from the Upper Midwest, 1937 - 1946" compiled with informed and informative commentary by James P. Leary (Birgit Baldwin Professor of Scandinavian Studies, a professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, and a cofounder of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) is a seminal work of impressively detailed scholarship throughout and must be considered an essential, core addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library American Music Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

The Resilient Investor
Hal Brill, et al.
Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
1333 Broadway, Suite 1000, Oakland CA, 94612
www.bkconnection.com
9781626563377, $19.95, 192pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: If you want to build a better life and a better world (and really be prepared for any possible future in these turbulent times) you need to become a resilient investor! "The Resilient Investor: A Plan for Your Life, Not Just Your Money" is a trail blazing guide that will expand your ideas of investing way beyond Wall Street. Your time, your energy, and the things you own are investments too, and you'll learn to diversify them in ways that move you toward your life goals. The featured Resilient Investment Map lays out all your assets (personal and physical as well as financial) and then provides three essential, timely strategies (Close to Home; Sustainable Global Economy; and Evolutionary Investing) that will help you grow each of them. The goal is to become more resilient: able to anticipate disturbance, rebuild as necessary, and improve when possible. You'll discover that the choices making you more resilient also enhance our communities, our economy, and the planet -- building real wealth for all.

Critique: The collaborative work of Hall Brill, Michael Kramer, Christopher Peck, and Jim Cummings, "The Resilient Investor: A Plan for Your Life, Not Just Your Money" is impressively well written, informed and informative. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' throughout, "The Resilient Investor" is very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, and academic library Financial Studies instructional reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Resilient Investor" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Method
Jerry Bader
MRPwebmedia
http://www.mrpwebmedia.com
9780994069818, $19.99, 312pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A down-and-out LA actor with a knack for impersonations finds his circumstances completely reversed by a chance meeting with a look-alike stranger. After a night of drinking with his new friend discussing the possibilities made possible by their similar appearance, the stranger offers the actor a ride home. On the way there is an accident and one of them is killed. The survivor finds himself in the hospital with amnesia and everyone assuming he's the stranger, the right-hand man for a mob boss. The survivor plays the role that's expected of him, despite the fact that doubt about who he is, weighs heavy on his mind. Life becomes a balancing act between the role he finds himself playing and the search for who he really is: the down-and-out actor or the mob consigliere?

Critique: Uniquely presented in the form of a film script on the left hand page and with accompanying black & white illustrations on the right hand page, "The Method" is a quick, entertaining, and inherently fascinating read that is very highly recommended for community and academic library Graphic Novel collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Method" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.99).

The Master of Everything
James Nussbaumer
Ozark Mountain Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 754, Huntsville, AR 72740
www.ozarkmt.com
9781940265087, $16.00, 208pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In 2008, financial planner James Nussbaumer was convicted of felony theft. At age fifty, he found himself incarcerated and facing a ten year prison term. On his first night in prison, he was stunned when the locker he is assigned contains a worn, dusty book no one will claim -- a book for which he has been searching: "A Course in Miracles". His in-depth study of its lessons, combined with frank descriptions of his prison life, will guide readers to a supreme freedom of their own. By turns instructive, challenging, humorous, and elevating James Nussbaumer's inspirational memoir takes the reader on his inner journey to becoming "The Master of Everything".

Critique: An extraordinary and intrinsically fascinating memoir, "The Master of Everything: A Story of Mankind and the World of Illusion We Call Life" is a thoroughly engaging read from beginning to end. Impressively well written, organized and presented, here is one of those memoirs that will linger in the reader's mind long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. "The Master of Everything" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography and Metaphysical Studies collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Master of Everything" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Shooting the Moon
Brian Williams
Zero Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
www.johnhuntpublishing.com
9781782798484, $24.95, 221pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Films about the moon show that even after the lunar landing of 1969 our celestial neighbor has lost none of its aptitude for being made of green cheese. In fact, as soon as you put the moon on screen it is lost. This is equally true for a wide range of moon films, including the theatricality of Melies, the incredulity of camp, the illegibility of footage shot by Apollo astronauts and the revisionary history of Transformers 3. Yet, as paradoxical as it might seem at first, it is only when we "lose sight" of the moon that lunar truths begin to come forth. This is because fantastic elements of the moon, by their mere absurdity, can indicate non-fantastic elements. However, what is of interest in Brian Williams' "Shooting the Moon" is not realistic or fantastic lunar truths but rather that the moon is an object which invites, or even demands, more than one truth at once.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, informative, and thoughtful read, "Shooting the Moon" by Brian Williams (Assistant Professor of Literature and Film Theory at the University of Split, Croatia) is an extraordinary read and very highly recommended for both community and academic library Cinematic Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Shooting the Moon" is also available in an inexpensive Kindle edition ($0.99).

Romantic Violence
Christian Picciolini
Goldmill Group, LLC
917 West Washington Boulevard, Suite 213, Chicago, IL 60607
www.goldmill.com
9780986240423, $16.00, 356pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: At 14 years old, Christian Picciolini, a bright and well-loved child from a good family, had been targeted and trained to spread a violent racist agenda, quickly ascending to a highly visible leadership position in America's first neo-Nazi skinhead gang. Just how did this young boy from the suburbs of Chicago, who had so much going for him, become so lost in extremist ideologies that would horrify any decent person? "Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead" is a poignant and gripping cautionary tale that details Christian's indoctrination when he was barely a teen, a lonely outsider who, more than anything, just wanted to belong. A fateful meeting with a charismatic man who recognized and took advantage of Christian's deep need for connection sent the next decade of his life into a dangerous spiral. When his mentor went to prison for a vicious hate crime, Christian stepped forward, and at 18, he was overseeing the most brutal extremist skinhead cells across the country. From fierce street brawls to drunken white power rallies, recruitment by foreign terrorist dictators to riotous white power rock music, Picciolini immersed himself in racist skinhead culture, hateful propaganda, and violence. Ultimately Christian began to see that his hate-filled life was built on lies. After years of battling the monster he created, he was able to reinvent himself. Picciolini went on to become an advocate for peace, inclusion, and racial diversity, co-founding the nonprofit Life After Hate, which helps people disengage from hate groups and to love themselves and accept others, regardless of skin color, religious belief, or sexual preference.

Critique: A candid, compelling, and inherently fascinating read, "Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead" is a unique and remarkable memoir that, in this age of continuing race-based violence, should be a part of every community and academic library collection. For personal reading lists it should be noted that ""Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.61).

Paul T. Vogel
Reviewer


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