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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 1 January 2018 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Gary's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Helen's Bookshelf Lorraine's Bookshelf
Micah's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Theodore's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf  



Cowper's Bookshelf

Donut Dolly
Joann Puffer Kotcher
University of North Texas Press
1155 Union Circle #311336, Denton, TX 76203-5017
www.untpress.unt.edu
9781574416985 $21.95 pbk / $11.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: Donut Dolly puts you in the Vietnam War face down in the dirt under a sniper attack, inside a helicopter being struck by lightning, at dinner next to a commanding general, and slogging through the mud along a line of foxholes. You see the war through the eyes of one of the first women officially allowed in the combat zone.

When Joann Puffer Kotcher left for Vietnam in 1966, she was fresh out of the University of Michigan with a year of teaching, and a year as an American Red Cross Donut Dolly in Korea. All she wanted was to go someplace exciting. In Vietnam, she visited troops from the Central Highlands to the Mekong Delta, from the South China Sea to the Cambodian border. At four duty stations, she set up recreation centers and made mobile visits wherever commanders requested. That included Special Forces Teams in remote combat zone jungles. She brought reminders of home, thoughts of a sister or the girl next door. Officers asked her to take risks because they believed her visits to the front lines were important to the men. Every Vietnam veteran who meets her thinks of her as a brother-at-arms.

Donut Dolly is Kotcher's personal view of the war, recorded in a journal kept during her tour, day by day as she experienced it. It is a faithful representation of the twists and turns of the turbulent, controversial time. While in Vietnam, Kotcher was once abducted; dodged an ambush in the Delta; talked with a true war hero in a hospital who had charged a machine gun; and had a conversation with a prostitute. A rare account of an American Red Cross volunteer in Vietnam, Donut Dolly will appeal to those interested in the Vietnam War, to those who have interest in the military, and to women aspiring to go beyond the ordinary.

Critique: Donut Dolly is the unforgettable memoir of a woman who volunteered for the Red Cross, in order to support American troops serving in the Vietnam War. One of the first women officially allowed in the combat zone, she confronted life-or-death risks in spite of being a civilian noncombatant. Donut Dolly is a vivid, up-close and personal perspective of the war, riveting from cover to cover, and highly recommended for personal and public library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Donut Dolly is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

Spooky Twisties I
Terri Bertha
MuseItUp Publishing
http://museituppublishing.blogspot.com
9781771279253, $9.95, PB, 102pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The first titles in author Terri Bertha's 'Spooky Twisties" series, this is an anthology of 13 interconnected scary stories for readers of all ages.

Readers will follow the horror and fun as Lindsay, Nick, Chris, Amy and their friends navigate their way through supernatural events in an idyllic suburban community during the course of a 'normal' day.

From the usual antics that preteens enjoy, like playing in the graveyard, trick or treating, and celebrating birthdays, the kids find themselves in some unique situations.Adventures are speckled with humorous dialogue to frightening calls for help in working through their series of unusual encounters.

There are also characters that are not so likable, like Creepy Guy and Dan the Security Guard. Then there is old Mrs. Miller who appears to have lived on the street forever, and has found a secret to anti-aging.

Critique: An original, deftly written, and impressively entertaining mix of horror, humor and 'twisted endings', "Spookie Twisties I" is very highly recommended for both school and community library collections for readers of all ages and will leave them looking eagerly toward the publication of "Spookie Twists II"! Meanwhile, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Spookie Twisties I" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).

Unscrewed
Jaclyn Friedman
Seal Press
c/o Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9781580056410, $27.00, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: As a veteran feminist and agenda-setting sex educator, Jaclyn Friedman is on the frontlines of the war for equity between the sexes. In "Unscrewed: Women, Sex, Power, and How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us All", Friedman brings her years of personal experience, her sharp expertise and her incisive observations on the state of sexual politics to the fore, sparking a culture-wide rethink about sex, power and what we accept.

With insightful reportage and verve, "Unscrewed" builds a searing investigation into the state of sexual power in America, and outlines how to make real progress toward equality. Friedman reveals that the anxiety and fear women in our country feel around issues of their sexuality are not, in fact, their fault, but instead are side effects of what she calls our "era of fauxpowerment", wherein women have the illusion of sexual power, with no actual power to support it.

Exploring the fault lines where media, religion, politics, and education impinge on our intimate lives, "Unscrewed" breaks down the causes and signs of illusionary empowerment, then gives readers tools to take it on themselves.

Critique; An urgent account of sexual politics, feminism, and the rules of power in America-and a potent vision for the way forward, "Unscrewed: Women, Sex, Power, and How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us All" is a inherently compelling, impressively informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented study that should be a part of every community and academic library Women's Issues collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Unscrewed" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99) and in a complete and unabridged audio book edition (Blackstone Audio, 9781478998259, $35.00, CD).

What Living as a Resident Can Teach Long-Term Care Staff
Leslie Pedtke
Health Professions Press
PO Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285-0624
www.healthpropress.com
9781938870453, $28.97, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Even the most caring residential facility staff can fail to appreciate the effects of challenges that residents in long-term care can face on a daily basis. "What Living as a Resident Can Teach Long-Term Care Staff: The Power of Empathy to Transform Care" introduces an effective program that builds staff empathy for residents experiences by having them simulate a diagnosis and live alongside residents. The lessons learned create more compassionate caregivers, improve care practices, and enhance well-being for both staff and residents.

Readers will learn how to set up this program in any residential care setting, as well as ways to address high turnover through the hiring and orientation process. Measurable benefits include: Elimination of personal body alarms, decreased falls, reduced use of psychotropic drugs, improved resident health and well-being, and increased staff retention and satisfaction.

Critique: Filled with compelling journal entries of real staff experiences, "What Living as a Resident Can Teach Long-Term Care Staff" is a hopeful and encouraging instructional guide and reference that will inspire the achievement of truly person-centered care. While decidedly and unreservedly recommended for residential center, community, and academic library Long Term Care instructional reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students, staff members, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "What Living as a Resident Can Teach Long-Term Care Staff" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

Queens of Georgian Britain
Catherine Curzon
Pen & Sword Books
https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk
9781473858527, $34.95, HC, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Georgian Britain is so named for four English kings called George who, thanks to a quirk of fate, ruled Great Britain for over a century. Hailing from Germany, these occasionally mad, bad and infamous sovereigns presided over a land in turmoil. Yet what of the remarkable women who were crowned alongside them?

From the forgotten princess locked in a tower to an illustrious regent, a devoted consort and a notorious party girl, the queens of Georgian Britain lived lives of scandal, romance and turbulent drama. Whether dipping into politics or carousing on the shores of Italy, Caroline of Ansbach, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Caroline of Brunswick refused to fade into the background.

"Queens of Georgian Britain" by Catherine Curzon (a royal historian who writes blogs on all matters 18th century at www.madamegilflurt.com) offers a chance to step back in time and meet the women who ruled alongside the Georgian monarchs, not forgetting Sophia Dorothea of Celle, the passionate princess who never made it as far as the throne. From lonely childhoods to glittering palaces, via family feuds, smallpox, strapping soldiers and plenty of scheming, these are the queens who shaped an era.

Critique: An impressively detailed, deftly crafted history that is as inherently fascinating as it is exceptionally informative, "Queens of Georgian Britain" is an extraordinary read from beginning to end. Featuring illustrations, an eleven page Bibliography, and a five page Index, "Queens of Georgian Britain" is a decidedly and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library British History collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Queens of Georgian Britain" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.97).

Mary Cowper
Reviewer


Donovan's Bookshelf

The New Humans: Second Genesis
Charol Messenger
www.charolmessenger.com
Messenger Publishing
c/o CreateSpace.com
9781546790464, $14.99, Amazon, 6x9 soft cover, 234 p / $6.99 Kindle

The New Humans is Book 2 in "The New Humanity" series and offers further predictions, expanding upon the premise of Book 1 Humanity 2.0, that humanity is posed for an unprecedented evolutionary process that will take it into a new rebirth and renewal cycle.

The new humans are concerned with doing overall good in the world for purposes beyond self-satisfaction or material rewards. They are creative innovators who hold a higher purpose in mind, and they are involved in new scientific inventions and discoveries that will benefit not just the human race but the planet.

Most of all, they represent a collective human shift into an age where compassion rules.

If this sounds idealistic and downright impossible, it should be advised that the forces Charol Messenger documents in her first and, now, her second book are already at hand, not in the distant future of possibility.

Chapters outline spiritual and social messages touched upon in the first book, but largely provide new material as they reinforce the notion that human beings are all about soul, not body; and that this long-forgotten perception is experiencing a new awakening. The result will lead to humans becoming more genuinely "human" than before: a concept that begins with a new cosmic age and expands to embrace change, flexibility, adaptation, and a different set of values and strengths.

The New Humans is ultimately a blueprint of this vision, hope, and not just possibility but probability. It maintains that human society is already in the process of changing. The New Humans provides sweeping visions of this change and also inspires individuals to embrace these hopeful transitions.

The result isn't just a documentary about human evolution: It's a roadmap for spiritual achievement on both individual and society-wide levels.

Readers with special interest in new age, spiritual, philosophical, and/or evolutionary concepts will find The New Humans engrossing, accessible, and firmly rooted in present-day experiences and future trajectories.

The Chimera of Prague
Rick Pryll
www.rickpryll.com
Foolishness Press
9780974505671 $26.95

Ebook: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B076G4BXHW

Hardcover and paperback versions: http://www.rickpryll.com/store

The setting is 1990s Prague, where divorcee Joseph is taking a 'gap year' off to live abroad and search for his ideal soul mate; a task which necessarily involves a lot of women in his life as he tests the relationship waters.

Obsessed with a Czech girl and a 28-year-old who stands on the cusp between the death of his dreams and the rest of his life, The Chimera of Prague creates a literary synthesis of metaphors surrounding love, a sense of place, a sense of history, and Joseph's pursuit of happiness.

The fact that Joseph is not a young adult but nearly a middle-aged man taking an unusual chunk of time off to contemplate his desires, strategies, and future makes for a particularly compelling read, but the meat of the story lies in its poetic descriptions and Joseph's observations.

He's not only exploring and bringing to life the streets and culture of Prague: he's conducting a survey of his inner self and its resources and struggling with a mountain of guilt about his choices along with an avalanche of emotions that accompany such self-inspection: "I'm alive and dead, I figure everything out and I'm sick of it ... I want to disappear and reappear with my shit together ... I'm not happy. I'm not sad. I am. That's all. I desperately am."

His journal draws readers into this process and nicely supplements the third-person story narration with a form of examination that sometimes reads like a movie set as Joseph at times adopts the dispassionate and descriptive eye of an observer of his own life.

History, precedent, chance and change all coalesce in a commanding story of a man who is not happy or at peace despite his apparent magnetism with women. His process of discovery involves confronting ego and makes for a completely engrossing process spiced with the backdrop of European culture.

Readers of psychological fiction will find The Chimera of Prague compelling, vivid, and hard to put down.

Lil' Boy's Steps to Goal Achievement
April L. Jones, PhD
Visionary Consulting Services, LLC
9781546788638 $13.95 amazon.com

It's unusual to see a goal-setting book for kids, but Lil' Boy's Steps to Goal Achievement demonstrates that it's never too young to begin these lessons, and uses a journal format to guide children into the basic ideas, processes and successes of setting and achieving goals.

Activities revolve around identifying goals, organizing them, considering attitudes about rules and guidelines, and tracking process in reaching stated objectives. There's even a section about mentors and their role in the process. Since many an adult may not clearly understand the importance of mentoring in a young person's life, this is an especially educational, notable section providing an early introduction to one of the key concepts of life success.

In adopting a journal approach which encourages kids to write down their goals and learn techniques for pursing them, Dr. Jones emphasizes how children can take an active role in the process, providing both structure and flexibility as youngsters are encouraged to revise and change their goals over time.

Dr. Jones' own father, Lil' Boy, used many of these ideas in his extraordinary process of becoming a notable commissioner (she's already produced his biography, for adult readers); but seeing these techniques outlined in a step-by-step format accessible to elementary-level kids means that a whole new generation will receive the tools to follow in his footsteps, whether their goals are political or individual pursuits.

Lil' Boy's experiences are also incorporated into this journaling process and offer insights based on life experience to back the ideas presented herein: "Always remember you don't need to do it alone. Lil' Boy never achieved his big dreams by trying to do it alone. He had help from parents, teachers, and many other people from his school and community."

While the journal itself is flexible and kids are encouraged to set goals, understand rules, and choose good mentors, there are also examples of Dr. Jones' father peppered throughout, which reinforces the underlying concepts of caring, community, and service: "This inspired Lil' Boy very much, and he wanted to become just like Dr. King, a civil rights activist who made peaceful and positive change in his community."

The result is actually more than a goal-setting primer: it's a subtle call to action, responsibility, and participation which uses many civil rights insights and examples to inspire and compel a new generation of leaders by providing the basic approaches key to their success.

Very highly recommended, Lil' Boy's Steps to Goal Achievement should be in every elementary-level reader's hands as a positive first step in creating effective community-oriented leaders from future generations.

The Marker
Diana Savastano
https://www.dianasavastano.com
DRS Publishing, LLC
9780985208950 $14.99
https://www.amazon.com/Marker-Diana-Savastano/dp/0985208953/

Sometimes forging a new future involves putting the past to rest. In the case of The Marker, which blends Civil War history with a ghost story and an evolving romance, a multifaceted blend of experiences revolve around the discovery of a vanished grave marker and how its appearance over sixty years later becomes the impetus for uncovering the truth behind an Unknown Soldier's story, paving the way for a modern-day romance.

Under another's hand, The Marker could too easily have become a light paranormal romance; but those expecting a simple read should be forewarned that Diana Savastano's attention to historical detail probes deeply into this evolving story, which begins in Mississippi in 1863 and moves into modern times.

Dr. Bradley Taylor dies wearing a Union belt buckle; and so begins a deeply disturbing error when in the summer of 1867 a mission to properly bury the fallen uncovers his remains, hands clutching the despised Union relic he's tried to wrest from his body with his last breath.

Fast forward to present-day New York City, where gorgeous news reporter Jennifer is about to receive an assignment that will change and challenge her life. No stranger to odd assignments, Jennifer chafes at the thought that she's being sent to Florida to report on life after retirement instead of being granted the vacation time she needs.

Her resistance to her Florida assignment is changed by what she discovers there, the research she and her father conduct into the relic, and a series of events that transpire since she discovers the grave marker which slowly affects her decisions, life, and future.

On one level, it could be said that The Marker's underlying mystery, ghost story twist, and history winds into a more complex achievement than most; but on another level, sometimes Jennifer's pursuits are puzzling themselves. It's as if her life hangs in the balance between professional advancement and too much drama and between pursuit of truth and freedom and impulses to discover love in her future.

The subplots and many characters support some of her quests while creating new questions and conundrums that pose some of the greatest challenges in Jennifer's personal and professional life, changing its direction and introducing many new possibilities.

Drama-laden ex-relationships, an evolving relationship with a doctor, the possibilities in facing joy, sorrow and loss head-on, and surprising connections between ancestral mysteries and love lend a satisfyingly complex combination of mystery, romance, and history with just the right supernatural touch to provide an intriguing overlay cementing relationships and processes.

One doesn't expect such a beginning to lead to detective work and deaths, but the pleasure of The Marker lies not only in its inclusion of many different threads and subplots, but in its non-linear approach to love.

Romance fans should expect a delightfully absorbing story that provides more than a thin layer of events, but takes the time to probe beneath surface appearances and life trajectories to chart a course through untested waters.

Hybrid
James Marshall Smith
Braveship Books
www.braveshipbooks.com
9781640620209 $26.99 hc / $2.99 Kindle amazon.com

Wolves, hunters, hybrid threats, and science create a compelling thriller when mixed together in a vivid story backed by James Marshall Smith's science savvy and attention to crafting exquisite tension and detail into his story.

Hybrid opens with an illegal dog fighting pit where one new introduction makes even the savage pit bull seem ineffectual. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrive to break up the event, but the mammoth Japanese Warrior escapes into the wilderness; there to begin a new life.

Fast forward four years to an attack on a llama, a new Montana vet's involvement in the townpeoples' lives and the mysterious animal attacker, and the presence of a hybrid wolf that has evolved from a mating with the most vicious fighting dog in the world.

DNA analysis contributes to a fast-paced plot as Yellowstone wolves are analyzed and the dangerous hybrid is tracked; but there's more going on here than a renegade wolf/dog hybrid.

Also at stake is a tenacious newspaper investigation, an arson that nearly ends it, special interests, a Scouting troop's fight against the elements, and a dangerous confrontation between man and nature that involves politics, murder, wolf protection efforts, and failed dreams on all sides.

Tracking wolves and hybrid alike may be at the heart of the story, but its pulse is on human efforts, challenges, and relationships; and these successfully drive a thriller that takes several twists and turns in the course of its adventure.

Readers of science-based thriller reads will find Hybrid moves in unexpected directions to provide a satisfyingly complex survey highly recommended for anyone interested in team efforts and complex conundrums.

Sky Theater: Essays on Rural Life and Community from the Editor of Dakotafire Magazine
Heidi Marttila-Losure
Prairiesummer Books
9780984890736 $34.95 color version (a black and white version is available for $14.95; the color Kindle version is $9.99)

http://dakotafire.net/product/sky-theater-essays-rural-life-community-editor-dakotafire-magazine-color-photos/

https://www.amazon.com/Sky-Theater-Community-Dakotafire-Magazine/dp/0984890734

Sky Theater: Essays on Rural Life and Community from the Editor of Dakotafire Magazine is unexpectedly gorgeous, so spring for the color or Kindle version and be prepared to immerse yourself in a community leadership program like no other: one oriented towards rural community development at the grassroots level.

This takes the form of essays and opinion pieces written by Dakotafire Magazine editor Heidi Marttila-Losure during her tenure as its editor, but it's much more than an advocacy collection. Many insights on rural issues specific to Dakota communities in particular and wider rural living choices in general pinpoint the values, issues, and challenges of rural community development options and come from the viewpoint of a woman who made a deliberate choice to live in a rural community.

This produces a powerful assessment of big-system support structures and rural and urban community contrasts, incorporating a perspective that contrasts them both: "Many systems, including in agricultural policy and education, are set up in ways that tend to make the nation more urban, and to make urban places stronger than rural places. I point out the pro-urban tendency of those systems when I see it and suggest ways those systems could be made fairer for the benefit of everyone."

From consideration of the best balance of urban and rural systems for the healthiest society that includes China in its assessments and examples to expanding transmission lines, the effects of eminent domain, and the underlying perceptions of farmers and landowners who must contend with these changes ("One neighbor shrugs and says, "You can't fight progress." Another gave the power company representative a piece of his mind. No one, however, has come close to the kind of anger that led to protests, destruction of property, and arrests in Minnesota in the late 1970s when a power line was planned. Perhaps everyone learned - those farmers lost anyway."), each thought-provoking piece represents a vignette of experience, a dose of philosophical and social reflection, and suggestions for forming alliances rather than taking sides in various issues affecting the rural community.

With such a dialogue in place, readers are given a rare glimpse of why rural people act and believe as they do in a discussion of how real innovation stems from a flexible willingness to consider positive possibilities for change and cooperative measures that benefit all involved.

The result is a hard-hitting collection that should be in every rural reader's hands and, unexpectedly, also in every urban dweller's thoughts. Sky Theater is very, very highly recommended for its explorations and attitudes that ultimately seek to unite philosophies and perspectives, eschewing the usual approach that pinpoints 'right' and 'wrong' sides and thus increases divisions and conflicts.

It's easily one of the most important books published in recent months to consider the boundaries between rural and urban thinkers and how to draw both communities closer together with common ground and perspectives that benefit each.

War World
Rod C. Spence
Gallant Press
www.warworldseries.com
Hard Cover: 9780999087909 $24.99
Paperback: 9780999087916 $17.95
Ebook: 9780999087923 $9.99 amazon.com

War World involves wormholes, corporate interests, aliens, high technology, and special interests. It also tempers these themes with the efforts of a determined young boy, Jeremy Austin, who is an average student suddenly facing killer gnomes, wizards, prehistoric monsters, and a battle.

Six teens become involved in a struggle for survival that moves from political to battle grounds in this fast-paced fantasy that pairs an epic quest with a broader goal that considers the heart of what it means to stay human and survive against impossible odds.

Indeed, so much takes place that it's hard to neatly peg the genre of War World, despite its obvious role as a fantasy read. Basic components of thriller reading keep the action fast-paced and involving, the choice of teen characters makes the story accessible to young adults, and the action is high-octane, pulling teens and adult readers alike with powerful scenes only six pages into the story line: "There!" Jeremy cried, pointing to the coffin's front panel. Two razor-sharp claws were protruding from beneath the glass panel, preventing its closure. "What do we do?" he shouted. He'd never felt this kind of fear before. Death lived behind that glass panel, and now it was getting loose."

Between the dangerous Mrs. Friedman, the threats from TerraGen's efforts, military secrets, the search for a crown, and computer geeks who confront aliens, there's nothing predictable or staid about War World. Add a planet from hell and an 'Asian Barbie' into the mix for a story that is complicated, fast-paced, unpredictable, and about as far from H.G. Wells as you can get.

Fans of alien invasion mixed with fantasy and epic quest elements will find War World a satisfying, well-detailed story that grabs readers from the first page and doesn't let go.

The Point of the Pick: A Novel of the 20th Century
Curtis Seltzer
Curtis Seltzer, Publisher
www.Curtis-Seltzer.com
Print: 9780999422403 $29.99
Ebook: 9780999422410 $11.99

The Point of the Pick is highly recommended for any reader fond of The Godfather and stories based on organized crime activities, offering a chilling account that only a few years ago would have been considered more fantasy than possible reality.

Organized crime has moved into the upper echelons of business and politics in this scenario; and in one election for president of the coal miners' union, the mob corrupts both candidates, leaving no options for anything different in a substantially changed local political landscape.

Prejudice, mob violence and hitmen, coal magnates and wives who decide to play dangerous games by siding with the opposition, and radicals who find themselves a target and who are on the run contribute to a satisfyingly complex cast of characters who keep the action fast-paced, the subplots numerous and intricate, and the story line packed with clashing personalities and exciting scenarios.

Like The Godfather, The Point of the Pick is not recommended for readers unwilling to absorb a myriad of details and mob activity scenarios. It's a powerful, fine read for Godfather fans who desire more of the kinds of action, intrigue, and mob murders that made Mario Puzo's classic writings so famous.

Lives saved and lost, set-ups that take advantage of witness protection programs and a series of lies, and powerful characterization that excels in vivid confrontations on various sides are set against the backdrop of the changing coal industry and its impact on everyone.

With its taut action, highlights of special interests and their interactions, individual efforts to retire and stay alive, and a solid attention to evolving details that present conundrums even to those outside mob action ("Sometimes good notions end up makin' bad consequences, things we can't predict."), The Point of the Pick is a solid, involving action piece that's hard to put down and very satisfyingly complex in its mob details and interactions. Fans of The Godfather will welcome this title's continuing action and drama.

Avenue of the Americas
Martin Blank
American Ensemble Books
www.AmericanEnsembleBooks.Com
ISBN: 9780578198910 $5.95

Avenue of the Americas is a comedy play produced off-Broadway that holds a message that's simultaneously funny and thought provoking as an escapee from a mental institution discovers her knack in writing TV commercials that are wildly popular.

The setting moves from New Jersey to New York, the characters are all in their 30s or 40s but among them, Katie is easily the most beautiful woman in the world as she views ads on TV, runs an imaginary ad agency in her mind (she's been incarcerated since she was ten), and deftly identifies where an advertising message or delivery is wrong.

Katie's facing a new doctor and the potential of being transferred away from her few friends and into isolation; but even as this dire possibility is contemplated, a thread of humor is injected into the discussion: "Gus: In C you in a room where you all alone. Just padding. No windows. Nothing. Sometimes they take you to another room and they shock you...No magazines. No nothing. Just terrible, horrible pain. Katie: Sounds like public TV."

Gus has a vested interest in Katie's remaining near him: she's teaching him to read in exchange for him bringing her magazines and more. And Katie's been with her old therapist for some twenty years, so her venture into an association with the new Dr. Meyers more than treads on unfamiliar grounds. Despite all this, Katie is eloquent in her expressions with her new doctor ("Meyers: May I get you some coffee? Katie: A McCafe vanilla latte. It's like a giant vanilla unicorn just showed up to your mouth and wants to party."), although she remains steadfast in her delusion that she's running an ad agency instead of living her life in an institution.

But, what if she really ran such an agency? Because Katie's not in a high-risk section of the facility, she's able to pull off a sudden action and escape into the real world - and that's where things get interesting. A series of chance encounters move her from a possible alley mugging to the limelight she craves, where she produces shocking ads as edgy as Katie inadvertently is: "Don't end up a one-armed, homeless morphine addict, with a dead husband and children. Use Martha King Cosmetics."

As Katie's ads venture into gruesome territory, agency owner Jay is faced with some hard decisions - and some hard realizations about the source of Katie's unusual talents for advertising. It turns out that Katie doesn't just talk advertising - she uses advertising to fill in the blanks of her own personality slate. And Jay's discovery about her as he conducts the due diligence he should have done from the start reveals a shocking truth that changes everything.

Avenue of the Americas is a play that probes the unexpected boundaries of the human mind and its ability to interact on the borders of sanity and insanity. Ultimately, it succeeds in pointing out the fuzzy edges of these processes in daily life, and presents not only a long-time mental patient whose processes are crafted through advertising and sales ploys, but a society that reacts in much the same, half-sane manner.

As Katie's present swings fill tilt to the past that has crafted this persona, readers are treated to unexpected revelations that probe the basics of sanity, insanity, and psychic survival techniques.

Advertising involves altering human behavior, and it involves seduction. Ultimately, it also involves Katie in a series of world-changing events that alters her, as well.

Avenue of the Americas is the cornerstone play, but also included is the shorter piece 'Driving Green', a ten-minute comedy revolving around three characters in a ride-sharing situation that neatly tackles opposing political viewpoints in the course of a ride that journeys into a marriage between two polar opposites.

A surprise ending delights viewers and makes a point about different perceptions meeting in the middle.

Both plays are delightfully thought-provoking productions which will come to life on stage, pairing comedy with observations that will keep viewers thinking far beyond each tale's conclusion.

Dreadmarrow Thief
Marjory Kaptanoglu
Marjory Kaptanoglu, Publisher
https://www.marjorykaptanoglu.com
9780999449202: ebook $2.99
9780999449219: paperback $9.99
9780999449226: hardcover $24.95

Ordering Link: https://www.amzn.com/dp/B076BBFYMM

Dreadmarrow Thief is Book One of the Conjurer Fellstone series, and tells of teen Tessa, who is responsible for her father's murder when she uses a forbidden artifact to shapeshift, attracting the attention of the Conjurer Lord Fellstone, who has him killed as punishment.

This only leads Tessa further into the forbidden dark side of magic as she sets her goals on stealing his most coveted and powerful possession: an amulet that might be able to restore life back to her father.

Joined by two peers who harbor their own special objectives for revenge and restoration, Tessa throws any caution to the winds as they embark on an epic journey to wrest back what they have lost, from romance to loved ones murdered.

Several things set Dreadmarrow Thief apart from other teen fantasy epic journeys; not the least of which is Marjory Kaptanoglu's use of evocative, visionary language that successfully places readers of all ages right into the sights, smells, and sounds of Tessa's world: "Today, my fifth time as a russet sparrow, I felt as if I'd been flying all my life. I left caution behind, soaring over the town square, catching a beakful of rancid smoke rising from the shops and ramshackle homes. My wings flapped according to instinct and carried me toward Sorrenwood's outer edge, over rows of broken shelters."

From this introduction one deftly weaves through the atmosphere and setting of a world in which Tessa is newly empowered by others to change the outcome of her poor decisions, which have left her an orphan: "Mama had left years ago, and now Papa was struck down. I had nothing further to lose. If I didn't act, the lord's men would most certainly return to arrest me and take back the windrider. Calder was giving me a chance to change the outcome - to bring my papa back to life. After that we could leave Sorrenwood as he'd wanted. Of course I would do it. I must swallow my grief for now and take action. There would be plenty of time to mourn in the end, if that was what it came to."

Her embrace of new 'family', her acceptance of a possibility that demands she display both courage and flexible acceptance of a wider world than she's explored in the past, and her gritty determination to enact positive change against all odds brings readers right into the characters, movements, and purposes of a story that sweeps swiftly along, nicely powered by her discoveries and confrontations.

By setting the story in medieval times in a world where conjurers and magic hold all the power, then shifting this scenario to include the perspective and struggles of a teenager who defies the consequences of her mistakes but also exhibits a sensitivity and concern to those around her, Kaptanoglu creates a sensitive and absorbing tale within the quest-style fantasy structure that proves hard to put down.

The point of view shifts from Tessa's first-person experience to third-person perspectives of Ash and others; but these transition points, which could have proved jarring under another author's hand, are clearly presented in chapters that are headed by the changing character names, and so offer an added dimension of insight from both Tessa's internal view and the outside observations of others.

Although teens are obviously the age group targeted for the story, many an adult fantasy reader - particularly those who enjoyed Harry Potter but who seek a feisty, determined female protagonist - will find much to appreciate in the complexity and atmosphere of Dreadmarrow Thief.

Challenged, heartsore, yet determined and pro-active, Tessa is a remarkably realistic, absorbing young heroine whose actions and reactions are poignant and powerful. There are many surprises throughout, making Dreadmarrow Thief an absorbing read that also, satisfyingly, stands alone as a heartfelt exploration of a girl convinced that knowledge is strength: a certainty that propels her from childhood to adulthood in a different, compelling coming of age fantasy designed to appeal beyond its age group.

Limbo
Laura Koerber
Who Chains You Books
www.whochainsyou.com
9781946044174 $11.97 Paper; $3.97 Kindle http://a.co/iJ7wPQr

Limbo is a place halfway between heaven and hell where wayward humans wind up with too much time on their hands and no direction. It's actually a ghost town where these souls spend their time gossiping, playing games, and singing - and where a newcomer, teen Alyse, decides to bring these disparate souls together in the afterlife equivalent of a neighborhood block party.

Most of these lost souls are locked into their own isolating patterns. They've changed relatively little since their arrival in Limbo. Alyse was never a religious believer, and never imagined she'd wind up in a ghosts' village haunted by the souls of those exiled both from the living and any final destination.

But she's just one of a variety of characters who wind up in this lost place, forced to reconcile her new existence with the realities of eternity in a dead-end town reminiscent of an old Western story.

The villagers hold on to their beliefs that there is a different afterlife beyond Limbo; a better place that souls eventually go to. But, they don't really know - anyone who manages to leave this village never returns. They are just awaiting God. And in a ethereal tale reminiscent of a more spiritual version of the philosophical classic Waiting for Godot, Alyse, the Preacher, Lily, Darla and others work at being 'good enough for Heaven' and greater than the circumstances of their lives, which have ended up in Limbo.

If any of them had known there was this kind of afterlife, would they have done anything different? And should they be doing something different, now?

Readers receive a satisfyingly different combination of philosophical and spiritual reflection, commentary on ghosts and lives lived on the margins in both worlds, and a dash of wry humor that permeates the story as Limbo's residents get to know one another and reflect on the circumstances that brought them together.

On one hand, Limbo is an entertaining story of how people pass time under different circumstances, of how they evolve ideas about their world and its underlying rules, and the choices involved in their interactions with others.

In other ways, Limbo is a quintessential tale of animal and human relationships, how life is lived (or not), and the elements which translate to being alive even in the afterlife world of the dead. It's a fantasy replete with human relationships, animal companions, and finding meaning and cheer in the most dead-end of situations.

Readers seeking an uplifting afterlife saga that offers a winning brush against life's ironies and inconsistencies and an attention to building characters who face Limbo in different ways will enjoy this enchanting, light tale of discovery, change, and dubious redemption; all wrapped into the tale of a block party like no other.

The Brambles
Leah Erickson
Rebel ePublishers
http://rebelepublishers.com
Ebook: 9781944077273 $2.99
Print: 9781944077278 $TBA

The dead girl, seventeen-year-old Elizabeth, has been haunting her small town since she was found hanging from a tree in her back yard. The town couldn't be to blame for her death (the family was reclusive and nobody interacted with them), so why is she haunting their lives?

The answer lies in a twisting series of events that makes The Brambles a ghost story with a difference as various peers reflect on her life and death and their involvement in her world. Most of them have never known anyone who died before. Most of them only knew a single aspect about the reclusive Elizabeth. And most of them will come to know her better after death than ever before as a series of eerie incidents transpires to envelop the town in a dangerous truth when Elizabeth begins to speak to each person in different ways.

In The Brambles, her mysterious death is only the beginning of a strange reality that emerges to change everyone it touches - Vanessa, Mack, Lillian, and even Elizabeth herself, who exists in a form readers can perceive, as well: "The place where Elizabeth lives now sometimes feels like the place she has always been. But more and more, recently, she is preoccupied with that other, living dimension. The one that she used to occupy, back when she was a living girl. Because even though she is at peace as she is now (not exactly happy, but a blissfully neutral state, experiencing herself as one with the woods and the leaves and dirt, a blissful serenity of death's indifference) she is pierced by her intimations of those still alive in her former life."

As Elizabeth's renewed purpose evolves, her story reaches out to grasp everyone involved, moving from a ghost and mystery saga to a deeper perspective and involvement that injects meaning and choices into a bigger picture: "Elizabeth's sense-memories are lately becoming more and more vividly alive, and won't let her rest. In some way, she has to act. She knew she had to harness the power of her pure essence and form to have some kind of effect on what was happening in the present. Or else it would be like a never-ending cycle of pain."

Privacy can become a prison, in this world. Secrets can isolate. And as privacy and secrets unravel for each character, mature young adult to adult readers receive a ghost story like few others: one which juxtaposes the hidden underworld of small-town and teen secrets with a dangerous predator's lasting impact on everything he touches.

Mature teens to new adults who want a story that begins with a ghostly presence and evolves into a much broader story will find The Brambles creates a brooding set of circumstances that embrace everything it touches, making for an engrossing tale that's thought-provoking, hard to put down, and very highly recommended.

Spiritual Living for Busy People: How to Nourish Your Soul in Today's Hectic World
Jose de la Torre
Peace Books
9780999128107 $15.99 Paper
9780999128121 $ 6.99 ebook http://www.spiritual-living.com

Spiritual Living for Busy People: How to Nourish Your Soul in Today's Hectic World asks a basic question: is spiritual living just for spiritually aware people? The answer isn't what the reader would think. Jose de la Torre maintains that spiritual and religious living aren't necessarily synonymous, and his guide is intended for busy people who want to incorporate a sense of mindfulness and awareness into their daily lives.

This audience will discover a range of answers and food for thought assembled from various religious practices, covering the nature of spiritual thinking processes in a carefully laid-out game plan that includes details on mindsets, heart-felt values, and caring for one's body. Also included in these discussions is higher-level thinking about power structures, gratitude, artificial divisions in the world that thwart spiritual objectives, and how to find personal meaning and purpose in life.

Spiritual Living for Busy People opens with the author's autobiography and follows his spiritual growth, but the meat of his book lies in surveys of psychological, spiritual, and social forces that detract from spiritual awareness and thinking as he shows how to cultivate the kinds of perceptions and thinking patterns that defy these processes.

These keys to better living are presented in hard-hitting reflections that offer a different definition of spirituality than most books offer: "Being spiritual is about being aware of one's being, living in awareness from the heart, accepting what is in the present, and taking responsibility for one's actions. Defined this way, belief in a soul, or in God, or in a Creator, is technically not required. Belief in anything, for that matter, is not required. The only belief required, I suppose, is the belief that we are created equal, and we each have a right to make our own decisions, crafting our own lives as we choose to live them. We can live spiritually by simply exercising basic human respect."

In blending a 'how to' with an overall mix of philosophy, psychology, and spiritual reflection, Jose de la Torre offers a synthesis of insights and paths to leading a life that contributes to a better world.

Nobody should be too busy to read this book, which couches its reflections in digestible admonitions and reflections that are powerful, yet surprisingly easy to access.

Spiritual Living for Busy People is highly recommended for both spirituality and philosophy readers who seek to challenge their lives and perceptions.

Too Sharp to Fail
Kiana L. Wilson
Morgan James Publishing
www.morganjamespublishing.com
9781683501428 $12.89 paper; $7.99 Kindle

Too SHARP to Fail: How to Own Your Career and Thrive in the Workplace's message is simple: by understanding what influences one's career evolution and taking control of attitudes about that career and its influencers, change can happen. Perhaps this concept sounds too simplistic (and for older readers, it may be); but for new college grads and early career professionals, this book will be an eye-opener.

It uses the fictional example of twenty-something college grad and aspiring professional Justin to illustrate its points, which adds excitement and human interest to the examples of career pitfalls and how to overcome them.

Too SHARP to Fail focuses on Justin's mindset, reactions, and attitudes about work and workplace challenges, giving readers an eye-opening series of perspectives as Justin accepts a job, questions his decision early in the training process, re-examines the goals and visions he had in mind for the position, and handles daily challenges ranging from co-worker attitudes to the process of moving beyond his comfort zone to strive for bigger goals and successes.

As the story evolves, working points are reinforced by discussions as readers are treated to bigger-picture thinking processes that assess decisions, choices, and their ultimate short- and long-term impacts. From the effects of mentoring and coaching processes that allow Justin to grow well beyond his original goals to strengthening one's psyche by using external sources sparingly, this psychological approach to career success is especially recommended for newcomers to the workplace who may be filled with ideals that will be tested by career and job realities and demands.

Does a book need to be written about honing a better attitude in the workplace? Yes; especially considering the new/younger workforce it's written for. While novice, aspiring professionals will be its most likely audience, the messages in Too SHARP to Fail should really be considered by all who want to make their workplace and careers a greater success through attitude adjustment, a better perception of events, people, and work demands, and a greater attention to the details that differentiate successful approaches from those that fail.

Very highly recommended, Too SHARP to Fail should be among the gifts to any college grad entering the workplace with career goals in mind.

Traveling High and Tripping Hard
Joseph Davida
http://josephdavida.com
Dark Planet Press
9780999397503 $10.99

Traveling High and Tripping Hard pairs a rock musician's search for the meaning of life with a trip around the world, providing a memoir replete with humor, adventure, drug-tripping insights, and the highs and lows of a vagabond.

In some ways, Traveling High and Tripping Hard is reminiscent of Kerouac's On the Road and other stories of counterculture searches for self-discovery and coming of age experiences; but this book's expanded focus on altered states of consciousness and mind tricks that connect inner self to wider world events incorporates a singular focus that many earlier road trip classics don't contain: "I had done it. The Jedi mind trick. Somehow, with the power and assistance of the Force, the Buddha, or Shiva, I'd manipulated someone else's mind into accepting my will. Maybe that sadhu at Pashupatinath had installed some magical powers into my hard drive with that tika, or maybe something had rubbed off from the Tibetan monks at Bhodanath."

What does swimming with sharks, checking out ruins in Belize, losing direction (and a father) in the Middle East, or facing the apocalypse and drugs in Thailand have in common? All are linked by Joseph Davida's vigorous romp through life in search of truth, perspective, and trips that don't conclude with a sense of failure.

Absolutes, pain and suffering, and choices made while living and experiencing life all come to a head in this story of mental and physical tripping that probes the essence of change and its various incarnations.

Readers who would take On the Road to the next level, journeying into mind-bending mental realms changed by drugs and challenging life encounters, will find Traveling High and Tripping Hard a vigorous, revealing memoir that closely examines personal change and larger life goals.

The Stone of Integrity
M.J. Evans
Dancing Horse Press
www.dancinghorsepress.com
9780996661782 $10.95

The Stone of Integrity presents the third book in the Centaur Chronicles and follows Carling's latest quest, which is sparked by an old Centaur's gift of an ancient map given to her as the future Queen of Crystonia.

This map provides the first clue in a quest for the next of four powerful stones, the Stone of Integrity, sending Carling on a journey that she has only halfway been completed by finding the prior two stones (covered in the two previous books).

This stone will give her the integrity she needs to rule - but it also is another step in a process Carling finds demanding; for she is a reluctant future ruler who never wanted to oversee a kingdom, so each stone provides her with a skill she needs in order to grow into her future role as ruler.

The first thing to note in this book is that M.J. Evans provides exquisite descriptions of place, whether it be the fishing docks where an old fisherman, Fyzzle, offers her a clue, or an encounter with the Fairy King at a fairy festival, where Carling finds that her other stones give her the perspective and insight to make some hard choices: "Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is conquering that fear in order to always do what is right."

From entering a painting with a group of supporters and sojourning into another world to begin a magical journey they thought they were already on to conquering her fears of dangerous waters, Carling's process tests her prior achievements as well as her future goals.

The second powerful attribute of this book lies in its ability to follow Carling's personal growth, setbacks, and process of finding the kinds of courage and perspectives that will lead her not only to her latest goal, but which will add to her growth and skill sets; a process that demands she move beyond her comfort levels and into uncharted territory.

Characterization is well done and the adventures are nicely presented and crisp with detail and atmosphere as readers are treated to an examination of not only a young fairy's growth, but the processes of Fairies who are accustomed to hiding their feelings and faces from the world.

All characters grow under Evans' hand, making The Stone of Integrity a satisfying fantasy of achievement, change, danger and adversity that considers the different forms of blindness that affect each character, challenging their beliefs and goals.

Carling's experiences give her some of the wisdom and integrity she'll need to be a queen, and readers receive some powerful insights wound into an adventure quest that is thoroughly absorbing.

The Former Assassin
Nikki Stern
nikkistern.com/the-former-assassin
Ruthenia Press
9780999548707 $14.99 Print; $2.99 ebook

Do aging assassins ever retire from the profession? And, what do they do with their special skills, afterwards? The Former Assassin poses this dilemma when successful assassin Suzanne Foster wants to retire from her role as Victor's personal killer - but he'd rather see her dead than release her from duty.

In fact, he's so angry that he's determined to track her down and make her suffer before she dies - and so Suzanne finds herself the object of a deadly game where her pursuer holds as much expertise in murder as she.

Expanded from and based upon an e-novella 'Don't Move,' The Former Assassin adds extra dimensions of intrigue and interplays that thriller readers will find fascinating and well-detailed.

Pitting two ruthless professional killers against one another makes for an absorbing story line; but add the extra dimensions of family, friends, and power plays that lead a woman to blindly follow her killer's instincts and a boss to control her for a riveting story that sets the stage with compelling psychological insights from the start: "The next day I went to work. And the next and the next. For nearly two more decades. I should have gone insane. I almost did on several occasions. I wanted to leave him. Actually, I wanted to kill him or hurt him as terribly as he had hurt me. I did none of those things. I contended with my pain and my rage. I had no choice. He watched me like a hawk, at once secure in his power, yet wary I might turn on him. My strength came from not doing what he expected. If I'd really thought about how long it might take to get free of him, I might not have made it. I didn't think about it. I focused on the tasks in front of me."

Once tasked with making inhuman, cruel decisions, how can a successful former assassin take the next step to escape from her profession entirely? And how long will her decision to take early retirement continue to haunt Suzanne's attempts to build a different life?

Suzanne thought that Victor could find it easy to let her go, but she hasn't factored in his need for power, control, and domination: "Improbably or not, you still retain skills I find valuable. I shouldn't need to remind you my assets don't leave until I've fully realized my investment." He considers her his personal investment. And personal investments do not escape that easily.

As Suzanne's family is threatened and Victor supposedly is taken care of in an explosion, she finds his demise mercurial as the threats continue. Her 'Spidey sense' may be all that stands between her family and disaster.

From Suzanne's ability to keep her profession a secret even from her mother Lisette to detective investigations and business ventures with high stakes, The Former Assassin rapidly expands from one woman's dilemma to a broader set of schemes, explorations, and entwined fates.

Readers attracted to cat-and-mouse stories of conspiracy, murder, corporate activities, and detective works, and those who enjoy added dimensions of psychological insights throughout these scenarios will find The Former Assassin offers just the right blend of intrigue and drama to make for a riveting read from start to finish. Its ending is as mercurial as its story, offering either closure or coming full circle, depending on one's perspective.

The Former Assassin is a very highly recommended, well-done production that keeps readers guessing the outcome right up to its conclusion.

The Dog Thief and Other Stories
Jill Kearney
Who Chains You Books
www.whochainsyou.com
ASIN: B01LYUW10Q $4.79 Kindle/$12.97 Print http://a.co/itn1zqO

Animal lovers will discover a treasure trove of short stories revolving around animals, humans, and companion relationships in The Dog Thief and Other Stories, a collection almost as powerful in its messages about community interactions and individual survival as it is about animals who interact with humans in a variety of situations.

Take, for example, the story 'Beer Money'. Readers won't expect an animal tale with the opener: "Bob lurked behind the cedar tree. He was spying on his ex-wife, waiting for her to leave for work." And when he does enter her home, he discovers "There was no sign that he had ever occupied this home...She had cleaned him right out of her life."

As he makes himself at home in her absence, he comes upon the deaf old dog that also was once part of their lives. Buddy had been his dog before he'd met Linda, and has always been there for him. But it seems Linda that has plans for Buddy, and suddenly Bob is faced with yet another change in his life.

Sometimes the animal and nature feel are peripheral to the human story, as in 'Driving While Remembering', which chronicles a drive into the past, the juxtaposition of life-affirming youth and the trials of aging, and the discovery of a wetlands volunteer who made a difference at the end of her life.

Each short story holds a poignant portrait of human relationships, changed circumstances, and struggle, and these lie at the heart of stories which often add animals into the mix.

As vignettes and snapshots of moments of quiet revelation, change, and encounters with nature and (most often) dogs blossom, they present lovely pieces packed with depth, insights, and the kind of literary approach that elevates them to philosophical and psychological reflections about life's meaning and trajectory.

Each story is heartfelt and wrenching in its own right, delicately captured in a moment of time that perfectly presents pets and people at different pivotal moments of their existence.

Animal lovers seeking a collection of slices of life that add the extra dimension of pets and people will love this hard-hitting collection, which portrays all kinds of people from all walks of life.

Why Not?
Amanda Huneke
https://amandahuneke.com
Warren Publishing
9781943258482 $17.95 www.warrenpublishing.net

Why Not? is illustrated by Claudio Tenorio Pearl, who produces bright, good-sized picture book drawings to accompany the story of Peyton Pep, a young girl with a big imagination and a positive view of what can be accomplished in life.

So when she announces to her mother that she's on her way to visit the North Pole, the savvy woman responds with questions about how she's going beat the cold with proper clothing which Peyton likely doesn't own.

Peyton's answer the next day is to revise her projected travel itinerary, which brings its own special challenges as her trip moves from the land of snow to a hot desert environment.

Peyton actually has new ideas for each day of the week - and as her mother raises practical concerns, her travel adventure ideas keep changing. Will she find one she can actually achieve?

Gorgeous color drawing and the impact of an active imagination which collides with practical considerations creates a vivid picture book story that is whimsical, fun, and which concludes with an unexpected revelation from her mother.

Parents who choose Why Not? for its read-aloud pleasure will find much to like about the precocious child's positive and creative viewpoints and a wise mother who counters Peyton's lofty goals with realistic, practical insights.

Sex, Drugs, Rock 'N Roll, and a Tiara: How I Celebrated Kicking Cancer's Ass
Beverly Diehl
http://blog.writinginflow.com
CreateSpace
9781976077111 $3.99 ebook; $17.99 paperback http://a.co/dGn7pK2

Autobiographies about cancer struggles and survival rarely hold upbeat tones. Often they are poignant, emotionally tense reads that chronicle much hardship, pain and suffering as they wind through powerfully debilitating treatment regimens.

But readers expecting the same flavor from Sex, Drugs, Rock 'N Roll, and a Tiara: How I Celebrated Kicking Cancer's Ass will be pleased to note a very different approach to the author's experience, because Beverly Diehl's account incorporates not only an upbeat but a defiant attitude that offers a rare tone of positive excitement, warning readers about its unusual perspective from the start: "...wouldn't you like to find out how and why someone would brag that her breast cancer journey was the beginning of the best year of her life? Except I can't truly say that, because going on three years out from diagnosis, the "best" phenomena and sense of delight continues. It hasn't merely been one year."

Competing cancer accounts can hardly be described as 'upbeat'; and rarely incorporate ribald language, experiences of assault and rape, religious abuse, toxic relationships, and more. So readers should be forewarned: this is not your usual 'cancer survival' saga, but a romp through a life that is charged with adversity, attitude, and unusual perspectives.

Breast cancer is only one facet affecting the course of Diehl's life, and readers who accept that this autobiography is well-rounded and inclusive of all kinds of topics will find it more satisfying and vivid than many memoirs on the topic.

Candid and hard-hitting, it also tackles the topic of polyamory (more than one love relationship, experienced simultaneously) and a vibrant lifestyle that doesn't bow to the ravages of cancer, but defies it. It should thus be mentioned that Sex, Drugs, Rock 'N Roll, and a Tiara is not a read that will be appreciated by the conservative or cautious reader with firmly-held moral and ethical opinions of what a well-lived life should be.

Details of cancer treatment cover all the specifics from emotional to physical experiences, leaving nothing murky or unacknowledged. Personal photos by Nick Holmes adds visuals to bring the people in her story to life, adding another extra dimension not usually seen in standard autobiographies. Again: it should be warned that nudity is involved - tasteful, but present. Readers who harbor conservative perspectives will likely not appreciate these candid shots any more than Diehl's frank talk about her sexuality and alternative lifestyle; but those who are not stymied by blunt, frank and open discussions and images will find her approach brave, innovative and revealing on many levels.

The result should be not only on the shelves of many cancer survivors, but on the reading lists of those seeking a candid, vivid, pulls-no-punches read about one woman's romp through and commitment to her sexual nature. Without undercutting the serious trials of a breast cancer diagnosis, Sex, Drugs, Rock 'N Roll, and a Tiara neatly details how Diehl moved beyond initial diagnosis and treatment to confront and experience all of life's challenges head-on, with eyes wide open.

Cloud Warriors
Rob Jung
Roundfire
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
www.johnhuntpublishing.com
9781785359187 $21.95

Archaeologists and researchers often dream of finding famous ruins and evidence of forgotten societies; but what happens when they find a living remnant of a great civilization? Cloud Warriors details the dilemmas anthropology professor Terry Castro faces when he uncovers this bastion of an ancient Peruvian civilization and faces unexpected death threats from a corporation that's intent on profiting from the tribe's anti-aging potion.

Professor Castro had anticipated danger; but not from the usually-friendly natives of the Peruvian Amazon jungle. As for the natives who nearly kill him in their first encounter, Castro's presence defies their belief system: "Amaru had returned from the hunt with a story that, were it not for his stature as shaman and chieftain of the two hundred remaining members of the Chilco tribe, would not have been believed. He had seen the people who were the color of clouds; those who, according to legend, had destroyed the great Incan empire and forced the Chilco to flee their mountain home. Yet he, Amaru Topac, had faced those whose skin was fairer than his own and had single-handedly defeated them. No shaman in the history of the Chilco could make that claim."

And this is just the opener to a story that includes encounters with the spirits, a powerful magical potion that could change the world, and a clash between ancient and modern civilizations that places Professor Castro at the heart of one of the biggest discoveries (and potentially the most dangerous changes) humanity will ever face.

Readers of thrillers that incorporate scientific discovery, deadly special interests and manipulation processes, and confrontations between ethical and moral purposes will relish Cloud Warriors for its fast-paced action and satisfying blend of adventure with a touch of extraordinary powers and intrigue.

Astral suspension, teleportation, special communications, romance, terror, jungle journeys, and encounters with a shaman all contribute to a tense thriller that features many different characters and their thoroughly engrossing encounters.

The result is a jungle thriller that is well written, replete with surprising twists and turns, and hard to put down; especially recommended for thriller readers who look for the kind of high-octane action, complex plots and powerful characterization mastered by such big names as Michael Crichton, H. Rider Haggard and Philip Kerr.

Final Notice
Van Fleisher
https://finalnoticebook.com
BookBaby
www.bookbaby.com
ISBN Print: 9781543914115 $11.11
ISBN ebook: 9781543914122 $ 2.99

Amazon site: https://www.amazon.com/Final-Notice-What-would-certain-ebook/dp/B0771TKB1Z

Author website: www.finalnoticebook.com

Final Notice is set in the near future, when one's time of death can be pinpointed to the moment, in advance. The premise is simple: what would you do if you knew this date for certain? What choices would you make?

A mathematician's invention of a 'smart watch' that can make this prediction was intended to provide time for the users to make positive changes or decisions; but in reality, those who receive this 'final notice' have different reactions, sometimes including fulfilling their desire for a final revenge.

These stories of several people who choose this option and pursue their darkest dreams makes for a powerful and engrossing set of tales incorporating social and political commentary and psychological insights on motivations and influences on actions.

While the underlying premise may come from science fiction, the ultimate impact lies in their social perspectives, which leads readers to think about future desires, the consequences of actions when death is an imminent certainty, and issues ranging from gun rights to senior citizens' quality of life.

In some ways, Final Notice is a centrifuge of social impact as Vince, mathematician/physician Vijay, and others face blossoming, unexpected results of the Final Notice option. Readers are invited to consider these penalties and the consequences of inappropriate knowledge as they follow the dilemmas and decisions faced by all involved.

Visionary thinking, NRA rights, business and legal affairs, and special agendas coalesce into a story of interconnected lives changed by a technology that perhaps never should be accessible to the human race.

Sci-fi and social issues readers alike will find the premise and its story thoroughly engrossing, promising many moments of reflection and, especially, many thoughts about gun control, gun rights, and the benefits or detriments of prediction.

Invasion
Roxanne Bland
http://roxannebland.com
Blackrose Press
9780996731690 $13.00 www.blackrosepress.com

Invasion's title might sound like it portends another alien takeover story, but its roots in supernatural and urban fantasy are well evident as mage Garrett, werewolf leader Parker, and vampire ruler of Seattle Kurt face the most powerful adversity of all: a power that emanates from themselves and stems from their complex relationship with each other.

A spell gone awry causes their auras to become commingled and confused, a situation further complicated by the return of Parker's alien lover, Shen'zae Melera, to Earth; closely followed by alien pursuers who will do anything to get her back.

Suddenly, the four are faced with powerful adversity as they confront their own mixed-up relationships, the possibility that their intricate ties can never be severed, and face an alien invasion force that could overwhelm their abilities.

Invasion is about more than one kind of invasion force and incorporates many twists into its story line that give it added psychological depth and dimension.

While readers expecting a singular story of alien confrontation may be surprised at the urban fantasy and relationship elements embedded into the tale, Invasion offers a formula that doesn't neatly fit into either urban fantasy or paranormal fiction, and will especially delight readers of both genres looking for an action-paced story that creates something delightfully different.

The Chief and His Marine
B.A. Sherman
B.A. Sherman, Publisher
www.basherman.com
9781979072922 $13.00 Paperback, $26.95 Hardcover, $4.99 Ebook

The Chief and His Marine provides a fictional story based on true events of war, but adopts an unusual perspective of such events in presenting a parent's point of view.

The setting moves between the U.S. and Afghanistan as it juxtaposes the first-person war encounters of a father and son who share military service experiences and familiarity with desert battles alike, opening with the reflections and convictions of Navy Seal father Chief Platte, who is determined to choose a path that will bring him to see his Marine son Nick again.

Ten years with the Seal team results in missions that lose many good men, but these missions and maneuvers continue despite setbacks, and are well-detailed in a story filled with accounts of Navy Seal program operations and a father's evolving relationship with his son.

When his Marine son and his battalion are deployed to Iraq to help train their Iraqi soldiers to help fight a new terror group called ISIS, father and son find both their relationship and their military commitments challenged on different levels, and readers are introduced to the horrors of military activities from more than one perspective.

Unlike military stories that come solely from a soldier participant's viewpoint, The Chief and His Marine features many different contrasts; from a Navy Seal and a Marine's different approaches and endeavors to encounters with different factions in the Middle East that challenge each with new insights.

At the heart of these encounters and revelations are viewpoints that shift, change, and incorporate a parent's view of his influence not only on political and military levels, but in his relationship with his beloved son. Ultimately the story asks the ultimate question "Why are we here?" and presents answers on more than one level.

From close connections between family members and military comrades to final decisions which affect life, death, and the future of both sides, The Chief and His Marine crafts some real dilemmas and asks many hard questions, and making top reading for military novel enthusiasts looking for more overall philosophical and psychological depth than most such writings offer.

Life's Bulldozer Moments
Donato Tramuto with Chris Black
Hamilton Books
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9780761868552 $32.99 www.rowman.com

Life's Bulldozer Moments: How Adversity Leads to Success in Life and Business doesn't posit a brand new concept - after all, it's long been said that adversity creates new ways of looking at things, and success comes from new perspectives, objectives, and approaches.

What sets this book apart is a personal approach that blends business and life lessons into a memoir, firmly rooting hardships with the strengths Donato Tramuto gained from this process.

Tramuto's book, surprisingly, presents a blueprint for success for the health care industry with these insights as it touches upon the author's hearing impairment, which cemented his determination to succeed even as he faced prejudice and barriers. This led him to a career in health care that eventually resulted in his success as a pharmaceutical salesman and a series of management and CEO positions.

His business success led to a personal involvement in philanthropic endeavors and so his messages link material gain and social consciousness in a manner that will help readers become leaders in not only business ventures, but overall life improvement.

The result is a powerful guide that charts several "bulldozer moments" in Tramuto's life and offers insights into health care issues, personal involvement, and business decision-making.

Business and life purposes readers will read it for its lively tone, but will ultimately walk away with a clear blueprint for turning adversity into strength. Many other books cover some of the concepts; but Life's Bulldozer Moments covers the actual process of achieving this goal.

Asleep from Day
Margarita Montimore
https://montimore.com
Black Wing Books
9780999511411 $9.99 Kindle; $14.99 Paper www.asleepfromday.com

Asleep from Day opens with an intense mystery narrated in the first person: what is this place of beeping machines? As Astrid O'Malley comes to realize she's in an ambulance, she recalls some things and not others - and the biggest question revolves around the events that landed her there.

As her days at the hospital are supplemented by flashbacks of Astrid's life, readers become involved in a story that moves from injury and recovery to a probe of the events that landed her in this position.

Readers should anticipate a literary blend of romance, mystery, and powerful dreams that may give clues about a reality Astrid is ill prepared to tackle in her current condition. Colorful Boston settings, evolving relationships, surreal parties, and faulty memories coalesce in a tale that keeps readers guessing about Astrid's selective memories and her increasing feeling that something's not right.

Asleep from Day is simply riveting from start to finish; from Astrid's initial awakening in the ambulance to her return to a life that seems to hold many missing pieces and puzzles. Her accident is the impetus for change in her life, and readers follow her process of rediscovering friendships, finding courage, and undertaking an uncertain search for truth that involves two men in her life.

The result is a captivating, literary piece that winds a path somewhere between mystery, romance, and psychological thriller, incorporating elements of all these genres as it navigates the increasing treacherous routes of Astrid's revised life. Readers seeking something different from their novel reading will find Asleep from Day is a captivating story of how Astrid deals with old realities and pieces together a new one from shattered fragments of past and present.

Mannethorn's Key
Simon Lindley
https://simonlindley.net
CreateSpace
9781370873913 (ebook) $7.99
9781979396912 (print) $16.99
ASIN: B0773FTGYB

Book order website for all formats and online retailers: http://simonlindley.net

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomSimon_Lindley

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SimonL

Fans of the epic fantasy genre who appreciate complex, well-detailed and absorbing quest sagas will find Mannethorn's Key the perfect choice for a long winter's night.

The story opens with an intelligent drakehawk bird who is being called back home via magic. It turns out that Ka is the decoy for bringing Grailborn to the wizard's door, and the reward for her loyalty is betrayal.

Algarth Willowbrow's kingdom is in ruins: Grailborn has overcome his wards, his magic tricks and drakehawk have failed, and all that's left is a secret that involves a costly compromise and a final encounter that will ultimately determine the fate of Drageverden.

In another world, former broker Bartholomew Waxman has also gambled everything and lost; but he's about to embark on a journey between worlds he never knew existed, on a quest that could change them both.

Can a wizard stripped of his powers and an unsuspecting human who has already lost everything amass a power between them that can save both realms?

One pleasure of Mannethorn's Key lies in its ability to depict two very different worlds and purposes and bring them together in unexpected ways.

As Bart and Algarth consider their choices, breaches of tradition, and most of all, their failures, other characters enter the story that also have lost much and made decisions that conflicted with their interests: "She had lost everything. She had also failed at her post, as a Darvulian Guard, to protect her Folk. She might as well have killed them all herself. What was she to do now?"

Rage and revenge, a key hidden by Mannethorn that involves Bart in impossible circumstances, and mythical relics that explain much but are never found all make for a gripping story.

It should be cautioned that violence, swearing, and clashes on more than one level permeate the story line. These are always in keeping with the tale at hand, but add an extra dimension of spice and angst to the story that may stymie fantasy fans looking for clean action reading.

It should also be mentioned that Mannethorn's Key is the opener to a series and only explores Bart's first day of experiences in Drageverden. More books are in order, and will likely flush out the story of guardians, spells, and dilemmas of a man who knows he is no savior, but seems to have been thrust into this unlikely role, with Mannethorn Lexipath holding the key to everything.

Readers of epic fantasy looking for a powerful winter read will relish the detail and world Simon Lindley has crafted here, which sets the stage for further books in the Key of Life trilogy.

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


Dunford's Bookshelf

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
A. E. Elmore
Southern Illinois University Press
1915 University Press Drive, SIUC Mail Code 6806, Carbondale, IL 62901
www.siupress.com
9780809329519, $22.50, HC, 280pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: While it has long been determined that Abraham Lincoln's writings were influenced by the King James Bible, until now no full-length study has shown the precise ways in which the Gettysburg Address uses its specific language.

Refuting the view that the address was crafted with traditional classical references, "Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: Echoes of the Bible and Book of Common Prayer" by the late professor of law and literature A. E. Elmore (1938-2016) is revealing investigation provides a new way to think about the speech and the man who wrote it.

Professor Elmore offers chapter and verse evidence from the Bible as well as specific examples from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer to illustrate how Lincoln borrowed from these sources to imbue his speech with meanings that would resonate with his listeners. He cites every significant word and phrase (conceived, brought forth, struggled, remaining, consecrate, dedicate, hallow, devotion, new birth, to name a few) borrowed by Lincoln from these two religious texts for use in his dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

"Lincoln's Gettysburg Address" focuses on a number of overlooked themes and ideas, such as the importance of literary allusion and the general public's knowledge of the Bible in the age of Lincoln. It also provides fresh answers to old questions and poses new questions: Was Lincoln a common thief who made use of words from previously published materials as well as from works by his contemporaries? Was he a genius whose literary and political skills were unmatched?

Critique: While the Gettysburg Address is arguably one of the most important and succinct presidential addresses in the history of America, and one that has been studied hundreds of times over the last century, "Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: Echoes of the Bible and Book of Common Prayer" offers a unique and deftly insightful perspective that will have an enduring impact on how scholars and academicians perceive Abraham Lincoln's timely and timeless message to the people of his war torn day that continues to resonate down to our own time. While this work of exemplary scholarship is unreservedly recommended as a critically important addition to both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: Echoes of the Bible and Book of Common Prayer" is also available in a paperback edition (9780809335602, $25.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.38).

The Spirit of Villarosa
Horace Dade Anderson, et al.
Two Harbors Press
322 First Avenue N, 5th floor, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781634138475, $19.95, PB, 408pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When Marc Ashton was kidnapped, thoughts of his famous father, Horace Dade Ashton, filled his mind. The elder Ashton became a founding member of the Explorers Club, and showed his passion for adventure by visiting many perilous, yet captivating, corners of the world at a time when travel was not easy. Marc believed the key to his escape lay in his father's exploits.

Dubbed the ''original Indiana Jones'', the elder Ashton shared his journeys through his countless lectures, films, prize-winning photographs, and writing. In 1940, he became the cultural attache to the U.S. embassy in Haiti and moved his young family to the island, where they remained until 2001.

"The Spirit of Villarosa: A Father's Extraordinary Adventures; A Son's Challenge " is an inherently fascinating account of Horace Ashton's remarkable adventures juxtaposed with Marc Ashton's own harrowing captivity by armed, drug-crazed thugs seeking a staggering ransom.

Critique: While reading with all the engaging entertainment of a deftly crafted novel, "The Spirit of Villarosa: A Father's Extraordinary Adventures; A Son's Challenge " is one of those a true autobiographical stories that would simply outpaces even the most finely crafted fiction. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Spirit of Villarosa" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

The Collected Letters of Alan Watts
Edited by Joan Watts and Anne Watts
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
www.newworldlibrary.com
9781608684151 $32.50 hc / $14.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: Philosopher, author, and lecturer Alan Watts (1915 - 1973) popularized Zen Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies for the counterculture of the 1960s. Today, new generations are finding his writings and lectures online, while faithful followers worldwide continue to be enlightened by his teachings. The Collected Letters of Alan Watts reveals the remarkable arc of Watts's colorful and controversial life, from his school days in England to his priesthood in the Anglican Church as chaplain of Northwestern University to his alternative lifestyle and experimentation with LSD in the heyday of the late sixties.

Alan Watts's engaging letters cover a vast range of subject matter, with recipients ranging from High Church clergy to high priests of psychedelics, government officials, publishers, critics, family, and fans. They include C. G. Jung, Henry Miller, Gary Snyder, Aldous Huxley, Reinhold Niebuhr, Timothy Leary, Joseph Campbell, and James Hillman. Watts's letters were curated by two of his daughters, Joan Watts and Anne Watts, who have added rich, behind-the-scenes biographical commentary.

Critique: British-born philosopher, author, and lecturer Alan Watts (1915-1973), known for his work in popularizing Zen Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies, has influenced thinkers from a diversity of backgrounds. The Collected Letters of Alan Watts, curated by his first-born children Joan Watts and Anne Watts, ranges from the letters he wrote while a teenager at boarding school, to his writings as he eventually walked away from traditional education for a "self-imposed university" and left the priesthood, to his correspondence with luminaries of his time such as Joseph Campbell, Henry Miller, Gary Snyder, and Aldous Huxley. The Collected Letters of Alan Watts offers fascinating insight into a man destined to influence generations, and is highly recommended especially for public and college library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Collected Letters of Alan Watts is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

Thirty Years in the Arctic Regions
Sir John Franklin
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
www.skyhorsepublishing.com
9781510723856 $14.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: In an age when polar exploration was akin to space exploration today, Sir John Franklin's journeys of discovery captured the popular imagination. Originally published in 1859, Thirty Years in the Arctic Regions is Franklin's own record of his two overland expeditions, begun in 1816 and 1825, which took him to what is now the Northwest Territory of Canada.

But it was Franklin's final expedition, to discover the sea route connecting the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, that cemented his place in the history of Arctic exploration. Franklin and his crew set out in two ships, the Erebus and the Terror. Their search for the Northwest Passage was doomed, and the fate of Franklin and his 129-man crew remained a mystery for many years, despite the fact that more than thirty missions were sent to look for survivors or remains. The bodies of several of its members were eventually found. By 2016, both ships had been discovered, bringing an end to a 168-year-old Arctic mystery.

This book includes Franklin's record of the hardship and suffering his men endured from his earlier expeditions, during which he and his crew charted 1,700 miles of Arctic coastline. Also, it includes Franklin's detailed descriptions of a region that in the 19th century must have seemed as alien as a lunar landscape. The book's final entries include a letter from Franklin dated July 12, 1845 - the last communication from the expedition received in England - and letters sent by the leaders of subsequent search expeditions.

Critique: Originally published in 1859, Thirty Years in the Arctic Regions is an intense, true-life tale of polar exploration in wild lands, before the ill-fated sea expedition from which neither author Sir John Franklin nor his 129-man crew would ever return. A captivating primary source that stirs the readers sense of adventure and imagination, Thirty Years in the Arctic Regions is highly recommended for public and college library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Thirty Years in the Arctic Regions is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Michael Dunford
Reviewer


Gary's Bookshelf

Killer Choice
Tom Hunt
Berkley
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.penguin.com
9780399586408, $26.00, www.amazon.com

Gary Foster grapples with an awful situation that no one would want to face. His wife has an inoperable brain tumor. In another country, there is an experimental treatment that has shown positive results. Foster and his wife are struggling financially but there is a way that has presented itself for Gary to save his wife. Due to exposure in the local press a person comes forward, who says he will take care of the funding if Gary will kill someone for the monetary donor. Gary's dilemma sets the tone in a fantastic first novel in "Killer Choice." The conflicts and finely drawn characters propel "Killer Choice" along to its shattering conclusion that is guaranteed to satisfy anyone who is looking for a new thriller to begin the new year of 2018.

Unbound
Stuart Woods
Putnam
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.penguin.com
9780735217171, $28.00, www.amazon.com

Stone Barrington is back in a new thrilling adventure in "Unbound." This time the wife of Teddy Fay is killed in a freak accident. Fay believes it was not a simple car mishap so he goes on a tirade to seek revenge for the death of his wife. Fay is always an interesting character and this time he is in rare form. "Unbound" is another exciting tale in the Barrington series that is a page turner with many familiar characters involved in Fay's campaign to seek justice.

The Rainbow Murders Amber Series of Ybor City
Chris Coad Taylor
Johazel Publishing
www.johazelpublishing.com
9780982186428, $13.95, www.amazon.com

Tampa, Florida is a hotbed of murder in the new thriller "The Rainbow Murders." Tampa Police are on the trail of a serial killer in the area of Ybor City. Members of the gay and lesbian community are the targets as the killer continues his dastardly deeds. At the same time a woman named Amber Moon is receiving threatening notes at her door because she is friends with many gays and lesbians. Oddly enough in real life the killer in the Tampa neighborhood of Seminole Heights was caught in Ybor City. "The Rainbow Murders is filled with interesting characters and enough twists and turns to satisfy any mystery reader. "The Rainbow Murders" is the first of the Amber of Ybor City novels.

Twister Town
Scott Stevens
https://clstuff2001.wixsite.com/scottstevens
Create Space
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781548232733, $12.99 www.amazon.com

"Twister Town" has well defined characters as well as a great series of conflicts that change throughout the novel, one being a weather caster for a TV station has information that tells her the town of Tolland, Kansas that has escaped major tornados for a long time is about to end. She is predicting massive storms that will directly hit the city. She feels she is right and challenges her boss who is much more cautious before going on the airwaves to warn the towns people. As the information she has changes so to do the complications to the story. Stevens has a really great idea but does not handle it as well as he could have. Two examples are the over use of certain words and the running into each other of conversations instead of separating them for easier identification of who is speaking. Even with its flaws "Twister Town" is still a fun story to read.

Star Trek Discovery Desperate Hours
David Mack
Gallery Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
www.startrek.com
www.cbs/all-access
9781501164576, $16.00, www.amazon.com

Well I watched the first episode of "Star Trek Discovery" on the regular CBS network and was very unimpressed. For a Trek Show this is the most confusing one to ever launch. Unlike all of the others after the original series this one did not identify the characters very well and was very confusing. Now Gallery Books who has published many other Trek books has unveiled "Star Trek Discovery Desperate Hours" Like the show that premiered recently, this novel is just as confusing while the author also gives a timeline between Trek series that adds to the chaos. The whole concept of Discovery should have been better thought out before liftoff to the millions of fans around the world. "Star Trek Discovery" and "Star Trek Discovery Desperate Hours" are the first duds of the franchise.

Professor Birdsong's177 Dumbest Criminal Stories: International
Leonard Birdsong
Winghurst Publications
www.birdsonglaw.com
9780989845236, $7.99, www.amazon.com

From all over the world come new stories of criminals doing the dumbest things to get caught in the collection "Professor Birdsong's 177 Dumbest Criminal Stories: International." Now the good professor has set his sights on the following countries. Japan, Russia, Mexico, Canada, China. There are many other ones as well in another great compilation that will have readers laughing out loud at the utter stupidity of the perpetrators of these ridiculous crimes.

Help My Facebook Ads Suck
Michael Cooper
Wooden Pen Press
9781548046590, $8.99 www.amazon.com

"Help My Facebook Ads Suck" is a very helpful guide to take people through every step of the way on how to generate sales of your product effectively on Facebook. For authors Facebook is solid way to sell directly to readers instead of through book stores and other means still used. This way is more beneficial if used properly. Author Cooper trains writers how to wade through the social media giant and make a profit. Too often people have no clue on how to do things and complain they are not selling any copies. Cooper lays out in simple terms how to cut through the crap and use it properly. "Help My Facebook Ads Suck" is a groundbreaking book that is a valuable resource for anyone who is trying to sell anything on Facebook.

From Boy To Blue: Becoming One of Americas Finest
Steve Warneke
Create Space
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston SC 29406
www.stevewarneke.com
9780998641904, $14.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle www.amazon.com

"From Boy To Blue: Becoming One of Americas Finest" is the story of one man and his fifteen years with the Denver Colorado Police Department. But it is much more than just a single person's time with one unit. The stories Warneke tells relate to any cop in any city. Each aspect of what happened to him could be any city and any officer protecting his or her municipality. Warneke also reveals that he was the first openly gay cop of the Denver Department and how he was treated by others he worked with. He also was on the radio highlighting law enforcement issues and the people who work in the profession. "From Boy To Blue** Becoming One of Americas Finest" is a well written positive depiction that shows the day to day challenges law enforcement personal face protecting the citizens in every corner of this country.

Biblical Reflections
Yehuda Guy
www.yehudaguy.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyDV-PMKhIk
NoISBN, $20.00

Through pictures and ancient biblical writings world famous clarinetist Yehuda Guy takes readers on a wonderful ride in "Biblical Reflections." Told in both English and Hebrew the pieces are an amazing collaboration of sight and prose to show modern day Israel. Included are a sunset on the sea of Galilee, the golden arches of McDonald's in Jerusalem, an old city market, are just a few he has collected. Guy has gathered these ageless scribes and applies them to contemporary sites throughout the Jewish homeland. On his YouTube site he also uses his own music to highlight pages of "Biblical Reflections" to further enhance a person's enjoyment of this fascinating work of art.

Kobe the Dog Boy
Alice Cypress
Illustrations by Blueberry Illustrations
Protective Hands Communications
www.protectivehands.com
9780978739423, $9.95 www.amazon.com

Gee and Ali Smith feel there is something lacking in their household so they decide to get a puppy from a breeder. They choose a teacup size dog and name him Kobe. As they all adapt to each other something unexplainable happens that changes all of their lives forever. Kobe becomes more than just a little canine that communicates with Gee and Ali in a most unusual way. Kobe The Dog Boy" is a fun story for all ages filled with wonderful story telling magic that any dog owner will enjoy.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer


Gloria's Bookshelf

The Wanted
An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Novel
Robert Crais
Putnam
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
penguinrandomhouse.com
9780399161506, $28.00/37.00 CA$, Hardcover, 336 pp.

From the publisher: A worried mother, Devon Connor, contacts Private Investigator Elvis Cole because her teenage son, Tyson, has gotten himself into deep trouble. Along with two young friends, Tyson has burglarized more than a dozen homes in wealthy Los Angeles neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the young men have inadvertently stolen something that could incriminate a very rich and powerful person, who has no qualms resorting to murder to get it back. Two smart and skilled professional hitmen are already on Tyson's trail, brutally murdering a string of witnesses. In need of some formidable backup, Cole calls on his longtime friend and partner Joe Pike, a tight-lipped and hugely effective former Marine and cop. Distrustful of the police, Cole and Pike take bold and courageous steps as they try to protect Tyson and his friends, neutralize the killers, and snare the assassins' ruthless boss. But in a case so volatile and toxic, roiling with powerful teenage and parental emotions, violent death is always a distinct possibility.

In this, the 17th Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novel, the expected terrific writing and wonderfully-drawn characters are front and center. On page 1 of The Prologue, we are introduced to two men only ever referred to as Harvey and Stemms [the latter pretty much addicted to Adderall]. Page one of Part I (headed "Rich People") is in the first person voice of Elvis Cole, who has been hired to find out what is behind her 17-year-old son's recent activities. (p.o.v. pretty much alternates in chapters primarily between Harvey and Stemms, whose part in this is not immediately clear, that of Elvis Cole and soon Joe Pike, and, about half-way through the book, from Tyson himself.

Tyson hates school, has been expelled from two of them for absentee-ism and failing grades, and is apparently "one of the most wanted felons in LA." His mother had found money and valuables in his room, and believes that he had gotten involved with drug dealers and gangsters. Cole is reluctant to take on the job, but when Devon Connor shows him the Rolex watch she found among the 'valuables,' he agrees to investigate. It appears that there have been at least 17 burglaries, committed by one female and two males, whose DNA and prints the cops have, but not their IDs.

I very much liked the distinction drawn by the author between the areas of LA drawn here, one of which is described as "more Ross Macdonald than Raymond Chandler," presenting a clear picture to most readers of Mr. Crais' novels, I believe. I also dearly loved the author's insight into Cole and Pike's relationship and something of Pike's character when, needing to make Pike aware of something he had just discovered in his investigation, Cole calls him: "Pike had been awake for almost sixty hours, but he answered on the first ring. All Pike, all the time." And this novel is all Crais, all the time; what more could a mystery lover ask for?
Recommended.

Best Day Ever
Kaira Rouda
Graydon House
graydonhousebooks.com
9781525811401, $26.99/33.50 CA$, Hardcover, 342 pp

In UK
HQ Publishing
hqpublishing.com
9781848456914, 7.99 BPS, 384 pp

From the publisher: Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he's the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That's why he's planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he's promised today will be the best day ever. But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really? Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, "Best Day Ever" crackles with dark energy, spinning over tighter towards its shocking conclusion . . . . a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage . . . or a life."

The novel begins at 9 AM on its fateful day, continues at intervals ranging from half an hour to an hour and a half, on that same day, with the penultimate chapter taking place at 4:45 AM ahd next morning, and the final chapter one year later, with Mia saying, a few pages before its end, "This day would forever be the start of the rest of my life. The best day ever, in fact, just not the one Paul envisioned."

An understatement, to say the least.

Paul and Mia have been together for nearly ten years, their youngest boy now six, and have what Paul deems to be a "traditional suburban household.," with Paul as the breadwinner and Mia raising the boys and taking care of the house. They have left their beautiful home in Columbus, Ohio for a somewhat earlier visit to their lakeside home in a town called Lakeside, located on a peninsula, halfway between Toledo and Cleveland, at the edge of Lake Erie, the shallowest Great Lake in the US, we are told, "in a place where nothing bad ever happens." And just the two of them, with the boys in the care of their sitter. Perfection, it seems, until Mia tells Paul she is seriously considering accepting a job she has been offered, something totally unacceptable to Paul on so many levels. Slowly things begin to disintegrate, and Paul finds himself undertaking "Operation Make Mia Love Me Completely Again Tonight," something he never anticipated. At dinner, he makes a toast: "Happy best day ever." But things go downhill from there, including a couple of things the reader never could have guessed.

The book has been called "a riveting psychological thriller about the perfect marriage." The writing is gripping and suspenseful, with an ending you won't see coming. This is a well-written, fascinating novel, and it is recommended.

A Lady in Shadows
Lene Kaaberbol
Translated by Elisabeth Dyssegaard
Atria
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
simonsays.com
9781476731421, $16.00/22 CA$/11.96 BPS, Paperback, 352 pp.

In CA
9781476757162

From the publisher: On June 2nd, 1894, in the wake of President Mrie Francois Sadi Carnot's assassination, France descends into chaos and riots in the streets of Varbourg. Many lives are lost in the mayhem, but when one lady of the night is found murdered with brutal incisions and no signs of a struggle, it is clear something is amiss. Madeleine Karno must ask herself the terrifying question: Do they have their very own Jack the ripper in France? Madeleine is no stranger to cases such as this. Though she is a woman in forensic pathology (a career considered unseemly even for men), her recent work with a string of mysterious deaths and becoming the first female student admitted to the University of Varbourg has earned her some semblance of respect. But there's only so much her physiology courses can do to help her uncover the mysteries of a mad scientist's brutal murders. Madeleine must do whatever it takes - - investigate the darkest corners of the city and even work undercover - - to track down a murderer at large. But if there's one thing the press has right about "Mademoiselle Death," it's this: it takes a woman to find a killer of women.

This is the 2nd installment of the Madeline Karno series, and let me just say at the outset that it is a winner. The writing is nothing less than poetic, the plot quite different from anything I have read in quite a while. I must admit I have not read the first entry in the series, although I have read two of the books the author has written together with Agnete Friis, "Death of a Nightingale" and "The Boy in a Suitcase," both excellent.

The tale takes place between June 24, 1894 and October of that same year, and a lot happens in between. Madeline's father is a well-respected doctor, during which time she was his secretary "long before he officially agreed to let me assist him with the actual autopsies. I was fourteen when I began the first one." As the tale opens, she is engaged to one Professor Dreyfuss, "the eminent parasitologist from Heidelberg." Madeline had graduated from Madame Aubrey's Academy for Young Ladies, where among things she was trained in "posture and manners." She now seeks admission to the Institute of Physiology at the University, which is granted, making her one of the few female students admitted to the institute at all. (Of the more than 40 students, she is the only female in her lecture class.) She marvels that she has been handed "the keys to what I wished for most of all in the whole world: knowledge." She soon finds herself working with the police to find the killer of these young women, the solution to which is nothing that they, or the reader, could ever have imagined.

A local journalist dubs Madeline "Mademoiselle Death," quite alarming to her and making her father furious. Nonetheless, her investigation takes her to the Commission for Public Health and Decency, whose work is shocking to her as well as to the reader, including the thesis that "sexual reproduction drew mankind down into filth, disease, senility and ruin. Where woman was, there was also death." One of the most fascinating novels I have come across in a long time, it is recommended.

Cold Blood: A John Jordan Mystery
Michael Lister
www.michaellister.com
Pulpwood Press
P.O. Box 35038, Panama City, FL 32412
9781888146714, $27.99, Hardcover, 299 pp.
9781888146721, $17.99, Paperback, 304 pp.

From the publisher: On Thursday, January 20, 2005, the day of George W. Bush's second inauguration, Randa Raffield, a twenty-one year old student at the University of West Florida, crashed her car on a secluded stretch of Highway 98 near the Gulf of Mexico. The location of the wreck was hundreds of miles from where she was thought to be. A witness who came upon the scene moments after the accident testified that Randa was fine and not in need of assistance. Seven minutes later, when the first Gulf County Sheriff's Deputy arrived at the car, Randa was gone, vanished without a trace. She has never been seen again.

This is Book #13 in the John Jordan Mystery series. Jordan is, oddly, senior chaplain at the Gulf Correctional Institution, as well as an investigator at the Gulf County Sheriff's Department. Jordan finds "performing both jobs fulfilling, each rewarding in a way the other is not, each providing me with opportunities I feel called to . . . but I can't see being able to continue both for much longer."

Jordan goes to the site where Randa was last seen, at the edge of an area called Panther Swamp, which goes on for miles and miles, and when you're there feels like the middle of a dense pine forest. "Less than seven minutes for her to vanish off the face of the earth - - and stay that way for nearly twelve years now." The investigators see four categories of what may have happened: "Homicide, suicide, accident, or she went into hiding." All possible avenues are checked out, but they are no closer to an answer. Jordan thinks "I want to hear more evidence, want to go over all the evidence, want to explore all the possibilities." But he is told "we'd expect to find a body - - in the bay or in the swamp - - and no remains have ever been found." It appears that "she has literally vanished off the face of the earth." As the investigation continues, it appears that Randa was "outwardly perfect and inwardly troubled," with indications of cutting, compulsive sex and perfectionism, making things much more complex. Jordan's work is cut out for him, and the resulting novel is riveting as he unravels Randa's life and tries to solve the mystery of the coldest case in the Sheriff's Department. This is a book that is difficult to put down once started; in fact, I couldn't put it down at all - finished it the same day I picked it up!

Highly recommended.

Beau Death
Peter Lovesey
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
www.sohopress.com
9781616959050, $27.95, Hardcover, 403 pp.

From the publisher: A wrecking crew demolishing a row of centuries-old townhouses in Bath, England uncovers a body in one of the condemned buildings' attics. The dead man has been in the attic a long time: all that's left is a skeleton dressed in authentic 1760s garb, and a distinctive white tricorn hat. Could the body be that of Richard "Beau" Nash, Bath's most famous historical dandy, the 18th-century Master of Ceremonies who turned Bath into the Georgian-era fashion icon it became, only to fall on hard times and supposedly be buried in a pauper's grave? Thrilled by the possibility of proving the body is the Beau, Detective Peter Diamond rushes to learn all he can about the famed Beau and what became of him, but is he on a historical goose chase?

Diamond undertakes painstaking and very impressive research into all sorts of aspects of the people and events during the time frame in question, including the underwear worn by them, and eventually to try to pinpoint who was, or was not, the victim.

The demolition is taking place as the novel opens. An observer sees, "in the attic of the end house, now ripped open, a crumpled figure in an armchair. The dust from the demolition had coated it liberally and it was a parody of the human form held together by what appeared to be long outmoded garments." It immediately appears that the man is "spectacularly, irreversibly, abso-bloody-lutely dead. As Diamond observes, "He's been out of it a few years. A few hundred years, if his clothes are anything to go by." What immediately concerns him is "why hadn't anyone gone looking for him? A missing person must have caused some concern, even a century or more before the police were created." A challenge to the famed detective, at the very least. As he says to a colleague, "it's a cold case and they don't come colder than this . . . Anyone can see it's an ancient set of bones. It's history, almost archaeology." The first thing to be determined is whether or not it's murder. When, soon after this discovery, there is another, current, murder. "Two sets of clues, two grids and two solutions. Or perhaps one grid after all, one diabolically difficult cryptic challenge." He finds himself "dealing with two cases twenty years apart."

The author really makes 18th century Bath come alive, and this fascinating novel is recommended.

Blackout
David Rosenfelt
Minotaur
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
harpercollins.com
9781250055323, $7.99, Paperback, 247 pp.
9781259955316, $25.99, Hardcover, 271 pp.

(I am aware that this book came out quite a while ago - I was spurred to read it by the impending publication of Mr. Rosenfelt's 2nd and newest in the Doug Brock series, "Fade to Black," due out from Minotaur Books in March of 2018.)

From the publisher: New Jersey State Police Officer Doug Brock has been after infamous criminal Nicholas Bennett for years. When Bennett kills someone close to Doug, however, Doug's investigation - - and his life - - start spiraling out of control. He's placed on indefinite suspension from the police force and breaks things off with his fiancee, but he can't let the case go, and he continues an off-the-books investigation on his own. When Doug's former partner on the force, Nate Alvarez, receives a call from Doug saying he's discovered something big, something terrifying, something they need to call in the FBI to handle, Nate is furious that Doug has still been working the case. But when the call ends abruptly, and shortly afterward Doug is found in a hotel room, shot and in critical condition, Nate's anger turns to fear. When Doug finally awakens from his coma, however, he has no memory of the case, or even the last several years of his life. But the pull of what he might have discovered is too strong, and he finds himself immersed in the desperate search for truth once again, regardless of the danger. Once again David Rosenfelt has written a propulsive and compelling thriller that will rivet readers from the first page to the last.

And that last is no exaggeration, speaking for this reader and, I'm guessing, all others as well.

Doug had suffered a personal tragedy six months ago, when a 14-year-old boy to whom he was a father/mentor figure, was killed in a drive-by, the aftermath of which included Doug's unsuccessful actions to avenge the killing, which in turn resulted in his indefinite suspension from the force. The diagnosis by the neurosurgeon, Dr. James Carmody, is retrograde amnesia, which "essentially wiped out a decade of his memory, including the shooting itself and the events leading up to it." Doug's partner, Nate, 6' 4" and 290 pounds, doesn't get pushed around easily, if at all, and his pursuit of the blank space in Doug's memory is relentless.

Doug's adversary, Nicholas Bennett, is described as 53 years old, graying, tall and thin. "As age, disloyalty, and especially the justice system had wreaked havoc on the dominant old-time crime families in New Jersey, a vacuum was created. Bennett was one of a number of people attempting to fill that vacuum ... he was the one who was ultimately successful, the last man standing ... [with] three major assets. First was money . . . second, he had an understanding of organizational structure, an underrated factor in criminal enterprises. Third, he was totally and utterly ruthless; to mess with Nicholas Bennett was to die a certain and very unpleasant death." We soon meet Luther Castle, Bennett's right-hand man, "his enforcer when all else fails." And finally Ahmat Gharsi: "Homeland Security says he's an international terrorist, and a big-time one."

Just how much any or all of Doug's colleagues on the force, or others on the other side of the law, know about Doug's condition, and its severity, is an important question, to which none of them knows the answer. But the reader knows, and it's not a good one [the answer that is]. As Doug says, he's "operating on a ten-year tape delay." Attempting to retrace his last steps before the attack (per GPS info), his last contact was with a career criminal who tells Doug that someone named Sadri had been trying to get his hands on some explosives. "The plastic kind, real powerful." Jessie, another cop who is a computer wiz and the aforementioned former fiancee, is invaluable in Doug's investigation. An intriguing plot, and a thriller which is recommended.

Gloria Feit
Senior Reviewer


Gorden's Bookshelf

Bone Box
Jay Amberg
www.jayamberg.com
Amika Press
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B00UP7ON9M, $4.95, ebook, 2015, 257 pages
9781937484279 $15.95 print amazon.com

The Bone Box is one of the many suspense stories using archeology and religion as a grounding for the action. It has a sound and plausible storyline and even a reasonably plausible alternative archeological history backstory. But it suffers from a stilted narration.

Joseph Travers is a troubled American who has taken a job from a rich friend to find out the status of an archeological dig site in Turkey that his wealthy friend is partially financing. Joseph's family has collapsed with the death of one of his sons and he walks to relieve the chaos in his mind. On his first walk, after he arrives in Turkey, he discovers he is being followed. The dig leader Sophia Altay confronts his with accusations he is trying to remove her from the dig. Everyone he meets has their own agenda and secrets and Joseph unknowingly becomes a pawn in a game he doesn't know.

Before Joseph even has a chance to fully examine the dig site a worker is murdered. A bone box with remains and documents from early Christian history has been found at the site and multiple forces are working on getting control of the relics.

Bone Box has great potential. The details of the multiple locations in Turkey are finely crafted and interesting. The relics are reasonable. The story is reasonably balanced. But the narration is stilted and the reaction to the archeological relics is way out of proportion to their significance. The Bone Box is a recommendation for those more interested in exotic locations and history and not for those looking for an action/ suspense tale. The storytelling is below average and the subject matter is just slightly above average.

The Werewolf Academy Series Boxed Set
Cheree Alsop
www.chereealsop.com
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B01N6IP5JR, $14.99, ebook, file size: 4244 KB amazon.com

The Werewolf Academy is a collection of seven books; Strays, Hunted, Instinct, Taken, Lost, Vengeance, and Chosen. Each book is between 200 and 300 pages long. Some of the books are also in paper print. The first couple of books are written in cliff hanger style but still hold up as standalone but later in the series there is no pretense that the books are standalone. The series is actually one large epic over a thousand pages long.

The Werewolf Academy is a fun and enjoyable read. There are problems. The story would easily read better if about three hundred pages were cut from the seven books. To make the multiple cliffhangers within and between the books, situations were artificially contrived. Even with these major shortcomings, the story holds up well. The storyline is unique and the fully fleshed characters hold the story together.

The Werewolf Academy is a story about werewolves letting themselves becoming known to the public in general and the resulting extremist terrorism against the species. The Academy is opened by Jaze, a werewolf leader, who wants to educate youths orphaned by the extremists and provide a safe education to others still hiding among the general population. The story focuses on Alex and Cassie, two twins who are orphaned. Each book roughly matches up to a year in the life of the twins as they grow to adulthood. The twins suffer with PTSD from being there when the extremists murder their family and with the normal anxieties of teens growing up. The familial bonds between the students and faculty at the Academy are entwined into the tale and become one of its strengths.

The story is graphic in that it shows the continued genocide against werewolves. The genocide rivals the worst of Hitler's Holocaust with torture and medical experiments. The rest of the storyline is suitable for younger teens.

The Werewolf Academy is recommended for fans of paranormal creatures but be prepared for long sections of details that add very little to the storyline and the forced cliffhangers. If you want to test the storyline, the first book, Strays, is a good choice. The subsequent books are too intertwined into the larger story to be satisfactorily read individually. Even those paranormal readers put off by the thought of a thousand page epic would enjoy one or all of these books when they are on sale.

S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer
www.paulbunyan.net/users/gsirvio/content.html


Greenspan's Bookshelf

River Master
Cecil Kuhne
The Countryman Press
c/o W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
www.countrymanpress.com
9781682680742 $24.95 hc / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: In 1869, Civil War veteran and amputee Major John Wesley Powell led an expedition down the uncharted Colorado River through the then-nameless Grand Canyon. This is the story of what started as a geological survey, but ended in danger, chaos, and blood. The men were inexperienced and ill-equipped, and they faced unimaginable peril. Along the way there was death, mutiny, and abject terror, but Powell persevered and produced a masterwork of adventure writing still held in the highest regard by the boatmen who follow his course today. With never-before-used primary sources and firsthand experience navigating Powell's legendary route, Cecil Kuhne brings this remarkable chapter of frontier history to life.

The American Grit series brings you true tales of endurance, survival, and ingenuity from the annals of American history. These books focus on the trials of remarkable individuals with an emphasis on rich primary source material and artwork.

Critique: Exhaustively researched from primary sources, River Master: John Wesley Powell's Legendary Exploration of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon makes history come alive. Author Cecil Kuhne, a professional river guide who has navigated Powell's route many times, recounts the civil war veteran's saga as reconstructed from interviews, diaries, and reports. River Master is an accurate recounting of Powell's journey, yet as rugged and exciting as a survival novel, and highly recommended for public and college library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that River Master is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Ballad of Black Bart
Loren D. Estleman
Forge
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.tor-forge.com
9780765383532 $24.99 hc / $11.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: Between July 1875 and November 1883, a single outlaw robbed the stagecoaches of Wells Fargo in California's Mother Lode country a record of twenty-eight times. Armed with an unloaded shotgun, walking to and from the scenes of the robberies, often for hundreds of miles, and leaving poems behind, the infamous Black Bart was fiercely hunted.

Between robberies, Black Bart was known as Charles E. Bolton, a distinguished, middle-aged man who enjoyed San Francisco's entertainments in the company of socialites drawn to his quiet, temperate good nature and upper-class tastes. Meanwhile, James B. Hume, Wells Fargo's legendary chief of detectives, made Bart's apprehension a matter of personal as well as professional interest.

The Ballad of Black Bart is a duel of wits involving two adversaries of surpassing cleverness, set against the vivid backdrop of the Old West.

Critique: The Ballad of Black Bart is a historical Western novel based on legendary stagecoach robber Black Bart and James B. Hume, the detective chief who dedicated himself to hunting down Black Bart once and for all. A strategic duel of cunning and guile, The Ballad of Black Bart makes the Old West come alive in the reader's imagination! Highly recommended, especially for public library collections and connoisseurs of the genre. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Ballad of Black Bar is available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

Battlefield: Farming a Civil War Battleground
Peter Svenson
Burford Books, Inc.
101 East State Street, #301, Ithaca, NY 14850
www.burfordbooks.com
9781580801867 $18.95 amazon.com

Synopsis: A finalist for the National Book Award, Battlefield chronicles the author's experiences building a farmhouse on a forty-acre site near Harrisonburg, Virginia, which years before had been the site of the Civil War "Battle of Cross Keys," in which Confederate forces stopped a Union advance and provided Stonewall Jackson with an important victory in his Shenandoah Valley campaign.

Svenson intertwines a detailed description of the battle with self-deprecating accounts of a fledgling hay farmer attempting to farm his land while holding a new "army" of real-estate developers at bay. While reviving his long-neglected farmland, he unearths spent cartridges and artillery shells, and meditates on how best to commemorate the men who fell in battle on his forty acres. Exploring the intimate connections between landscape and history, Battlefield offers an engaging, reverent, and highly personal view of the Civil War and its ongoing legacy.

Critique: Now with a new foreword and afterword by the author, Battlefield: Farming a Civil War Battleground is a true-life memoir that tells two stories in parallel - one of attempting to revive long-neglected hay farmland, and one of the Civil War "Battle of Cross Keys", which once took place on that farmland. In the "Battle of Cross Keys", Confederate forces blocked a Union advance and earned a victory fo General Stonewall Jackson. Author Peter Svenson speaks at length of searching for the best way to honor and commemorate the men who sacrificed their lives on his forty acres. Exceprts from numerous primary historical sources pepper this narrative, highly recommended especially for Civil War shelves and reading lists.

Able Greenspan
Reviewer


Helen's Bookshelf

Supercharge Your Life After 60!
Vicki L. Ward
Nubian Images Publishing
PO Box 1462, Brentwood, CA 94513-3462
www.vickiward.net
9780975516287, $14.95, PB, 267pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Though the decade from 60 to 70 will usher in many life changes, the practical tips in "Supercharge Your Life After 60! 10 Tips to Navigate a Dynamic Decade" provide resources, and varying alternatives to help make the decisions for you and family members. The number of challenges can literally turn your life upside down. "Supercharge Your Life After 60!" deftly provides vital information to support the decisions you will face.

Of special note is a legal section that discusses the importance of creating wills, and living trusts to insure your wishes are completed as you want is included. This section also discusses the Advanced Medical Directive that speaks for you if you are incapacitated and unable to do so.

"Supercharge Your Life After 60!" includes a bonus section which discusses the culture of aging; valuable information for those caring for an aging population. Additionally, personal narratives by those who dealt with terminal illness, stroke victims, health challenges, divorce and more. These personal narratives provide insight into how someone resolved a personal challenge; linking the community of others facing similar trials, which can strengthen them for their journey.

Critique: "Supercharge Your Life After 60! 10 Tips to Navigate a Dynamic Decade" by accomplished author, editor, playwright, speaker and publisher Vicki Ward is a thoroughly 'user friendly' informational and instructional resource to help navigate life changes for anyone 60 and over, retired, or considering it. "Supercharge Your Life After 60!" covers such critical and universal life changes include retirement, drawing pensions, financial changes, Medicare, aging bodies, health challenges, and creating new life goals. Aging parents often require assistance or nursing care. Adult children may seek financial or housing assistance. "Supercharge Your Life After 60!" is the ideal 'go to' guide for anyone managing the lives of aging parents. Simply stated, "Supercharge Your Life After 60! 10 Tips to Navigate a Dynamic Decade" should be a part of every senior citizen center, community, and academic library collections -- as well as the personal reading list of anyone and everyone over the age of 60!

The Human Right to Water: Theory, Practice and Prospects
Malcolm Langford & Anna F. S. Russell, editors
Cambridge University Press
One Liberty Plaza, Fl. 20, New York, NY 10006
www.cambridge.org
9781107010703, $110.00, HC, 300pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In a short space of time, the right to water has emerged from relative obscurity to claim a prominent place in human rights theory and practice.

Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Malcolm Langford (Associate Professor at Universitetet i Oslo and Co-Director of the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, Universiteit i Bergen and Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway) and Anna F. S. Russell (a recognized expert in the fields of public international law and international development), "The Human Right to Water: Theory, Practice and Prospects" explores this rise descriptively and prescriptively.

The twenty erudite essays comprising "The Human Right to Water" collectively analyses the recognition, use and partly impact, of the right to water in international and comparative law, civil society mobilization and public policy. They also scrutinizes the normative implications of the right to water with a focus on challenges and puzzles it creates for law and policymaking.

These questions are explored globally and comparatively within different dynamics of the sector (water allocation, water access and urban and rural water reform) and in conjunction with the right to sanitation. This multi-disciplinary volume reveals the diverse ways in which the right to water has been adopted, but also its limitations when faced with the realities of political economy, political ecology and partly, traditional legal thought.

Critique: Comprehensive, erudite, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Human Right to Water: Theory, Practice and Prospects" offers an extraordinary body of exceptionally important and 'real world relevant' scholarship on a social issue that is becoming increasingly important as climate change continues to impact potable water and agricultural water relevant resources around the world. While an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to governmental, corporate, college, and academic library Water Management & Planning collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students, academics, policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Human Right to Water: Theory, Practice and Prospects" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $88.00).

If Roses Were Blue
Debbie Jenae
Inspired 101
PO Box 1054, Santa Ynez, CA 93460
www.inspired101.com
9780988987913, $15.95, HC, 160pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Chris is a college student who believes a friend of her young sister is keeping a terrible secret -- one that Chris had also kept at that age. With tenderness and insight Chris tells her story, going back several years to a decision that marked the beginning of a series of rescues -- including her own!

A lady of light, a boy named Gus, and a stolen dog add to story of courage, trust, and friendship.

Critique: An adventure story gently based on the issue of child sexual abuse, "If Roses Were Blue" is written primarily for 8-14 year old survivors of abuse to help them realize they are not alone, it is not their fault, there is help, and they are truly lovable and worthwhile.

Deftly written and illustrated by Debbie Jenae, "If Roses Were Blue" is not about identification and prevention. The focus is on reminding the individual of their value and potential while providing an opportunity to understand and begin to move forward. It's a story that touches the child in all of us while it teaches and inspires in a way that's safe and can be understood. Of special note is the inclusion of the 'More From The Author' section about the book, topic, and additional resources.

Exceptionally well written and ultimately inspiring, "If Roses Were Blue" is a unique and extraordinary read. Simply stated, especially in this new era of sexual harassment awareness, "If Roses Were Blue" should be a part of every community library collection, and the personal reading lists of anyone who has ever been subjected to sexual assault.

The Art of Misdiagnosis
Gayle Brandeis
Beacon Press
24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210
www.beacon.org
9780807044865, $26.95, HC, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Gayle Brandeis's mother disappeared just after Gayle gave birth to her youngest child. Several days later, her body was found: she had hanged herself in the utility closet of a Pasadena parking garage.

"The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide" is searing, formally inventive memoir in which Gayle describes the dissonance between being a new mother, a sweet-smelling infant at her chest, and a grieving daughter trying to piece together what happened, who her mother was, and all she had and hadn't understood about her.

Around the time of her suicide, Gayle's mother had been working on a documentary about the rare illnesses she thought ravaged her family: porphyria and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. "The Art of Misdiagnosis" takes its title from the documentary by her mother.

Gayle braids together her own narration of the charged weeks surrounding her mother's suicide, transcripts of her mother's documentary, research into delusional and factitious disorders, and Gayle's own experience with misdiagnosis and illness (both fabricated and real). Slowly and expertly, "The Art of Misdiagnosis" peels back the complicated layers of deception and complicity, of physical and mental illness in Gayle's family, to show how she and her mother had misdiagnosed one another.

Gayle's memoir is both a compelling search into the mystery of one's own family and a life-affirming story of the relief discovered through breaking familial and personal silences, delving into the tangled mysteries of disease, mental illness, and suicide and comes out the other side with grace.

Critique: A deftly written and intensely personal account that will prove to be an absolutely compelling read from cover to cover, "The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide" is a truly unique and extraordinary memoir that deserves as wide a readership as possible, making it an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography/Memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99).

She Read to Us in The Late Afternoons: A Life in Novels
Kathleen Hill
www.kathleenhillwriter.com
Delphinium Books
PO Box 803, Encino, CA 1436
www.delphiniumbooks.com
9781883285722, 24.00, HC, 225pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In the pages of "She Read to Us in The Late Afternoons: A Life in Novels", Kathleen Hill presents a unqiue memoir that explores defining moments of a life illuminated by novels, read in Nigeria and France and at home in New York.

As a child in a music class where a remarkable teacher watches over a classmate marked for tragedy, Kathleen by chance reads Willa Cather's novel, "Lucy Gayheart", and is prepared against her will for death by drowning. And prepared for the teacher's confessions to the class of a frustrated ambition to become a pianist, her regret for a life that will never be.

Later, recently married and living in a newly independent Nigeria, a teacher now herself, Kathleen gives Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" to her students and is instructed by them in the violent legacy of colonialism. And loses her American innocence when she visits a nearby abandoned slave port and connects its rusting shackles with the students sitting before her.

Reading "A Portrait of a Lady", while still residing in Nigeria, Kathleen ponders her own new marriage through the lens of Isabel Archer's cautionary fate, remembers her own adolescent fear that reading might be a way of avoiding experience.

A few years later, this time in a town in northern France, haunted by "Madame Bovary", by Emma's solitude and boredom, she puts aside Flaubert's novel and discovers in Bernanos' "Diary of a Country Priest" the poverty and suffering she had failed to see all around her.

This very special memoir closes with a tender account of Kathleen's friendship with the writer, Diana Trilling, whose failing sight inspires a plan to read aloud Proust's masterwork, an undertaking that takes six years to complete. Faced with Diana's approaching death and the mysteries of her own life, Kathleen wonders whether reading after all may not be experience at its most ardent, its most transforming.

Critique: An absolutely 'must read' for all those whose lives and views of themselves and the world have been impacted and shaped by works of enduring literature, "She Read to Us in The Late Afternoons: A Life in Novels" is a unique and absorbing memoir. Deftly crafted, inherently fascinating, and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "She Read to Us in The Late Afternoons: A Life in Novels" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Helen Dumont
Reviewer


Lorraine's Bookshelf

All Around Us
Xelena Gonzalez, author
Adriana M. Garcia, illustrator
Cinco Puntos Press
701 Texas Avenue, El Paso, Texas 79901
9781941026762 $17.95 www.cincopuntospress.com

"All Around Us" is a beautiful book that is aptly described as offering a window into the world of a modern day Mestizo family, inviting readers to make their own questions and connections about that world. Beautifully illustrated with textured, layered dark and light silhouettes and brilliant circles of many bright and dark colors, "All Around Us" tells a wise teaching shared between a proud grandfather and his grandchild, of the Tap Pilam Coahuiltexcan Nation. He tells her that all around them there are circles. The rainbow in the sky is only half a circle, but the other half is underground, "down below in the earth where water and light feed new life. That's the part we cannot see." The girl imagines in her mind what this might be like. The grandfather teaches the girl of the circles in planting seeds in the ground and growing healthy foods to eat and flowers to see. He tells her 'what we take from the earth, we return.' They walk through their neighborhood and discover many other circles all around, a clock, bicycle wheels, the sun, and the moon. The last circle they find is sitting in the area where they have buried the ashes of their ancestors, whom the grandfather remembers. Although he is sad, he tells her, "Even our bodies return to the earth... But that's only half of the circle. That's the part we cannot see." Then he takes his granddaughter to the apple tree which they planted when she was born, where she gives it water. He tells her,"Do you see, my grandchild? We have new life with you." The girl looks up, surrounded by golden light and rainbow rings like a radiating halo, with the words, "I am part of the circle too, the part we can see...just like a rainbow." A great gift has been given in "All Around Us," in the partnering of Xelena Gonzalez and Adriana M. Garcia, long term friends from the Westside of San Antonio, Texas. They wrote and illustrated "All Around Us" using a grant received from the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, to share this gift with all.

Be Brave, Little Penguin
Giles Andreae, author
Guy Parker-Rees, illustrator
Orchard Books, imprint of Scholastic Inc.
357 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
9781338150391 $16.99 www.scholastic.com

"Be Brave, Little Penguin" is an inspiring story of a little penguin who is afraid to swim. Written in warm, lilting rhyme and illustrated in beautiful Antarctic scenes of brilliant colors of yellow, icy blues, and black and white and rainbows, "Be Brave Little Penguin" explores the feelings of both parents and baby about the adventure of diving into cold deep water and swimming. Friendly illustrations show big penguins all around supporting their penguin children in their forays into the water and playing, while Pip-Pip plays on the ice shore at building igloos, sad and alone and mocked by his peers. Pip-Pip's mother encouraged him to start slowly, and to imagine "What if in that water there are friends for you to meet? And what if it is LIGHT and WARM and full of treats to eat?" Finally little Pip-Pip tiptoed to the icy edge and finally JUMPED into the water with a giant SPLASH! At first his mother was worried because he was gone under water so long, but when she jumped in to find him, Pip-Pip was swimming beautifully, even leaping into the air and almost flying! The story concludes with a glorious celebration of all the penguins applauding Pip-Pip's bravery in taking the jump! Gorgeous rainbow colors deck the Antarctic paradise of Pip-Pip and his family in beautiful, expressive illustrations in this heartening, heart-warming story of a little penguin's courage.

Baby Loves Thermodynamics!
Ruth Spiro, author
Irene Chan, illustrator
Charlesbridge
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781580897686 $8.99 www.charlesbridge.com

"Baby Loves Thermodynamics!" is a brightly illustrated, sturdy board book for infant readers about how the sun is the source of energy, heat and light, which Baby loves because Baby loves both playing and eating apples, which grow because of light and heat from the sun. The Baby Loves series uses beautiful little board books to explain concepts of science and physics to very young readers. Both inspired illustrations and narrative help explain the basic concept of thermodynamics, as shown in the sunlight equation two page spread, which features a kind orange sun face kiss on a beautiful flowering tree, with roots underground that tap into water in an underground stream. The narrative explains: "How does the sun help the tree grow? By giving it energy! Sunlight + Air+ Water = Food For the Tree" The bright board book concludes with a wonderful panorama of living creatures, fish, plants, and human animals, stating, "All living things get their energy from the sun." The book ends with a happy, smiling portrait of a cheerful sun, and "Thank you, Sun!" Education for infants should be effortless, joyous and delightful, like "Baby Loves Thermodynamics!" Also highly recommended is another title from the Baby Loves science series: "Baby Loves Quantum Physics!" (9781580897693, $8.99), by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer


Micah's Bookshelf

Jefferson's Garden
Timberlake Wertenbaker
L.A. Theatre Works
681 Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291
www.latw.org
9781682660430 $29.95 amazon.com

Synopsis: You say you want a Revolution? The story of this country's struggle for independence is told with a fresh slant and theatrical inventiveness. As Thomas Jefferson struggles to find the right words to frame a nation, a young Quaker must weigh his desire to participate in the struggle against his pacifist beliefs.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast production starring:

Rosalind Ayres as Martha/Nelly Rose
Nate Corddry as Christian
Ellis Greer as Betty
Gregory Harrison as Carl/Thomas Jefferson
Lovensky Jean-Baptiste as James Hemmings
Ifan Meredith as Harry/Jim Madison
Darren Richardson as Daniel/George
Mason/M. Perrault
Emily Swallow as Louisa/Imogen
Inger Tudor as Susannah/Sally
Additional chorus roles performed by the cast

Directed by Martin Jarvis. Recorded live in performance at UCLA's James Bridges Theater in March 2017. Sound Effects Artist, Jonathan Kells Phillips. Production Manager, Katie Friesen. Music Supervisor, Ronn Lipkin. Associate Producer, Anna Lyse Erikson. Editor, Mitchell Lindskoog. Recording Engineer, Sound Designer, and Mixer, Mark Holden for The Invisible Studios, West Hollywood.

Critique: Jefferson's Garden is a play with a setting that begins in the year 1750, but focuses primarily on the period between 1776 and the early 1790's, the time of the American Revolution and the brand new nation's early years. The title refers to Founding Father Thomas Jefferson's gardens at Monticello, and the saga critically contrasts the ideals written in the Declaration of Independence with the grim reality of slavery in America, including Jefferson's own estate. Brilliantly brought to life with a full cast of talented theater performers, Jefferson's Garden is highly recommended both for public library and personal audiobook collections. 2 CDs, 1 hour 54 min.

The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, fourth edition
Val D. Greenwood
Genealogical Publishing Company
3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211
www.genealogical.com
9780806320663, $49.95, PB, 796pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In every field of study there is one book that rises above the rest in stature and authority and becomes the standard work in the field. In genealogy that instructional reference and resource is "The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy" by genealogy expert Val D. Greenwood. Now in a fully updated and expanded fourth edition, "The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy" instructs the researcher in the timeless principles of genealogical research, while identifying the most current classes of records and research tools. Both a textbook and an all-purpose reference book, "The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy" is specifically designed and intended to help the present generation of family history researchers better understand and utilize all available resources.

This fourth edition of "The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy" provides a clear, comprehensive, and up-to-date account of American genealogy that incorporates all the newest developments, principles, and resources relevant to family history research. It should be noted that there are now two chapters about technology as it relates to family history research -- one dealing with significant concepts and definitions and the other with specific resources and applications, including major family history websites and Internet resources. In addition, virtually every chapter provides information on Internet websites pertinent to the subject discussed in that chapter.

Critique: Thoroughly 'family genealogist friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy" is unreservedly endorsed as an essential, core addition to personal, professional, genealogical, community, and academic library Genealogy Instructional Reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. "The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy" is detailed, accessible, and a "must-have" for anyone with a personal or professional interest in American genealogy. Highly recommended.

Microrheology
Eric M. Furst & Todd M. Squires
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
www.oup.com/us
9780199655205, $75.00, HC, 528pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Microrheology is a technique used to measure the rheological properties of a medium, such as microviscosity, via the measurement of the trajectory of a flow tracer (a micrometre-sized particle). It is a new way of doing rheology, traditionally done using a rheometer. There are two types of microrheology: passive microrheology and active microrheology. Passive microrheology uses inherent thermal energy to move the tracers, whereas active microrheology uses externally applied forces, such as from a magnetic field or an optical tweezer, to do so. (Wikipedia)

The collaborative work of Eric M. Furst (Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware) and Todd M. Squires (Professor in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara), "Microrheology" presents a comprehensive overview of microrheology, emphasizing the underlying theory, practical aspects of its implementation, and current applications to rheological studies in academic and industrial laboratories.

The field of microrheology continues to evolve rapidly, and applications are expanding at an accelerating pace. Readers will learn about the key methods and techniques, including important considerations to be made with respect to the materials most amenable to microrheological characterization and pitfalls to avoid in measurements and analysis.

Microrheological measurements can be as straightforward as video microscopy recordings of colloidal particle Brownian motion; these simple experiments can yield rich rheological information.

"Microrheology" also covers topics ranging from active microrheology using laser or magnetic tweezers to passive microrheology, such as multiple particle tracking and tracer particle microrheology with diffusing wave spectroscopy.

Overall, this introduction to microrheology informs those seeking to incorporate these methods into their own research, or simply survey and understand the growing body of microrheology literature. Many sources of archival literature are consolidated into an accessible volume for rheologist and non-specialist alike. The small sample sizes of many microrheology experiments have made it an important method for studying emerging and scarce biological materials, making this characterization method suitable for application in a variety of fields.

Critique: An ideal curriculum textbook, "Microrheology" is impressively and accessibly well written, organized and presented, making it a decidedly and unreservedly recommended addition to college and university library. It should be noted for the personal reading list of students, academics, professionals, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Microrheology" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $59.99).

Micah Andrew
Reviewer


Richard's Bookshelf

The Bankruptcy Alternative
Bruce Bowler
www.brucebowler.com
Bowler Enterprises, Inc.
9780998632810, $16.85 pbk / $7.50 Kindle 156 pages amazon.com

Business Management Tips, Tools, and Principles

"The Bankruptcy Alternative" is Bruce Bowler's unique and unusual story of his 50-year career, in fields of mortgage banking, manufacturing, and as a champion nitro-burning dragster driver.

Fast moving chapters describe an almost unbelievable account of a passion for drag racing, the security of working for Dad in the family business; winning after losing, the importance of decisive action, and the sense of accomplishment of a job well done.

The book reads like a novel, told from the protagonist's point of view. Bowler is reliving his business journey. Bruce relates the setbacks and the progression of rebuilding, to another level of success. He carefully describes the "S Curve of Business" beginning with the self-determined forces and the external forces.

In an emotionally charged narrative, Bruce tells of the enthusiasm and expectations of starting a new company, moving from a dream to reality, a slow upward trend, becoming somewhat stable and the twilight of decline. The economic crash of 2009 led to the decision of closing Phoenix Custom Apparel.

Step by step Bruce describes his experience of recognizing "when to pull the plug," selling assets, paying off debts, adapting the "Company Story Board Concept", the decision to self-manage liquidation, and the steps that followed in closing the company.

"The Bankruptcy Alternative" is written to encourage readers in the midst of similar situations with "a message of "hope and resilience...and the challenge to never give up."

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

The Bible by Jesus Gospels Edition
Elmer Towns and Lee Fredrickson, Co-editors
Destiny Image Publishers
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
www.destinyimage.com
9780768419894, $19.99, 350 pages

Jesus' First Person Account of His Life and Ministry on Earth

"The Bible by Jesus Gospels Edition" is a paraphrase of the Gospels written as a first-person account - Jesus Himself, the Son of God, sharing His story of His walk on earth as a man.

Jesus' sermons, His miracles, and His example take on new meaning and become personal as step by step, day by day Jesus relates his story in such a personal way that the reader is transported back to the day and locale of Jesus' walk on earth. A flawless selection of well-chosen, well-placed, photos, enhance the message of the text and strengthen the remarkable word pictures and action of the narrative.

A unique format feature is the inclusion of brief highlight, commentary statements, which refer directly to Biblical truths found in other passages of the scriptures.. These are depicted as quoted by Jesus to reinforce a promise, to challenge a specific action, or to provide additional insight.

An example of this is found in chapter thirteen of Matthew. Immediately following the miracle of feeding the 5,000, reference is made to Jesus as the Bread of Life,. He reminds the reader of His promise to provide his followers physical food when they are hungry and with the Bread of Life when they are weak spiritually. These short intimate, asides, become messages which can be readily adapted into a personal application.

Elmer Towns, Vice President of Liberty University and Gold Medallion Award-winning author has collaborated with Dr. Lee Frederickson, career publisher and founder of 21st Century Press, in co-editing this paraphrase of the Gospels. Endorsements by well-known pastors and Christian educators describe the book with words and phrases including: "heart-stirring," "life-changing," and "amazing."

"The Bible Story By Jesus" is a reading experience I will not soon forget. I identified with the disciples as one by one they responded to the call to "drop what you're doing," and follow Him.

I plan to incorporate reading "The Bible by Jesus" through again and again in my Scripture reading plan for 2018.

Experiencing the Father's Love - A Daily Encounter With Him
Jack Frost
Destiny Image Publishing, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
www.destinyimage.com
9780768414844, $16.99, 380 Pages

Ministering Out of the Deep Experiences of God's Affectionate Love

"Experiencing the Father's Love - A Daily Encounter With Him" is compiled from the writings of Jack Frost, as a legacy of love.

The personal nature of these devotions, drawn from the Frost's experiences over the various seasons of his life and the stages of his ministry are written and arranged in a progression that becomes a springboard for the reader to examine and experience this same life changing experiences.

Jack Frost, known as "Top Hook" is credited with being the most successful fishing boat captain on the south-eastern coast. At the age of 27, Jack was set free from a life of addictions through a miraculous life-changing encounter with Jesus.

Jack shares incidents from his story of ministry that followed, and of the events that led up to the founding of Shiloh Place Ministries, a ministry to help others overcome past hurts, live with purpose and connect to God and others.

Frost's unique writing style of openness and vulnerability touches the reader where they are; enabling them to recognize the heavenly father's, love, peace, and comfort; to identify and make applications in a similar way in their personal spiritual journey. Each devotion ends with "A Prayer to Encounter the Father."

These are rich devotional readings that empower the reader to become representative of Christ to the world.

"Experiencing the Father's Love - A Daily Encounter With Him" challenges the reader to restore the image of God as a loving Father. And from that foundation, to restore and improve relationships with those we love.

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

Staying Together - Marriage a Lifelong Affair
Steve and Mary Prokopchak
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
www.destinyimage.com
9780768414905, $16.99, 238 Pages

Equipping Couples for a Lifetime Marriage Commitment

In their book "Staying Together - Marriage a Lifelong Affair" family marriage counselors Steve and Mary Prokopchak equip their readers with workable solutions for dealing with issues of insecurity, healthy boundaries, finances, intimacy and other equally important concerns for enjoying a lifelong marriage together.

The book integrates creative practical principles tools and Biblical teaching with probing questions and assessments to help couples work together at building or rebuilding a successful marriage relationship.

A varied selection of thought-provoking quotations from recognized leaders and celebrities, in all walks of life, are uniquely used to provide "nuggets" of wisdom for introducing chapter contents.

Each chapter introduces an important focus using examples from their own marriage, of more than 40 years, or a true life story from other couples; whose marriages have endured after finding solutions and healing by putting into practice the application of these principles.

I found the chapter suggesting "The Twelve Values Found in Healthy Marriage Relationships" especially helpful. The chapter contains important values for every married couple wanting to create an environment for personal growth, individual maturity, and transparent relationships.

"Staying Together - Marriage a Lifelong Affair" is an excellent resource for use as a weekend mini-retreat for couples to be intentional in working through the many assessment exercises, evaluating together their individual discoveries.

Highly recommended.

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

New Covenant Culture - Redefining Normal Christianity
Dr. Jonathan Welton
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
www.destinyimage.com
9780768417528, $16.99, 214 pages

Experience the Fullness of Your New Covenant Identity

In his book "New Testament Culture - Redefining Normal Christianity" Dr. Jonathan Welton, founder of Welton Academy Supernatural Bible School Online, a best-selling author, and founder of the Better Covenant Theology, calls readers to embrace their full New Covent identity, and experience the supernatural in their concept of living the "normal Christian life."

Unique features of the "The New Covenant Culture includes concepts of:

The importance of taking personal responsibility for sustaining revival

The unconditional acceptance into God's family

Walking in the full truth of the freedom that Jesus provides

Praying bold authoritative prayers

"New Covenant Culture - Redefining Normal Christianity" is not a book for casual reading. Readers will want to preview the chapter titles and subheadings within each chapter to get a glimpse of the panoramic view of the Better Covenant Theology and the Five-fold Covenant, five myths about revival, and the family paradigm, before beginning a serious reading and study of the book. It is a great resource for small groups or individual study.

Dr. Welton writing is well organized, providing summary statement conclusion, backed by scripture, with activation exercises, examples from the lives of Biblical characters, and interesting insights into historical perspective, and prophetic interpretations. He includes a chapter with compelling teaching on the resurrection of the dead.

"New Covenant Culture - Redefining Normal Christianity" will resonate with Dr. Welton's earlier readers and a new generation of Five-Fold ministers.

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

Encountering the Goodness of God - 90 Daily Devotions
Bill Johnson
Destiny Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
www.destinyimage.com
9780768414868, $15.99, 2017, 192 pages

Daily Reflections on the Goodness of God

In a culture of world turmoil, fast-paced living, family, and social pressures Pastor Bill Johnson, of the Bethel Church in Redding California, challenges the reader to begin a 90-day devotional adventure by following the principles introduced in his book "Encountering the Goodness of God."

Each day's reading includes a significant Scripture, powerful insight into experiencing God's goodness, and an invitation to claim the rest, peace and encouragement available in Christ, whatever your circumstances.

Unique features of "Encountering the Goodness of God" include;

90 Selected relevant Scriptures centered around the theme of God's Goodness

Guidelines for experiencing a sense of personal encounter with the God of Creation, and the challenge of being directed to fulfill a specific purpose to live out for him daily

Prayer Prompts with blank ruled lines for the reader to complete a personalized prayer response

Pastor Johnson captures the essence of biblical truth with insight and clarity while creating an intimate conversational atmosphere for communicating an important application, principle, or promised blessing.

"Encountering the Goodness of God" is designed for those seeking to see things from God's perspective, to live as Jesus lived, to be "at home" in His presence, and to encounter more of his boundless goodness.

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

Veritas Pictura
Don Smarto
Frontline Press
P. O. Box 764499, Dallas, Texas 75376-4499
9780989357913, $22.00, 800 Pages

Absolute Truth versus Relative Truth - Apologetics - A Comprehensive Treatise Using Full-Color Photography

Prolific Writer, National Radio Show Host, Popular Conference Speaker and Award-winning Photographer Don Smarto combines his distinctive gift of photography with his writing skills, and his psychological, theological, and political insights in his book "Veritas Pictura."

Smarto begins his treatise with by establishing the premise "that when it comes to the foundation of your moral and legal choices, knowing the truth is crucial." He helps the reader formulate the important questions that lead to finding truth and purpose.

"Vertitas Pictura" is more than a book. It is an experience; touching the reader's emotions, the intellect, and the spiritual. Unique features of the book include:

300 hundred striking photos

50 Pages of Probing Questions

60 Pages of Inspiring Quotes from the Scriptures

A Comprehensive Treatise on Absolute Truth versus Relative Truth

Smarto's writing is filled with penetrating thoughts, insights and personal examples which inspired me to continue in my pursuit of intellectual curiosity while holding steadfast to the unchanging value of truth.

I cannot adequately describe the impact of Don Smarto's award-winning photography. He elicited my deepest feelings as I looked into the faces portraying the pain and sorrow of physical suffering, the deprivation of unmet needs, the discouragement of loneliness, and the hopelessness of depression. Other pictures were arranged in a way to stimulate feelings of joy, celebration, and hope by finding answers, truths or promises from the scriptures, or from quotes by historical leaders, contemporary thinkers, philosophers, theologians, and educators.

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

Richard R. Blake
Senior Reviewer


Taylor's Bookshelf

Gambling on Authenticity
Becca Gercken & Julie Pelletier, editors
Michigan State University Press
1405 South Harrison Road, Suite 25, East Lansing, MI 48823-5245
http://msupress.org
9781611862560, $29.95, PB, 180pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In the decades since the passing of the Pamajewon ruling in Canada and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in the United States, gaming has come to play a crucial role in how Indigenous peoples are represented and read by both Indians and non-Indians alike.

Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Becca Gercken (Associate Professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, Morris) and Julie Pelletier (Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Winnipeg), "Gambling on Authenticity: Gaming, the Noble Savage, and the Not-So-New Indian" is a collection of nine erudite articles that collectively presents a transnational examination of North American gaming and considers the role Indigenous artists and scholars play in producing depictions of Indigenous gambling.

In an effort to offer a more complete and nuanced picture of Indigenous gaming in terms of sign and strategy than currently exists in academia or the general public, "Gambling on Authenticity" crosses both disciplinary and geographic boundaries. The case studies presented offer a historically and politically nuanced analysis of gaming that collectively creates an interdisciplinary reading of gaming informed by both the social sciences and the humanities.

Critique: A collective work of impressively informed and informative scholarship, "Gambling on Authenticity: Gaming, the Noble Savage, and the Not-So-New Indian" illuminates the not-so-new Indian being formed in the public's consciousness by and through casino gaming. A critically important addition to Contemporary Native American/Canadian Aborigine collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Gambling on Authenticity" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $23.95).

Passion Projects for Smart People
Michael R. Wing
Quill Driver Books
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721
www.quilldriverbooks.com
9781610353069, $14.95, PB, 180pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Passion Projects for Smart People: Turn Your Intellectual Pursuits into Fun, Profit and Recognition" by Michael Wing was written specifically for those loved their college major, worked hard to earn their degree, and now stuck in a day job that doesn't fully use their education, engage their mind, or feed their soul.

But there are still limitless opportunities to do intellectually serious work -- work that will win professional recognition, travel opportunities, and even publication in peer-reviewed journals. All that is necessary is to create personal academic opportunities, and "Passion Projects for Smart People" is basically an instruction manual on exactly how to do just that.

The perfect career guide for the era of the Ph.D. barista, the underpaid adjunct, and workers in the gig economy, "Passion Projects for Smart People" will help to take charge of a career and one's personal life.

"Passion Projects for Smart People" shows just how to develop research and creative projects; form collaborations with universities and public agencies; apply for grants and professional experience opportunities; travel around the world for free; and develop a career as a teacher and mentor.

Critique: Unique, effective, informative, expertly written, effectively organized and presented, "Passion Projects for Smart People: Turn Your Intellectual Pursuits into Fun, Profit and Recognition" is extraordinarily 'user friendly' and unreservedly recommended for both community, college, and university library Jobs/Careers collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Passion Projects for Smart People" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.49).

The Invisible Leader
Zach Mercurio
Advantage Media Group
65 Gadsden Street, Charleston, SC 29401
http://advantagefamily.com
9781599328515, $19.99, HC, 224pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The primary message of "The Invisible Leader: Transform Your Life, Work, and Organization with the Power of Authentic Purpose" by international speaker, trainer, and organizational performance scholar Zach Mercurio is that, surprisingly, the best leaders aren't people. Instead, innovative and emerging research shows that a compelling and other-centered authentic purpose (The Invisible Leader) may be the most powerful influencer of our behaviors, attitudes, and motivation in organizations, work, school, and life.

Yet despite the increasing evidence of purpose's power, many of the organizations, systems, and institutions which dominate human life aren't built to elicit and leverage the fundamental human search for purpose and meaning.

Offering a unique and compelling combination of practical tools, storytelling, research, and case studies illustrating and forming the basis of a powerful new approach to leadership, "The Invisible Leader" shows business leaders, educators, students, athletes, and parents how to discover, clarify, and deliver their reason for existence -- their authentic purpose.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, well written, organized and presented, "The Invisible Leader: Transform Your Life, Work, and Organization with the Power of Authentic Purpose" is an extraordinary, life-changing, life-enhancing read that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Management & Leadership instructional reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Invisible Leader: Transform Your Life, Work, and Organization with the Power of Authentic Purpose" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Way Out There
J. Robert Harris
The Mountaineers Books
1001 SW Klickitat Way, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98134-1161
www.mountaineersbooks.org
9781680511208, $18.95, PB, 304pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: J. Robert Harris, whom most people just call J. R., is a septuagenarian and a still active and an enthusiastic outdoorsman! He enjoys backpacking, canoeing, skiing, rock and ice climbing, and has been a licensed wilderness guide.

"Way Out There: Adventures of a Wilderness Trekker" is an account of J. R.'s extraordinary exploits while backpacking in some of the world's most tantalizing places largely alone and unsupported. And after almost fifty years of wilderness travel, J.R., as he's known, has plenty of tales to tell! His stories are by turns funny, tragic, and uplifting, and are all told in his down to earth, friendly style.

For J.R. it all began in 1966 when, as a young New Yorker, he impulsively drives his VW Beetle across the country to the very end of the northernmost road in Alaska, searching for an answer to a simple question: What is it like to be way out there?

How this happened, whom he met, and what he encountered along the way became the foundation for a lifelong attraction to trekking and adventure travel.

Critique: Of special note is the foreword by the late Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen fighter pilots during World War II. "Way Out There" is an impressively well written combination of memoir and travelogue present the introspective and candid story of a restless soul that will have a very special appeal for armchair travelers and aspiring mountaineers every where. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary American Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Way Out There" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

John Taylor
Reviewer


Theodore's Bookshelf

Infamy
Robert K. Tanenbaum
Pocket Books
9781476793214, $9.99/7.55 BPS/17.32 CA$, Paperback, 321 pp.

Gallery Books
9781476793191 $27.00/20.50 BPS/36.09 CA$, Hardcover, 351 pp.
9781476793221

Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
simonandschuster.com

This novel is not up to the usual standards of the author. Usually, the first half of the book recounts a situation which sets the stage for the other half, which, ordinarily, few do better than Mr. Tanenbaum: a dramatic courtroom scene. So it is with "Infamy." Unfortunately, however otherwise well-written the novel is, the courtroom scene is flat and perfunctory.

The novel opens with an intelligence raid by a secret U.S. Army unit in Syria which was supposed to capture at least one suspect. Instead, they find the suspect had shot and murdered other important enemy subjects and obtained important documents which point to a conspiracy to evade sanctions on ISIS and Iraqi oil. Butch Karp, the New York DA and protagonist of the series, enters the plot when a U.S. Army Colonel is shot and killed in Central Park, and slowly a conspiracy begins to unfold.

There are all sorts of subplots and side issues which add little to the tale, except to make it more complicated than it really is. This reader was clearly disappointed, especially when the author decided to vent his own political views, sometimes crudely or bluntly chastising those holding conservative views. It's too bad, because basically "Infamy" began with a solid idea, but lost its way along the way from front cover to back cover.

Robert B. Parker's The Hangman's Sonnet
Reed Farrel Coleman
Putnam
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
penguinrandomhouse.com
9780399171444, $27.00, Hardcover, 353 pp.

This is the fourth Jesse Stone novel Reed Farrel Coleman has written in the series begun by the late Robert B. Parker. And he has kept the faith. Moreover, he has done something the master never did. He brings in Spenser to play a minor role in solving the mystery which begins with the death of an old woman, a member of the founding family of Paradise, and the ransacking of her home.

Jesse, still reeling from the death of his beloved Diana in his presence, is slowly drinking himself into oblivion. But that doesn't stop him from performing his duty as Police Chief, despite the hindrance of the Mayor and her hatchet woman. The plot basically revolves around the recovery of a supposedly long lost tape made by a now has-been rock star in time for his 70th birthday party.

Coleman performs up to the standards of the late master, while offering a clever plot of his own, written in a slightly different style (few can duplicate the pithy sentences of a Parker novel). He gives us a deeper insight into Jesse's personality and presumably shows the force of his iron will. Well at least let's hope so. Presumably we'll find out in the next volume in the series.

Recommended.

The Ghost of Christmas Past
A Molly Murphy Mystery
Rhys Bowen
Minotaur
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
minotaurbooks.com
9781250190673, $24.99/19.05 BPS/32.50 CA$, Hardcover, 264 pp.

In UK/CA, 9781250125729

The Molly Murphy series has grown to its 17th novel, during which Molly herself has grown from a young Irish immigrant to be the proprietor of a detective agency to marriage to Captain Dan Sullivan and motherhood of a young boy. As this latest chapter begins she has suffered a miscarriage and cannot shake a severe depression as a result. Nothing that a good mystery can't dispel! And just what the doctor ordered turns up when Sullivan's mother visits a mansion of an old Dutch family on the Hudson, and Molly and her husband are invited up to Westchester for the Christmas holidays.

Soon after they arrive, they learn that the three-year-old daughter of the couple owning the home had disappeared ten years before. Apparently, she wandered off and no clues or ransom note ever turned up. Molly empathizes with the mother and immediately wants to solve the case. But how? And then on Christmas Eve, lo and behold, a young girl knocks on the door claiming to be the missing daughter.

The plot then has Molly (who suspects the family has withheld vital facts) following her intuition (with a little help from her detective husband) to reach a joyful but improbable conclusion. The entire series from first to last is a joy. In any event, this novel is not really a crime story as usual, but is an interesting tale as well as a look at Molly's evolving development as a character, her relationship with her husband and child and as her growth as a person, and is recommended.

Trace: A Joe Gunther Novel
Archer Mayor
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
minotaurbooks.com
9780250113269, $25.99, 36.99 CA$, Hardcover, 325 pp.

A Joe Gunther series novel in which Joe plays almost no role? Well at least it gives the staff room to blossom and shine. When Joe's mother comes down with a rare form of Lyme disease and has to be sent to a specialized facility in St. Louis, Joe accompanies her for the duration, champing at the bit to return to Vermont and the VBI job he loves. But duty calls and faithfully he stays, hoping it remains quiet back home for a while. Oh, were it so.

Instead oddly enough, three cases emerge somewhat innocuously, a number, strangely enough, matching the resident VBI staff members. So each goes his or her way, following almost nonexistent crimes, which, of course, blossom into full-fledged mysteries. For instance, a young girl finds three teeth on a railroad track and turns them over to a local policeman, who contacts Willie Kunkle on a whim. Who would have thought such a relatively meaningless event would develop into a major national security case? Another example: Lester Spinney is shown an anomaly in a famous case in which a state trooper is shot and killed during a routine traffic stop and in turn shoots the driver he stopped. An open and shut case? Hardly, when a technician discovers forged fingerprints on the driver's murder weapon.

The third case falls to Sammie Martens, who Joe named as his temporary replacement to head the office while he was gone. A murder case, in which the victim was rooming with the daughter of Beverly Hillstrom, the Medical Examiner, and Joe's girlfriend, that takes Sammie to Albany, New York, to find out why.

One interesting development in the novel is a deeper insight into Kunkle's psyhe. It is some time now that he has been living with Sammie, and they now have a three-year-old daughter. Kunkle, who usually is portrayed as a hard-hearted, emotionless character, is shown softening somewhat and looking into himself and the personality he exhibits. The author not only takes this opportunity to study Kunkle, but the others as well: Spinney for his talents as a patient, dogged investigator and Sammie for not only her sensitivity but her bravery as well. As always, the descriptions of the rugged Vermont hillsides are graphic and excellently written.

Recommended.

Racing the Devil
Charles Todd
William Morrow
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
harpercollins.com
9780062386229, $14.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com

It all begins on the eve of the Battle of the Somme offensive during WWI when a group of officers gathered in a barn to relax before facing the carnage to come. As they parted, the men agreed to meet in Paris a year after the war's end and race each other to Nice. And so it comes to pass as they come together at the Ritz in 1919. All but one make it to southern France. The lone driver, Standish, is forced off a narrow road, crashes, and ends up in the hospital, his car wrecked and he having sustained multiple injuries and the loss of one hand.

A year later, back in England, a rector driving Standish's auto suffers the same fate, forced off the road and crashing, but less fortunate, since he suffers a broken neck and dies. In investigating the death, Inspector Rutledge determines this was no accident, but a case of murder. The question, of course, to be answered: are the two "accidents" related? As Rutledge plows slowly through his inquiries, further events broaden the investigation until he pieces all the elements together to solve the mystery.

This novel is the 18th in this fine series, one of two (the other features Bess Crawford, who makes a cameo performance in Racing) by the mother-and-son writing team authors. Each series takes place in a historical time period, not only presenting the reader with accurate descriptions of the period (for instance, in this novel, automobiles just making their appearance on the scene) but first-class mysteries as well. Also in this effort are graphic descriptions of the horrors of the trenches in the Great War.

Recommended.

The Jealous Kind
James Lee Burke
Simon & Schuster
1230 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
simonandschuster.com
9781501107207, $27.99, Hardcover

Pocket Books
9781501107412, $9.99, Paperback

In UK: Orion
9781409163497, 19.99 BPS, Hardcover, 400 pp.
9781409163510, $8.99 BPS, Paperback, 400 pp.

The final volume in the Holland Family trilogy takes place in 1952, as the Korean War sees Chinese troops cross the Yalu River. But this is the story of Aaron Holland Broussard, a teenage high-schooler, as he faces his time, environment and human emotions. It is sort of a first love affair tale, but digs deeper into a world till now unknown to him filled with violence and evil.

It begins in a drive-in movie when Aaron spots a beautiful and gifted young woman, Valerie Epstein, having a heated spat with her boyfriend in Galveston. When Valerie leaves the car to return to Houston with Aaron, the ire and vengeful forces of some nasty people are unleashed, ultimately leading to the involvement of the mob and one of the richest families in Texas. At the same time, the growing love between Aaron and Valerie is developed.

While the novel essentially is a story about first love, it is basically a tale about "good" and "evil." And how Aaron has to find the courage his father exhibited during World War I by climbing out of the trenches to run across no-man's land - and survive. Written as only James Lee Burke can, "The Jealous Kind" contrasts the elements of the beauty and the feral horrors in life, and is recommended.

Pen 33
Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom
Translated from the Swedish by Elizabeth Clark Wessel
Quercus
c/o Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
www.hachettebookgroup.com
9781681440132, $26.99 /20.57 BPS/32.14 CA$, Hardcover, 323 pp. quercus.com

The authors, a crime reporter and an ex-convict, concentrate their efforts on grim, noir fiction. And "Pen 33" does not stray from the mold. Part of the Detective Superintendent Ewert Grens series, the theme of the novel is pedophilia. It centers on Bernt Lund, who escapes from prison while serving time for the brutal rape and murder of two very young girls, and repeats the crime on the six-year-old daughter of Fredrik Steffansson while free.

What results from this act is questioned by the authors. To begin with, the victim's father shoots Lund. The prosecutor pleads for a life sentence for murder; the defense attorney pleads self-defense on the theory that it was not an act of revenge but prevented Lund from committing similar acts on other children (he was already staking out other girls at day care centers). Hero or murderer? That is a basic question asked by the authors, who go on to demonstrate other consequences when Steffansson is initially acquitted.

Unlike the United States, where double jeopardy would apply (this anomaly goes unexplained), the prosecution appeals the verdict and Steffansson is sentenced to ten years and is incarcerated in the very prison from which Lund escaped. The events and consequences resulting from Steffansson's shooting affect the entire country, resulting in riots, and raises basic questions regarding duty, the law, and what people are capable of. What is questionable is how the authors choose to end the book. While certainly dramatic, one could envision other solutions. Nonetheless, the novel is recommended.

Not Safe After Dark and Other Stories
Peter Robinson
William Morrow
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
harpercollins.com
9780062673893, $15.99, Paperback, 469 pp.

In this collection of short stories and three novellas, Inspector Banks is featured in four of the 20 tales. The longest, Going Back, has Banks returning to the home he grew up in to celebrate his parents' golden anniversary, only to discover that he can't escape being a policeman when faced with an evil-doer. He also learns a few things about himself. The various tales demonstrate the range of the author's talents and writing style. Of course, the long-running Inspector Banks series, which now number 23 novels and counting, have amply shown such abilities over the years.

In the Edgar Award-winning short story, Missing in Action, Robinson addresses the horrors of mob mentality when a young lad is found missing and a homophobic bully incites neighbors against someone who appears to be different.

The stories are set in different periods of history, from WWI to WWII, and both in England and Canada. In Flanders Fields takes place in the early days of WW II amid the blackouts and bombings of London, and turns out to be a murder mystery involving a veteran suffering from PTSD. A twist of fate and false information are at the heart of April in Paris, a tale of unrequited love set during the DeGaulle period in post-WWII France, which includes descriptions of the student unrest at the time

Although the 20 short stories have previously been published in different editions under the same title as the present volume, this special edition makes them available in the United States for the first time. And they are well worth reading.

Recommended.

Theodore Feit
Senior Reviewer


Vogel's Bookshelf

Not Our Day to Die
Michael Sullivan
Terra Nova Books
33 Alondra Road, Santa Fe, NM 87508
www.terranovabooks.com
9781938288906, $17.95, PB, 200pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Mike Sullivan was an aviator working at ferrying people, medicine, crops, supplies and almost anything else you can think of among the isolated jungle villages of Guatemala. Life in the farming co-ops there was simple, peaceful, and good, based on bedrocks of family, community, and faith.

Then the repression began. A failed attempt at a coup had led to continued fighting between rebels and government, though in areas far from the almost-utopian Ixcan region. U.S. military and CIA intervention helped defeat the insurgency, but the social inequalities that had led to the movement remained, and the revolution went underground.

The Guatemalan army, searching everywhere for those who opposed it, increased its control over the isolated jungle area. Co-op directors, teachers, catechists, and then anyone suspected of being one of or assisting the guerrillas was selectively disappeared.

The army turned to a scorched-earth policy, killing animals, burning crops, uprooting fruit trees, destroying towns, massacring their people. Throughout the Ixcan, those who survived fled. Some returned to their original mountain villages, others crossed the border into Mexico, and a third group of men, women and children survived for sixteen years hiding in the jungle. Primeval growth took over the land as the war with the guerrilla movement raged on to encompass the entire nation.

When finally peace accords were signed, the people of the Ixcan returned. Homes were rebuilt, land reclaimed, the area thrived again. But sixteen years were lost, along with countless lives.

For Mike Sullivan, who had returned there when his help was needed, the story of those years of how the people of the Ixcan survived (and of the many who did not) was one that had to be told.

In three visits, he conducted the interviews that form this book, talking with the villagers he had known long before. At first, they spoke hesitantly, then with the flood force of vivid memory, telling of their first arrival at the Ixcan, the lives they had made, and the years of the repression and worse. Their stories are gripping, fascinating, painful, but most of all, deeply human as we witness their struggle to survive and feel the force of the simple values that ultimately carried them through to a new and better life.

Critique: An extraordinary, informed and informative story of an extraordinary civil war told from a unique and candid perspective, "Not Our Day to Die: Testimony From the Guatemalan Jungle" is a critically important and highly recommended addition to both community and academic library Latin American History collections in general, and Guatemala Civil War History supplemental studies lists in particular.

Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir
Joe Satriani & Jake Brown
BenBella Books
10300 N. Central Expressway, STE 400, Dallas, TX 75204
www.benbellabooks.com
9781939529640, $24.95, HC, 320pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Sometimes referred to as the Jimi Hendrix of his generation, living guitar legend Joe Satriani has long transcended stylistic boundaries with a sound that raises the bar like a new horizon for the broader genre of instrumental guitar rock. Joe's 6-string secrets have astounded listeners around the world for nearly 30 years.

In "Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir", Satriani (and his coauthor, music biographer Jake Brown), take fans on their first authorized tour of the story behind his climb to stardom and the creative odyssey involved in writing and recording a storied catalog of classics including "Surfing with the Alien," "Summer Song," "Satch Boogie," "Always With Me, Always With You," "The Extremist," "Flying in a Blue Dream," "Crowd Chant," and more.

Featuring previously unpublished photos and hours of exclusive, firsthand interviews with Satriani, "Strange Beautiful Music" offers a unique look inside the studio with Joe, giving fans a chance to get up close and personal like never before. With insider details about his collaboration with multi-platinum supergroup Chickenfoot, exclusive interviews with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony of Van Halen and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, commentary from fellow guitar legends such as Steve Vai, Metallica's Kirk Hammett, Primus's Larry LaLonde, and legendary music producers including Glynn Johns and the late Andy Johns, "Strange Beautiful Music" is memoir that offers a rare inside look for die-hard Satriani fans, guitar enthusiasts, and anyone who loves to rock.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a section devoted to historic color photos of Joe Satriani and friends, "Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir" is a 'must' for his legions of fans. Exceptionally and impressively informative, candid, and rich with personal observation and detail, "Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir" will prove to be an enduringly popular and valued addition to both community and academic library American Biography and American Music History collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir" is also available in a paperback edition (9781941631577, $17.95), a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Tantor Audio, B00JVU1K5O, $20.95, 8 Hours 44 Minutes).

How To Do Financial Asset Investigations
Ronald L. Mendell
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
http://www.ccthomas.com
9780398092016, $35.95, PB, 242pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Even with the blinding speed at which the Smartphone Age came upon the investigative profession, asset investigation still remains putting together a puzzle from the multiple pieces: public records, online evidence, news accounts, print documents, and human sources.

Emphasizing the importance of public records and the resources of the Internet, this newly updated and expanded fifth edition of "How To Do Financial Asset Investigations: A Practical Guide for Private Investigators, Collections Personnel and Asset Recovery Specialists" concentrates on research techniques. These methods make considerable use of websites, libraries, periodicals, and government documents with a constant theme of correlating data from different open sources.

Furthermore, this new fifth edition remains the predominant primer on how to find assets to satisfy judgments and debts, but it now also includes significant focus on the emerging underground economy and the shadow financial domain. The text explores the connections between stolen credit card information, the gambling sector, money laundering, and the role a subject may play in a larger criminal enterprise.

"How To Do Financial Asset Investigations" also addresses organized crime's impact on the Internet and financial transactions in cyberspace, as well as the impact of portable digital devices on civil and criminal investigations and the new challenges for investigators working through the electric labyrinth, including the Deep Web and the Dark Web.

"How To Do Financial Asset Investigations" also includes a very helpful glossary that defines terms introduced throughout the text and an appendix that provides a checklist for traditional and nontraditional asset investigations.

Additionally, "How To Do Financial Asset Investigations" provides an essential understanding of the digital forensics and mobile digital technologies as it steers private investigators, collections specialists, judgment professionals, and asset recovery specialists in undertaking legal information collection in a most challenging age.

Critique: A superbly organized and presented textbook, the newly revised and expanded fifth edition of "How To Do Financial Asset Investigations: A Practical Guide for Private Investigators, Collections Personnel and Asset Recovery Specialists" is an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, corporate, and academic library collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted that "How To Do Financial Asset Investigations" is also available for personal reading lists form Charles C. Thomas Publisher in a digital book format (eBook, $35.95).

Paul T. Vogel
Reviewer


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Editor-in-Chief
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