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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 6 June 2015 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Helen's Bookshelf Kaveny's Bookshelf
Klausner's Bookshelf Lorraine's Bookshelf Micah's Bookshelf
Richard's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf
Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf  

Cowper's Bookshelf

Invisible Immigrants
Marilyn Barber & Murray Watson
University of Manitoba Press
301 St. John's College, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2M5
9780887557774, $39.95, 296pp,

Synopsis: Despite being one of the largest immigrant groups contributing to the development of modern Canada, the story of the English has been all but untold. In "Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945, Marilyn Barber (a historian of immigration, women's and gender history, and oral history) and Murray Watson (a UK based oral historian specializing in postwar English immigration) document the experiences of English-born immigrants who chose to come to Canada during England's last major wave of emigration between the 1940s and the 1970s. Engaging life story oral histories reveal the aspirations, adventures, occasional naivete, and challenges of these hidden immigrants. Postwar English immigrants believed they were moving to a familiar British country. Instead, like other immigrants, they found they had to deal with separation from home and family while adapting to a new country, a new landscape, and a new culture. Although English immigrants did not appear visibly different from their new neighbors, as soon as they spoke, they were immediately identified as "foreign". "Invisible Immigrants" reveal the personal nature of the migration experience and how socio-economic structures, gender expectations, and marital status shaped possibilities and responses. In postwar North America dramatic changes in both technology and the formation of national identities influenced their new lives and helped shape their memories. Their stories contribute to our understanding of postwar immigration and fill a significant gap in the history of English migration to Canada.

Critique: A model of research based scholarship, "Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945" is an exceptional study that is enhanced with figures, tables, photographs, twelve pages of Notes, an eight page Bibliography, and an eighteen page Index. Very highly recommended for academic library Canadian History and Canadian Demographic Studies reference collections and supplemental studies and research reading lists, it should be noted that "Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945" is also available in a Kindle edition ($24.60).

Saving The Pryor Mountain Mustang
Christine Reed
University of Nevada Press
Mail Stop 0166, Reno, NV, 89557-0166
9780874179668, $34.95,

Synopsis: The mustang is a free-roaming horse of the American west that first descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Mustangs are often referred to as wild horses, Today mustang herds vary in the degree to which they can be traced to original Iberian horses. Some contain a greater genetic mixture of ranch stock and more recent breed releases, while others are relatively unchanged from the original Iberian stock, most strongly represented in the most isolated populations. "Saving the Pryor Mountain Mustang: A Legacy of Local and Federal Cooperation" by Christine Reed (Professor of Public Administration in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service at the University of Nebraska at Omaha) is a 152 page account of how in 1968 the residents of Lovell, Wyoming, began the work of saving the Pryor Mountain Mustang. An informative and illustrative case study, Professor Reed shows how, through a grassroots campaign, these residents championed the creation of the first federal public wild horse range. Crucial to this provocative analysis of local-federal cooperation is the relationship that grew between the Lovell advocates, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service. Long before there were federal laws passed to protect wild horse herds across the western states, the Pryor Mountain Mustang was preserved through the cooperative efforts of local residents and federal officials.

Critique: "Saving The Pryor Mountain Mustang" is an extraordinary and inherently fascinating read. Moreover, it can serve as an informed and informative template on how conservationists can successfully advocate to preserve other endangered wildlife species. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Wildlife Management reference collections, "Saving The Pryor Mountain Mustang" will a special and particular appeal to wild horse activists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Saving The Pryor Mountain Mustang" is also available in a Kindle edition ($29.89).

Mad Dogs
I.B. Gumnut
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
Bohlsen Group
9781452504506, $10.95, 24pp,

Synopsis: The inspiration for "Mad Dogs" came about from a beautiful little red dog, Lady, owned by the author's daughter and was riding on the front of the motor bike with him as Lady (with her paws on the handle bars) showed signs of frustration at his riding ability. Clearly Lady thought that she could do much better than the human and that she could run faster than they were riding.

Critique: A quirky and wonderfully entertaining read from beginning to end, "Mad Dogs" is family-friendly and highly recommended for all ages. Indeed, appreciative readers will be looking eagerly toward "Mad Dogs 2"! It should be noted that "Mad Dogs" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

A Soldier of Skye
Gary Anderson
Amber Skye Publishing
1935 Berkshire Drive, Eagan, MN 55112
9780989400343, $10.00, 88pp,

Synopsis: "A Soldier of Skye" by Gary Anderson is a young adult anthology of short stories with a Renaissance Festival theme. Ailean MacLeoad is a soldier of Skye whose adventures in these original tales are enhanced with a bit of authentic history which is enhanced with the inclusion of fairies, soldiers, queens, kings, urchins, fantasy, romance, and the camaraderie of fellow travelers.

Critique: Author Gary Anderson's has a poet's grasp of words and a storyteller's gift for entertaining. Here is a sample of his literary talent: "The moon was a silvery coin shimmering in the sea of night. Clouds raced through that sea like gossamer galleons on a voyage to distant lands. Night breezes laughed and chased each other through the oak boughs and played hide and seek about the garrets and gables of the village before they scrambled up the walls and vaulted off the battlements of the main gate." Anderson's "A Soldier of Skye" is inherently fascinating and solidly entertaining, making it highly recommended for both school and community library YA Fiction collections, and the personal reading lists of historical fantasy fiction enthusiasts

Along The Way
Jacqueline Kolosov
Luminis Books
1950 East Greyhound Pass, #18, PMB 280, Carmel, IN 46033
JKS Communications
9781941311479, $24.95, 300pp,

Synopsis: Piper Rose, Dani Shapiro, and Alexandra 'Tessa' Louise De Mille Morrow share a history that goes back to their preschool years in Chicago when their families were still intact. Now Piper lives in Evanston with her divorced dad, her estranged, unstable mother popping in and out of her life at random moments. Meanwhile, Dani's been living in Santa Fe with a psychologist mom pregnant with her fiance's IVF babies. The blueblood Tessa resides on a prominent street in Boston and dreams of a romantic and well-heeled love story like that of her great-grandmother who went to France during World War II. Now that it's the summer before college, these radically different friends decide to celebrate their history and their future by walking the legendary pilgrimage along the Way of St. James, from the French Pyrenees to the Spanish city of Santiago. Along the way, each young woman must learn to believe in herself as well as in her friends, as their collective journey unfolds into the experience of a lifetime.

Critique: An impressively written and original novel, "Along The Way" showcases author Jacqueline Kolosov's genuine storytelling talents. As engaging as it is entertaining from beginning to end, "Along The Way" is very highly recommended for school and community library YA Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Along The Way" is also available in a paperback edition (9781941311486, $15.00) and in a Kindle format ($6.49).

The Power of Angel Medicine
Joanne Brocas
New Page Books
c/o Career Press Inc.
220 West Parkway, Unit 12, Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
Warwick Associates Publicity
9781601633743, $14.99, 224pp,

Synopsis: Angels are expert healers and are more than willing to assist us with our challenges and complaints -- all we need to do is ask them for their help! When we reach out to a higher power for spiritual assistance, it is the angels who are sent to bless us, protect us, guide us, heal us, and light our way. "The Power of Angel Medicine: Energetic Exercises and Techniques to Activate Divine Healing" introduces you to many of these magnificent beings, so that you can learn about the divine powers and special attributes that can help you heal. You will discover powerful exercises that will instantly go to work within your spiritual and energetic anatomy to effect positive changes and help you align with divine truth and love, the greatest sources of power for healing. The Power of Angel Medicine will help you: Discover insightful information about your divine design--your soul and spirit; Boost your vitality with angel medicine exercises for common complaints; Activate divine healing power with angel-medicine prayer frequencies; Work with angelic experts for persistent health issues; Receive divine knowledge from the angel alchemists to help co-create your dreams.

Critique: As informative and thought-provoking as it is inspiring and 'reader friendly', "The Power of Angel Medicine: Energetic Exercises and Techniques to Activate Divine Healing" is truly extraordinary and positive read that is very highly recommended for personal and community library Metaphysical Studies collections. It should be noted that "The Power of Angel Medicine: Energetic Exercises and Techniques to Activate Divine Healing" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.51).

Annie Lobert
Worthy Publishing
134 Franklin Road, Suite 200, Brentwood, TN 37027
Icon Media Group
9781617954207, $15.99, 224pp,

Synopsis: Annie Lobert was not so different from most girls, growing up in a small town and experiencing common struggles with friends, school, and boys. But her home was filled with turmoil, and at nine years old she was sexually abused by an older girl and as a teenager was assaulted numerous times by boys who said they loved her just to get what they wanted. Feeling unloved, used, and abused, she struggled to find self-worth. Lured by the almighty dollar, and with a skewed fairytale view of love, she was drawn toward the seductive whispers and open arms of the sex industry. Greed consumed her, the money an easy remedy to numb her brokenness, so she began a new life with a new name -- Fallen. Settling under the lights of glamorous Las Vegas, she became one of the most sought-after high-class escorts, fielding calls from celebrities, musicians, politicians, and other men with endless supplies of cash. But the lights weren't that bright. All that glitters isn't gold. And it wasn't long before the dream of getting all she ever wanted became the nightmare that plunged her into the darkest time of her life.

In "Fallen: Out of the Sex Industry & Into the Arms of the Savior", Lobert writes about her sixteen-year journey being owned by a violent pimp who took every dollar and beat her multiple times within inches of her life. After more than a decade and a half of countless arrests, rapes, life-threatening calls, and utter loneliness, the freedom she had once sought became her prison. Then after being diagnosed with and treated for cancer, Annie eventually found herself at death's door from a drug overdose. That's when she finally surrendered to the love of a beckoning Savior. Through Lobert's harrowing account in the clutches of the sex trafficking industry and the miraculous deliverance she experienced in the arms of Jesus, readers will be encouraged knowing this: No matter how far you have fallen, God loves you and wants to save you from the depths of any pain, trauma, addiction, or abuse. And He longs to give you a new life. Today, Annie is redeemed. Healed. Free. And rescuing other victims through her organization Hookers for Jesus.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and a compelling, "Fallen: Out of the Sex Industry & Into the Arms of the Savior" is a truly extraordinary story and very highly recommended reading -- especially for any young women tempted by the sex industry's false lure of fame and fortune. Appropriate for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fallen" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.00).

Once a Gypsy
Betty Hamel
Alva Press
214 Hooker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
9781938729119, $14.99,

Synopsis: Aspiring to be a female Spinosa and working in a Brooklyn diner to supplement her scholarships, about a half century ago, dark-eyed, Cassie Connelly's life plan is abruptly torn apart by the arrival of an official-looking envelope from Twitchell and Twitchell, Ltd., London, England. Its contents wrench her from the safe arms of the loving couple Botts to across the waters to England to a desolate area near the White Cliffs of Dover. Named heir to the estate of Cedric Carleston, a man whose identity is quite unclear, Cassie finds herself caught in a web of people not all of whom are as they seem. In her efforts to search out the true identity of Carleston she comes to learn more about both her own personal history and special powers than she ever might have imagined possible. Filled with turns and twists in which tinkling bells, Tarot cards, an abandoned house, and enigmatic answers carry a young dark-haired beauty out upon the moors and eventually to what will become her true life path, in Betty Hampel's "Once a Gypsy".

Critique: A terrifically entertaining and deftly written read from first page to last, "Once a Gypsy" is one of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Once A Gypsy" is also available in a Kindle edition (9781938729126, $11.99).

Odd Road Out
Betty Hampel
ALVA Press, Inc.
216 Hooker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, New York 12603
9781938729058, $9.99,

Synopsis: Samantha Smith would run to the Maine Coast. Even The Press would never find this wheelchair-bound heiress, her blonde hair now dyed black. 'Smith' seemed somehow appropriate as hadn't she become a sort of 'Jane Doe' who must seek out her own identity, make her own decisions? However nothing was to prepare her for the abrupt appearances of Charles Martin and all that he would bring with him including a dog that smiled, kindness sweeter than any she had ever known, and a future that in her wildest dreams she might never have imagined. "Odd Road Out" is an adult fairy tale in which everything wrong goes right.

Critique: An exceptionally entertaining read from beginning to end, "Odd Road Out" showcases author Betty Hampel as a gifted storyteller. "Odd Road Out" is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Odd Road Out" is also available in a Kindle edition (97819387290344, $4.99).

Betty Hampel
ALVA Press, Inc.
216 Hooker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, New York 12603
9781938729317, $14.99,

Synopsis: Leo Wolfson (aka Leslie Lancelot Lamb) is a New York private investigator with a soft spot for sultry broads, heroic deeds, and bad watches. In this three-part trilogy of Crime Noir, Wolfson goes head-to-head with mobsters, Nazis, and ruthless politicians when he succumbs to the seductive charms of several dishy Dames with questionable needs. Blasted with Roscoes, slugged with saps, copped and squeezed, Wolfson battles his way through one deadly encounter after another to defend the virtue of his latest Chickie-in-Distress. But his biggest adversary may be his own superstitious nature, because for Wolfson it is always Friday 13th. -- Or is it?

Critique: A romping great yarn reminiscent of a Mike Hammer novel from the 1940s, "Gumshoe" is a great read from beginning to end. Highly recommended for community library mystery action/adventure collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Gumshoe" is also available in a Kindle edition (9781938729324, $11.99).

For Love: Walking in the Darkness
Janet Marie Russo
ALVA Press, Inc.
216 Hooker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, New York 12603
9781938729461, $12.99, 140 pp,

Synopsis: "For Love: Walking in the Darkness" is the story of author Janet Marie Russo's climb to overcome a childhood steeped in domestic violence. In a creative mix of poetry and prose, it catalogues Russo's struggle in coming to understand that the only person one can change is oneself. It is a story of sorrow and of hope. It takes the reader from Russo's earliest memories of chaos and abuse at four years of age through adulthood. It is Russo's hope that her story will help others in similar situations to also rise above and grow to health and success beyond their beginnings.

Critique: Rarely has such an intimately personal and heartbreakingly painful memoir been presented with such unrelenting candor. Exceptionally well written, "For Love: Walking in the Darkness" deals honestly with a hard and all too prevalent an issue. Very highly recommended for community library collections, "For Love: Walking in the Darkness" is also available in a Kindle edition (9781938729478, $10.99).

Straight From The Robin's Nest
Roberta M. Roy
ALVA Press, Inc.
216 Hooker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, New York 12603
9781938729379, $34.99, (PB),

Synopsis: "Straight from the Robin's Nest" is a collection of essays Roberta M. Roy (creative lead and owner operator of ALVA Press Inc at wrote on a variety of timely topics that have been previously published in the "ALVA Axiom".

Critique: "Straight From The Robin's Nest" is an impressive anthology and an inherently fascinating and thought-provoking read that is especially recommended for community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Straight From The Robin's Nest" is also available in a Kindle edition (9781938729386, $4.99) and in an ePDF format (9781938729393, $4.99).

The Storm at Sea
Christopher Pye
Fordham University Press
2546 Belmont Avenue
University Box L, Bronx, NY 10458-5172
9780823265046, $95.00, 272pp,

Synopsis: "The Storm at Sea: Political Aesthetics in the Time of Shakespeare" by Christopher Pye (Class of 1924 Professor of English at Williams College) counters a tradition of cultural analysis that judges considerations of aesthetic autonomy in the early modern context to be either anachronistic or an index of political disengagement. Professor Pye argues that for a post-theocratic era in which the mise-en-forme of the social domain itself was for the first time at stake, the problem of the aesthetic lay at the very core of the political; it is precisely through its engagement with the question of aesthetic autonomy that early modern works most profoundly explore their relation to matters of law, state, sovereignty, and political subjectivity. Professor Pye establishes the significance of a "creationist" political aesthetic-at once a discrete historical category and a phenomenon that troubles our familiar forms of historical accounting-and suggests that the fate of such an aesthetic is intimately bound up with the emergence of modern conceptions of the political sphere. "The Storm at Sea" moves historically from Leonardo da Vinci to Thomas Hobbes; it focuses on Shakespeare and English drama, with chapters on Hamlet, Othello, A Winter's Tale, and The Tempest, as well as sustained readings of As You Like It, King Lear, Thomas Kyd's Spanish Tragedy, and Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. Engaging political thinkers such as Carl Schmitt, Giorgio Agamben, Claude Lefort, and Roberto Esposito, "The Storm at Sea" will be of interest to political theorists as well as to students of literary and visual theory.

Critique: An impressive work of seminal scholarship from beginning to end, "The Storm at Sea: Political Aesthetics in the Time of Shakespeare" is enhanced with the inclusion of forty-pages of Notes; a twenty-page Bibliography; and a twenty-three page Index. Extraordinarily well written, organized and presented, "The Storm at Sea" is a critically important addition to academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Storm at Sea" is also available in a paperback edition (9780823265053, $28.00) and in a Kindle format ($14.49).

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

The Red Munia
Kamini Puri
Havrabjarsgatan 6, Ballingslov, 28197, Sweden
9789187751638, $19.70,

Laila lives in a small town in India and enjoys many privileges as a member of a family with money: privileges she has come to take for granted in India before the exit of the British.

All this is about to change; not so much because she's growing up, but because her country is also experiencing growing pains. When she leaves for college to pursue a career, everything unsettled comes to a head - and The Red Munia captures this personal and political atmosphere.

The 'red munia' of the title is a bird that is so beautiful that it's a popular caged bird - and, much like India, the cage both holds its beauty captive and threatens to dilute it. Marks of possession mar the bird's beauty much as India is ultimately marred by British possession, and the focus of Laila's journey (and the country's evolution) presents dual dilemmas as each struggles to identify and loosen the shackles of long-held assumption and perspective to ultimately become free.

The opening lines perfectly capture these sentiments: "They talked of fish and chips, of wine and caviar! They tasted the aftermath of the British rule in their food, in style, in glamour, in white gloved waiters and black suited evenings...The British, even in their absence, lived on amongst them. Lived on their food, their clothes, their mannerisms, as part of their very existence!"

It's rare to find footnotes to history in a work of fiction, but The Red Munia is peppered with such throughout, lending insights into the culture and atmosphere of the nation where Laila hones her perception and craft. As she journeys far from her own town (first to Bombay and then beyond), Laila crafts a desire that could lead to healing some of her country's pain, even it involves a challenging journey to an even stranger land.

The Red Munia is a perfect example of the intersection between personal life, heritage, and political events. Far more than a history of the country, it follows Laila's task of restoring dignity to both herself and a nation. Her process and courage in pursuing her life goes far beyond historical events to probe deeply into the lives of the people during British occupation, offering a spirited and hopeful read that will engross a wide audience.

I Will Not Kill Myself, Olivia
Danny Baker
No Publisher, ISBN, Price

Depression is a life-threatening state of mind that can overcome a life and, ultimately, end it. Those struggling with depression know it's often like fog: always present on the horizon, just waiting to come in. Some days it's so thick you can barely see; other days, it lingers. Sometimes it's just a wisp in the background.

I Will Not Kill Myself, Olivia captures that experience and is one of the most singularly powerful book titles on depression on the market. What is to be found within its discussion is a treasure trove of heart-wrenching detail by a protagonist who daily struggles with suicide.

What it boils down to is: the writer is not a quitter. And that is the fine line of the fog bank: the piece that keeps everything from spilling over and coming apart: "I exploded into tears, cried loudly as all my emotions ruptured inside me - - in large part because I knew I'd have to keep living and fighting in this crazy fucked up world - - but regardless, I knew I couldn't do it. I'm just not a quitter. When it really comes down to it I'm just not a quitter."

Don't expect an easy read, here. Nothing is sugar-coated, whether it be language, emotional pain, or struggles with the impulse to die. The reader is 'there' with Danny Baker

through these struggles; so if reading about depression's angst is too much of an emotional tipping point, look elsewhere.

I Will Not Kill Myself, Olivia isn't about sweet sagas and happy endings. It is about how the suicidal person feels, their struggles, and why the balance tips from death to life like a seesaw. The energy is there - but what begins with an emotionally wrenching, dramatic scene is tempered by a move back in time in the next chapter, which describes an Australian city's seemingly-idyllic setting and the author's place in it.

How can depression emerge from pastoral places and inviting childhoods is the topic of a gritty, revealing story: "I was lucky enough to grow up in this vibrant town, a few blocks from the wharf in a two storey house overlooking the harbour." The author isn't a loner: he describes best friends, seaside fun, and a growing love of surfing.

It's the evolution from this to asking for commitment in a psych ward that is the meat of I Will Not Kill Myself, Olivia. How does one get from one point to another?

Love, romance, growing up, a dead baby and a girl named Olivia enter into an account which dances around depression at first, then slowly presents it at a slow evolutionary pace. Before the reader knows it, depression is no longer a hint of fog but a haunting force overcoming life.

Throughout it all, emotions run high: again, this is not a suggestion for those seeking quick solutions and light reading: "But after a while, my wrath gradually gave way to a potent sadness. I sat on the edge of the bed and buried my head in my hands. I felt so misunderstood. So alone in the world. I'd already lost Olivia, and now I felt like I was losing my mates too. Now that they know I have depression, they must think I'm a pussy or a faggot or a freak. They'll no longer want to be friends with me anymore. And if that's what they want, then I no longer want to be friends with them."

It IS a pick for readers who would follow the intense progress of how depression develops, is perceived internally and externally, and, above all, how loss can lead to choosing hope.

The Superyogi Scenario
James Connor
Sky Grove
4657 York Road #1150, Buckingham, PA 18912-6450
9780986146909, $25.99,

The Superyogi Scenario is a novel with a difference; and in a world replete with novels, this story is a standout. It's also a quasi-fantasy - but it's one of those fantasies that straddles the genre line, as it doesn't present the usual devices for a superpower's acquisition and, indeed, adds a healthy dose of eastern philosophy into its mix.

It relies on verses from The Yoga Sutra for the source of its inspiration (the ancient yoga text actually provides instructions for developing superpowers) and it mixes in thriller elements as it presents the story of yogic supernatural abilities rising among the world's yoga practitioners (a possibility that will intrigue and delight any new age reader already well versed in yoga traditions and thought).

Of course, heroes and villains emerge from such a scenario, as they always do - but in Connor's world, the spiritual roots of these newfound yoga abilities are quite different than the usually-accidental scientific incident or fluke of birth that most fantasies posit.

Add verses from the above-mentioned texts and the story that emerges is anything but ordinary. Fueled by the social, political and ethical challenges that follow these beings, the story line draws readers into a much-changed world where enlightenment moves from vague possibilities into sometimes-dangerous results.

Those who eschew new age thinking, superhero abilities, or Buddhism and meditation may not appreciate The Superyogi Scenario's unique focus - but that would be a shame. In a world where novels and fantasies tend to develop the same kinds of liner stories based on similar concepts, this story is remarkable.

Add a few pages of eye-catching artwork depicting these super beings in action and The Superyogi Scenario is exceptional both in its basic concept and in its development: something that crosses genres with a confident combination of action, philosophy, and intriguingly different concepts on what makes a superhero - or, a supervillain.

Madness, Miracles, Millions
Joseph Semprevivo and Larry Semprevivo
Tate Publishing and Enterprises LLC
127 East Trade Center Terrace Mustang, OK 73064
9781622958818, $11.00

There are memoirs centering upon family and then there are memoirs focused on other topics - such as business. Madness, Miracles, Millions speaks of finding miracles in both business and family after an accident renders both nearly impossible: as such, it serves as both an uplifting memoir and a story of personal and financial success.

Larry Semprevivo's hand was crushed in a press when someone accidentally took the safety off while he was fixing the rollers. The miracle lies in the fact that the machine stopped itself at some point - and turned back on when his hand and arm were freed: "Everything that had occurred that day seemed to have taken place by happenstance, in both good and bad ways. Although he couldn't see the entire picture that at that moment and had no idea how meaningful the chain of events that happened that day were, he did grasp that something incredible had just occurred. That day he knew that there were more than printers and foremen in that printing press factory."

Be forewarned: there are minor copy errors scattered throughout (better editing would lend to a smoother read (i.e. "The doctors asked everyone to leave the hospital..." - more likely, hospital room...) - that said, Madness, Miracles, Millions is still a gripping, involving saga that begins with a compelling dilemma and grows from there.

The story moves from an accident and shockingly inept hospitals to the lasting impact it would have on the family and their choices: "On the day that overwhelming hum filled the factory while Larry was face to face with death, he learned that we have a lot more control over our lives than we realize; not in the things that happen though, but in

how we handle them. The lessons learned from the accident would shape the Semprevivo family for the rest of their lives. Each child would experience first-hand what a life filled with a positive attitude and mutual gratitude could create. One of those children was me, Joseph Semprevivo."

Joseph would go on to create a company based on his family's values because an experience that changed these values, and his story is a vivid and engrossing saga of how family circumstances and bigger pictures work together to form something greater than the sum of its parts: ...although I was not born when the accident happened, the values my father always had combined with the lesson he learned from that tragedy would go on to mold me into who I am today."

Life is about attitude - and so is success. That's just one of the driving points of Madness, Miracles, Millions, which does an outstanding job of charting this process and its impact. Plenty of books discuss this concept - but too few trace its roots and evolution. It's this piece of the process that's often missing or value - not so here, which opens with a bang and continues the family focus to show just how things changed to lead up to the ultimate revelation: "Luck you have no control over, but attitude is something that you always have a choice about. How you interpret and handle the situations you come across will dictate your life."

This isn't just a story of the trials and tribulations life throws out - it's only the beginning of a 'how it's interpreted' process that stands out in a book packed with inspirational passages, stories of success, and - most importantly - the attitudes that translate challenge into growth. And it's this specific focus that sets Madness, Miracles, Millions apart in a world deluged with self-help inspirational messages.

Breaks in Reality
Alex Siegel
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B00VB3CK8A, $2.99

Breaks in Reality is Book Three of the 'Seams in Reality' series - and if you haven't had any prior introduction to Siegel's writings before, it should be mentioned that this book, especially, stands on its own strengths and as part of a series as it introduces Philip, a young sorcerer who has grand plans to dominate the world by taking control of all other sorcerers. This goal stems from his discovery of a spell that will allow him to dominate other sorcerers.

At odds with this plan are Andrew and Charley, who have their own abilities and ambitions - not the least of which involves stopping Philip from destroying everything that regulates and controls sorcery.

Handily, Andrew too has also discovered a new spell - one he must still investigate - but his struggles with Philip introduce so much complexity into his life that it's uncertain who will win, who will lose, and what will happen.

Breaks in Reality isn't as cut-and-dried a story as is presented in its plot outline above - and that's what makes it a winner. The fine lines between good and bad intentions, truth and lies, and ambitions fueled by these lies and truths are very thinly drawn, which keeps readers guessing about intentions, the pros and cons of sorcery's ambitions, and more.

Is compliance with established rules and status quo necessarily a good thing for survival? Do compelling truths lead to equally compelling dilemmas? Can mere apprentices perform higher-level thinking and confront ethical issues while they are in the midst of honing their talents and developing their perspectives on life?

And is seam formation a random process, or a deliberately-manipulated act? Government involvements, high-level secrets, love and lies, sorcery and its discontents: all these facets join in a gripping adventure saga that moves back and forth in its dance between three ambitious, talented young sorcerers, and how their decisions will affect the world.

Yes, Breaks in Reality stands well alone and requires no prior introduction to prove satisfying to newcomers. However, it should be advised: readers from young adult to adult will want to go back to its predecessors for more action once they've absorbed this saga, which (be warned) holds a cliffhanger that sets the stage for the next book.

Unbelievable Me: A 5-Step Program for Shifting to a Powerful Mindset & Experiencing True Success in All Areas of Life
David W. Lowell, P.E. and Gertrud Lola, L.M.T.
Practical Manifestations, LLC
PO Box 6145, Warwick, Rhode Island, 02889
978-0990805700, $14.99 paperback, $9.99 e-book

Unbelievable Me is all about realizing one's true potential and offers a program for such an achievement - and if this focus and purpose sounds familiar, that's because there are many self-help books on the market that offer similar promises.

The difference here is between a promise kept and a dream: Unbelievable Me is the 'kept promise' of exactly how to go about the process, not a dreamy review of possibilities; and its five-step program is concrete and cemented in progressive understanding and education, not fantasy.

That's not to say that this is a simple process: with some forty-one chapters (plus several appendices) packed with a combination of historical review, psychological insight, and self-help admonitions, readers need to be prepared to work for their goals - not be spoon-fed.

Chapters are directed to readers who may have tried self-development techniques before with disappointing results. They are all about realizing one's potential, and they offer the insights (backed by scientific studies and historical precedent) on how to get there. The techniques and plans presented are designed to be customized by readers: they aren't boilerplate templates. Self-help readers should be prepared to think, work, and refine the process of achieving their goals and negating the effects of fixed mindsets.

It's no light undertaking to consider established precedents and shake them up. It's no light process to take recommendations and customize them until they are right. And it's no casual choice to pick up Unbelievable Me to supplement the process of change: readers who expect quick, easy results need not look here.

This is a hard-hitting, research-based survey of self-discovery techniques and it's a top recommendation for readers who come to it with the necessary prerequisites of absorbing a scientific and research-based approach to lasting change.

MF Moskwik
9781511505130, $8.99 paperback, $2.99 e-book,

Fifty-year-old Ben Carter is running: he's in an isolated area and has no wish to die - and more so than most, he has the experience and background to avoid being murdered (one would think). Unfortunately, this isn't the case, and the opening of the book charts his last moments fleeing a pursuer.

Ben was the mentor of savvy policewoman Isabel Swift, who aspires to be a detective and who struggles with the notion that her relatively young mentor (and now ex-partner) keeled over from a heart attack. And here's where things become interestingly different, because Swift's investigation doesn't follow the usual course of action of a police investigator when she's paired with a reluctant forensic scientist who is more comfortable analyzing data in a lab than solving crimes.

Was it just a heart attack, or did Ben Carter's final moments give her a key that something more ominous was happening to him? Obviously, it's the latter - but readers and protagonist are kept in a satisfyingly dark realm as inquiries proceed and Isabel confronts matters of the heart as well as matters of police protocol and investigative processes.

One difference between Heartbreak and other detective stories is the focus on emotional revelations which permeate the action: "You have compassion for Mr. Lennox," Jameson observes with surprise. Izzy nods. "You're right. I do. It is a hard thing to go through, losing someone. And how we deal with it, what we do with the grief and loss and anger, sometimes doesn't happen in the way that it should."

Another is the cat-and-mouse game that takes partners with differences and places them at odds not only with one another, but with their environments. As both look for ways out on many levels, they find their shared focus of stopping a power that threatens to get loose becomes a greater concern.

In the end, change happens on many levels, in many ways, and involves solid, steady personalities forced to transform and adapt - and that's the greatest strength in Heartbreak, a mystery that confronts grief and the forces that lead to life-altering actions.

Angels to Ashes
Drew Foote
Drew Foote, Publisher
9781508692034, $13.99 Print $0.99 Kindle

"I would give anything to make partner." The opening sentence would seem to neatly cement the idea that Angels to Ashes is a legal novel of some kind; but readers who find themselves engaged on this level, anticipating another Gresham-like courtroom drama, will be surprised to learn only a few paragraphs later that the story is anything but a legal thriller: "I took a deep breath and smoothed the black hair around my horns; it was time to go to work. I closed my eyes and slid through the seams of reality as though they were flimsy shower curtains. I materialized in the center of the Manhattan office with a theatric puff of smoke."

As its title promises, this is about angels (and also about devils) and presents the unlikely alliance between two very different personas - a Demon of Price and an avenging angel - and their human witness.

If all this sounds like a fantasy, be forewarned: it's more of a mystery/thriller, utilizing the trappings of fantasy to present different worlds that come together under the guise of intrigue, cloaked by forces that move all too easily between heaven and hell.

Also unexpected is a healthy dose of wry humor, evident throughout in passages which are delightfully complex and, yes, downright fun: "I had always considered myself an exceptionally handsome Demon. Many of my colleagues preferred to go with traditionally diabolic visages: fangs, claws, three heads ... things of that nature. However, I always found there was a certain sweet spot and once you went past it, your numbers suffered."

There are armies and violent clashes. There's mystery and intrigue. There are human aspirations and equally powerful objectives that come from supernatural forces. All this is bound together in a story that is so well drawn that it's difficult to believe this is a self-published first novel.

It should also be mentioned that no prior form of religious connection is required in order to fully appreciate the approach and action in Angels to Ashes. Perhaps this is the novel's greatest achievement: to draw in the agnostic as well as the religious believer and immerse these disparate souls equally in a genre-breaking story that toes the line between fantasy, mystery, thriller, and something greater than the sum of its parts.

The Prince of Prigs
Anthony Anglorus
Bygone Era Books, Ltd.
7665 E. Eastman Ave. #B101, Denver, CO 80231
9781941072202, $19.95 (paperback) and, $6.99 (ebook)

Historical fiction is a genre that holds much potential for both entertainment and education, basing its premise on facts and weaving in a healthy dose of fiction for embellishment and attraction. At its best, it provides a strong segue between fiction and nonfiction, and does so in such a way that history comes to life in the form of characters and settings steeped in realistic presentations and based in truth.

The Prince of Prigs is such a beast, based on the life and exploits of highwayman Captain James Hind, who adopted a Robin Hood-type role between 1633 and 1649. He was generous to the poor, witty even during his robberies (which were designed to not hurt anyone even as money transferred hands), and focused his attacks on rich political figures. There was much historical background and lively source material, therefore, for The Prince of Prigs, which does not disappoint in its lively presentation of the highwayman (and women!) at work.

Court proceedings, Cromwell's contentions, issues of liberty and peace, fair trials and manipulators and monsters: all these facets of the times come to life in a ringing tale that captures a pivotal moment in British history and brings it to life.

Any who view historical fiction as dry or plodding should pick up The Prince of Prigs: it wraps courtroom drama, social issues, flamboyant personalities and British politics under one cover and represents a rollicking good read even for audiences who normally eschew the genre. As for those who know how compelling it can be - The Prince of Prigs is ample evidence of the powers of historical fiction.

Butterflies Wake
Arlene M Lagos
CreateSpace Independent Publishing
9781499240962, $2.99 Kindle

Butterflies Wake is about an underground female 'mafia' where women intent on justice take matters into their own hands, begins a series of 'Butterfly' stories, and depicts a secret organization which is on the cusp of discovery.

If they are exposed, they will lose some of their power - but if they remain secret, one of their own will be endangered, and their inactivity will refute the very nature of their cause.

It's a dichotomy indeed - one adeptly explored in a novel that is all about power struggles, choices, and not just individuals making decisions, but the dynamics involved in an activist women's group.

From domestic violence that sparks the rebirth of an ordinary Southern woman into something far more to the group's evolution thirty years later, Butterflies Wake is all about coming out of the cocoon of oppression and taking wing.

You can hardly call such a woman's group a 'mafia' if its lofty intentions are to right wrongs and ensure justice is achieved, even if it is by covert and vigilante means. You can hardly call journeys of self-discovery that lead to social and political awareness to be contrary to social objectives. And you can't say that Butterflies Wake is anything but compelling: it opens with a bang: "Fairytales always start with, "once upon a time" and end with, "happily ever after." Somewhere in the middle there's a prince, an evil queen, and a distressed maiden, who is usually a victim of her own beauty. Gallantly, the prince rides in, saving his true love; proving his manhood and once again restoring balance to the universe. My fairytale was not like all." and closes with a slam.

Any female reader interested in women's oppression and the self-appointed 'butterflies' who designate themselves watchdogs of female battles for everything from equal rights to survival will find this a powerful story, filled with memorable characters and setting a stage ripe for more stories to come.

The Power of Courage: An Uplifting Saga of Moving Beyond Abuse
Charol Messenger
Messenger Publishing
9781518750168, $TBA,

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The Power of Courage: An Uplifting Saga of Moving Beyond Abuse is an Award-Winning Finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. It's in the top six nationally in the Women's Issues category.

Plenty of books tell of toxic relationships and abuse and plenty of autobiographies detail how their authors emerged from them; but few offer the specific focuses on entrapment and escape as does The Power of Courage, which chronicles a close connection between opposite personalities that began simply with an aspiring author's request to Messenger to help him write his book.

It's when loneliness is a part of everyday life that decisions are sometimes made that are obviously contrary to logic and which are deadly. As Messenger came to see that her chosen one was a user, an abuser, an alcoholic and a narcissistic personality in stark contrast to her own, she found herself unable to let loose the chains that bound her to him. Ironically, she could perceive and admit these issues only when alone.

Also ironically, she would find the patterns of her past (which she had already rigorously fought against) contributed to her present-day dilemma.

And, finally, she would find that her ability to see good in all facets of life would have to be set aside in order to properly see and act on the negativity that was taking over her world.

The Power of Courage neatly answers the question of 'how can this happen?' The incongruities, the inconsistencies - everything is explored with an eye to detailing exactly how one falls into a 'bottomless pit' in a relationship, how blindness becomes a position of even the most educated, intelligent person, and what transpires behind closed doors: "...we both burst out laughing, and Joey's eyes flashed. "I've been swearing more since I met you," he said, smiling. "I must really like you." Swearing was liking me? Geez. Still, no man had ever shown this much interest in me."

As illustrated above, there are many passages where events and observations illustrate the psychological process of how an intelligent thinker comes to accept behaviors that should be unacceptable. And this is where The Power of Courage departs from other accounts of abuse and recovery. By pinpointing exactly where the breaking points are and how logic is warped into acceptance, readers gain insight into a process rarely presented in such specific detail - and into the kinds of patterns that lead to abuse.

Harrowing, riveting, and educational: these facets join together to create something exceptional in The Power of Courage.

The Weeping Books of Blinney Lane
Drea Damara
Happy Wanderer Press
ASIN: B00XAAO666, $2.99,

At first glance Allister's Books on Blinney Lane feels like any other bookstore: lovingly tended by a proprietor who has affection for books and satisfied customers alike, it's the epitome of an antique bookstore filled with readers and old gems.

But as is common with many stores selling old things, Allister's holds something different: in this case, not a mystery but the lure of other worlds literally held in books; a feature only unlocked when Sarah's nephew comes to stay with her and inadvertently finds the key to one special book which can literally suck its reader into its world.

It's not as though her bookstore's special properties are unknown to Sarah: she and a book group have been tracking the phenomenon of weeping books, worried about what is to come; but a long-time curse may be nothing against the awakening powers of a teenager.

The curse is most powerful when the book awakens, changing those who evoke it, and it's up to Sarah to save her nephew and guide him through the world he's inadvertently entered - and deal with his reactions as he comes to understand the reason why the shop owners never seem to leave their jobs: "As much as Ricky wanted this to be a joke, he worried that something horrible had happened to these people, something that may actually give their stories merit. Now that he thought about it, what worried him the most was that he'd never seen any of these shop owners leave Blinney Lane while he'd been there."

From the vengeance of two men whose actions alter history to the introduction of a 'wild card' in the form of a teen outsider, The Weeping Books of Blinney Lane is a draw from page one, and readers will find young Ricky isn't the only one compelled beyond the ordinary and unable to leave a book world.

Dialogue is solid, action and events not only believable but riveting, and there's just the right juxtaposition of the anticipated with the unexpected to keep readers involved. From stormy family relationships and history to guilt and change, there are plenty of motivators to keep readers immersed.

More so than most fantasy reads, Weeping Books holds the rare ability to reach widely outside of its genre: young adults, mystery readers, and those who love novels about antiques and bookstores will find it equally compelling and inviting.

The Shiva Syndrome
Alan Joshua
BURST/Champagne Books
19-3 Avenue SE, High River, AB T1V 1G3 Canada
9781771551311, $5.95 Kindle,


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A secret Russian mind research laboratory explodes in a big way, leaving a mile-deep crater and a host of unanswered questions about what happened - and that's where parapsychologist Beau Walker enters the picture, becoming a reluctant part of a SHIVA investigative team fraught with political tension.

At first glance one would think this to be either a sci-fi saga or perhaps a thriller: technically, that's correct; but it's so much more. Its focus on untapped human potential gone awry in a deadly experiment also lends to its enjoyment by new age readers or any interested in the paranormal - and let's not forget the reader who enjoys political intrigue and a bit of spiritual reflection in their reading.

Few other books cross as many genre lines as The Shiva Syndrome - and few can do it as deftly, logically, and skillfully, as well. Tension is well-done, protagonists are well-drawn, and the juxtaposition of neuroscience, psychology, and political tensions are exquisitely detailed.

There's solid action and adventure to compliment contemplation on the nature of reality itself, which means that thriller readers won't be disappointed by an ethereal dose of introspection while ethereal readers will be drawn in by close encounters and dangerous events: "The crater floor groaned, then shifted under them, followed by ominous cracking. A wide cleft split open near Kampmann.

Putting out her arms, she teetered on its edge as a large chunk of earth dropped into a chasm under her foot. She screamed as her leg began to slide in."

Lots of action, intriguing concepts, and examinations of belief systems and the greatest opportunity in human history to reshape the world: that's the essence of a powerful saga in The Shiva Syndrome, which is not only highly recommended 'as is', but would translate well to the screen.

It's very highly recommended, indeed; especially for thriller and sci-fi readers who have become deluged with too much predictability and who seek cutting-edge action, believable protagonists, and action that is solidly intense throughout.

Sorrow Lake: A March and Walker Crime Novel (Book 1 of the March and Walker Crime Novel Series)
Michael J. McCann
The Plaid Raccoon Press
9781927884027, $5.99 Kindle, $19.99 Paperback
Buy Link:

A small-town man is shot to death in an execution-style murder in a farmer's field in rural Canada, and Detective Constable Kevin Walker must deal with his first homicide investigation. The experienced Detective Inspector Ellie March is called in to lead the investigative team. All the trappings of the typical police procedural are outlined in an introduction featuring an obvious murder, a cold Ontario morning, and a team of investigators.

In Sorrow Lake the real surprises don't lie in the investigative process: they lay in wait in the psychological twists and turns of a crime that turns all too personal when it envelopes its investigators and even threatens their careers, and in an evolving mystery that keeps readers guessing about the perp's identity and the murder's wider ramifications. And here's where Sorrow Lake becomes thoroughly engrossing.

As chapters - and characters - unfold Sorrow Lake is fleshed out both with protagonist development and in the underlying mystery. All the hallmarks of great mystery writing are here: solid, believable protagonists, secrets, the challenges of a professional charged with working with less experienced investigators, and a 'whodunnit and why' that appears to lead down a neat road, only to take some quick turns to leave readers guessing right up to the end.

Add a solid sense of place and community and you have a fine saga that may open with the ordinary but closes with an extraordinary 'bang', leaving readers both satisfied and looking for more in this evolving series.

These Boots Are Made for Butt-Kickin': The MisAdventures of Miss Lilly, Volume Two
Kalan Chapman Lloyd
Lloyd Words
5906 S. Knoxville Ave, Tulsa, OK 74135
Print ISBN 9781312935266
Digital ISBN 9781312935259

It is said that in the first paragraph of any book, you either 'hook' your reader or lose them. As more and more books appear with dubious literary attributes, the notion of 'hooking in the first paragraph' is often lost; let alone with the first sentence.

These Boots are Made for Butt-Kickin' offers the rare attribute of opening with a literal bang: if its title doesn't land you hook, line and sinker, its first sentence surely is a grabber: "I had always wanted to kill him. So I shot him. Shot him good. I hit my mark dead-on."

And lest readers think the good stuff has been caught with this line alone, be advised that the novel just gets better and better, from there: "In fact, I was so dead-on that after all the melee, the Chief Investigative Coordinator (I think that is his title) for the Oklahoma Agency of Investigation offered me a job. Considering the fact that I'm an attorney by trade and I was somewhat shell-shocked, I think I turned him down. It could almost sound sexy. She shot him. He got shot. I pulled the trigger. It sounds like something that would make good copy. Until you relay the rest of the the big toe. I shot him in the big toe."

Delightfully fresh and original in its approach, These Boots are Made for Butt-Kickin' returns surprises again and again - and in a genre replete with familiar plots, near-formula writings, and approaches that are way too predictable, this is truly a standout.

Action stems from a series of close encounters, including a perp who attempts to run the protagonist off the road. There are courtroom scenes and drama (the central character is an attorney, among other things), there are animal rights issues, smear campaigns and threats in small communities, and a touch of romance juxtaposed by gritty life encounters.

No doubt about it - Miss Lilly is a butt-kickin' legal renegade on a mission that will carry readers along on a lively journey from start to finish. Packed with unexpected twists, hilarious moments, and swift action, These Boots are Made for Butt-Kickin' is especially recommended for fans of mystery, romance, and legal thrillers who think they have 'read it all' - until they encounter the formidable Miss Lilly.

Miss Me?
Todd M. Thiede
9781500123222, $13.95

Miss Me? is Book Three in the Max Larkin Detective Series (the other books have not been seen by this reviewer), and presents the actions of two detectives introduced in the prior books, who are here chasing down an elusive serial rapist and murderer.

They join up with an FBI agent who reveals a startling fact: that said rapist has not only been known to the Bureau for years for past crimes, but doesn't even attempt to hide his DNA or evidence of his deadly deeds. Is he just being over-confident, or does he have an insider working with him who helps him elude even the greatest law enforcement efforts in the country - and if so, what hope does Max Larkin have of tracking him down?

Miss Me? pairs a third party with an added depth of complexity, expanding its characters and circumstances with a new level of police drama and detective work. The juxtaposition of two different agencies and their methods is intriguing, while action is gripping and logically revealed in bits and pieces that keep readers guessing.

Be forewarned: the opening scene (of Sally's brutal rape from an assailant who kills her lover first) is not for the faint-hearted. But then, the faint-hearted should not be imbibing in a murder mystery, either.

From an intruder who must marry his victims before possessing them to a too-clever perp who gets women to fall in love with him against all odds, Miss Me? is a gripping blend of psychological horror and detective investigation, moving back and forth from victims to investigators with a deft and sly approach to the traditional murder mystery format.

As the story becomes more complex, so does reader engagement, making this a top pick for fans of detective thrillers who want more than a light dose of psychological drama in their reading.

The Spirit of Steel: The Morus Chronicles Book Two
J.R. Roper
Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing, LLC
ISBN: 9781512069297, $12.99
Barnes & Noble:

Witches, sorcerers, a boy in danger and a girl who loves him... this is just the opening act of Book Two of The Morus Chronicles, The Spirit of Steel, which should give adequate warning that this story continues a saga and that it involves supernatural forces; so readers who don't care for continuing adventures of otherworldly forces should look elsewhere - and that would be a shame.

Because if you're expecting the usual vampire/werewolf romance ala Twilight, you're in for a surprise: The Spirit of Steel is not about love in a world of conflict; it's about trust, psychic dangers, and even why witchcraft came to be associated with evil: "The Dark was there at the beginning, lurking even as the Light was created on this earth. A plague that took some of the most powerful wizards and witches from the Light."

Foreboding dangers threaten from the first chapter and move out in ever-widening circles; but one thing is constant: the action, characterization, and vivid insights that keep The Spirit of Steel moving along at not only a fast pace, but a cut above your usual adventure saga.

There are sea monsters and treasures, family ties and kidnappings, and young warriors sporting nobility, weaponry, and extraordinary talents and courage. Most effective of all, there's attention to building the kinds of characters and scenes that bring all this together.

A new search, a new secret, and new dangers: all are woven together in an innovative story that stands well on its own for newcomers and is satisfyingly different from its predecessor, for old fans. Be advised, there's a cliffhanger here that will leave readers looking for Book Three - and that's one of the attractions: its ability to conclude neatly while still promising more ahead.

Spiritual Gait
Steven J. Jacobson
Cornerstone Copy Center
13775 Frontier Court, Burnsville, MN 55337
9780692213575, $15.00

Most poetry collections are fairly dense and inaccessible, which tend to regulate the entire literary genre to an audience of college-educated followers and specialty readers.

Not so Spiritual Gait, a collection of simple free verse writings about daily occurrences, relationships with God, soul rebirth, and more. Here is a celebration that is decidedly religious in tone: readers with affection for spiritual sentiments will find it a prerequisite to appreciating works that center upon creation, joy, and life's little facets.

Here is an observation of July 4th celebrations and its effects not only on people, but nature ("...fireworks lace the sky with a deluge of bombardments of bright flashing forms and colored lights..."), there an observation of a child's closer connections to God ("...the innocence given by God/to a child remains a mystery/to the adult world./the love unconditionally/expressed by a child to another/is unparalleled in this life.")

Whether it's observations of nature or observations of children, Spiritual Gait is an accessible, simple collection recommended for spiritual readers who seek light, simple, and joyful observational pieces.

Edward A. Dreyfus
Edward A. Dreyfus, Publisher
1421 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404
9781502983015, $14.95,

Buddies represents an unusual genre combination: a mix of romance and thriller that adds a healthy dose of insight into the complex psychology of men's emotions and what happens when four long-time male friends meet a seductive Brazilian woman who enchants them all.

Now, this all too easily could have assumed Peyton Place proportions, but the focus isn't just on friendships that go awry: it's on how these men fail to be emotionally honest with one another and, in the course of their failings, become involved in a murder that should never have happened.

Family ties, the riches of running a drug business, a clever woman's plans, and insights into both men and women's emotional perceptions and devices ("The fucking world is run by men," exclaimed an angry Sasha. "But you already know that." Elena nodded knowingly and Sasha continued, "Women have to use their charms and their bodies to make their way in this world.") blend into a story that could have sagged under the weight of its disparate themes, but which in fact serves up a satisfying blend of flavors and ideas.

There's a lot of focus on feelings and their sources, so readers who want a light thriller with minimal emotional depth should look elsewhere. Buddies is driven by psychological interactions which makes it a standout in the world of novels that skim the surface of emotion in favor of action, and it examines the processes by which friends and acquaintances come together, grow apart, or move in dangerous directions.

The evolution of awareness and the introduction of much-needed lessons in life make Buddies more than a murder mystery, more than a romance, and something more than a thriller; incorporating elements of the above and cementing them in a shroud of psychological depth that is both intriguing and emotionally compelling.

Night Rumbles
Nancy James
Rockrose Press
9780692314074, $2.99

Brad is a nineteen-year-old research student on the planet Lydo tasked with investigating a favorite subject; but in order to conduct his investigations, he must first enter the strange Netherworld not only in a new form, but without his memory. And that's where trouble begins.

Night Rumbles is about entering a strange world with no supporting memories, about navigating it with the sense that one doesn't belong there, and about surviving battles in a place where any show of affection is forbidden. In such a world, what is the observer's role, and what happens when scientific distance breaks down to involve a researcher in his own subject?

Andre Norton employed some of the elements of this theme (waking on an alien world in another body with no memories) in one of her fantasy series novels decades ago; but Night Rumbles takes matters a big step further, adding the dilemma of a scientist whose investigation of behavioral patterns becomes all too personal.

Trusts betrayed, night junkets, a strange world which grows on him ("Hopeless humans. They are a lively bunch. Think I'm growing fond of them.") - can a walk out of his world lead to a new life? The conflict between light vs. darkness, evil vs. good, is an overarching theme in the struggle of the protagonist to overcome the cruel despotic ruler.

Night Rumbles proves a satisfying read that is easy to follow and with enough mystery to keep readers on their toes.

After the Gazebo
Jen Knox
Rain Mountain Press
9781495106125, $15.00
Author's website:,
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Author's website:,

The short story format is a challenging one: consider that a tale, experience, or flavor needs to be created, captured, and concluded in a very limited number of pages. Consider that this effort ideally changes from story to story in a short collection. Then consider the works in Jen Knox's After the Gazebo, which serve as a solid example of the wide-ranging possibilities - not the limitations - of the short story form.

Take the title story, 'After the Gazebo', as one example. It's wedding time and the perceptions of bride and groom are starkly and intriguingly portrayed in just a few sentences: "She felt it in her toes that morning, dread that she would shove into ivory heels and dance on beneath heavy clouds. He felt a surge of adrenaline he thought must accompany every man on his wedding day."

The uncertainties of new beginnings and possibilities are deftly captured as the big event winds towards its inevitable conclusion: "They made resolutions often. They both wanted to be somewhere else, but were unsure exactly where."

The gazebo setting is perfect. Nothing is overdone. It's a small affair. But life hands them lemons and the momentous event is transformed. Without spilling beans, it's this transformation that creates a superior read.

Each short story after is different, but each shares the unique quality of leading readers down that aisle of marriage and union, only to hand over something different than expected, at the end. That's the hallmark of an excellent technique: the ability to surprise (something often lost in the process of telling the story.) That's why Jen Knox's collection is a pick above others, highly recommended for readers who seek out those too-rare elements of surprise and descriptions of life's ironies.

Shaytan: A Journey into Evil
David S. Arthur
Brighton Publishing LLC
435 N. Harris Drive, Mesa, AZ 85203
eBook, $5.99. ISBN13: 9781621832942
Soft cover, $13.95. ISBN10: 1621832945

Shaytan has been on a killing spree, plaguing villages and dragging his victims into the jungle - but survivors don't know if Shaytan is a man-eating leopard or a supernatural being that wears the trappings of a man until his cannibal appetite kicks in.

Historian Richard and his wife Emily are on the hunt for this creature, and are guests of marksman Victor, who is determined to capture it and put an end to the bloodshed. Everyone is expecting an animal: what they get is so much more, documented in a powerful thriller that takes a supernatural being and places it at the forefront of a gripping adventure story.

In some ways, Shaytan: A Journey Into Evil is about a hunt gone awry and a quest that leads into realms no hunter is prepared for. In another way, Shaytan is a new age story about evil come to life. Either way, Shaytan is made especially gripping by its first-person narration, by its spiritual and supernatural influences, and by its light, chatty first person narrative style that successfully involves readers in events from a protagonist's point of view: "By way of avocation, I fancy myself a fairly adept amateur archaeologist and classical historian, which is how I spend most of my days: digging up the past. My lovely bride, Emily, a few years my younger, is a spirited imp blessed with a strong will and a somewhat spontaneous temperament. She is petite and elfin cute, with a shock of close-cropped sandy blonde hair, bright green eyes, and a quick toothy smile. I've always thought she looked like the late Amelia Earhart, only prettier."

Interjections of historical fact and the journals of Victor Bloodworth and Richard and Emily Quizzenbury offer very different perspectives of the same event: this attention to perspective and tone, introduced in the form of journal entries, offers a deeply satisfying, rich approach that a linear approach couldn't achieve, capturing different 'voices' and ideas: "Sohum. There is a mantra about breathing. I have read about it. In the Vedic philosophy, it is meant to unite oneself with the ultimate reality...Sharing our breathing, sharing the rhythm of our beating hearts, we lay listening for the dawn. It was not our time to die."

Complex, rich in detail, and clearly presented, Shaytan: A Journey Into Evil is a novel that won't quickly be forgotten, and challenges its readers to think about the nature of the unknown in the world, and its ultimate purpose.

Below the Line in Beijing
Richard Seldin
IP Books
25-79 31st Street, Astoria, NY 11102
9780990661375, $19.95

Available from,, Amazon, major bookstores and the author.

There's a lot happening in Below the Line in Beijing, as it presents the scenario of a middle-aged man who awakens one morning to an unexpected problem: he has suddenly, overnight, lost the ability to speak. But this isn't all that's happening in his life: he's in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics and is facing, with the help of his psychoanalyst, the deterioration of his marriage and his sexuality.

That's a lot to put on anyone's plate - and it's a bit of a surprise that his first impulse would be to visit his psychoanalyst in search of a quick assessment of the cause of his loss of speech, rather than a physician. But the protagonist has reason to believe his problems lie in the mental realm, and his efforts to solve them of necessity involve many hard questions - and so Below the Line in Beijing is as much about an awakening as it is about an ending.

Readers of Saul Bellow's literary classics of middle age and diminished powers will quickly appreciate the setting and concerns of this novel. As events unfold and Chinese culture, Olympics spectator customs, and encounters with women evolve, readers are treated not to the middle-age musings of a man facing failures, but to one still contemplating the emotional and disorienting aspects of sex and attraction and his own place in such a world.

Is the protagonist losing his connections to what he values most in life? Why does he need to be surrounded by the crowds, chaos, and (in particular) the company of his friend, or is it doppelganger, Jim, at the Olympics? Will his ability to speak English return, or will his fluency in Chinese make for a new life?

Readers should have an affinity for a good amount of psychological self-inspection and for cultural and sexual insights as the protagonist explores a strange new world of self and environment: "I had so much time at night to stew about the reasons for my insomnia, eventually I came to view it as a symptom of an unresolved separation issue that was reenacted in the new and challenging Chinese environment, a conclusion Lutansky later supported and without equivocation."

The action in Below the Line in Beijing is largely internal and observational, but excels in its tone and approach as the narrator makes notes about his experiences in Beijing for future analysis and fosters a relationship with Jim that leads him to make new discoveries about his life and its course.

Steeped in the cultural atmosphere of China, the special circumstances of the Olympics, and the unique struggles of an aging man, Below the Line in Beijing is a solid recommendation for any who want a novel packed with the duality of introspection and cultural analysis.

One Shoe
John Hewitt
Pump Island Tales
156 Linden Lane, Mill Valley, CA 94941
9780990626497, $TBA,

A novel in a historic setting is not unusual, but satire set in a California Gold Rush village telling of a rundown town named by an egomaniac whose own statue was cut down, leaving behind only one shoe - now, that's funny!

One Shoe: When a Gold Rush is not Enough is a barrel of laughter from start to finish; especially for California readers already more steeped in Gold Rush fiction and folklore. It uses the past history of the Rush but tells the story of the zany, whimsical cast of present-day characters, winning readers from its first (amazingly oddball) sentence: "Harry Trout stood out like a cockroach in a bag of trail mix."

One Shoe injects a lot of artful levity into the picture even as the characters get up to some painful hijinks as they try to out do one another, especially Harry Trout, who finds his name and life much maligned. Author John Hewitt portions out the delicious plot, serving up a satisfyingly tasty story with notes of joie de vivre, irony, and laughs. It's something rarely encountered in the world of novels in general, and those with a historical setting in particular.

Is a new discovery that may bring back the prosperous past of a long-dead town always a winning event? Not in One Shoe, where the residents find the sudden event brings them unwanted attention. A media firestorm puts the town in the center of a flurry of news stories with sensational headlines: "Gunfights in the Creeks"; "Claimjumpers Stiff Miners"; "The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Gunfire." The normally peaceful dusty town sounds as dangerous as any modern city.

But it's not all about the gold. The weird news "rush" begins with botched daytime drug busts, and strange public events.

"There are all sorts of things going on. This Sunday is the Open Carry Palooza. It's a quadrathlon where all runners have to carry a pistol and wear a gun belt."

In quick succession, chaos gains speed as the greedy meet the lame-brained desperate. In a matter of days there are private business deals with dubious overseas connections, gold and murder, friendships and double-cross. It's all here, but couched in a healthy dose of send up and humor, the likes of which have not been seen since Mark Twain covered the last embers of the Gold Rush from Angels Camp in Calaveras County, California.

Readers who want an entertaining read that is hilarious and full of surprises will enjoy the adventure and riches in One Shoe: When a Gold Rush is Not Enough. It's the plausible story of small-town that attempts to rewrite history to fit the right shoe for the wrong reasons.

The Boy Who Would Not Play Ball
Robert Taylor Brewer
No ISBN, Publisher, $7.99
Pre-Publication Manuscript: Pub Date June 15, 2015

One might suspect that The Boy Who Would Not Play Ball would be about sports or childhood experiences - and they would be partially correct. But it's also about growing up in an orphanage - and in this series of descriptions, Robert Taylor Brewer's story excels.

First of all, baseball permeates his saga; so readers uninterested in descriptions of games or sports should move on. Secondly, it's a story of survival as well as of dreams: the methods of this survival are what drive both baseball and an orphan boy's world: "Burke betrays Richie, turns stone faced as Sister Gregory looks out at them in the hunt for miscreants. He glances at Sparrow, equally erect and impassive. They try to show they are not disrupters, they deserve to get their names on The List, the list of children leaving the St. Michael's Orphan Asylum and Industrial School. If The List came out and his name was on it, this was all over: he'd be out of the orphanage, gone for good to a new home somewhere. When he tries to imagine where this new home might be, he suddenly cannot think straight."

Be forewarned: there's swearing and crass language throughout as the protagonists interact with their world. There are also a lot of long descriptions which are exquisite in their emotional and physical detail: "The car sails into the service road and Burke eyes the clipper ship on the front hood: pitted, dirty chrome laminate peeling, hull in disrepair, holes in the forecastle, Jolly Roger hoisted up the mainsail, sailors on the deck of the clipper ship forlorn and grizzly, marooned the same way he was, in the middle of the same no-where voyage and drifting, their mouths sealed shut by baked black lips; they scuttle barrels of bilge, haul in the heavy metal sails, look up at the orphanage of red brick and urinate over the deck rails."

As for baseball itself; suffice it to say that even here the descriptions are a cut way above your usual ballgame narrations, involving even non-players and non-followers in the underlying psyche of the sport: "A finer sense of freedom than he had ever known lifts his cleats through the infield silt. Having deciphered the riddle of his predicament, he can advocate for others. He descends into his spread crouch, aware the runner might be stealing, annoyed at the oddity of everyone knowing but not saying, not warning him. He crouches but not so low he cannot shift, which he does even before the pitch reaches him alerted by, but not looking at the flash of red stirrup. The ball screams, bends to Tony, kneeling over the bag as though genuflecting on a chapel pew."

Worries and realities. Dreams of leaving and then actual departures and loss. Connections between orphans which explore the fellowship of shared experience as well as the alienation of an institutional setting. All these come to life in a story that is about far, far more than ballgames and sports dreams.

It's about survivors and the shots that work and don't work - and it's a novel that holds the rare ability to reach out, grab, and shake its reader. The Boy Who Would Not Play Ball is a top recommendation not just for sports fans, but for any who would absorb a coming of age saga against the backdrop of a world in flux and children who dream of being placed outside the institutional walls - despite everything that happens to challenge that winning home run.

The Test
B.A. Sherman
B.A. Sherman, Publisher
ASIN: B00VAL0SI2 2.99 Kindle
Amazon link:
Website link:,

The Test is Book One of the Greg Dorn series, and opens in a hospital room where a patient is being injected with fluid. A mere paragraph later the first-person voice of Greg Dorn relates how a seventeen-year-old loses part of his family to a road rage incident in Kansas and grows up to become a cop intent on preventing these kinds of scenarios from taking place.

Now married and living in Denver, Greg's life seems set on a particular course - but the dark influence he's kept at bay all his life bubbles to the surface and affects his decisions, and suddenly he's struggling with the impulse to quell road rage by becoming a killer himself.

While the roots of his impulses seem to lie in logical places and events in his life ("I needed to run and cry. I ran ten miles that day getting fuel from all the pain and tears I was experiencing. I just wanted to run everything out of me so I wouldn't hurt anymore. I only wanted to feel the outside pain like blisters, cuts, bruises, not the dark emptiness pain I was feeling inside."), Greg has never fully understand this dark impulse, has never accepted it as part of his psyche, and is about to discover its true strength as it begins to take over and ruin the life he's rebuilt for himself several states away.

The Test is psychological thriller writing at its best. Take a believable and compelling protagonist, show how he's overcome tragedy, then paint the slowly-evolving picture of repressed evil returning to infect everything he's done and become and you have a story replete with satisfying twists and turns that are all cemented by the work B.A. Sherman has done to assure that settings and emotions are realistic.

Protagonists hold strong personalities evolved from life's actions and choices while the questions continue right up to the end: perfect for genre readers too used to 'seeing it coming'. The Test is truly extraordinary in this approach, and its surprise ending is just as vivid and action-punched as the rest of the saga, making it a top recommendation for readers who seek thrillers replete with psychological surprises throughout.

Love Spell
Mia Kerick
CoolDudes Publishing
64 Windsor Street, Gerdview, Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa, 140
Prepublication manuscript: Pub date June 2015

Chance has long felt (for all of his young life, actually) that he's caught between genders and 'neither fish nor fowl', but he's been pegged as gay and in his rural high school the other kids, sensing that his gender isn't clear, avoid him.

But the real trouble begins when he meets a boy who returns his love at the Harvest Moon Festival, and decides to make his underlying differences more public.

Love Spell is his exploration of gender, being gay, coming out, and most of all, surviving in a world that is only half accepting of his sexuality.

The first thing to note about the story line is that, like its main character, the first-person dialogue is edgy; and by this it is meant that descriptions are filled with observation, slang, and occasional profanity and delivered with an almost sassy style: "I stare 'em down, but only after I pop the collar of the blinding 'Orange Crush' tuxedo I'm rockin' and shrug my shoulders in a sort of what-thefuck fashion. Rule of thumb in this queen's life - first things must always come first. Pop, shrug, and only then is it kosher to stare. Clears throat. 'Eat your ginger-haired heart out, Prince Harry.' Based on the buzz of scandalized chatter blowing about in the crisp evening breeze, I'm reasonably certain that nobody in the crowd heard me speak."

There are important, hard-hitting passages that perfectly capture Chance's attitude about life: "I'm not hiding, really. I'm just not ready, willing, or able, which is most critical here, to define it. If I had my wish, there'd be no pressure for me to 'define' my gender, anyway." I form those strategic air quotes that I detest so much with my trembling fingers. "I'd just live my life in a gray zone - like I'd be as femme or masc as I feel at any given moment - and I'd stop asking myself endless questions about what I am." After an extended loud and very dramatic sigh, I add, "I'd just live."

And even though his best friend Emily has no trouble absorbing his admonitions, sometimes Chance has trouble understanding his own words and attitudes about life.

There's a sense of self here that doesn't come across in most similar stories of gay or questioning youth. It's inherent in the first-person dialogues, in Chance's varied interactions with all kinds of people coming from all kinds of viewpoints, and in a story line that excels in capturing all the nuances of a teen who fairly well knows what he is, but doesn't yet know how that fits into the bigger worldviews of life.

Love Spell isn't for the mild reader who wants a simple love story: there's nothing simple about Chance or his relationships. Conversely, its delight lies in its complexity and its unique ability to involve all readers in Chance's story. As flamboyant and outrageous as Chance himself, Love Spell presents the rare ability to shock, awe, and educate mature teen to adult readers alike.

King Alfred's Jewel
David Hamilton
9 Priory Business Park, Kibworth Beauchamp, Leicestershire LE8 ORX, UK
9781783065127, $20.99,

The poetry genre as a whole holds many avenues for display and understanding, a very long history of controversy, and much debate over its wellsprings of inspiration in psychology, literary influence, and social evolution. All this is covered in depth in an introduction which basically takes the genre's history and synthesizes its influences in a literary examination of poetry's evolution and philosophical influences.

It's unusual to see this kind of introduction in a collection anticipated to be free verse explorations of self; but then, this kind of opening should offer the idea that King Alfred's Jewel: Poetry of the Imagination and Imaginative Photography will be anything but your usual gathering of personal insights, offering something both extraordinary and a cut above the ordinary - and in this, it does not disappoint.

King Alfred's Jewel is actually two long epic poems that sweep through themes of a journey undertaken and a jewel unearthed because of it. The book consists of two narrative poems and a dramatic monologue. The poems deal with depression and the Dark Night of the Soul, while the dramatic monologue presents deceased outlaws coming back to tell their stories on a May evening in Sherwood Forest. The title poem uses the imagery of journey and jewel as its shining light as it probes essences of spirituality and psychology, examining the sources of modern angst and depression and considering the stormy road to spiritual and emotional redemption.

It's interesting to note that stanzas and poetic expression change throughout; from paragraphs of descriptions of history and place to more personal observations of belonging and close encounters with the world: "A little dog ran yapping through gravestones:/"Help, help, help," it cried,/Like Joe Meek's graveyard cat./We led it to the vicarage and an elderly lady took it in,/A faithful friend and alarm against intruders./If only humans had hearts like dogs."

There are dragons and inheritances, outlaw legends and metaphors that connect past to present, and streams of consciousness impressions. In choosing these particular formats and weaving a cloak of inspection, history and psychological depth, King Alfred's Jewel is actually much more accessible - despite its lengthy presentations - than one would expect, making it a recommendation for readers who might normally consider the poetic form too constrained, too regulated, and too inaccessible.

King Alfred's Jewel is a delight on many levels. Add black and white photos throughout and a selection of color photos by the author, which act as both illustration and interlude to the written word, and you have a collection that stands out in the genre: something firmly rooted in literary, historical, spiritual and psychological traditions, but most definitely more than the sum of its parts.

The Whole Truth
Peter Gilboy
No ISBN, $3.99,

The nineteen-year-old protagonist of The Whole Truth is " longer a girl. I'm a woman in every way that counts. It's not just because of my age but because of my experiences too. I don't mean sexual experiences. I know things I didn't know before. I know about violence and betrayal. And I know the darkest lie of all."

With this, the saga begins; and it uses cathartic encounters with a therapist to build its story of anger, confrontation, danger and survival from the perspective of a young female whose greatest challenge isn't from something she witnesses, but room something she experiences which changes her life and her perceptions of it.

In the course of this process she discovers that "...truth is also a knife that can open your veins." and as she dons the trappings of maturity that only life encounters can provide, she also comes to realize truths about a vanished mother who left when she was nine and a half, the processes that hold worlds together through the most frightening series of events, and how special moments in time create a kind of stillness and small death through which self-examination assumes the brilliant spark of revelations.

If you haven't already guessed, The Whole Truth is a psychological thriller that holds a healthy dose of such inspections. Readers who relish such attention to mental reflection and detail will be delighted to discover that Peter Gilboy's approach is to not just describe a scene, but immerse readers in emotions surrounding it: reactions, perceptions, threads of logic, and efforts to reconcile and survive.

Against that backdrop, changed family relationships, evolving phobias, and media attention are all presented with a unifying purpose: "What matters is what happened to your Mom. What matters is the truth, that's all."

What efforts will get the world back on track? From an initial disappearance to courtroom drama, psychological examinations and threads of interaction fuel a solid novel of efforts to make sense of the world and make things right. A family's relationships are at the forefront of this process, driving a story line that is vivid, compelling, and hard to put down.

Atlas Obsession
Billy McCoy
Prepublication Manuscript: No ETA

The Atlas Barbershop was once a pillar of the Norwegian community that housed it - but the community has long faded, and so Deril is spending too many of his days dozing in his chair waiting for non-existent customers to come in.

The Atlas seemed a perfect choice for a sports fan whose mind was preoccupied with little else in life, and Deril long believed it to be a pinnacle of achievement - but now it's a dead-end; and at this stage in his life, Deril has nowhere else to go.

The Atlas is a convenient place for watching the world go by - a world he's barely a part of, as other barbers drive their BMWs around while he can barely afford his garret apartment above the barbershop.

Deril would thus seem the most unlikely candidate to attract the attention of robbers, but Anita has taken a strange dislike to him, is convinced he's not only making riches from his barber business (like the other barbers) but has insulted her and is intent on bilking them of money, and she's decided he's her next target - never mind that her husband is drunk and possibly wanted by the police, or that she's newly out of 'the joint'.

What evolves next is a tour de farce as various plans for the Atlas evolve, involving Deril in the strange worlds of schemes, women, alternative financial planning, and ultimately the prospect of a larger failure than he's experienced to date. Under such a scenario the Atlas seems to be not his redemption, but his burden. Under such new 'ownership' his uncertain relationship with a woman both blossoms in new directions and threatens to destroy everything he's built. And, within it all, is the specter of the Atlas as it was, as it could be, and its special challenges.

Atlas Obsession's strongest feature is its representation of life in a Minnesota black community and the culture that perceives what it means to get ahead, lag behind, or come up with a grand scheme to life that could result in either riches or prison.

Its second strength is the creation of Deril, a protagonist who moves from his shrinking world and possibilities to a life where everything is on edge and questioned.

Like a rose, Atlas Obsession unfolds to reveal different social and cultural concerns, embracing such disparate threads as a WalMart strike, homosexual accusations, and more.

It should be noted that Atlas Obsession takes the form of two novellas under one cover; the second of which is Remembrance of Times Gone, featuring one Soren Davidson, who is not only leaving Minneapolis with nobody there to see him off, but is leaving in disgrace.

Between budding romance, a mother's illness, and a willingness to sacrifice, Soren finds his life spiraling out of control, and struggles to both make sense of it and regain some control: "The defeat and humiliation which stalked him made him see that life was precarious and material things fleeing, and that life meant the most when a person is willing to sacrifice everything for a cause bigger than their narrow interests."

Prosecution, prison - all these are specters of another world as Soren dances through some of the biggest changes of his life.

The novellas together paint a powerful portrait of Afro-American heritage and the Minneapolis community, and are powerful sagas of confrontation, change, and ultimately, redemption.

17 Sheikh Hamza Street, Cairo: Life on the Back of a Sleeping Crocodile
Avraham Bar-Av (Bentata)
Translation from Hebrew: Susann Codish
Amazon Digital Services, Inc
ASIN: B00V86LX88, $16.90

17 Sheikh Hamza Street, Cairo: Life on the Back of a Sleeping Crocodile is a peek into the lives, culture, and flavors of Cairo and is a top recommendation for any who would learn about daily Jewish life in Egypt before Israel was created.

At first glance it's about exile and expulsion as hardworking Jewish parents face vast changes with the advent of World War II and growing political changes threaten to break apart their small family. Daughter Sophie marries an avid Zionist, son Moise becomes a Communist supporter, and younger daughter Suzie is seduced by a criminal whose activities threaten the entire family.

As if this isn't enough, the family faces expulsion from their Egyptian home as hardships arise. The fact is that the family had prospered in Egypt and faces poverty and hardship in their relocation process - and this is the real meat of the story.

17 Sheikh Hamza Street, Cairo is a historical novel based on the author's family history and events that swept across Europe in the 20th century. It goes places few other fictional approaches can equal by identifying not just social pressures and political influences on Jewish families, but the different personal struggles that bring one small family to its knees.

There are surprising encounters and descriptions that show that there is no 'black and white' in such a world: "The soldiers hosted by Grandmother Fortuna don't look anything like Albert's lead soldiers. They wear khaki uniforms with brown leather belts at their waists and some have stripes sewn onto their sleeves. They don't have backpacks or steel helmets to protect their heads. But the most disappointing thing about them is that they don't have any weapons, not even tiny little pistols. All have nice, friendly faces. One of them sang "It's a Long Way to Tipperary." He sounded like a woman. After he finished the song, he laughed and bowed to Mother, then bowed even lower to Aunt Rosa."

These levels of description and experience are the strength, heart, and the reason why 17 Sheikh Hamza Street, Cairo is quite a bit above other books on the subject of Jewish transitions and interactions with Arab cultures. Add the personal touch, wrap it in the drama of a novel, and offer plenty of cultural interactions and insights designed to foster understanding of historical experience through personal touches and you have a powerful story that is alive and breathing.

Flawed Happiness
Cori Tadrus
ZLS Publishing
9780984598625 ASIN: B00U2MYWW8
Paperback $12.95; ebook $2.99 e=UTF8&qid=1429469005&sr=8-1

Athena has spent her life trying to uncover the wellspring of happiness, and at age thirty-something, is still seeking a sense of satisfaction with her life, despite 'following all the rules' that were supposed to get her to that point. So when she accepts a new magazine assignment to write an expose on how six strangers find happiness in the course of experiencing Manhattan's night life, the pursuit seems right up her alley both professionally (as a reporter) and personally (as one searching for meaning in life, herself.)

What she uncovers is more than she expects, bringing readers with her on a romp through a Manhattan underworld that at first seems exotic and rough, but soon becomes familiar and even filled with characters who evolve to become not representations of forbidden excitements, but real people with their own keys to success.

It's the transition from a life where "every day brings nothing but the usual" to a more purposeful world that engrosses both Athena and the reader following in her footsteps as chapters explore her expensive tastes and her search for something different.

In the course of such a venture, characterization isn't just important; it's a key to success - and Flawed Happiness provides an intersection of personalities that are vivid, believable, and compelling in their uniqueness.

An affinity for Manhattan social scenes and culture, a fondness for 'chic lit' explorations of self, and an interest in a night life exploration that begins by questioning what leads people to happiness and evolves into descriptions of the courses that lead to this goal will all lend to enjoyment of Athena's journey, which holds romance and more than a few surprises in the course of its action. Flawed Happiness touches deeply upon the process and impetus for letting loose pre-conceived notions in favor of challenging one's ideals and making new discoveries.

The Five
Vic LeClair III
PO Box 111 Kimberly, WI 54136
9780996302814, $13.95,

Note: Available through CreateSpace on June 3rd 2015 and (along with their other distributions) on June 11th. The book will be available on website, to bookstores and those wanting signed books June 25th.

The Five is a mystery/thriller highly recommended for genre fans who enjoy either approach: each facet is well developed and contributes to a compelling tale as readers learn of Bernie Tennison, who is in love with new technology and the intersection between practicality and art. It's been a decade since he and his wife began a lucrative small electronics business, but now, thanks to a slowdown, both his business and his decades-old marriage are in trouble.

Trouble is about to become even more personal, however, when he is attacked and blinded. Who could have done such a thing - especially to a man whom everyone likes?

Everyone? An ensuing investigation proves otherwise, and as a string of disparate connections pose too many possibilities, it'll take some savvy detective work to uncover the truth.

The Five is especially strong in its slow probe of double lives lead, multiple purposes uncovered, and the evolution of an elite group that embraces misfits, misunderstood, and brilliant minds unused: "Ted had eventually withdrawn from much of the human race and set out to find his true calling. He'd found his only high-level ability had been in numbers and equations. His memory for anything mathematical had become quite phenomenal. Had he an imagination and a touch of creativity, he could have been something incredible. Instead, he'd become a bean counter - a very accurate one, and reasonably successful as far as accountants go, but a bean counter just the same. It was The Five that had brought Ted the dignity that he'd felt he deserved."

The Five is a force to be reckoned with - and as its members explore possibilities, psychic forces, greater truths, and principles that link justice with violence and deadly policies, Ted and others find themselves inexorably bound into the growth history of The Five and its ability to manipulate and direct peoples' lives.

Add a jolt of romance to a dangerous circle of acquaintances and you have a thriller replete with many victims, historic associations, and a powerful group of individuals who wind up honing new purposes from their encounters.

It's hard to review The Five without spoilers. Suffice it to say that its action is swift, the characterization well-drawn, and the surprises frequent and revealing: all the hallmarks of a superior mystery and thriller.

Shades: The Gehenna Dilemma
Eric Dallaire
If Tales
Print ISBN 9780996181105, $12.99
Ebook ISBN 9780996181112, $1.99

Amazon: d=1432243768&sr=8-1&keywords=Shades+The+Gehenna+Dilemma


Nook: 731115?ean=2940151641159


Shades represents Volume 1 of a series set in 2039, where people who die owing the government money are turned into mindless Shades to pay their debt. These undead servants have become important to the economy, bringing with them the inevitable questions of ethics and a whole new industry revolving around the IRS using unpaid debts to create and manage a growing undead labor force.

But Shades is about more than efforts to put the dead to work: it's about one IRS agent's dream of escaping this world into a lunar colony, and about the costs of his career of choice - which include saving his debt-laden mother at the cost of losing his girlfriend.

All he needs is a little more time to make enough money to escape. All he needs is a little more luck, to make everything come together. But all he gets is trouble, as a virtual trap holds a high price tag, the benefits of becoming a Shade in exchange for living luxuriously become evident, and an effort at being a secret agent results in new challenges and deadly encounters with the Shade/zombie force.

It could be tempting to view this as another form of zombie apocalypse story; but that would be a shame. There's so much more happening here, from the motivations of government to employ a workforce of mindless drones to individuals who consider the costs of giving up a bit of after-death peace for material gain.

With romance, social issues, and ethical questions permeating its action-packed story line, it's easy to see that Shades is far above anything relating to the usual 'zombie novel' - perhaps that's why the undead here are called 'Shades': the difference between these characters and zombies lies in the circumstances surrounding their creation, use, and ultimate fate, and will draw in readers with a winding, absorbing story line.

The Demons of Plainville
Daniel R. Mathews
Lost Legacy Press
809 W. Riordan Rd, Ste. 100 #408, Flagstaff, AZ 86001-0810
9780990710745, $14.95 paperback, $6.95 Kindle
Amazon Paperback:, Amazon Kindle:

There are challenges in creating a memoir that aren't inherent in a novel format: for one thing, exploring one's childhood and growth is, of necessity, a revealing approach that exposes one's world to strangers. For another, it incorporates a sense of psychological introspection mixed with world events (here, this world is the family structure and its choices and encounters) that pair raw detail with social interactions that constantly challenge and change all involved.

Set in the fictional town of Plainville but blending in real facets of Daniel R. Mathews' life, The Demons of Plainville is a saga replete with struggle, 'demons', hard truths and harder realizations that lead to real change - and the latter is at the heart of any confrontation with demons, but particularly the lives presented in The Demons of Plainville.

Be forewarned: there are graphic descriptions of blood nightmares and descriptions of both schoolboy/camp encounters and home situations that candidly portray the roots of psychological hardship and struggle: "The situation at home continued in an endless downward spiral. My mother became increasingly hostile and condemning of my existence. She constantly grounded me for something, usually stealing money out of her purse. She grew more insistent about my mental illness, believing I was sick somehow and was just a bad seed bent on making her miserable. She even called me retarded on several occasions, pointing out my effeminate nature. My inability to remember the thefts she accused me of proved I would need institutionalization eventually. Was she right? I did feel sick in many ways. An almost nauseous feeling that didn't go away became acute when I rode the bus home from school and especially whenever she called me in the room. I felt a growing hopelessness; I could not escape from the hole I'd fallen into."

From Scouting and camp experiences that give rise to special challenges as he faces expelling the son of his scoutmaster to paying the price for doing the right thing ("Sometimes doing the right thing carries a price. I had already understood this, but that didn't make the situation easier. This was my ultimate final exam as a Scout and it proved I was capable of standing up for myself. I had self-respect and integrity, and I was not going to let anyone take that away. This was a valuable lesson because the limits of my endurance were about to be tested."), The Demons of Plainville covers many kinds of demons, from childhood challenges to coming of age, adult approaches to life, and storms of emerging sexuality and friendships that evolve against the rejection of both mother and father.

From flying planes to homosexuality and recovering from family demons, The Demons of Plainville isn't about falling to earth: it's about the process of learning to soar with whatever life hands out.

In this, it's a memoir that, more than most, charts the process and the key moments that lend towards movement towards the light and positive rather than succumbing to the forces that create demons.

Advance 3-D Matrix Chess : The Long. S.G. 14 - Single Set Games, Book One Vol. 1
Siafa B. Neal
Theodocia McLean, Publisher
c/o Cold Coffee Press
2238 Turtle Point Drive, Raleigh , N.C. 27604
ISBN-13: 9781503269484 ( Create Space Assigned )
ISBN-10: 1503269485, $ 25.24
Pages : 190 pages Full color on White paper
BISAC : Games / Chess
CreateSpace eStore :

Chess logistics readers seeking advanced 3-D matrix manuals will find just the formulas for success in Advance 3-D Matrix Chess : The Long. S.G. 14 - Single Set Games, Book One Vol. 1: The Longitudinal Star Gate 14 Model , Model III : An In-Depth Perspective of Sequential Conglomerates Informatics. Single Set Games, Book 1 Vol. 1. It provides a model for a new space-age game concept that promises to invite and immerse new audiences with high-level 3D sports and comes from an inventor who presents game board kits, 3D player insights, and an advanced longitudinal model consisting of trapezoidal platforms and games keyed to them.

Chess players who have the traditional systems down and who look for something more cognitively challenging will find it, here: three-dimensional chess requires a higher level of cognitive thinking and thus grooms the player for the next step up in memory improvement and exercise.

Chapters are keyed to Neal's custom game board and pieces (for sale separately) and focus on the Longitudinal Star Gate 14 - a hybrid derivative of the Star Fish model. The Star Gate's difference is that it's an asymmetrical duplex replication of the Star Fish.

Equations and board set-up descriptions are paired with discussions of positioning for games and different platform configurations. Models identify different kinds of platforms, provide abbreviations for model sections, and rely heavily on color-coded diagrams to explain proper setup, piece placement, and color-band chess piece positions.

Any interested in the Longitudinal Star Gate 3D model have all the visual approaches necessary to participate in a world-class board game that takes chess a big step further in the process of cognitively-challenging gaming.

Renaissance To The Dawn Of A New Age, Single Set Games, Book One , Vol. 2.
Siafa B. Neal
Theodocia McLean, Publisher
c/o Cold Coffee Press
2238 Turtle Point Drive, Raleigh , N.C. 27604
ISBN-13: 9781505573374 ( CreateSpace-Assigned )
ISBN-10: 1505573378, $22.00
Pages : 154 pages Full color on White paper
BISAC : Games / Chess
CreateSpace eStore :

Renaissance To The Dawn Of A New Age, Single Set Games, Book One ,Vol. 2.: A Qualitative Validation For the Art of Psychological Warfare focuses on single set games and also allows 2D players to take the basic concepts of the board and move them into higher levels of thought. This process utilizes the psychologically competitive approach of not just single sets, but several combinations of piece placement; providing options for single, double, triple or quadruple sets that can involve 2-4 players at once.

The focus on psychological warfare games creates a set of scenarios with a focus on single set games and allows chess players the opportunity to make the most of and understand single game movements before progressing on to higher realms.

Chapters employ a visual approach to understanding, pairing color-coded game boards and trapezoidal platforms with discussions of uniform layouts, chess piece progressions, different set-up options, and diagrams that are very clear in how boards should be initially set up for different approaches.

Clear objectives are stated for each configuration (" the movement of the Knight displaces in a 3/2 squares Forward Advance movement. The letter 'B' stands for the Bishops; this piece moves diagonally across the game board.")

Chess is all about visualization, setup, strategy and psychological warfare: Renaissance To The Dawn Of A New Age, Single Set Games, Book One ,Vol. 2 makes the most of these concepts and presents a key to not just single set 3D approaches, but to the underlying psychological influence on movement choices and gaming, making this a top recommendation for any 3D newcomer.

The Blueprint
Richard Corey
Tate Publishing and Enterprises, LLC
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, Oklahoma 73064
9781627461795, $12.99,
IG: Rich_Corey

Imagine a scenario where there are no limits to one's abilities; where dreams have all been attained; where nothing can stand in the way of success. Now imagine there's a blueprint that can teach self-help readers how to achieve all this, with a minimum of effort, and you have in your hands The Blueprint: Bridging the Gap Between You and Your Vision.

Now, most self-help titles would proceed to focus upon the formula for such a success without math and history; many without Christian reflection. Be forewarned: The Blueprint incorporates all these facets in its exploration; so if it's a secular and psychologically-based self-help approach that's desired, then move on - this book's more complex than most - but then, achieving this level of success is no light accomplishment and will involve much introspection and contemplation.

The purpose here is to share the author's beliefs about life: that these beliefs take the form of an actionable 'blueprint' for achievement makes his approach more than autobiography and more than the usual self-help pop psychology piece.

Chapters question the perception that a single technique or approach leads to satisfaction for every reader: that's the first indication that The Blueprint isn't intended to be an approach set in stone, but a highly customizable 'bigger picture' that pairs a formula with an invitation to spark one's imaginative process in the course of making choices and changes.

Couched in the author's personal vision and experience, The Blueprint is replete with admonitions and observations: "From now on, I swear to myself I will disregard limits. I will practice what I preach and preach what I practice. I will find those with similar beliefs, and together we will build an empire far more grand than anything in existence today. How's that for imagination! Lucky for me, the commercial success of inspirational literature, like The Secret, has popularized this way of thinking. Finding others like me will not be difficult, and spreading the positive energy will be easy, like dry grass and a wildfire. The more energy of this frequency I send out, the more the same energy will be attracted to me, and the more energy sent back to me, the more my purpose will grow - gestation causing the effect of physical realization."

Readers will discover that The Blueprint isn't a dispassionate third-person analysis: it's a candid, self-infused and vibrant celebration of change that uses the author's first-person experiences as a call to action for others to achieve their highest goals. Its message is simple ("Although things take time to manifest, your blueprint presents a mathematical certainty in the ultimate outcome. Use the blueprint and you will succeed.") and its customizable approach is a welcome change from the usual self-help approach, showing how to apply God's influence and the principles of mathematical design to one's own belief system for maximum results.

Dean Dixon: Negro at Home, Maestro Abroad
Rufus Jones Jr.
Rowman & Littlefield
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706
9780810888555 (hardback w/ alk. paper), $70.00
9780810888562 (ebook), $53.20

Note: Special discount for those who order the book on, Please use promotional code 7A3AUTHF and save 25%. You can also purchase the book on and B& for a 20% discount.

It's relatively rare to have a musical biography come from a scholar and researcher who is also a conductor; but such is the case with Dean Dixon: Negro at Home, Maestro Abroad, which outlines the saga of a great (but largely unheralded) Afro-American conductor.

This first full-length biography of Dixon follows his evolution from his early achievements as a budding conductor, his difficult decision to leave America for better opportunities in Europe and his eventual return to this country to serve as a role model for aspiring Black classical musicians.

It's a cut above most biographical treatments, holding great social and political insights: thus, it belongs in not just music book collections, but the holdings of civil rights libraries and libraries strong in Afro-American history and the rise of black musicians.

Dixon's internationally-acclaimed career paved the way for fellow Black musicians (classically trained or not) and created an atmosphere whereby these musicians could achieve their goals at home in America without having to follow in his footsteps of leaving their homeland in pursuit of recognition sans prejudice.

From the special challenges of an interracial marriage which went above and beyond family acceptance ("Their major objection to Vivian's marriage to Dixon was not solely because Dixon was Black. Their concern was more of how others would react to their marriage. For as long as they could remember, Vivian wanted to be a professional pianist and travel around the world performing the masterworks. She had the confidence, and her success at Juilliard proved she had the talent. They believed her marriage to Dixon would prevent her from fulfilling her dream.") to involvements of the media in Dixon's career and his special challenges in gaining recognition abroad and then at home ("The fact that none of the major recording companies were sending Dixon invitations to record for them made it even more paramount that any recording he did with his Frankfurt orchestra had to be of the highest quality."), Dean Dixon: Negro at Home, Maestro Abroad goes far beyond the anticipated survey of one man's life to consider exactly what stood in his way, how he handled career obstacles, and how his choices directly led to an improved atmosphere for those who followed in his footsteps.

It's this focus and attention to specifics that make Dean Dixon: Negro at Home, Maestro Abroad such a powerful read, highly recommended for not just classical music collections, but any interested in racial issues and history in America.

Proverbial Beauty
Yonason Goldson
Timewise Press
PO Box 11504, St. Louis, MO 63105
9780692369203, $14.95

Proverbial Beauty: Secrets for Success and Happiness from the Wisdom of the Ages is about miracles - but not the kind of miracles one might expect. Where is the miracle in shame, in misdirection, in immaturity or in imperfection, for example? Therein lies the story of how success and happiness can be honed not from just the positives in life, but from the teachings of negativity.

The author 'met' Mona Lisa when he was 23, viewing her proverbial beauty and sensing an accompanying message of timeless wisdom. As he fueled his infatuation with reflections on other timeless 'secrets', he evolved a philosophy derived not just from the works of great artists and thinkers, but from the trappings and technology of modern times: the Internet, radio, popular quotes, and inspirational writings. The fusion of all these elements into a cohesive reflection on cultural traditions makes Proverbial Beauty an inspection highly recommended for thinkers who would probe the roots of decision-making processes, perceptions of happiness and tranquility, and how to 'become' the Mona Lisa herself.

If all this sounds like a higher-level blend of spiritual and philosophical thinking - it is. Those seeking a light read and an easy path should look elsewhere. Proverbial Beauty is not for those seeking a smooth ride so much as those willing to consider the elements that go into the notion that we can 'blend reality to our own purpose'.

Lessons of morality, the lasting lessons of the Mona Lisa figure, and real definitions of love and happiness are provided in a blend of proverbs and analysis that will delight those thinkers who want a lively discourse of possibilities and alternative visions.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

Dunford's Bookshelf

The Quickening
Gregg Unterberger
4th Dimension Press
c/o A.R.E. Press
215 - 67th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451-2061
9780876047347, $16.95, 252pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of his instructional guide "The Quickening: Leaping Ahead on Your Spiritual Journey", psychotherapist Gregg Unterberger dares his readers to enter a miraculous world where ancient spiritual wisdom meets the cutting edge technologies of the new millennium by finding out how to shift consciousness on-demand to that of a Tibetan monk without years of meditative practice; have profound, life-changing visionary experiences formerly the realm of saints and geniuses; discover how everyday people are intentionally making apparent contact with those who have crossed over, without the aid of a psychic or medium, thanks to a breakthrough technique developed by Veterans Administration doctors; read the astounding stories of ordinary people who have experienced the new spiritual technologies that create a quickening and learn how to apply them to transform daily life. Using humor and metaphor, "The Quickening" cuts through the spiritual jargon and psychobabble, offering direct and pragmatic ways to turbo-charge your spiritual awareness and take your spiritual journey to a new level!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized, presented, and life-changing, "The Quickening: Leaping Ahead on Your Spiritual Journey" will prove an invaluable and highly recommended addition to personal and professional Metaphysical Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Origins of the National Security State and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman
Mary Ann Heiss & Michael J. Hogan, editors
Truman State University Press
100 East Normal Street, Kirksville, MO 63501-4221
9781612481241. $34.95, 256pp,

Synopsis: The Cold War profoundly transformed American society, perhaps most significantly through the development of national security institutions that are very much alive more than two decades after the end of the Cold War. The essays comprising "Origins of the National Security State and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman" explore the highly charged political environment in which the national security state was created and assess its broader implications for society, both civilian and military. In the complex world of policy making, the executive and legislative branches of government, as well as the branches of the military, struggled with questions of control of national security institutions, constraints on presidential power and civilian control of the military, and long-term implications of policy decisions made in the uncertain post World War II years. In his efforts to balance the need for security with the ideals of freedom and individuality, President Truman played a major role in creating and shaping the modern national security state, and the decisions he made at the dawn of the postwar era still echo today.

Critique: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by Mary Ann Heiss (Associate Professor of History, Kent State University) and Michael J. Hogan (Distinguished Professor of History, University of Illinois - Springfield), "Origins of the National Security State and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman" is the eleventh volume in The Truman Legacy Series published by the Truman State University Press and is comprised of an informative introduction and nine scholarly articles. Enhanced with the inclusion of a illustrations and tables, a list of the contributors, and a useful index, "Origins of the National Security State and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman" is a critically important contribution to academic library 20th Century Political Science and American History reference collections in general and, and Cold War Era supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted that "Origins of the National Security State and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman" is also available in a Kindle edition ($27.99).

Faithful Republic
Andrew Preston, Bruce J. Schulman, Julian E. Zelizer, editors
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4112
9780812247022, $45.00, 224pp,

Synopsis: Despite constitutional limitations, the points of contact between religion and politics have deeply affected all aspects of American political development since the founding of the United States. Within partisan politics, federal institutions, and movement activism, religion and politics have rarely been truly separate; rather, they are two forms of cultural expression that are continually co-evolving and reconfiguring in the face of social change. "Faithful Republic: Religion and Politics in Modern America" explores the dynamics between religion and politics in the United States from the early twentieth century to the present. Rather than focusing on the traditional question of the separation between church and state, this volume touches on many other aspects of American political history, addressing divorce, civil rights, liberalism and conservatism, domestic policy, and economics. Together, the essays comprising "Faithful Republic" blend church history and lived religion to fashion an innovative kind of political history, demonstrating the pervasiveness of religion throughout American political life.

Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Andrew Preston (who teaches history at Cambridge University, where he is a Fellow of Clare College), Bruce J. Schulman (William E. Huntington Professor of History at Boston University), and Julian E. Zelizer (Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University and a Fellow at New America), "Faithful Republic: Religion and Politics in Modern America" is the latest addition to the University of Pennsylvania Press outstanding 'Politics and Culture in Modern America' series. Comprised of nine scholarly articles, "Faithful Republic" is enhanced with the inclusion of forty-six pages of Notes; a two page list of Contributors, and a fourteen page Index. "Faithful Republic" is a major contribution to academic library Political Science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Faithful Republic" is also available in a Kindle edition ($35.11).

The Strange Case Of Dr. Doyle
Daniel Friedman & Eugene Friedman
Square One Publishers
115 Herricks Road, Garden City Park, NY 11040
9780757003486, $29.95,

Synopsis: Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle KStJ, DL (22 May 1859 - 7 July 1930) was a Scottish writer and physician, most noted for his fictional stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered milestones in the field of crime fiction. He is also known for writing the fictional adventures of a second character he invented, Professor Challenger, and for popularizing the mystery of the Mary Celeste. He was a prolific writer whose other works include fantasy and science fiction stories, plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction and historical novels. He was also a leading figure in the spiritualist movement of his day. "The Strange Case of Dr. Doyle: A Journey into Madness & Mayhem" by Daniel Friedman and his father Eugene Friedman is a 352 page guided historical excursion through Whitechapel, one of London's most notorious districts led by celebrated author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. As you stroll beside Doyle and his other guests, you will travel to the location of each of the five canonical Jack the Ripper murders. Thanks to your guide's observations and opinions, all of which are based on actual historical accounts, you will learn as much about the district of Whitechapel as you will the terrible Ripper killings that occurred there. After each stop on the tour, you will also become acquainted with the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, from his earliest days in Edinburgh to his first taste of success as a writer. You will observe Arthur's hardships at home, his experiences at boarding school, his adventures at sea, his university education, and his days as a working medical doctor. You will be granted a picture of the man as few have ever seen him. As you alternate between biography and tour, you will become a Holmes-like detective, unearthing facts, discovering details, and piecing together information about both Jack the Ripper and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. If you maintain a sharp mind and a keen eye, at the end of your journey, you may just uncover a truth you never expected to find.

Critique: An exceptional and original concept, "The Strange Case Of Dr. Doyle" is a 'must' for the legions of Conan Doyle and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Strange Case Of Dr. Doyle" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.49).

Continental Crucible
Richard Roman & Edur Velasco Arregul
PM Press
PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623
9781629630953, $19.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: The crucible of North American neoliberal transformation is heating up, but its outcome is far from clear. "Continental Crucible: Big Business, Workers and Unions in the Transformation of North America" examines the clash between the corporate offensive and the forces of resistance from both a pancontinental and a class struggle perspective. "Continental Crucible" also illustrates the ways in which the capitalist classes in Canada, Mexico, and the United States used free-trade agreements to consolidate their agendas and organize themselves continentally. The failure of traditional labor responses to stop the continental offensive being waged by big business has led workers and unions to explore new strategies of struggle and organization, pointing to the beginnings of a continental labor movement across North America. The battle for the future of North America has begun.

Critique: Now in a fully updated and expanded second edition, "Continental Crucible: Big Business, Workers and Unions in the Transformation of North America" is a very highly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Labor Movement and Free Trade Policy reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. Fully accessible for academia as well as the non-specialist reader with an interest in labor/management issues, it should be noted that "Continental Crucible: Big Business, Workers and Unions in the Transformation of North America" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Adolphus Washington Greely
Paul D. Walker
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053-2246
9781455619986, $26.95, 224pp,

Adolphus Washington Greely (March 27, 1844 - October 20, 1935), was an American Polar explorer, a United States Army officer and a recipient of the Medal of Honor. "Adolphus Washington Greely: A Man of Indomitable Courage" by military historian Paul D. Walker is an impressively researched and seminal biography portraying the truly amazing life of the leader of the deadly Lady Franklin Bay Expedition. A Union soldier who rose to prominence during the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, Adolphus Washington Greely went on to command black troops in yellow-fever-ridden New Orleans, survive a brutal three years in Greenland, tame mobs after the San Francisco earthquake, organize the National Geographic Society, and, at 91, become the oldest person to receive the United States Congressional Medal of Honor. During his lifetime, he was instrumental in advancing American scientific exploration and promoting civil service and was the most well-known person in the world. Yet, barely 80 years after his death, he is relatively unknown.

Critique: Informed and informative, "Adolphus Washington Greely: A Man of Indomitable Courage" rescues from an undeserved obscurity a singular man who served his country both militarily and scientifically as few others before or since. Enhanced with two pages of Recommendations; two pages of Notes; a two-page Bibliography, and a five page Index, "Adolphus Washington Greely: A Man of Indomitable Courage" is a very highly recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library American Biography collections.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

David B. Feldman & Lee Daniel Kravetz
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
Victor Gulotta Communications
9780062267856, $25.99, 256pp,

Synopsis: Starting where resiliency studies leave off, In "Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success", David B. Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz are two psychologists explore the science of remarkable accomplishment in the wake of trauma, revealing the surprising principles that allow people to transform their lives and achieve extraordinary things. Over four billion people worldwide will survive a trauma during their lives. Some will experience severe post-traumatic stress. Most will eventually recover and return to life as normal. But sometimes, survivors do more than bounce back. Sometimes they bounce forward. These are the Supersurvivors -- individuals who not only rebuild their lives, but also thrive and grow in ways never previously imagined. Co-authors David B. Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz look beyond the tenets of traditional psychology for a deeper understanding of the strength of the human spirit. What they have found flies in the face of conventional wisdom -- that positive thinking may hinder more than help; that perceived support can be just as good as the real thing; and that realistic expectations may be a key to great success. They introduce the humble but powerful notion of grounded hope as the foundation for overcoming trauma. The authors interviewed dozens of men and women whose stories serve as the counterpoint to the latest scientific research. Feldman and Kravetz then brilliantly weave these extraordinary narratives with new science, creating an emotionally compelling and thought-provoking look at what is possible in the face of human tragedy. "Supersurvivors" will reset our thinking about how we deal with challenges, no matter how big or small.

Critique: Informed, informative, thoughtful, thought-provoking, iconoclastic and exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success" is one of those 'life changing reads' that come alone perhaps once in a generation. Very highly recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Supersurvivors" is also available in a paperback edition (9780062267863, $15.99) and in a Kindle format ($10.99).

A Wilderness of Mirrors
Mark Meynell
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
Academic PS
9780310515265, $18.99, 224pp,

Synopsis: Despite our material and technological advances, Western society is experiencing a deep malaise caused by a breakdown of trust. We've been misled by authorities and institutions, by businesses and politicians, and even by those who were supposed to care for us. The very cohesion of society seems tenuous at times. The church is not immune from these trends. Historically, it has a dubious record when it has wielded power; personally, many of its members are as afflicted by our culture's breakdown as anyone. In "A Wilderness of Mirrors: Trusting Again in a Cynical World", author Mark Meynell explores the roots of the discord and alienation that mark our society, but he also outlines a gospel-based reason for hope. An astute social observer with a pastor's spiritual sensitivity, Meynell grounds his antidote on four bedrocks of the Christian faith: human nature, Jesus, the church, and the story of God's action in the world. Ultimately hopeful, "A Wilderness of Mirrors" calls Christians to rediscover the radical implications of Jesus's life and message for a disillusioned world, a world more than ever in need of his trustworthy goodness.

Critique: A timely commentary in view of the growing disillusion by segments of the general public with the Christian church as an institution, "A Wilderness of Mirrors: Trusting Again in a Cynical World" is as informative and thoughtful as it is inspired and inspiring. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' from beginning to end, "A Wilderness of Mirrors" is very highly recommended for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Wilderness of Mirrors" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Don't Trust, Don't Fear, Don't Beg
Ben Stewart
The New Press
126 Wall Street, floor 31, New York, NY 10005-4007
9781620971093, $26.95, 336pp,

Synopsis: Melting ice, a military arms race, the rush to exploit resources at any cost -- the Arctic is now the stage on which our future will be decided. And as temperatures rise and the ice retreats, Vladimir Putin orders Russia's oil rigs to move north. But one early September morning in 2013 thirty men and women from eighteen countries (the crew of Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise) decide to draw a line in the ice and protest the drilling in the Arctic. Thrown together by a common cause, they are determined to stop Putin and the oligarchs. But their protest is met with brutal force as Putin's commandos seize the Arctic Sunrise. Held under armed guard by masked men, they are charged with piracy and face fifteen years in Russia's nightmarish prison system. Ben Stewart (a key member of the campaign to release the Arctic 30) in "Don't Trust, Don't Fear, Don't Beg" tells an astonishing tale of passion, courage, brutality, and survival. With wit, verve, and candor, he chronicles the extraordinary friendships the activists made with their often murderous cellmates, their battle to outwit the prison guards, and the struggle to stay true to the cause that brought them there.

Critique: An illustrative case of real life being as extraordinary than any fictional thriller, "Don't Trust, Don't Fear, Don't Beg: The Extraordinary Story of the Arctic 30" is impressively well written and an inherently fascinating read from beginning to end. Informed and informative, "Don't Trust, Don't Fear, Don't Beg" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Don't Trust, Don't Fear, Don't Beg" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Abominable Science!
Daniel Loxton & Donald A. Prothero
Columbia University Press
61 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023-7015
9780231153201, $29.95, 432pp,

Synopsis: Throughout our history, humans have been captivated by mythic beasts and legendary creatures. Tales of Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness monster are part of our collective experience. Now two dedicated investigators, Daniel Loxton and Donald A. Prothero that explores and elucidates the fascinating world of cryptozoology in "Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids". An entertaining, educational, and definitive text on cryptids, "Abominable Science!" presents the arguments both for and against their existence and systematically challenging the pseudoscience that perpetuates their myths. After examining the nature of science and pseudoscience and their relation to cryptozoology, Loxton and Prothero take on Bigfoot; the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, and its cross-cultural incarnations; the Loch Ness monster and its highly publicized sightings; the evolution of the Great Sea Serpent; and Mokele Mbembe, or the Congo dinosaur. They conclude with an analysis of the psychology behind the persistent belief in paranormal phenomena, identifying the major players in cryptozoology, discussing the character of its subculture, and considering the challenge it poses to clear and critical thinking in our increasingly complex world.

Critique: An exceptionally well written, organized and presented study, "Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids" is an inherently fascinating read. Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Abominable Science!" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Abominable Science! is also available in a paperback edition (9780231153218. $19.95) and in a Kindle format ($10.49).

Running To The Fire
Tim Bascom
University of Iowa Press
100 Kuhl House
119 West Park Road, Iowa City, IA 52242-1000
9781609383282, $19.95, 264pp,

Synopsis: "Running to the Fire: An American Missionary Comes of Age in Revolutionary Ethiopia" focuses on the turbulent year the Bascom family experienced upon traveling into revolutionary Ethiopia. The teenage Bascom finds a paradoxical exhilaration in living so close to constant danger. At boarding school in Addis Ababa, where dorm parents demand morning devotions and forbid dancing, Bascom bonds with other youth due to a shared sense of threat. He falls in love for the first time, but the young couple is soon separated by the politics that affect all their lives. Across the country, missionaries are being held under house arrest while communist cadres seize their hospitals and schools. A friend's father is imprisoned as a suspected CIA agent; another is killed by raiding Somalis. Throughout, the teenaged Bascom struggles with his faith and his role within the conflict as a white American Christian missionary's child. Reflecting back as an adult, he explores the historical, cultural, and religious contexts that led to this conflict, even though in doing so he is forced to ask himself questions that are easier left alone. Why, he wonders, did he find such strange fulfillment in being young and idealistic in the middle of what was essentially a kind of holy war?

Critique: Providing an informative and vividly portrayed window into what Christians and the Christian community face when radical Islamic forces, combined with the collapse of governmental order, exercise violent discrimination and persecution on a religious and/or ethnic minority. Exceptionally well written from beginning to end, "Running to the Fire: An American Missionary Comes of Age in Revolutionary Ethiopia" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Running to the Fire" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.68).

The Book of Twos
Joseph A. Amato
Ellis Press
PO Box 6, Granite Falls, MN 546241
9780944024669, $29.95, 320pp,

Synopsis: In "The Book of Twos" author Joseph A. Amato explores fascinating detail just how the concept of twos (contrasts, comparisons, polarities, dualities and contradictions) has been fundamental to human thought from infant development to national identities. In Amato's telling, two becomes, quite literally, who we are. His wide-ranging mind ranges across history, religion, art, philosophy, war, politics, and language. "The Book of Twos" devotes significant space to essential figures who have considered those topics at length: Montaigne, William James, Isaiah Berlin. Here too are Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Dostoevsky, and Freud. Here too is language, especially analogy and metaphor, as used by poets, rhetoricians, politicians, and historians. The concepts of 'twos' show us good, they show us evil. They lead to great art, they lead to atrocity. They lead from simple comparisons to complex civilizations. They lead to contemplative faith and ground-breaking science.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Book of Twos" is an original and seminal work that is an inherently fascinating, informative, and thought-provoking read. "The Book of Twos" is an especially recommended addition to both community and academic library Philosophy collections.

Paul Hasluck: A Life
Geoffrey Bolton
UWA Publishing
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9781742586588, $49.99, 606pp,

Synopsis: Sir Paul Meernaa Caedwalla Hasluck KG, GCMG, GCVO (1 April 1905 - 9 January 1993) was an Australian historian, poet, public servant and politician, and the 17th Governor-General of Australia. For almost two and a half decades, Sir Paul Hasluck was one of Australia's most prominent politicians. Born in Fremantle in 1905 and educated at Perth Modern School and the University of Western Australia, Hasluck worked for The West Australian newspaper and lectured at the University of Western Australia before moving into politics in 1949. After two decades in politics, including a variety of ministerial responsibilities, Hasluck was appointed as the 17th Governor General of Australia in 1969. "Paul Hasluck: A Life" by Geoffrey Bolton includes Sir Paul Hasluck's experience working for the Department of External Affairs during World War II. Also, it covers his career as a writer, poet, historian, and politician, providing a complete and enthralling portrait of one of Australia's great men.

Critique: Organized into two main sections (Years of Aspiration, 1905-51; Years of Authority, 1951-93), "Paul Hasluck: A Life" is enhanced with the inclusion of fifty-four pages of Notes; a seventy-nine page Bibliography, and a fifty-seven page Index. Comprehensive, detailed, researched, documented, and exceptionally well written, "Paul Hasluck: A Life" is very highly recommended for academic library 20th Century Australian Political History & Biography collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

The Purpose-Based Library
John J. Huber & Steven V. Potter
ALA Editions
c/o American Library Association
50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611
9780838912447, $62.00, 224pp,

Synopsis: Budget pressures on libraries have only increased over the past decade. In order to "do more with less", community and academic libraries who have had to adopted new management strategies that have been significant departures from conventional management thinking that if budgets are reduced, customer service suffers on its head. These libraries have proven that by streamlining and improving customer services, they can eliminate wasteful activities and bring down costs. In "The Purpose-Based Library: Finding Your Path to Survival, Success, and Growth", corporate management expert and consultant John J. Huber and seasoned public library administrator Steven V. Potter build on insight gleaned from decades of experience to demonstrate how libraries can create real growth opportunities through concentrating on their true mission and purpose, and without spending a lot more money. "The Purpose-Based Library" offers teaches library staff members to think about metrics; reexamine customer self-driven services; effectively leverage the considerable footprint of libraries; identify and assess community needs and realigning library services accordingly; actively encourage community fund raising; all while offering cutting-edge services and programs.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Purpose-Based Library: Finding Your Path to Survival, Success, and Growth" is a practical, innovative, thoughtful and thought-provoking read that should be considered a "must" for all librarians and members of library boards of directors. Very highly recommended for Library Science instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Called To Be Amish
Marlene C. Miller
Herald Press
1251 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802
9780836199116, $12.99, 256pp,

Synopsis: Fewer than one hundred people have joined the Old Order Amish and stayed since 1950. Marlene C. Miller is one of them. "Called To Be Amish: My Journey from Head Majorette to the Old Order" is a rare memoir in which Marlene recounts her unhappy and abusive childhood, how she throws herself into cheerleading and marching band, and how she falls in love with Johnny, the gentle young Amish man who helps her lace her ice skates. Against the wishes of both sets of parents, Marlene and Johnny get married and begin a family. Follow the author on this unusual journey to find out how God s love called her out of bitterness and depression and into the warm embrace of her new Amish community. Readers will follow Marlene's experiences as she first dons an Amish dress and prayer covering and gets baptized; learn how she endures the strain of ten children, a hundred-acre farm, and accidents and tragedy; and find out how she comes close to walking away from it all. Joining the Amish community had proven to be anything but plain and simple for this former majorette. But nearly fifty years later, Marlene is still living out God's call as an Old Order Amish woman.

Critique: Offering a unique window into what Amish life is like, "Called To Be Amish: My Journey from Head Majorette to the Old Order" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Informative, thoughtful, and as candid as it is charming, "Called To Be Amish" is an extraordinary story and one that is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library American Biography collections. It should be noted that "Called To Be Amish" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

There's A Woman In The Pulpit
Martha Spong
Skylight Paths Publishing
Sunset Farms Offices, Route 4
PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
9781594735882, $18.99, 240pp,

Synopsis: Appreciative readers of "There's a Woman in the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments and the Healing Power of Humor", compiled and edited Reverend Martha Spong (a United Church of Christ pastor, who is also the director of RevGalBlogPals -- a social media ministry making community for clergywomen across lines of denomination, generation, nation and orientation since 2005) will earn and laugh with these women of the church, bound together by a deep commitment to ministry, as they reveal what it really means to be a woman in the pulpit. Over fifty clergywomen representing fourteen denominations share the details of their intimidating balancing act ranging from juggling with the isolating expectations of perfection from their congregations to the shared human realities of everyday life.

Critique: Written specifically for the benefit and entertainment of the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the experiences of women who are called to a Christian ministry over a wide range of denominational affiliations, "There's A Woman In The Pulpit" is a welcome testament to the work and faith of female clergy. Informative and inspiring, "There's A Woman In The Pulpit" is very highly recommended to all lay members of the Christian community. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "There's A Woman In The Pulpit" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.49).

In The Company Of Legends
Joan Kramer & David Heeley
Beaufort Books
27 West 20th Street, Suite 1102, New York, NY 10011
9780825307423, $24.95, 384pp,

Synopsis: Starting with their award winning profiles of Fred Astaire in 1980, "In The Company Of Legends" by Joan Kramer and David Heeley documents the lives and careers of many Hollywood legends. Their collaboration succeeded in finding the un-findable, persuading the reluctant, and maintaining unique relationships long after the end credits rolled. "In The Company Of Legends" is comprised of high-quality, definitive film portraits of men and women who which revitalized the genre of cinema and made it a mainstay of television programming. "In The Company Of Legends" showcases the authors insiders' view of the famous and the powerful: Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, Johnny Carson, Frank Sinatra, Lew Wasserman, Ronald Reagan, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Jane Fonda, Richard Dreyfuss, Audrey Hepburn, and Bette Davis, among others. Kramer and Heeley's behind the scenes stories of the productions and the personalities involved are amusing, sometimes moving, often revealing, and have never been told before.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "In The Company Of Legends" is an inherently fascinating and informative read that is a "must" for fans of actors who helped make movies and television a powerful force in shaping American popular culture. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Theatre/Cinema/TV reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "In The Company Of Legends" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Women in Roman Republican Drama
Dorota Dutsch, Sharon L. James, David Konstan, editors
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299303143, $55.00, 272pp,

Synopsis: Latin plays were written for audiences whose gender perspectives and expectations were shaped by life in Rome, and the crowds watching the plays included both female citizens and female slaves. Relationships between men and women, ideas of masculinity and femininity, the stock characters of dowered wife and of prostitute -- all of these are frequently staged in Roman tragedies and comedies. Collaborative compiled and co-edited by the team of Dorota Dutsch (Associate Professor of Classics at University of California, Santa Barbara), Sharon L. James (Associate Professor of Classics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), David Konstan (Professor of Classics at New York University), "Women in Roman Republican Drama" is the first book to confront directly the role of women in Roman Republican plays of all genres, as well as to examine the role of gender in the influence of this tradition on later dramatists from Shakespeare to Sondheim.

Critique: Comprised of eleven scholarly articles deftly organized and presented in three major sections (Females in Performance; Women in Roman Drama and Society; Receptions), "Women in Roman Republican Drama" is an extraordinary volume of seminal research and very highly recommended for academic library Roman History & Culture reference collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Women in Roman Republican Drama" is also available in a Kindle edition ($39.96).

Sign Language Archaeology
Ted Supalla & Patricia Clark
Gallaudet University Press
800 Florida Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002-3695
9781563684937, $70.00, 278pp,

Synopsis: "Sign Language Archaeology: Understanding the Historical Roots of American Sign Language" is an engrossing 279 page study that investigates the infancy of American Sign Language (ASL). Authors Ted Supalla (a Professor in the Department of Neurology at Georgetown University in Washington, DC) and Patricia Clark (a certified ASL/English interpreter, is an adjunct faculty member in the Program in American Sign Language at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York.) highlight the major events in ASL history, revealing much of what has not been clearly understood until now. According to tradition, ASL evolved from French Sign Language. The authors analyze the metalinguistic assumptions of these early accounts and also examine in depth a key set of films made by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) between 1910 and 1920. Designed by the NAD to preserve classic ASL, the films feature 15 sign masters, the model signers of that time. In viewing these films, the authors discovered that the sign masters signed differently depending on their age. These variations provide evidence about the word formation process of early ASL, further supported by data collected from dictionaries of the 19th and early 20th centuries. By tracing the writings of selected individuals, "Sign Language Archaeology" reconstructs the historical context for early ASL grammar. It describes the language used in each century and how it changed, and focuses on the rediscovery of the literary legacy of the Deaf American voice. "Sign Language Archaeology" reveals the contrast between folk etymology and scientific etymology and allows readers to see ASL in terms of historical linguistics.

Critique: A sign language (also signed language or simply signing) is a language which uses manual communication and body language to convey meaning, as opposed to acoustically conveyed sound patterns. This can involve simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to fluidly express a speaker's thoughts. They share many similarities with spoken languages (sometimes called "oral languages", which depend primarily on sound), which is why linguists consider both to be natural languages, but there are also some significant differences between signed and spoken languages. American Sign Language (ASL) is the predominant sign language of deaf communities in the United States and most of anglophone Canada. "Sign Language Archaeology: Understanding the Historical Roots of American Sign Language" is an impressively researched work of outstanding scholarship that is enhanced with an eighteen-page Bibliography and a twenty-two page Index. This seminal work is very highly recommended for academic library American Sign Language reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Women's History
Wendee Kubik & Gregory P. Marchildon, editors
University of Regina Press
University of Regina
3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, S4S 0A2
9780889773127, $34.95, 500pp,

Synopsis: This fifth volume of the outstanding 'History of the Prairie West Series' from the University of Regina press, "Women's History" is comprised of a broad range of articles spanning the 1870s to the present and examines the mostly unexplored place of women in the history of the Canada's Prairie Provinces. From "Spinsters Need Not Apply" to "Negotiating Sex: Gender in the Ukrainian Bloc Settlement", women's roles in politics, law, agriculture, labour, and journalism are explored to reveal a complex portrait of women struggling to find safety, have careers, raise children, and be themselves in an often harsh environment.

Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Wendee Kubik (Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Brock University, as well as an Adjunct Professor in Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Regina) and Gregory P. Marchildon (holder of the Canada Research Chair in Public Policy and Economic History at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Regina), "Women's History" is comprised of seventeen scholarly articles organized into six major sections: Politics; Law; Agriculture; Labour; Journalism; Ethnicity. "Women's History" is a seminal and critically important anthology that should be included in academic library Women's History and Canadian History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Becoming An Art Therapist
Maxine Borowsky Junge & Kim Newall
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398090739, $34.95, 184pp,

Synopsis: Rather than an instruction guide to becoming an art therapist, "Becoming An Art Therapist" focuses on the experience of becoming an art therapist. "Becoming An Art Therapist" covers issues in supervision and mentorship, contains stories by art therapy students about what they are thinking and feeling, and letters to young art therapists by highly regarded professionals in the field. The reader has the advantage of ideas and responses from both a student art therapist and an art therapist with many years' experience and is clearly intended for students aiming for a career. Chapter 1 is about students as a secret society and the importance of student colleagues. The second chapter is a short history of art therapy education, while Chapter 3 is a review of some literature potentially useful to art therapy students. Chapter 4 represents Kim Newall's journal with imagery of her internship experience as a third-year graduate student in a community clinic. For Chapter 5, art therapy graduate students in various geographical sections of the United States describe their worst and best student experiences and their most important role models. Chapter 6 is about mentoring-what it is and why an art therapist should have a mentor. In Chapter 7, twelve senior art therapists, each with many years' experience, write a personal letter to the coming generations of art therapists. The letter writers are all pioneers in the field. Finally, Chapter 8 offers a selected art therapy bibliography.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Becoming An Art Therapist" will prove of very special interest and relevance to anyone considering entering the specialized field of art therapy. A keenly commended addition to academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Becoming An Art Therapist" is also available in an ebook format (9780398090746, $34.95).

Helen Dumont

Kaveny's Bookshelf

Burgers Blogs and Cops
Brandon Hovey
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
$6.00 Kindle, 154 pages

This is my promised review of Brandon C. Hovey's first short novel, Burgers Blogs and Cops, which follows by a couple months my review of his second novel "Thuringer: The Officer" both are published in Amazon Kindle Format in 2014. One of the things I like so much about both novels is that they are page turner's and thought they do follow the laws of artistic integrity which demand a beginning a middle and an end. They are at the same time as a in the words of the late great John Lennon of Beatles fame (who died like a man rather than with a needle in his arm), "realistic" in a fantastic sort of way. They are realistic and fantastic in a non contradictory sense which is to say they are full of what actually happens as to we mortals and particularly you millennial generation cats, born between 1980 and 2000 as you try to work out your silly little plans, as our planet is being shaped and reshaped like silly putty in the hands of some cosmic giant generating multinational geopolitical forces which effect even the entirety of planet earth on a tectonic level. If you don't believe me about the tectonic planetary tectonic stuff then you don't live in sand mining country.

Strangely enough what John Lennon had to say about life was a lot like what a former US president who was claimed by Galena in down state Illinois (anything south of Chicago ) not so far from Brandon C. Hovey's neck of the wood Peoria Illinois . Ulysses S Grant had this to about life and he did it with a laconic eloquence. The President spent his final days in a Herculean bid to save his family from financial; desolation in 1885. He had it to say as he lay dying from throat cancer and was dictating to his Memoirs to Mark Twain," man proposes, god disposes "Though Grant is not noted for being a theist. He was in many ways perhaps the most family oriented of all our presidents, in that he was dictating his memoirs (one of the best and most concise works of military history ever written) to pay off debts incurred ill advised and failed business ventures, which though out of his hands he was held responsible for. Thus his family would not suffer after his death.

So when you read Brandon C. Hovey's Burgers Blogs and Cops expect a chaotic course of action which takes place in a post-modern sense along a trajectory someplace between random and linear. There is actually a theory about this sort action referred to as Chaos Theory", which I know something about since I wrote my dissertation on it at UW Madison a couple of years before the millennium, and successfully defended it by making sure my committee sat facing me and that I had my back to the sun.

To continue with a synopsis of "Burgers, Bloggers, and Cops" Because we all know that most folks (having the attention spans of ferrets) only read the first three paragraphs of a review and contrary to what most people with tell you the cultural function of a review, is really to direct potential readers to something new and different enough and at the same time familiar that the writer will not starve to death, most of all to get around all of the sparrow fart editors who are a afraid to publish anything that does not look like everything else they have published, almost as if they have a contempt for their potential readers Incidentally I did get on homebodies naughty list weekend a conference when I said about that same thing at a publisher party, much to the applause of everybody in attendance.

So on with the synopsis as "Burgers, Bloggers, and Cops" Gives us a couple a slice of the life of millennial generation newsman and recently graduated College Journalism Major Sean Livingston, Who is out on his first assignment working for multinational media and banking colossus Barbican Media, (Barbican definition, an outwork of a fortified place) which is really a kind front for a lot of sinister stuff which is not immediately disclosed to the reader. One evokes the image of the relentless giant's feet hobnailed marching across hometown newsroom in central Illinois as Shawn Livingston is sent out to review to rather unusual restaurants .As Shawn who though only in his mid twenties would not be called a cub reporter finds himself as he is in the process of Reviewing two restaurants, General VonTso's and Lubyanka Burger. These restaurants are bizarre anybody standards (one offers Chinese-German fusion, the other is a Soviet-themed burger joint). Yet in a realistic sense since the character Shawn Livingston has something a thousand articles to his credit, and author Brandon C. Hovey's both has food services management experience and a has both a degree in and has worked as a reporter all before the age of twenty five.

I feel like Brandon's ability to write from his life's experience, and he has had a lot of it. This makes him a natural for the author for the millennial generation particularly because he is one of them and he speaks their language and some sections of Burgers Blogs and Cops would have a lot of appeal millennial foodies, you know the kind people I mean. We all have friends and relatives like my nephew who seem who have their cable systems hardwire to the score of so of food channels now available from and number of Dish line providers. Though the last thing I would think of myself as is a foodie never the less in one Brandon's other articles on his Blog Chrome Kitchen Crucible I found a seamless depiction of a cooking competition which the reader wonder if they were reading a life journalistic account or a fictional construction, that is to his credit, and I will like my reader decide for themselves. Here is a link to Brandon's Blog

I realize I have left a lot of the sinister stuff that takes place out of this review, that's what makes it sinister and you don't need a bunch of spoilers from me to telegraph how it all plays out maybe the best way of thinking about this is to evoke the construct of the great Swiss psychologist and perhaps theologian Karl Gustavo Jung (1875-1961)and his formulation of synchronicity, that is to say the representation of the relationship between seemingly unrelated events which are never the less drawn together by am imperceptible pattern, like Burgers Blogs and Cops as they play out in the life of Shawn Livingston.

Brokers of Empire: Japanese Settler Colonialism in Korea 1876 - 1945
Jun Uchida.
Harvard University Asia Center
CGIS South, 1st Floor, 1730 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA 02138
9780674492028, $29.95, 500p.,

My thesis statement is simply this: I would not disagree with anything from the following excerpt from the distinguished scholar, Fujitani Takashi's, review of. Brokers of Empire: Japanese Settler Colonialism in Korea 1876 - 1945. Here he states, "This is an impressive and important work that will quickly become required reading for scholars and graduate students in modern Japanese and Korean history;[i]" However since I am presently taking English 330: Postcolonial Literature, I would expand upon these comments in the following manner: My expanded thesis is this. Jun Uchida's ground breaking book is of interest to a much broader audience than Fujitani Takashi suggests since it broadens our understanding not only of the Japanese/Korean colonial settler experience (1876-1945), but also through the comparative nature of her work. Jun Uchida compares Japanese/Korean colonial interactions with the various iterations of European colonial experience in the 19th and first half of the 20th century.

This is very significant, since I have noticed in my own class work, research, and reviewing that many scholars simply turn away from the world-wide colonial experience as a categorical evil and too simply dismiss it as a mechanism, of Western/Non-Western hegemonic oppression. In doing this we slip past the experience of colonization by simply applying a label to it. Instead Jun Uchida constructs and embodies a three-way dynamic in her work which allows us to observe the interactions between the Japanese official colonizers, the colonized Koreans, and the Japanese colonial settlers who act as a buffer between the other two groups according to confluences of interests. For example she states

In 1904 when the Japanese imperial Navy launched a surprise attack on the Russian Pacific Fleet in Port Arthur to settle the contest over Korea and Manchuria, a stream of merchants and camp followers crossed the Korea Strait. Amid this wave of migrants was Koybayshi Genroke (1867-1940), a scion of a family of merchants... Koybayshi boarded a ship to Pusan to 'seize this golden opportunity' to expand his family business Chojiya On which he had recently inherited at age 24. On the eve of the Meiji Restoration (some thirty six years before) Chojiya had switched its product line from samurai armor to Western clothes, which the young Emperor was soon to declare as national dress. Chojiya fortunes closely followed the trajectory of Japan's new empire.

In this case she is referring to relations between two Non-Western countries both with a several thousand year history which is mythically shrouded is the mists of time. Japan and Korea evolve and change dynamically over the sixty-nine year period of this study. The subject of Brokers of Empire is a view of the Japanese-Korean colonial experience though, and drawing from, interview and biographical information about hundreds of Japanese, mostly non-government nonmilitary officials, who represented the lived experience of nearly one million Japan colonial settlers in post-1876 Korea and post-1931 Manchuria all of whom were summarily evacuated to Japan by early 1946.

Because I have no knowledge the Korean, Japanese, or Chinese languages I am somewhat limited in what I can say about her use of primary source material, however I can note that she has been lauded by those who work in her area for her use of source materials as evidenced by her awards. And I can draw some inference about the quality of her work by turning to her publisher, Harvard University Press, and noting it is part of the prestigious three hundred volumes of Harvard University Press's Asian Monograph Series. Finally I can then agree with those who gave her work a prestigious academic award in 2012. I also found the book to very well indexed and the in the score of entries I checked every page number matched the indexed terms. I thought it might be useful to follow some of the citations from Section Two. Chapter Three: "Empire of Harmony" because in this chapter she links an emergent Korean independence movement with the geopolitical events hinging around the end of World War One Versailles Treaty negotiations and Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen points.

On 1 March 1919, a group of Korean Nationalist leaders convened at a restaurant in Seoul to read a Declaration of Independence, a ceremony replicated by regional delegates throughout the country Shortly thereafter Korean residents spilled out into the streets demonstrating against Japanese rule,. Triggered by a combination of catalytic factors - notably Emperor Kojong's death and funeral slated for March 1919, and Presidents Wilson's declaration of fourteen points the previous year- the movement drew over a million men and women of all ages and from all walks of life, making the most massive demonstration of nationalism in the Modern History of Korea,'

She gives me the citation I would need to follow and which allows me to move from the footnote, to her bibliographic entry on page 447, to Peter Lee's Source Book of Korean Civilization, Volume II. What I do feel competent to comment on is the brilliant focus of her work in the sense that Jun Uchida's Brokers of Empire: Japanese Settler Colonialism in Korea 1876 - 1945, is set in a diplomatic, military, geological, social, economic, political, ideological, and mythic matrix, as complex as a multi-dimensional iteration of the Gordian Knot, which Alexander was told he must unravel if he was to rule Asia. Jun Uchida neither tries to unravel the Gordian Knot of complexity nor apply the Alexandrian solution to it by cutting through it with her Katana, though I have been to her website which has a beautiful picture of her in traditional costume and she does give the appearance of a woman who is no stranger around a sword.

Rather than slashing her way through the complexities she gives the reader only what they need and nothing more since her focus is the brokers of empire themselves as they live out their lives in the liminal space between the Imperial Japanese Government and native Korean nationals in a way where their actions must be both subtle and almost Byzantine in manner, in myriad ways, as they play out during the sixty-nine year period of study. Her book is mostly, but not totally, organized in a diachronic, historical fashion, but sometimes when comparing events and policies in Japanese colonial Korea with other European colonial policies she will look at comparable questions in a synchronic manner

For example she compares the Japanese policies, in Chapter 8 "Citizens and Subjects Under Total War" (355-394), of first assimilation, and then total absorption during the Second World War, with Nazi Germany's policy of depopulation towards the Poles, and extermination, especially towards the Eastern European Jews (p.390). However here I want to note that, through the book, Jun Uchida gives no evidence of being an apologist for Japanese imperialism, rather she is only trying to do the best study she can and writes with an almost clinical distance from her subject.

Because of the singular nature of her work and the ground breaking aspects of her study it was difficult if not impossible to find other historians who have worked on her specific area of focus in Brokers of Empire. Even a cursory look at Colonial Rule and Social Change in Korea 1910-1945 by Lee, Hong Yung Sorensen, Clark W. Ha, Yong-Chool, a much more ambitious take on the her subject moving away from the lived experience of the colonizers themselves and covering a much shorter period, and I would say a less clinical mythology which would of course have it uses particularly as one might look at the ideological mechanism constructed in the study of history. To say it another way she trusts the reader and gives them the necessary tools in her scholarly apparatus to add information which might contextualize her study for the non-technical, but at the same time highly motivated, reader

In conclusion and turning to my own expanded thesis : Jun Uchida's ground- breaking book is of interest to a much broader audience than Fujitani Takashi suggests since it broadens our understanding not only of the Japanese/Korean colonial settler experience (1876-1945), but the colonial experience in many contexts. (My longtime-colleague and editor of The Midwest Book Review, one of the longest running (since 1981), and prestigious web-based book reviews, getting over fifty thousand hits a month and pitched to an informed but general audience, has accepted this review for publication for his June 1st edition).


Daqing Yang and Choi, Kyoeng-Hee. Colonial Modernity in Korea. Harvard University Asia Center. 2001.

Colonial Rule and Social Change in Korea 1910-1945. Lee, Hong Yung, Clark Sorenson and Young Chool Ha, eds. U of Washington Press, 2013.

Myers, Robert J. Korea in the Cross Currents: A Century of Struggle and the Crisis of Reunification. Palgrave Macmillan, 2001.

Yoo, Theodore Jun. Asia Pacific Modern, Volume 3: Politics of Gender in Colonial Korea: Education, Labor, and Health, 1910-1945. U of California Press (reprint), 2014.

Seth, Michael. History of Korea: From Antiquity to the Present. Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.

Fujitani, Takashi. Asia Pacific Modern, Volume 7: Race for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans during World War II. U of California Press, 2014.

Perilous Memories: The Asia-Pacific War(s). Fujitani, T., Geoffrey M. White, and Lisa Yoneyama, eds. Duke U. Press, 2001.

[i] Fujitani, T. (2013). Jun Uchida. Brokers of Empire: Japanese Settler Colonialism in Korea, 1876 - 1945. American Historical Review, 118(3), 833-834.

Philip Kaveny, Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Mark On Eve
Joel Fox
Bronze Circle Press
9780692306192, $13.99,

In 1717 New England, Eve Hale pleads with Tinuba Tam, the Witch of Cornell Harbor, to save the life of those on board the Zarrago; especially her beloved Marcus Nash. As the Zarrago breaks apart killing all on board, raging with jealousy, Tinuba curses Eve to walk the earth until Marcus kisses her.

In the present Eve Skellar strongly supports California Governor Judith Rhodes for the presidency. On a campaign stop, Eve steps in the way of a cop's assassination attempt. Miraculously, Eve survives the bullet, but exposes her almost two century hidden secret; as everyone wants to know more about this heroic supergirl. Los Angeles Post reporter Tom Evanger persistently investigates the reluctant but now famous Eve. After hundreds of years of watching the oppression and abuse of women and the glass ceiling limiting roles in support of others, Eve believes in the emancipating importance of Rhodes becoming the first female president.

The Mark On Eve is an exciting, entertaining suspense that rotates between the present and several periods in the long life of the heroine; while making a case for the key societal oppression premise of Joel Fox's refreshing paranormal. After centuries of ennui and horror at her gender's historical mistreatment, Eve finally found a purpose to live in Rhodes' campaign.

Cold Trail: A Jeri Howard Mystery
Janet Dawson
Perservance Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel, Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745552, $15.95,

In Sonoma County, California, private investigator Jeri Howard fears the charred body on a burned out boat is her brother Brian since his Medic Alert bracelet was found on the vessel and his wife said her husband headed for a camping trip in the area. However, when the remains prove to be someone else, the missing school teacher becomes a police person of interest.
Jeri refuses to accept the detectives' theory that Brian set fire to the boat after killing the victim. Though she wonders if his marriage is on the rocks leading to his rustication, the PI also believes her sibling is in danger from whoever the real killer is though she remains unsure whether he witnessed the actual homicide. Jeri hopes to find Brian before the murderer or the local cops do.

The eleventh Jeri Howard mystery (see Where The Bodies Are Buried, A Killing At The Track and Bit Player) is a thrilling suspense. Accompanying a frightened, concerned Jeri, readers feel the haunting and taunting dread sitting in the protagonist's gut while her search to locate her brother turns increasingly desperate.

Manhattan in Miniature: A Miniature Mystery
Margaret Grace
Perservance Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel, Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745620, $15.95,

Lincoln Point, California SuperKrafts store manager Bebe Mellon has a booth in a Manhattan Christmas crafts show. She invites her friend retired English high school teacher Gerry Porter to accompany her to help with the setup. Having grown up in the Bronx, an excited Gerry calls her former neighbor Cynthia Bishop that she and her tweener granddaughter Maddie are coming to town. Ignoring Gerry's explanation that she is working, Cynthia, who was there for her when her late husband had cancer and knows about the sleuthing success, tells her that someone murdered her Aunt Elsie; but NYPD refuses to investigate.

Besides assisting Bebe, Gerry shows Manhattan to an awed Maddie. However at the event, Maddie watches a woman pocket an item on display from a table; while Gerry looks into the alleged homicide. Grandma's inquiry places the California pair on the radar of a clever killer.

The eighth Miniature mystery (see Monster in Miniature and Madness in Miniature) is an appealing amateur sleuth that combines two fine investigations with a charming tour of the Big Apple. Although I admit I am biased when it comes to New York City settings having grown up in the Bronx (I even know why the borough is called THE Bronx), Manhattan in Miniature is a superb cozy.

Dragon Thief
S. Andrew Swann
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756410131, $7.99,

Mediocre thief Frank Blackthorne reels from his mind transported inside the body of Princess Lucille of Lendowyn while she occupies a dragon who in turn resides in the incarcerated Elharg the Unwise Wizard who finds himself inside Frank (see Dragon Princess). Several months of being a female royal leaves a bored Frank needing a respite from his gilded cage. He sneaks away from negotiations with the Duchy of Dermonica and his dragon mate for time with a tavern wench Evelyn, but his husband tracks him down.

The Dark Lord sends the married couple a wedding present. Frank as the princess deploys the artifact in an attempt to become a man again. The relic works as Frank turns into the male Snake the thief wanted by two angry deadly guilds; while a grateful Snake becomes Princess Lucille. Realizing what he wrought on Lendowyn, Frank as Snake dodges assassins and worse with only Snake's groupies abetting him in his effort to save his mate's kingdom from the cursed switch.

The second amusing "Thief" quest fantasy continues the misadventures of an antihero; who desperately tries to rectify what he caused with his latest body switch that left a fox in the royal hen house. With a nod to Freaky Friday, fans of lighthearted farces will appreciate Frank's reflections on his swimming in the cesspool of life.

Vengeance of the Demon
Diana Rowland
Daw Books
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756408268, $7.99

Demon lords abetted by a summoner tampered with the energy nodes. As such the demon realm turns nasty; with the ugliness overflowing onto the earth. If left as is, demons could cross over without a summoning but also intensify the growing instability on both sides until it becomes irreversibly lethal.

Summoner of demons Kara Gillian knows she must bring order back starting with fixing the nodes. Fuming at his peers' dangerous foolishness, Kadir the demon lord, Idris, Bryce and others assist Kara. At the same time the police are interested in questioning Kara as a witness reported seeing her near Farouche when he was murdered at the Plantation.

The seventh Kara Gilliam Demon urban fantasy (see Fury Of The Demon and Touch of the Demon) is an entertaining entry with a lot going on (several more subplots than above), but very little resolved; as Vengeance reads more like a setup novel for the next act or two. Kara has come a long way since the Mark and as usual the ensemble cast adds depth to a likable tale.

C.J. Cherryh
Daw Books
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756409098, $25.95

Human diplomat Bren Cameron knows he needs some R&R after a hectic extended journey with the atevi aiji-dowager and others; so plans time on his estate in Najida where he is the Lord. However, they return home to find chaos greets them with leadership upheavals and changing alliances impacting vast sectors of atevi society including the critical Assassins Guild.

Thus as the Lord of Heaven in the atevi court, diligent diplomat Bren sets aside his personal needs to work on the various issues that sprung up while he was away including the Guild effect, two leaderless domains and a space station conflict ready to implode. As the Guild begins to resolve its problems an alien space ship heads towards the space station.

The start of the sixth Foreigner trilogy is an excellent science fiction as C.J. Cherryh successfully alters her universe somewhat by brilliantly realigning the power structure. Society-driven, this is a terrific outer space tale; as Bren's timely efforts to achieve a peaceful diplomatic resolution rather than war (as some demand) with the new kids on the block.

Black Scorpion: The Tyrant Reborn
Jon Land
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765337238, $25.99,

Five years ago, Seven Sins Resort and Casino owner Michael "the Tyrant" Tiranno saved Las Vegas from a terrorist attack (see The Seven Sins: The Tyrant Ascending). Running the most financially successful establishment on the Strip, Michael prefers leaving his fighting to MMA bouts in the gym, but battles the State Gaming Control Board in Carson City over his expansion project investment debt.

While on an archaeological dig in the Retezat Mountains in Romania's Transylvania, archeologist Scarlett Swan uncovers an ancient Roman temple, but argues with the host country's appointed project manager Henri Bernard over a special find that will interest her boyfriend Michael. Soon after that run-in, the human trafficking cartel Black Scorpion and its leader Vladimir Dracu murder everyone at the site except Scarlett who contacts Michael from a bar in the nearby village of Buna Ziua. Michael directs his legal counsel Naomi Burns to deal with the Gaming Control Board at a critical time which could impact his casino's value; while he and his associate Alexander head to Romania.

Filled with stunning viable twists and over the top of Mount Moldoveanu escapades, this sequel is a fantastic action-packed thriller that grips the audience early on with anticipation of a showdown between the Tyrant and the trafficker. Loaded with excitement, Jon Land shows his writing skills as the unstoppable antagonist collides with the immovable protagonist.

Paul Thomas
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens, London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781908524492, $14.95,

For twenty-seven years Auckland District Commander Finbar McGrail regretted not solving the strangulation death of teenager Polly Stenson at an election-night gala in an affluent mansion. A long time ago, Finbar gave up hope that the killer in the 1987 cold case would be caught. However, a seemingly minor clue surfaces that rekindles his optimism. He assigns recently demoted for his unruly behavior and appearance (see Death on Demand) Sergeant Tito Ihaka to lead the new inquiry.

At the same a reporter insists that Tito's father Jimmy did not die from a heart attack; but instead believes someone ordered a hit to silence the fiery union activist. Meanwhile Tito's former police partner and at one time best friend, Johan van Roon is hired to investigate the shocking alleged sighting of a vanished VIP who disappeared in 1987. Soon the three seemingly disjointed cases merge.

The latest Tito Ihaka New Zealand police procedural (see Guerrilla Season and Inside Dope) contains three exciting mysteries. Paul Thomas uses satirical jocularity to depict the destructiveness of racism; as the always in trouble with the brass protagonist deals with bigotry from his peers and superiors in his brusque run them over manner. Fallout is another Ihaka winner.

Where They Found Her
Kimberly McCreight
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062225467, $26.99,

Molly Sanderson, her husband Justin the tenured English professor and their five years old daughter Ella move to affluent suburban Ridgedale, New Jersey. Due to Justin's connection at Ridgedale University, Molly obtains a job as the arts, lifestyle and human interest reporter for the Ridgedale reader.

Five months on the job and her editor Erik Schinazy never called her home until tonight. He apologizes for the early call, but explains he has no one else available to cover the story of a body found by the University's Essex Bridge. Molly wants to quit the case when she learns the corpse is a newborn; as her miscarriage of two years ago remains depressingly fresh like it happened two minutes ago, but remains diligent. With the pristine facade of an academia town ripped asunder, the cops, Molly and other reporters search for the missing mom.

Rotating leads between several characters and cleverly complicating the voice of the protagonist through various communication methods (affirming Marshall McLuhan's "The Medium Is the Message"), Where They Found Her is a taut investigative thriller. Although over the top of High Point Monument happenchance detracts from the tension, Kimberly McCreight authors a gripping whodunit.

Fatal Games
Mari Hannah
Witness Impulse
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062387134, $11.99,

On Bambaugh Beach just below the Bambaugh Castle in Northumberland, a father and child find human bones. Leaving Newcastle with her team, Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels leads the investigation hampered by increasingly bad weather and the poor terrain. Forensic anthropologist Abby Hunt says the victims were both females with one being a teen and the other a tweener. However every time Kate and Detective Sergeant Hank Gormley believe they made progress on resolving what happened to the two young girls, more questions arise especially when more corpses are found; as the case to the chagrin of everyone involved seems heading to the cold files.

Psychologist Emily McCann returns to work at nearby HMP Northumberland Category B Prison for the first time since her husband died a few months ago. Although worried about her young daughter Rebecca being without her for the first time since she lost her dad, Emily also fears her fascination with convicted sexual predator Walter Fearon who will soon be released after his seven year sentence for raping an elderly woman ends. Emily also is concerned with Fearon's return to society. Clues finally lead the police to diabolically brilliant Fearon at the prison where Kate's former lover psychologist Jo Soulsby works.

The fourth Kate Daniels police procedural (see Deadly Deceit, Settled Blood and The Murder Wall) is a very dark atmospheric mystery. In a cold foreboding background and character-driven especially by Fearon and the prison staff perhaps even more than the DCI and her team, subgenre fans will want to read this exhilarating British whodunit.

Duet in Beirut
Mishka Ben-David, author
Evan Fallenberg, translator
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
All Things Literary
9781468310207, $26.95,

In a busy Jerusalem street, terrorists detonate a car bomb leaving many dead and maimed. The angry Israeli government wants an "eye for an eye" starting with the Hezbollah planner of that attack Abu-Khaled. Mossad sends a team led by Gadi on an operation in Beirut to take down this killer. However, the assassination flops when the trigger Ronen fails to take the shot.

Kicked out of Mossad in disgrace, Ronen vanishes. One year later, Mossad operatives learn that their ignominious former compatriot is in Lebanon without official sanctioning most likely seeking redemption by finishing the mission. Fearing a catastrophic disaster, also without approval Gadi heads to Beirut to prevent his former sniper from compounding the mess.

Filled with action yet character-driven, Duet In Beirut is a profound look at government sponsored assassinations and the emotional problems when a person's values collide with that of the organization (most people defer their own to that of the entity; i.e., Penn State). Although some of the personal sides of the leads seem unnecessary and distracting, Mishka Ben-David provides a fresh look at the psyche of agents working ethically-challenged dark ops.

A Broken Life
Jan Christensen
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781502974624, $14.99,

In Taylor, Rhode Island private investigator Paula Michael heads to her office when she realizes a nearby homeless woman is her high school classmate Martha Hendricks. Paula persuades a reluctant Martha to have coffee and pastry, and to tell her what happened to her. Downtrodden Martha explains she worked for five years as an office manager at a medical practice when her boss Dr. Treverson learned from a routine background check she spent three days in jail for drug use. Martha insists she never spent one day behind bars, but someone gave her identity as theirs to the police. No one believes her innocence and soon Martha found her life broken.

Paula takes Martha to meet lawyer Geri Smithfield who after hearing the story agrees to take on a pro bono case. The sleuth also takes Martha into her home while she investigates. The PI obtains info from Dr. Treverson, but upon leaving she spots an amateur in a car obviously tailing her. Not long after she began her inquiry, someone kills Treverson, threatens Paula and an attempt to silence her fails; however an assault on Martha leaves her unconscious.

While Tina Shaw takes a breather after being Buried Under Clutter, the second Paula Mitchell, P.I. case (see Perfect Victim) is a timely, tense and twisting cozy. The impact of the identity theft feels incredibly genuine due to key factors: Treverson waited too long to explain why he really fired her (instead of his downsizing excuse); and by the time she knows the truth impoverished Martha had driven away all her friends (her parents were dead) and lacked transportation to get legal aid in Providence.

The Red Notebook
Antoine Laurain, author
Jane Aitken, translator
Gallic Books
59 Ebury Street, London, England, SW1W ONZ
Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
9781908313867, $14.95,

In Paris, Laurent Letellier walks towards his Le Cahier Rouge bookstore when he notices a handbag on top of a bin. Believing the owner was probably a mugging victim, Laurent takes the bag with him; but his efforts to give it to the police are met with polite sarcasm. At his shop, he empties it seeking the identity of the owner so he could return it to her; especially when he finds personal items like a red journal. However, nothing he finds tells him who she is.

Laurent remains steadfast to his resolution but unable to decide what next. His daughter encourages him not to give up his mission when chance intervenes. Eventually learning that Laure Valadier owns the bag, the red book and other sundry; Laurent wants to meet her as he feels he knows her. However he also feels his obsession already led him to overstep decency; unaware that recently released from the hospital Laure wants to meet the person who rescued her red notebook.

This is a warm whimsical romantic cozy in which the location and the support cast bring plausibility to Laurent's quest that will remind the audience of the movie Serendipity. Readers will root for fate to intervene by bringing Laure and Laurent together so they can collaborate on a new red and blue notebook.

The A26
Pascal Garnier, author
Melanie Florence, translator
Gallic Books
59 Ebury Street, London, England, SW1W ONZ
Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
9781908313164, $12.95,

By 1976 long time rail worker Bernard knows he is dying. He regrets what could have been with his friend Jacqueline, married to an abusive husband, if he romantically courted her instead of remaining loyally protective of his lunatic sister Yolande. Still old habits has Bernard worrying about what will happen to crazy Yolande when he dies; as she still believes WWII is still going on and has not left their Picardy cluttered cottage they reside in since 1945 when their neighbors vilified her for being a Nazi collaborator.

However, Bernard loses what is left of his hold on sanity when construction of the A26 motorway comes to Picardy. To rectify the latest modernization encroachment that symbolizes to Bernard the end of his life, he begins killing people.

The latest Gallic translation of a Pascal Garnier suspenseful French middle class tragedy (see The Front Seat Passenger, Moon in a Dead Eye, The Panda Theory and How's the Pain?) is another character-driven dark surrealistic novella. Though written in 1999, The A76 is very timely as the reclusive siblings reject change like the roadway and his illness as unacceptable while demanding society takes back a France created in their respective images.

Lincoln's Bodyguard
TJ Turner
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608091430, $26.95,

On April 14, 1865 at the Ford Theater in Washington DC, John Wilkes Booth attempts to assassinate President Lincoln. Bodyguard Joseph Foster immediately reacts to the threat and saves the life of the president.

By 1872, a strife weary Lincoln nears the end of his third term in office and though the War Between the States officially ended in 1865, Confederate insurgents continue to fight using guerilla and terrorist tactics while the Union increasingly turns to military rule. However, Southern resistance leader Colonial William Norris makes an overture to end the conflict as the nation nears collapse. Lincoln asks Foster to return to the capital to determine who the White House traitor is and to meet with Norris.

This fascinating alternative history is a clever spin on the Lincoln assassination with the premise that if the president lived he would be not much more powerful than Andrew Johnson was. The extrapolation of Congress' efforts to punish the rebels, and some in the South's refusal to surrender provides background to this gritty exciting historical fiction.

David Walton
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633880122, $17.00,

"Up Spin." Physicist Jacob Kelley is arrested for the murder of his former colleague at the New Jersey Super-Collider Brian Vanderhall. All Jacob wants is to be home with his family, but in court the professor's quantum physics defense increasingly condemns him as no one on the jury or even his lawyers who mount the Brian alive and dead at the same time argument understands what he is claiming; while the judge and prosecution don't care to even try.

"Down Spin." A frazzled Brian Vanderhall visits his best friend and former colleague at the New Jersey Super-Collider Jacob Kelley. Not long afterward, Brian is murdered with the police targeting Jacob as the chief suspect. No time to get arrested with his wife and children missing, Jacob frantically searches for his beloved family while fearing Brian's killer got to them.

With a nod to Trevor Hoyle's late 1970s Professor Q books (See The Gods Look Down, Seeking the Mythical Future and Through The Eye of Time), Superposition is an intriguing science fiction whodunit that rotates between the Up and Down Spins. The split interrelated subplots and the science supporting them make for a brilliant tale in spite of knowing much earlier than the bi-hero what is going on and perhaps as important what is not. Fans who prefer science in their SF will want to read the tale of the two Jacobs as the protagonist(s) affirms that a person can be in two places at the same time in the strange world of quantum physics.

Blood Sweep: A Posadas County Mystery
Steven F. Havill
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464203893, $24.95,

In Posadas County, New Mexico an unknown sniper just misses killing Sheriff Robert Torrez. The trail leads to a dead Miguel A. Quesada, whose vehicle contains a rifle that could be the one used in the murder attempt; but leaves unanswered who killed him and why.

Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman worries about her beloved former boss retired Sheriff Bill Gastner who broke his hip; her nonagenarian mom who withdrew $8000 from the bank; and her concert pianist son performing in a cartel dominated area of Mexico. Adding to her tsuris is meeting Benedicte Mazon, who insists he is the black sheep uncle she never met before or even heard of.

The twentieth Posadas County police procedural is an intriguing mystery in which Reyes-Guzman's extended family drama supersedes the Torrez-Quesada subplot. Targeting longtime fans, Blood Sweep engages those who have read the backstory (see NightZone and One Perfect Shot); newcomers will appreciate the police case and the rustic environs but struggle with understanding what the heroine knows and more significantly not knows re her family.

False Tongues: A Callie Anson Mystery
Kate Charles
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464200045, $24.95

In spite of having a new beau in London Police Family Liaison Officer Mark Lombardi, All Saints Church Anglican curate Callie Anson wants to skip Deacon's Week; as she is not ready to see her former lover Adam who dumped her for someone else. Still Tamsin Howells insists Adam is not coming; so Callie's friends Val Carver and Nicky Lamb persuade her to head to Cambridge. However, to her dismay Adam decides to attend Deacon's Week.

At the same time that Callie struggles to arrive in Cambridge, Mark works on the murder investigation led by Detective Inspector Neville Stewart of popular teenager Sebastian Frost in Paddington Green. However, the cops soon find a cyber-crack in Sebastian's seemingly golden life as an intelligent, handsome star athlete and son of two medical professionals. Mark works on obtaining the cooperation of the victims' reluctant parents while reading the riot act to his own family for their cold reactions towards Callie.
Linked only by each subplot containing a close look at family relationships, these diverse captivating dramas grip the audience throughout the outstanding fourth Callie Anson (and Mark Lombardi at least in this book) mystery (see Secret Sins, Evil Intent and Deep Waters). The Callie tale focuses on encountering a former love for the first time since the other party broke it off; while the Lombardi segue concentrates on cyberbullying and families rallying around one of their own (in death or against their loved one's wishes).

Bye, Bye Love: A Cat DeLuca Mystery
K.J. Larsen
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464203855, $24.95

While private dick Cat DeLuca drives from Chicago to her home in the burbs, her mom admonishes her for being a "hootchie stalker" and for not agreeing to a double wedding to her boyfriend Chance when her parents renew their vows. In Bridgeport, the Pants on Fire Detective Agency owner takes her dog Inga for a run in a park when they find a corpse. She pulls out of a pocket an envelope addressed to Cat's paternal Uncle Joey, a less than ethical cop, containing a large sum of money. However, before she acts on her discovery, someone Tasers Cat. When she regains consciousness, the body is gone. Cat assumes the killer never left the scene of the crime until the removal of the evidence.

The police including her family of cops warn Cat to stay out of their investigation and instead encourage her to help her dad with his vows and her mom by wearing her relative's foot short wedding dress at a double I do ceremony. Instead Cat makes inquiries that upset someone who wants the private Jane dead.

The fourth Cat DeLuca mystery (see Some Like it Hot, Liar, Liar, and Sticks and Stones) is an amusing energetic whodunit. Though stereotypical stick figures, the DeLuca brood adds humor and their differences to Chance's family will remind readers of when the Byrnes meet the Fockers.

Daughter of the Regiment
Stephanie Grace Whitson
Faith Words
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781455529032, $15.00,

In 1861 residents of Little Dixie, Missouri are divided between supporters of the Union and the Confederacy. Frustrated the recently arrived Irish immigrant Maggie Malone wants her family to remain out of the internal strife as she firmly believes they will be used as expendable cannon fodder. However, her brothers (Jack and Seamus) join the Union Irish Brigade. Maggie quickly concludes staying at home amidst the Southern belles is torture. The war comes to Maggie when two bandits, targeting her, attack her elderly Uncle Paddy. When she learns one of her siblings was hurt in a skirmish, Maggie heads to the Union encampment in Boonville to nurse him back to health, and remains there tending to the wounded. Sergeant John Coulter is attracted to her courage, determination and nurturing. To Maggie's astonishment, Colt wants to see her.

In Little Dixie, her Southern sympathizer brother Walker Blair drafts his frustrated sister Elizabeth to serve as hostess to his Confederate Wildwood Guard compatriots at their affluent plantation. When the war arrives in Little Dixie, Libbie knows her home is an obvious Union target, but instead of seeking a safe shelter she remains steadfast trying to protect those she cares about.

The Daughter of the Regiment is a terrific Civil War drama that centers on the role of women from various social strata when the loyalties of families and neighbors are divided. Stephanie Grace Whitson authors a tremendous historical based on the premise that war obviously is hell on those at the front, but also takes a toll on civilians of the "host" nation.

Midnight Angel
Karen Wiesner
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781312395619, $15.50,

Roxanne Hart wants more from her best friend Jamie Dubois as she loves him. Desperate she bets him all or nothing that the womanizing Jamie cannot adhere to monogamy with her for six months. Five months and twenty-nine days of not straying leads Jamie to panic. Though nothing happens, he arranges for Rox to draw the wrong conclusion when she sees him with her roommate Diane Hoffman. However, Rox's disappointment and declaration that she knew he would ruin their relationship leaves Jamie stunned, desperately declaring his love to no avail and pleading for another chance to prove him faithful which she rejects.

Four years later, Supermodel Rox learns the cancer she thought she beat has returned. Meanwhile guilt-stricken Jamie regrets what he did to the love of his life and their relationship; but also rationalizes Rox deserves someone better than a worthless bum like him as he recalls similarly years ago running from the mother of his son and their offspring. As Rox becomes sicker while completing her bucket list, Jamie vows always to be her 24/7 angel if she lets him.

The second superb Angelfire II drama (see Only The Lonely) is a tremendous second chance at a loving relationship. The former BFFs want to face her health crisis health together if the ailing heroine can trust him to be there for her though he never left her heart. As with the previous entry, the respective mental states of the lead couple turn this into an insightful drama. Whereas Rox deals with her cancer her way; frightened that he will lose her forever Jamie struggles to overcome his unworthiness low self-esteem to support his beloved in sickness and in health.

In the Spider's House
Sarah Diamond
Felony & Mayhem
174 W 4th St., Suite #261, New York, NY 10014
9781631940309, $14.95,

Due to his boss demanding they move to Abbots Newton in Dorset if he wants to remain employed, Carl and Anna Howell leave the big city to rusticate in a small village; a locale notoriously renowned for the 1960s tweener murderess Rebecca Fisher. When Anna learns that Fisher once lived in their new home, she feels motivated to find out more about the ten year old killer who slayed her BFF; as she believes she could turn this decades-old tragedy into a novel.

However, Anna's inquiries upset the villagers who prefer to forget this horrific homicide. As the newcomer uncovers shocking information, the locals threaten her if she does not immediately end her endeavor. Feeling a deep compulsion to continue and ignore the increasingly dangerous provocations aimed at her; obsessed Anna begins to believe what really happened is radically different from what was reported to have happened.

Unstable Anna and the reactions of the villagers she alienates with her investigation turn In the Spider's House into a taut psychological thriller. Although one-dimensional Carl detracts from an otherwise tense suspense by what he does not do; the audience wonders whether Anna's obsession is causing her to reach a false conclusion or uncovering an inconvenient truth.

Cyber Rogues
James P. Hogan
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780351, $14.00,

"Two Faces of Tomorrow." In the near future, automated technology has made the world a better place by eliminating hunger, which led to peace and prosperity on a global scale never seen before. However, Titan applies programmed logic to a situation that nearly causes a tragedy. Dr. Raymond Dyer leads a team to reprogram Titan to include giving the system a sense of right and wrong, and awareness of human frailty. He and his team test the prototype Spartacus on a space station, but an unforeseen nightmare arises leaving everyone in peril.

"Realtime Interrupt." Oz Project Chief Joe Corrigan wakes up confused in a hospital in a world he does not quite recognize. Joe knows the top secret effort to create a virtual environ indistinguishable from that of the real world failed, but cannot fathom what happened to his former life.

These are reprints of two fascinating cautionary science fiction tales that use the "Terminator" syndrome of out of control machines (Two Faces of Tomorrow was written several years before the release of the movie). Although both novels slow down due to character metaphysical pontification, overall each entertains while readers score James P. Hogan's prediction of the future.

Trail of Evil
Travis S. Taylor
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780313, $25.00

In 2398 DC, POTUS authorizes his predecessor Alexander Moore to lead a small hand-picked crew on an expeditionary mission to follow bread crumbs left behind ages ago by Senator Sienna Madira. The Marine veteran and former White House occupant believes recently found Separatist outposts tie to something much bigger and more dangerous lurking in space than even Copernicus the AI who led the horrific Separatists civil war.

On their recon mission, Moore and his team track bases defended by multiple mechas left behind by Copernicus in case the AI failed to eradicate humanity. Increasingly the evidence points to Copernicus having had a deadlier ally to complete the final solution of species extinction. Moore and his fellow marines plan to destroy the enemy before this adversary deploys their annihilation of mankind assault.

The fourth Tau Ceti Agenda military science fiction (see One Good Soldier, One Day on Mars and The Tau Ceti Agenda) is an action-packed outer space thriller based on fascinating twists that spin Travis S. Taylor's saga into an astonishingly different orbit. Although the Bush Doctrine of first strike to keep the battle in the enemy's territory rather than your own seems foolish without substantive data affirming Madira's contention as this could start an unnecessary war, this entry is a thrilling twisting tale.

By Tooth and Claw: Clan of the Claw Book Two
S.M Stirling, et al.
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780405, $15.00

"Bury My Heart" by Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin. The flood left the Clan of the Long Fang surviving Mrem destitute as they flee without Dancers from the still rising waters and the vicious Lishkash.

"A Clan's Foundation" by S.M Stirling. Klar leads the desperate ragged band to needed water while fearing Ashala's Lishkash troops will slaughter most of them and enslave those left alive.

"Sanctuary" by Eric Flint. Sebetwe takes charge of dispatching Knest's soul and leading his followers up the mountain while concealing from his superstitious Lishkash followers his disdain for those who worship the Goddess Huwute. After Zilikazi's army slaughtered most of their Dancers causing the Mrem tribe to flee in disarray terror, Achia Pazik and a few others find themselves separated from the main pack with no hope of surviving.

"Feeding a Fever" by Jody Lynn Nye. In an oasis, Petru begs Lailah Clan lead Dancer Cassa to eat, but she says she cannot as she believes she soon will join Assirra in heaven before they reach haven. Water remains a problem for the clan especially after what they recently found proved lethal.

Based on the premise the asteroid that ended the dinosaur era did not occur, the second Clan of the Claw alternative history (see Exiled) contains four pleasurable survival novellas. All are well written as the Mrem feline mammals and the Lishkash humanoid dinosaurs are intelligent enemies fighting for domination in the Bronze Age. My personal favorite is the heroic sacrifices of brave warriors in "Bury My Heart".

The Inn At Ocean's Edge
Colleen Coble
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780718031220, $19.99,

Meeting her father, Claire Dellamare arrives at the Hotel Tourmaline on the Maine barrier island Folly Shoals. However, she almost immediately suffers strange deja vu visions of staying at this hotel when she celebrated her fourth birthday. Claire soon accepts her dreams are repressed memories of when she disappeared from the Tourmaline only to reappear as mysteriously one year later. In spite of her parents pleading with her to let it go, Claire obsesses with knowing what happened to her.

At the same time in 1989 when Claire vanished, Luke Rocco's mother also disappeared; but she never came back. When Luke and Claire meet, they agree to investigate together what happened to her and his mom. At the same someone is willing to murder to keep the truth concealed.

This is an enjoyable twisting mystery in which the truth may be out there and set you free; that is if it does not kill you. Although the romance between the amateur sleuths feels more a subgenre requirement, this Sunset Cove novel is a taut suspense.

A Sparrow In Terezin
Kristy Cambron
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781401690618, $15.99,

In present day Sausalito, California Sera James feels blessed as she has just opened her art gallery and married William Hanover. Just after they exchange their vows, Carter arrives to arrest William for illegal business dealings that he insists he never did. While he faces ten years, his wife faces denunciations that threaten her family. Thus she travels to Europe to learn what her husband hid from her.

In 1939, Kaja Makovsky feels fortunate to escape Nazi occupied Prague, but fears the worst for her family; especially since some are Jewish. Three years later in England, Kaja, working as a Daily Telegraph journalist, learns of Hitler's Final Solution mass executions of Jews. Though frightened, with help from her boyfriend Kaja returns to Czechoslovakia trying to get her family to England. Instead she ends up incarcerated in the Terezin Concentration Camp near Warsaw where Kaja and others become teachers, mentors and bearers of hope to children like Sophie.

The second Hidden Masterpiece (see The Butterfly and the Violin) is a thrilling inspirational based on the premise of Dr. Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning"; a person has a better chance for obtaining a wonderful life if they believe it will occur even while trapped in hell. Character-driven in both eras the captivating subplots hook the audience throughout as we root for the sparrow to soar free of the evil men do unto to others.

You Will Never Find Me
Robert Wilson
Europa Editions
214 West 29th Street, Suite 1003, New York, N.Y. 10001
9781609452544, $17.00,

In London seventeen year old Amy Boxer leaves a taunting note to her separated parents at a police station. The teenager informs them she is running away and that in spite of their respective professions; her mother Detective Inspector Mercy Danquah specializes in kidnappings and her father Charles Boxer is a private sector abduction consultant; she mockingly states "you will never find me."

Though they agree their offspring has thrown down a gauntlet, the kidnapping experts remain concerned over their runaway daughter. Boxer follows clues to Spain while the brass assign Danquah to investigate the abduction of Sasha Bobkov, son of a former FSB operative whose inquiry into the polonium poisoning death of a one-time comrade may be the motive. Meanwhile in Madrid, drug lord El Osito has plans for the young Brit.

The sequel to Capital Punishment is an enjoyable thriller that requires the audience to throw away the plausibility meter starting with the reactions of the parents who treat their runaway as if she is someone else's child and mom working the Sasha case; which detracts from the main plot. Still this is an exciting read due to the hectic searches for Amy and Sasha before time runs out on the two youngsters.

Ghost Image
Ellen Crosby
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781451659375, $25.00,

After attending a conference in London, environmental scientist and activist Franciscan Friar Kevin Boyle returns to Washington D.C. Brother Kevin enthusiastically tells his friend photojournalist Sophie Medina to meet him at his monastery to discuss a rare seventeenth century botany book with modern day medical implications. When she arrives, Sophie finds Brother Kevin dead in the monastery's gardens.

Assuming the valuable tome led to the homicide, Sophie seeks the identity of the killer and finding the seventeenth century rare botany encyclopedia that excited her late friend. She heads to London where Brother Kevin's recent euphoria began, but soon has a bigger concern when an unknown predator tries to kill Sophie.

The second Sophie Medina investigation (see Multiple Exposure) is an engaging leisurely-paced whodunit in which readers know the why early on, but have plenty of individuals with motives and opportunities. Although the threat to the heroine seems relatively tepid, Ghost Image is a thrilling mystery as Ellen Crosby (see the Virginia Wine Country cozies) deftly connects the past and present while providing her fans with unique tours of London and Washington.

Death Wears A Beauty Mask And Other Stories
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781501110993, $26.00,

"Death Wears a Beauty Mask." On their honeymoon, LA Deputy District Attorney Michael and college student Janice stop in New York to see her older sister Alexandra the supermodel, but she fails to meet them.

"Stowaway." Even with the deadly Commissioner of Police onboard, Carol the stewardess hides a young stowaway.

"When The Bough Breaks." Marian blames her son's best friend Peter for his accidental death.

"Voices In The Coalbin." Laurie suffers nightmares of musicians playing "Chinatown".

"The Cape Cod Masquerade." After meeting Cynthia just released from prison, Alvirah and Willy believe she never murdered her stepfather.

"Definitely, A Crime of Passion." Once the Secretary of State, Tom is indicted of murdering his second wife; but the former President and First Lady reject he committed a homicide.

"The Man Next Door." He has a secret place for visitors to stay with him; his current guest being his next door neighbor.

"Haven't We Met Before?" Westchester County ADA Jack questions William re the attempted murder of Emily.

"The Funniest Thing Has Been Happening Lately." Fred waited years to kill four people he holds responsible for what happened to Jenny.

"The Tell-Tale Purr." Fred wants his inheritance now so plots to kill his octogenarian grandma by using her fear of cats while arranging a power failure to leave her trapped inside her elevator.

The title novella and the nine shorts are entertaining though not all are excitingly tense. The best are the Alvirah and Willy entry, the Stephen King-like "Voices In The Coalbin", the Twilight Zone-like "The Funniest Thing Has Been Happening Lately" and the classical Mary Higgins Clark suspense "Death Wears a Beauty Mask".

The Art Of Losing Yourself
Katie Ganshert
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601425928, $14.99,

Family, friends and neighbors believe that Florida panhandle TV meteorologist Carmen and coach Ben have the perfect marriage. However, both Harts know that their idyllic life is a facade. Carman questions whether they should have married and now has doubts in spite of her mother Evelyn's constant baptizing in Texas and the Sunshine State that God exists after several miscarriages.

With Evelyn on another bender and refusing to stay with her dad, Carman's teenage half-sister Gracie moves into her Aunt Ingrid's closed motel near Navarre Beach. Learning of Gracie's residence and knowing first-hand what life is like when their mom binges on alcohol, Carman takes her younger sibling into her Apalachicola home. As Carman struggles with regaining what she and Ben lost, helping Gracie, coping with Ingrid's dementia and recapturing her belief in God; Gracie battles her own demons.

Rotating perspective between the emotionally hurting half-sisters, The Art Of Losing Yourself is an astute engaging family drama; the siblings learn that mental healing starts with acceptance of one's roots. The support cast enhances the readers understanding of the lead sisters; who begin to comprehend that DNA does not make a family, but caring loving hearts and souls do.

When Grace Sings
Kim Vogel Sawyer
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9780307731333, $14.99

Chicago-based Real Scoop editor Ken assigns reporter Briley Forrester to look behind the kind pious facade of the Amish-Mennonite communities featured in their rival Illinois Times. Briley heads to Arborville, Kansas believing when he uncovers the dirt he will be rewarded by becoming a featured journalist at the tabloid rather than a minor player buried in the middle of the rag. In Arborville, Briley stays at Alexa Zimmerman's Grace Notes Bed and Breakfast. He learns she is not Old Order Mennonite but lives their lifestyle as her adopted mom Suzanne (see When Mercy Rains) is. Attracted to each other, the guest and the hostess share in common childhood abandonment issues.

Steven Brungardt and Anna-Grace Braun are engaged. However, he recently inherited his late grandfather's farm in Arborville. Though he prefers to be a teacher, he considers working the land to please his parents and his fiancee. However, having learned that her biological parents reside in Arborville, Anna-Grace has doubts about relocating there as she does not want to meet them.

The second Zimmerman Restoration family drama is an exhilarating entry due to a three-dimensional ensemble cast. Although like its predecessor the pleasant storyline lacks closure, When Grace Sings is a well-written novel that leaves the audience wanting the final story released yesterday.

The Wood's Edge --The Pathfinders
Lori Benton
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601427328, $18.99

In 1757 Upstate New York, after six days of a siege, Fort William Henry's His Majesty's Loyal American Commander Monro surrenders to the French. Major Reginald Aubrey ignores the humiliating defeat since he grieves a more personal loss. Instead Aubrey's mission is to bury his newborn son. However, as he goes out on his task, Reginald notices a sleeping Oneida woman holding two babies. Rationalizing she does not need two living children, he replaces one of her boys with his deceased infant and takes William as he calls the lighter skinned one home with him. He also finds an orphaned baby girl Anna who he brings with him too.

Reginald and his wife Heledd raise the two infants as their own though no one including his spouse knows that he abducted their son from their Oneida mom Good Voice. Years later Anna and Two Hawks, whose parents still mourn a loss, secretly become friends.

Lori Benton's third Colonial Era Christian drama (see The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn and Burning Sky) is an electrifying historical. The pivotal abduction weighs heavy on both families; with Stone Thrower and Good Voice grieving the loss of one of their children, and their one living offspring feeling their anguish; while Reginald suffers guilt, Heledd chooses ignorance to the truth, and their two kids sense something not right. After an awesome beginning, the storyline slows down somewhat especially with the unlikely friendship, but closes with an incredible finish.

Navy Seal Justice
Elle James
Harlequin Intrigue
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373698332, $5.50,

Upon leaving the Navy SEALs, James Monahan obtained a position at civilian Covert Cowboys, Inc. When a SEAL Boat team-22 brother in arms "Rip" Cord Schafer sends him a message to protect Melissa in Biloxi, James drops everything to head to Mississippi

After receiving a text for help, FBI agent Melissa Bradley travels from San Antonio to a Biloxi Post Office to pick up a package and deliver it to her Ohio childhood friend Cord at the Shoot the Bull Bar in nearby Stennis. In Biloxi James notices her and protects her from an assault. Melissa fears the stranger until he says Cord sent him to keep her safe, but still tries to dodge him. James' new boss Hank Derringer informs him that a SBT-22 SEAL went missing during a live fire exercise at the Stennis Space Center Complex on the Pearl River. James goes undercover inside his former unit while Melissa DOES likewise at the bar. Soon they team up in search of MIA Cord; at the same time deadly traitors try to kill them.

The latest Covert Cowboys Inc. romantic suspense (see Triggered, Taking Aim, Bodyguard Under Fire and Cowboy Resurrected) is an action-packed atmospheric thriller in which armchair readers will believe they are accompanying the covert leads in Southern Mississippi. Fast-paced, the intrigue comes before the romance as saving the SEAL (or recovering his remains), and taking down terrorists and their Quisling allies remain the main tasks.

Under Suspicion
Mallory Kane
Harlequin Intrigue
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373698356, $5.50

NSA Agent Zach Winter returns to his hometown Bonne Chance, Louisiana for the funeral of his best friend undercover Homeland Security Agent Tristan DuChord who died in a Gulf oil rig accident. Also in town is DHS agent Maddy Tierney; assigned to protect Tristan's pregnant widow Sandy. Zach learns from the M.E. Dr. Bookman the body was not recovered but Sandy is unaware that the coffin does not contain her late husband's body, and that there are some minor remains whose DNA results remain pending.

Zach and Tristan recognize the alertness in one another. While he is unofficially asking questions, her contact says the Director insists she goes slow as for now an oil rig worker not a DHS operative died. The two Feds are attracted to one another, but keeping Sandy safe is the prime objective from those who believe she knows something important.

Though the steamy atmosphere is similar to the Delancey Dynasty (in nearby Lake Pontchartrain), Mallory Kane's first Bayou Bonne Chance romantic suspense is a fabulous opening act. The protagonists are a wonderful pairing while the widow struggles to understand what is going on when villains target her. Readers will want to tour the Bayou with the two Feds as their guides.

The Hottest Ticket In Town
Kimberly Van Meter
Harlequin Blaze
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373798490, $5.50

Exhausted from her brutal yet unfinished tour with Atlanta coming up next week and from her demanding manager Trent Blackstone, burned out country music star Laci McCall flees after her latest sold-out gig in Memphis for her childhood haven, the Bradford Ranch in Woodsville, Kentucky. At the same time Elite Protection Service co-owner Kane Dalton tells his brother and partner Rian to handle the Senator's gig as he heads to the Bradford Ranch. He further explains that Warren, who is a like a grandfather to the Dalton gang, asked him to watch the spread while the elderly man takes his wife Cora for medical treatment out of state.

Laci finds her first love Kane sleeping in her bed. Stunned to see the female he never forgot, Kane knows leaving her again will destroy him; as he barely survived walking away from her when they were teens. As they both recognize that they remain in love with one another, neither wants to consider the future.

The latest Wrong Bed romance (see Good With His hands by Tanya Michaels) is a heated second chance contemporary. Trent is over the top of Black Mountain as he destroys the Golden Goose with an outrageous schedule; and Kane's response to change the upcoming dates too simplistic and glib (though health-wise necessary) as more than just the avarice Svengali manager is impacted. Still fans will want to obtain The Hottest Ticket In Town.

From Best Friend To Bride
Jules Bennett
Harlequin Special Edition
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373658879, $5.50

Stonerock, Tennessee residents, therapist Megan Richards and Police Chief Cameron St. John, first met and became friends in kindergarten. Years have passed since they became best buddies; but each conceals from the other the same secret that they love their BFF but fears the revelation would nuke their friendship.

When Megan has a lucrative offer to practice in Memphis, she and Cam separately reconsider whether to reveal or not reveal their love though hesitant that the revelation could devastate their special bond more than a commute relationship would. Still the cop and the therapist hesitate because each accepts if they tell their heart's desire they cannot go back to the way it was; as revelations mean all or nothing.

The third St. Johns of Stonerock (see The Fireman's Ready-Made Family and Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas) romance is a warm jocular contemporary starring two pleasant protagonists and sensational secondary characters (their families and other townsfolk). Readers will enjoy the leads' dilemma between Friends and Lovers (artists: Gloria Loring and Carl Anderson; Words and Music by Paul Gordon and Jay Gruska); as we root for Megan and Cam to take a chance.

Raising The Stakes
Karen Rock
Harlequin Heartwarming
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373367191, $6.50

After a nomadic childhood and an attack in the Bronx, Vivienne Harris fled to the Adirondack's farmhouse she inherited from her Great-Aunt Nancy and opened up Homestead Diner. When she investigates a noise at her home that she thought might be mischievousness caused by either or both of her roommates, Jinx the half-blind cat and Scooter the geriatric deaf dog. Instead Vivie finds a frightened bear cub eating her pies.

Though she thinks the house invader is as cute as a Button, Vivie fears the ferocious mother might be nearby. The 911 operator sends Conservation Officer Liam Walsh to her farmhouse. He warns her to be wary of poachers who orphaned the cub and strongly argues with the newcomer not to adopt the baby bear; but instead let him do the humane thing by killing the animal who is too young to survive in the wild. Vivie not only wants to save Button, she knows she needs Liam to do it.

This is a pleasant rural romance starring three wounded warriors who find love greatly diminishes their emotional traumas. The support cast at the diner, poachers and especially Vivie's flat-mates add depth to a warm contemporary in which Liam ironically should quote WC Fields: "Never work with animals ..." since Button steals the show and to a degree Vivie's affection.

Moonlight and Diamonds
Michele Hauf
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373009428, $5.75

Though he loves Minnesota, werewolf Stryke Saint-Pierre looks forward to attending a wedding in Paris. Besides playing the tourist, Stryke hopes the city enables him to meet a female peer as his father expects him to start a new pack.

Rhys Hawke asks Stryke to do him a favor by picking up artifacts for him at the Order of the Stake and gives him a ticket to attend a private gallery. At the gallery, Stryke finds many socialites but none of his breed. Still he is attracted to the owner Blyss Sauveterre who decides he is the perfect mule since he will not be in France much longer. She plans to seduce him into giving a diamond to a demon in exchange for the elixir that conceals her inner essence. Everything goes wrong leading to demons hunting Stryke and Blyss.

The second Saint-Pierre urban fantasy romance (see Ghost Wolf) is a stupendous suspense starring An American Werewolf in Paris and the female who turns his dreams of romantic connection into a nightmarish connection. The metamorphosis of Blyss brings realism to the pleasurable paranormal romp as danger exponentially mounts for two shifters who, if they survive the demonic storm, have to be in love to consider wintering in Minnesota and ete in Paris.

A Seal's Pleasure
Tawny Weber
Harlequin Blaze
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373798476, $5.50

Navy SEAL detonation expert Gabriel "Romeo" Thorne and eMagazine's Tessa Monroe explosively met through their respective best friends Lieutenant Commander Mitch Donovan and Livi Kane (see A SEAL's Secret). Their second dynamite encounter is at Mitch and Livi's wedding.

Each cannot understand what is going on as their feelings are in the troposphere when it comes to the other. At the same time, Tessa and Gabriel deal with problems at the workplace; which each uses as a handy excuse proclaiming that they have no time for anything but a fling. Still neither Gabriel nor Tessa wants to end their trysts as they struggle with the disease of love while hiding behind the facade of the best sex either ever had.

This Uniformly Hot! sequel stars two protagonists singing the refrain from "I'm Not In Love" (10Cc). Although more insight into the leads' apparently difficult youths would have strengthened the characterizations (or omit these hints entirely), readers will relish the heated relationship between Gabriel and Tessa fueled by the deadly Ds (desire and denial).

Cavanaugh Fortune
Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373279135, $5.50

Ignoring nepotism charges from those who he believes can't meet the APD quality level, Aurora Police Chief Brian Cavanaugh assigns his second cousin police officer Valri Cavanaugh to assist lead detective Alex Brody on a murder investigation. Promoting her to temporary detective; Brian explains to Valri her computer skills that recently led to solving a case are needed on who shot in the back gamer and alleged hacker Hunter Rogers and sledge hammered his laptop.

With his partner in the hospital, cynical Alex is irate that the boss dumps on him a bubbly relative with no experience. To his astonishment, Valri proves more than helpful starting with salvaging info from the seemingly busted up hard drive. As they work the case, the two cops try to ignore their growing feelings towards one another.

The latest Cavanaugh Justice romantic police procedural (see Cavanaugh Undercover, Cavanaugh Baby and Cavanaugh Hero) is an engaging whodunit due to a captivating mystery. Valri's temporary promotion feels wrong as I doubt she meets PD requirements and the image of impropriety is an important consideration Brian ignores; while the lead relationship follows the usual series path. Still fans will relish following the antics of the fighting and fussing officers as they investigate and fall in love.

The Nanny Plan
Sarah M. Anderson
Harlequin Desire
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373733798, $5.25

Trish Hunter attends a lecture at San Francisco State University given by Silicon Valley's latest "Boy Billionaire" twenty-eight year old Nate Longmire. However she is not there to hear him speak, but instead to obtain a matching donation to hers from the creator of SnAppShot to her One Child, One World charity since he claims that technology should make life better for everyone. Her stunt gets her in the door, but the results of due diligence on her charity by his assistant will determine whether he provides her funds. Moments after they say goodbye his mom calls from Kansas City to inform him that his older brother and sister-in-law died in an accident.

Two weeks later Trish arrives at his office for her appointment, but someone there mistakenly thinks she applied for the nanny job; so sends her to his house. When she arrives there, Trish finds Nate and his employee Rosita struggling with caring for his hysterical baby niece Jane. Trish quickly calms down the infant. Grateful Nate offers her, a sizable donation to her charity if she serves as Jane's nanny for a month. Already attracted to each other, Nate and Trish fall in love, but their arrangement is for one month not a lifetime.

Based on a true occurrence by the founder of the Lakota Children Foundation (, this Billionaires and Babies contemporary (see Royal Heirs Required by Cat Shield) is an enjoyable family drama in which Jane's needs overwhelm that of the adults. Readers will root for the billionaire geek and the caring nanny to make it; at a time when each recognizes what happens to baby Jane comes first and their adult love requires a new contract.

Texas Rebels: Egan
Linda Warren
Harlequin American
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373755622, $5.50

Leaving New York after a dozen years in the Big Apple due to guilt re her late mom, art teacher Rachel Hollister returns home to Horseshoe, Texas. However, being away for a long time, Rachel becomes lost in the woods as her car dies. Tracking feral dogs, Rebel Ranch third son and ex-con Egan Rebel the loner escorts Rachel to safety though he loathes her family especially her father the judge for sending him to prison for a crime he never committed and overturned on appeal. Those three months destroyed his life even if he met his best friend behind bars. Crazy Izzy McCray sends his wild dogs at Rachel wounding her until Egan kills several of them before taking her to a nearby cabin.

After tending to her wounds, Egan arranges for Rachel taken by air to the hospital in Temple. Based on Izzy's eye witness account, retired Judge Hollister gets an arrest warrant. As his family rallies around him, Egan tells Sheriff Carson what happened, but drugged Rachel cannot verify this. Egan goes peacefully with the Sheriff, but his kin is irate. When Rachel tells what happened, Carson frees Egan. As they fall in love, obstinate Egan refuses to follow his heart; clinging to his belief that the "acorn doesn't fall far from the tree" in spite of her obvious paternal disagreements.

The first Texas Rebels ranch romance is a delightful contemporary that uses an interesting background filled with family feuds to tell a tale of seemingly forbidden love. Filled with a deep cast and plenty of suspense (much of which is caused by Rachel's pursuit of her man), Linda Warren provides an engaging opening act.

Possessing The Witch
Elle James
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373009435, $5.75

In Chicago, Gryph Leone is a loner who works above ground but resides beneath the city. When a wolf assaults a woman, Gryph ignores his mantra not to get involved. Changing into a lion he attacks the shifter, but is injured. Following her intuition and disregarding her fears of being downtown after dark, Selene Chattox the spirit witch finds the severely hurt Gryph and takes him into her home to heal.

The couple wants one another, but both fear the other, upon learning of their deepest secret, leading to rejection. As Gryph and Selene hide their love and their respective otherworldly skill; they and her four sisters hunt the deadly shifter preying on a hapless Chicago.

The second Chattox sisters' romantic urban fantasy (see The Witch's Initiation) is a fast-paced tale that enables readers to accept the existence of paranormal with Chicago above and below serving as a wonderful background. The interesting protagonists' efforts to conceal their special talent out of fear of rejection add depth to our understanding them. Although fans will know the identity of the predator early on, Possessing the Witch captivates the subgenre audience.

Nights Under The Tennessee Stars
Joanne Rock
Harlequin SuperRomance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373609079, $6.75

Erin Finley waits for her boyfriend Patrick to arrive at the Louisville airport, but instead an angry woman using his phone calls her. In between profanities and slut accusations, the stranger says Pat is her husband and the father of their two young sons. Burned, Erin crawls by air to Nashville on her way home to Heartache, Tennessee.

Six months later, Interstate Antiquer TV producer Remy Weldon travels to Heartache planning to do a show on Last Chance Vintage at a time when the ratings collapsed following the host's abrupt departure. Remy and one of the store's owners Erin meet when he stands out in the rain worrying about his late wife's teenage daughter Sarah back in Miami. The pair is attracted to each other, but he feels guilt for not being home when a house invasion left his wife and Sarah's mom dead. When Sarah comes to Heartache, Erin assumes she fell in love with another married with children.

The second Finleys of Heartache romance (see Promises under the Peach Tree) is a pleasant second chance at love contemporary; as the lead couple each has to overcome the ghosts of relationships past. With her grief and issues of abandonment, Sarah steals the show from the adults especially when her violent biological dad forcibly reenters the picture.

It Started At A Wedding...
Kate Hardy
Harlequin Romance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373743353, $5.99

In Capri, Italy for her best friend Ashleigh Farrell's marriage, wedding dress designer Claire Stewart panics when the gown she designed vanished somewhere between London and Naples due to the antics of a Bridezilla. Frustrated she initially tries to call Ashleigh, but the bride's phone is off. On her second attempt, she informs her BFF of the bad news. Though upset Ashleigh tells her buddy it is not her fault.

Desperate Claire leaves Italy for London in search of a substitute. Ashleigh tells her brother Sean who blames follow your heart queen of chaos Claire for the mess though he hides his conclusion from his sibling. In London Sean visits Claire offering a truce. Three gowns are shipped to Naples for the bride to choose from before the two enemy combatants begin a quest to find the missing dress; but neither can ignore what their respective hearts tell them.

This is an enjoyable gender war frolic starring two opposites falling in love while on a mission for the person they both cherish. The audience will appreciate this lighthearted contemporary due to the changing relationship between the regimented male and the free-spirit female.

Wild Hearts
Sharon Sala
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778318163, $7.99,

In 1980 Mystic, West Virginia, eighteen year old Connie Bartlett drives at 100 MPH with a car in pursuit of her. Inside the auto with her are her boyfriend Dick Phillips in the front and in the back are Betsy Parr and Paul Jackson. All four drunk and afraid of what they witnessed hope to reach the police. Losing control, Connie dies in the accident while the three passengers survive but with no memory of what happened.

Three decades later, Betsy Jakes arrives at Dick Phillips's farm to buy eggs to make a special dessert for her son police chief Trey on his birthday. Instead she finds Dick committed suicide by hanging himself. Betsy wonders if his death ties back to the accident that neither can recall any details. Trey arrives at the scene and soon calls Dick's daughter Dallas. Grieving she refuses to accept her dad would kill himself even if the family farm was in financial trouble. In honor of him Dallas implements his concept to save the spread, which angers someone who is willing to kill to get what they want. As the danger mounts on Dallas, she and Trey fall in love, but being a small-town Mountaineer was not in her life plan.

The first entertaining Secrets And Lies romantic suspense contains a modern day homicide police procedural tied to a cold case vehicular death and a contemporary second chance romance. The fresh two-generation mysteries hook the audience throughout while setting up the next entry (see Cold Hearts); whereas the well-written lead couple's relationship feels somewhat typical of the subgenre.

This Heart Of Mine
Brenda Novak
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778316725, $7.99,

In Whiskey Creek single dad Riley Stinson raised his son Jacob without any help from the teen's mom Phoenix Fuller. Instead listening to others for years that Phoenix is a bad seed Riley kept their child away from her; while she spent her offspring's entire life behind bars after a conviction for vehicular manslaughter of his new girlfriend Lori. Though she never faltered one iota from her insistence of innocence and what kept her going is one day she will meet Jake; now freed from prison, Phoenix only wants to connect with her son.

Riley has no choice but to allow Jacob to meet his mother. Worse Riley knows he still loves Phoenix who feels the same way about him. When she forgives him for abandoning her and mostly for keeping their child from her, he feels like a rat; especially as he watches Jake welcomes his mom in his life.

This Whiskey Creek tale (see The Heart of Christmas) is a fine family drama though the audience will question the incredible forgiving nature of the mom who spent half her life locked away from her beloved child, and the easy acceptance and welcoming of her by her son. The storyline's drama comes from the parents who struggle with distrust, external pressure and love; their first encounter in all these years is a gem that sets the tone with both feeling extremely uncomfortable desire.

Vigilantes: Anniversary Day Saga
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG Publishing
PO Box 269, Lincoln City, OR 97367
9781561466214, $18.99,

Moon's chief security officer Noelle DeRicci analyzes information collected by her, Retrieval Artist Miles Flint, Police Detective Bartholomew Nyquist and Armstrong's shady business mogul Luc Deshin, and from interrogating an incarcerated Peyti clone. Her conclusions frighten her; especially DeRicci's belief that another wave of terrorist attacks is imminent from those followers to include clones of the executed decades ago mass murderer PierLuigi Fremont.

Desperate to save the millions of survivors living on the moon, DeRicci knows she needs to learn who the mastermind(s) behind the deadly suicide bombings on two Anniversary Days four years apart are. However, to her chagrin everything DeRicci has learned points to the Earth Alliance leadership. An assassination affirms her fear that time and political correctness are not on her side.

The superb sixth Anniversary Day Saga science fiction continues the monthly releases (see The Peyti Crisis, Search & Recovery, Anniversary Day, Blowback and A Murder of Clones) with a captivating entry as the heroes struggle to prevent more devastating terrorist bombings. Although the overarching theme does not move forward very much; this exciting plot fills information gaps about the past but interwoven into the frantic effort of the present to avoid a future calamity.

Gathered Waters
Cara Luecht
WhiteFire Publishing
13607 Bedford Road NE, Cumberland, MD 21502
9781939023308, $14.99,

In 1880 Karlskrona, Sweden, believing he follows Scripture, Anders Modig takes a moral stand by giving newcomer Johan, ostracized by the Stockholm Lutheran Church, a place to stay. Hiding his disappointment local Bishop Peterson congenially questions Anders re Johan. Not long afterward, the Bishop ostracizes Anders for not tossing his guest out of the carriage house.

Although the Bishop is silent on Anders' family, the townsfolk behave as if his pregnant wife Brianna and their two small children are pariahs too. Treated by family and friends as undesirables, the Modig family leaves Sweden for the United States where they hope to find religious freedom to practice their beliefs as stated in the American Constitution. In the States, along with others, the Modig family forms a church that tends to the less fortunate.

Gathered Waters is a fabulous Christian historical based on Cara Luecht's ancestors fleeing their Swedish homeland for religious freedom. Readers will respect and admire the frightened yet courageous lead couple who dive into uncertainty believing that the Lord will takes the plunge with them.

The Silence
Tim Lebbon
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 OUP, UK
9781781168813, $14.95,

The Discovery Channel covers live a team exploring a cave in Northern Moldova. However, while on the air the scientific expedition turns tragic when an unknown predatory species of apparently the bat family attacks the crew leaving several humans dead to the horror of the TV and Internet audience.

Not long after that tragedy, these ravenous cave dwellers leave their subterranean home with a vengeance for the surface. Using an intensified highly powerful sonar sense, the hordes spread across Europe killing anything in their path. World leaders and the science community are at loss as to how to end the terror before a new species takes over the top of the food chain. As mankind teeters on the brink of extinction, a deaf English teenager who has followed the horror on social media is the last hope for any to survive; as she understands firsthand how to live in a "Sounds of Silence" (Simon and Garfunkle) world.

Although the premise of a species threatening humanity is not new, Tim Lebbon provides a refreshing young adult take on the theme. Readers, who ignore their plausibility meter that a young teen whose only credential is deafness can lead the way to staying safe, will cheer on courageous Ally as she tries to teach her family silence is the new world order.

Meyer Levin
Fig Tree Books LLC
9781941493021, $15.95,

In 1924 Chicago, geniuses Judd Steiner and Artie Straus kill thirteen year old Paulie Kessler. Their motive is an experiment to prove how much smarter than the cops and the rest of society they are that they can get away with murder. However, their premise that they are embodiment of Nietzsche's superman proves false when they make a minor mistake as Steiner inadvertently left his glasses behind; leading to law enforcement focusing on him and his best friend. In spite of attorney Jonathan Wilk's ground breaking mental illness and homosexuality defenses, the pair is convicted of the homicide.

Three decades later, Steiner will shortly go before the parole board. The Chicago Daily News assigns reporter Sid Silver to interview Steiner and survivors, like the still in shock killer's dad, of the horrible crime of the century.

Based on the Leopold and Loeb murder of Bobbie Franks, the reprint of the 1956 true crime novelization remains a powerful dramatization that looks closely at why they did it and the impact of the cold-blooded murder on families and communities years afterward; as there is no closure for anyone. Over nine decades since the actual murder and almost sixty years since the original book and its subsequent movie were released, Meyer Levin's Compulsion still haunts its audience.

Night's Blaze
Donna Grant
St. Martin's Paperbacks
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250060730, $7.99,

The Dark magic wound ripped away Rhys the Dragon King's innate ability to shift, but also nuked his sense of self-worth at a time when the kiss he shared with Dreagan Distillery employee Lily Ross at a party has left him desperately desiring her. As shook by that lip-lock as Rhys was, Lily cannot understand her desire for this man after her previous horrific relationship traumatized her; or why her attraction seems to keep him distancing from her.

Her abusive ex arrives with plans to abduct Lily but not before destroying Dreagan. Watching his Lily from afar, but refusing to act on his intense feelings; until Rhys realizes she is in trouble. Though Lily does not believe in paranormal species, she trusts the "man" who owns her heart to protect her from evil she cannot accept exist.

The fifth Dark Kings Scottish romantic fantasy (see Hot Blooded, Darkest Flame, Burning Desire and Fire Rising) is a fabulous paranormal as Grant's world continues to turn increasingly complex yet the otherworldly characters seem real. Although series fans will feel a sense of deja vu re the romance; the suspense, the lead couple (secondary players in previous entries) and a deep bench make for a rousing read.

Hard As A Rock
Christine Warren
St. Martin's Paperbacks
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250012678, $7.99

Wynn Powe the witch (see Stone Cold Lover) flies into Chicago seeking her missing brother Bran; this generation of her family chosen as a warden instead of her because gender is a key Guild criterion. Controlling her acrimony, Wynn seeks the help of a nearby Guardian. Instead in the upscale Lake Forest suburb, Wynn finds the rocky remains of the Guardian blown into smithereens by she assumes agents of the Order of Eternal Darkness.

Knox arrives as the replacement Guardian in order to keep Wynn safe from the enemy who tries to kill her. He also recognizes this Warden is his soul mate, but knows there could be nasty repercussions if he pursues his heart's desire. Believing she is a temporary fill-in until fresh testosterone meat is selected as the Warden and mocking herself for turning mushy towards her Guardian, Wynn struggles with her feelings for Knox.

The third Gargoyle romantic urban fantasy (see Heart of Stone) is a fresh paranormal entry due to the acerbic lead female amusingly (to readers that is and not her Guardian) rips pounds of flesh and other "skin" from family, friends, enemy and her beloved. Christine Warren authors a brisk thrilling tale starring Wynn the winning witch who deploys sarcasm as her weapon of first choice especially towards her befuddled Guardian.

Force Of Attraction
D.D. Ayers
St. Martin's Paperbacks
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250042187, $7.99

DEA Agent Scott Lucca and his K-9 partner Izzy work a heroin smuggling case in which the illegal drug is placed inside of dogs. He needs a "wife" as part of his undercover sting. Scott knows how an undercover assignment can destroy an operative's personal life; as happened with his marriage to Montgomery County police officer Nicole "Cole" Jamison. Still he knows she is the perfect mate to help him infiltrate the ring using the cover of the competitive circuit.

Reluctantly, Scott asks his ex and her K-9 partner Hugo to join him and Izzy. Though Cole wants nothing to do with Scott, her rage over the canine abuse supersedes her need to keep a healthy distance from her former husband. As they role play the loving couple while their dogs compete; the humans know they still love each other, but taking down the monsters comes before exploring or fleeing their feelings.

The latest K-9 Rescue police procedural (see Irresistible Force) is a tense second chance romantic suspense. Using dogs as drug mules will horrify readers who will root for show stealer Hugo the crime dog to take a bite out of the ringleader's hide.

Good Rake Is Hard To Find
Manda Collins
St. Martin's Paperbacks
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250061065, $7.99

One of the Lords of Anarchy four horsemen Jonathan Craven substantially leads another club member Frederick Lisle in a carriage race from Basildon to Dartford. However, a third coach catches up to the former Napoleonic War veteran and as Jonathan tries to escape he crashes to his death with his last thoughts on letting down Nora.

His grieving sister Leonora believes her brother did not die in an accident, but instead was murdered due to his Lords of Anarchy association. She wants to investigate but knows a woman will receive no cooperation. Thus she makes her case with her former fiance Frederick who agrees to help her infiltrate the club; but for Leonora to gain entrance they must pretend they are patching up their broken relationship. As they work the case closely together, both know they remain in love; but Nora owes Freddy an explanation as to why she ended their betrothal.

The first Lords of Anarchy romantic mystery is a rousing Regency in which Manda Collins adroitly ties together the suspense and second chance at love subplots. The fully developed amateur sleuths turn this into a tremendous historical as they work the dangerous case while feeling deja vu of falling in love all over again.

Savage Chains
Caris Roane
St. Martin's Paperbacks
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250037992, $7.99

Once a sexual prisoner of abusive ancient vampire Sweet Dove who destroyed his family as well; Brogan lives for one thing: killing his former tormentor. To achieve his obsession, for years Brogan worked diligently on obtaining full membership status in the Starlin Group vampire club whose participants enslave humans.

At Brigg's Ocean Club in Newport Beach, Brogan meets Angelica. He finds himself distracted by their attraction although he brutally pretends otherwise. She is hurt by his rejection of her while he feels relieved she left the dangerous for human scene. Brogan's assessment proves wrong when he sees Angelica on the auction block slated for bondage. His brain knows he needs to ignore her before she devastates his life goal, but his heart refuses to heed his head; Brogan places the winning bid. This leaves him with a shaky mission at best, an angry nasty vampiric enemy and a woman he may be in love with who loathes him as a despised slaver.

The latest Men in Chains romantic fantasy is a heated BDSM thriller. Though some transitions feel off-kilter and this entry has nothing to do with the Daniel and his sons' trilogy (see Unchained, Chains Of Darkness and Born In Chains) except for being in the awesome Roane world, series fans will relish the adventures of Brogan and Angelica.

Marked for Murder
Dixie Lyle
St. Martin's Paperbacks
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250031099, $7.99

At the latest event hosted by certifiable eccentric billionaire Zelda Zoransky, Anna Metcalfe was electrocuted when a hair dryer fell into the swimming pool. Leading the official inquiry into the wrongful death, Hartville Police Lieutenant Forrester questions ZZ's "Gal Friday" Deirdre "Foxtrot" Lancaster. While the late Tango feline ghost telepathically encourages her to stop apologizing, she explains to the cop how little she knew the victim in spite of Anna being the sister of her employer's chef Ben Montain the Thunderbird; who happens to be Deirdre's boyfriend. She also tells the officer about ZZ's "salon" gala and other events.

Ben insists the dryer lacked the voltage to kill his sibling and proved his assertion with an experiment he conducted on himself. Thus Foxtrot, Tango and Whiskey the canine shapeshifter investigate the murder by crossing over as well as looking into the activities of the victim, and two-legged and other "guests".

With the exception of grieving Ben, the third Whiskey Tango Foxtrot paranormal cozy (see To Die Fur and A Taste Fur Murder) is a lighthearted whodunit due to the farcical furry frolics of the cast. The amateur sleuths (from the Inspector Clouseau investigative school), Ben, zany ZZ, guests from the other side and the suspects come together in an amusing anthropomorphist supernatural mystery.

The Moon Tells Secrets
Savanna Welles
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250061164, $15.99

Over a decade ago, someone murdered Elan the Navaho just before his wife Raine gave birth to their son Davey. Her mother-in-law Anna warned Raine re what her grandson inherited from his paternal DNA, but his mom did not believe her until recently. Now she desperately needs Anna to advise her on skinwalkers like the one who killed her husband eleven years ago and apparently Davey who changes into gentle herbivores; but it is too late to consult with her as the older woman passed away.

Raine turns to her cousin Luna for help in keeping Davey safe from the predator who slew her spouse. Luna's neighbor Widower Cade mourns his wife Dennie, who was horrifically murdered while researching Navaho mythology. He vows to keep the widow and her son safe from the lethal skinwalker, but soon wonders whether the threat comes from the tweener.

With a nod to Jet Li's The One, this is an exciting paranormal family drama in which Savanna Welles makes the Navaho skinwalker mythos seem real. The despairing grizzly momma is a fabulous heroine who accepts an inconvenient truth that she and her offspring cannot go up against the powerful psychopath stalking her son in this thrilling urban fantasy.

Jack Pine
William Hazelgrove
Koehler Books
210 60th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
9781940192680, $18.95,

On the Northern Minnesota side of the Boundary Waters that separates America from Canada, Deputy Sheriff Reuger London finds sexagenarian logger Foster Jones with a bullet in his head and his slasher vehicle burned. Soon after that Sheriff Riechardt tells Reuger that a teenage girl Dana Reynolds staying with her parents at the Lodge claims a big Indian raped her. Riechardt wants London to bring in the latter's friend Tommy "Tobin" Toboken, a recent guest of Stateville Correctional Center, before the man flees to Canada.

Johnson Timber CEO Ben Johnson accuses the tree huggers for killing Foster and other loggers as a means to speed up the end of the industry in the area; the environmentalists insist not them but likely the loggers eliminating competition for the dwindling jobs. Owners of the best Jack Pine forest, the Ojibwa Indians distrust both groups whose respective agendas fail to consider tribal needs. In that environ, London seeks a killer and a rapist.

Armchair readers will feel transported to the Northern Minnesota forests in William Hazelgrove's engrossing atmospheric police procedural; as even local vernacular adds to the sense of being there. The official investigations are top rate, but it is the rustic outdoor lifestyles that hook the audience throughout.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography
Laura Ingalls Wilder, author
Pamela Smith Hill, editor
Garth Williams, Helen Sewell, Mildred Boyle, et. al., illustrators
South Dakota State Historical Society Press
900 Governors Drive, Pierre, S. DAK. 57501
9780984504176, $39.95,

"Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography" is the long awaited original work by acclaimed children's historical author, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Accompanying the manuscripts of "Pioneer Girl" are an enlightening introduction plus additional notes, conclusion, and appendices by editor Pamela Smith Hill; as well as a description of editorial procedures by Nancy Tystad Koupal and Rodger Hartley. Every page is scrupulously illustrated and footnoted with enriching background information and images, some from the earlier published children's fiction works by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The whole of the "Pioneer Girl" manuscripts cover the time period from 1869 to 1888 and moves of the Ingalls family to Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Dakota Territory. These should be read not like the later fiction books written by the author about her childhood, but as the core experience biographical source for all those books. The reading experience, especially for Wilder fans and enthusiasts, is engrossing, intriguing, and sometimes surprising or frightening, as many different aspects of the Ingalls family westward settling experiences come to light. In addition, many black and white photographs and illustrations and maps that have not been published before help to delineate the well loved characters from the Little House stories. Most adults over age 50 have many pleasant childhood memories of reading or hearing chapters from the Little House books. It is truly a legacy and a welcome gift to be able to read the rich biographical writings from which these books grew. Also welcome is the detailed analysis and commentary about the evolving relationship between Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter and promoter, Rose Wilder Lane. A fascinating interplay of ideas is glimpsed that accompanied the evolving of the material of "Pioneer Girl" and the subsequent Little House books. In short, "Pioneer Girl, the Annotated Autobiography" is a feast of fact and writer's processes that tantalizes the reader, laced with layers of historical detail and research that add depth and richness to the already profound experience of the celebrated author, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Only the Strong
Jabari Asim
c/o Agate Publishing
1328 Greenleaf Street, Evanston, IL 60202
9781932841947, $15.00, 288pp,

Synopsis: Jabari Asim's debut novel, "Only the Strong', returns readers to Gateway City, the fictional Midwestern city first explored in his acclaimed short story collection, "Taste of Honey". Against a 1970s backdrop of rapid social and political change, "Only the Strong" portrays the challenges and rewards of love in a quintessential American community where heartbreak and violence are seldom far away. Moved by the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Lorenzo "Guts" Tolliver decides to abandon his career as a professional leg-breaker and pursue a life of quiet moments and generous helpings of banana pudding in the company of his new, sensuous lover. His erstwhile boss, local kingpin Ananias Goode, is also thinking about slowing down - but his tempestuous affair with Dr. Artinces Noel, a prominent pediatrician, complicates his retirement plans. Meanwhile, Charlotte Divine, the doctor's headstrong protegee, struggles with trials of her own. With prose that's sharp, humorous, and poetic, Asim skillfully renders a compelling portrait of urban life in the wake of the last major civil-rights bill. Massive change is afoot in America, and these characters have front-row seats.

Critique: A novel of deftly written complexity, "Only the Strong" is an original and entertaining story replete with memorable characters and unexpected twists and turns. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library fiction collections, it should be noted that "Only the Strong" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Poil de Carotte
Jules Renard
Nonpareil Books
c/o David R. Godine, Publisher
PO Box 450, Jaffrey, NH 03452
9781567925234, $17.95, 218pp,

Synopsis: Neglected by his parents, bullied by his peers, left to wander the streets and woods by himself (that is, when he isn't locked in his room or the cellar for punishment), the little redheaded boy known as "Poil de Carotte" ["Carrot Top"] manages to survive the worst that rural France has to offer. His triumph is one of imagination, cunning, and sheer persistence. Jules Renard's "Poil de Carotte" is a timeless novel-in-stories that is at once the lyrical account of a hard-knock provincial childhood and a frighteningly acute psychological study of how cruelty can affect a young mind-a book that is by turns chilling, humorous, and quietly beautiful.

Critique: A masterwork of literary fiction, "Poil de Carotte" is an inherently fascinating Dickensian style read that is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections.

Spookiest Battlefields
Terrance Zepke
Safari Publishing
PO Box 4881, Greensboro, NC 27404
KSB Promotions
9780996065078, $14.95, 168pp,

Synopsis: The momentous Battle of First Bull Run was one of the largest land battles of the American Civil War, so it is not surprising that this is among the most haunted battlefields in our nation. Psychics have reported nine different entities present at Manassas Battlefield. Ignorant at this point as to how long and how bloody this war would become, tourists traveled by carriage (from as far away as Washington, D.C.) to Manassas to watch the battle. They brought picnics and cheered from the sidelines, as if watching a ball game! Over the years, there have been thousands of reports of paranormal activity at our American battlefields. A Phantom Rider, believed to be General Anthony Wayne, has been seen galloping up Route 322 before disappearing into the woods at Brandywine Battlefield. "Spookiest Battlefields: Discover America's Most Haunted Battlefields" showcases these and other key battles and hauntings, such as: Shiloh's Drummer Boy Ghost *Old Green Eyes of Chickamauga; a mysterious fog at Richmond; a strange blue light that appears at Antietam; the spirits of Indian warriors at Little Bighorn; and how Devil's Den, Slaughter Pen, and Bloody Lane got their gruesome names -- and more! In addition to chronicling paranormal activity, "Spookiest Battlefields: Discover America's Most Haunted Battlefields" provides visitor information, such as the best times to go and tour these cites.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Spookiest Battlefields: Discover America's Most Haunted Battlefields" is an inherently fascinating read and highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library collections. It should be noted that "Spookiest Battlefields: Discover America's Most Haunted Battlefields" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Deer Island
Neil Ansell
Lillie Toller
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
9781908213136, $29.00, 114pp,

Synopsis: At the beginning of the 1980s Neil Ansell chose a life of voluntary poverty working for the Simon Community, a charity with radical approaches to helping homeless people. He lived in squats and 'derries' across London, becoming part of a floating community of volunteers and rough sleepers whose purpose was to offer companionship and support for each other. But around them Britain was changing. It was becoming the decade of the individual. Soon there would be 'no such thing' as society. More and more young people started arriving in the Community, set adrift by unemployment. The city streets and squats were becoming awash with heroin. Immersed in this fragile world, Neil's sense of self began to disintegrate against the hard truths of homelessness. Worst of all were the people he lost, the friends who died or disappeared. To escape he started taking occasional trips to the Isle of Jura, off the west coast of Scotland, to seek solace and isolation in the landscape. Along the way he hoped to find his way back to himself. In spare and beautiful prose Neil Ansell overlaps two contrasting journeys through the streets of London and the wilds of Jura, building a powerful and moving meditation on what it means to belong. What makes us feel attached to a place or a community? What do we mean when we call a place home? Are memories the only things we can ever truly own?

Critique: Rarely has a personal story focused upon dealing with the contemporary issues of poverty and homelessness been so well written and so compelling. Informative, engaging, candid, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Deer Island" is one of those books that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. "Deer Island" is especially and highly recommended for community and academic library collections.

Lenten Reflections
Milton E. Lopes
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
Bohlsen Group
9781490851532, $37.95, 324pp,

Synopsis: Milton Lopes is a spiritual director and dream group leader in the Jungian tradition. He is also a lay associate of the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, a Cistercian (Trappist) Monastery located in Northeast Georgia. In "Lenten Reflections: From the Desert to the Resurrection" he has written an extended commentary specifically intended for those among us who have weathered life's storms, yet sense a nagging emptiness in their spiritual well-being. "Lenten Reflections: From the Desert to the Resurrection" is presented in four major sections: Part One sets the framework for a treatment of the study of our salvation. It is devoted to the historical roots of Lent, its purpose, and its theology. To that end, this section also provides the reader with an overview of the creation story, a discussion of evil and sin, and a summary of the Trinity and the incarnation. Part Two sets the stage for an initial reflection on Lent, while Part Three introduces the disciplines needed to successfully pass through the desert to spiritual wholeness. Milton Lopes poses four seminal questions: Where are we? What are we? Who are we? Why are we? Answers to these questions set the stage for what many spiritual masters call the purgative way, in which the Twelve-Step Program of Alcoholic Anonymous is suggested as a framework to one's first steps into spiritual wholeness. At some point in their spiritual journey, the reader moves into what these same spiritual masters call the illuminative and unitive ways. Part Four is entitled "The Agony and Exultation". Here, we join Jesus on the road to Calvary, where he is crucified. We know a mysterious joy as he rises from the tomb. We end our reflections with his departure from his disciples, the coming of the Paraclete, and a new understanding of the meaning behind Jesus' sacrifice and life on earth.

Critique: Impressive, informative, thoughtful, thought-provoking, challenging, inspired and inspiring, "Lenten Reflections: From the Desert to the Resurrection" is a compelling read and one of those books that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for church and seminary Christian Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lenten Reflections: From the Desert to the Resurrection" is also available in a paperback edition (9781490851518, $22.95).

Collapse of Dignity
Napoleon Gomez
BenBella Books
10300 N. Central Expressway, Suite 400, Dallas, TX 75204
9781939529220, $26.95, 368pp,

Synopsis: In the early morning hours of February 19, 2006, a sudden blast shook a coal mine in northern Mexico, trapping sixty-five workers in a subterranean tunnel. Napoleon Gomez, head of the fiercely independent union that represented the workers, was appalled by what he found at the scene: labor department inspectors and the company operating the mine had ignored the egregiously hazardous state of the work site and were failing miserably at a rescue effort. Rather than focusing on saving lives, they were busy downplaying the company's role in the collapse and selling false hope to the families camped out at the mouth of the mine. Less than a week after the explosion, Mexico's labor secretary called off the rescue, leaving the lost men to their fates. The senseless tragedy (stemming directly from an insatiable hunger for profits) set off a massive confrontation between the National Miners' Union and the transnational corporations that wield great power in the country's government. Over seven tumultuous years, Gomez waged a battle against Mexico's corrupt politicians and voraciously greedy businessmen, insisting that the mine blast was an "industrial homicide" and that those responsible must be held accountable for it. Told with candor and passion, "Collapse of Dignity: The Story of a Mining Tragedy and the Fight Against Greed and Corruption in Mexico" is Gomez's account of the union's fight, mounted in the face of traitors, armed aggression, death threats, and a political alliance extending all the way up to the presidential residence at Los Pinos. As he fends off absurdly complex legal charges, organizes the resistance from exile in Canada, and uncovers an anti-union conspiracy stretching back to years before the explosion, he only becomes more committed to fighting for the rights of Los Mineros -- and by extension the workers of every country.

Critique: Napoleon Gomez's account is one of outrage, it is also a call to hope for a better future. Though "Collapse of Dignity" lays bare sickening injustice and inexcusable aggression against the Mexican working class, it is at its core a fervent call for a global workers' movement that will represent the fundamental rights of every person who works for a living. We now live in a second "Golden Age of Robber Barron Capitalism" with the rights and safety and simply human dignity trodden under by corporate financial interests and the government institutions with whom they have bought controlling interests through the financial corruption of legislators and here in America under an ill-advised 'Citizens United' decision by a controlling Republican/Corporate majority on the United States Supreme Court. Such tragedies as is so well documented in "Collapse of Dignity" will continue until a majority of American citizens (as well as the citizenry of Mexico) compels the government, the courts, and the corporate ruling elite to engage in major reforms of both structure and substance. Simply stated, "Collapse of Dignity" should be in every community and academic library in the United States. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Collapse of Dignity" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Abandon, Laying Aside Your Plan for God's Purpose
Tim Timberlake
Destiny Image Publishers
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768406719, $15.99, 176 pages

Living Life as God Intended

Tim Timberlake's "Abandon" embraces an affirmative message for finding God's purpose which will resonate with today's contemporary generation and culture. It is written for anyone struggling to find God's intended destiny for their life.

Lessons are drawn from the circumstances, family, and culture that surrounded and impacted the life of well-known Old Testament patriarch Jacob. Timberlake carefully details the birth of twins Esau and Jacob, their natural inclinations, personalities, and their interaction with parents, Isaac, and Rebecca. He provides new insights into the formation of Jacobs's early deceitfulness, shrewdness, fears, and his emerging sensitivity for fulfilling God's purpose for his life.

Timberline translates examples from Jacob's struggles into guidelines and principles to help the reader make personal application for facing life and forming values that will powerfully impact and transform their life to find a deeper awareness of closeness to God while discovering his purpose.

Some unique features of the book include innovative keys for making a difference in a changing digital age:

Tim Timberlake is a pastor, Bible teacher, and author, with a gift for cross cultural and intergenerational ministry. "Abandon, Laying Aside Your Plan for God's Purpose" offers the reader heartfelt guidelines for turning life's circumstances and barriers into blessings and fulfillment.

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

Jezebel - Defeating Your #1 Spiritual Enemy
Bob Larson
Destiny Image Publishers
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407068, $ 15.99, 2015, 184 pages

Disturbing Stories of Stolen Destinies, Idolatrous Religions, Occultism, Fallen Angels, Witchcraft and Demonology

Rev. Bob Larson, internationally recognized for his books on Spiritual Warfare, Angelology, and Demonology alerts the reader to the evidence Christians must face; the reality that spiritual warfare is happening throughout the world today.

In his book "Jezebel - Defeating Your #1 Spiritual Enemy" Larson presents Jezebel as a fallen angel taking on the identity and spirit of the despicable Queen, wife of King Ahaz, in the days of the Old Testament prophet Elijah. Beginning with basic history and background during the period in Israel's history from the Old Testament book of l Kings, Larson details lessons we can learn from some of the significant events that transpired in the nation of Israel, including: the confrontation of Elijah and the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel, Naboth's stolen vineyard and ruthless murder, Jezebel's arrogance and tyranny, the death of Ahaz, and Jezebel's dramatic demise.

Larson has a unique approach of using dialog with demon personalities as a process for determining the spiritual strategy to bring about resolution in the exorcism and deliverance process. He equips the reader with guidelines and spiritual weapons to recognize the "Jezebel spirit" as evidenced by abuse, generational curses, blood sacrifice and witchcraft. He goes on to explain steps to help victims break from bondage and move on to freedom and victory, to find peace. He also provides sample narratives for use in exorcism for deliverance.

These stories of stolen destinies, idolatrous religions, occultism, fallen angels, witchcraft and demonology are disturbing. They record actual spiritual battles of individuals documented in Larson's archives of exorcisms. The nature of Larson's subject matter of spiritual warfare will be interpreted differently by readers of various backgrounds and traditions.

"Jezebel - Defeating Your #1 Enemy" is a wakeup call for Christians today of the need to recognize the power of spiritual truth when facing supernatural spiritual battle.

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

Non Negotiable: The Story of Happy State Bank & the Power of Accountability
Sam Silverstein
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768407242, $24.99, 230 pages,

Combine Absolutes and Accountability as a Standard for Personal Non-Negotiables

Sam Silverstein combines J. Pat Hickman's strong commitment to a philosophy of absolutes with his own firm belief in the importance of "Accountability" in his the book "Non-Negotiable."

Hickman had a long time desire and goal of owning a bank. When a small town bank located in Happy, Texas became available for purchase Hickman recruited a small group of investors to partner with him in the purchase of the bank. The story of the Happy State Bank is an amazing success story and demonstrates how implementing 20 absolutes or non-negotiables became the means of the growth of one small town bank with assets of $10 million dollars to a bank with thirty five locations and assets totaling over $2.5 billion.

Silverstein writes with clarity and conviction as he details the importance of each of Hickman's 20 Non-Negotiables. He stresses the importance of finding and following your purpose, your core values, and formulating them into a mission statement for yourself and your business.

Reading "Non-Negotiable" has helped me intensify my focus and purpose and opened the door to implement a personal mission statement and to understand the importance of consistently and a consciously keep my word and my commitments.

Purposeful Parenting - Six Steps to Bring Out the Best in Your Kids
Jean S. Barnes
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 147257
9780768406771, $15.99, 298 pages

Biblical Wisdom, Guiding Principles, and Practical Tips for Putting Purpose into Parenting

As a veteran educator, educational psychologist, and mother Jean S. Barnes understands children. In her book "Purposeful Parenting - Six Steps to Bring Out the Best in Your Kids" she combines her practical training with Biblical parenting principles to help her readers put passionate purpose into their parenting: to instill in their children a passion for: learning to love, develop self-discipline and character, accept responsibility, become competent, and persevere in difficult situations. Each of the six chapters in the book develops on of these principles.

Chapter titles clearly define the content to be considered; each chapter begins with a thought provoking challenge, topical headings, Biblical principles, and practical pointers. Features within the chapters also include "A Step Toward..." and "My Purposeful Parenting Check-In" exercises with a unique emphasis and chapter summaries.

Barnes sums up her conclusions in a closing section "Parenting Takes a Team" which clearly defines the working of parents, the school, and teaching and their interactive roles as a part of the team. She stresses the importance of developing friendships for social intelligence, the role of the church, and a reliance on God for instilling passion and purpose.

"Purposeful Parenting - Six Steps to Bring Out the Best in Your Kids" is a practical blending of Biblical wisdom and "best practices in psychology" on parenting. A valuable resource tool for every parent.

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

Prophetic Like Jesus - Releasing God's Heart to Your World
Jeff Eggers
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407204, $16.99, 238 pages

Practical Training for Cultivating a Prophetic Spirit

In his book "Prophetic Like Jesus - Releasing God's Heart to Your World."
Jeff Eggers presents a progressive plan for developing the basic principles of a prophetic heart and ministry

The book is divided into four sections. Section One defines the gift of prophecy, its simplicity, and the awe and wonder of the prophetic word. Section Two introduces foundational basics on how to cultivate a prophetic spirit and how to prophecy. Section Three explores "the gift of prophecy" from the perspective of building the church with a servant's heart using the teachings of 1 Corinthians, chapters 12, 13, and 14 as for the key points in his instruction. Section Four addresses the pastor's role in leading a prophetic people in a five-fold ministry; while developing a prophetic culture.

"Prophetic Like Jesus - Releasing God's Heart to Your World" is more than a book for casual reading. The pages are filled with Biblical principles, Scriptural reference, and practical pointers for allowing the Lord to work out His Word in and through His followers. The "Getting Plugged In" questions and exercises are readily adaptable for interactive small groups, Bible study classes, or for individual study, contemplation application, and implementation.

This is a book for every Christian who is "thirsting" for a deeper revelation of the heart of God; desirous of growing into a mature usage of their prophetic gifting.

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

Hidden Strengths - Unleashing the Crucial Leadership Skills You Already Have
Thuy Sindell and Milo Sindell
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
1333 Broadway, Suite 1000, Oakland, CA 94612 - 1921
9781626562837, $19.95, 88 pages,

A Step by Step Plan and Focus for Developing Hidden Your Strengths

Thuy and Milo Sindell, leading Silicon Valley consultants, the reader, identify and develop hidden strengths; strengths that will help you get to the next level of success and satisfaction, using their Hidden Strengths methodology. Their book "Hidden Strengths - Unleashing the Crucial Leadership Skills You Already Have" walks you through the process step by step.

The Sindell's emphasize the premise that to meet the challenges of the rapid changes in today's culture the ability to adapt is critical and that identifying and developing your hidden strengths requires a you-driven approach to achieve your career goals and thrive in today's workplace.

The authors provide the reader with four principles for professional development. They help the reader identify hidden strengths through a personal skills self-assessment plan. Through the use of case studies they help the reader examine their motivation, identify their goals, choose the hidden strengths they want to develop, turn these hidden strengths to learned strengths, and to evaluate the results.

I appreciate the author's professionalism, their straightforward writing style, and their approach to inspiring and motivating the reader to stretch and grow. This is a book for "aspiring" leaders passionate and intentional about their personal professional development.

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

Aligning with Heaven - Unleashing Ancient Secrets to Power, Blessing and Harvest
Dr. David Herzog
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407433, $15.99, 220 Pages

Releasing Heaven's Wisdom, Blessing, and Power in Your World

In his book "Aligning with Heaven - Unleashing Ancient Secrets to Power, Blessing and Harvest" Dr. David Herzog reveals how by following the ancient paths of Moses, Elijah, and Solomon we can see unmatched signs, wonders, and miracles, by aligning ourselves with the "keys to the blueprints of heaven." These same ancient paths opened the way for the Apostle Paul and the disciples to access the key to World evangelism.

Dr. Herzog describes how these ancient geographical portals accessible in the city of Jerusalem, Bethel, Galilee, and Eden as well as through the Jewish feasts: the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of the Tabernacles and the Passover are accessible to Christians today. These selected passages from Old Testament records, historical facts, archaeological findings, and scientific evidence of the advanced wisdom in Israel are powerful in implication, overlooked by many theologians, misunderstood by others, but worthy of study for all. We are living in prophetic times. Dr. Herzog reminds the reader that, as we align ourselves with the God of Israel, the people, and the land we will see the blessings, wisdom, and favor that reconnect us with God the creator and the resurrection power of His indwelling spirit.

"Aligning with Heaven - Unleashing Ancient Secrets to Power, Blessing and Harvest" is written for those seeking a release of these ancient supernatural blessings experientially with resurrection power today.

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

Gateway to Dreams - 3 Simple Steps to Dream Interpretation
Teresa Ward
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780786407297, $15.99, 236 pages

Beginning Your Personal Dream Adventure

In her book "Gateway to Dreams" Teresa Ward helps the reader perceive dreams from a new perspective and gain a deeper insight and understanding into their meaning and interpretation. She carefully validates Biblical evidence of how God uses dreams, visions, and natural circumstances to reveal His hidden mysteries and communicate with His people today.

"Gateway to Dreams" is unique in that, although, the book is meant to be an introduction to dream interpretation, Ward goes beyond the theory and theology, to encourage her readers to follow the model not the method. Her writing style is intended to make reading the book fun, and interactive, resulting in a spiritual and growth experience.

In sections one and two Ward introduces the subject of dreams, describes their purposes, and categories, including: Prophetic, warning, instructional, and encouragement dreams. In sections three and four she goes on to present foundational elements of dream interpretation, a dream matrix, and symbology.

I found the "Jedi Dream Tips" and succinct summary statements to be a helpful tool for assimilation of the material within each chapter. Ward's writing is straightforward, informational, instructional, and an uplifting reading experience.

"Gateway to Dreams - 3 Simple Steps to Dream Interpretation" is an important introduction to a study of the spiritual impact of exploring the significance of God's intent for dreams for communication with His people today.

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

Power to Heal - Keys to Activating God's Healing Power in Your Life
Dr. Randy Clark
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407310, $15.99, 248 pages

Eight Concepts for Releasing Supernatural Healing Power in our Life

Dr. Randy Clark, president and founder of Global Awakening has a passion for equipping Christians to pray for the sick and see them miraculously restored to health. "Power to Heal - Keys to Activating God's Healing Power in Your Life" is designed to help the reader recognize the Holy Spirit's healing power in and through their life. Dr. Clark stresses the importance of embracing the paradigm that a full gospel salvation includes growing in character, and obedience if we are to experience intimacy with God.

The book is formatted topically in a user friendly style. Chapters are filled with instructive guidelines, testimonies of miraculous healing, and scriptural truths for application that illustrate the dual nature of the Gospel message: in words and through the demonstration of God's power. Dr. Clark leads the reader through a well-organized series of logical step by step progressions including the importance and relationship of prayer, testimony, perseverance, and faith. I found the 5 step prayer model, the 5 principles for healing, and the recommendations for further reading especially helpful.

Clark's theological position and conclusions present a strong Pentecostal and Charismatic message. His teaching is instructive, convincing, and convicting.

"Power to Heal - Keys to Activating God's Healing Power in Your Life" is a reminder to every Christian, "We are the vehicles and vessels God wants to use to release His divine healing power."

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

Against the Flow, The Inspiration of Daniel in An Age of Relativism
John C. Lennox
Lion Hudson Books
Oxford, England
9780857216212, $19.99, 434 pages

Christianity - Public Practice - in Light of Political Correctness

Dr. John C. Lennox, professor, author, and lecturer for Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, is recognized for his intellectual defense of Christianity. The opening chapters of his book "Against the Flow" introduce the background of the city of Babylon leading up to the time of the Biblical account of Daniel and the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 605 BC. He goes on to discuss Daniel's interpretive evidence as well as his own position on the inseparability of faith and evidence. He addresses the teachings of morality and values in Hebrew history, the question of identity; Daniel's resolve and protest, and the world view of Babylon during Daniel's lifetime.

Appendix A includes an article The Nature of the Kingdom of God which clearly states Lennox's position on the message of the Gospel, the first coming Christ and anticipated second coming. He also discusses the structure of the book of Daniel, Daniel 11 and history, the Dating of the book of Daniel. The comprehensive Bibliography and extensive index add value for ready reference and further study.

I found the questions for reflection and discussion, the comprehensive Bibliography, and the well documented chapter notes especially helpful. Other features of value are the illustrations, and photos of ancient documents. The material is relevant and timely; comparing our times to a modern Babylon through parallels. He challenges the reader to look for applications on what we can learn from Daniel's life for our lives today.

"Against the Flow" is well-developed, researched, and documented; a scholarly approach to apologetics and eschatology.

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

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

The Abbot's Agreement
Mel Starr
Kregel Publications
2450 Oak Industrial Dr., N.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49505-6020
9781782641094 $14.99

Mel Starr hails from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He graduated from Western Michigan University with an MA and taught history in the Michigan public schools. He finished his career as chair of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel Starr combines his expertise in medieval surgery and English to

Pen the Hugh de Singleton mysteries. THE ABBOT'S AGREEMENT is his seventh novel.

Master Hugh de Singleton finds a chilling discovery on his way to Oxford, on the road near Eynsham. It is autumn of 1368, and Master Hugh is on a mission to obtain a bible. He carries thirty shillings in his pocket, which is of concern to his very pregnant wife, Kate, who demands he take Arthur, sturdy-sized groom in the service of Lord Gilbert Talbot. The noise of birds directs their attention to a corpse disintegrating in the autumn leaves, thanks to said birds:

"A man lay sprawled upon the fallen leaves, dressed in the black habit of a Benedictine. Whether he was old or young I could not tell, for the birds had peeled the flesh from his face nearly to the skull, after plucking out his eyes, which they love most of all. The monk's nose and slips and cheeks were gone, and he grinned up at us while the birds protested our arrival from the limbs above us."

Thus in his inimitable style, Mel Starr pulls in the reader. Naturally poor Hugh is pressured by the abbot to investigate the murder, even as the abbot is himself dying.

What ensues is a skilled mystery woven by a master crafter, mixed with fourteenth century church politics. Starr doesn't let the reader down once he has us hooked, and we find ourselves hailing Hugh de Singleton as a master sleuth and hero.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Anni Moon and The Elemental Artifact (The Anni Moon Series Book One)
Melanie Abed
Oculus Print
9780990706212, $13.99, 392 pgs,

It isn't often that I found a read where the author lets loose the imagination of the soul, I found this in this book. A story of two friends that travel into a world they had never known before, but was always with them. The characters in this read were very well presented and it will not take long for you to in a way bond with them as the story progresses. You will be introduced to things perhaps you have never heard of in life or other stories, but that is what makes this book so page turning. Friendships, battles, elements, supernatural and more await you in this read. Excellent, well worth your consideration.

Auraria: A Novel
Tim Westover
QW Publishers
2452 Herring Woods Tr., Grayson, GA 30017
9784974806, $10.95, 386pgs,

I am ashamed to say when I first started reading this book I wasn't sure how I felt about it, but as I continued on I could not put it down. Our main character, James Holtzclay goes on a mission to change the future of a fading gold-rush town. Not an easy task as he goes from farm to farm offering to buy their land. In doing this he encounters some out there people and also some supernatural experiences that he was not ready for, and neither will the reader. I'll be honest with you, at first I thought I just can't read this book but before long I was hooked. The author did a great job in merging the natural with the super natural. The character development was great, very interesting characters to say the least, and I loved the ending. I'm really very happy to recommend this read, once I got into it I could not put it down. Well worth your consideration.

A Flag For The Flying Dragon
Carole P Roman
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781507826928, $10.99, 46pgs,

As usual our crew of the Flying Dragon is busy working on the deck, but a storm is about to overtake them, one that is among the crew. Oh no! New crew member Zack is trying hard to fit in and do some work to, but no one wants him to help. The Captain with his wisdom and love for his crew comes up with a wonderful job for Zack and everyone is busy and happy again.

This is another winning book in Ms. Romans series of Captain No Beard. In this one children will learn that everyone has a place and a job to do and how important we each are to one another. As usual the illustrations are great, the story is captivating, and leaves the reader with a understanding that everyone has a important part to play in life. As always I loved reading this book and sharing it with little ones. I have yet to be disappointed in any of Author Carole Roman's work Great read for young and old.

The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob A Challenging Job
Brooks Olbrys
Children's Success Unlimited
521 Fifth Avenue, 27th Floor New York, NY 10175
9780982961353, $10.55, 54pgs,

There are several characters in this read that add to the adventure and friendship of the story, I enjoyed meeting them and their interaction in the tale. First We have Ocean Bob, a humming bird named Xena Kodi, a baby seal, Doc, a wise old turtle, and several more. In this tale, Bob will be confronted with a challenging job, but with the help and reassurance of others he will get it done. Bob learns many things in this story, such as confidence in oneself, and the importance of friendship and others, and as he learns so will those who read it. I enjoyed this read and feel it will enhance knowledge and the importance of friendship to all who read it, young and old. I'm happy to recommend it.

Walk On By IV
Stephan Attia
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781511427999, $5.42, 116pgs,

I have mixed feeling about this book, some good, some not so good. It is I am assuming to be a humorous read but some of the saying written left me uncomfortable but I'm sure for others they may get a good giggle out of it. Not for young readers.

The Murderer's Smile
Kevin D'Onofrio
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478752257, $22.95, 26pgs,

Don't you just love to sit down with a good murder mystery, this is what you will receive in this read. We meet Tony Michaels, a popular news anchor who isn't very happy with his marriage and soon finds a mistress, but that's not the main story. As we read along unfortunately his wife, child and unborn child are murdered and Tony is accused of the murder. Now he fights for his very life.

I liked this read, it is a little different than most murder stories and that was a nice change. I think the character development was well presented, as was the story line. I was able to keep up with it and it held my attention. The outcome of what done it was a good twist, I'm not going to tell you but it's one of those that you really don't see it coming. Not too long, not too short, and one that keeps your attention. Good read that I am happy to recommend.

Bee Keeping for Cats
Peter Tye
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500800791, $9.99, 222 pages,

This books story could go several ways, funny to not so funny depending on the reader. It is about a cat who turns into a killer. At first I really liked this cat but as time went on in the read not so much. The story had some fun times but also some very dark times . It's definitely a different read, a different slice on a animal tale, one that perhaps would not be good for young readers but perhaps other older readers would get a 'kick' out of this cat's antics. So, I look at it as a different book, not the norm, that had some funny times in it and some dark times as well. If you are looking for a animal story that has a different twist this one is for you. I do not recommend it for young children however.

Shirley Priscilla Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Charlie's Pride
Dee Hubbard
Fithian Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745682, $15.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: Charlie is known to his fellow truckers, loggers, and fishermen as Hawk. His father, a full-blooded Hupok, taught him his Native American heritage; his Scots-Irish mother gave him a lifelong love of reading. He feels connected to both roots, but he is most himself when he's by himself, out in the forest, on the banks or in the flow of his beloved Klamath River. The language in "Charlie's Pride" is both lush and romantic. Lots of thoughtful philosophy is verbalized in internal thoughts and stream of consciousness. In the mix we are treated to solid information on fly fishing, trucking, logging, the marijuana industry, and most of all the ecology of the forests and rivers of the California far north, a land that still enjoys wildness.

Critique: Dee Hubard's deftly crafted novel is a fascinating and compelling read. Solidly entertaining from first page to last, "Charlie's Pride" would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. Highly recommended for personal reading lists, it should be noted that "Charlie's Pride" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.54).

From the Dead
Mark Billingham
Atlantic Monthly Press
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
154 West 14th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10011
9780802122131, $26.00, 416pp,

Synopsis: "From The Dead" is the ninth title in Mark Billingham's 'Tom Thorne' mystery/suspense series. A decade ago, Alan Langford's charred remains were discovered in his burnt-out car. His wife Donna was found guilty of conspiracy to murder her husband and sentenced to ten years in prison. But before she is released, Donna receives a nasty shock: an anonymous letter containing a photo of her husband. The man she hates with every fibre of her being (and who she paid to have murdered) seems very much alive and well. But how is it possible that her husband is still alive? Where is he? Who sent the photo, and why?

Critique: A solid treat for dedicated crime novel enthusiasts, "From the Dead" continues to document author Mark Billingham as a master of the mystery/suspense genre with yet another deftly crafted novel of unexpected twists and turns. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "From the Dead" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Peaceful Neighbor
Michael G. Long
Westminister John Knox Press
100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202-1396
9780664260477, $17.00, 176pp,

Synopsis: Fred Rogers (star of the long running children's television program 'Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood') was one of the most radical pacifists of contemporary history. We do not usually think of him as radical, partly because he wore colorful, soft sweaters made by his mother. Nor do we usually imagine him as a pacifist; that adjective seems way too political to describe the host of a children's program known for its focus on feelings. We have restricted Fred Rogers to the realm of entertainment, children, and feelings, and we've ripped him out of his political and religious context. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister, and although he rarely shared his religious convictions on his program, he fervently believed in a God who accepts us as we are and who desires a world marked by peace and wholeness. With this progressive spirituality as his inspiration, Rogers used his children's program as a platform for sharing countercultural beliefs about caring nonviolently for one another, animals, and the earth. To critics who dared call him "namby-pamby," Rogers said, "Only people who take the time to see our work can begin to understand the depth of it". This is the invitation of "Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers", to see and understand Rogers's convictions and their expression through his program. 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood', it turns out, is far from sappy, sentimental, and shallow; it's a sharp political response to a civil and political society poised to kill.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, informative, thought-provoking read from beginning to end, "Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers" is very highly recommended for community library collections and should be considered a "must read" for the legions of Mister Rogers fans. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Importing Democracy
Julie Fisher
Kettering Foundation Press
200 Commons Road, Dayton, OH 45459
News & Experts
9780923993474, $24.95, 404pp,

Synopsis: While street protesters demanding democratic reforms make headlines in the international news, "Importing Democracy: The Role of NGOs in South Africa, Tajikistan, and Argentina", by Julie Fisher focuses on a quieter movement led by democratization Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). In South Africa, the Good Governance Learning Network shares participatory tools to make local governments more responsive. In Tajikistan, Jahan teaches local police about human rights. In Argentina, seven democratization NGOs sponsor public deliberations in local communities and have organized a nationwide citizens network to combat municipal government corruption. "Importing Democracy" is organized around three chapters for each country, South Africa, Tajikistan, and Argentina. The first chapter of each country s section begins with the historical, political, and economic context and continues with a discussion of the general contours of civil society. The second chapter in each section deals with the role of democratization NGOs in promoting both loyal opposition and law-based civil liberties. The third chapter focuses on their role in promoting political culture and political participation. Loyal opposition and law-based civil liberties help define democratization at the national level, whereas changes in political culture and increased political partici-pation often occur throughout society. Following the nine country chapters, "Importing Democracy" concludes with a comparative overview and implications for international policy. In "Importing Democracy", Julie Fisher (who is a former Kettering Foundation program officer), writes that the idea that democracy can be exported has lost credibility in recent years. In many countries, however, democratization NGOs are importing democratic ideas and recovering local democratic traditions.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Importing Democracy: The Role of NGOs in South Africa, Tajikistan, and Argentina" is an invaluable study and a very highly recommended addition to academic library International Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Importing Democracy: The Role of NGOs in South Africa, Tajikistan, and Argentina" is also available in a Kindle edition ($18.44).

Creative Faith
Don Cupitt
Polebridge Press
900 State Street, Salem, Oregon 97301-3922
9781598151534, $19.00, 160pp,

Synopsis: Prior to the late nineteenth century, classical Christianity had developed no concept of social ethics. Rather, it concerned itself with self-purification. Christians needed only to be 'in a state of grace', unsullied and ready for the return of Christ. Muslims, in contrast, have always attempted to Islamicize the world. Today, many Christians and activist post-Christians are moving in that same direction. For them Christianity no longer entails a private practice of self-purification, but instead represents an ethical decision to struggle patiently and lovingly towards a new 'reality' in this life. In "Creative Faith: Religion as a Way of Worldmaking", Don Cupitt (Ordained in the Church of England in 1959 and the former Dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, UK) argues that Christians need to replace a heaven-obsessed theology with a new theology of moral striving. No longer should they aim to conserve the self, preparing for eternity: they must simply expend it, by living generously.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Creative Faith: Religion as a Way of Worldmaking" s an inherently fascinating study and one which is as informed and informative as it is inspired and inspiring. Highly recommended for the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliation, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Creative Faith: Religion as a Way of Worldmaking" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

That He May Raise
Armond Boudreaux
Livingston Press
University of West Alabama
Station 22, Livingston, AL 35470
9781604891553, $30.00, 208pp,

Synopsis: "That He May Raise" by Armond Boudreaux is a compilation of linked stories that explore the ways in which guilt radiates through time and space, and ask whether the resulting suffering can be redemptive. A husband forces his wife into an impossible choice; a son cannot forgive his father's sins; a woman tries to atone for betraying her best friend by making her lover pay -- these choices prove life-changing for those whose lives they touch.

Critique: Articulate, erudite, deftly crafted, engaging, and thought-provoking, "That He May Raise" is the kind of literary accomplishment that lingers in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been read and placed back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "That He May Raise" is also available in a paperback edition ($9781604891546, $17.95).

Showdown in the Big Quiet
John P. Bieter, Jr.
Texas Tech University Press
PO Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79409-1037
9780896729032, $39.95, 352pp,

Synopsis: Owyhee County, Idaho, also known as the "Big Quiet," is the largest and least inhabited area in the lower forty-eight states. Who has decided how to use it? From violent mine wars in the mid-nineteenth century to environmental conservation disputes at the end of the twentieth, people in the West have battled over the role of government and notions of American identity to answer this question. Winners ultimately controlled the perception of their battles, often shaping the contours of the next conflict. Similarly, historians debated interpretations of the West. In the early twentieth century, Frederick Jackson Turner argued that interactions on the frontier formed American characteristics of rugged individualism, democracy, aggression, and innovation. The "New" Western historians of the late 1970s attempted to debunk this theory, revealing the racial and ethnic diversity of the West, reminding us of the role of the environment, and documenting how settlers and later corporations conquered land wrested away from Native Americans. While "New" Western historians shot holes in Turner's thesis, the myths of the Old West prevailed. People craved the identity offered in western themed novels, films, and tourism more than historical facts. "Showdown in the Big Quiet: Land, Myth, and Government in the American West" by John P. Biert, Jr. (Associate Professor of History and co-director of the Center for Basque Studies at Boise State University) demonstrates how the "Old West" speaks to the "New" and proves how the power of western mythology moved from background to central character.

Critique: "Showdown in the Big Quiet: Land, Myth, and Government in the American West" is a seminal work of outstanding and meticulously researched scholarship that is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. A valued and highly recommended addition to academic library collections, "Showdown in the Big Quiet" is enhanced with the inclusion of thirty-four pages of Notes, a ten page Bibliography, and a seventy-one page Index.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Grace of Kings
Ken Liu
Saga Press
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
Wunderkind PR
9781481424271, $27.99, 640pp,

Synopsis: Two men rebel together against tyranny (and then become rivals) in "The Grace of Kings" this first sweeping book of a new epic fantasy 'Dandelion Dynasty' series from Ken Liu. Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions -- two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

Critique: A complex yet deftly crafted saga, "The Grace of Kings" is a riveting read by Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy award-winning author Ken Liu. Fans of fantasy action/adventure at its best will look eagerly forward the next installment of the 'Dandelion Dynasty'! "The Grace of Kings" is very highly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Grace of Kings" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Changing Your Company from the Inside Out
Gerald F. Davis & Christopher J. White
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781422185094, $28.00, 224pp,

Synopsis: A social 'intrapreneur' is someone whose is ambitious, not afraid to take risks, seeks to bring about positive social change, and wants to initiate change from within an established company, where he or she can have a more far-reaching, even global impact. "Changing Your Company from the Inside Out: A Guide for Social Intrapreneurs" provides the tools to empower its readers to jump-start initiatives that matter to them and that should matter to their companies. Drawing on lessons from social movements as well as on the work of successful 'intrapreneurs', authors Gerald Davis and Christopher White provide a guide for creating positive social change from within your own organization and addresses such questions as: When is the right time for change? Learn how to read your organization's climate; Why is this a compelling change? Use language and stories to connect your initiative to your organization's mission, strategy, and values; Who will make this innovation possible? Identify the decision makers you need to persuade and the potential resisters you need to steer around; How can you mobilize your supporters to collaborate on your innovation? Readers will be able to use the online and offline tools and platforms that best support their initiatives.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Changing Your Company from the Inside Out: A Guide for Social Intrapreneurs" is as practical as it is 'user friendly' and is very highly recommended for personal, professional, corporate, community, and academic library instructional reference collections. It should be noted that "Changing Your Company from the Inside Out: A Guide for Social Intrapreneurs" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.12).

Managing Conflict In a World Adrift
Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, Pamela Aall, editors
United States Institute of Peace
2301 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20037
9781601272225, $50.00, 650pp,

Synopsis: In the midst of a global political shift where power moves from central institutions to smaller, more disbursed units, "Managing Conflict in a World Adrift" features lessons in contemporary theory and practice of conflict management. In this volume, forty of the world's leading analysts of international affairs provide innovative thinking about the relationship between political, social, and economic change and the outbreak and spread of conflict -- and what this means in practical terms.

Critique: Comprised of thirty-four seminal scholarly articles deftly organized into six major sections (The Evolving Global Security Environment; The Triggers of Violent Conflict in the Emerging Security Environment; Actors and Institutions; The Tools and Use of Conflict Management; Dilemmas and Debates; Conclusion), "Managing Conflict In a World Adrift" is a critically important addition to NGO, governmental, and academic library International Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Managing Conflict In a World Adrift" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Community at Risk
Thomas D. Beamish
Stanford Business Books
c/o Stanford University Press
425 Broadway Street, Redwood City, CA 94063-3126
9780804784429, $65.00, 280pp,

Synopsis: In 2001, following the events of September 11 and the Anthrax attacks, the United States government began an aggressive campaign to secure the nation against biological catastrophe. Its agenda included building National Biocontainment Laboratories (NBLs), secure facilities intended for research on biodefense applications, at participating universities around the country. In "Community at Risk: Biodefense and the Collective Search for Security", Thomas D. Beamish (Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis.) examines the civic response to local universities' plans to develop NBLs in three communities: Roxbury, MA; Davis, CA; and Galveston, TX. At a time when the country's anxiety over its security had peaked, reactions to the biolabs ranged from vocal public opposition to acceptance and embrace. He argues that these divergent responses can be accounted for by the civic conventions, relations, and virtues specific to each locale. Together, these elements clustered, providing a foundation for public dialogue. In contrast to conventional micro- and macro-level accounts of how risk is perceived and managed, Beamish's analysis of each case reveals the pivotal role played by meso-level contexts and political dynamics. "Community at Risk" provides a new framework for understanding risk disputes and their prevalence in American civic life.

Critique: A seminal study, "Community at Risk: Biodefense and the Collective Search for Security" is organized and presented in five major chapters (Conceptual Footings of Risk and Governance; Rick Communication, Local Civics, and Discourse; Davis, California - Home Rule Civics and Biodefense; Roxbury, Massachusetts - Direct Action Civics and Biodefense; Galveston, Texas -- Managed Civics and Biodfense), as well as an informative 'Introduction' and 'Conclusion: The Civic Politics of Risk'. Enhanced with the inclusion of an Appendix (Research Strategy), twelve pages of Notes, and a thirty-one page Index, A critically important work of painstaking research and general scholarship, "Community at Risk: Biodefense and the Collective Search for Security" is an essential and core addition to academic library Biodefense reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Community at Risk" is also available in a Kindle edition ($61.75).

The Authentic Actor
Michael Laskin
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781615932221, $19.95, 200pp,

Synopsis: Every year, thousands of actors struggle to navigate today's film and TV business while also wanting to grow as performers, as artists. These actors tend to be risk-takers, mold-breakers, and are interested in defining who they are. They are looking for advice and guidance about art and about commerce. "The Authentic Actor: The Art and Business of Being Yourself" is written specifically for them. The actor's path today begins with two questions: Who are you? What do you know? Beginning with personal authenticity, "The Authentic Actor" reveals a holistic approach that fuses discovery of the "actor's fingerprint" with skills for managing performance, career, and life, as artist, a businessperson, and a citizen. "The Authentic" addresses the toughest subjects, from mastering auditions and dealing with representation to bouncing back from rejection and finding your "tribe" -- and all with the humor, and the no-nonsense voice of an experienced mentor. The goal? To help actors forge a professional career and meaningful life while never forgetting their artistic core.

Critique: Michael Laskin has been a working professional actor for over 35 years in film and television, off-Broadway, at America's leading regional theatres, and in thousands of voice-overs for radio, TV and animation. He has worked with many of the world's greatest actors, directors, writers, producers, and cinematographers in the entertainment business. Therefore he brings to "The Authentic Actor: The Art and Business of Being Yourself" a very special expertise. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Authentic Actor" is a "must read" for anyone seeking to make a career for themselves by performing on stage, in film, or on television, and whether the venue is a local community theater, a Broadway show, a small budget Independent film or a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Theatre/Cinema/Television instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Authentic Actor" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.49).

Violent No More
Michael Paymar, MPA
Hunter House Publishers
PO Box 2914, Alameda, CA 94501-2914
9780897936651, $24.95, 336pp,

Synopsis: Domestic violence and cruelty is a continuing and heartbreaking phenomena in contemporary American society. "Violent No More: Helping Men End Domestic Abuse" is specifically written and intended for men who have struggled with or are currently being violent in an intimate relationship. Filled with real stories of men who have harmed the ones they love and found the courage to change, "Violent No More: Helping Men End Domestic Abuse" (originally published in 1993) has helped thousands acknowledge and reform their abusive behavior. Author Michael Paymar doesn't sidestep the unpleasant reality of domestic violence - included here are the sometimes shocking first-person accounts of violent men, along with those of battered women. More importantly, many of these stories illustrate the ways in which men were able to stop their use of violence and control. This newly revised and updated third edition contains four new chapters which address the challenges faced by practitioners who work with domestic violence offenders or victims, and the particular struggles faced by combat veterans returning from war, many of whom come home with PTSD and other mental health issues. With group exercises and individual goal-setting plans to help men find healthy ways of responding to conflict, change the cultural conditioning that condones violence, and avoid reverting to old patterns, "Violent No More" is an essential guide for men dealing with violence issues, as well as for the professionals who assist in their efforts to improve.

Critique: Simply stated, no community library should be without a copy of "Violent No More: Helping Men End Domestic Abuse" on their shelves. No couples counselor or therapist should be unaware of the value "Violent No More: Helping Men End Domestic Abuse" can have as a supplement to their counseling efforts with violent and abusive male spouses. "Violent No More: Helping Men End Domestic Abuse" deserves and has earned its place in academic library Psychology/Psychology reference collections with respect to Abuse Prevention reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Violent No More: Helping Men End Domestic Abuse" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Theory of Everything: Franciscan Faith and Reason
Ron Walter
Tau Publishing
4727 North 12th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85014
News & Experts
9781619562738, $14.95, 296pp,

Synopsis: "Theory of Everything: Franciscan Faith and Reason" by Ron Walter traces his personal spiritual trek through philosophy, theology, and science after his encounter with multiple myeloma and ensuing chemotherapy treatments. It chronicles Ron's thoughts, ideas, and sometimes unorthodox conclusions as he compares and contrasts views of noted scholars from the ancient philosophers to modern-day theologians and scientists. Integrating concepts from all three disciplines, the book explores the natures of God, humanity, and the cosmos and concludes very positively that the universe is evolving toward an ever higher state of consciousness. Ron validates conclusions by examining them in light of the Franciscan spirituality and theology that undergird his own life. In the process, he describes God as Truth, Light, Love, and Spirit. He develops views of Spirit as Love-Energy serving as a strange attractor to lure all creation toward the ultimate Good. This Love-Energy functions as a wave of information and guides the evolutionary process. The material cosmos evolves until it becomes self-conscious and realizes that it is being created by God, and humanity is at the forefront of this evolutionary process. "Theory of Everything: Franciscan Faith and Reason" stresses importance of differentiating the human mind (or soul) from the human spirit and emphasizes the importance of recognizing the Spirit of God as indwelling all of creation - to include humankind. And it espouses a view of death for humans in an evolutionary world as merely another stage of life. Resurrection, for Ron Walter is best perceived as a transformation -- yet another stage in the evolution of human consciousness. After developing his concept of a Christological cosmos, Ron ends the book with a rapid-fire series of conclusions such as, Every religion possesses only a glimpse of God, The universe is internalizing itself, Emergent wholeness and direction are linked, Humanity is at the forefront of the evolutionary process, and Spirituality, not theology must govern humanity's relationship with God.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Theory of Everything: Franciscan Faith and Reason" is an inherently fascinating read -- one that is an informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. With an impressive clarity "Theory of Everything: Franciscan Faith and Reason" is a compelling personal story culminating in a series of invaluable insights making it very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections.

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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