Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
|Home / Reviewer's
Table of Contents
God In My Jell-O?
Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.
296 Chestnut St., Meadville, PA 16335
9781681973906, $13.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 78pp, www.amazon.com
This book is easy to read and actually fun to read for such a serious topic - confusing our fears with real danger. Set in a somewhat whimsical fashion the author is able to get to the nitty-gritty of one's anxieties.
God in My Jell-O? is an extraordinary little book. Full of brilliantly simplistic insights into our fears, anxieties, hopes, and dreams, the story acts as a kindly yet imaginative reminder of some key facts that we all need to acknowledge.
It's a simple story about what happens when humans fail to protect their young from primal fears. Personality traits are personified as negative Character Defects, and positive Foundation Angels, to tell the tale. Irrational fears is the leader of the Defector pack, who gets divine revenge against God by entering the sleeping children's Jell-O (a metaphor for personality) and infects it with malware virus.
Eventually, however, the children's Jell-O sets but the virus keeps them frozen in their primal instinct, cutting off access to their rational, conscious 'higher brain' - the part that makes them civil and human by its ability to reason and filter out their animal instinct. It is here that the story begins.
The children eventually become adults frozen in their primal instinct and the outcome poses a hindrance to evolution and threatens civilization. As people begin to confuse the feeling of fear with experiencing real danger, nature unleashed its fury upon the earth and the world fell deeper into the spirit of the Antichrist. Irrational fears now sat on the throne of power, while the Foundation Angels rushed to find an antidote that will return the people to worship God. The struggle invariably results in Holy War.
If this book "isn't you" I'll make a bet that you know someone that fits one of the characters in the story.
God In My Jell-O? . . . a must read, in my opinion.
Jack Slade: Night of the Hunter
Melange Books, LLC
B01HT6YS82, $2.99, First edition
Kevin Peter, Reviewer
The Magnificent Killer - A review of the novel 'Jack Slade'
"It isn't hard to find evil in this world. Evil is always more easily imagined than good, somehow." - Gregory Maguire
Author Richard Dawes' novel 'Jack Slade - Night of the Hunter' is an action filled adventure thriller. The protagonist of the novel is its namesake, Jack Slade. He works for the Diamond Group, a private security organization that deals with crisis situations all over the globe. However, the antagonists he pursues aren't from this world. Jack Slade is the Head of the Occult Division, and he is its only member. He is the operative who prevents the dark forces from overrunning the world. A number of gruesome murders have taken place in San Francisco, and Slade is asked to work with the police department to catch the killer. But the job becomes dangerous when he realizes he has to go up against the most powerful Vampyre in the world.
'Night of the Hunter' and Jack Slade have an easy going feeling about them. They aren't complex by any stretch of the imagination. There are vast segments within the book, however, that turn serious and intent driven - in discussions of good & evil, existence of different realities, and how the perception of any phenomenon is dictated by the perspective from which it is viewed. The writing is very good and the author's eye for detail is excellent. The descriptions, be it of the scenery or of the characters are spot on and the reader will feel as if they are right in the middle of the action. There are plenty of standout scenes in the book. The opening segment itself does a good job in setting the right mood. There's plenty of suspense in the narrative and the reader will definitely be shocked by the climax.
Jack Slade is an interesting character. He differs from the heroes generally found in Occult and Fantasy fiction fighting demons and evil forces. He is an up-front hero and does his job quickly and efficiently. He is also able to curb his lone-wolf approach and work as part of a team as they tackle dangerous situations. Then again, his advanced psychic senses give him an advantage over others when battling evil forces. The supporting cast is well drawn, and each character has his or her own style. The villain, Lawrence Swann, is a worthy opponent for Slade, and is larger than life. Even though Swann is pure evil and from a different realm, he has an efficient way of dealing with situations and in furthering his plans.
The only problem I had with the book was its editing. Occasionally, the way some chapters ended and the next began raised an eyebrow. The transitions weren't smooth and there was a certain abruptness. Also, I felt the long conversation between Slade and a psychologist could have been diminished without losing the message.
'Night of the Hunter' and Jack Slade will definitely keep the reader interested. The action is fast paced, stylized, and vividly described. The world Jack Slade moves within is definitely worth exploring and deserves sequel stories.
Luck is Just the Beginning
7177 Walnut Canyon Road Moorpark, CA 93021
9781517716578, $19.95 pbk / $5.99 Kindle, www.amazon.com
Genre: Historical fiction, multicultural fiction
Based on a true story, Leon's beautifully written debut novel is the story of a young man in 1940s Puerto Rico who wins the lottery, only to realize that, as the title states, luck is just the beginning.
Young Ramon is able to see visions, a gift he inherited from his mother. When he sees a number flash across the sky, he decides to buy a complete lottery ticket. At first, he's thrilled to have won a fortune, for his plan is to go to college, become a dentist, and make the world a better place by helping the people of his village. But, as it turns out, money changes a lot of things - people's intentions, expectations, desires - even one self's, and not always for the better. Now, people approach Ramon because they want something from him, and he starts to doubt everyone, even the girl who claims to love him. Likewise, he starts doing things he later regrets.
This is the era of WWII, and in the midst of it all Ramon tries to face the challenges that threaten to destroy his life, especially a man whose envy has made Ramon his target for revenge. Overnight, all facets of Ramon's life turn upside down - his dwindling family business, his relationship with Elsie, his dream to go to college in the States. At some point, even the police are after him.
The novel is rich with Puerto Rican flavor and historical details, and Leon writes with simplicity yet profound perception about the human nature. Ramon is an endearing, utterly likable character - an honest, good-hearted man who makes mistakes yet rises above them.
Luck is Just the Beginning was honored with a Mariposa award for Best First Book in the 2016 International Latino Book Awards, and was also a finalist in the "Fiction: Multicultural" category of the 2016 International Book Awards.
Jefferson's America: The President, the Purchase, and the Explorers Who Transformed a Nation
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway New York, NY 10019
9780307956484, $30.00, www.amazon.com
This interesting and well-written history focuses on an aspect of Jefferson's transformative presidency- the acquisition and retention of the Louisiana Purchase and the explorers that assisted Jefferson in achieving that goal. In the early 1800s interest in the land west of the Mississippi was very high with Spain, Britain, France, and the very young United States vying for control of this great expanse. Purchasing the land from France did not automatically secure the land for the United States with this huge territory largely unexplored and its borders unclear. Spain in particular posed a problem with control of the Southwest and no clear delineation between the Louisiana Purchase and long-held Spanish colonies in the Santa Fe area.
Jefferson, aware of this uncertainty and the geopolitical potential of this largely unknown land, knew that exploration and documentation were keys to its ultimate control. Looking for the right combination of scientific knowledge, courage, fortitude and military experience - he implored various individuals to take the arduous, dangerous and time-consuming job of exploring aspects of this vast new territory that the United States had a tenuous hold upon.
These individuals, who became known as "Jefferson's Men" would secure the rights to this immense territory with merely seven leaders and one hundred crewmen. Certainly Lewis and Clark were the most renowned and perhaps important of the group but they were not the only intrepid explorers. Additionally Zebulon Pike of Pike's Peak fame, William Dunbar, Dr. George Hunter, Peter Custis, and Thomas Freeman were also fearless adventurers who played a part in securing this new land.
Jefferson's first term was highlighted by the purchase of the Louisiana Territory and his launch of the Lewis and Clark expedition into the Northwest. Most of his subsequent expeditions would wrestle with the Spanish along the southern border. William Dunbar, a Scottish-American plantation owner and natural historian, and Dr. George Hunter, a prominent Philadelphia chemist, explored northern Louisiana and Arkansas. Peter Custis and Thomas Freeman joined by military officer Richard Sparks followed the Red River of North Texas and Oklahoma. Zebulon Pike, an army lieutenant, was dispatched on two missions: first, to the headwaters of the Mississippi River and, second, into what is now Colorado.
Fenster weaving back and forth between these various adventures and adventurers gives us a detailed story of the exploits inception, sometimes conflicting personalities of the people involved, and their varied individual outcomes after their explorations were over. But Fenster never loses her focus of relating the historical significance of these explorations and their impact on Jefferson's overall strategy and tactics that still resonate some two hundred years later.
Horses and Ponies: Facts, Information and Beautiful Pictures about Horses and Ponies
CreateSpace Independent Publishing
4900 Lacross Road, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781530315338, $9.99, 66 pages, www.amazon.com
Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer
Do you know the difference between a horse and a pony? In Francois Bissonnette's "Horses and Ponies" you will learn that and many more fascinating fun facts illustrated with dozens of color portrait photographs of gorgeous horses and ponies. The book is narrated by a handsome bay horse named Passion who takes readers on a guided tour of the Equidae family. From the food they eat, to how fast they can run, to how little they sleep, there is much to learn. But it's the exceptional color photos that bring out the personalities of these big friendly giants. As a bonus feature readers can access a free videobook so they can read along as Passion narrates. The book and videobook combined provide an especially engaging introduction to the wonderful world of "Horses and Ponies."
Beating Bronchiectasis: How I Went from Diagnosis to Full Recovery in Just One Year
Amazon Digital Publishing
B01HUBS7J2, $0.99, Kindle, 74 pages, www.amazon.com
Since the young age of five, Daniel Pecaut's life had been plagued with a series of respiratory conditions that prevented him from enjoying life to the fullest. His condition never seemed to get any better and was carried over into his adult life.
One winter, his health decreased to the point where he feared he would not live to be able to see the summer months. He tried to find a Doctor to cure him of his illness. Unfortunately, his search was an endless parade of going from one Physician to another.
Through an appointment at the Mayo Clinic, Daniel was finally diagnosed with Bronchiectasis. With the only advice given as 'Don't get sick,' he felt that the Doctor's did not believe he would be strong enough to beat this illness.
Miraculously, Daniel's life took a turn for the better when he made the firm decision to take control of his health. He enlisted a team of medical personnel that turned into his salvation. By working with them, he was able to beat an illness that had robbed him so much of his life.
I feel this book delivers hope and revelation to those suffering similar conditions. While reading this story, I felt compelled to understand the many hardships the main character endured. At such a young age, he was plagued with having to deal with respiratory issues. Many times he thought the last breath he was taking would be the last one in the world. This is a prime example of emotional drama at its best.
Daniel Pecaut is an author who writes from the heart. Throughout the pages, you can feel the emotional intensity of his words as you wonder how the book will end. Through sharing his own story of how he was strong enough to overcome an illness that had haunted him since childhood, I feel this book will be a true source of inspiration for anyone who is struggling to overcome an illness they feel to be a death sentence. I highly recommend this author and this book. It will inspire you to have courage no matter what obstacles life throws in your path.
7290 Investment Drive Suite B, North Charleston, SC 29418
9781507579688; Kindle Ed. $0.99; Paperback $10.75; 260 pages
Mr. David J. Gould, Reviewer
Fellow at University of Cumbria, England
Burning Issues of the Heart and Soul, 2 March 2015
A very well-rounded and mature bit of storytelling describing what on the surface appears to be an epiphany between two people over a forbidden love. But beneath the surface there is a deeper struggle for the soul, which has to pass through a dark night of struggle while the issues are un-entangled.
While many jump ship and swap faith for questionable reasons, the temptation for Beatrice to become a Catholic so as to be closer to a priest she has fallen in love with is entirely plausible, if inappropriate given the Roman position on celibacy and the male-only rule of officiating at its services.
Just when all the clamour dies down and things are back on a possible even keel, the author throws us a match point, opening up the delightful prospect of a sequel where they can torture themselves all over again.
To say this book is masterful is to do it an injustice. It is great. But a certain acceptance of faith matters and churchmanship helps in the understanding of the true struggle that is happening under the main action. It is less a mere struggle between religious bodies for a soul, and more about the mastering of bodily desires in forbidden areas. How refreshing to have a book about mastering those desires rather than the current trend of giving in and indulging in unseemly antics.
3 American Cranks: A Satire in Three Voices
R. L. Feliciello
35-25 77 Street, Ste. A17, Jackson Heights, NY 11372
9780997411720, $24.95, HC, 171pp
9780997411706, $14.95, PB, 171pp
B01F7H5K3C, $9.99, Kindle
www.PazziBoyPress.com / www.amazon.com
Summary: Laughter rings out on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial when street preacher/soapbox orator D. C. Washington transforms the lunchtime crowd into his congregation and delivers delightfully outrageous sermonettes on life and love in America under the reign of the One Percent.
This work is genius. 3 American Cranks is one of the most singular and compelling novels I've seen come out of the United States in years, a poignantly original, brave, top-rank book. Once I started this novel I had to struggle to put it down and couldn't help but get right back to it. What was pulling me back was the pleasure of the prose, with plenty an exquisite passage. I was putting check marks beside passages that struck me as particularly eloquent, and some pages were cluttered with checkmarks. The prose, the characters, the daring, all propelled me right up to the breathless ending of D. W. Washington's final speech. When I came to that beautiful final sentence, I had to sit back as if I had come to a sudden halt of an intellectual rollercoaster. The timing, the nuances, the humor, all work together to make one solid comic masterpiece, right there alongside Aristophanes, Rabelais, Swift, and Philip Roth's satiric pieces. There is throughout an outstanding spontaneity, a sparkling freshness that one finds only in the best work. The author has tapped right down to the deepest riches of self and soul and pulled up a shining treasure, tapping into that rareness and beauty within and providing it to the rest of us, the mark of that thing called genius.
Death By Rental Car: How the Houck Case Changed The Law
Ben Kelley, Author
Ralph Nader, Foreword
Vox Justitia Books
3157 Hacienda Drive, Pebble Beach, CA 93953
0692559132, $18.00 PB, $9.00 Kindle, 298pp, www.amazon.com
James Eddy PhD
This is an exceedingly well written expose about the unnecessary deaths of two young women caused by corporate greed, where profit is placed above human safety. I recommend it highly. The author has provided a wonderfully researched treatise on a landmark lawsuit triggered by the tragic death of two young adult sisters who had the misfortune to trust the integrity and safety promises of a rental car company which had failed to repair a car recalled for a lethal safety defect. His blow-by-blow presentation of the civil litigation process will anger those who have never had to endure the deception, transfer of blame, and denial patterns of corporate defendants, even when they know they are responsible and liable for deaths and injuries of harmed plaintiffs.
Flat Earth Theory
9780692619278, $7.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 166pp, www.amazon.com
Sana R. Mitchell, Reviewer
The Neglected Ratio Journal
Flat Earth Theory is an interesting debut novel by Yael Egal featuring Tess, a Brooklyn French teacher, as the main protagonist. The story revolves around the aftermath of Tess's divorce from her husband, Patrick, who had cheated on her several times. He is portrayed as a remorseless insensitive man. Tess is trying to get her life back on track post-divorce and provide stability for her two children. She has created, through comic sketches, an alter-ego by the name of Andrea who is a spy during the World War two era. The novel is written creatively often shifting between the life of Tess and the comic strip narrations sans the visual pictures. Instances of terrorism are portrayed that seem to intersect with the subconscious mind of Tess. The story leaves a lot unsaid and open to personal interpretation of the readers. Guy, a French parent of a student from Tess's classroom is a romantic interest whom Tess dates for some time until she suspects he may not be what he seems...overall the plot and subplot kept me hooked and I read it in a couple of sittings. I would recommend Yael Egal's debut novel to anyone who likes mysteries or political suspense genres.
A New Love: A Novel of the First Century
Katerina Katsarka Whitley
c/o Material Media LLC
5150 Broadway, #466, San Antonio, Texas 78209
9780996753500, $16.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 284pp, www.amazon.com
Jane W. Blackburn, Reviewer
Director of Libraries
Appalachian Regional Library
Katerina Katsarka Whitley's novel, A New Love, is not primarily an historical romance but rather a "loves" story. The young-girl-figures-out-who-she-truly-loves plot, set in the Greco-Roman world of the first century, is the loom on which Whitley weaves the more powerful story about how the new idea of God as Love began to change the world. We see a wide range of people - women and men, slaves and rulers, craftsmen, artists, laborers - coming into contact with converts to the new religion of Christos and being touched, and changed, by the Love that lies at its heart. One of those people is a young Greek woman, Helena, whose world falls apart early in the book, then slowly and painfully takes a new shape as she finds a haven in the home of Phoebe, a Greek Christian, meets Paul the Apostle, and experiences firsthand the selfless love they say comes from Christ. This is an intriguing read for 21st-century Christians who rarely think about the day-to-day lives of early Christians.
An Affair with Beauty: The Mystique of Howard Chandler Christy
James Philip Head
North Loop Books
322 First Avenue N, 5th Floor, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781634138826, $23.00 HC, $5.99 Kindle, 292pp, www.amazon.com
Paige Lovitt, Reviewer
"An Affair with Beauty - The Mystique of Howard Chandler Christy: The Magic of Youth," is the first book in a trilogy by James Philip Head about the legendary artist Howard Chandler Christy. Howard is most famous for creating "The Christy Girl," who was meant to represent the beautiful traits of the women from that era. His main inspiration was his beloved second wife, Nancy Palmer Christy. From the 1910s to the 1930s, she was thought to be one of the most beautiful women of that time. The author tells Howard's story from the perspective of his wife. In this first book, we learn about how Howard's achievements with painting people who later became historical legends and his love for painting beautiful women. Howard is also known for illustrating historical events that took place in the United States.
Incorporating vivid detail, photographs, and illustrations into this story, the author brings the Jazz era to life. Being able to see photographs of Howard from his childhood into his old age really helps illustrate the man he was. Having an opportunity to see his paintings and illustrations allowed me to see that while I recognized his famous works, I never knew the artist. He truly played a huge role in illustrating a great deal of American history. Whether he was painting The Signing of the United Nations Charter, or doing a portrait of a famous historical legend like General Douglas MacArthur, he truly knew how to capture the essence of the times. His Christy girls also brought the idea of the beauty of the women, at that time, to life.
By telling this story from the wife's perspective, the author is also able to capture more of who Howard Chandler Christy really was, at least from her perspective. She was fairly naive when she met him. He helped introduce her to the upper crust of society. She does well in making an entrance into this world and, she is able to walk us into his past, especially since she was able to visit where he was raised. Nancy Palmer Christy clearly adored her husband and was supportive of his endeavors. Looking through her eyes, we also get to meet his first wife who seems like a very complicated character. Outliving him, Nancy learns a lot more about who he was as she goes through his paperwork while handling his estate. Stepping into the beginning and the end of his life, I am intrigued to see what the next two books will offer regarding Howard's experiences in the middle parts.
The author, James Philip Head, truly has a gift for writing. His talent to write in vivid detail brings Howard Chandler Christy's story to life. Having been able to interview people that knew Christy also creates a more intriguing story. Christy was an artist that went from rags to riches and he appeared to have no problems stepping into the upper echelons of society. His friends, many of whom were legends in their own right, appeared to be very loyal to him. He wasn't just an artist, he was a legend. "An Affair with Beauty" is highly recommended reading for people who enjoy biographies, art history, and books about the history of the United States.
The Future of Clean Energy: Who Wins and Who Loses as the World Goes Green
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781496940421, $27.99 HC, $16.95 PB, $4.99 Kindle, www.amazon.com
Barry Silverstein, Reviewer
This title uses a creative lens to make the topic of clean energy both enlightening and entertaining.
Gary Schwendiman's The Future of Clean Energy is a creatively written, cleverly constructed, and well-reasoned argument supporting two sources of "clean" energy.
With all of the media attention surrounding energy use, it is almost an impossibility to address the topic of energy in a new and different way. Schwendiman, cofounder of a private equity firm that invests in clean energy, manages to do that here, using the novel approach of likening the primary sources of energy to professional football teams. The author goes even further, dividing the teams into two "conferences," the "Electricity Conference" and the "Fuel Conference," which face each other in the "Clean Energy Bowl." This very inventive idea allows Schwendiman to evaluate the pros and cons of each energy source while making his book highly engaging.
The book begins with an important definition of "clean" energy which, writes the author, consists of two main factors of an energy source: "(1) its ability to reduce particulate pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases, and (2) its positive impact on the world economy." With this definition as the guiding principle of the book, the author identifies each of the primary energy sources he will discuss: Team Coal, Team Geothermal, Team Natural Gas, Team Nuclear, Team Solar, Team Water, and Team Wind (Electricity Conference) and Team Gasoline and Team Ethanol (Fuel Conference). Every one of these "teams" is covered in a fair amount of detail, but the book's real value is that it is comparative in nature. Rather than learning about each of the teams in isolation, the reader is exposed to their relationship to one another through such key concepts as economic viability, cost per household, transmission/storage, reliability, and environmental impact.
The bulk of the book concentrates on the energy sources Schwendiman chooses as each of the conference winners, Team Nuclear in the Electricity Conference, and Team Ethanol in the Fuel Conference. The author examines these two teams in considerable depth; perhaps most interesting, though, are the facts he employs to dispel common myths about both nuclear energy and ethanol. Schwendiman's personal knowledge base of these areas is impressive, as is his utilization of extensive research-based references to support his case for selecting these teams. At the end, there is a winner of the Clean Energy Bowl, but one needs to read the book to find out which team is victorious. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the author's conclusions, it is likely the reader of The Future of Clean Energy will come away with an enlightened view of a complex subject. With his ability to write in simple terms and use an analogy that brings energy down to a level every consumer can understand, Schwendiman makes the topic of clean energy both educational and entertaining.
The Professional Security Manual Class 1, Urban Security
9781514265772, $5.38, PB, 72pp, www.amazon.com
Henry Baum, Reviewer
Self Publishing Review
"The Professional Security Manual Class 1, Urban Security" by Charles White might not sound like it, but it's an inventive and hilarious take on a training manual, and one security guard's over-the-top take on just what it takes to become a rent-a-cop. Covering important topics such as dealing with ghosts and how to use a stapler as a ninja weapon, this book will have you covered and then some. Mixed in with Charles White's instructions are footnotes from a mysterious ghostwriter who finds himself imprisoned by Charles White, and ridiculing him the whole way through.
After the first footnote, it's not immediately obvious that the book is satire, and maybe the ghostwriter is literally making fun of the author. Charles White comes off as just crazy enough to be real. However, things get much crazier after that, and the author's instructions more unhinged, including a ridiculous illustrated self-test at the end. If anything, it's a shame there aren't more footnotes, as these are the funniest parts of the whole book.
One thing is absolutely certain: you won't read another book like this, and it invents a whole new genre of its own. It's so inventive and entertaining that it could have gone further with its premise, and given the ghostwriter more of a story. As it stands now, this is one funny, demented book.
The Seventh Crow
Sherry D. Ramsey
Dreaming Robot Press
9781940924083, $12.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 336 pages, www.amazon.com
Jewel Davis, Reviewer
YOYA Magazine (October 2015)
The Seventh Crow is a fun adventure fantasy that highlights the types of challenges protagonists face on a quest. Rosinda is a likeable character who has believable growth as she develops throughout the story, questioning her own identity and who to trust as she recovers her memories. With touches of ancient mythology interwoven into the story's conflict, readers will find a unique approach to an age-old adventure with the discovery of magic in unlikely places. The Seventh Crow would be a great choice for middle grades student looking for a standalone fantasy with easy world-building and a quick pace.
The League and the Lantern
9780997227000, $17.99, HC, 282pp, www.amazon.com
BookLife Prize in Fiction
You couldn't ask for a more appealing trio of middle-school misfit heroes: insecure motormouth Jake; TJ (the T is for Thelonious), a geeky fencer with hyper memory; and multilingual Lucy, adept at Budokai-do. During their orientation sleepover at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, the three stumble onto a robbery with world-shattering potential. The author, a master of the cliffhanger chapter break, describes the kids' ingenious derring-do so vividly, it's like watching the movie version that surely deserves to follow.
Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller // Audience: Middle-Grade
Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 10.00 out of 10.00
A Season on the Allegheny
Robert T. Hilliard
4900 Lacross Road, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781475201161, $14.99, PB, 330pp, www.amazon.com
Dave Wolf, Reviewer
Lebanon Daily News, January 8, 2016
The world around me is covered with a skiff of snow, late in coming but here just the same. Wildlife in general is on the move, save the black bear, now snuggled in its den, and those groundhogs that make a brief appearance.
I feel much more invigorated when I pry myself from a cozy chair or couch, and feel the raw chill of winter's icy embrace. The slight warmth of a winter sun penetrates the hardwoods, long leafless branches fingering skyward as if try to touch those puffy white clouds.
A gray squirrel scolds me from above, without knowledge that it would be legal for me to harvest him. But I smile as I try to find him in the viewfinder of my Nikon camera. His meat will not be part of an upcoming meal - not on this day. Today is an unofficial observation day. I want to explore, as I always have. It's something that cannot be removed from within me.
I amble slowly and cautiously, perhaps in practice for another season. With the wind in my face, I hope to see a deer or two, something that evaded me this fall when I was in full pursuit on this sector of game lands. It is close to home, and one we like to hunt, but last year, after finding no sign of whitetails, Karen and I abandoned it in search of greener pastures.
I'm surprised to find the parking lots barren and the woods without humans, unusual here in a place that is often hunted extensively. I try to shove aside the thoughts of meetings scheduled for the new year, and hope that the legislators pass a budget that gives us all hope. The Fish & Boat Commission and Game Commission have their meetings slated for the purpose of setting forth regulations that govern our pursuits.
Of course, antlerless licenses will lead the way in discussions, and before long many of us will be stuffing pink envelopes again, in hopes of gaining a "doe license."
I'm not certain why I came today, but to know much about anything you must immerse yourself in it for an entire year. In my case it has been many, many years. When I'm not able to actually be outdoors, I read about our natural environment as much, and as often, as possible.
I have just completed reading "A Season on the Allegheny," by Robert T. Hilliard. As I always do when reviewing a book, I read it from cover to cover. This book is about hunting in that rugged part of PA, something that Hilliard did for an entire year. But if you're looking for a success story, you won't find many within the 313 soft-cover pages. In fact, failures, if you want to call not harvesting an animal, far outweigh the success stories.
As I completed the book, it did not make me want to hop in my Jeep and revisit the national forest for hunting purposes. However, there is a depth of honesty within the pages that you seldom find. There is little chest thumping, but Hilliard proved to be a tough hunter, walking miles on end in pursuit.
The parts of the book that intrigued me most were the hard-fought battles over the use of the forest. The court battles that ensued, and the vast array of those who wanted the forest to never be cut, never explored for gas or oil was very interesting. The National Forest Service tries to do a balancing act, by protecting what it can, and encouraging minimal environmental damage in areas where it does not own the mineral rights.
Hilliard leads you step by step through those battles that have ensued over the half million acres of wooded land. He also brings you along on hunts for pheasants, grouse, deer, bear and waterfowl. It is an area with untapped resources, and land so immense that if you want to hunt wildlife where few have ever gone, it's within your reach.
I had forgotten that when the Kinzua Dam was built it flooded the burial grounds of Chief Cornplanter, and robbed the Seneca Reservation of land held since a treaty was signed in 1794. Led by the U.S. Corps of Engineers in the name of flood control, the trust of our Native Americans was weakened even farther. But without going into great detail, as Hilliard did in his book - another reason to read it - you will find all the facts concerning the dam and the forest. If you read this book, I doubt that you'll ever again pass by or fish the dam without thinking about its history.
Hilliard points out all of the organizations that have been involved, including Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, the Wild Turkey Federation and many others. When the book was written, there were 200 miles of designated hiking trails, 100 miles designated for ATVs and motorcycles and 366 miles of snowmobile trails.
He reminds all of us that "the forest is ours, something we should never forget." Perhaps after reading this book, you, like I, will realize that the Allegheny National Forest is a place that cannot be completely explored in a year, and I'm all but certain there is wildlife there that has never encountered a human.
Hilliard's research is nothing short of excellent, and I would consider this a winter time "must read." When you do, you will feel the pulse of this special place that we often forget, from the small communities that depend upon it to make a living, to the campgrounds and backwoods retreats, where a tent may be used to immerse oneself into the last true wilderness to be found in the Keystone State.
The book strikes a deep chord in the history of the forest, of folks who have devoted their lives to keeping it as pristine as possible, and reminding us that at one time only a few trees were left behind by foresters, and tanneries poisoned the streams. But as only nature can do, the forest returned in a different form that lives on today.
Hilliard's book can be found at Amazon.com.
Divorced & Scared No More!: Dating After Divorce from Lemons to Zesty Lemon Sorbet
Tasher and Tony Haynes
2301 Lucien Way # 415, Maitland, FL 32751
9781498465120, $20.99, 238pp
S.D. Britt, Reviewer
Gilt & Buckram Reviews
"Stars don't want to be oceans;
Paradise will never complain;
It's the greatness of just being
Remaining the you, you remain.
It's not always about becoming,
Though to become is the
Accepting the greatness of being
Lets you be who you are and be great."
[Excerpt from The Greatness of Just Being by Tony Haynes]
The final book in the Divorced & Scared No More! series, Tasher reaches the last steps to moving on after the emotional trials have mostly subsided from the divorce. In Dating after Divorce from Lemons to Zesty Lemon Sorbet, Tasher reveals how for a recent divorcee to act and not to act. For example, dressing appropriately, maintaining integrity, and knowing when you're ready to date. She presented many examples that provide the ins and outs of dating after divorce: how to safely date online, dating with children, and dealing with unattainable checklists for a possible new mate. Ultimately, her message is to never settle for less than you deserve. The Divorced & Scared No More! series is a work of invaluable advice that only one who has gone through a debacle such as divorce, can truly attest and provide sound and accurate advice to those also enduring such hardships. If you would like to know more about Tasher's books and work you can visit her website at www.DASNM.com. **** 4 Stars
The Ghost of Rabbie Burns: An American Poet's Journey Through Scotland
Indelible Mark Publishing
6498 Lowry Drive, #4, West, Linn, OR 97068
9780979539862, $17.95, PB, 210pp, www.amazon.com
Anita Scott-Philbrick, Reviewer
Stag & Thistle (April/May/June 2016; Vol 37, No 2)
A society that has no respect
For its Bards
Its historians, its storytellers
Is a society in steep decline
A society that has lost its
And may never find its way.
~ Laurence Overmire, The Ghost of Rabbie Burns, 2016
Laurence Overmire penned these words in his poem, "The Bards of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales," part of his collection of poems to be published in his latest book, The Ghost of Rabbie Burns, which [was released] this May. And, he himself is certainly one of these bards and storytellers, so all is not lost yet. Through haunting images painted with words, Overmire invites us to travel with him through the places and stories of Scotland. This volume, though purportedly a journal of his travels through Scotland with his wife Nancy McDonald in 2014, is so much more than just a travelogue of the wonders and beauty that those who travel in Scotland discover. Indeed, he uncovers the heart of each place he visits and helps us know the very soul of this country. In reading his verse, we come to discern not only who the ancient Scots were, but also, who we, the descents of these often fierce people, really are. As Overmire states, "Fantasy / Myth / Legend / Truth. / All are intertwined in the story / That is Scotland."
Overmire's poems, a collection of impressions from an American arriving in Scotland for the first time, evoke emotions of homecoming through American eyes. And, we empathize as he discovers what all of us with Scottish heritage have felt as we stepped from a plane, train, or boat onto Scottish soil for the very first time maybe the first in our family to be back in hundreds of years. In his poem, "The Train to Edinburgh," he states, "This is the return / After so many hundreds of / Years. / All of my ancestors are with me / Burns, Scott, Douglass... / As the door opens / My foot steps down on / Solid ground / Home." Reading those words, I remembered that same feeling in 2010, when I stepped out of the airport and recognized that I, too, had come full circle with my ancestors who left for America over a hundred years ago.
As he visits the myriad historical sites Scotland has to offer, Overmire often portrays images of war, heartache, suffering, and grief. These impressions remind us that though Scotland may be markedly changed from the days of Flodden, Culloden, or the Covenanters, the spirit of freedom, which our Scottish ancestors passed down to us, still burns strongly in Scottish hearts. In "Stirling Bridge," "The Stone of Scone," and "The Battle of Falkirk," Overmire reminds us that "Freedom is an idea that no tyrant will ever crush." He also asks us to remember that the cost of freedom can be very steep as in his poem, "The Last to Die" about Flodden, where "10,000 Scots they say / Gave their lives that day / The cream of the Scottish / Nobility." On visiting St. Giles' Cathedral, he says that we may find peace only temporarily, but at least for today we put aside our disputes and contemplate Rabbie Burns' "way of / Universal brother- and sisterhood."
Many of his other poems deal with issues of war, religious unrest, and rebellions, and he asks us to consider, "Did it make any difference, those wars and rebellions?" and reminds us that it is up to us to make the changes in our hearts first. He ends his book with poems called "Universal Brotherhood" and "The Yes and No Campaign" about the then upcoming referendum. "Wisdom is finding the path that is / Best for all... And having the courage to change / What must be changed / For the sake of the / Entire world."
I would be remiss if I left you believing that these poems only deal with difficult issues. Overmire also has many poems that tell of the humorous side of Scotland's story. Although his humor is often subtle and ironic, he goes for the belly laugh in the poem, "Don't Mess with Mons Meg." "A 400 pound cannonball / Does wonders for a castle's / Complexion / Now the king could rightly say / He had the biggest damn balls / In Scotland!" Now, who but a true Scottish storyteller would have ever imagined that line?
This review does not even begin to capture the depth and beauty of Overmire's poetry. You will want to sit by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate or a wee dram, and Rabbie Burns looking over your shoulder as you revisit the places and stories of Scotland over and over in these verses.
The First to Disappear
9781044682040; $15.00; 244pp, www.spuytenduyvil.net
Patty Somlo's latest short story collection is titled 'The First to Disappear,' after the first story in the book. And, in a way, all the stories here are about people looking for things that have disappeared from them - whether that is a way of life, a person, an object, a pleasure, or an ideal.
There are eighteen unique stories here: tales of both illegal and legal immigrants; accounts of loners who have been marginalized by society due to racism, or ageism, or religion; narratives about faithful believers of the supernatural in our everyday worlds; and so on. Many aspects make these stories stand out. First, they cover a range of subjects -- from racism to immigration to religion to terrorism to climate change. Then, the themes span wide too -- whether they are about old age, death, superstitions, prejudice, heartbreak, or love. And, the way that Somlo blends traditional myths with modern worlds, without a join showing, is a striking feat.
The cast of characters is also wonderfully diverse and from many countries: Mexico, Central America, China, Lebanon, Africa, USA, etc. What is refreshing is how she has eschewed stereotypes and tropes to give us people who, though bound by their ethnicities and circumstances, draw us so immediately into their lives, fears, and hopes, that we cannot but root for them.
Somlo's narrative style is that of a clear-eyed, neutral reporter. And, indeed, her career as a journalist has stood her in good stead in her fictional storytelling because she seamlessly weaves facts and realities with interesting what-if possibilities. The net result is a set of stories that showcase humanity from many perspectives, presenting all our vulnerabilities, values, joys, sorrows, and desires.
Descriptions of both settings and characters deserve a special mention too. With her reporter's eye, Somlo quickly paints both places and people in ways that make us see them right away. This is most well done in her first story, 'The First to Disappear' as well as the Beckett-like 'Where Waves Left Small Shells'.
A good number of the stories also have aspects of magical realism. For example: 'Photograph of a Cemetery'; 'Bird Women'; 'The Virgin'.
The true beauty, though, of this collection is that each story is an actual "story" - by which, I mean, that each one has something interesting and different to offer. As Mark Haddon recently wrote in his now-famous Guardian article on short stories (https://www.theguardian.com/books/ 2016/apr/23/mark-haddon-writing-short-stories-chekhov-carver).
"I have read too many beige short stories in my life, too many short stories that feel like fivefinger exercises. There are limits to what can happen in the real world. In fiction there are no limits: anything is possible on paper. It seems to me that if you are writing a short story and it is not more entertaining than the stories in that morning's newspaper or that evening's TV news, then you need to throw it away and start again, or open a cycle repair shop."
These stories are anything but beige. They shimmer with all the colors of the rainbow, and they are definitely more interesting than what goes viral in news or social media these days. It is clear that Somlo writes for the sheer pleasure of writing and storytelling, and that pleasure transfers easily to us, her readers.
Let me end with some of Somlo's own words from my favorite in this collection, the title story: "Meanwhile, the apples kept ripening. That sweet, crunchy fruit was not about to wait until the men and women who knew exactly when and how to pick them might decide to show up. No. They went from green to red, from pale to dark, from nubs the size of a thumb to substantial orbs you could use to play baseball. That fruit whose bright skins sheltered the sweet yellow-white interiors did not care what was happening in the country to cause those tough, familiar sunburned fingers to disappear. The apples had a job to do and nothing and no one would stand in their way, even the heat that made the skin of those apples hot and coated with sweat."
Like these apples, Patty Somlo's stories are ripe for the discerning readers' picking and they will bring a sweet-tart pleasure to the palate.
Reviewer Bio: Jenny Bhatt's writing has appeared or is upcoming in, among others, Femina India, Wallpaper, Storyacious, The Ladies Finger, LitBreak, York Literary Review, The Indian Quarterly, Eleven Eleven Journal, NonBinary Review, and an anthology, 'Sulekha Select: The Indian Experience in a Connected World'. Having lived and worked her way around India, England, Germany, Scotland, and various parts of the US, she now splits her time between Atlanta, Georgia in the US and Ahmedabad, Gujarat in India. Find her at: http://indiatopia.com
My Nazi Nemesis
9780981762586, $29.95 HC
9780981762579, $14.99 PB
$2.99 Kindle, 234pp, www.amazon.com
Jack Magnus, Reviewer
Rich DiSilvio's historical thriller, My Nazi Nemesis, is fast-paced and exciting. Jack Goodwin is a superlative spinner of yarns who kept me as fascinated by his stories as he does his daughter, Ellie. I've long been interested in WWII history and fiction and was impressed with the author's obvious depth of knowledge of the subject and his use of that very dark time in world history to engage and inform readers. The passages in the story that deal with Veronika's time in Auschwitz are harrowing reminders of the atrocities committed during that war, and they are masterfully related. DiSilvio's plot is cunning and ingenious, and his characters, especially the very resourceful Jack Goodwin, won't be easily forgotten. My Nazi Nemesis: A Dark Thriller is most highly recommended.
The Reason for Time
Allium Press of Chicago
9780996755818, $16.99 PB, $6.99 Kindle, 216pp, www.amazon.com
Kelli Christiansen, Reviewer
Chicago Book Review
The summer of 1919 was a dramatic one, even by Chicago standards: a dirigible, the Wingfoot Express, crashed in the Loop; riots broke out after a racial incident at the 29th Street beach; six-year-old Janet Wilkinson went missing; strikes and lockouts broke out across the city; and the Spanish Influenza continued to claim victims here, across the country, and around the world. Gary Krist told the tale of these "12 days of disaster" in his highly acclaimed 2011 book, City of Scoundrels. Author Mary Burns tackles this remarkable stretch in her latest novel, The Reason for Time.
Set over the course of a matter of days in the summer of 1919 - July 21 to July 30 - The Reason for Time is told by one Maeve Curragh, an Irish immigrant living with her sister Margaret in a shabby boarding house for women. The novel opens as Maeve witnesses a blimp fall out of the sky and crash into flames, right into the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank, killing thirteen people. Maeve, walking nearby on Jackson Boulevard among the throngs leaving work for the evening, suffers a cut on her neck from some sort of debris, leaving her with a story of her own on that notable day.
A news junkie, Maeve scours late and morning editions for news of the crash - as she does for the rest of the week, which has no shortage of alarming headlines: the blimp, the riots, the strikes, the Wilkinson story. As it turns out, the week is a momentous one for Maeve as well.
Where Krist reported the events of the time, Burns takes a different tack, imagining how the week unfolded during the life of one individual. It's a compelling angle. That week in July was much more than just the story of the thirteen who lost their lives when the blimp crashed into the bank, much more than the story of the transit strikers who risked their jobs, much more than the story of the hundreds of rioters who tore through the streets of Chicago, even more than poor Janet Wilkinson's story. Indeed, millions of Chicagoans had their own stories of that week.
Maeve drives this story, recounting the strange days that would forever change her life. From her goings-on while working at the Chicago Magic Company to her involvement with the charming streetcar conductor Desmond Malloy, Maeve lives her own life - a life at once ordinary and remarkable - while the city reels in tumult.
Burns blends fact and fiction in The Reason for Time, a day-by-day account of these strange days colored by attention-grabbing headlines that heighten the tension. Maeve is drawn to these loud headlines, shouted breathlessly by newsboys hawking their wares. At the same time, she looks inward, contemplating the events that are shaping - and have shaped - her own world. As such, the story is both fevered and thoughtful as the days unfold, a well-paced work that ebbs and flows with just the right amount of tension.
Packed with detail, The Reason for Time is told in Maeve's Irish dialect, full of contemporary idioms. Maeve's voice has a distinct rhythm all its own, which can be difficult to decipher at first, but in the end lends the story a rich authenticity. Maeve herself feels real as well, a complex character full of hope and savvy, flawed but not too flawed, doing whatever it takes to survive the immigrant life in a tough, dirty, bustling big city. A spirited, spunky young woman, Maeve is not perfect. But she is likable, and her story is compelling... Compelling, if not a wee bit predictable. One might say predictable with a twist. It's not too difficult to see where Maeve's story will end, although Burns somehow manages to make the ending still feel surprising. Even if some readers might be a step ahead of the plot, The Reason for Time is still satisfying.
Full of history, local color, compelling characters, and a complex storyline, The Reason for Time is a quick read, but one that lingers and makes one wonder about the many other stories that could be told of that tumultuous summer of 1919.
A Perilous Question
Keep On Climbing Publishing
9780993891052, $14.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 260 pages, www.amazon.com
Karen E. Proctor, Reviewer
I think the best thrillers have something to say as well as being a good read and I think this is the case with A Perilous Question. Both plot and characters are well developed to create genuine insight into the story's theme and I suspect the author Barry Finlay did a considerable amount of research on the subject as this comes through strongly in his writing. Far from being your archetypical thriller it combines action and suspense whilst leaving you much to think about which the hallmark of a good book is always.
10940 S. Parker Road, Parker, Co., 80134
ASIN - B01EQIJEQC, Cost: free on Kindle unlimited
9781478775591,$14.95 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 203pp, www.amazonc.om
Dog Gone by Diane Moat is the new novel that I have been waiting for a long time. I wanted an entertaining read that brings out the awareness of animal abuse and still is something that everyone can enjoy. Diane Moat has brilliantly done just that within her novel, Dog Gone. I loved how the story portrayed realistic issues that needed to be addressed as well as others that made this tale believable. Readers will be introduced to an interesting set of characters that will pique their interest from page one until the very last page. There is everything that readers can want in one novel. Action, danger, suspense, and a great mystery. Overall, I highly recommend this brilliantly well-written novel that packs adventure to readers everywhere. It kept me on the edge of my seat waiting what happens next. I look forward to reading more novels by this talented writer in the future.
Not Today, Celeste!
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781785920080 $17.95 amazon.com
Not Today, Celeste! A Dog's Tale About Her Human's Depression is a picturebook intended to teach children ages three and up about depression. Celeste is a dog whose owner, Rupert, loves and cherishes very much. But then Rupert starts acting in strange, hurtful ways... not wanting to go for a walk, not wanting to make dinner, even shouting at her. Fortunately, Celeste's kind neighbor Lily notices that all is not well, and comes by to see what is going on. "'Rupert didn't mean to get depressed,' Lily said. 'It's nobody's fault. He still loves you very much. He knows you love him, too. It's not your job to make things better at home, and you still need to play and have fun." With help from other people, Rupert starts to feel better over time. A postscript for parents, caregivers and professionals rounds out this excellent tool for helping young children understand this serious and unfortunately common mental health issue.
Clare Turlay Newberry
PO Box 28068, Santa Fe, NM 87592
9780692482384, $28.00, HC, 40pp, www.amazon.com
Anyone who has ever had a feline companion of their own will recognize the mischievousness and demands of a cat named Pandora -- and what a boy named Peter and his mother must put up with! Originally published in 1944 and now brought back into print for a new generation of appreciative readers, the truly remarkable thing that sets "Pandora" apart from other picture book stories for young (and old!) readers is the outstanding quality of the artwork throughout. All the fine art images are black and white production with a single exception in the form of a full page, full color reproduction in the middle of the book of the cover art. This new edition is produced by Felicia Trujillo (who is the daughter of the author and artist Clare Turlay Newberry) and features a brief biography of artist Clare Newberry's childhood. A simply wonderful read from beginning to end, "Pandora" is unreservedly recommended for community library collections for readers of all ages -- and would prove an enduringly popular and valued addition to the personal collections of all feline companion enthusiasts!
Read by Tavia Gilbert
289 Main Place, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781613758274 $19.99 www.oasisaudio.com
The Alliance: A Novel is the unabridged audiobook rendition of a romance novel that also explores what it means to be a Christian amid a modern-day apocalypse. Leora Ebersole is a member of an Old Order Mennonite community; she soon learns that the electricity outage that ended power to the community store and caused a local small plane crash is only the first harbinger of something far more terrible. The Pacifist community is the only self-sustaining food supply in a grand region; to protect their own way of life, they must form an alliance with a handful of Englischers. As their resources are stretched thinner and thinner, will they be able to protect their beliefs and way of life? Who will they help, and who will they be forced to turn away? Suspenseful, heartbreaking, and unforgettable, The Alliance: A Novel is highly recommended for both personal and public library audiobook collections. 7 CDs.
Translated by Paul Sohar
Hungarian Publisher: Irodalmi Jelen
c/o Vida Publishing
233 Northway Rd., Reisterstown, MD 21136
Alan Britt is one of the most published poets in America. Looking back into his history, this was true even years ago even when he was a university sophomore. It is not a surprise that this poet would appear in other languages. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, French, German and now Hungarian. Britt's latest book Violin Smoke. is translated by the renowned Hungarian translator Paul Sohar.
Britt's poetry is fresh, subtle and intelligent. Britt develops his own language which is immanently available. Britt offers a dense concrete image that confers meaning on several levels at once. From the short poem "Destiny," Britt investigates poetry itself:
Each poem has its own feral destiny. so, why interfere?
Intellectual leaps are obtained through blind faith anyway or, we could continue slinging fresh feces from behind the bars of our miserable cages.
He offers a clear and concise vision and with the use of "our." The reader is included an intelligent moment of surprising intensity and into the universe of the image. His pacing offers rhythms that seem conversational. This easily invites the reader to the experience. His visions are stark in their simplicity.
From a poem entitled "Alone with the Terrible Universe" Britt writes: A dog, a small brown and white dog barks across a dark sea of crickets all hunched together like millions of glistening coquina shells on a black shore.
You can feel the cool breeze of the evening blowing through his vision. His images draw on many value referents found in nature. The poet stands in awe of what is possible in nature. This poet is not in the business of explaining away natural mysteries though his art depends on them. His pen finds the hard edges of truth creating an experience that flows intuitively through the poem with an organic logic that is immediately assessable. The author turns to an old friend Yves Bonnefoy paying him tribute. Check this out:
Yves shows us blood illuminated by lightning and verbs that resemble swallows swarming around an abandoned church.
Britt is able to perfectly mimic Bonnefoy's poetry style as part of the tribute to the famous French poet. Too, Bonnefoy is one of Britt's former translators. Britt's images are brief and highly accurate avoiding long involved verse that struggles for relevance. Britt creates a minimal language and with this economy creates a totally unique experience. In the poem entitled "Irony" However, if we're lucky, a few authentic moments trickle from the gaping wounds of a suffering Bartok violin.
For this poet the moment is the prize. It is an encapsulated segment of time and space which he shares from an existential isolation. Accuracy is what communicates and Britt is always highly accurate. It can be no surprise that such an accomplished poet would achieve such an International presence. Upon reading Alan Britt you will see why he is so well subscribed by so many publishers.
PO Box 505, Fredonia, NY 14063
9781935248828, $13.95 PB, $8.01 Kindle, 200pp, www.amazon.com
John Smelcer has us looking back over our shoulder at America's shameful history with Native Americans. This history is as recent as the first half of the twentieth century. Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is absolutely on the mark in her praise on the back cover where she writes that "Stealing Indians tells a harsh truth about United States history." The novel follows four teenage Indian children who have been taken from their families to a world they barely understand and which does not try to understand them. They are sent away to school to learn how to be white, or at the very least, how to be less Indian. The story, set in 1950, begins with government agents in black cars raiding the reservations and village communities in search of Indian children to assimilate into the mainstream American (white) culture.
Smelcer paints with an ironic brush. You can feel the chill of a nineteenth century ideology blowing through this bureaucratic vision. He transports us to a time and place where institutional sins against a whole people are rampant. This was a type of cultural genocide. Can there be anything worse than stealing a people's children? The same thing was happening to Aboriginal children in Australia during the same period. They did this by tearing the Native American culture from the children, by beating and berating them for speaking their native languages, and by making them ashamed of who they are. The ubiquitous posted signs warned them: "English Only!" Systematically, the schools tried to strip everything from the children including their identity and their dignity. Smelcer's style is economic and poetic. Of the entrance to the school he writes:
The pillars were tall, perhaps eight feet high with a black iron arch that spanned a cobbled walkway. The name of the school was spelled out in the middle as if written by an iron finger: "Wellington."
The much celebrated author has had published almost as many books of poetry as novels. His voice rings with authenticity and concern for the children who were there. In fact, Smelcer, an oral historian, interviewed over a hundred Native elders across America as part of his research for this book. The master storyteller has done it again crafting a poetic masterpiece.
Winning the Race?
Tracy J. Trothen
Mercer University Press
1400 Coleman Avenue, Macon, GA 31207-0001
9780881465433, $30.00, PB, 209pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Should high-tech prosthetic limbs be permissible in elite sports competitions? Why are caffeine and altitude tents usually acceptable while some cold medications are not? What will happen as we engineer new enhancing options such as genetic modification technologies that increase muscle strength, or individualized nutritional genomic programs for elite athletes? The ethics debate about the use of enhancements in elite sport is becoming increasingly complex. Yet we are not asking what relevance sports' religious dimension has to this debate. Through an examination of literature on the relationship between sport, religion and spirituality, hope emerges as a compelling feature of sport and a significant part of what makes sport meaningful. In "Winning the Race?: Religion, Hope, and Reshaping the Sport Enhancement Debate", Tracy Trothen (Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada) explores four main locations of hope in sport: winning, losing, and anticipation; star athletes; perfect moments; and relational embodiment, and examines how these locations intersect with the enhancement debate. Using Christian theological reflection to problematize the four main approaches to the ethical question of enhancement use in elite sport, and the underlying values informing these approaches, Professor Trothen asks: How will hope in sport potentially be affected by techno-science? And how might a valuing of sports' spiritual dimension, and particularly hope, reshape the sport enhancement debate? The clear conclusion is that sports' spiritual dimension includes hope, and the locations of hope in sport are morally relevant to the sport enhancement discussion.
Critique: Impressively well researched, written, organized and presented, "Winning the Race?: Religion, Hope, and Reshaping the Sport Enhancement Debate" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Enhanced with the inclusion of a fourteen page Bibliography and a four page Index, "Winning the Race?" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community, seminary, college, and university library Sports Studies and Christian Studies collections.
Arc Of The Goddess
Rachel Patterson & Tracey Roberts
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
9781785353185, $21.95, PB, 255pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The collaborative work of Rachel Patterson (High Priestess of the Kitchen Witch Coven and an Elder of the Kitchen Witch School of Natural Witchcraft) and Tracey Roberts (also known as Sunchylde DryadMoon, an Elder and Co-High Priestess of the Kitchen Witch online School and Coven), "Arc of the Goddess" is deftly crafted and intended to be a year-long course that will take readers on a personal journey of discovery, taking each month as the wheel of the year turns and introducing them to different goddesses and pantheons with their choice, and include who to work with and how to work with deities. "Arc Of The Goddess" will directly connect readers with the magical energies showcased each month, as well as giving them lots of practical exercises to work with and suggestions on how to make spiritual connections stronger. At the end of the course it is hoped the readers will not only have discovered their own personal pantheon of goddesses to work with but also uncovered what the authors refer to as The Goddess Within.
Critique: An inherently fascinating, informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking (and occasionally iconoclastic) read, "Arc Of The Goddess" is a unique instruction manual and guide that will be especially appreciated by serious and dedicated Metaphysical Studies students. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content, commentary, organization and presentation, "Arc Of The Goddess" is enthusiastically recommended for personal and community library Metaphysical Studies collections. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Arc Of The Goddess" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.61).
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
9781785352621, $25.95, PB, 262pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "More: Journey To Mystical Union Through The Sacred And The Profane" by Mariah McKenzie is not a 'how to' manual on getting more stuff, more success in business, more fame or power over others. Rather it is a guide to achieving more intimacy, more connection, more mystery, more awe in our daily lives. When Mariah McKenzie finds her husband and her best friend in bed together, she is launched on a forbidding and transcendent journey. Reeling from a life turned upside down, Mariah and her husband Jake don't separate, but resolve to search together for a deeper connection - for more.
Critique: Unique, unusually candid, intensely personal, consistently compelling, "More: Journey To Mystical Union Through The Sacred And The Profane" is an inherently fascinating and truly exemplary account of the power of forgiveness, reconciliation, and the restoration of a human bonding between a wife and a husband that has implications for us all. While very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "More: Journey To Mystical Union Through The Sacred And The Profane" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).
The Tudor Brandons
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
9781785353321, $16.95, PB, 189pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Tudor Brandons: Mary And Charles - Henry VIII's Nearest & Dearest" by Sarah-Beth Watkins is an inherently fascinating study of the life and times of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, Henry VIII's dearest sister and his closest companion. Charles rose from being Henry's childhood friend to becoming the Duke of Suffolk; a consummate courtier and diplomat. Mary was always royalty. At first married to the King of France, Mary quickly wed Charles after Louis XII's death in 1515, against her brother's wishes. Their actions could have been construed as treason yet Henry chose to spare their lives. They returned to court and despite their on-going disagreements throughout the years, especially over the king's marriage to Anne Boleyn, the Tudor Brandons remained Henry's most loyal subjects and perhaps more importantly, his beloved family.
Critique: Impressively detailed research combined with a remarkable storytelling talent on the part of author Sarah-Beth Watkins, "The Tudor Brandons: Mary And Charles - Henry Viii'S Nearest & Dearest" is a consistently compelling and exceptionally informative read from beginning to end. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library British History collections in general, and Henry VIII supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for the personal lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Tudor Brandons" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.15).
Play It Forward
Joan Barnes & Michael Coffino
c/o Agate Publishing
1328 Greenleaf Street, Evanston, IL 60202
9781572841901, $17.00, PB, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Play It Forward: From Gymboree to the Yoga Mat and Beyond" details the remarkable journey of Joan Barnes, founder and former CEO of Gymboree, and how she learned to align her inner life with outward success. Forty years ago, Joan Barnes founded a play center in a church basement with $3,000. Determined to enable women to achieve personal and entrepreneurial success, Barnes led Gymboree to become an innovative leader in a new industry: activity-based early childhood development. The company eventually became a global billion-dollar brand.
But this dramatic entrepreneurial memoir is also a cautionary tale and redemption story. When Gymboree's IPO became a phenomenal success story, Barnes was nowhere near Wall Street. She had left the company because of an eating disorder that threatened to destroy her and everything she built. Barnes overcame the disorder, charting a path that replaced demons with an enduring sense of worth and hope. She eventually resumed her business career on healthier terms with a line of yoga studios in an inspiring example of how women can triumph through reinvention.
Published to coincide with Gymboree's 40th anniversary, "Play It Forward" offers readers a deeply honest perspective of the challenges of business building and seeking a work-life balance in tune with personal values.
Critique: A consistently compelling and intensely personal story from beginning to end, "Play It Forward: From Gymboree to the Yoga Mat and Beyond" is thoughtful, insightful, brutally honest, and ultimately inspiring. While unreservedly recommended for community Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Play It Forward" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.49).
Restoring Neighborhood Streams
Ann L. Riley
2000 M St NW Suite 650, Washington, DC 20036
9781610917391, $70.00, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Hydrologist Ann L. Riley is the Watershed and Stream Protection/Restoration Advisor for the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board. She is also executive director of the Waterways Restoration Institute, where she works on the design and installation of stream restoration projects. She has also been involved in the evaluation of national water policy for the National Research Council, the Institute for Water Resources, and federal task forces. She draws upon her more than thirty years of practical experience and professional expertise to write "Restoring Neighborhood Streams: Planning, Design, and Construction", a comprehensive instruction manual on the science and practice of small waterway ecological reconstruction.
Thirty years ago, the best thinking on urban stream management prescribed cement as the solution to flooding and other problems of people and flowing water forced into close proximity. Urban streams were perceived as little more than flood control devices designed to hurry water through cities and neighborhoods with scant thought for aesthetics or ecological considerations. Stream restoration pioneers Ann Riley thought differently. She and other like-minded field scientists imagined that by restoring ecological function, and with careful management, streams and rivers could be a net benefit to cities, instead of a net liability. In the intervening decades, she has spearheaded numerous urban stream restoration projects and put to rest the long-held misconception that degraded urban streams are beyond help.
What has been missing, however, is detailed guidance for restoration practitioners wanting to undertake similar urban stream restoration projects that worked with, rather than against, nature. "Restoring Neighborhood Streams" provides a level of detail only a hands-on design practitioner would know, including insights on project design, institutional and social context of successful projects, and how to avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes. Early chapters clarify terminology and review strategies and techniques from historical schools of restoration thinking. But the heart of "Restoring Neighborhood Streams" comprises the chapters containing nine case studies of long-term stream restoration projects in northern California. Although the stories are local, the principles, methods, and tools are universal, and can be applied in almost any city in the world.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Restoring Neighborhood Streams: Planning, Design, and Construction" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and practical in concept and application. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary and content, "Restoring Neighborhood Streams" will prove to be an enduringly popular and core addition to professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary Environmental Issues collections in general, and small waterway restoration supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, environmental activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Restoring Neighborhood Streams" is also available in a paperback edition (9781610917407, $35.00).
Waking Up in the Spiritual Age
Ozark Mountain Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 754, Huntsville, AR 72740
9781940265339, $11.00, PB, 112pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A major spiritual shift is occurring in this world, and more people are experiencing unexpected phenomena in their daily lives. We might notice unusual "signs" or have intuitive thoughts, randomly hear a song a past friend or relative loved or smell a perfume that triggers a strong memory. Most often these are tossed aside as coincidences and immediately forgotten. But what if there were no coincidences, and everything happened for a reason? What if we know much more than we think, but simply haven't learned to pay attention to what is really happening around us? "Waking Up in the Spiritual Age" was specifically written by Dan Bird for those who are experiencing this shift but are not sure of what they are feeling.
Critique: Inherently fascinating. exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Waking Up in the Spiritual Age" is a consistently compelling read from first page to last. Of special note is the inclusion of 'The Man in the Mountain Goes Home'. Unreservedly recommended for community and academic library New Age / Spiritualism / Metaphysical Studies collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in New Age Spirituality & Metaphysics that "Waking Up in the Spiritual Age" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
The New Press
126 Wall Street, floor 31, New York, NY 10005-4007
9781620970072, $27.95, HC, 384pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Over the past decade a new and controversial energy extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has rocketed to the forefront of U.S. energy production. With fracking, millions of gallons of water, dangerous chemicals, and sand are injected under high pressure deep into the earth, fracturing hard rock to release oil and gas.
Wenonah Hauter is the Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, a D.C.-based watchdog organization focused on corporate and government accountability relating to food, water, and fishing, as well as one of the nation's leading public interest advocates. In "Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment", Hauter argues that the rush to fracking is dangerous to the environment and treacherous to human health. "Frackopoly" describes how the fracking industry began; the technologies that make it possible; and the destruction and poisoning of clean water sources and the release of harmful radiation from deep inside shale deposits, creating what the author calls "sacrifice zones" across the American landscape.
"Frackopoly" also examines the powerful interests that have supported fracking, including leading environmental groups, and offers a thorough debunking of its supposed economic benefits. With a wealth of new data, "Frackopoly" is essential and riveting reading for anyone interested in protecting the environment and ensuring a healthy and sustainable future for all Americans.
Critique: Exceptionally well researched, superbly organized and presented, "Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. An absolutely essential and timely contribution to our on-going public discourse over the practice of fracking, "Frackopoly" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Environmental Issues collections in general, and Fracking supplemental studies reading lists in particular. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "Frackopoly" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.83).
Melvin R. Adams
Washington State University Press
PO Box 645910, Pullman, WA 99164-5910
9780874223323, $19.95, PB, 168pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: At first, the basalt rims, high cold deserts, dry lakes, and vast expanses of grass and sage comprising the landscape of Oregon's 'Outback' country seem to be a barren realm. In fact, petite flowers bloom on rock shelves. Tiny organisms thrive in hot springs and salt water. Unique soil collects and retains water, allowing ancient pine stands to survive. Pikas build miniature grass haystacks to store winter food. Petroglyphs and remnants of ranches, mills, and mines provide evidence of human history. Indeed, remote southeast Oregon is a rich wonderland of mountains, forests, creatures, and more. Indeed, this is a part of Oregon well worth exploring. Born and raised in Oregon's Outback, author Melvin R. Adams' affection for the region shines through each informed and informative page. He specifically designed "Remote Wonders" as a road tour guide for the curious traveler. His essays and numerous photos highlight notable natural and historical features. Supplemental information includes side trip and other travel recommendations, and a pull-out map is keyed to selected sites.
Criteria: Exceptionally and knowledgeably well written, organized and presented, "Remote Wonders: An Explorer's Guide to Southeast Oregon" is ideal for planning excursions to what Oregon's 'Outback' country has to offer whether it's a day trip, a weekend holiday, or an extended excursion to appreciate what this part of Oregon has to offer the hiker, biker, camper, or simple passing-through tourist and nature lover. Ideal reading for the armchair traveler and a practical resource for the on-site visitor, "Remote Wonders" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library American Travel Guide collections.
Edgar Cayce on the Mysterious Essenes
John Van Auken & Ruben Miller
215 - 67th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451-2061
9780876048665, $15.95, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: One of the most fascinating topics found in the readings of famed psychic Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) was the revelation regarding the existence of a sacred sect called the Essenes. His information about the Essenes would later be confirmed by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls two years after his death. Cayce's readings contained more than a description of who the Essenes were and their purpose in bringing the Christ into the earth, he gave us details about their lives and past lives! Many of these Essenes reincarnated during Cayce's time and received readings that revealed their souls including their purposes then and now. What can we learn from these readings and the reincarnation of the Essenes? There is so much about our origin, our soul group, and the purpose for which we are here on earth today in "Edgar Cayce on the Mysterious Essenes: Lessons from Our Sacred Past", a study that is like having a manual for soul growth. Ideals, practices, and guiding principles held by these ancient ones are as valuable to us today as they were then.
Critique: John Van Auken is the director of the Edgar Cayce Foundation, and is one of the organization's most popular speakers, traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad. He has written over a dozen books and is an acknowledged expert on the Cayce readings, the Bible, ancient prophecies, and world religions. Ruben Miller, PhD, has been researching this topic of the Cayce readings for many decades and personally met and knew some of the reincarnated Essenes to whom Cayce gave readings. Dr. Miller had long-forgotten records that contributed vibrant details to the stories. Their collaboration resulting in the publication of "Edgar Cayce on the Mysterious Essenes: Lessons from Our Sacred Past " is an inherently fascinating, exceptionally informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking study. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, content, organization and presentation, "Edgar Cayce on the Mysterious Essenes" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Metaphysical Studies collections in general, and Edgar Cayce supplemental studies reading lists in particular. For the personal reading lists of students and members of the general reading public with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "Edgar Cayce on the Mysterious Essenes" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.15).
We are Many, We are One
Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.
950 Danby Road, Suite 136, Ithaca, NY 14850
9780991338214, $24.95, PB, 209pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Over the years, market researchers and social scientists have developed numerous ways to package people into clusters of common features in order to better understand who they are, how they behave, what interests them, and what makes them tick. Demographics are an interesting way of understanding and predicting behavior, but these numbers alone are incapable of understanding the diversity within, age, regional, income, and ethnic groups. In "We are Many, We are One: Neo-Tribes and Tribal Analytics in 21st Century America", demographer and founder of the world-famous Zogby Poll, John Zogby, has created what he refers to as the '11 Tribes of Modern America'. They range from the Adventurists, to the Dutifuls, to The God Squad, to the Happy Hedonists, and more. "founder of the world-famous Zogby Poll" explains the characteristics that best describe each tribal group, those that one group has in common with other tribes, and those that set the tribes apart. 'Tribal Analytics' presents a new tool to help fit individuals into the changing workplace. This technique can be equally helpful to political strategists, religious leaders, career counselors, brand managers and marketers. Based on seven years of research and a super sample of 6,400 respondents, "founder of the world-famous Zogby Poll" offers a framework to help professionals and members of the general public alike to understand and predict human behavior in a world connected less by geography and demographics, and more by shared interests and social media.
Critique: Original, insightful, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "We are Many, We are One: Neo-Tribes and Tribal Analytics in 21st Century America" is a model of modern scholarship and an invaluable contribution to the field of demographics. While unreservedly recommended for community, governmental, college, and university library American Demographic Studies collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, professional, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "We are Many, We are One" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).
One Day in France
Jean-Marie Borzeix, author
Gay McAuley, translator
I. B. Tauris Publishers
6 Salem Road, London, W2 4BU, UK
9781784536220, $25.00, HC, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In April 6, 1944, a detachment of German soldiers arrive in a rural French town, hunting down resistance fighters, many of whom are hiding in the region. More than sixty years later, the villagers clearly remember the day when four peasants from a nearby village were taken hostage and shot as an example to others. But do they remember the whole story? Journalist, writer and broadcaster Jean-Marie Borzeix sets out to investigate the events of Holy Thursday 1944, and to reveal the hidden truths of that fateful day. He uncovers the story of a mysterious 'fifth man' shot alongside the resisters and eventually unravels a trail which leads him to Paris, Israel and into the darkest corners of the Holocaust in France. A captivating story, the events of this day in a small, entirely typical, town illuminate the true impact of World War II in France.
Critique: Impressively researched, exceptionally well written, "One Day in France: Tragedy and Betrayal in an Occupied Town" is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling account of real war time events that reads as smoothly as any novel. An extraordinary study, "One Day in France" is a welcome addition to the growing library of World War II literature and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "One Day in France" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.12).
Striving for Equity
Robert G. Smith & S. David Brazer
Harvard Education Press
8 Story Street, 1st floor, Cambridge, MA 02138
9781612509389, $60.00, Library Binding, 192pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Based on in-depth interviews, "Striving for Equity: District Leadership for Narrowing the Opportunity and Achievement Gaps" is the collaborative work of Robert G. Smith (Associate Professor in the Education Leadership Program at George Mason University and a founding member of MSAN) and S. David Brazer (Associate Professor and Faculty Director of Leadership Degree Programs at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education). "Striving for Equity" brings to light the complex and illuminating stories of thirteen longtime superintendents, all of whom were leaders of the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) and who were able to make progress toward narrowing opportunity and achievement gaps in traditional school districts with diverse populations and multiple, competing agendas.
Drawing on current research in organizational learning, "Striving for Equity" introduces a framework consistent with the systemic perspective of these superintendents to help school leaders who want to prioritize the narrowing of gaps. Core chapters are devoted to discussing in detail the central strategies of these superintendents, and illustrating how each of these leaders employed them in their particular circumstances. "Striving for Equity" reveals the multifaceted, personal nature of this work and factors that proved to be most critical to progress.
Critique: A deftly researched and original work of outstanding scholarship "Striving for Equity: District Leadership for Narrowing the Opportunity and Achievement Gaps" is a significant contribution to the on-going national dialogue concerning the improvement of educational performances by minority students in our academic institutions. Enhanced with the inclusion of three appendices, eight pages of Notes, and a thirteen page Index, "Striving for Equity" is unreservedly recommended as an essential addition to both college and university library Minority Education collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of academicians, educational policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Striving for Equity" is also available in a paperback edition (9781612509372, $30.00).
Willis M. Buhle
We Want Everything
20 Jay Street, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201-8346
9781784783686, $24.95, HC, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the fall of 1968, across the factories of the Italian north, workers were demanding better pay and conditions. Soon their discontent would erupt in what became known as Italy's "Hot Autumn".
A young worker from the impoverished south arrives at Fiat's Mirafiori factory in Turin, where his darker complexion begins to fade from the fourteen-hour workdays in sweltering industrial heat. He is frequently late for work, and sells his blood when money runs low. He fakes a crushed finger to win sick leave. His bosses try to withhold his wages. Our cynical, dry-witted narrator will not bend to their will. "I want everything, everything that's owed to me," he tells them. "Nothing more and nothing less, because you don't mess with me."
Around him, students are holding secret meetings and union workers begin halting work on the assembly lines, crippling the Mirafiori factory with months of continuous strikes. Before long, barricades line the roads, tear gas wafts into private homes, and the slogan "We Want Everything" is ringing through the streets. Wrought in spare and measured prose, Balestrini's novel depicts an explosive uprising. Introduced by Rachel Kushner, the author of the best-selling The Flamethrowers, We Want Everything is the incendiary fictional account of events that led to a decade of revolt.
Critique: Nanni Balestrini was born in Milan in 1935 and was a member of the influential avant-garde literary movement Gruppo 63, along with Umberto Eco and Edoardo Sanguineti. "We Want Everything" is his novel set in Italy's revolutionary year of 1969. A consistently compelling and deftly crafted read from beginning to end, "We Want Everything" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "We Want Everything" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Live Like You Give a Damn!
c/o Wipf & Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401
9781498206259, $24.00, PB, 212pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Live Like You Give a Damn!: Join the Changemaking Celebration" by Tom sine declares the very good news that God is raising up a new generation, largely outside the church, to bring impressive change to the lives of our neighbors locally and globally by creating innovative forms of social enterprise and community empowerment. The even better news is that those of us within the church can join this change making celebration and discover creative new ways God can use our mustard seeds to make a more remarkable difference than we ever imagined possible. In the pages of "Live Like You Give a Damn!, Tom offers practical ways anyone can join those who are creating their best communities, their best world, and in the process their best lives. "Live Like You Give a Damn!" shows that in a world changing at warp speed, following Jesus is a "design opportunity". It is not only an opportunity to design innovative ways to make a difference but also an opportunity to create lives with a difference, in the way of Jesus, that are simpler and more sustainable -- and to throw better parties along the way. Why would anyone want to settle for less and miss the best?
Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally informed and informative, as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring, "Live Like You Give a Damn!: Join the Changemaking Celebration" is unreservedly recommended for church, community, college, and university library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted (especially for members of the millennial generation!) that "Live Like You Give a Damn!: Join the Changemaking Celebration" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Only One Thing Can Save Us
The New Press
126 Wall Street, floor 31, New York, NY 10005-4007
9781595588364, $25.95, HC, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Is labor's day over or is labor the only real answer for our time? In "Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs a New Kind of Labor Movement", labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan persuasively and coherently argues that even as organized labor seems to be crumbling, a revived, albeit different, labor movement is the only way to stabilize the economy and save the middle class.
But the inequality now reshaping the country goes beyond money and income. The places we work have become ever more rigid hierarchies. Geoghegan makes his argument for labor with stories, sometimes humorous but more often chilling, about the problems working people like his own clients (ranging from cabdrivers to schoolteachers) who now face an increasingly powerlessness in our union-free economy. He explains why a new kind of labor movement (and not just more higher education) is the real program the Democrats should push -- and not just to save the middle class from bankruptcy but to revive Keynes's original and sometimes forgotten ideas for getting the rich to invest and reducing our balance of trade, and to promote John Dewey's vision of a "democratic way of life", one that would start in the schools and continue in our places of work.
Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs a New Kind of Labor Movement" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. It was the union movement that was a key factor in the creation of the middle class. With the weakening of the labor movement over the past three decades; the unrestricted role of money in local, state, and federal political contests; the effective control of corporate lobbyists over state and federal legislators; and the gutting of the federal labor relations board, "Only One Thing Can Save Us" is a prophetic contribution to our on-going national dialogue and the need for a resurrection of unionism if the middle class is to be kept from extinction. Simply stated, "Only One Thing Can Save Us" is an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Political Science, and Labor/Management collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Only One Thing Can Save Us" is also available in a paperback edition (9781620972038, $17.95) and in a Kindle format ($10.77).
Rare Bird Books
453 South Spring Street, Suite 302, Los Angeles, CA 90013
9781942600404, $24.95, HC, 280pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Minos begins at the Olympic Academy, where Billy's friend Sara has just carved a magic circle in the hardwood bathroom floor with an ancient double-edged dagger. She twirls inside her circle calling on the Oracle of Apollo to help her find a modern-day Theseus, the reincarnation of Athens' "hero of all heroes" who slew the Minotaur. Lost in her magical dance, she knocks over a candle, sets fire to the curtains, and is suspended from school. She is sent to Abe for treatment. Abe discovers that Sara has patched together an entire mythological universe and language with which she tries to make him see that lives are at stake. It is not easy to convince the authorities. But Corey knows that young people are indeed being murdered, and soon Sara's dire warnings begin to make sense. But who is the modern-day descendant of Minos? The key is inside Sara's head.
Critique: "Minos" is the concluding third volume in the outstanding Corey Logan Trilogy by Burt Weissbourd. "Minos" derives from the mythical king of Crete who every lunar year condemns seven Athenian youths and seven maidens to be eaten by the ferocious Minotaur. Original, consistently compelling, replete with deftly crafted plots and memorable drawn characters, "Minos" is an exceptionally entertaining and engaging read from beginning to end. Although the culmination of a trilogy that includes "Inside Passage" (9780985490232, $24.95 HC, $14.95 PB, $8.69 Kindle) and "Teaser" (9781940207360, $24.95 HC, $7.99 Kindle), "Minos" is a complete and impressively written novel in its own right and is very highly recommended for community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that like the two previous Corey Logan novels, "Minos" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
The Mountains of California
PO Box 9145, Berkeley, CA 94709
9781597143370, $16.00, PB, 259pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "The Mountains of California", famed naturalist John Muir takes us on a tour of the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Ranges, showing off the regions' marvels of topography, forests, glaciers, weather, and wildlife. Muir's vivid descriptions of nature are infused with his characteristic wonder at the magnificence of wilderness, from a single songbird's "perfect arabesques of melody" to the thundering symphony of a winter storm.
Critique: Originally published in 1894, "The Mountains of California" by the legendary John Muir continues to be a relevant and consistently compelling read that will prove to be of immense interest and value to environmentalists in general, and California natural studies enthusiasts in particular. Simply stated, "The Mountains of California" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university nature appreciation collections in general, and California environmental supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
The Wisdom of Solomon and Us
Rabbi Mark D. Angel
Jewish Lights Publishing
PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
9781683364559, $29.99, HC, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "The Wisdom of Solomon and Us: The Quest for Meaning, Morality and a Deeper Relationship with God", Rabbi Marc D. Angel (founder and director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals (www.jewishideas.org) and Rabbi emeritus of Congregation Shearith Israel of New York City) mines the biblical literature attributed to King Solomon, the Hebrew Bible's model of wisdom, for the answers to life's important questions.
Ecclesiastes - What is life's meaning and mission? What is my significance in the vastness of space and the eternity of time?
Proverbs - How can I help maintain a healthy society, with a focus on truth, compassion and moral courage?
The Song of Songs - How can I achieve a genuine, soul-satisfying relationship with God?
More than just another volume of biblical commentary, Rabbi Angel shows us how Solomon's wisdom can soothe the contemporary disquiet of all of us seeking a thoughtful, challenging and spiritually vibrant approach to life.
Critique: Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, enlightened and enlightening, inspired and inspiring, "The Wisdom of Solomon and Us" is a consistently compelling read from beginning to end and one that is unreservedly recommended for synagogue, community, college, and university Judaic Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Wisdom of Solomon and Us" is also available in a paperback edition (9781580238557, $18.99) and in a Kindle format ($18.04).
Hugo Garcia, et al.
20 Jay Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781785331381, $120.00, HC, 360pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by the team of Hugo Garcia (Associate Professor of Modern World History at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain); Mercedes Yusta (Professor of Spanish History at the Universite Paris VIII); Xavier Tabet (Professor of Italian Studies at the Universite Paris VIII); and Cristina Climaco (Associate Professor of Portuguese Modern History at the Universite Paris VIII), "Rethinking Antifascism: History, Memory and Politics, 1922 to the Present" is comprised of seventeen distinguished contributions from leading scholars from a range of nations, each of whom provides a fascinating exploration of one of the most vibrant sub-disciplines within recent historiography. Through case studies that exemplify the field's breadth and sophistication, "Rethinking Antifascism" examines antifascism in two distinct realms: after surveying the movement's remarkable diversity across nations and political cultures up to 1945, it assesses its postwar political and ideological salience, from its incorporation into Soviet state doctrine to its radical questioning by historians and politicians. Avoiding both heroic narratives and reflexive revisionism, these contributions offer finely nuanced scholarly perspectives on a movement that helped to shape the postwar world.
Critique: Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism that came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe, influenced by national syndicalism. Fascism originated in Italy during World War I and spread to other European countries. Fascism opposes liberalism, Marxism and anarchism and is usually placed on the far-right within the traditional left - right spectrum . Anti-fascism is opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals. The anti-fascist movement began in a few European countries in the 1920s, and eventually spread to other countries around the world. "Rethinking Antifascism: History, Memory and Politics, 1922 to the Present" is a critically important work of outstanding scholarship that has become particularly relevant in light of today's resurgence of fascism in western countries -- including the Unites States. Simply stated, "Rethinking Antifascism: History, Memory and Politics, 1922 to the Present" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Political Science collections in general, and Fascism/Anti-Fascism supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Rethinking Antifascism" is also available in a Kindle edition ($28.49).
Flying Wings & Radical Things
99 Spring Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10012
9781580072298, $44.95, HC, 276pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: John K. "Jack" Northrop and the company he founded in 1939, Northrop Aircraft, Inc., will be forever linked with the giant futuristic Flying Wings of the 1940s. But those iconic designs were not the only ideas to spring from the mind of this pioneering visionary and the innovative engineers who followed him. Many piston-powered and turbojet concepts, both conventional and radical in shape and purpose, were proposed and developed over the company's proud fifty-five year history.
"Flying Wings & Radical Things: Northrop's Secret Aerospace Projects & Concepts 1939-1994" by aviation enthusiasts and historian Tony Chong unveils Northrop's once-secret radical designs, many for the first time, with never-before-published drawings, models, and photos of such novel concepts as a ship-based vertical take-off and landing fighter, a supersonic intercontinental cruise missile, a rocket-boosted jet spaceplane trainer, and a radical combination truck/aircraft/boat cargo vehicle. Much of this material has only recently been declassified.
Here for the first time is the untold story of Northrop's rare, unique, and formerly super-secret aircraft and spacecraft of the future. Featuring stunning original factory artwork, technical drawings, and never-before-seen photographs, "Flying Wings & Radical Things" shows an amazing array of radical high-performance aircraft concepts from Jack Northrop and his team of brilliant and innovative engineers.
Critique: Impressively well written, profusely illustrated, exceptionally well organized and presented, informed and informative, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone and commentary, "Flying Wings & Radical Things: Northrop's Secret Aerospace Projects & Concepts 1939-1994" is as comprehensive as it is unique and will prove to be of immense interest to any and all aviation history buffs. Simply stated, "Flying Wings & Radical Things" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library Aviation History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
Plan Your Estate
950 Parker Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781413322859, $44.99, PB, 544pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The basic and fundamental purpose of estate planning is to provide for our selves and our families. Estate planning sounds difficult but most people just need a few basic documents. This newly updated and expanded thirteenth edition of "Plan Your Estate" by attorney-at-law Denis Clifford show in methodical and comprehensive detail how to protect our loved ones from legal hassles and financial uncertainty in the event of our death. Completely in accord with the latest federal and state laws, "Plan Your Estate" is a complete course of instruction and covers such issues as: wills; avoiding probate; living trusts; bypass (AB) trusts; naming guardians for children; leaving property to children; estate, gift, and inheritance taxes; strategies for business owners; leaving property to charity; health care directives, and financial powers of attorney.
Critique: Financial planning is one of the most neglected topics there are in preparing young men and women for modern life, and a subject all too often postponed by their parents as well. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, this newest edition of "Plan Your Estate" is unreservedly recommended for non-specialist general readers wanting to establish continuing financial security for themselves and their loved ones. Of special note is the section offering examples and samples of estate plans for people in various age brackets. Simply stated, "Plan Your Estate" is an absolute 'must' for community, college, and academic library Money/Finance instructional collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that this new and updated 13th edition of "Plan Your Estate" is also available in a Kindle edition ($24.71).
Hal Leonard Books
c/o Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing
33 Plymouth St, Suite 302, Montclair, NJ 07042
9781495011276, $29.99, 258pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Recording Unhinged: Creative and Unconventional Music Recording Techniques" dares the aspiring musician to "unlearn" safe record-making, to get out from behind the windshield, stick your head out the sunroof, and put the pedal to the metal! Sylvia Massy (who has been producing, engineering, and mixing popular music for decades) and her cohort of celebrity music industry producers, engineers, and recording stars discard fixed notions about how music should be recorded and explore techniques that fall outside the norm and yield emotionally powerful, incredibly personal, gut-wrenching, and even scary recordings. Joined by music making professionals as Hans Zimmer, Al Schmitt, Bruce Swedien, Jack Joseph Puig, Dave Pensado, Tchad Blake, Bob Clearmountain, Linda Perry, Michael Franti, Michael Beinhorn, Bob Ezrin, Geoff Emerick, and many others, "Recordings Unhinged" is a fascinating and unique compendium of stories, tips, recipes, photos, advice, diagrams, exercises, illustrations, and jokes. "Recording Unhinged" features many eye-popping illustrations by Sylvia herself. As if being a celebrated producer isn't enough, Sylvia's iconic illustrations bring real and imaginary recording situations to life. Catchy Bass Lines? Engineering Marvels? How to Mic a Chicken?!! Do a swan-dive into the unknown and make studio magic with inspiration from Recording Unhinged.
Critique: Thoroughly impressive in content, commentary, organization and presentation, "Recording Unhinged: Creative and Unconventional Music Recording Techniques" is unreservedly recommended for all aspiring and professional musicians regardless of the musical genre they work in. Of special note are the chapters on Vocals; Bass; Drums; Guitar; Piano and Organ; Strings, Horns, and Orchestra; Keys, Synths, and Samplers; Percussion and Other Noise; and Mixing. An invaluable and thoroughly 'reader friendly' instruction manual, "Recording Unhinged" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary Music Studies reference collections in general, and album production supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
Michael J. Carson
Forbidden Fruit: 1980 Beijing
VanDam Publishing Inc.
1934395595, $18.95, 388 pages, www.amazon.com
"Life only gains complete meaning by being engaged with the world beyond oneself."
For Gail Pellet that meant leaving her thriving career as writer, director and producer of TV and Radio documentaries in New York, to seek out the forbidden fruit of China. She arrived swollen with her 60's leftist fantasies and the mission to search for the new Socialist man or woman.
But her usual passionate attempts to dig beneath the surface, get at the truth, excavate meaning from dialogue with every Chinese man or women she came in contact with was stunted, proving to be a fruitless frustrating experience in a place where surveillance created paranoia and painted all of life in Beijing a dark greenish grey, like the coal dust filled air that blanketed the city and suffocated it's life pulses in a spiritual pollution. She hungered for, and pressed for, soulful dialogues, even using her love of Jazz and the Blues to break the ice. "I'm determined to understand the Chinese. How they "eat bitterness," control feelings, avoid conflict ...then explode and persecute each other."
Gail Pellett's new book, "Forbidden Fruit," is a ballsy informative memoir of her time in the early 80's while working at Radio Beijing, the part of the Central broadcast system that dances to the tune of the Propaganda Committee of the People's Republic of China. An institution where the clock time ruled everything, even if the clocks were broken.
Her Maoist mission: "Whomever wants to know a thing has no way of doing so except by coming into contact with it, that is by living in its environment. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.
This is a rare clear, as clear as one could get, window into the sooty Dicken-esque world of the life of the Chinese people in Beijing and beyond. Or as much of the realities of it that she could observe through the paranoia filter that strained every relationship into a watered down soup of pat conversations with groups of people whose self- image was constructed by the Communist Parties hand.
For her, a vibrant passionate woman whose mission has always risen to giving voice to those mouth's forbidden to speak, it felt like a passage into gloom.
She was desperate to get at her co-workers and any Chinese person who would abide her in getting to the inner heart of their lives experience. "I could never seem to move beyond a surface veneer to something more authentic, reflections or revealing private doubts or fear, fantasies or phobias or jokes." That "something" as forbidden as their even having any relations with a foreigner, especially a vibrant red headed free spirit cultivated in the leftist activist era of the US.
Now she was coming face to face with the actual paralysis that occurs in a socialist/ communist system. Not the utopia academic idealism she was immersed in at Berkley years earlier.
A poignant dream describes it best:
"I am trying to work on a jigsaw puzzle. It turns out to be about China. I am working on it for a year only to discover that half the pieces are missing."
She packs a lot of Chinese Political and Cultural history into the pages of her memoir (I echo her feelings, "so much history my brain hurt and my soul felt tortured"), along with a Freudian questioning analysis of the humanness of these foreign beings, not excluding herself from that couch analysis and the effect such a stifled existence had on her own actions.
Her constant companion, frustration, could be escaped only through the cadre of Jazz and Blues tapes she wallowed in, as potent for her as any drink or drug, or the rare affairs she risked with Chinese men.
As well she found her own unique 'oriental' escape, bicycling about to discover the forbidden while Her eye-catching red hair and spirit were tucked under the padded drab standard issued clothes of the Chinese masses. That's where the thrills were. "My bike would become the conduit to discovery and enlightenment."
Her biggest barrier to getting at the heart of the Chinese people, the experience she craved most, was the Great Wall - the language barrier - learning Mandarin, a wall more formidable it seemed then the real stone one.
Even her job proved vexing, once she quickly realized she was working for a propagandist institution rather than a journalistic one that insulted and stifled every raw journalistic instinct she had cultivated through her earlier years chasing stories, editing tape and producing powerful documentaries in the United States. She wanted to dig into the facts, go at it with the reporters quest for answer, but in China those facts seemed to be fungible or so narrow they were reduced to two simplistic lines of description: "Beautiful " and one end road to it all, "Friendship."
"Fear of prosecution makes one dull and flat."
"I felt as if I was in a funhouse of confusing mirrors."
"I tried not to be sucked down into the quicksand of my ignorance and frustrations as well as the melancholia for orange juice, cheese, cold wine and rum raisin ice cream."
"Forbidden Fruit" also offers a unique glimpse inside the hallowed walls of privileged foreign journalists sequestered from the real hardships of the sea of average Chinese man or woman.
In the end, through the memoir of Gail Pellett's year in Beijing, a raw diary of her experiences mouthed with her outgoing plucky expressive style, punctuated with shards of Jazz and Blues commentary, we too can taste the sometimes bitter, sometimes sour, and occasionally sweet taste of Mao's Forbidden Fruit- the Chinese citizens, long before the current economic wave washed over China.
**It's only a shame she did not include her diary of charcoal sketches, which I am sure are also a poignant visual rendering of the Chinese soul.
A Room in Athens
Frances Karlen Santamaria
Tatra Press LLC
9780989835299, $15.00, 174 pages, www.amazon.com
They say artists hover a bit outside of life; too obsessed with observing, contemplating and recording their impressions of it to be one hundred percent involved in it.
Such encompasses the pensive writing style of Frances Karlen Santamaria, best described through the words of her adoring son; "she dashed off written watercolor like impressions of people fresh and literary...some sympathetically rendered others verge on harsh caricature."
And what better subject to render into vivid pictures than her first foreign sojourn at the age of 27, during the midst of the mad dash of the early 60's in America to soak in the "Zorba the Greek" experience of Greece and other exotic European ports of call, "where your consciousness is stretched each second with total attention."
Foreign travel has always been a rite of intellectual passage for the class of thinking Americans to which Frances and Arno/her husband belonged.
The synopsis: In 1964, off Frances went with Arno/ Holiday magazine writer and aspiring novelist at her side, and soon to emerge son in tow inside her for part of the ride, who became for the last three months of her adventure a gurgling focus more intriguing than that of the life around her in their last and longest stop, Athens--Greece.
What I find wonderful about diaries and memoirs are the raw emotions and images of life that so often become the dulled and manipulated stuff of fiction, written by those trying to capture the sparks of lives lived by someone else. Frances' writing offers up her experience like a plate of steak tartar.
Though the book is billed as a comparison of the realities of Greek life versus the idyll of Greece - eh -the main storyline bubbling through her memoir is purely the journey of a woman on the cusp of becoming a mother, as she quips; " the one major event of our grown lives for which we do not have our hair done," choosing to have her baby at a natural childbirth clinic in Greece; thought of as a rather dubious thing to do at the time, while coming to grips with marrying a man " with a built-in mistress"; writing. She describes it succinctly thus; "he seems about to write something...but whatever it is hasn't emerged ...and he lives around an unseen but felt iceberg lodged in his mind." Her husband seemed to place a higher value on his own freedom to experience the night life of Greek tavernas with other young sponges dissecting the novelty of Greek life- while his wife was sequestered to 'a room in Athens.'
To quote one of those famous Greek philosophers she admired so, "Without strife, there can be no greatness." And in the end France's wonderfully potent writing speaks its greatness in this memoir clearest to women, through the unique episode of life, she and a handful of Greek woman experienced in their journey into motherhood.
Most notable are her vivid sketches of places and peoples which are as palpable as if one muddled through the grand tour of Europe itself though sadly her diary of the months spent touring England, Italy, Spain, and Yugoslavia, pre-baby birth are reduced to a few paragraphs. They would have blasted open the tunnel of the book into a grander adventure. Hopefully they will someday be compiled and edited in what should be a very worthwhile book. Some vibrant excerpts:
"At twilight, the sky above Athens turns orange and the light in the streets takes on a purple tones of the bare mountains that semicircle the town. Men sat drinking in cafes where women never went. The city had awakened from its long afternoon nap and Athenians were out in their numbers, going back to work, shopping, strolling. Soldiers - with custom-made uniforms hugging their bodies-- passed by in the twos and threes of soldiers everywhere, there were many of the righteous priests in their black robes, their hair braided in a knot in the back like a matador's. They had, without exception, the air of smug landowners..."
"Boys in white aprons ran by, swinging tripodic, long handled trays of coffee and ouzo--messengers of the Greek carry-out. Occasionally, a cart rumbled by with a handsome young man standing up driving the horse, so like a charioteer I had to smile"
The greatest compliment I can pay her is that many of her fecund commentaries on life were just as poignant and literary as those penned by the great philosophers of Greek antiquity she so admired.
And though the reality of her Greek Cultural adventure felt far short of her fantasy, as she realized "Ancient Greece is a state of the spirit only to which plane fare can't take you," the birth of her firstborn son did not disappoint.
"A Room in Athens" or the more befitting title from its first publication, "Joshua, a First Born," exposes just the tip of the iceberg lodged in the mind of the very talented writer, Frances Karlen Santamara.
Karen Chutsky, Reviewer
William Handwerker & Jayne A. Pearl
Morgan James Publishing
11815 Fountain Way, Suite 300, Newport News, VA 23606-4448
9781630479367, $29.95, HC, 192pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Nathan's Famous: The First 100 Years of America's Favorite Frankfurter Company" by William Handwerker (a former company executive and the founder's grandson) with the assistance of Jayne A. Pearl chronicles the history and business strategies of company founder Nathan Handwerker that led to the success of an iconic international brand and two of America's most loved foods: The Nathan's Famous Frankfurter and Crinkle-cut French Fries.
Brimming with photos of historic Coney Island, New York, Nathan's Famous restaurants, and intimate family memories "Nathan's Famous" details entrepreneurial spirit, business lessons, dramatic corporate missteps and growth. William includes insights into three generations of the Handwerker family, beginning with the founder's early life, growing up in extreme poverty in Galicia, Poland, as well as his own sons and grandson who contributed to expanding geographic locations, menu and the overall brand. Nathan's may have started as a small hot dog stand in 1916, but by sticking to his philosophy to "give 'em and let 'em eat," he was able to beat his competition by providing top quality food at low prices. "Nathan's Famous" reveals the successes, trials and tribulations of growing Nathan's original vision into the international frankfurter corporation it is today.
It is interesting to note that William penned "Nathan's Famous" to commemorate the enormous entrepreneurial spirit of his grandfather's legacy and the business history of one of America's most loved foods --- the Nathan's Famous frankfurter.
Critique: Exceptional, consistently compelling, deftly organized, illustrated and presented, "Nathan's Famous" will prove to be of special interest to any reader who has ever patronized a Nathan's Famous restaurant and enjoyed a Nathan's hot dog. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nathan's Famous" is also available in a paperback edition (9781630479343, $17.95) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).
Scratch a Thief / House of Evil
Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781933586991, $19.95, PB, 245pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A master of the mystery/thriller genre, "John Trinian" is the pseudonym of Zekial Marko. Now Stark House Press has published two of his iconic stories in their Stark House Noir Classics series: "Scratch a Thief / House of Evil".
In "Scratch a Thief", Eddie Pesak is married and has a young daughter. But there was a time when he was part of his brother Walter's gang. There was a time when he was the gun man on a series of robberies, like that time he accidentally shot a cop in the belly. They caught him on that last job, and he did his time. Now all he wants is to find a job and keep it before Drago (the cop-with-a-grudge he shot all those years ago) rousts him and gets him fired again. All Eddie wants is to steer clear of his past. But that's when Walter comes back into his life, and Sargatanas, his twitchy right-hand-man. They need him for a job, one last job that will get them all what they need to retire. But you don't retire from being a thief. It's like Drago says, once a thief...
In "House of Evil", Carey Ledbetter, ex-carny, has the perfect setup. As Zedek Kozma he heads a religious group at The Retreat while dispensing sex and drugs to the Hollywood elite. Trouble is, Carey is beginning to forget where carny ends and crazy devil worship begins -- the demons are starting to get too real. So when failing B-actor, Paul Berko, accidentally stumbles his way up to The Retreat, Carey isn't sure but that he might have finally met the devil himself. All Berko wants to do is get to know one of the acolytes, Anne Woodbridge. That and soak up some of the free booze. But if Kozma wants him to be the devil, he can be the devil. It could be the role of a lifetime...
Critique: The very definition of 'time lost classics', "Scratch a Thief / House of Evil" is unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections and will now introduce a whole new generation of appreciative mystery buffs to author John Trinian and his distinctive noir fiction literary talent.
The Trombone Man: Tales of a Misogynist
Ron J. Hutter
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781483450087, $19.95, PB, 164pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the pages of "The Trombone Man: Tales of a Misogynist" by Ron J. Hutter we are introduced to Dr. Peter Kraus. He is a forty-something behavioral scientist who is known for his quirky innovative ideas, charming bookish manner and love for music, especially the sound of the trombone. Sadly, though courteous and engaging, as well as being a good and considerate lover, he has never been successful with women. While women adore him, his dates usually end in disaster. Nonetheless, Dr. Kraus makes it no secret that he loves the company of women-in carefully measured doses. Following a particularly bad date with his on-and-off girlfriend, Bev, Peter consults his psychoanalyst, Dr. Maxine Feinschmecker, who is the only one who knows about his James Bond fantasies and unresolved oedipal issues. His sessions with Dr. Feinschmecker reveal that he is a misogynist. "The Trombone Man" shares the story of one man's zany adventure through an outlandish world where political correctness and populism take on new meanings, but that may end up being more normal than he ever imagined.
Critique: A deftly crafted, consistently compelling, and a read-for-the-pure-pleasure-of it experience, Ron Hutter's "The Trombone Man: Tales of a Misogynist" is an original and thoroughly entertaining novel by an original and impressively skilled storyteller. While unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Trombone Man" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.55).
Hidden in the Valley
Barbara J. Moore
West Bow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson & Zondervan
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781490817040, $11.95, http://www.westbowpress.com
Barbara J. Moore's debut release, Hidden in the Valley is the true story of one family's fears, heartache and struggles when they learn their aging 76-year-old mother has disappeared. The time is 2007 and Doris Anderson's husband Harold has encouraged his wife to join him on his "annual elk hunting trip" into the Eagle Cap Wilderness in northeast Oregon's beautiful Wallowa Mountains.
Doris's struggles with fear, worry and depression were long-standing and Harold, "about at his wit's end" with her, thought the trip would remind his wife of the good times in their "younger years" when they "camped, hunted and fished together."
After their arrival at the campground they quickly unloaded their large and small quads and took off for the "high-country." Harold's love for the woods was only exceeded by his well-planned preparations and high expectation that soon turned to crushing frustration when he saw the road gated off that led to his "favorite hunting grounds." Forest service signs said motorized vehicles were no longer allowed.
Disappointed, they decided to go back to camp, load up and return home even though they had enough supplies for several days. When they arrived Harold loaded both ATV's onto the trailer. While adjusting the load the trailer tipped backward and he was knocked "sideways off the tailgate." Trapped upside down he yelled for Doris. When she finally got him down Harold's left hip, leg and side were injured and his left wrist was broken.
Together they slowly reloaded the trailer and secured the trailers' heavy ramp gate, a difficult feat in the best of circumstances, let alone for an elderly, injured couple. Then Harold, "disoriented and in pain" and Doris climbed into the Tahoe to head toward home with Harold trying to maneuver the rutted roads with his one good hand.
He was distracted from the pain and turned left when he should have turned right and the elderly couple unintentionally drove deep into the mountain wilderness. They couldn't know 76-year old Doris would be stranded in the wilderness for fourteen days with nothing but her purse or that 74-year-old Harold, hurt and confused, would lose consciousness and lay down by a roadside log to die as daylight faded.
Thus begins one family's miraculous story of faith, fervent prayers and God's miraculous intervention in their lives and the lives of their aged parents. When all indications were the elderly couple couldn't survive night time temperature in the twenties and thirties and daytime highs in the eighties.
A verse from Psalm 23 begins each of eight chapters that follow search and rescue efforts that quickly gained national attention. From Sarah Skidmore's article, "Elderly Woman Survives in Oregon Woods" in The Washington Post to "Doris Given Up For Dead Found Alive" posted online by Heaven4Sure.com, to "Missing woman was hours from death..." in The Register-Guard.
While the amazing story concerns the elderly couple's ordeal, the focus is more about what the family went through. Whether from Harold's frustration, the family's fears or from authority's initial questions about possible homicide that culminates in a story faith and dependence on God in extreme circumstances.
Miracles All Around Us: True-Life Stories of Heaven Touching Earth
John Van Diest
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
9780736938037, $14.99, www.harvesthousepublishers.com
John Van Diest, former Christian book publisher, Oregon author and co-compiler of bestselling "Lists to Live By" does not believe in coincidence. Instead he views, "Coincidence as God's way of performing miracles anonymously." However, he cautions, belief in or experiencing a miracle also "has a lot to do with our hearts."
With that in mind he compiled and released "amazing true stories of healing, answered prayer and transformed lives" I reviewed in 2013, Do You Believe in Miracles. He continues that theme with "Miracles All Around Us" that includes sixty-nine true stories from authors such as Josh McDowell, David Jeremiah, Oswald Chambers, Phillip Yancey and many more. He divided the narratives into story groups titled, "Miracles of Destiny," "Miracles of Prayer," "Miracles of Protection," "Miracles of Provision," "Miracles of the Power of Jesus," "Simple Miracles," "Miracles of Healing" and "Everyday Miracles."
Sections begin with concise quotes and brief descriptions of each section's focus. For example, "Everyday Miracles" features a quote from Bruce Wilkinson, "God did not place you on this earth to notice him at work only once or twice in your whole life." Followed by a descriptive paragraph that says everyone is a candidate for miracles and when we get to heaven we'll be surprised at how many miracles happened during our lifetimes.
Many stories concern foreign missions and missionaries and the value and importance of Bibles to unsaved peoples. Others feature God's amazing and miraculous answers to prayers on foreign shores, while other stories are accounts of God's guidance in extraordinary circumstances.
For example, in Dick Woodward story, "People Love Secrets," readers learn about Woodward's quadriplegic disability and why be believes even though "he's stuck, he's free" because an "absolute miracle came out of his situation." This story includes Woodward's "four spiritual secrets" that he says blessed him with peace, joy and a miraculous sense of purpose in spite of his disability.
The author believes "stories of heaven touching earth" will leave readers with the assurance that God is alive, active and intimately involved during a time when belief in God seems to be on the decline.
The soft cover book fits easily into purse or bag and most stories are only one or two pages in length, which makes the book a perfect choice for a quick break at work or while waiting for a dentist, doctor or other appointment.
Rise of the Beast: A Novel (The Patmos Conspiracy) (Volume 1)
Sydney Lane Press
9780975866221, $15.00, http://www.sydneylanepress.com
M.K. Gilroy, publishing veteran, author, consultant and blogger, opens "The Patmos Conspiracy," his exciting new five-book series, with Rise of the Beast that released in April. "Voice of Danger," book two, is scheduled for release in the fall.
"Rise of the Beast" is a multi-layered, action-packed thriller about a disillusioned ex-Army Ranger turned black-ops private contractor named Burke who was once a man of great faith. Perhaps that's why hiring the alluring and naive Pauline to spy on Jonathan Alexander, a maniacal billionaire bothered him. She would be killed if Jonathan knew what she was up to.
However, Pauline, who looked like a tall, statuesque beauty queen, "was perfect for what needed to be done," he thought. She had agreed to play the part of a greedy, superficial mistress to gain Jonathan's trust and he had been completely honest with her about the danger. Yet Burke liked her and suspected she didn't understand how cunning, dangerous and ruthless Alexander would be if he caught her betraying him.
Add naive country preacher Dwight Garrison, dedicated research doctor and scientist, Dr. Claire Stevens, an intimidating bodyguard named Jules and an assortment of other fascinating characters and you have a story that demands to be read in one sitting.
My one small criticism is with the overly long prologue that would be better understood once the first book is read.
The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe
Heather Mac Donald
900 Broadway, #601, New York, NY 10003
9781594038754, $23.99, www.encounterbooks.com
Heather Mac Donald, award-winning journalist, non-practicing attorney and political commentator, uses statistics, fascinating personal stories and in-depth investigations to prove police involved shootings of blacks are not racially motivated in The War on Cops.
Instead, she lays out a case that such violence is caused by the breakdown of the black family where children are raised in single parent households with absentee fathers. "Until society is willing to address the family breakdown that generates such violence, the police provide the social control" a father would otherwise give, she writes. She uses the city of Chicago as an example, where "about 80% of black children are born to single mothers."
She identifies another facet of the problem as the media who add "legitimacy and notoriety" to race-based allegations with reality show-style reporting before facts are known. She questions if protests and rioting would even occur without news cameras and media attention.
Part one of her four-part book features the shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson that resulted in two commonly accepted myths and what Mac Donald would later call the "Ferguson effect." Extensive investigations would prove Brown was not shot with his hands raised in the surrender position and the American criminal-justice system is not rigged against blacks as reported.
However the lack of trust between citizens and law enforcement may be a lasting residual effect Mac Donald describes as the "Ferguson effect." Where officers use less enforcement in situations with potential for racism charges. Whether the "Ferguson effect" is real or not crime and murder are on the rise and it could be due to the microscopic scrutiny and "data-driven accountability" police officers endure.
All concerned citizens should read Mac Donald's well-researched, fact based book that makes no excuses for officers who don't follow their training. However, research does not support charges of police racism or deadly force used in excess against blacks. Instead, she writes, "race-based attacks on the criminal-justice system" and the police, erodes the "authority of law and puts lives at risk."
Gail Welborn, Reviewer
The Color of a Lion's Eye: Memories of Africa
c/o Peace Corps Worldwide
9780986280160, $15.00 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 123pp, www.amazon.com
Jane Bonin begun her adult life as a homemaker. Then she became a homemaker and a graduate student. The next step was that of tenured professor and grandmother at a rather provincial university in the Deep South. At this point when most of us feel they are settled down and settled in, she divorced, gave up her university position, and moved to Washington D.C. without the hope or prayer of a job. In fairly short order she became a civil servant employee of the State Department. Her next stepping stone was that of a Peace Corps administrator in Africa. She ended her work career as the country director of the Peace Corps in Niger.
I am aware of the broad outline of Jane's career because, back when, I was a graduate student of hers. Looking back, I think it may well be that one of the reasons I interested her was the fact that I had served in the Peace Corps. Later, I accompanied Jane on her first visit to Africa. I put this in for a number of reasons. The first is to disclose my knowledge of the writer of the book under review, but, more importantly, to let you know that I have more than a passing knowledge of the subject matter of her African memoir.
It has been fifty years since I joined the Peace Corps. In that time I have talked to many former volunteers from countries the world round. I was dead certain the things I experienced as a volunteer on islands in the Pacific were absolutely sui generis, unique only to my experience. No doubt to some extent that is true. But in an even broader sense that very experience was shared by all Peace Corps volunteers I have talked with. In particular I recall swapping experiences with a Korean volunteer. The climate, the food, the customs of the locals, and the interactions with them was in no way similar, but the experience in the days before Korea became an industrialized nation was. That experience boiled down to a thumbnail is this: the third worlders we lived among experienced a reality unknown to those of us who were born to riding in automobiles, living in houses centrally heated and air conditioned with refrigerators full to bursting with the provender of choice. On the face of it this may seem a truism to an onlooker from the outside. But to me and presumably all former volunteers, this is a Truth that takes over your life after you experience it. When you come back to the States you feel as though the life stateside isn't life. It is like the shadow reality Plato's cave men saw on the wall. Sure, one could be in, say, an auto accident and die outright. But it's more likely an ambulance would arrive, you'd be wheeled on a gurney into an emergency room, and saved. In the area where we were volunteers, if you suffered a life threatening accident, you suffered the unalloyed consequences such as say, Rocky, the young man with a winning smile and disposition who suffered a spear gun wound and died, or the fellow tuna fishing in a canoe on the ocean. When he pulling his hand line in, instead of letting go when he saw a shark behind his fish, he tugged the tuna into the boat. The shark came after it and landed, jaws snapping, on his thigh. He survived months before the regular inter-island boat arrived to take him to the district center for medical care. He ultimately perished from that wound.
The distorted sense of reality I suffered diminished with time. Indeed, one learned as one got back in the swim of first-world life that the American experience was not only real, but that it has its own set of vicious realities one did not want to run afoul of. In time I marked down the Peace Corps experience, and the belief that I had learned a universal truth as merely a product of youthful growing up. None of this occurred to me when I picked up Jane Bonin's book. But it all came back exceedingly fast as I read it.
Jane Bonin was not a callow volunteer, as I and most volunteers were, even those middle-agers who are lost in the big world, often divorcees after many years in wedlock, and go in to find themselves. She was a mature upper middle class American on an upward trajectory. She owned an apartment in the building Peter Lawford lived in Advise and Consent. Her experience in the Peace Corps administration would be, I suspected, fodder for the sort of chatter made on her cocktail circuit, good for a mark of distinction for a month or two after she got back.
And indeed Jane Bonin tells us straightaway that life in Malawi reminded her a lot of her youth in rural Louisiana. Her maternal grandfather, a parson, once stopped a lynching by insisting the mob fall to its knees and pray. Her paternal grandfather was a country doctor. Black folks were as common in her life and the households of folks she knew in Louisiana as the ten people in her employ in her compound in Malawi. .
But as soon as she gets down to the quotidian details of the volunteers she administered (she was known as the volunteers' "big") and the Malawians they worked with, that old Peace Corps Truth begins to shimmer forth. She compares and contrasts the American way of birth and baby death in the 1950s with that in Malawi. When her second child was born, she remembered only her own drug induced haze and the doctor declaring it was "a big, beautiful boy." Two days later the child was dead. The mother never saw the child. In Malawi during a "walkabout," she bumped into a volunteer named Gail. She had just aided in the birth of a baby. She took her Big to the woman and explained she wanted to see the child. The woman nodded shyly.
Gail removed the child from a cloth wrapper and handed her to her Big. The child was thirty minutes old. She was still sticky. She had not been washed because the woman's had gone into serious labor and there was no time to get to a well, perhaps a mile away, and draw water. After the author handed the baby back, she was overcome with sadness. The woman's situation was not good. The child would have a hard struggle of it, and the next time she saw Gail, the volunteer took her hand and wouldn't let go. She told her the child died of the bloody diarrhea.
Toward the end of her book, Jane Bonin says "the country was teeming with life. Nearly every woman I saw had a baby on her back or at her breast. Most women, even the ones with infants, were pregnant as well. The animals too were in the reproductive mode. It was as though everything was wildly speeded up. An insane, out-of-control, explosive outcropping of life, together with an insane out-of-control, explosive eruption of morbidity and mortality. The life force drives harder in Africa and creates both life and death with ever more velocity."If you want to know what the Peace Corps experience is about, read this book.
The Trickster: A Monsterful Florida Tale
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781492110422, $9.95 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 138pp, www.amazon.com
Rich McKee made quite a name for himself on the regional level as a humorist. His first book, a collection of satirical essays titled The Clan of the Flapdragon, was published by the University of Alabama Press. McKee's first novel, The Culprit, could best be described as the print version of a screwball comedy. Now he has brought out another book. He considers it the second in a trilogy, never minding the fact that the 2014 The Trickster bears little resemblance in tone to his earlier work.
In fact, The Trickster is something of a puzzle early on to the reader. One finds oneself hrumphing here and laughing there, but the prose is rather serious as is the refurbished protagonist of The Culprit, Sean McDuff, a recently retired English department chairman and his new lover who also is his former student. The first imbroglio that needs resolving in the plot is a fat fee that a visiting writer by the name of Karlov - yes, like Boris but without the f. This Karlov is a Belarussian cum American science fiction writer who is short listed for the Nobel. His fee goes up five thousand, and the protagonist junior faculty admirer is hung out on the line to dry. He barely was able to arrange for the original sum, and no administrator will cough up another dime. But Sean McDuff tells him not to worry and that he'll fork over the five thousand on an anonymous basis. The reason for this unsung paean of generosity is twofold. One the protagonist came into a lot of money late in life and the other is nothing makes him happier than seeing highfaluting administrators made fun on. He thinks it likely Karlov will make asses of them all.
The next complication is much more sinister. His name is Trey Hoad. By profession he is a poacher, and the land he has marked out as his own poaching preserve is owned by Sean McDuff. A deputy sheriff recommends that Sean leave Hoad to the law. It happens that in Florida a trespasser needs to be formally notified that his presence is not welcome. Seeing Hoad's pickup parked on his land, Sean decides to give the notice himself. In the bed of the truck are a feral hog and a deer. The hog may be a legal take - but not on Sean's property - but the deer is clearly out of season. Sean gives Hoad notice as politely as he can. But Hoad is not one to take such a warning as anything other than a personal and even mortal insult. He calls no end of villainy on Sean's head, and the latter is happy to get away unharmed. Hoad on the other hand takes his meat to his clients, mostly inbred relatives, and prepares to get even.
The ethnicity of Sean's female companion, Jane, and also the deputy, is Native American. They both trace their roots to a local Seminole reservation. But Jane's grandmother was not, strictly speaking, a Seminole. She could trace her lineage back to the aboriginal culture of Southwest Florida, the Calusa. It is believed that the last vestige of the Calusa were herded aboard a Spanish barque and taken to Cuba when Florida was swapped to Britain after the French and Indian War in 1763. There they were nevermore heard of. But in The Trickster, a remnant band hid out in the Everglades and later merged with the Seminoles. Jane's grandmother was evidently part Calusa and could decipher remnant artifacts. But grandmother disappeared in the wilderness nearby, and therein lies the heart of the plot of the story.
Rich McKee is a devotee of Tim Dorsey, Florida's current mystery writer of note. To a degree this tome appears inspired in part by that genre which has come into its own in recent days. The papa bear is, of course, John D. MacDonald. MacDonald established many of the givens of the trade in the Sunshine State. Foremost among them is an abiding love of the Florida that once was. In short, MacDonald was an environmentalist before that word had been coined in the contemporary sense, and just about all Florida mystery writers heel to this call. McKee may not have here a mystery as the genre is normally known but he remains true to the environmentalism of both MacDonald and Dorsey.
McKee, as an English professor, has done critical work on Dorsey. He knows that Dorsey is also an apt practitioner of the other element that has come to mark the Florida mystery novel. That is an over the top element that can be outdone by almost no other region. Dorsey even claims to have been greatly inspired by Mad magazine as a child and his novels often seem as though plotted by Alfred E. Newman, the Mad character of note. But Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen take a back seat to McKee in the over-the-top bag of tricks that are trotted out in The Trickster. First we get Karlov reading from his novella and then we have poacher Trey Hoad meet his comeuppance at the hands of a wonderful deus ex machina that will curdle your milk and warm your heart. The Trickster is indeed a monsterful Florida tale.
The Big Book of Practical Spells
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781578635979, $18.95, PB, 304pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Basically, a spell is a magical formula in the form of a spoken or written pronouncement intended to bring about a specific effect. Practical, inspirational, and comprehensive, "The Big Book of Practical Spells: Everyday Magic That Works" by Judika Illes (psychic, aromatherapist, dedicated student of metaphysics and the magical arts) is a useful tool and resource for both beginners and experienced devotees of the magical arts. Here in one comprehensive volume is a basic introduction to magic; a psychic glossary; a primer on the four elements, colors, and magical supplies (including minerals and botanicals); and a compendium of spells for any situation you may face.
With "The Big Book of Practical Spells" as a guide, anyone can learn how to enhance psychic power, cleanse an aura, be protected from malevolent powers, as well as create and use a wide variety of spells. In the pages of "The Big Book of Practical Spells" there are spells for marriage, fertility, pregnancy prevention, babies and children, money, healing, transition to the next life, and more. These are spells that will help make life easier, more productive, and stress free.
Critique: Offering a complete and exceptionally well organized and presented course of instruction, "The Big Book of Practical Spells: Everyday Magic That Works" is extraordinarily 'user friendly' in tone, content and commentary. Impressively informed and informative, enhanced with the inclusion of a psychic glossary, six pages of Botanical Classifications, a four page Bibliography, and a twenty-seven page Index, "The Big Book of Practical Spells" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies reference collections in general, and Wiccan Studies supplemental reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Big Book of Practical Spell" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
A Curious History of Vegetables
Wolf D. Storl
North Atlantic Books
2526 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94704-2607
9781623170394, $22.95, PB, 364pp, www.amazon.com
Featuring gardening tips, recipes, and beautiful full-color pencil drawings of each vegetable, "A Curious History of Vegetables: Aphrodisiacal and Healing Properties, Folk Tales, Garden Tips, and Recipes" by Wolf D. Storl (an ethnobotanist and the author of some two dozen books on herbalism, alternative medicine, ethnobotany, and shamanism) is specifically intended for farm-to-fork aficionados and gardeners with an esoteric bent explores the secret history of 48 well known and rare vegetables, examining their symbolism, astrological connections, healing properties, and overall character.
A fascinating introduction to vegetable gardening and cooking, "A Curious History of Vegetables" sets horticulture in its historical, cultural, and cosmological contexts. "A Curious History of Vegetables" provides the reader with a deep understanding of the theory of biodynamic gardening, as well as a wealth of useful tips on light and warmth, ground covers, composts, crop rotation and weeds. Woven in with folk tales and stories from history, each entry also includes delicious historical recipes for each showcased vegetable.
Critique: An inherently fascinating compendium that is an informed and informative as it is consistently compelling read from beginning to end, "A Curious History of Vegetables" begins with an informative Introduction that includes: From Wild Gardens to Plant Zoos; Shamanistic Food; The Healing Power of Vegetables; A Note on Astrological Classification. This is followed by an alphabetized section on Common Vegetables; then a section devoted Forgotten, Rare, and less-Known Vegetables; and concludes with Forgotten, Rare, and hardly Known Lettuce Greens. Of special note is the ten page article on 'Cosmic Cooking the Planetary Cuisine of Arthur Hermes'. Enhanced with the inclusion of eight pages of Notes, as well as an eight page Index. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Horticulture & Gardening reference collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "A Curious History of Vegetables" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.99).
Achieving Next Generation Literacy
Maureen Connolly & Vicky Giouroukakis
1703 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311-1714
9781416621638, $27.95, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: What all teachers want most is for their students to learn what they are being taught. For their students to immerse themselves in rich and challenging content and leave the classroom better prepared for school and life. In English language arts and humanities, this includes developing the multifaceted reading, writing, thinking, and communication skills that constitute next generation literacy, including the ability to: Read complex text independently; Develop strong content knowledge through reading, writing, listening, and speaking; Tailor communication in response to different audiences, tasks, purposes, and disciplines; Comprehend text as well as critique it; Value evidence in arguments they read, hear, or develop; Use technology strategically and capably; Understand perspectives and cultures that differ from their own.
In all schools today, teachers know just how much is riding on achievement tests from the national assessment consortia, the SAT and ACT, and independent state assessments. Is it possible to help students succeed on mandated tests without sacrificing values, creativity, and their education?
"Achieving Next Generation Literacy: Using the Tests (You Think) You Hate to Help the Students You Love" answers that question with an firm and decisive YES. and goes on to show how.
"Achieving Next Generation Literacy" is not a test-prep book. It is not about "drill and kill" practices that narrow learning so that students will pass an exam. "Achieving Next Generation Literacy" presents a lesson planning approach for the secondary classroom that generates test success as a byproduct of comprehensive literacy learning. After a comparative analysis of how current ELA assessments measure literacy, "Achieving Next Generation Literacy" models a backward design-based process for using these test items as a tool to create engaging and effective instruction. With 6 sample lessons, 42 instructional techniques, and tips for differentiation, "Achieving Next Generation Literacy" is a practical resource will empower classroom teachers to help their students become capable, literate individuals who are also well-prepared to ace high-stakes tests.
Critique: The collaborative work of Maureen Connolly (who teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in secondary education for the School of Education at The College of New Jersey and is a consultant for CBK Associates) and Vicky Giouroukakis (Professor in the Division of Education at Molloy College, Rockville Centre, New York, and who teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in literacy, English education, and TESOL), "Achieving Next Generation Literacy: Using the Tests (You Think) You Hate to Help the Students You Love" is exceptionally well organized and presented, and thoroughly 'reader/user friendly' in tone, content, accessability, and application. An extraordinary and comprehensive instructional guide, "Achieving Next Generation Literacy" is unreservedly recommended for professional, college, and university library Teacher Education collections and supplemental studies reading lists. For student teachers and classroom instructors it should be noted that "Achieving Next Generation Literacy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($26.55).
Becoming a Sage
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
9780757319044, $15.95, PB, 312pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A sage is a profoundly wise person, a person famed for wisdom, someone venerated for the possession of wisdom, judgment, and experience. The art of becoming a sage mixes personal life experience with learning from ancient and historical people who have gathered their own wisdom. Sages know that they stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before.
In "Becoming a Sage: Discovering Life's Lessons, One Story at a Time", master storyteller Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse encourages her readers to find their own personal path through a series of short stories, lessons learned and prudent quotes that validate each experience. Her stories span deep lows and soaring highs, representing a lifelong journey of lessons learned and a celebration of living with those lessons. Each tale will bring solace, comfort, and joy to readers, and inspire and teach them how to record their own stories. It will bring readers through guilt, fear, and forgiveness to reach personal transformation.
It's not always easy to tell our stories; they can be scary or feel too private. But, as we grow older, we find courage and confidence by deciding to become "a teller of the truth". Our sharing is the legacy that we leave to family and friends; "Becoming a Sage" is the remarkable legacy Wegscheider-Cruse leaves to us all.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively organized and presented, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content and commentary, "Becoming a Sage: Discovering Life's Lessons, One Story at a Time" is a potentially life changing, life improving instructional guide that is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library Self-Help / Self-Improvement collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Becoming a Sage" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Women and Sport: From Liberation to Celebration
Ellen J. Staurowsky, editor
Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 5076, Champaign, IL 61820-5076
9781450417594, $79.00, HC, 315pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Ellen J. Staurowsky (Professor of Sport Management, Drexel University) "Women and Sport: Continuing a Journey of Liberation and Celebration" specifically focuses on women winning access to the playing field as well as the front office in sport. Readers will gain an understanding of how women have been involved in sport and physical activity, how they have struggled for widespread recognition and legitimacy in the eyes of many, and how they continue to carve out their role in shaping sport as we know it today and as it will be in the future. "Women and Sport" facilitates interdisciplinary, research-based discussion by providing a detailed account of contributions from women in sport. The text features a foreword by sport executive Donna Orender and is deftly organized into 15 chapters contributed by leading authorities in women's sports in terms of history, access, participation, social values, media, marketing, management, and more. Of special note is the chapter on 'Women, Sport, and Sexual Violence'.
Critique: Offering a complete course of instruction, "Women and Sport: From Liberation to Celebration" is enhanced with the inclusion of thirty-four pages of Notes; a ten page Index, and a two page listing of the contributors and their credentials. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Women and Sport" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Professional Sports reference collections in general, and Women's Sports supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
Home Decor Cheat Sheets
Jessica Probus, author
Alice Mongkongllite, illustrator
PO Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703-3440
9781612435541, $16.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 128pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: With 300 illustrative graphics by Alice Mongkongllite, "Home Decor Cheat Sheets: Need-to-Know Stuff for Stylish Living" by professional interior designer, set designer, prop stylist, and production designer Jessica Probus shows all the dos, the don'ts and the timeless design rules for a perfectly coordinated space. These colorful, easy-to-understand illustrations teach everything needed to be able to beautifully furnish, arrange and decorate a home. In mere seconds, any non-specialist general reader will be able to grasp the vital, core concepts needed to give any house an inspiring look, including how to: Properly Match Furniture Styles; Brighten Rooms with Natural Light; Stylishly Arrange Wall Art; Perfectly Fit the Rug to the Room; Create Dramatic Lighting Effects; Add Elegance Using Throw Pillows.
Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, " "Home Decor Cheat Sheets: Need-to-Know Stuff for Stylish Living" is basically a do-it-yourself introduction to interior design that is as impressively 'user friendly' as it is comprehensive. Methodically organized into sections that include the Living Room; Dining Room; Bedroom; Tile & Rugs; Windows & Doors; Art & Walls; Lighting; Hardware Cabinetry. Of special note is the section devoted to Design & Decor Tricks. Also featuring a one page Resource Guide, "Home Decor Cheat Sheets: Need-to-Know Stuff for Stylish Living" is very highly recommended for personal and community library Interior Design instructional reference collections.
Choosing the Hero
K. Riva Levinson
c/o Small Press Distribution
1341 Seventh Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781937247034, $19.95, PB, 200pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The rise of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to become the president of Liberia and the first woman elected to lead an African nation is one of the most inspiring stories of our time. But Sirleaf could not have done it alone. Among the people who worked tirelessly to help her achieve her victory was Washington, D.C.-based international consultant and lobbyist K. Riva Levinson. "Choosing the Hero: My Improbable Journey and the Rise of Africa's First Woman President" is Levinson's compelling account of her life and career, and how she joined forces with Sirleaf to fight for a cause bigger than either of them.
With gripping anecdotes, Levinson describes her adventures working in some of the most dangerous places on earth from Mogadishu to Baghdad. But it is her efforts on behalf of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that form the heart of "Choosing the Hero". Levinson chronicles her behind-the-scenes lobbying for the exiled Sirleaf in Washington, D.C. as well as her on-the-ground work in Liberia. It took three tries for Sirleaf to finally win the presidency in 2005. Since inauguration, President Sirleaf, who won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, has transformed her war-ravaged country into one of the world's post-conflict success stories.
"Choosing the Hero" can be read on many levels. It is an exciting narrative about Sirleaf's struggle to create a future for Liberia. It is also a bird's-eye view of the inner workings of the lobbying and public relations business in Washington, D.C. and the making of U.S. foreign policy. But most of all, it is Riva Levinson's personal story of how she found a hero, fought for a worthy cause, and in the process, discovered her soul.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Choosing the Hero" is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling account from beginning to end. Candid, detailed, informative, and unique, "Choosing the Hero" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library African Studies, Women's Studies, Political Science Studies, and Women's Biography collections. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "Choosing the Hero" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Much Ado About Madams
PO Box 5845, Bellevue, WA 98006
9781512276428, $10.99, Paperback
Jacque Rogers has a series of "Much Ado..." books. Much Ado About Madams is the first one. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the witticisms, and the characters (including the "bad guys") and the romance. It is evident that Ms. Rogers does her research and her sense of humor flows all through this book.
Lucinda Sharpe is invited to teach in Dickshooter by... thought I was going to tell, didn't you. Not a chance. Her encounters with the ladies she moves in with and especially with Reese McAdams make for funny, interesting reading. So did Reese invite her? Or did the people in the town invite her? Or the ladies in the house in which she stayed? You will have to read the book to find out.
Follow the fun and excitement as you read about the west of Owyhee County. You will want to read more of the Hearts of Owyhee Western Romance series, then go on to other Jacquie Rogers western witty novels. I highly recommend Much Ado About Madams as a funny and exciting read.
Jacquie Rogers lives in Seattle with her husband. She comes from Owyhee County, Idaho where many of her stories are set and was a real farm girl. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Western Fictioneers. She also teaches online courses in writing.
Dove Hollow Books
Sarah MacTavish has written a first novel that is full of intrigue, adventure, excitement and romance in Firebrand. The author takes you into the past to a part of history of the Civil war that we do not study in school. Told through well-defined characters who are on both sides of the slavery question, Ms. Mactavish spins a tale that will enthrall you. Be sure to set aside enough time to finish the book in one or two "sittings". And waiting for the next book will be exasperating, since you want to find out where she carries the story of the two families or maybe where the two families carry the story.
The secrets of the Callahans in Texas and the Kavanaghs in Pennsylvania draw the two families into an intriguing story that encompasses the people in both families as well as their friends. The "cliffhanger" left by the author makes you want to hear more of the story. But, you will have to read the book to know what it is.
I highly recommend this book to YA readers and older readers will enjoy it, too. As they say, it is a "page turner",' "a must read", "not to be missed".
Sarah was raised in North Texas and is now a teen librarian, so she knows what young people like. She lives in North Texas and counts her pets (dogs and cats) as some of her best friends. She also counts her parents, two sisters and one brother just as close. Even though she lives in Texas, if you ask her, she will tell you her heart is in Ireland.
Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Unlock The Weird!
c/o Ripley Entertainment Inc.
7576 Kingspointe Parkway, Suite 188, Orlando, FL 32819
9781609911652, $28.95, HC, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The newest addition to the library of Ripley Believe Or Not books, "Ripley's Believe It or Not! Unlock the Weird!" is bursting with strange and impressive facts, features, and photos from around the world -- and all of them are verified to be 100% true and accurate! Ranging from weird feats, to bizarre food, to strange animals, and more, this is a brand-new collection of Ripley's stories and photos that includes exclusive features not found anywhere else. Filled with thousands of unbelievably strange oddities to discover, children and adults alike will find a new favorite on every page. As always, "Ripley's Believe It or Not! Unlock the Weird!" will amaze and astound readers from the first to the last page. Hair-raising photographs, incredible stories, and the mind-blowing facts Ripley's is famous for promise hours of entertainment for every Ripley fan! With thousands of stories (including submissions from readers around the world) readers of all ages will discover something new each time they read "Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Unlock The Weird!"!
Critique: "Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Unlock The Weird!" is a perfect and entertaining read from beginning to end. Profusely illustrated and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Unlock The Weird!" will prove to be an ideal and enduringly appreciated addition to school and community library collections, and is unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of the legions of Ripley's Believe It Or Not! fans. Of special note is the 3-D eyeball effect for the book cover -- a pure Ripley's touch as ever there was!
Art from the Holocaust
c/o Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9783868323153, $69.95, HC, 392pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem, is the global center for Holocaust education, remembrance, research and documentation. Compiled with commentary by Eliad Moreh-Rosenberg, "Art from the Holocaust: 100 Artworks from the Yad Vashem Collection" pays tribute to the fortitude of the human spirit. The shown 100 drawings and paintings, a representative core of Yad Vashem's art collection were created in the camps, the ghettos, in hiding and by partisans. These rare artworks by some 50 artists, half of whom were murdered in the Nazi death camps, reflect the tension between the cruel reality the artists experienced and their desire to take flight. Presented thematically, and supported by substantial research on the annals of the artists, the artworks shed light on the artists' experience under the harshest of circumstances.
Critique: Eliad Moreh-Rosenberg survived terror attacks in Jerusalem in July 2002. He has a M.A. in Art History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is a researcher in the Centre for Jewish Art Jerusalem. Simply stated, no college or university Holocaust Studies can be considered comprehensive or up to date without the inclusion of Eliad Moreh-Rosenberg's seminal volume "Art from the Holocaust: 100 Artworks from the Yad Vashem Collection" - a memorial to the most organized and methodical terrorism to occur in the 20th Century. "Art from the Holocaust" would also be an appropriate and valued addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library 20th Century Art History reference collections as well.
Out of the Shadows
Robert Dickins & Time Read, editors
Muswell Hill Press
c/o State University of New York Press
State University Plaza, Albany, NY 12246-0001
9781908995186, $20.95, PB, 222pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The word psychedelic means mind manifesting or mind revealing. Psychedelic agents ranging from alcohol, to mushrooms, to marijuana, to so many other natural sources of mind altering chemicals have profoundly influenced the evolution of our most important civilizations and the development of our collective psyche. The use of psychedelics as cultural drivers and creativity enhancers in the modern era has shaped music, art, literature, and depth psychology.
Psychedelic drugs have acquired a certain reputation and polarize opinion. In their heyday, this remarkable group of psychoactive substances was believed to hold great promise for treating medical conditions, assisting psychotherapy, fueling creativity, and allowing profound spiritual experiences. However, political reaction and legal restrictions pushed their use back into the shadows in the mid-1970s.
Currently there is a resurgence of interest into their clinical and therapeutic use. Research is gathering real momentum and some of the traditional misinformation and stereotypes are being reversed. "Out of the Shadows: A Cornucopia from the Psychedelic Press" is collection of original papers from the "Psychedelic Press UK" journal takes us on a fascinating journey through topics such as the use of psychedelics in medicine and psychotherapy, archetypal psychology and spiritual awakenings, and creative surges in literature, myth, and visionary art.
Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Robert Dickins (a published author, writer, and poet based in Cornwall, UK) and Tim Read (a leading clinical psychiatrist who led psychiatry at the Royal London Hospital), "Out of the Shadows: A Cornucopia from the Psychedelic Press" is comprised of twenty-two informed, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking articles on psychedelic substances. Of special note are Roger Keen's 'Beats on Acid', Toby Slater's 'The LSD Trial', and Jack Hunter's 'On the Nature of Psilocybe Folk'. Enhanced with the inclusion of a twelve page bibliography of References, a six page listing of contributors and their credentials, and a two page Index, "Out of the Shadows: A Cornucopia from the Psychedelic Press" is unreservedly recommended for college and university Psychedelic Studies collections in general, and Psychedelic Studies supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
Whisperin' Bill Anderson
University of Georgia Press
Main Library, Third Floor, 320 South Jackson Street, Athens, Georgia 30602
9780820349664, $29.95, HC, 360pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The autobiography of an American country western music icon, "Whisperin' Bill: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music" presents a revealing portrait of Bill Anderson, one of the most prolific songwriters in the history of country music. Mega country music hits like "City Lights," (Ray Price), "Tips Of My Fingers," (Roy Clark, Eddy Arnold, Steve Wariner), "Once A Day," (Connie Smith), "Saginaw, Michigan," (Lefty Frizzell), and many more flowed from his pen, making him one of the most decorated songwriters in music history.
But the iconic singer, songwriter, performer, and TV host came to a point in his career where he questioned if what he had to say mattered anymore. Music Row had changed, a new generation of artists and songwriters had transformed the genre, and the Country Music Hall of Fame member and fifty-year Grand Ole Opry star was no longer relevant. By 1990, he wasn't writing anymore. Bad investments left him teetering at bankruptcy's edge. His marriage was falling apart. And in Nashville, a music town where youth often carries the day, he was a museum piece - only seen as a nostalgia act, waving from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Anderson was only in his fifties when he assumed he had climbed all the mountains he was intended to scale. But in those moments plagued with self-doubt, little did he know, his most rewarding climb lie ahead.
Known as "Whisperin' Bill" to generations of fans for his soft vocalizations and spoken lyrics, Anderson is the only songwriter in country music history to have a song on the charts in each of the past seven consecutive decades.
A product of a long-gone Nashville, Anderson worked to reinvent himself, and "Whisperin' Bill Anderson" is an autobiography that documents a fifty-plus-year career that Bill once thought unattainable. Richly illustrated with black-and-white photos of Anderson interacting with the superstars of American music, including such legends as Patsy Cline, Vince Gill, and Steve Wariner, "Whisperin' Bill Anderson" highlights Anderson's trajectory in the business and his influence on the past, present, and future of this dynamic genre.
Critique: A follow-up to his 1989 autobiography, ""Whisperin' Bill: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music" is honest, revealing, and intensely personal story of a man with an unprecedented gift -- and holding on to it in order to share it. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, ""Whisperin' Bill: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music" is unreservedly recommended for community library American Biography collections in general, and the personal reading lists of all Whisperin' Bill Anderson fans in particular. It should be noted that ""Whisperin' Bill: An Unprecedented Life in Country Music' is also available in an MP3 CD format ($29.95).
Science and the Internet
Alan G. Gross & Jonathan Buehl, editors
26 Austin Avenue, Box 337, Amityville, NY 11701
9780895038975, $78.95, HC, 328pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of academicians Alan Gross (Emeritus Professor, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities) and Jonathan Buehl (Associate Professor and Director of Business and Technical Writing in the Department of English at The Ohio State University) the thirteen essays comprising "Science and the Internet: Communicating Knowledge in a Digital Age" consider the effects of digital technologies on scientific argumentation and the circulation of scientific knowledge.
The Internet has transformed how science is practiced, and it is accelerating the pace of scientific communication both among peers and to the public. Among peers, the Internet promotes wider and more fruitful collaborative networks. Fully evolved, the scientific article is becoming a portal through which knowledge flows. The scope of peer review is being expanded by the full documentation and immediate scrutiny that the Internet permits. But the Internet's influence extends beyond peer-to-peer communication to the communication of science to wider publics. Institutions must adapt to the just-in-time behaviors of information seekers, and the participatory features of Web 2.0 allow non-experts to comment on scientific research in unprecedented ways.
The contributors to "Science and the Internet" analyze digital developments in science communication from open notebooks and live-blogged experiments to podcasts and citizen-science projects to assess their rhetorical implications.
Critique: A seminal work of collective scholarship, "Science and the Internet: Communicating Knowledge in a Digital Age" has special relevance for teachers of technical and scientific communication, professors of science studies, and academics and others with an interest in the Internet; also useful as a central or supplementary text for courses in technical and scientific communication or in digital media studies. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and academic library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Science and the Internet: Communicating Knowledge in a Digital Age" is also available in a paperback edition (9780895038982, $63.95) and in a Kindle format ($9780895038999, $51.16).
Jewish Feminism and Intersectionality
State University of New York Press
State University Plaza, Albany, NY 12246-0001
9781438460338, $80.00, HC, 206pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Jewish Feminism and Intersectionality" by Marla Brettschneider (Professor of Political Philosophy and Women's Studies at the University of New Hampshire) explores a range of opportunities to apply and build intersectionality studies from within the life and work of Jewish feminism in the United States today. Professor Brettschneider builds on the best of what has been done in the field and offers a constructive internal critique. Working from a non-identitarian paradigm, Professor Brettschneider uses a Jewish critical lens to discuss the ways different politically salient identity signifiers cocreate and mutually constitute each other. She also includes analyses of matters of import in queer, critical race, and class-based feminist studies. "Jewish Feminism and Intersectionality" is specifically designed to demonstrate a range of ways that Jewish feminist work can operate with the full breadth of what intersectionality studies has to offer.
Critique: The latest addition to the outstanding 'Feminist Criticism and Theory' series from SUNY Press, "Jewish Feminism and Intersectionality" is enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-two pages of Notes, an eighteen page bibliography of Works Cited, and a nineteen page Index. Of special note is the concluding commentary on 'Jewish Race Segregation and Jewish Feminism'. The result is a work of seminal scholarship that is unreservedly recommended as a core addition to college and university library Judaic Studies and Feminist Studies collections. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Jewish Feminism and Intersectionality" is also available in a Kindle edition ($67.39).
The Global Educator
1530 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 730, Arlington, VA 22209
9781564843722, $39.95, PB, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Julie Lindsay is a global collaboration consultant, innovator, teacherpreneur and author, and she is currently a quality learning and teaching leader (online) and an adjunct lecturer for the Faculty of Arts and Education, Charles Sturt University, Australia. In "The Global Educator: Leveraging Technology for Collaborative Learning and Teaching", Professor Lindsay illustrates the need for intercultural understanding and collaboration to personalize learning, achieve curriculum objectives and bring the world to our students by answering these key questions: How imperative is it that educators connect themselves and their classrooms to the world? What emerging education leadership styles are shifting pedagogy and why should we be taking notice of this? What are the essential benefits of embedding online global collaboration into the curriculum? What are simple steps that educators in the classroom can take to become more globally minded and start to change their practice? How are emerging digital technologies supporting this move to online global learning and collaboration?
In addition to answering these questions, Professor Lindsay provides practical resources and powerful case studies drawn from educators and education leaders in the United States and throughout the world who are forging connections across the globe, embedding these practices into current curriculum objectives and providing their students with invaluable educational experiences
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Global Educator: Leveraging Technology for Collaborative Learning and Teaching" is an outstanding work of seminal yet practical scholarship that will prove to be an enduringly useful resource for classroom teachers and school curriculum developers seeking to nurture a global learning experience for children and students. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in composition, tone, and commentary, "The Global Educator" is unreservedly recommended for academic library Contemporary Education reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
Overcoming Destructive Anger: Strategies That Work
The Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-4363
9781421419732, $49.95, HC, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Uncontrolled anger can be devastating, yet many people with serious anger issues don't know how to change their behavior. In the pages of "Overcoming Destructive Anger: Strategies That Work", Bernard Golden (the founder of Anger Management Education, and a practicing psychologist for almost forty years) offers concrete tools for turning destructive anger into healthy anger.
Dr. Golden draws on both compassion-focused therapy (a model for change that encompasses and expands on cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and practices in compassion and self-compassion) and theories of emotional intelligence. He teaches readers to recognize, sit with, and move beyond the triggers that cause destructive anger. Anger logs and other exercises, together with stories of people who were challenged by anger and able to overcome their outbursts, allow readers to explore the source of their anger and recognize its destructive potential. Emphasizing anger's link to habits of thinking, feeling, and physical reactions, Dr. Golden offers multiple strategies for coping with current hurts as well as past wounds. And he directs readers to helpful websites, books, and films.
Dr. Golden explains why destructive anger happens and how it can contribute to divorce, estranged families, job loss, addictions, and even imprisonment. Emphasizing the importance of making calm, constructive choices and cultivating self-empathy, this guide will free people with destructive anger (and those around them) to live more fulfilling lives.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Overcoming Destructive Anger: Strategies That Work" is enhanced with the inclusion of six pages of Notes; four pages of Resources; and a nineteen page Index. Of special note is the chapter on 'Committing to the Practice of Healthy Anger". While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Overcoming Destructive Anger" is also available in a paperback edition (9781421419749, $19.95) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).
Megan E. Tompkins-Strange
Harvard Education Press
8 Story Street, 1st floor, Cambridge, MA 02138
9781612509129, $31.00, PB, 216pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The latest addition to the outstanding Harvard Education Press 'Educational Innovations' series, "Policy Patrons: Philanthropy, Education Reform, and the Politics of Influence" by Megan E. Tompkins-Stange (Assistant Professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan) offers a rare behind-the-scenes view of decision making inside four influential education philanthropies: the Ford Foundation, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. The outcome is an intriguing, thought-provoking look at the impact of current philanthropic efforts on education.
Critique: A unique and exceptionally well written, organized and presented study, "Policy Patrons: Philanthropy, Education Reform, and the Politics of Influence" is a work of seminal scholarship that is enriched further with the inclusion of an appendix (Table of Respondents); thirty pages of References and Notes; and a twenty-three page Index. While very highly recommended to the attention of academics and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, librarians should note that "Policy Patrons" is available for college and university library collections in a Library Binding edition (9781612509136, $62.00).
Building Champions: A Small-Group Counseling Curriculum for Boys
2612 North Mattis Avenue, Champaign, IL 61822
9780878226993, $34.99, PB, 188pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Carol Miller is a certified school counselor for the Lansing Central School District in Lansing, New York, and has worked as a school counselor for over 20 years. In "Building Champions: A Small-Group Counseling Curriculum for Boys" she draws upon her experience and expertise to present a fun-filled game plan to help boys of upper elementary and middle-school age build trust, respect, and peer connections. "Building Champions" covers the topics boys most want and need to become better friends, classmates, and citizens. Providing numerous hands-on and interactive experiences to maintain group members interest and allow them to practice targeted skills while learning, "Building Champions" is comprised of eight group lessons that include: Introduction to Building Champions; Breaking a Sweat (Goal Setting); In the Huddle (Integrity and Respect); Hands In (Relationships); Game Time (Leadership and Teamwork); Sitting on the Bench (Self-Control); The Last Play (Confidence); Shake Hands, Game Over (Being a Good Sport). Of special note is the inclusion of a CD that provides reproducible items, including lesson exit slips, student handouts, and program organization and progress tracking forms.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Building Champions: A Small-Group Counseling Curriculum for Boys" offers a complete and thoroughly 'user friendly' course of instruction and unreservedly recommended for professional and academic library Educational & Counseling reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives
Candida Rifkind & Linda Warley, editors
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771121798, $29.99, PB, 320pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Candida Rifkind (Associate Professor in the Department of English, University of Winnipeg) and Linda Warley (who specializes in Canadian life writing, including texts by First Nations and Metis authors), "Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives" presents ten critical essays on contemporary Canadian cartoonists working in graphic life narrative, from confession to memoir to biography. The contributors draw on literary theory, visual studies, and cultural history to show how Canadian cartoonists have become so prominent in the international market for comic books based on real-life experiences. The essays explore the visual styles and storytelling techniques of Canadian cartoonists, as well as their shared concern with the spectacular vulnerability of the self. Canadian Graphic also considers the role of graphic life narratives in reimagining the national past, including Indigenous - settler relations, both world wars, and Quebec's Quiet Revolution. The contributors use a range of approaches to analyze the political, aesthetic, and narrative tensions in these works between self and other, memory and history, individual and collective.
Critique: Enhanced with the occasional inclusion of black-and-white illustrations, "Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives" is an exceptional body of seminal scholarship. The result is an original contribution to the study of auto/biography, alternative comics, and Canadian print culture that ultimately proposes new ways of reading the intersection of comics and auto/ biography both within and across national boundaries. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives" will prove of special interest to graphic novel enthusiasts, as well as non-specialist general readers with an interest in the socio-cultural implications of modern cartooning. Simply stated, "Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and academic library collections.
Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses
Skylight Paths Publishing
Sunset Farms Offices, Route 4
PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
9781594736186, $16.99, PB, 176pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Everyone experiences brokenness or loss at some point in their lives in the form of a romantic relationship failing, a job ending, a dream dying, an illness emerging. It is during these times like these that it is all too easy to focus on our human frailty and to want nothing more than to be whole again, to have what was lost restored to us. But what are we missing when we overlook the ugliness, fear, anger and vulnerability of being in pieces, or suffering the pangs of loss in our lives? The Nityas, or the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses of Tantric philosophy, teach us that we if we fail to overcome, if we fail to heal, if we fail to recover, we will miss the empowerment of the full human experience and the growth that comes from renewing ourselves again and again.
"Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationship and the Art of Being Broken" is an exceptionally well organized and presented introduction to Tantric mythology as a contemporary resource for personal and spiritual growth guides us to reach into our pain and ask the larger questions about our relationships, not only with our lovers but also with our communities and with ourselves. Each goddess prompts us to explore some aspect of relationship, such as loneliness, true love, equality, instinct, learning from the other, and learning to be alone. In seeking answers to these questions, while being supported by yogic wisdom, modern research into psychology and sociology, and nightly meditation and journaling practices, we will find empowerment in discovering who we are and what we truly desire.
Critique: Julie Peters is a yoga teacher and writer on topics of yoga and wellness. She is a biweekly columnist for Spirituality & Health. She is co-owner and operator of Ocean and Crow Yoga Studio in Vancouver, British Columbia. In the pages of "Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationship and the Art of Being Broken" Julie draws upon her years of experience and expertise to deftly craft an inherently fascinating, consistently compelling, informed, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking study that can well prove to be a life-altering read. While very highly recommended for dedicated metaphysical studies students and non-specialist general readers alike, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Kristen Layne Anderson
Louisiana State University Press
3rd Floor, Johnston Hall
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803
9780807161968, $48.00, HC, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Historians have long known that German immigrants provided much of the support for emancipation in southern Border States. "Abolitionizing Missouri: German Immigrants and Racial Ideology in Nineteenth-Century America" by Kristen Layne Anderson by (Assistant Professor of History at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri) is the first analysis of the reasons behind that opposition as well as the first exploration of the impact that the Civil War and emancipation had on German immigrants' ideas about race. Professor Anderson focuses on the relationships between German immigrants and African Americans in St. Louis, Missouri, looking particularly at the ways in which German attitudes towards African Americans and the institution of slavery changed over time. Professor Anderson suggests that although some German Americans deserved their reputation for racial egalitarianism, many others opposed slavery only when it served their own interests to do so. When slavery did not seem to affect their lives, they ignored it; once it began to threaten the stability of the country or their ability to get land, they opposed it. After slavery ended, most German immigrants accepted the American racial hierarchy enough to enjoy its benefits, and had little interest in helping tear it down, particularly when doing so angered their native-born white neighbors.
Professor Anderson's work counters prevailing interpretations in immigration and ethnic history, where until recently, scholars largely accepted that German immigrants were solidly anti-slavery. Instead, she uncovers a spectrum of Germans' "anti-slavery" positions and explores the array of individual motives driving such diverse responses.. In the end, Professor Anderson demonstrates that Missouri Germans were more willing to undermine the racial hierarchy by questioning slavery than were most white Missourians, although after emancipation, many of them showed little interest in continuing to demolish the hierarchy that benefitted them by fighting for black rights and resisting the Jim Crow laws that would replace the institution of slavery in Missouri.
Critique: An original and ground-breaking work of impeccable historical scholarship, "Abolitionizing Missouri: German Immigrants and Racial Ideology in Nineteenth-Century America" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of forty-two pages of Notes, a twenty-two page Bibliography, and a nine page Index. An extraordinarily well written, organized, presented, and unique contribution to community, college, and university 19th Century American History collections, it should be noted that "Abolitionizing Missouri" is also available in a Kindle edition ($42.22) for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.
Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer
PO Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653
9781612617329, $16.99, PB, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Poet and literature professor Scott Cairns ran headlong into his midlife crisis (a fairly common experience among men nearing the age of fifty) while walking on the beach with his Labrador. His was not a desperate attempt to recapture youth, filled with sports cars and younger women. Instead, Cairns realized his spiritual life was advancing at a snail's pace and time was running out. Midlife crisis for this Baptist turned Eastern Orthodox Christian manifested as a desperate need to seek out prayer.
Originally published in 2007, this new edition of "Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer" from Paraclete Press includes photos, maps and an expanded narrative of Scott's spiritual journey to the mystical peninsula of Mt. Athos. With twenty monasteries and thirteen sketes scattered across its sloping terrain, the Holy Mountain was the perfect place for Scott to seek out a prayer father and discover the stillness of the true prayer life. Told with wit and exquisite prose, his narrative takes the reader from a beach in Virginia to the most holy Orthodox monasteries in the world to a monastery in Arizona and back again as Scott struggles to find his prayer path. Along the way, Cairns forged relationships with monks, priests, and fellow pilgrims.
Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, this new edition of "Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer" with its photographic illustrations is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read from first page to last. Informative, thoughtful, written with insight and inspiration, "Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer" is unreservedly recommended reading for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation.
That's Why I'm a Journalist
Douglas & McIntyre
c/o Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, Canada, V0N 2H0
9781771620833, $32.95, HC, 336pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: News stories are like collective memories, encapsulating the most iconic moments in recent history around the world. But to those who work in journalism, up-close involvement with these stories can also be life-changing. In "That's Why I'm a Journalist", veteran broadcaster Mark Bulgutch interviews 44 prominent Canadian journalists, who each share their behind-the-scenes accounts of some of the most memorable stories of their careers and describe the moment that made them say to themselves, "That's why I'm a journalist."
Although many of the contributors' stories are related to their roles in the most high-profile events of the 20th and 21st centuries, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to 9/11, here too are reflections on quieter and more intimate moments that had a deep personal impact. Peter Mansbridge talks about a trip to Vimy Ridge on the hundredth anniversary of World War I, Adrienne Arsenault recalls bringing together old friends separated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Terence McKenna recounts what its like to worry about being kidnapped as part of the job and Wendy Mesley reflects on the satisfaction of asking tough questions and uncovering the truth.
Together, these enthralling and varied accounts provide an intimate understanding of the people we see on camera and hear on the radio. As Bulgutch argues, modern journalism is undergoing existential threats. News has never been more accessible yet, paradoxically, important news has become harder to find, often buried by pseudo-news of celebrity, lifestyle tips and the latest viral video of a water-skiing squirrel. The stories in this book serve as reminders of the importance of real journalists and real journalism.
Critique: Mark Bulgutch's own entry into journalism started with a paper route. After journalism school, he worked for the CBC News for over 35 years. He was the senior editor of The National for 11 years and retired as Senior Executive Producer of TV News, which put him in the control room for all major special events, from election nights to commemorations of Remembrance Day. He is the recipient of 14 Gemini awards, 4 RTNDA Awards, the Canadian Journalism Foundation Award of Excellence and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Gold Ribbon Award. He currently lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Itself a seminal work of original journalism, "That's Why I'm a Journalist" is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "That's Why I'm a Journalist" is a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Journalism collections in general, and Canadian Journalism History supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
King of the Worlds
M. Thomas Gammarino
Chin Music Press
9781634059084, $24.50, HC, 320pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "King of the Worlds" by Thomas Gammarion is a dark comedy that explores the lost universes of disgraced idol Dylan Greenyears. Dylan had always wanted to live as many lives as he could -- that was the appeal of being an actor. But at the end of a brief, bright stint as a Hollywood heartthrob, Dylan loses the lead in Titanic and exiles himself and his wife to a recently settled exoplanet called New Taiwan. At first, life beyond Earth seems uncannily un-wondrous. Dylan teaches at an American prep school, raises a family with his high school sweetheart, and lives out his restlessness through literature. But then a box of old fan mail (and the hint of a galaxy-wide conspiracy) offers Dylan a chance to recapture the past. As he tries to balance this transdimensional mid-life crisis against family life, Dylan encounters a cast of extraordinary characters that include a supercomputer with aspirations of godhood, a Mormon-fundamentalist superfan, an old-school psychoanalyst, a sampling of his alternate selves, and, once again, the love of his several lives. "King of the Worlds" throws cosmology, technology, nineties pop culture, and religion into an existential blender for a mix that is by turns tragic and absurd, elegiac and filled with wonder.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, inherently fascinating, consistently compelling from beginning to end, "King of the Worlds" is an extraordinary and original science fiction novel that deftly demonstrates author Thomas Gammarino's truly impressive storytelling talents. While very highly recommended for community library science fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated SciFi fans that "King of the Worlds" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.42).
Michael Bowler & Ingo Farin, editors
Northwestern University Press
629 Noyes Street, Evanston, IL 60208
9780810132672, $99.95, HC, 352pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Martin Heidegger (26 September 1889 - 26 May 1976) was a German philosopher and a seminal thinker in the Continental tradition and philosophical hermeneutics. Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Michael Bowler (Associate Professor of Philosophy at Michigan Technological University) and Ingo Farin (lecturer in philosophy at the University of Tasmania, Australia", "Hermeneutical Heidegger" is a collection of eleven scholarly essays that critically examines and confronts Heidegger's hermeneutical approach to philosophy and the history of philosophy. Heidegger's work, both early and late, has had a profound impact on hermeneutics and hermeneutical philosophy. The essays comprising "Hermeneutical Heidegger" are striking in the way they exhibit the variety of perspectives on the development and role of hermeneutics in Heidegger's work, allowing a multiplicity of views on the nature of hermeneutics and hermeneutical philosophy to emerge. As Heidegger argues, the rigor and strength of philosophy do not consist in the development of a univocal and universal method, but in philosophy's ability to embrace (not just tolerate) the questioning of its basic concepts. The essays in Hermeneutical Heidegger are exemplars of this kind of rigor, strength and scholarship.
Critique: Enhanced with a sixteen page Bibliography, a four page listing of the contributors and their credentials, and a thirteen page Index, "Hermeneutical Heidegger" is unreservedly recommended and a critically important addition to college and university level Philosophy collections in general, and Martin Heidegger supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the philosophy of Martin Heidegger that "Hermeneutical Heidegger" is also available in a paperback edition (9780810132665, $39.95) and in a Kindle format ($31.16).
Making Change Work
Emma Weber, Patricia Pulliam Phillips, Jack J. Phillips
Kogan Page USA
1518 Walnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19102
9780749477608, $39.95, PB, 296pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When change initiatives fail, many times the organization is blamed for not aligning projects to business needs from the beginning, or for not turning knowledge into action. The collaborative work of Emma Weber, Patricia Pulliam Phillips, and Jack J. Phillips, "Making Change Work: How to Create Behavioural Change in Organizations to Drive Impact and ROI" argues persuasively that what connects success with these initiatives is behavioral change. "Making Change Work" brings together the ROI Institute's established methodology for aligning projects and programs to business needs and for evaluating impact and ROI with the Turning Learning Into Action methodology developed by Emma Weber to support learning transfer.
"Making Change Work" offers a step-by-step process for any business initiative that requires behavioral change, providing the critical link bridging both knowledge and application. Cutting through complex change theory, "Making Change Work" includes case studies on organizations that are using the methodology to create successful outcomes that are not just demonstrated, but also delivered and measurable. Simply stated, "Making Change Work" functions as a how-to guide for solving the problem of change projects that don't deliver business impact.
Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Making Change Work: How to Create Behavioural Change in Organizations to Drive Impact and ROI" is enhanced with the inclusion of three appendices (Sample TLA Plan; Turning Learning into Action Change Agreement; Sample conversation to illustrate the flexible TION part of ACTION model); and a twelve page Index. While very highly recommended addition for community, corporate, and academic library Business Management collections, it should be noted for students, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Making Change Work" is also available in a Kindle edition ($31.96).
Leadership Theory Practice 4th edition
Peter G Northouse
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
9781412941617, $TBA, 395 pages, www.amazon.com
Not a novel or storybook, rather Leadership Theory Practice 4th edition is an instructional, educational work produced by one of the leading authors of the genre.
Table of Contents lists Preface highlighting Special Features, Audience and Acknowledgements.
Chapter headings are listed with page number, followed by an overview of the particular subject matter covered within the chapter.
Chapter 1 deals with Leadership, as such the word is defined, and described followed by a Plan of the Book, Summary and References.
Chapter 2 title is Trait Approach with descriptions of the traits found in successful leaders.
Other chapters present Skills Approach, Style Approach, Situational Approach, Contingency Theory, Path-Goal Theory, Leader-Member Exchange Theory, Transformational Leadership, Team Leadership, Psychodynamic Approach, Women and Leadership, Culture and Leadership, Leadership Ethics summarize the topics covered in the work.
Beginning on page 371 is the Name Index, Subject Index, About the Author and About the Contributors.
I found this work to be highly readable, understandable and filled with many good suggestions especially for the novice to the Leadership role as well as the 'in the trenches' for years leaders who want to expand their expertise.
Per the Preface this edition is a revised tome featuring 2 new chapters 'Culture and Leadership', and 'Women and Leadership'. I gave especial attention to reading those 2 chapters; as women become a greater component in the work force and our culture becomes more diverse both areas seemed to be particularly important for study.
Per the author the target audience for this edition is the undergraduate and grad student in management, leadership studies, business, educational leadership, public administration, nursing and allied health, social work, criminal justice, industrial and organizational psychology, communication, religion, agricultural education, political and military science, and training and development. The author states that the information would be useful as a text in student activities, continuing education, in service training and other leadership development programs. As well, the text is particularly well suited as a supplementary text for core organization behavior courses, or as an overview text with MBA curricula.
After giving the Table of Contents a once over to note the various types and styles of Leadership traits this book entails; I read chapter 4 more in depth to gain insight into the methodology and writing technique of the author.
Chapter 4, Style Approach, begins on page 69 and continue for 20 pages over which the reader is offered a description of the approach. The Style approach focuses on what leaders do and how they act including actions of leaders toward subordinates in various contexts.
Researchers determined that leadership is composed of two general types; task behaviors and relationship behaviors. Studies conducted at Ohio State, University of Michigan were compared. Blake and Mouton's Managerial (Leadership) Grid is detailed.
An explanation regarding How does the Style Approach Work including Strengths, and Criticisms as well as Application is presented with 4 Case Studies. Case studies include specific examples of the Style Approach as well as a series of questions at the end of each case study presented to guide the reader into careful reading of the material.
End of chapter questionnaire and summary are followed by References Bibliography for reader who would like to read more on the topic.
Crystal L Hoyt is credited with information contained in chapter 12; Women and Leadership. Until the 1970s due in part, to methodological leadership hindrances, a predominance of male researchers mainly uninterested in the topic and an academic assumption of gender equality of leaders, not much attention was given to the role of Women in leadership positions.
All in all I found Leadership Theory Practice 4th edition to be a worthwhile addition for those seeking to improve their leadership skills. A must have for the office library shelf, the college library and for reading for information.
Happy to recommend.
The Beetle and the Berry
E & E Publishing
122 C Street, NW, Suite 722, Washington, D.C. 20001
9780974893396, $15.95, 28 pages, www.amazon.com
Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Annie Applefield's The Beetle and the Berry is one of the books my resident critics Osage County First grade, enjoys as a paper book to hold and take home for at home reading.
The storyline concerning a diminutive beetle who finds a huge, yummy berry and his dilemma for how to get that big delectable treat. Arthur realizes that nice big berry is more than enough to feed him for a whole week. If only he can get that berry home.
Arthur the Beetle is excited. He is sure his berry is going to taste so good. Arthur begins to move the berry toward his home. Unexpectedly, the berry stopped rolling and Arthur was presented a giant sized dilemma to work out. He must get that berry home, but how to do it?
Oh, how Arthur wants that berry. It is too big for him to tote, it is too much for him to push home. Arthur just has to find a way to get that berry home if he is going to get to relish the flavorsome treat.
How Arthur works out his predicament and gets the berry to his house is what The Beetle and the Berry is all about.
The Beetle and the Berry is a fun book for listening to and it is a fun book to read to parents and siblings. My resident critics often choose The Beetle and the Berry for DEAR reading time, storytime on the rug just before we go home, and take home to read to family.
I enjoyed the storyline, as well as the opportunity The Beetle and the Berry presents for home school teachers, classroom teachers, and parents to guide Little Readers discussion regarding problems and problem solving. The Beetle and the Berry is a work classroom teachers will find useful for student's to use during 'free time reading' and for 'student tutor' use.
Invigorated by his discovery of a berry, Arthur begins to get his berry home. First he tries head on and begins pushing the berry, he is already planning how much he is going to enjoy eating that berry.
And suddenly, Arthur's berry stops moving, and Arthur the Beetle has to work out how to get it unstuck it.
As Little Readers recite the words they start to apprehend that sometimes coming at a quandary straight on may not work.
After reading the book Little Readers get their journals and write three sentences telling how Arthur solved his problem and why his method works better than trying to storm head long into the problem. And, they add a suggestion how they might try to solve a problem in a similar situation. There are times when a problem can be best be solved by backing off, and coming at it from a new direction.
Home school teachers and parents will find The Beetle and the Berry is a good addition to the home library.
Writer Applefield has created a number of children's books. She recognizes what children delight in and utilizes the vocabulary used in children's reading books. Writer Annie Applefield's The Beetle and the Berry helps introduce problem solving and then strengthens the theory for children in easy to understand manner.
The Beetle and the Berry is a read to book for the 3 - 5 set, a read with some direction for the 5 and 6 year olds, and a read alone for children who read on a first/second reader level.
Sixteen thumbs up from Osage County First Grade. Happy to recommend.
9781587491849, $12.95, Paperback, 112 pages
Mari Bailey's Dream Stalker begins as two jubilant girls plan to spend an entire week during their first visit to New York City.
When Heather Morgan sets out with her best friend Tara Leonard on the high school graduation gift trip from their parents to New York City she is resolute that nothing is going to spoil her outing. Heather has plans to visit as many museums and see much of the city as she possibly can during the time she and Tara will have in the metropolis they have daydreamed of visiting, but have not visited before. The one solitary blemish on her zeal are chilling nightmares that have abruptly begun distressing Heather. They are dreams in which she is fleeing from something alarming. And making the dreams most alarming; it is a something unseen.
Not long after their arrival the girls meet a fellow about their age, Curt Bonner, who tells them he is from the Boston area. In a short time the girls start to realize Curt Bonner seems to be popping up everywhere they go. The notion that the agreeable young man may be a stalker is shocking to contemplate. While Heather and Tara are loathe to leave New York, they nevertheless do look forward to leaving their seeming stalker behind.
Heather's nightmares have not lessened, in fact, they have become much worse because the petrifying, unseen something has become discernable, and the something terrifying is Curt Bonner.
Mari Bailey has created an unnerving, roller coaster ride of a narrative for her readers. Dream Stalker is sure to draw young adult readers into the account and hold them spellbound while reading this attention-grabbing, suspense filled page turner. Readers will find the work hard to put down as they devour passage after electrifying passage. The trepidation Heather experiences is inimitable, Tara is impeccable as the trustworthy, feet on the ground confidant. Curt Bonner causes many a chill. Aunt Delilah is an enchanting charmer.
Filled with much of the tautness found in Melinda Rucker Haynes' YA novel 'Ghostly Acts', 'Dream Stalker' is a fast-paced, thought-provoking read filled with potent situations and a rich textured fabric of New York neighborhoods complete with aromas, sights, sounds and characters.
Kudos to writer Bailey, she has fashioned a well thought out whodunit assured to please those who relish a good chilling thriller.
Keep the lights on and the doors locked! Watch those signs, tipoffs and red herrings. The surprise ending may catch the non-observant unaware.
Compelling Read, Happy to Recommend 4 stars
The Civil War: A Narrative--Fort Sumter to Perryville, Vol. 1
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780394746234, $26.00, Paperback, 840 pages, www.amazon.com
The three volume set created by War Between The States/Civil War historian Shelby Foote commences with his 840 page work regarding the interlude beginning 21 Jan 1861 and continuing until the battle of Perryville, KY during the fall of 1862. The Civil War A Narrative: Vo1 1 Fort Sumter to Perryville is the opening work of the trilogy.
In this first volume Writer Foote writes of the period packed with disorder and warfare which altered the course of life in the United States forever.
Vo1 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville commences on an unhappy January 1861 Monday as the United States Senator from Mississippi, Jefferson Davis, rose from his Senate seat.
Back in December 1860, South Carolina had already left the Union. That withdrawal was swiftly followed by Mississippi, Florida and Alabama during the second week of the New Year. Eight days later Georgia seceded. And now on 21 Jan, Louisiana and Texas were on the brink of leaving.
Notwithstanding the fact that each of the original thirteen colonies had written into their state constitutions a stipulation retaining a right to leave the new federation formed during the time of the Revolution from England; the lawfulness of secession had been hotly challenged for the past decade. The major battle in the past had come when Massachusetts drew up articles of secession following President Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase. The concern was now moot.
A convention for the purpose of creating a confederation of the seceded states had been called for the first week of February at Montgomery, Alabama.
The former Secretary of War under President Pierce, and present Senator from Mississippi stood gathering his thoughts; many had come to hear his farewell, Davis was going home.
The Civil War A Narrative: Vo1 1 Fort Sumter to Perryville dedicates approximately 100 pages of the book to the causal origins of the war before advancing on to brief dialogue of a number of men whose names would presently be recollected as serving on either side of the battle.
President Lincoln ordered all telegraph records detained, annulled the right to habeas corpus and threw hundreds of men into confinement. He removed millions of dollars from the national treasury, gave it to privateers and told them to procure materiel for military use. He delivered orders for almost 100,000 troops to be raised, and did all devoid of endorsement of congress.
Union Gen'l McClellan quickly demonstrated his ineffectiveness, Union Gen'l Irvin McDowell exhibited little predisposition to fight, nonetheless at the urging of the President he decided to move toward Manassas Junction. Ten batteries of field artillery, fifty regiments of infantry, and one battalion of cavalry trundled down dusty Virginia roads.
Setting out from Arlington, the wedding gift of a president to his grand daughter, the end point was Fairfax Courthouse. Washington gifted the house and surrounding land to the young woman who married a young soldier named Lee who hailed from Virginia. The Federal troops were in high spirits and anxious to meet and rout the rebel rabble.
At length, as night fell, the army was nearing Centerville, after some two and a half days and twenty two miles distant the starting point.
It was then learned that the men did not have cooked provisions in their haversacks as McDowell had ordered. Friday and then Saturday passed, the attack was planned for first light Sunday morning.
The affluent privileged of nearby Washington, in conjunction with congressmen and their families, supposing an easy Union victory, had come to enjoy a day of picnicking as they surveyed the melee. When the Union army was forced back in confusion by the Confederates, the roads leading back to Washington were soon congested by frightened civilians trying to escape in their carriages. The departure was reasonably disciplined up to the Bull Run crossings, nevertheless it was poorly accomplished by the Union officers.
A Federal dray overturned by artillery fire on a bridge across Cub Run Creek triggered trepidation in McDowell's troops. Soldiers rushing at a gallop, throwing away their arms and gear in the process, dashing excitedly toward Centreville; and were soon ensnared in the throng of civilians also fleeing the area. It was impossible to reunite the troops before they reached Washington. In the fright that followed the stampede at Manassas Jct, hundreds of Union troops were taken prisoner.
All the most important battles conducted during the period, from Manassas/Bull Run through Shiloh, the Seven Days Battles, Second Manassas to Antietam, and Perryville occurring during the fall of 1862 are detailed in Vol. 1. Moreover, so too are numerous of the lesser, and less recognized, nonetheless ones often were equally momentous engagements conducted both on sea and land: Ball's Bluff, Fort Donelson, Island No. Ten, Elk Horn Tavern/Pea Ridge, New Orleans, Monitor versus Merrimac, and Gen'l Jackson's Valley Campaign to name a few.
On the pages of The Civil War A Narrative: Vo1 1 Fort Sumter to Perryville is exemplified the awfulness, overtiredness, dirt and stench of war. It was a time of fading hope, misinterpretation, fundamental disquiet vis-a-vis the future and an anxiety that the war which everyone had hoped would end rapidly, would not.
The last best hope for the Federal troops appeared to be in question by fall 1862. Heads were rolling, Gen'ls McDowell and Pope had previously found themselves under the ax, Farragut out in the Gulf of Mexico contemplated his position; Lincoln had his sights set upon George McClellan who was more than mindful that he was likely to not command the army much longer. Gen'l Rosecrans was now a rising star. At Perryville Philip Sheridan was becoming noticed for his doggedness.
In December President Lincoln offered, not in person, but rather a long speech read by a clerk to Congress, in which he finished his remarks, 'Without slavery the rebellion could never have existed; without slavery it could not continue.'
Lincoln's means for bringing the war to an end was his old recompensed emancipation strategy under which each state was, whether now, or at the end of the century, or at any intermediary time to have the choice of when to act on the matter. The national administration was to have no voice in the achievement, but would bear the total expense by issue long term bonds as payment to loyal masters. The aggregate sum compulsory for reimbursed emancipation of course was certain to be great. Many owners dwelling in union states were loathe to free their slaves.
Lincoln advanced his conviction that measured emancipation would be good for the people he represented, and also for the sake of the Negro slaves, for whom the plan would alleviate the nomadic hardship which was likely to be a part of instantaneous emancipation in localities where slave numbers were very large.
Writer Foote, Greenville native, was descended from a long line of Mississippians. Foote served in the European theater, WWII, as a captain of field artillery. Foote studied and wrote extensively regarding The War Between The States, and received three Guggenheim fellowships. Foote takes the period of 1860 - 1865, separates every nuance in a manner that leaves the reader with the feeling that they have been listening to a speaker telling of the actions.
Notwithstanding the nearly 900 page enormity of the work, The Civil War A Narrative: Vo1 1 Fort Sumter to Perryville is an edition to be studied by serious scholars of history. Weighing some three plus pounds, this individual tome can be expected to be a bit unwieldy. The size is the one drawback I find with this book; my hands are small and arthritic. While reading I lean the book against, pillow when sitting on a chair or against a book rest while sitting at my desk and turn the pages. The edition might be better served if presented as a series of smaller, more easily handled works.
Chockfull with names, dates, places, and times; Vo1 1 Fort Sumter to Perryville is not essentially a manuscript for the marginally inquisitive or the non-serious reader who occasionally reads historical works. The size alone will put off the borderline student. Vo1 1 Fort Sumter to Perryville is a wide-ranging, heavily researched source work principally focused for use by those readers who do have a deeper interest in military history, the dedicated student of the United States war waged during the 1860s, and for any who enjoy reading United States history in general.
Throughout his life and writing career; Author Foote was always keenly aware that to the victors go the writing and portrayal of history. That awareness motivated Foote's writing objective that his historical works be as focused in fact as possible. Even in the face of variance of prevalent opinion from either side of the issue, concerning the incidents, grounds and occurrences Write Historian Foote chose not to take sides or let personal bias color his thinking or writing. Foote choose to carry out abundant investigative research prior to his setting down facts based on that research while allowing the chips to fall as they may regarding comments made by fellow historians with either northern or southern bias or similarly biased readers of his work.
In particular, readers can appreciate that all historical details have been heavily investigated for accuracy. Lending to the legitimacy of the work; the book offers perceptions, reminiscences and actual writings of individual soldiers/officers who actually were a part of episodes recounted.
Vo1 1 Fort Sumter to Perryville has a place on the personal reading list, in the reenactor's repertoire of reading materials, and as a part of the home, school, and public library holdings. Happy to recommend for history buffs, re-enactors, Civil War buffs and those who just want something interesting to read.
This is a book in my personal library. Happy to recommend.
Molly Martin, Reviewer
Four Principles of Oppression: 160 Years of Eugenic Bigotry in U.S. Supreme Court Decisions, Supporting Involuntary Slavery, Sterilization and Commitment
Don Baker, PhD
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
4900 Lacross Rd, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781523884230, $12.49 PB, 142 pp, www.amazon.com
There are many kinds of oppression. Dr. Baker's book is concerned with a particular form of oppression, one that has received relatively little attention in U. S. history. In his painstakingly researched book, Dr. Baker outlines how legislative authority and judicial process have been used to strip civil liberties from many thousands of people who have never committed a crime.
In the beginning of his book, Dr. Baker outlines the official justifications for depriving non-offenders of liberty and of subjecting them to mutilation. Summed briefly these include: 1) Potential danger to self 2) Potential danger to society 3) Potentially, for their own benefit.
Since the deprivation of civil liberties occurs in anticipation of danger or offense, an obvious difficulty is assessing in advance that a danger does in fact exist. How does a police agency or judiciary arrive at that determination? Is there ever a degree of certainty in instances where no actual offense can be proved?
As Dr. Baker makes his compelling case he reviews the history of relevant Supreme Court decisions. These, it turns out, reflect prevailing prejudices of the time rather than objective proof. Dr. Baker begins with Dred Scott v. Sandford. Here, a person was deprived of life and liberty because the prevailing view was that slavery was an acceptable institution. In another instance of peremptory civil rights deprivation, Buck v. Bell, a woman was forced to undergo sterilization because she is judged to be feeble minded. The Justice who enunciated this judgment from the bench was no less than Oliver Wendell Holmes ("Three generations of imbeciles are enough").
As Dr. Baker meticulously cites Supreme Court cases and describes victims of these decisions, a pattern emerges. The weak, the despised, the atypical are stripped of their rights. Lest the reader think this is a peril suffered only in the past, Dr. Baker reminds us that any mental health professional potentially has the power to declare someone unfit and refer that person for institutional confinement. This may be done in the absence of an offense and merely on the strength of one person's assessment.
Four Principles of Oppression is a remarkable book for a number of reasons. One of the most striking is its structure. It is formatted to serve as a Pro Se petition to the Supreme Court. Anyone reading the book who wants to file suit before the Court can use this form by filling in the appropriate spaces with personal information. I have no legal training and therefore cannot assess how accurately Dr. Baker's form corresponds to Supreme Court requirements. Dr. Baker warns there might be discrepancies. He also warns that even with a perfect petition, chances of receiving a hearing are slight, and the chances of winning a Pro Se case even less.
You may not want to file a petition with the Supreme Court. You may not have been deprived of civil rights in the absence of offense. However, if you would like to learn about an important aspect of U. S. jurisprudence, read this book. The cases Dr. Baker cites are classics.
Four Principles of Oppression has been written with passion, a passion that comes from a sense of wrong. This passion does not invalidate the argument. For me, it makes the argument more compelling. If you choose to read this book, prepare for some very unusual and gripping reading.
The Father of Hollywood
Gaelyn Whitley Keith
127 E Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781616634759, $24.99 PB, 348pp, www.amazon.com
Most families have a legacies, bits of lore that are handed down from generation to generation. Part of my family legacy is the fact that my grandfather created a new variety of pear. Gaelyn Whitley Keith has a family legacy also, and what a legacy it is. Her great-grandfather, HJ Whitley, founded Hollywood. That would be enough of a story for any family, but HJ's contributions were greater than this. He was responsible for the establishment of communities and institutions across the western United States.
Ms Keith has a talent for telling a story. In the first pages of The Father of Hollywood, Gigi Whitley, Ms. Keith's great-grandmother, comes to life. The veracity of this tale should not be doubted because it comes directly from a primary source, Gigi Whitley herself. Gigi, who was born as Margaret Virginia Ross, wrote about her experiences and left this record for her heirs.
The Father of Hollywood is an entertaining book. Though its characters are not perfect, but they are likable. They were part of time in U.S. history when dramatic changes were occurring across the West. The Whitleys were in the thick of it. The family rubbed elbows with presidents, captains of industry and Hollywood celebrities.
The star of the book, without question, is Gigi. Through her we learn of the challenges faced by a young ambitious woman who wants to be recognized as an individual. She learns early to subordinate her inclinations to those of her husband and to the expectations of the society in which she moves. HJ is kind. He loves his wife. But he rules the home and he determines the destiny of the Whitley household
The Father of Hollywood aptly captures the milieu of an elite social class at a time certain in U. S. history. In addition to taking readers through the Oklahoma land rush and the founding of communities, the book also reflects some attitudes that would not be acceptable in many places today. The Father of Hollywood is informative, entertaining. I recommend it to casual readers and to those interested in U.S. history.
A. G. Moore
Professor Challenger: New Worlds, Lost Places
J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
PO Box 1714, Calgary AB T2P 2L7 CANADA
9781770530522, $15.95, 250 pages, www.edgewebsite.com
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did more than just create the character of Sherlock Holmes. He also created Professor George Edward Challenger, a hulking, bombastic man of science (think "bull in a china shop"). He doesn't take any nonsense from anyone, and is not afraid to say so. He also frequently remarks that he is the smartest man in England, which is usually correct. Here is a bunch of brand-new Professor Challenger stories.
An investigation into what looks like a prehistoric man menacing rural England reveals something a lot more horrifying. Challenger and one of his companions, a newspaperman named Malone, find themselves on a derelict sea vessel that is under attack by a real kraken. The British authorities want Challenger to control the beast, and weaponize it, so that it can be used against German ships, an idea that Challenger considers beyond idiotic. A wealthy man serves real dinosaur meat to his dinner party guests, meat that contains a really unique parasite.
There is a trip to the Moon, which has a breathable atmosphere. Challenger and his companions are taken prisoner by the Selenites. There is a tale about growing human brains out of a sort of malleable crystal. It may be able to keep a person alive, but can a person's personality be transferred into the crystal brain?
I totally enjoyed these tales. They are all well done, with enough and weird stuff for anyone. I guess I shall have to read Challenger's most prominent previous appearance, in Doyle's novel "The Lost World." This book is highly recommended.
Women's History for Beginners
Bonnie J. Morris
For Beginners LLC
155 Main Street, Suite 211, Danbury CT 06810
9781934389607, $16.99, 208 pages, www.forbeginnersbooks.com
Look through the average history textbook, and it seems like all of human history was achieved by only one gender - men. Why? This book attempts to answer that question.
The basic answer is: patriarchy. Through most of history, women were subject to control by men in their families by laws, customs and religious edicts dictated by men. Many women were denied education, so they could not write down their experiences in the servant's quarters, at the Salem witch trials or as a slave in the Deep South. Other women were married at puberty, then after they gave birth, they were subject to control by their husbands.
Why isn't women"s history taught in college? Until the 1970's, women were not even allowed in college as students. If they were let in, they were limited to majors like English or Nursing. Some academics feel that women's history, like black or Native American history, is nothing more than political correctness. Some conservative women feel that the "timeless truths" of Western heritage will be replaced by a radical agenda. There are many reasons for the lack of women's history in school. It will require deconstructing, and really taking apart, religious teaching on women's status; it will undermine male authority, and make men look bad; it will damage, or destroy, traditional family values, and discussion of female sexuality in school will be roundly condemned by parents.
The author gives one version of women's history, which is not pleasant reading. That's because there is no such thing as one story of women's history. Does a person study Aztec women, or Early American women, or women of ancient China or women of World War II Europe? Does a person study marriage, or childbirth, or legal rights after her husband dies (if she has any)?
This is a very eye-opening book. I was aware that women's history was not very pleasant, but I didn't know that it was this unpleasant. This is highly recommended for all women, and for any men whose mind still has some openness and flexibility.
Paul Lappen, Reviewer
Next of Sin
Lisa J. Gordon
9781495320569, $12.99, paperback, B00I0ZF28C, $4.59, Kindle, 322 Pages
Imagine learning that your handsome, successful older brother whom you look up to is a serial killer of women and has been since the age of fourteen. What would you do?
For Gaby, it is the beginning of the end of life as she knows it. Her life of simple pursuit of a new marriage and her legal career hits brick wall and slides into the gutter as she begins a single minded pursuit to learn the extent of his predation. It proves to be a challenge for her mentally, physically and emotionally for Clinton, her brother, is clever, slippery, rich and commits his crimes, generally in other countries. He is a killer that knows no international boundaries. Gaby must fight through deeply rooted fear, physical injury, emotional loss and constant turmoil to bring Clinton down. Is she strong enough?
For me personally, this story started slowly and stayed slow for a period of time, but as the extent of Clinton's depredations were revealed the story took on a life of its own and became a tale I was loath to put down. In the end, it becomes very emotionally intense and the reader will find the suspense builds exponentially as the story progresses. It is very entertaining with well developed characters. Gaby and Meagan are easy to like and for whom one can feel real empathy. The other women in the story invoke the reader's sympathy as they become victims one by one. Clinton, and his father, are characters that readers will love to hate. The book is well written and edited.
Next of Sin is a book that should be appreciated by lovers of psycho thrillers, serial killer tales and mysteries of all kinds. 5-Stars.
B01FX0UOT8, $1.49, 110 pages
Jeremy Riker wanted to be an LAPD Officer. Hoping to escape high school bullies, he joined a police Explorer's post but as luck would have it, he was injured by a stray bullet during a ride-along. Mentored by an LAPD detective, Riker spent seven years in intense physical training to overcome his injuries and become an LAPD Officer only to be rejected as unqualified by state bureaucrats. Later, he became a private investigator.
Along the way, Jeremy Riker drew the attention of a homicidal maniac who will not hesitate to kill all of Riker's close associates, family and friends in order to punish him for the attention he received when he was shot on the ride-along. Riker's Calling
Is the story of the pursuit of Riker by that maniac and Riker's pursuit of him. Neither will be satisfied until the other is dead, but all of Riker's closest family and friends may die in the process.
As the story progresses we learn more and more about the character of Jeremy Riker and we eventually learn the identity of the perpetrator who is a particularly twisted individual and whose identity turns out to be a bit surprising. Like many similar novels, Riker's Calling is somewhat predictable, but what is not predictable is some of the techniques the perpetrator uses which are elaborate and a little surprising. But what else is expected from a psychotic mastermind?
Riker's Calling is a fine read for anyone who loves psycho-thriller mysteries about serial killers and for intense mystery and crime/action lovers of any persuasion. 4-Stars.
Gone Fishin': A Grisly Chautuaqua Short Story
B01GOMM5GE, $0.99, 13 pages
"Joe Harrington's first mistake was the grin." The man who lived nearby; who helped celebrate the Fourth of July. Who helped put their flag up. The man who overstayed his welcome; who didn't know when to butt-out, but whose company the protagonist's mother, Rosemary, seemed to enjoy thereby igniting a hell-storm of teenaged resentment and jealousy.
Gone Fishin' is short road to a fateful fishing trip. We know little about the characters except for Joe Harrington who is just a regular guy whose ultimate mistake was enjoying time spent with Rosemary who seems to be alone except for her unnamed son who lives with her. Joe is trying to be neighborly and nice to Rosemary whom he seems to like, and her son. A fishing trip for Joe and the son is proposed, and preparations are made by Joe, the neighbor without a clue.
This story plumbs the depths of unsuspected teen aged feeling of resentment and jealously that sometimes erupt in violence. We know little about the protagonist in this story, so we may not see the signs of stress at first; the feeling of possession, feeling threatened with emotional displacement, and feeling of being patronized and marginalized all of which come crashing in.
Gone Fishin' should appeal to everyone who is interested in a short thriller with an ending that you should be coming, but don't, because you can't quite believe it's happening. 4-Stars.
Meat Ladder to Mars
Editorial Exitos Gnosis
9780692659045, $3.00, 207 Pages
Zosime has been occupationally displaced by the collapse of the skyladder in Quito Equador. She has taken a job beneath her training and abilities in Nigeria working as a load specialist on a private industrial venture to place a colony on Mars. She has immediate negative feelings toward the project mostly because the owners are unwilling to spend the necessary money to do it right and because her co-workers are bastards prone to the abuse and disrespect of women. But it is when the company decides to send sixteen breeding pairs of yearling pigs to Mars on their aging 'piece of junk' space shuttle without adequate protection and life support that she decides to take action.
Meat Ladder to Mars is a satire directed at everything up to and including private space ventures, animal rights issues, employee relations, corporate management, the American attitude in foreign countries and dissenting opinions about the importance of industrial priorities. The author is gifted in descriptive, detailed writing to the point where the story bogs down in unnecessary detail and leaves the reader praying for relief. The book could have been half as long without the excessive description. Despite his love of detail, the author writes English well and has an excellent command of vocabulary. Because he uses the 'quotation dash' or 'em' dash common in Spanish I suspect that English is not his native language. This makes reading Meat Ladder To Mars a different experience for most readers for whom English is native and one that I found confusing.
However, once past those issues, the story becomes entertaining. The Zosime's character is likeable and torn between her family and her job initially, and between her job and what she felt to be to be right in the end. Zosime's big battle is with herself and her values. Although she could be endangered by the company, her fear of them is largely paranoia due her own subversive activities.
The 'boss' is essentially undefined and represents the hidden face of corporate America. Dr. Chesky is the local manager charged with responsibility for making non-productive reality into productive reality. Feelings about him are ambivalent at best. Gopman is a chauvinistic egotist that everyone would love to hate, but every workplace has their share of Gopmans. Clayton is just trying to skate by doing as little as possible to survive.
In the end, I expected a massive explosion with many dead and massive international repercussions, but the story ended far differently. How differently, you'll have to see by reading it. This story should be loved by anyone who loves tongue-in-cheek satire. 3-Stars.
Permutation Archives: The Harvested
9781533609946, $12.99, paperback, 207 pages
B01GKAKJJK, $3.99, Kindle
Mila has a talent. A talent that she is scared to death Dictator King will learn about. When the government demands that everyone be screened to identify their "talents" Mila knows she will be found out. She is not wrong.
This story follows Mila to a government compound where those with special powers are segregated and held pending further study and their decisions. Their decision whether to use their powers to serve Dictator King's obsessive drive for absolute power, or to have their power stripped from them by drugs and given to someone who will use the power to King's benefit without question. Mila's power is unusual; and unusually strong. King will take extraordinary means, even for him, to bend her to his will.
Along the way, Mila must deal with her fear, her friends and loyalties, her loathing of King and his government and her lack of understanding and knowledge of the extent of her powers and their use. She is conflicted when she is forced to act against her traditional loyalties and is later forced to trust those she would have never trusted before.
The Harvest contains characters that are well developed and consistent with the story. The reader will wonder what disaster is going to happen next and will be surprised when twists and turns evolve that make it staying up to read this book worthwhile.
The author is extremely detailed- do we really need to know exactly how to cook green beans? Although the book does contain what in my opinion is excessive detail that doesn't directly support the story, I will say that that same level of detail serves the story well as the tension builds to fever pitch toward the end. Unfortunately, the PDF copy that I was given to review was full of typos and needed careful proofreading.
This book should be prized by those who love government conspiracies and cover-ups, and where the protagonist is drowning in a sea of agendas somewhat reminiscent of the Hunger Games series. 4-Stars.
Permutation Archives: The Harvested
9781533609946, $12.99, paperback, 207 pages
B01GKAKJJK, $3.99, Kindle
Mila has a talent. A talent that she is scared to death Dictator King will learn about. When the government demands that everyone be screened to identify their "talents" Mila knows she will be found out. She is not wrong.
This story follows Mila to a government compound where those with special powers are segregated and held pending further study and their decisions. Their decision whether to use their powers to serve Dictator King's obsessive drive for absolute power, or to have their power stripped from them by drugs and given to someone who will use the power to King's benefit without question. Mila's power is unusual; and unusually strong. King will take extraordinary means, even for him, to bend her to his will.
Along the way, Mila must deal with her fear, her friends and loyalties, her loathing of King and his government and her lack of understanding and knowledge of the extent of her powers and their use. She is conflicted when she is forced to act against her traditional loyalties and is later forced to trust those she would have never trusted before.
The Harvest contains characters that are well developed and consistent with the story. The reader will wonder what disaster is going to happen next and will be surprised when twists and turns evolve that make it staying up to read this book worthwhile.
The author is extremely detailed- do we really need to know exactly how to cook green beans? Although the book does contain what in my opinion is excessive detail that doesn't directly support the story, I will say that that same level of detail serves the story well as the tension builds to fever pitch toward the end. Unfortunately, the PDF copy that I was given to review was full of typos and needed careful proofreading.
This book should be prized by those who love government conspiracies and cover-ups, and where the protagonist is drowning in a sea of agendas somewhat reminiscent of the Hunger Games series. 4-Stars.
A Darker Side of Sorcery: The Realmers Series, Book 1
B01A3L1PS6, $0.99, Kindle, 382 pages
To Evan, a young man of fifteen raised in a children's home, life's most challenging issues were how to avoid being victimized by Ollie and his gang of bullies, and who his parents were. He had rationalized that his parents cared nothing for him since they had abandoned him at birth. That left the bullies: at least until he was attacked one day by a demon bent on kidnapping him. Then, he used his magic to defend himself for the first time even though he was unsuccessful, kidnapped and taken to the realm of a demon queen.
Saved from the demon queen by Tarensen, a Venetor and head of a Venetor training fortress know as Venerason, Evan began his long journey to become a Venetor, a demon hunter, at Venesaron where he made friends among the recruits, learned arms and magic, and about the realms through which he would eventually chase demons of all types. But there was something special about Evan. So special that a very powerful demon lord would stop at nothing to capture him and bend him to his will while attempting to destroy all of Venesaron in the process.
A Darker Shade of Sorcery is an excellent fantasy tale woven with many complex characters all of which have their personal demons and conflicts in addition to the demons they are fighting. While entertaining for the reader, I found the book to be well written and error free although unnecessarily long dwelling to an unnecessary extent on the training program and the life that Evan and his friends faced at Venerason. While interesting in itself, I felt this was not germane to the main storyline and could have been significantly shortened without weakening the story. I found myself skipping blocks of meaningless information about the character's lives and training. I also felt the book paralleled the Harry Potter stories to the extent that I felt I could identify archetypical characters from the Potter series by function and background almost transplanting them intact from Hogworts to Venesaron. While there is nothing wrong with that, the reader should be aware A Darker Shade of Sorcery bears similarity to the Potter stories.
A Darker Shade of Sorcery is, however, a fine story that should appeal to anyone, especially younger readers, who love fantasy, magical realms and the intrigue of fighting evil wherever it is to be found. 4-Stars.
Not Guilty, Not Innocent
9781530266173, $12.99, paperback, 344 pages
B01C9RB1IQ, $.59, Kindle
The G-Strings are a female rock band on tour in United Kingdom. Their four primary members are Valda, Renee, Jane and Roya, all from different backgrounds; Valda from South Africa, Roya from Iran, and Renee and Jane unknown, probably from the United Kingdom. All of the girls love to party to a greater of lesser degree and live together in a flat paid for by their management company. Renee and Jane party to a greater degree and Valda and Roya to a lesser degree. Like the old saying, "A man is known by the company he keeps", Renee and Jane are jealous, ambitious bitches who keep company with corrupt politicians and nasty Russian mobsters. Roya and Valda travel in the same circles but try to keep the nastiness at arm's length.
Jack Lauder is a British lawyer with his own law practice and his own airplane. When Valda, who he met serendipitously in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is accused of murder, he becomes the focus of her defense; while falling in love with her. Pursued by a corrupt politician and a Russian oligarch, they must disappear temporarily pending trial in order to stay alive.
I found Not Guilty, Not Innocent to be slow and boring up until Valda is accused of murder. It becomes more exciting after Valda is accused of murder, and reaches a crescendo during her trial. Jack Lauder and Valda are well developed characters, but the effort spent in their confusion about their relationship is (to me) a waste of words. I could not develop any empathy for any of the characters, except Lauder, and only later after she is falsely accused of murder, Valda. The rest of the characters may as well have been wall paper. Except for Roya, who shows a little depth, they come across as shallow, one dimensional and completely out for themselves, which they are meant to be.
Not Guilty, Not Innocent is, overall, a slow paced murder mystery with moments of exciting courtroom drama against a backdrop of sexual attraction, use and abuse. It should appeal to anyone who likes murder mysteries, and court room dramas. 3 1/2 Stars.
Guilt in Hiding: A Martin Preuss Mystery
Poison Toe Press
9780997294125, $24.95, Hardcover, 370 pages
9780997294101, $15.00, Paperback; B01FEMWUNI, $2.99
Martin Preuss is a cop beleaguered by a boss that hated him, and who just happens to be his former brother-in-law, a son with severe handicaps, memories of a wife who has been dead for a number of years, and a police chief who is retiring leaving him at the mercy of his brother-in-law and threatening to make an incompetent sycophant his new boss. He needs a new life, but instead, he catches a new case-a missing wheelchair transport van along with a handicapped young man and a care-worker who attends him.
When the wheelchair bound young man turns up in a church parking lot scared and disoriented, but otherwise unharmed, Preuss begins an all out search for the missing van and the care-worker. As in most organizations, however, Preuss must fight his bosses and his co-workers in order to be allowed to do his job. Driven by personal identification with the handicapped because of his son, and their care-workers whose dedication and commitment he respects, Preuss will stop at nothing to find the person responsible.
Told in a straight-forward simple style that is easily understandable, Guilt in Hiding is a police procedural mystery characterized by well developed characters each committed to his or her own agenda. It is an entertaining, even gripping, read punctuated by real information about group homes for the severely handicapped and their dedicated care-givers. The book is well written, well edited and entertaining; well worth the reading time for anyone who loves mysteries, police procedural investigations or who just loves reading about slimy crooks and the beleaguered detectives that chase them. 5-Stars.
Kill All Cats
9781533581914, $13.99, paperback, 236 pages
B01GMVWNIC, $2.99, Kindle
When Ron Black' uncle found him a job at the pharmaceutical company at which he worked he should have run away screaming and stayed away. But then, how could he have known that his uncle, with a little help from his neighbors, was setting him up to be charged with the murder of his eccentric (and crazy) neighbor and her entire community of thirty-eight cats. The setup is simple enough, except for the number of people involved, but Ron's personal paranoia complicates and interferes with the deductive process. His mental fumbling marks him as a 'person of interest' for the cops who tighten the noose hoping he will lead them to the killer. Of course Ron, who has spent time in a mental institution for killing his father (his uncle's brother) at the tender age of seven, is sufficiently paranoid of the attention of the police to cover the tracks of the entire dysfunctional neighborhood.
Kill All Cats is a tongue-in-cheek romp through a community of odd-balls. Ron and his friend Jean are relatively well developed multi-dimensional characters and despite their personal eccentricities are likeable. The other characters are developed to a sufficient degree to benefit the story, although little is ever really known about them. None of them are especially likeable. The story is generally well written with few editing errors.
Kill All Cats is a masterpiece of dark humor that is sure to cause the reader to snicker, roll their eyes and mutter "No, I can't believe he did that!". An entertaining read for anyone who loves dark humor, dysfunctional people and revenge plots. It also helps if you hate cats! 5-Stars.
Life in Twenty-Something
9780692699423, $14.99, Paperback, 318 pages
9780692699454, $25.60, Hardcover
B01FB6AKG6, $4.39 Kindle
There's an old joke about a little bird that complained about the cold, until a cow crapped on its head. Then it sang joyfully about the warmth, until a cat brushed it off and ate it. The moral to the story was something like those that shit on you aren't necessarily your enemies; those that pick you out of the shit aren't necessarily your friends. Finally, in either circumstance keep your mouth shut because everything is subject to change.
Life in Twenty-Something is a bit like that. Dave and Cody are struggling to start a new business, until their vindictive former employers decide to sue them. Suddenly, they find themselves without income or other immediate prospects and facing potentially enormous legal claims. Dave is a bit like the little bird in that he complains to some of his friends, tries to maintain his image before others, and begins a dangerous downhill slide into self-pity-aided and abetted by alcohol and pot. He cannot understand how some of his friends can be so happy and seemingly blase to negative circumstances.
Nevertheless, eventually he comes to see that there may be opportunity disguised in adversity, and that negative outcomes can often be favorable in the end.
This book is well written and edited and can be considered a self-help book disguised as an entertaining novel. Readers cannot help but feel for Dave while simultaneously considering him a dumbass. Cody has the same problems Dave has but seems not to wallow in self-pity and plays a somewhat supportive role to Dave. Dave's two girl-friends both have their own agendas neither of which include having a man invite them to a pity-party, but both come through and show support for Dave in the end. By the way, the end includes a deeply satisfying twist.
Life in Twenty-Something should appeal to anyone who likes general fiction and stories where the protagonist is struggling with both himself and outside events. 5-Stars.
At First You Hear the Silence
Mark Fuller Dillon
9780991861224, $0.99, Smashwords
Philippe was a thirteen year old boy entrusted with responsibility for taking care of the chore on his family's Quebec farm while they traveled overnight to visit his father's sister Helene. His father's family had secrets; in fact, his father considered that his Aunt Helene had serious problems of an undisclosed variety, but the nature of those secrets and the extent of Helene's problems was a mystery to Philippe and far from his mind as his parents drove away. Really, all he knew about Helene was that she had given him figurines to play with as a child; figurines of monsters and alien beings as though from another world.
Imagine Phillippe's surprise, when the outdoor world as he knew it seemed to disappear into a world inhabited by giant predatory creatures resembling giant birds. Imagine his shock when those creatures try to slaughter the farm animals but are more interested in examining him than eating him. What did his father and perhaps, Aunt Helene know about these things that they weren't sharing?
At First You Hear The Silence is concentrated action in a few pages. Readers are drawn immediately to Philippe's determination to act maturely and bravely in the face of unknown dangers. Despite his personal danger, he is always mindful of the danger posed to the farm animals in his care. In the end he shares a still unacknowledged secret with his father.
This short story would be appreciated by aficionados of horror in any form, and many science fiction/fantasy fans. 4-Stars.
Stories of Music, Vol. 1
Holly E. Tripp
Timbre Press LLC
PO Box 201435, Denver, CO 80220
9780996932707, $29.00, 176 Pages, www.amazon.com
Music evokes memories, of that everyone can agree, be they good, bad, happy or sad, a certain piece of music will mean something special to someone.
Holly Tripp's love of music some would say was inborn, she was raised in a musical family, and loved hearing tales of her great grandmother's magical childhood, dancing to the fiddle players' music.
However a family tragedy rekindled her love of song writing, and through this, the realisation that music has such a special, personal place, in our lives, and memories.
In this anthologies series, "stories of Music" Volume 1, the author has specifically picked out, from more than a thousand submissions a collection of examples of how music has changed people's lives. You can, through the stories, learn so much about so many different aspects of music, its history, the lives of musicians, how it has healed, and importantly, how it transcends many of the barriers in our society like race and religion.
One thing which I really loved about the book was its interactive feature which allows the reader to either use scan codes or go to the books site online and listen to the music, and really become a part of the story. With a wide diversity of subjects, it was hard to pick a favourite, however if I had to do so, it would be The Audacity of Children by Heidi Swedberg which is about the Global Family Philanthropy Home (an orphanage) in Les Cayes, Haiti.
I thoroughly enjoyed, reading, listening and immersing myself in this wonderful book and look forward to its successor Volume 2, which will be released in the fall.
Killing the Market: Legendary Investor Robert W. Wilson
9781492756361, $14.95, 104 Pages
Genre: Business & Money
This book is about the life and 40 year career in the financial market of Robert W. Wilson.
Robert W. Wilson was an investor and philanthropist, a man driven to succeed. He made brave investments, followed his own council, and was filled with grit, and the determination. It is these qualities which have led him to be called the greatest investor of our time.
He starting out with $15,000 from his mother in 1958 and had the ethos that '[to be an investor], money has to be the most important thing in the world to you.' Through clever investing and sheer hard work, using other people's money, his fortune grew astronomically over the years, and just before his death in 2013 he had a net worth of $800 million.
This small book is packed with interesting information about the companies Robert W. Wilson was involved in, which include many of the giants such as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Atari, Compaq Computer Corp, Burroughs, Pizza Time Theater, American Airlines and Federal Express.
I also touches sensitively in his personal life and passions, such as the opera, and his interest in nature, wildlife and conservation, all of which he supported fervently.
He handled his affairs with control and dignity, and this included his suicide in 2013. He left a note saying "I had a rewarding life. Thank you and goodbye to all my friends. Please make sure you cancel all my plans. Tell everyone what I did. I'm not ashamed of killing myself. Sell all my stuff," the note read, according to law-enforcement sources."
The author of this short book has treated the reader to an in-depth look at the life of this amazing man, and what made him tick, it is interesting, inspirational and I highly recommend it.
Stories to Creep You Out Until Dawn: 10 Eye-Bulging Flash Fiction
B01HTJ4FN2, $0.99, Kindle, 43 Pages, www.amazon.com
I love a good horror story, and let's face it, in this busy day and age we don't always want, or have time to read long books with complicated plots, we just want to sit for five minutes and unwind.
Well the author Khaled Talib, has in this book, given us horror story lovers the perfect opportunity to indulge in our favourite genre whenever we get the opportunity.
This is a great collection of creepy stories which sent shivers down my spine. From unexplained circumstances to ghostly spirits and strange happenings. These are the sort of stories whispered round camp fires, and told in hushed voices, because they have their foundation in real life - they are true!
I loved reading this book, the stories were all very short, but had completely different story lines, each with their own special twist. I thought the variety was great and highly recommend it.
Susan Keefe, Reviewer
The Truth about Fragile Things
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781505407600, $14.95, PB, 308 pages, www.amazon.com
"I'm here to forgive you. It wasn't my idea---to forgive you. It was my dad's."
What has made you fragile? What event in your life left you so scarred emotionally that you could break? That feeling as if you are made of glass is terrifying for each person, always wondering when you will shatter.
For Megan Riddick, she carries the memory of her two-year-old self. As a toddler, she was following a butterfly when she ran out onto the road in front of an oncoming vehicle. Miraculously, a man pushed her out of the way, giving his life for hers. The guilt of his death and hers being spared still hangs on her like an albatross around her neck.
Megan is a junior in high-school and enjoys being the prize of the drama department. She loves becoming someone else. That is much easier than being herself.
Her life changes when a new girl enrolls at her school. This new girl glares at her. Why would this freshman show Megan such contempt?
Charlotte Exby is the daughter of the man who died saving Megan's life. As a lowly freshman, she is scared of nothing. It's obvious that she blames Megan for her father's death.
What can Megan do?
The Truth about Fragile Things excels in characterization. Having a character burdened with guilt as a teenager shows an authentic protagonist who feels as if she were the antagonist. Learning to forgive others and yourself is an issue every human being struggles at some time in their lives. How does anyone move beyond the guilt and learn to take chances, have fun, to feel the joy of living?
Besides guilt, Megan along with the other characters learn about the value of trust and developing friendships that last a lifetime.
Through great examples of maturity with solving problems, each character views life through their individual perspective learning how best to become the person they each dream of becoming.
Due to these overlapping themes, this book is appropriate for all ages, having no inappropriate scenes or language. The intended audience is for eleven to eighteen-year-olds, but every reader can easily find this a novel, a gem.
Regina Sirois has previously written the novel, On Little Wings while currently residing in Kansas with her family.
The Truth about Fragile Things is a phenomenal journey of a teenager but for readers of all ages.
The Dream Lover
A Novel of George Sand
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
978081299152, $28.00, 368 pages, www.amazon.com
"There is only one happiness in life, to loved and to be loved."
George Sand was of the few women throughout history who followed her dreams and desires without consideration of society's rules. She liberated herself at a time when females were considered property. She wore trousers, left her children, wrote books that were admired even by Balzac, lost her inheritance to her husband when she divorced him, how could this person survive in the world of France in mid-1800s? This woman who wrote under the name of a man while living with her personal standards and not society's. I was curious about any woman who held Chopin spellbound.
George Sand was born Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin but usually was called Aurore. Her mother had been beautiful attracting the attention of many men. Unfortunately, she was not of the class of people of her father creating animosity between her mother and grandmother.
Living in the French countryside, she grew up as a daughter of privilege. Her father came from a well-respected family who fell in love with a beautiful woman. Aurore was the result of their marriage.
Aurore's mother was not well accepted by her husband's family, especially after his death. While her mother pursued a new life in Paris, Aurore lived with her grandmother.
Although brilliant and rebellious, Aurore married a man who gave her the expected status of prosperous French wife. Quickly she became the mother of a son, Maurice and a daughter, Solange.
Aurore quickly learned that she was given a brilliance mind with her gift for creating realistic characters in her writing which completely opposed her life as a wife and mother. Added to that was her daringness to write what no other female had ever written even pushing her contemporaries to higher levels.
"It is expected that people who are not artists might not understand the need for one to immerse oneself totally in one's work, but it also sometimes happens that other artists feel no compunctions about interrupting, or in feeling slighted that one's attention is not focused on them first and foremost. What jealousy can be inspired by a person's singular devotion to something the other cannot share! It was a concern for Liszt, I knew, who had once confided to me that it was difficult to play the piano with a woman's arms around his neck."
George Sand changed literature with her writing while at the same time influencing much of the writers of her time and memorably, her time with Chopin.
"Music is limited, too: to the power of the instrument, to the power the musician's imagination, to one's ability to let go of conscious thought in favor of an unseen power."
The Dream Lover is a fictional account based on George Sand who and her with her rebellious attitude socially, even being accused of a lesbian relationship, who strongly influenced the world through her writings. Elizabeth Berg beautifully captures both the objectivity of this larger than life personality along with her beautiful gift of writing.
S. M. Senden
Second Wind Publishing
9781938101465, $14.95, 279 pages
"You cannot save the world and you cannot go back and change what has already been done. All we can do is go forward and hope to see there will be some good to come of all this tragedy."
These are wise words for any horrific event.
The year was 1912 in Red Oak, Iowa when a young girl met her lover in an abandoned theater to confront him about her troubling condition. Yes, she was four months pregnant and planned on forcing the boy to marry her. Unfortunately, the boy had other plans since he was promised to another girl from a wealthy family.
More than twenty-five years later, the theater is now a hardware store with the upper floors abandoned. Only the main floor is used to occupy the hardware store.
Paul Newberg is an idealist eager to join in the impending war in Europe. He dreams of heroic actions and is frustrated with Canada joining the Allied forces whereas the United States is remaining neutral.
Paul enters the store in a bad mood. He had been arguing with his father about whether or not America should enter the impending challenge.
Mr. Milledge, the owner, quickly recognizes the situation and wisely send Paul away from people for another, somewhat useful task. He has considered expanding into the upper level and sent Paul upstairs to evaluate the possibility.
What Paul discovers is a dead woman's remains from years ago.
This death changes many unfortunate lives twenty-five years later.
Lethal Boundaries is a journey into 1912 with the present day being 1939. S.M. Senden is masterful at placing the reader into this time segments in Red Oak, Iowa. The laid-back Andy Griffith-like character of Lieutenant Nigel Lockhart even following him to his home and allowing the reader just a glimpse at middle America before the U.S. entering World War II.
S. M. Senden currently lives in the metropolitan area. She is currently writing a series involving a forensic artist, Dr. Kate Ahston, a series in the fictional city of Lemmington, and historical murder mysteries.
Lethal Boundaries is appropriate for all adult readers. It has many short chapters which make reading easier for those with very busy lives.
Senden's writing is magical. She has the masterful gift of weaving words into a coherent and addictive manner of a legendary storyteller.
Unquestionably read Lethal Boundaries by S. M. Senden.
Emily St. John Mandel
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780804172448, $15.95, PB, 352 pages, www.amazon.com
"I'm talking about these people who've ended up in one life instead of another and they are just so disappointed. Do you know what I mean? They've done what's expected of them. They want to do something different but it's impossible now, there's a mortgage, kids, whatever, they're trapped...You probably encounter people like him all the time. High-functioning sleepwalkers, essentially."
And so it begins.
How often is the world we live in one step away from annihilation? No, not a comet hitting the Yucatan peninsula, but one choice, one small event or virus that could change the way we live.
Have you ever seen an actor who left a lifetime impression on you? For Kirsten Raymonde, that person is Arthur Leander, who is a famous Hollywood actor. Unfortunately, she remembers Leander having a heart attack during a production of King Lear.
That same night was an unlucky night for many. As Leander is dying, many are just receiving a flu bug that will quickly become a global pandemic, ending the world as we know it, leaving alive only 1% of the global population.
After twenty years, Kirsten is part of a traveling group of actors and musicians sharing their art with the chosen ones who have survived. Life has changed substantially in twenty-years, deteriorating from a global world of communication and travel to basic day-to-day survival with the influence of a prophet.
Station Eleven is the fourth novel written by Emily St. John Martel and was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pen/Faulkner Award.
Station Eleven is about the people in how they interact in attempting to rebuild civilization. The idea of sharing music and theater in a survivalist society provides a bit of hope and light in this dim post-apocryphal tale.
The characterization in Station Eleven, I found hopeful with these diverse people who are often shallow to incredibly deep while learning to rebuild humanity, transportation, civilization, and a sense of belonging. The importance of being a part of a community and the need to be needed are embedded as the story alters between the past and the present.
The Maestro Wore Mohair: A Liturgical Mystery
St. James Music Press Books
P.O. Box 249, Tryon, North Carolina 28782
9780984484683, $13.95, 206 pages, www.amazon.com
"The Maestro was a terror: a choral genius with an AA, a BME, an MME, a Ph.D., and a DMA in conducting from Florida State, which is not a diploma mill. I don't care what they say. The letters trailed after her name like educated baby ducks, waddling advertisements of her brilliance. When she sneezed ( as she often did, being allergic to Eric Whitacre) all the letters flew out her nose and nearby singers gleefully wiped them up with bath towels and sold them on eBay. This case was coming together like two things come together and make one thing, and there you have it, one final thing. "
These are the words written by Hayden Konig on his old 1939 Underwood typewriter that was once owned by the legendary Raymond Chandler. Among his many artistic gifts, he writes these almost undecipherable short mysteries to keep his choir members entertained during the sermons on Sunday mornings at St. Barnabas Episcopalian Church in St. Germaine, North Carolina.
Hayden is the police chief of a small law enforcement department in this little Southern town.
St. Germaine does attract one unusual crime. Murder at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. To prove it, he has a loaded gun hidden in the organ bench.
A skull is discovered by two teenaged boys. One of the boys picked it up, brought it home and even ran it through the dishwasher before placing it on his bookshelf, still having hair hanging off of it.
It would still be there if the other boy hadn't revealed the discovery to his prayer group at St. Barnabas.
Logically, law enforcement went back to the site to reveal most of the skeleton. The local doctor decided the body had been killed about thirty years previously.
How do you solve a thirty-year-old mystery? The first thing is to identify the body and to figure out what life was like during that time. With diligence and patience, the police of St. Germaine always solve their cases.
The Maestro Wore Mohair is the thirteenth novel in Mark Schweizer's Liturgical Mystery series featuring Hayden Konig and the community of St. Germaine. Yes, I have read every one of these musically based mysteries.
The author, Mark Schweizer is a musician, composer, author and publisher while residing in Tryon, North Carolina. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Arizona.
Throughout the years, the characters have grown and aged, similar to real life, so it is not a good idea to read these books without understanding the characters. I highly recommend, to begin the first one in this series, The Alto Wore Tweed.
Part of the reason I enjoy these books is the interweaving of musical history, a light mystery, characters who are unusual and memorable enough to feel like family and I care about how they have changed, superb choral and organ music suggestions, humor all gathered into a reading event that is fun.
Time and Trouble: An Emma Howe and Billie August Mystery - Book 1
San Francisco, California, Kindle Edition, 366 pages, www.amazon.com
"People were incredibly stupid, Emma thought. Which was good new for her. She'd never entirely lack for business because human beings would inevitably, irresistibly screw up, lie, cheat, pose, and in general, wreak havoc. And at some point during that process, someone who still believe life could be brought into alignment would want help from a person like Emma. "
A fifty-year-old female private investigator is not usual. For Emma Howe, it is her life. Unfortunately, she expects her assistant to be highly competent. Competence is hard to keep for what she is paying.
Billie August wants to prove herself as Emma's new assistant. She has no experience, but Emma is desperate. She has no actual work experience.
Billie does have something special in her background. When her ex-husband took her son, she successfully tracked him. Yes, she found her missing son.
Billie is driven to do well, smart, quick to learn, and ambitious. She wants to be successful and become a private investigator. She needs a substantial number of working hours under the direction of a licensed private investigator. The number seems humongous but doable.
Sophie Redmond has many problems. Her most immediate concern is her troublesome teenage daughter, Penny, who is missing from their home.
Penny is independent and rebellious. Is she a runaway? Why? Is her step-father causing a problem for her?
As life would have it, these answers are no simple with many hidden issues overlapping the investigation.
Also, Penny is a high-school senior and is eighteen years old. So does anyone call this a runaway since she is considered an adult be the law?
Wesley is Penny's little brother who has the misfortune of being left at home. What is going on in this home? Are they abusive parents? Some things just don't make sense.
Sophie believes Penny has joined a cult. She is with a group of young adults who are devoted followers of Renaissance Faires. The other members of the troupe are slightly older than Penny and resent her attracting the attentions of one of the male members.
While in a field, Penny discovers a heart-shaped pendant and the bones of a long-deceased baby. Eventually, the police uncover a woman's skeleton nearby.
What has Penny stumbled upon? Is she in any danger? Who? Why?
Untreed Publishing offers an unusual service. Time and Trouble was originally published in 1998. They rediscovered these discarded and forgotten novels and republish these fortunately chosen hidden gifts.
Time and Trouble is a fast-paced story revealing depth into family problems with flawed characters who do not always make the wisest choices. The combination of the fast-paced experienced investigator in Emma contrasting with Billie who has such big dreams of being independent creates an authenticity creating a wealth of emotions for both. The objectivity in presenting Penny and her mother is outstanding with the reader constantly revising their impressions of both making this a fascinating read.
Time and Trouble is a great read from the past that fortunately has been revived for today's adult mystery readers.
If You Were Me and Lived in Elizabethan England
Illustrator: Paula Tabor
If You Were Me and Lived in Renaissance Italy
Illustrator: Silvia Brunetti
If You Were Me and Lived in Colonial America
Illustrator: Sarah Wright
If You Were Me and Lived in Ancient Greece
Illustrator: Mateya Arkova
Carole P. Roman
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
Imagine residing in England around the year 1578. Queen Elizabeth is the ruler. You would be in one of the richest times in history. The Renaissance period when art and literature excelled with writers like William Shakespeare.
Much has been written about Elizabeth. What about the ordinary people? What was life like for them?
Imagine the regular life for most London residents. With dark and filthy streets covered in waste and overcrowded conditions, life was simple but hard working. Even with this being a time of wealth, life was difficult for the everyday people.
Roman masterfully compares life as the wealthy, but also showing how the commoners enjoyed their homes.
It is hard to imagine life inside their house. Carole Roman excels in explaining life indoors. From sharing beds to straw rushes covering the floors to herbal scents, to their clothing, to toys, and community fairs. There is also a light discussion about money and the prices of standard items as well as the school system. There are even pages about the theaters and religion customs.
Carole Roman's book If You Were Me and Lived in Elizabethan England illustrates and tells the tale of this time and place.
If You Were Me and Lived in Renaissance Italy focuses on living in Florence, Italy while the Medicis were ruling. Roman takes the perspective as being a youngster in a well-to-do house working for the Medicis. The status of wealth is directly discussed and illustrated with simple and clear explanations. Explaining the Renaissance and the changes into the culture is shown throughout this book.
If You Were Me and Lived in Colonial America begins with your birth in London. You are born into a Puritan family and traveled to the Dutch Netherlands where you lived for a short while. Then you begin your adventure in establishing a new nation.
In If You Were Me and Lived in Ancient the year is around 350 B.C. You would probably worship the Greek gods like Zeus and worship in the various temples.
All of these short books, around 32 pages are avenues to time travel to both another place and time. Whereas Roman's books are visiting countries are wonderful introductions before visiting, this new series of different times and places accomplishes more with the information and illustrations intended for children but educational for all ages.
Carole P. Roman is a retired social studies teacher who has written numerous award-winning books in multiple series. She continues to educate everyone with her delightful series.
Have you ever considered a time machine? The safer journey would be transported with one of these excellent Carole P. Roman books.
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312577223, $27.99, HC, 449 pages, www.amazon.com
Living in France before the invasion by the Germans at the beginning of World War II is difficult to imagine. Were the people ready? What should they buy and store? Were their clues of the impending invasion? Why didn't the citizens leave the country while they were allowed to travel freely?
From our perspective, today, looking back in history, we often cannot understand why the French people didn't all leave the country. Of course, where would they go?
The Nightingale is a masterful tapestry interweaving the tale of two sisters, Vianne, and Isabelle. The two live in the same place but have very different lives.
Vianne has just said goodbye to her husband as he leaves to fight with the military on the frontlines. Both of them feel and or naively hope as if this will be a quick battle and he will return home within the next few weeks. When her husband doesn't return life changes for Vianne. A German captain has taken possession of her home. How can Vianne live and support her daughter?
Isabelle is younger at the age of eighteen and has all the idealism of a world ready to welcome her. She meets Gaeten, who believes that France can beat the Germans. Isabelle is devastated when he betrays her, and she decides to join the French Resistance.
Kristin Hannah has written more than twenty novels including her best-sellers Winter Garden, Night Road, Home Front, and Firefly Lane.
The Nightingale beautifully portrays the women's perspective and behind the scenes contributions to their defense of France. The sisters' differences perfectly framed the movements by the Resistance with only a few of their actions that were all dangerous in an occupied country.
Kristen Hannah shows the war through these two women combining the history into an action-adventure with romance and mystery into a captivating literary drama.
The Nightingale excels with an unusual setting immersing the readers into France during the year 1939. You honestly feel as if you are transported to both time and place through this masterful storyteller, Kristin Hannah.
Death and Transfiguration
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312678357 $34.99, Hardcover, 322 pages, www.amazon.com
"Management gave me a week for my eyesight to come back. The doctors called it fovea macular dystrophy, a swanky term for sudden blindness. They always have fancy names for diseases they can't cure. They said, Yeah, it's possible it'll come back. But it didn't. And I had to give back no only the concertmaster position but my job in the orchestra as well."
These words belong to Daniel Jacobus, who is an incredibly talented violin concertmaster.
Daniel Jacobus is a crusty grumbling soul, but no one can doubt his genius when a violin is in his hands. That is when the magic of music happens.
Daniel has reasons that for his crustiness. Years ago when he was auditioning to become the concertmaster, he lost his sight. Sudden blindness. Yes, he could and would continue to play beautifully from memory, but how can he watch a conductor? Can anyone be successful as a blind concertmaster?
Now he still spends his days with his music but works as a teacher, sharing his musical gifts with the younger generation. That is if they can tolerate his nasty disposition.
Scheherazade "Sherry" O'Brien is likely to become the next concertmaster of Harmonium, an outstanding highly regarded world-class touring orchestra direct by the legendary musical director, Vaclav Herza. She has the position temporarily but dreams of it being permanent.
Sherry calls Jacobus requesting a private lesson before her audition. When she asks about the fee, Jacobus simply states, "Incalculable," and hangs up.
Daniel also feels a little conflicted with this contact since his former student and surrogate daughter; Yumi Shinagawa is also trying out for this position. At least this will allow him to judge Yumi's competition.
When Daniel hears her play, he knows that Sherry should be the concertmaster. Apparently, she has a problem with the conductor.
World class conductor Vaclav Herza is a combination egomaniac and sociopath. The audiences around the world love and respect the musician. The people who know him realize that he is both unpredictable and dangerous.
What is unusual about this book about the inside of the music business is how closely the story parallels the music "Death and the Transfiguration" by Richard Strauss. Few people understand the behind the scenes reality of the music world which is not glamorous. This book continues the insight into diligence, perseverance, talent and leadership all combining into genius.
Gerald Elias creates his stories from his life as a violinist with the Boston Symphony, Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony, adjunct professor of music at the University of Utah, first violinist of the Abramyam String Quartet, and Music Director of the Vivaldi Candlelight concert series.
Death and Transfiguration is the fourth in the Daniel Jacobus series following Devil's Trill, Danse Macabre, and Death and the Maiden. Another book in the series, Playing with Fire, which should be released September 1st.
Death and Transfiguration is a well-written mystery plopped into the world of professional musicians revealing their flaws and the joy of creating voices that cannot be described in words.
If I Run
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310332435, $15.99, 352 pages, Trade Paperback, www.amazon.com
"We've logged all the evidence against the girl. We have a rock-solid case. Her DNA is all over the place. Shoe prints, finger prints, the weapon...She did it.
The police said that she is the "person of interest," the one in their mind who committed the crime. But she is innocent.
Casey Cox is the type of person most of us would enjoy knowing. She's kind, considerate, and is driven to help people. Thirteen years ago when she was twelve-years-old, her father died. The police investigation concluded it was a suicide, but Casey never believed it. Her father as a police officer had been investigating dirty cops. Strange that he died just as his findings were to be revealed.
What do you do when you happen across a murder scene?
Casey's good friend Brent is an investigative reporter. He knows that Casey is haunted by her past, and he agrees to look into her father's death. Brent is developing a solid case revealing corruption in this police department and collecting evidence.
Casey innocently goes to Brent apartment only to discover him what appears to be dead. Naturally, she feels for a pulse which places her feet in his blood. She is a frequent visitor at Brent's home, so she knows her DNA is everywhere.
Believing that the police who were her father's comrades were dirty, she can't go to them now.
"Don't do stupid."
"I can't promise that because I know myself, and I've already 'done stupid' since finding Brent dead."
What do you do? Run, leave town, go somewhere while the investigation proceeds. Who is the logical criminal? Casey.
Dylan Roberts has returned home from three deployments, two to Iraq and one to Afghanistan and suffers from PTSD. He earned an honorable discharge from the Army as part of the Criminal Investigations Division. However, no one will now hire him.
Brent was a childhood friend of Dylan's. The police do not have the resources to find Casey outside their immediate area, so Brent's family hires Dylan to bring Casey back.
If I Run is a fantastically written gripping tale. What do you do if you are accused of a crime that you did not commit? How do you be smart, honest, and survive when you are being hunted as a murderer?
The characters are always struggling with the challenges of everyday life while still desiring justice for their past.
Terri Blackstock is a Christian writer of many bestselling series, Moonlighters, Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles and Restoration as well as her novels Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall.
If I Run is a fast-paced story to read even for those of us who don't plan to be accused of murder. The smart and honest characterization of Casey is a remarkable role model for all adult readers. The book does incorporate Christianity into the story elegantly and naturally. My only criticism of If I Run is that it ended, but I do see the possibility of Casey appearing in a future Blackstock novel.
The Death Chamber
Felony & Mayhem Press
174 W 4th St., Suite #261, New York, NY 10014
9781631940507, $14.95, Trade Paperback, 491 pages, www.amazon.com
Georgina Grey received an unusual letter. Apparently, she is the recipient of the Caradoc Society's assets. Her great-grandfather had made a generous bequest to this group back in 1940. Now that the group is has dissolved Georgina seems to be the only surviving heir.
For Georgina, this possible treasure could be the answer to her prayers. Recently her boyfriend left with her bank account along with her business partner.
Chad Ingram is always on the lookout for a story. He is a television producer and his special is going to focus on Calvary Gaol. Now abandoned, Calvary was the final destination for numerous British criminals since World War I. The team is doing research on evidence of an afterlife and what better place to look than an execution chamber where many met their maker through being hung.
Chad wants an unbiased perspective of the execution chamber. A friend of his, Jude Stratton is chosen to spend some time alone in what they believe could be a nest of spirits. Jude is the perfect person for this choice since he was a freelance journalist. He is blind from covering a story while in the Middle East, and a bomb blinded him. Jude would not know where he is, and this would be perfect for the show.
The Death Chamber is an unusual novel. The first half of the book is the groundwork for the rest of the story, similar to unpacking a jigsaw puzzle. There seem to be numerous unrelated pieces which need to constructed into a frame and then filled-in one piece at a time.
The second half amazingly connects almost to being contrived. The coincidences and relationships are shocking as each page is revealed.
Sarah Rayne has written many psycho-logical suspense novels including Ghost Song and A Dark Dividing. She resides in London.
Surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed Rayne's writing style. I was amazed to analyze that in the first half of the book, nothing happened. Even then, it did keep my interest. The second half made me feel that I had to read each page faster. There was an anxiousness to discover how the characters were related, what secret crimes are found, and how all this is relevant to Calvary.
The Death Chamber is for adult readers who enjoy intricately woven tales.
Though Heaven Fall: A Medieval Parable
Old London Press
9781502466280, $13.99, Trade Paperback, 254 pages, www.amazon.com
"The sins we commit on earth are like pebbles upon a scale, each weighing a man's soul heavier and heavier. If his soul is too heavy, you see, it cannot soar aloft to God. Bus when we pray and atone, only then may we lift each pebble--one by one--free of this scale."
In the thirteenth century in England, life's hard.
For Edric, he is barely surviving. He is a cripple with a clubfoot who roams the streets of England, begging and or stealing and even occasionally earning a little money playing music on his pipe.
As fate would have it, Edric unwittingly saves someone's life who just happens to believe that he is an angel. Yes, Edric saves an angel, Azriel.
Who is Azreil? He could be Brother Peter, the missing "Mad Monk" from a nearby monastery. Brother Peter is mentally ill. Could Azreil be Brother Peter? Can a mentally ill person be an angel from heaven?
Azreil believes that God has sent him to earth on a temporary quest as punishment. He can't remember what was the wrongdoing. He does remember his feelings of shame and regret.
When Azreil and Edric join in song, the twosome attracts the attention of the commoners and money. Azreil does sing like an angel. Even Edric begins to question whether he is one.
At the monastery, Brother Latimer is extremely concerned about Brother Peter's disappearance. He is well aware that the world does not treat mentally ill people fairly.
Sir Hugh Varney is assigned the task of finding Brother Peter. Remember there is only a description of him at this time in history. Added to this, Sir Hugh has cancer and is looking for spiritual answers to his destiny.
Somehow all of these characters interact in discovering their answers in a type of quest.
The characters in Though Heaven Fall excel in Westerson's tale with the reader recognizing each ones' strength and short-comings. The action is fast-paced, and a slightly resembles Don Quixote in the adventures. There is murder, humor, compassion, unfairness, in this tale that searches for justice.
Jeri Westerson has written numerous historical adventures in her Crispin Guest Medieval Noir series. She is a native of Los Angeles, California. Some of her previous novels are Veil of Lies, Serpent in the Thorns, The Demon's Parchment, Troubled Bones, Blood Lance, Shadow of the Alchemist, and Cup of Blood.
Westerson is a master storyteller with the exceptionally well-developed characters in Though Heaven Fall.
The Lost Concerto
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608091515, $27.95, HC, 435 pages, www.amazon.com
"Where words leave off, music begins."
Why would Sofia Orsini grab her young son and hide at a convent on a remote island off the coast to France? Unfortunately, Sofia was died in a tragic accident there and her son, Tommy disappears.
The boy's godmother, Maggie O'Shea is haunted by the woman's death. She had been her best friend. Isn't is her responsibility now to find the boy?
Magdalena O'Shea who goes by the nickname Maggie owns Stewart's Music Shop, which she renamed The Piano Cat. She doesn't make much money selling sheet music, her main source of income is being a concert pianist playing classical music.
Raising a son alone for twenty years, the shop and professional music performance fees allowed her the much-needed extra income to raise a family. Sometimes her joy revolved around her t-shirt collection with musical inspirations such as, "You are the music while the music lasts. T.S. Eliot."
At a Red Sox game, their lives changed when the two met John Patrick O'Shea. His work as an award-winning investigative reporter was fascinating as well as his gift of bringing joy into their lives.
With no answers as to her friend's death and the location of her godson, John chose to visit the island and to use his personal and professional skills to find the truth.
Now Maggie is in mourning. She doesn't think she will ever play professionally again. Johnny died while on this quest for Maggie.
Someone then breaks into her store and home, stealing Johnny's computer files. The loves in her life are gone.
Her only happiness is thoughts of her soon-to-be-born grandson.
All that changes when she hears a recording. This music haunts her. This composition was written by her former love, the father of her son, but could never be finished. Zachary Law was missing in action with his body never found after he had volunteered for a special mission in Lebanon years ago. He never knew he had a son.
Colonel Michael Beckett has an agenda which coincides with Maggie's healing to again learn the past and how to live and love life and music.
The author, Helaine Marion is the founder and president of The SunDial Foundation, which is related to numerous nonprofit charities in the Washington D.C. area. She resides in Arlington, Virginia, and Sarasota, Florida. She has previously written the novel, Firebird.
The Lost Concerto is a unique mystery intricately entering the world of professional musicians while still maintaining the passion for the music, her loyalty to her godson and friend, and the story. Each page masterfully unfolds to reveal a small piece of this intricately woven puzzle into an outstanding novel with realistic characters who are driven to their limits in achieving what they believe is right.
This is unquestionably one of my favorite books of the last few years from a little-known author. I am looking forward to reading more of Helaine Mario's future books.
Forgiving Mariela Camacho
A Kurchenko and Gonzalvez Mystery
A. J. Sidransky
Berwick Court Publishing Company
P.O. Box 8515, Northfield, IL 60093
9780990951568, $16.99, Trade Paperback, 339 pages, www.amazon.com
During WWII, many Jewish people living in Europe searched for someplace safe. For 854 of these people, salvation came when they were accepted by the Dominican Republic to begin a new life in Central America, called the Dominican Haven. These people became part of the culture, learning the language and customs while adopting the way of living of citizens of this country, true integration. Eventually, many of the descendants moved to the U.S. but still stayed a little attached to the combined customs of the Jews and the Dominicans. Many of these people now live in New York becoming part of the various ethnic groups settling in this metropolis.
New York City police detectives Anatoly Kurchenko and Pete Gonzalez respond to a wealthy apartment complex by the management due to an overwhelming odor surrounding it. All the doors and windows are locked and secured from the inside with the appearance of suicide. However, the deceased woman is seated in a wooden cross with a knife dangling from her cut throat.
Anatoly Kurchenko, who goes by the name Tolya, is married to Karin, who is expecting their third child. Karin is working on a special exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage about these descendants and their history. Karin uses her analytical and research skills as an investigator and speaking Spanish to create this event about these chosen people who were offered a new life in the Dominican Republic.
For Pete, this is personal. The dead woman is Mariela Camacho, his first love from the Dominican Republic. Strangely, Mariela is in possession of other passports with other identities. Why? What work did she do? Where and how did she earn the money to live in this expensive apartment and the extravagant lifestyle with designer clothes?
Forgiving Mariela Camacho is the second book by A.J. Sidransky featuring Kurchenko and Gonzalez and telling the tale of these Jewish families relocated to the Dominican Republic following the first book, Forgiving Maximo Rothman. Both books are marvelous sources of a rich history that are seldom mentioned and demonstrates a true tale of immigration. Even though Forgiving Mariela Camacho can easily be understood with having read the first novel, personally I recommend reading Forgiving Maximo Rothman due to the rich historical background and the character development continued from this book.
A.J. Sidransky beautifully creates characters that are realistic while efficiently working in the world with a history that haunts each person showing that each carries some personal baggage. This unique quality allows you to know and empathizes with every choice and decision as the story progresses.
Both of these books are an example of the masterful storytelling skills by Sidransky weaving history into a present day mystery. The novel is fast-paced, insightful, and enriching in history and personal relationships.
Who would enjoy this story? Everyone who is searching for that particular book that would delight any reader with an appreciation for an unpredictable tale keeping you totally engaged beyond the last page.
Forgiving Mariela Camacho and Forgiving Maximo Rothman are must reads for everyone.
Teacher Education and Professional Development in TESOL in Global Perspectives
Edited by JoAnn Crandall and MaryAnn Christison
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781138190139, 31.99 Brit pounds, $52.95, pages 282, www.amazon.com
JoAnn Crandall and MaryAnn Christison refer to Borg (6) as saying, "we cannot make adequate sense of teachers' experiences of learning to teach without examining the unobservable mental dimension of this learning process." Teachers teaching methods can improve provided they change their "beliefs", which are "teachers' pre-existing beliefs and ways of thinking", explain Crandall and Christison. This is a challenging issue but in this competitive age the teachers know the benefits of improving their skills as the demand to teach expands with lucrative salaries and in-house One - on-One teaching prospects. With due respect, the problem is that majority of teachers come from relatively less well-off families. Belonging from this cadre in society, I believe is also an opportunity that English offers. The teaching of English, among all the other foreign languages except perhaps the Mandarin, guarantees a life-long steady and reasonable income. Therefore, as we live in an age of Consumerism, there is plenty of material and social incentive to be as efficient as possible. The morale of an English teacher is always high and the greatest benefit that this age has given, that is, internet, is as beneficial as the invention of the wheel during the Bronze Age. Chapter after chapter this book reminds us that the teachers have to use the native vocabulary while teaching English. I agree as I have the same experience for being stationed in my native town Tehsil Shakargarh, district Narowal in Pakistan. The amazing thing I discovered was that the more I translated English into Urdu the more absorbent became the students, and the more I practiced this more mine own mind opened to the two absolutely different language and cultural experiences. It is this process which cultivated my mind to such an extent that I did not hesitate to translate Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj's Urdu play, Anarkali, into English, (available on Amazon).
I noted a great deal of teaching community involved in the preparation of this volume, perhaps from all the continents. This book seems one of the best as far as the collection of the data is concerned. In PART II, we are in touch with the teaching experiences of a Sudanese EFL teacher. We learn about the urge to excel in teaching among the colleagues of a school. Each of these teachers adopts his own innovative technique to get the rating on the basis of their performance. In the same section we also note the "issues" of the learners of English for whom English is their second language. In PART III, the emphasis is laid on the "teacher education programs" -the best ways to equip teachers with necessary knowledge as well as the refreshing of the existing knowledge. Teachers have to teach a variety of students belonging to various ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. This type of experience, says Farahanaz Faez is more productive as the students learn about each other but from the common denominator of English. The section also gives us details of the way the teaching can be promoted by an active participation of the teacher candidates and their instructors, school headmasters, district and higher supervisors in the department of education. In PART IV, the book explores the benefits of the online learning of English. The section inquires in detail about the benefits of starting to teach from the foundation or the kindergarten level. I appreciate this. Professor Cedric Brown at The Reading University's English Department, advised me to read the books for the kindergarten. It made me angry because I was doing PhD by working on the Eastern Aspects of 'Finnegan's Wake'. I felt small when I heard him advise me. Interestingly, it took me a little while before I realized the homely wisdom. The section also alludes to the "anxiety" of the teachers when they have to cope with new syllabus. Here, I blame the laziness of the teachers. Used to a set of material, they do not want to make extra effort as new syllabus demands the application of the same rules but in a different battlefield. Only a versatile soldier can face the challenges of the constantly changing situations. Perhaps, teachers prefer to remain within the shell of their own cultural self. Perhaps, why should they take extra pain when they can get paid by using the same path to which they are familiar like a villager. Finally, we learn about the medium of instruction. Sadly, the section does not compare the level of prestige that the English to English instruction offers. Basically, the English to English form of teaching points to the class difference. The schools which offer this form of teaching charge higher fees and are based in relatively big cities where the best teachers are available. Even the foreign teachers prefer to teach in such privileged schools on long term basis.
My understanding is that while in Riyadh, the syllabus should preferably be based on the Arab culture - the camels, the desert the date palms and the endless vistas of the glistening sky at night. Students did understand what the poem on the "daffodils" was about, but not the phrase "ten thousand" of William Wordsworth.
Philosophy of Technology: An Introduction for Technology and Business Students
Maarten J. Verkerk, Jan Hoogland, Jan van der Stoep, Marc J. de Vries
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781138904392, 31.00 Brit. pounds, $59.95, paperback, 354 pages, www.amazon.com
Tracing the history of the philosophy of technology the Dutch authors Maarten J. Verkerk, Jan Hoogland, Jan Van Der Stoep and Marc J. De Vries of this volume, touch upon its quality to liberate the working classes from the clutches of the bourgeoisie. The progress in technologyis also a double edged sword, the authors rightly claim. It can also oppress those who invest such as the bourgeoisie, who, in turn had first exploited the workers. In our age, the humans need to beware of the onslaughts of the latest forms of technology and hence the need to introduce such ethics as the "nuclear ethics, bioethics, environmental ethics, computer ethics, engineering ethics, agricultural ethics and more" (xiv). At the same time, the co-authors refer to the German thinker Ernst Kapp and say that technology complements our body and "aids" ... "the functioning of human limbs and organs" (7). Karl Marx, the authors believe dreamt of a classless society enjoying the fruits of the industrial and technological revolution. On the positive side, the authors say that technology expresses the urges of a people, for, humans do by nature delve into the mysteries of things and make sense of their surroundings on the one hand. Humans at the same time, aspire to act and achieve what they dream by inventing new and ever new forms of technology. Such a drive expresses human culture at a time and the corresponding forms of technological advances. World can be made more predictable as technology is applied to control nature. Bible helped mankind understand God and His Omniscience. God created this universe and His creatures so that the humans appreciate Him through His creation. Technology expresses the creative urge in understanding the Omnipotence of God.
Without referring to Aristotle, the authors use the word "activity" (29) in realising the latent, say, in a "stone." Stone is the source of raw iron which is the casus belli of the rest of the machine related tools. The authors quote from Heidegger after a brief note on this famous modern German thinker, who, they imply as saying that technology reveals what is "concealed in nature..." (37). As stated in the preface, the authors in a subsequent chapter survey in detail the role of the engineers in bearing in mind the impact of technology on the "...social, economic, judicial or moral issues..." (41). The authors refer to Lewis Mumford and trace the history of technology. The pyramids and the Chinese Wall are the ancient monuments of the "megatechnology." Unfortunately, the modern technology is "in complete control of man and society" (60), affecting human freedom. Mumford believes that by using such a technology man inflicts death on humanity. Referring to the robots, the authors say that they can function in "15 different aspects" (62). Yet, robots lack the human ability of knowing, thinking and analysing. This shows that humans are unlike the robots, with limitless capacities of creativity beyond the pale of "reductionism" of reducing "the complete versatility of reality to that one aspect" (79). Diversifying the range of technology, the authors give us their insight into the "nanotechnology" which can be used "to stick together atoms and molecules" in the creation of such properties helpful in creating new structures. The growth of new technologies affects the entire rhythm of society. New projects demand new infrastructures that change the previous social patterns of life in the older parts of a metropolis. The engineers study in detail the feasibility and marketability of the products that the projects involve. They take into consideration the entire spectrum of society such as the employees, the clients, the municipality and the environment. Referring to Heidegger and Ellul, the authors say that just as we see world through the spectacles we wear, the very nature of "reality" of the world is based upon our technological advancements. The West may have dominated the rest because of their supremacy over technology, yet this age of globalization is melting the ice as new players appear on the scene with much more frequent and deeply engaging inter-cultural engagements on unprecedented scale (239). Yet, too much dependence on technology may end in "psychological degeneration" as the authors gloss a brief note on Charlie Chaplin (166). Besides the mental mayhem, technology today as Foucault believes, enforces "power" over people (177).
On the whole, the authors suggest that new technologies are "making things more flexible" in this age of "pluralization and hybridization" rather than "homogenization" or "levelling" (246).
Rural Migrants in Urban China
Edited by Fulong Wu, Fangzhu Zhang and Chris Webster
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781138643543, 29.99 Brit. pounds, $53.95, (pbk), 303 pages, www.amazon.com
Like the fate of the international migrants of our age, the Chinese who are migrating from the rural to the urban sprawls on unprecedented scale, remain unstable for quite some time. Surprisingly, when they come to the cities they are received by their own village folk already settled there. They find easy accommodation and through their village-fellows hunt for jobs which they do get in the end. The truth is that this phenomena of the Chinese society applies to many such Asian countries, where the new settlers are accommodated by the previous ones among their kith and kin. The latter have connections with the well-to-do in the city, through whom in China they get the permission to build residential places for the migrants. Ethnic bond strengthens the economy and people are exploiting this at the moment. The condition is that you must have connections. The route to the connections lies in your political affiliation or a job in the Civil or Military services. Again, this is a universal truth applicable to the developing world.
This book is unique in the sense that it highlights the issue of migration, which is a burning question throughout the world, mainly China, half of whose population has already moved into the cities. In chapter 2 we learn about the "new generation" of such migrants born after 1980. They are young village-folk, but, are well-educated. Unlike their elder forbears, they have grown up in circumstances other than their forefathers. The latter did not have the options and had remained tied up with their rural culture, the land and the land-related responsibilities of peasantry. More self-aware of the rhythm of the global society, finding a job and adjusting oneself into it in a city of their migration, is quite a normal thing for the youth. Unlike their parents who could not effort their families to join them straight in the cities, the new generation migrants do have the resources to start their family lives. At the same time, explain Cindy Fan and Chan Chen, these migrants remain dependent on their village social network and are generally employed in the manufacturing sector because of the relevant qualifications. They prefer this to the "self-employment" which was the only option open before their parents, to earn a living. They shift to the housing facility provided by the factory employers, away from the crowded hub of their village fellows. This is a great departure to the next stage of a cosmopolitan values and attitudes. By living in the dormitories, they learn about the pros and cons of the modern age. The first thing they notice is that the employers treat them as guest workers. Despite education, their devotion and financial dependency is exploited. They cannot buy houses and if they have to live an independent rented property, they are charged beyond reach. A better place is a place where the well-off live, enjoying the amenities of life. This also becomes one of the dreams that gears up the race for economic betterment. Even the well-educated migrants with better jobs face problems when buying a home for themselves in the beginning. In Chapter 3, we learn about the comparative risk these people face when they come to the cities. This is due to the "high mobility." The existing system imposes restrictions on their "entrepreneurial activities." Naturally, they find it hard to integrate into the urban culture. Those who lack skills or adequate level of education are thrown back to the "informal rental" houses in the "urban villages." They are not allowed to build their own homes. Such villages may not fulfil the legal demands of the "city planning." At the same time they are a lucrative business because of the housing shortage. The migrants are "getting stuck." Moreover, the urban villages are located in the peripheries of a city. The migrant workers move from one village to another according to need and resources. They are deprived of the experience of living in the recommended housing schemes. The migrants depend on their own bosses who own these urban villages. Chapter 5 is about the importance of networking for the migrants. The tradition of guanxi is more helpful the less skilled you are, looking for a labour job. The qualified graduates apply to the jobs that are formally advertised and are open. They avoid guanxi because the jobs through networking are low-paid. Chapter 6 highlights the nature of the urban villages. The residents of one rural region prefer to live among the people of their own region. Though, the movement is uniform as they can like the tricycle drivers, move about in the narrow enclaves as well as the posh residential zones of high-rises. This shows the freedom of movement and a step towards integration with the rest of the population, as well as a step on the ladder of making progress in the city. Guangzhou - a city with spectacular economic growth is focused upon as a case study in the next chapter. The findings of Wissink, Hazelzet and Breitung suggest the "institutional barriers to assimilation." In Chapter 8, Li and Wu after studying the situation of the migrant community in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou say that in certain urban dwellings, the migrant population is overtaking the natives. The former are assimilating quite fast despite the obstacles which they face in general. One of the obstacles is that the local city governments are not giving full incentive to allow them the right to manage and redevelop their villages as they ideally want. Part III, Chapter 9 throws light on the mental health of the migrants employed by the management in the Foxconn town of Shenzhen. The lifestyle of the factory dormitories and low wages are causing depression and alienation among the migrants. The workers become suicidal in certain circumstances. In Chapter 10, Wang, Lin and Ning report on the nature of the economic activity of the migrants. This varies from city to city. As is natural and universal throughout the world, the wages are low, jobs temporary and the housing conditions cramp or lacking in basic facilities. In Chapter 11 we learn about the textile market of the urban villages of Beijing and other cities. These villages are creating their own markets and the migrants are eager to develop them further by cooperating with the rest of the entrepreneurs. The positive impact of these developments in Shenzhen is examined in Chapter 12. The urban villages are fast modernizing by adapting to local environment of the city. We learn about the economic achievements of the new residents of Guangdong in the next chapter. The government is encouraging these migrants by adopting the "three odds policies." The old residents can get the economic partnership of the migrants in the development of these villages and so on. In the next chapter, Lin and Meulder argue that the things are changing so fast that these urban villages are no longer the isolated residential areas. They are as helpful as the developed parts of a city in its prosperity. New projects such as the IT products shops and the Science Parks are also being established in these villages by the government. The same argument is further developed in the rest of the book.
Rural Migrants in Urban China caters to the needs of the specialists and the general public. China is growing and assimilating the resources available, whether human or natural. The migrant communities from the rural regions are playing a crucial role in this. This is first such book-length study on the "urban villages" in the Chinese cities.
Dr. Zulfiqar Ali
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
Site design by Williams Writing, Editing &