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The Voyeur's Motel
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
154 West 14th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10011
9780802125811, $25.00, HC, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Alfonso Guerriero, Jr.
The concept "Sex Sells" is not just a proven advertising adage but a lucrative business idea that helps sell or publicize a product. The same can be declared when sex is the major theme in literature. In fact, sex is what brings acclaimed writer Gay Talese and a self-proclaimed voyeur, Gerald Foos, together in The Voyeur's Motel. Since both octogenarians were raised in the United States during the 1940s, talking about sexual desires at any age was taboo. This strict and repressive existence influenced by American Puritanism led the two to develop a curiosity about human sexuality while some would argue that they have used, over the decades, questionable methods in obtaining their information.
For instance, in 1980 best-selling author and journalist Gay Talese completed Thy Neighbor's Wife about the sexual revolution in the US and the hypocrisy of how Americans viewed sex. Talese noticed during the 1960s and 1970s that American society was much more free spirited in talking about sex as well as demonstrating its sexuality than when he was growing up. He was so engrossed in his research for the book that he managed two message parlors in New York City, lived for several months in Sandstone, a nudist sex commune near Los Angeles, and admitted to witnessing and allegedly partaking in sex orgies. On the other hand, six months before Thy Neighbor's Wife was published, information was released about Talese's upcoming book, resulting in Gerald Foos writing an anonymous hand-written letter to Gay on January 7, 1980.
In the first chapter of The Voyuer's Motel, Talese includes the aforementioned letter that Foos had written to him in 1980. Mr. Foos explains, "Since learning about your long awaited study of coast-to-coast sex in America...I feel I have important information that could contribute to its contents or to contents of a future book." Gerald Foos in 1966 purchased the Manor House Motel outside Aurora, Colorado for the sole purpose of spying on couples having sex, to fulfill his voyeuristic tendencies, while he accumulated thirty-five years of detailed information that he kept in a journal called the Voyeur's Journal. He concluded in his first of many letters to Talese by stating that, "Presently I cannot reveal my identity because of my business interests, but will be revealed when you can assure me that this information would be held in complete confidence."
This caveat is counter to Gay Talese's journalism style where he has insisted throughout his career on using real names in articles and books, consistent with his New Journalism technique (a genre synonymous with today's narrative journalism or literary journalism). Yet, even though Gay had some trepidation in meeting someone who did not want his identity publicly revealed, Gay still meets Gerald Foos for the first time in 1980. He also agrees to sign a letter that clearly mentions that Talese can never write his true identity or associate the Manor House Motel to his penchant for voyeurism. Talese is convinced that in order to know whether Foos is telling the truth or not, he needs to witness the voyeur in action. Upon his visit in 1980 Talese illustrates in the book that Gerald invites him to climb up an elaborate "observation platform" that he built above the motel's roof and carved out holes in some of the ceiling's rooms, to give the appearance of a faux vent grill, but in all actuality the vent shaft was really masquerading as his open "laboratory" for viewing people's sex lives. While Gay and Gerald watch a woman perform fellatio, Gay's tie accidently dangles from the faux vent grill and the man who has his eyes closed does not notice this very comical moment in the story, even though Gerald's hidden secret was almost precariously uncovered.
In his letter written to Talese, nonetheless, and in a few of his journal entries, the voyeur lauds the fact that he has never been caught. Although in Chapter 19 Talese writes, "he came dangerously close to exposure" when a construction worker staying at the motel with his wife looked up at the ceiling and wondered why a faux vent grill would be in the middle of a room while simultaneously he unknowingly knew Gerald was watching. The construction worker mildly investigated his hunch that it was used as a peep-hole and in that moment Gerald was given a free pass to continue to be, what he considered himself, a "pioneering sex researcher."
Throughout the book, many of Gerald's journal entries from 1966 to the early 1990s (he sold the property in 1995), appear in Talese's book and it is a surprise that Gerald Foos' name does not appear as a co-author to The Voyuer's Motel. Moreover, as Gerald shares many of his journal entries, Gay notices inconsistencies with his dates and years but continues his communication with the voyeur for thirty-five years until Gerald called him one day in 2013, "saying that he was finally ready to go public with his story." His journal entries serve as a primary document to the social patterns within a changing American society for several decades. He describes the sexual dalliances that have evolved over generations from an increase in interracial couples as Americans became more accepting to mixed groups to noticing more threesomes from when he first purchased the motel in 1966, as younger generations became more experimental in their sex lives. His written entries are filled with sex scenes (some unsettling) until his story takes an even more disturbing twist.
When Gerald Foos was perched up on his "observational platform" he viewed a couple for a few days as he did with many of his guests. He noticed the man was a small time drug dealer, and he did not want his motel to be associated with this business. The next morning while the couple went out, Gerald Foos flushed all the drugs down the toilet. As the man returned to the room with his girl, he accused the girl of taking the drugs and from then on the man turned violent and murdered his lover. Mr. Foos witnessed the crime through his viewing hole and claimed that as the man jetted out, the girl was on the floor and he thought she was still breathing. He never went to the police to report the crime for fear of his secret being exposed until a housemaid discovered the body and the police were called to the crime scene. Gerald's first wife, however, and later Gay Talese were aware of the crime.
Here the reader is almost forced to wonder about the true values of Gerald Foos and the ethical judgments of Gay Talese as a journalist. Is Gay Talese's investigative reporter approach to finding the truth about the sexual mores in America as he did in Thy Neighbor's Wife, extreme but necessary for a reporter seeking reality? Or as he already has done with Thy Neighbor's Wife for $2.5 million, Talese understand that sex sells and thus was driven to write The Voyeur's Motel because he foresaw that the idea would be as the veracity indicates "immediately scooped up by producer Steven Spielberg and Dream Works"? No doubt, it is a combination of the two, and the writer and voyeur could be an interesting Freudian case study. Despite this very disturbing twist of Foos witnessing a murder and revealing it to Talese, along with other unsettling moments that Foos describes in his journal, this is a provocative and compelling story that will make you wonder about the next motel you stay at as well as think about the voracious and sometimes bizarre sex lives in society that mimic a Roman Emperor.
9780991559473, $15.95 PB, $23.95 HC, $3.99 Kindle, 373pp
Resort Isle by Paul Sekulich is one of the most fascinating, crime thrillers I have read. I couldn't believe the odds of a man, who created the idea of an island for the worst criminals to be placed upon to be set on there as well.
The main character, detective Frank Dugan, is by far the best fictional character ever. He lives quite a normal life like the rest of us. He and his wife are paying a mortgage on their home and have kids. Soon danger comes knocking on the door, and right on the day of Dugan and his wife's anniversary...bad men come to take jewelry...only to find that they got the wrong Duggan and what happens next tore apart my heart...I could feel detective Frank Dugan's anger and hurt.
The plot is well-developed and one that kept me on the edge of my seat. I kept expecting far worse to happen to detective Frank Dugan...and the talented writer, Paul Sekulich kept me guessing all the way to the last page. Absolutely remarkable...I was instantly hooked by the story from page one. Not many authors can do that...Resort Isle is a place no good person ever wants to go...it's a dangerous place where even the criminals fear of being sent. Overall, this is definitely a must-read thriller, for readers everywhere.
I look forward to reading more of Paul Sekulich's novels and hope the next one features my new favorite detective Frank Dugan.
Best Served Cold: The Five Doors
Off the Ground Publishing
9780993537400, $10.45 PB, $5.79 Kindle, 278pp, www.amazon.com
Nayu's Reading Corner
Summary from Off the Ground Publishing:
A young landlord is struggling to make ends meet in his first ever business venture; the conversion and renting of flats in a rundown hotel that he has bought. A need for money and a lack of interest of the intentions of the applicants, leads him into a situation in which eleven residents living on the same floor all hold terrible secrets and live shady lives.
From affairs, drugs and a suspicious history with the building, the young landlord struggles to keep the ever increasing tensions of the residents, down. To top things off, the residents share a secret so dark, that it results in deadly consequences for them. One of the residents are brutally murdered and the others become trapped on the third floor of the building with the unknown culprit. They must put together the pieces of their fragmented pasts to uncover the truth about what is really going on if they hope to survive the night.
The way the story is crafted gave me thrills right up until the last sentence. I had no clue when I started how the story would end. It all seems so innocent and a bit straight forward, and then it's not. Because every single part of each character's story is vital to the end I feel limited in what I can say.
Usually I talk about the characters, which I'm a bit stuck on because most of them had a horrid or devious side which affects the story, despite some seeming nice. I can talk about the cute baby who got a raw deal thanks to the guilty parties. Oh and the fish too are innocent, and made me smile up until close to the end.
I can also say almost everything is important. I was mildly annoyed that the item so many people died for wasn't full explained, but given the amount of times I 'ooh-d' & 'aah-d' at plot twists and multiple story layers I'm not bothered, and I can kind of guess what it was. I didn't guess anything that went on. The surprises are huge and turn all that I thought I knew on it's head. Even though I disliked a lot of the characters for their lack of morals they were intriguing and I cared about them. You must read this to understand what I mean!
Heaven Earth or Hell
9780993292613, $14.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 567pp, www.amazon.com
"Heaven Earth or Hell" is a well-researched, beautifully-written historical novel that brings its subjects to vivid life.
A young nobleman struggles to balance honor with survival in the turbulent politics of the court of Henry VIII.
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was one of the highest-ranking men in Tudor England. The son of the Duke of Norfolk and maternal grandson of the Duke of Buckingham, he was taught to hold himself to high standards of honor and chivalry. In his adolescence, he became close friends with Henry VIII's illegitimate but much-beloved son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond, and took advantage of the new learning to become a brilliant poet and scholar. Marriage and children brought him another great love, inspiring some of his most beautiful works. But the treacherous, shifting political world of Henry's court did not always reward honor and Surrey found himself slandered by powerful enemies at court, despite his loyalty and courage.
"Heaven Earth or Hell" is a well-researched, beautifully-written historical novel that brings its subjects to vivid life. Nolan deftly portrays a world in uneasy transition, with the inevitable conflict between old blueblood nobility and the "new men" raised to prominence by readily-available education and the Tudors' need for loyal, and dependent, advisers. Surrey is presented sympathetically, of course, but with his faults as well as his virtues, a full, three-dimensional human being. His love affair with Frances, his wife, is touching and tender, a romance worthy of a poet - and it's refreshing to see her calling him out on his arrogance, and his thoughtful reaction. Nolan's Henry VIII is chillingly real, half Bluff King Hal and half petulant child, desperately trying to produce and safeguard a male heir, easily manipulated, quick to love and quick to lash out at perceived betrayal. Poems are interspersed through the text - Surrey's own and the work of those he admired, like Thomas Wyatt, and inspired, like William Shakespeare - adding color and feeling to the story.
"Heaven Earth or Hell" is a vivid, lively biography, which brilliantly captures the spirit of Henry Howard and his world of Tudor England.
Special Note: "Heaven Earth or Hell" is the winner of the 2016 IndieReader Discovery Award for Historical Fiction.
That Day by the Creek: A Novel About the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864
PO Box 336144 Greeley, CO 80633
9780989101479, $14.49, PB, 222pp, www.amazon.com
J. Michael Dew
Buzzard's fictionalized telling of the events surrounding the massacre at Sand Creek in 1864 ranks as a must read for those who have an abiding interest in the tragically forgotten. Keen on exploring the complexities of human relationships and the pitfalls of greed, ambition, and willful ignorance, Buzzard shines a much-needed light into this shadowy part of American history and presents to the reader a message of hope and healing: seeming impossibilities given the sheer brutality that fell upon an unsuspecting group of Native Americans just as the Indian Wars were ramping up. This novel is well-crafted and deserves all the accolades it can get. If you want a good story that will challenge you to bear witness to grace-filled possibilities that eclipse despair and hate, then this is the book for you.
Semblance of Guilt
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781480827851,$21.99, PB, 345pp, www.amazon.com
More than a mystery, Semblance of Guilt is an intricately plotted story of a newly divorced woman's reclaiming her life. With a distinctive writing style and a unique approach, Semblance of Guilt is different and delicious.
PO Box 505, Fredonia, NY 14063
9781935248828, $13.95, PB, 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.
Off the Beaten Path Press
9780692682340, $15.99 US/ $19.99 Canada, 368 pages
Daniel Casey, Reviewer
The Dante family is the preeminent military clan in a world where Earth has survived a would-be apocalypse to become unified and expansionist into the solar system. Yet there are still factions at odds with one another: rival corporate families ruling planets like 19th century robber barons, the quasi-military Alliance ostensibly governing Earth, Moon, Mars, and the colonies of the outer planets, and the great mass of people caught between the institutions framing this new universe. And also, a dark force that is just now revealing itself thanks to a centuries old pact come to fruition.
Admiral Dante knows that there is something corrupt and deadly going on in Striker Industries, responsible for rebuilding Earth after the last world war and increasing humanity's reach to the stars. However, the admiral is seen as an outlier and a bit of crank. He can only rely upon his own children (Michael, Kate, and Kristin) each of whom have either prominent or infamous places in the military and government. Soon the Dante family becomes too inquisitive and must be permanently silenced by the scion of the Striker family, Ethan Striker, according to the mysterious forces manipulating him. The death of the Admiral sends his favorite child, Kate Dante, on point for revenge and to reveal the corruption at the heart of human civilization. The battle soon turns into one of more than mere political intrigue; it is an existential struggle for the whole of the species.
Evolution's End by C.J. Daniels gives us a gritty space drama filled with equal parts intrigue and action. Science fiction lovers will see echoes of book series and show The Expanse by James S.A. Core as well as a host of familiar tropes. Kate Daniels is the central protagonist being the asskicking, no-lip taking, genius child Princess Leia and Han Solo never had but filled all of our dreams. The author made a conscious decision to write Kate (and her sister Kristin) as powerful, willful, and skilled women standing as heroes by right:
"I've written a number of novels where I've endeavored to bring the female characters above the 'damsel in distress' roles," Daniels explains. "The characters of Kristin and Kate Dante are well beyond that and are more adept at handling themselves than their male counterparts."
It is a refreshing angle that, due to Daniels' skill in storytelling, moves beyond gimmick or tactic to feel like a completely natural and necessary thing. The Dante women are akin to Starbuck of Battlestar Galactica, only angrier and more emotionally complex. But comparisons would only serve to distract from the quality of the writing and the story being told. Daniels has crafted a world of his own in which to set his space opera, and it stands firmly on its own merit.
The story is a gripping one. It does take a little bit to get going simply because Daniels has to engage in a good smattering of world-building to situate us. This is always the knock against the first novel in a series, it has to do a lot of the heavy-lifting from which later books benefit. Yet Daniels is concise getting us to the actual action before we get too bogged down in minutiae. Alternating between points of view within the Dante clan, readers are exposed to a complex yet direct narrative that immediately sucks you in. As the stakes are revealed in this extraordinarily well-paced novel, we get dynamic action scenes, compelling character interactions, and absorbing plot building to an epic space battle.
There's the brilliant Michael Dante, drafted by his father to go on an undercover mission to Mars, the prodigal Kate Dante who was very publicly dishonorably discharged so as to maintain her own deep cover as she infiltrates the same organization her father believes to be corrupt, and then Kristin Dante, second command on the Alliance's biggest, shiniest space ship accidentally making first contact with an alien species that looks to immediately supplant human life.
These aliens, the spider-like parasitic footsoldiers (N'Torr) that steal the knowledge of their human hosts and their shadowy masters (Jek'Tan) who have been a sinister invisible hand building up human society post-apocalypse for some nefarious purpose, as well as their creations take us out of mere family drama or space opera intrigue into the realms of proper sci-fi action. Yet at no point does the action feel forced or false, every scene Daniels composes builds on each other while giving the reader enough clues to anticipate the narrative. It's rare for the narrative voice in science fiction to not be dictating, letting you know exactly what to think and why in many, many words.
Although not conceptual, hard science fiction, Evolution's End is a superb sci-fi novel and as the first of a series very, very promising. Daniels has a gift for writing scenes demanding to be imagined. Whether it's Kate driving a relic automobile ("the 200-year-old, pre-war Mustang Cobra" that her father restored and kept) through the post-apocalyptic streets of a burnt out Brooklyn, Kristin devising a desperate guns-blazing escape from aliens in deep space, or Michael arguing with holograms and AI as he pieces together the secrets of Striker Industries and the Jek'tan, Daniels's style is very cinematic.
The world the Dantes inhabit is at once familiar and strange making for the best kind of sci-fi adventure. This coupled with just how well Kate and Kristin Dante are fleshed out as characters embracing and challenging the world around them and one can't help but enjoy the novel. Secret intelligence, a dark history, morally contemptible elites, monstrosities in space and different worlds, starships battling, and the challenges to the unbreakable human will permeate the Evolution's End. This is an excellent start to a new series.
Schism: A Detective Mike Eiser Novel
9781511849920, $12.99, PB, 274pp, www.amazon.com
Smashwords: 9781311887245, $2.99, eBook
Amazon ASIN - B00WKV2IHU, $2.99 Kindle
Nicole Hastings, Reviewer
WARNING...when starting this book make sure you don't have anywhere you need to be or anything you need to do because you won't want to stop reading until you've finished it all!! Trust me on this! The book starts off with an explosive, unforgettable beginning and just keeps going. The characters Kat, Mad Dog, Eiser, and all the others were genuine and believable, and I think what I liked the most about this book was just the overall feel the author managed to create where it felt like we are really in the story. Even though at times I thought the "dialect speak" was a bit much... it slowed down my reading as I sometimes tried to decipher what they were saying, it gave a great flavor to the book that helped me visualize everything better. I can see fans of crime/thrillers eagerly gobbling this one down. Suitable for adults. (4-5 stars)
Java Hill: An African Journey
T.P. Manus Ulzen
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington IN 47403
9781479791200, $15.99, HC, 202 pgs, www.amazon.com
Ken Wilburn, Reviewer
Department of History
East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Part of the world's historical pathos lingers in Elmina. For many years, scholars have associated "The Mine" with ruthless profits and the ineffable sadness of the Atlantic slave trade. Europeans and Africans alike benefitted from the traffic in humans, but those who lost their freedom, their family, their land, and their sanity were Africans. Approximately one million humans, many captured and force-marched overland to the coast by the Ashanti, had no maritime respite from the overwhelming grief of inland bondage. Today, anyone walking deep within Elmina Castle's dank, gloomy holding rooms can sense the restless aura of weary, festering spirits. Yet, if you are a couple of miles east of the castle on the ocean road and gaze westward toward it, you can see the castle jutting out and firmly anchored on its peninsula, its white walls shining brilliantly in Ghana's sun, its recurrent tides unable to wash away its enormous irony. How can something so massively beautiful from without have been so thoroughly depraved from within? One's head literally swims with Elmina's natural and supernatural phenomena.
There is far more to Elmina, however, than its castle's painful history. Elmina, which locals call Edina, is also a village that has nurtured generations of families who have laughed and cried, played and worked, planted and harvested, and rested on Tuesdays out of respect for the sea and its bounty. They have their own stories of life, of freedom, of marriage and of children beyond the shadow of the castle. And what a welcome story it is, for if sensitive Elminians and scholars were only to engage the cruelty of the Atlantic slave trade, their overbearing companion would be despair. Sankofa's backward gaze can tip the balance, and nudge us forward with hope.
Thaddeus Ulzen, a ninth-generation Elminian, has published an important family history that Africanists and students of the Atlantic World will find of great interest. Viewing Elmina village from the inside as Edina, Ulzen documents its maritime life through centuries of African and European interaction. Part autobiography, part family history, and divided into thirty-eight short chapters, Java Hill contains over fifty photographs, as well as documents, genealogical tables, and a map. Readers will need magnification to discern the detailed, valuable genealogical tables. They will not, however, need anything of the sort to see how Java Hill balances the relationship between Edina the village and Elmina the castle.
Students of Elmina will be familiar with the Asafo companies, which are groups of militia who carried out complementary functions of leadership in Elminian society. Ulzen discusses the responsibilities of the Asafo companies and their relationships with the Dutch and the British. Ulzen's ancestors were associated with Asafo Company No. 7, Enyampa, responsible for electing Elmina's kings. Enyampa elected the great Fanti king, Kobina Gyan, whom the British exiled for life without a trial to Sierre Leone for refusing to collaborate with their colonial rule. Visitors to Elmina sometimes snub the Dutch cemetery, thinking visiting a graveyard full of former European overseers of the Atlantic slave trade is not a moral investment. The heroic King Kobina Gyan, however, is also buried there, making the graveyard's spiritual character far more complex than might be assumed. The Dutch cemetery is like most graveyards - saints and sinners share the same hallowed acreage.
Java Hill takes its name from one of Elmina's three hills where the Dutch settled Elminians who served as soldiers in the Royal Dutch East Indies Army in Indonesia during the nineteenth century. Thaddeus Ulzen's Elminian ancestor, Manus Ulzen, served in Jakarta, recovered from wounds in Holland, and returned on pension to Elmina in 1837. Prior to this book and as part of his effort to document Elmina's long relationship with the Dutch and his family's history, Ulzen established Elmina Java Museum in 2003. The museum's exhibits present Elmina's relationship with the Dutch from an African perspective.
Another valuable section of Ulzen's book is his account of his family's relationship with Kwame Nkrumah. Thaddeus Ulzen's father, Edward Abraham Kofi Ulzen, was a student of Nkrumah's when he was the head teacher of St. Joseph's Catholic School. In 1935, Nkrumah left for the US to earn degrees at Lincoln College and the University of Pennsylvania. Edward Ulzen welcomed the Pan-Africanist Nkrumah back home in 1947, worked in Nkrumah's Office of the President as an assistant secretary for education, and later became the first registrar of the newly established Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). When Nkrumah was overthrown in early 1966, the Ulzens were forced into exile. After a stellar international career in education in Kenya, Zambia, Botswana, and Swaziland, where he helped those countries carry out the Africanization of university curricula, Edward Ulzen returned to Ghana in 1992. Scholars will come away especially from this section wanting much more.
Few first edition books, whether published by academic or private presses, are free from mistakes in content or language. The invaluable Java Hill contains its share of minor errors that can be remedied in its next printing. Yet it speaks. Its familial voice is soothing, almost healing - certainly easing, nurturing and nudging the entwined pasts of Edina and Elmina forward to meet our present, helping us envision a more hopeful future for Global Africa.
In his poem, "Elmina has no Twilight," Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang eloquently wrote that Elmina Castle is:
...History on tiptoe;
The races speak to each other
Of the drama of the sea in the sand.
And so the conversation continues, observed by a steadfast sentinel of Edina, Java Hill.
The Hanged Man's Noose: A Glass Dolphin Mystery
Judy Penz Sheluk
Barking Rain Press
PO Box 822674 Vancouver, WA 98682
9781941295243, $13.95, PB, 178pp, www.amazon.com
James W. Bond, Reviewer
Canadian Antiques & Vintage
Small towns in mystery novels tend to be full of darkish secrets courtesy of their often colourfully-named denizens. Lount's Landing - "about ninety minutes northeast of Toronto" - is no exception, although it is drawn rather better than most.
And that is courtesy of Judy Penz Sheluk.
The Hanged Man's Noose is Judy's first novel and your reviewer is, for one, glad that it promises to be but the first in a series; its full title is The Hanged Man's Noose: A Glass Dolphin Mystery, Book 1.
You may be asking why From the Shelf is reviewing a novel rather than, say, the latest manual on collecting early nineteenth-century promenade concert posters or the current price guide concerning colonial New Netherlands pressed glass. It's because Lount's Landing is home to The Glass Dolphin, an antiques shop we'd all love to visit, but can only do so by delving into this book.
Okay, it's also because Judy is a terrific writer who has spent much of her professional career working the corners and main stages of the antiques world. Not least in her CV are her past editorship of Antique and Collectible Showcase (the purchase of which led to The Upper Canadian becoming The Upper Canadian Antique Showcase prior to it becoming the journal you now hold in your hands) and her current editing of Home BUILDER Magazine, as well as being Senior Editor at New England Antiques Journal.
The Noose stars Emily Garland, intrepid niche-market journalist on assignment in Lount's Landing, and Arabella Carpenter, who owns the Landing's aforementioned antiques shop. They make an amusing, entertaining and eminently followable duo as they investigate real-estate skullduggery, murder and the latest offerings at the public house that lends its name to the book's title.
A small town with a history that is pertinently addressed, numerous characters with backstories explored just enough for us to want more and an antiques shop with the most exquisite candlesticks you'll never be able to purchase: what more do you want?
Should The Noose and its follow-ups prove popular with enough readers to find itself in the ranks with Jonathan Gash's Lovejoy series there will have to be a new genre code generated to help book cataloguers: Mystery / Amateur Sleuth / Antiques. It's a change to look forward to.
The Immigrant Princess
Windy City Publishers
9781941478189, $12.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 204pp, www.amazon.com
The opening pages of Variny Yim's The Immigrant Princess construct a scene of three generations of royal Cambodian women emigrating from their home, culture, and family amidst the foreboding of a military threat in December, 1974. What unfolds is the narrative of these women's stories alternating with glimpses of the past and Cambodia's complex and troubled history. The novel is written in a quick-paced, conversational, journalistic tone, befitting the protagonist's profession as a member of the press. Posed early in the novel is the idea of the Apsara, the mythological female dancers who endured despite the maelstrom of Cambodian politics. There is magic and might in the depiction of the Apsara, a sisterly motif to which the book often returns. Likened to the Greek gods that color Western mythology, the theme of the Apsara threads the novel's narrative with rich and dynamic Cambodian images and symbolism.
Predominantly in the first half of the novel, the narrative establishes a contrast between the present, 1999 Washington D.C., and pre-Khmer Rouge Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Through flashbacks and historical notes, Yim paints, the political struggle dominating Cambodia due to World War II, the Vietnam War, and French colonialism in addition to internal conflicts. A critique might be that the exposition seems at times a bit heavy-handed, though this is consistent with the novel's feel that it is being told by a reporter. Through blending history and a depiction of both the family's royal and common Cambodian roots with the plot of the daughters, the audience observes the daughters' full inheritance, including their independent, hard-working natures.
The Immigrant Princess not only honors the Cambodian culture and heritage but also honors our ancestors who immigrated to the US to flee persecution, starvation, war, or death with only their courage and work ethic as their baggage. In their bold escape they enter a new culture, forsaking their native language, family, way of life, and belongings. The book illustrates that immigrants do not enter the US with the expectation of an easy life but carry with them a staunch work ethic and survival instinct, desiring to contribute to the economy and to support their families. Like the Lim family in the novel, some immigrants might desert a royal lifestyle to embrace a modest one in the US where they might have to clean after wealthy Americans and live in a humble home. They might even have to trade their own name for one which is easier for Americans to pronounce. But the immigrants bring something else with them. They bring a beauty of the music of their language, the palette of their food, the magic of their dance, their spirituality, and a mythology that contributes new colors to their adopted country. In this way, The Immigrant Princess makes a powerful political statement regarding immigration policy: by welcoming immigrants, from whom we are all descended, the US strengthens its base of hardworking individuals who have overcome enormous hardships to attain the American dream.
This novel is a profoundly American story, since the immigrant American dream, American work ethic, and professional and personal dreams are so central to all the characters as is the melting pot theme. It is also an interesting reflection on identity, prejudices against cultural differences to which no one is completely immune, perhaps, and an individual propensity to anesthetize and repress the past and pain rather than to process, accept, and reconcile with it, necessary for a person to grow into her full power. There is also a lesson of letting go of attachment throughout (including misguided romantic relationships), which is in keeping with Buddhist thought, while embracing novel encounters with new connections and discovering new inner strengths buried beneath a polite docility ingrained in so many of us. The Immigrant Princess is for anyone who was raised in an environment where polite, deferential respect to authority is revered. It is for anyone brought up by protective parents with instructions "not to make waves," perhaps to her professional disadvantage in the wake of more vocal, assertive, and flamboyant peers, who, nonetheless, might be less industrious and less valuable. It is for anyone who might have experienced familial claustrophobia and guilt.
The Immigrant Princess possesses poetry in its messages both in the women's cultural inheritance and in the protagonist's, Sophea's, fearless journey toward empowerment and the fulfillment of her ambitions without sacrificing her ideals and integrity. Throughout the novel, Sophea reflects on her cultural past. The author alludes to the struggle for women everywhere to overcome subjugation in their roles with men, be it romantic or professional. There is a parallel between the doomed love story of Sophea's mother, whose husband sacrificed everything to preserve his family, and Sophea's romance tainted by disrespect. However, the prevailing lesson from Sophea's heritage is not to succumb to the loss of self for an unworthy partner, who might enter deceptively robed in the trappings of an attractive appearance and successful career. Her father, who was a commoner, did not possess the royal blood of her mother but instead wore the crown of a noble interior, education, and work ethic, which he passed on to his daughter.
Yim broaches an interesting angle on feminine beauty. Although the Lim women religiously follow international beauty pageants (though they do mock them some), which feminists traditionally might judge as archaic and sexist, Yim conveys a sense of a continuity in a woman's beauty throughout her life, even in the aging generations. The beauty which the women in the novel worship is more individualistic and less conformist to a Hollywood ideal. Beauty is treated as a celebration of femininity rather than a denigrating objectification. The treatment of beauty is more empowering and inclusive than degrading and exclusive, suggesting that true beauty includes working hard, integrity, ambition, and appreciating physical beauty but of a more natural form rather than an anorexic mold. And in one character's makeover, Yim illustrates that any woman can find her beauty and that it is not just the providence of movie stars and models.
There is so much diversity in the roles in the book, anyone can find pieces of herself amidst the mosaic of characters and food (including Greek, Indian, Mexican, French, Italian, Thai, and Cambodian), which itself is almost a character in the novel with its power both to soothe, nourish, and yet also to numb. I've held a lifelong interest in Asian aesthetics, philosophy and religion, and culture, and realize, on one hand how superficial my exposure is, to the point where I worry about being offensive, and, yet, on the other hand how I am not as divorced as I had thought I am because of the commonalities, not just from being raised in an immigrant environment, but by nature that despite differences we all share central experiences by virtue of our humanity. Through the blend of cultural backgrounds in the characters, Yim encourages the sharing of cultural traditions and indicates that we can all learn from each other, commune, and celebrate our commonalities and differences while retaining our own inheritance. The book engages throughout and resonates with truths about human connections. Its conclusion satisfies without being trite.
At the core of the novel is the discovery of identity through one's family. The Lim family might be unconventional, as it consists at first only of women, and the eldest daughter lives at home well into adulthood. However, as the novel develops, the Lims welcome diverse new members into their coterie, into their family, which parallels the dynamic notions of how we view family in the twenty-first century. The prior family paradigm in the United States has evolved to no longer exclusively mean a father, mother, children, and perhaps ancillary extensions such as grandparents. As with the Lims, the family construct encompasses many variations transcending tradition. And as the book alludes, family and close human connections are crucial, be it a traditional family, a sisterhood (or brotherhood) of those you have adopted into your inner circle, three generations of women, or any permutation of this. And through your connections with the people in your life you espouse as your family, through the history and legacy of your ancestors, you will grow as a person and develop an identity, one both individualistic as well as one more robust from the influences around you, as the Lim family did. As you read the Lim family story, you learn how identity is not static and that unearthing the truth about people and about yourself and embracing your family, whatever that means to you, only strengthens your development into the person you were meant to become. The Lims truly represent any family connected by blood or friendship and illustrate an institution, people who care about each other, which powerfully opposes the aggression and oppression in the world. The novel offers us perspective: the Lim's family and country were subjected to genocide, and though their tragedy influences their identity, they do not surrender to anyone the permission to rob them of their integrity, love, dreams, memories, or spirit, which, too, powerfully contributes to who they are.
A central message in The Immigrant Princess is the dishonor of silence. What might be present in the public's mind regarding Cambodia is the country's history of political turmoil and genocide. Variny Yim introduces the often neglected aspects of the culture, the Apsara, the swirling colors of its dancers, the care in preparation and flavors of the culture's cuisine, the quiet Buddhist traditions and temples, including the Angkor Wat, a World Heritage Site, and the universality of human desires and needs, especially for love and family, be it one forged by blood, romance, friendship, or a sisterhood of Apsara. The Immigrant Princess not only voices a universal immigrant story, but also dispels the silence and, in doing so, honors Cambodia and makes the culture come alive.
The Gospel of Simon
P.O. Box 505, Fredonia, NY 14063
9781935248842, $14.95, PB, 158pp, www.amazon.com
Fr. William "Bill" Kottenstette
As a Roman Catholic priest, there are parts of this book that challenged me and gave me pause to think. I can't say much without the risk of spoiling the book's many surprises. Having said that, there is much to admire in the way Smelcer has told a story that we all know, but rarely have considered so profoundly. In this retelling of Jesus's Passion from the point of view of Simon of Cyrene, who the Bible tells us helped Jesus to carry the heavy cross to Golgotha, Smelcer portrays an emotional Jesus who smiles, laughs, and is even playful at times. But he is also stern, pensive, and sad. At its heart, this is a book about love - God's love for us. In a bold and evocative re-imagining that is at once authentic yet also thoroughly modern, this heartfelt story speaks directly to us, reminding us of Jesus's message of love, compassion, mercy, inclusion, and peace. Perhaps this is the only way this story could have been told. Dedicated to Pope Francis and praised by many of the world's greatest religious thinkers and clerics, The Gospel of Simon is a timely and timeless book that readers will turn to again and again to reflect on favorite dog-eared passages. A remarkable and unforgettable book.
It should be noted that "The Gospel of Simon" is being published simultaneously in Spanish by Leapfrog Press.
It's Not Like I Knew Her
Twisted Road Publications
9781940189123, $16.95, 328pp
It's Not Like I Knew Her - Pat Spears' Novel Offers Readers a Real Opportunity
Jodie Taylor, the protagonist of Pat Spears' artfully rendered novel, It's Not Like I Knew Her, is the definition of hard-wired pluck and moxie, the personification of strength when it is most challenged by humanity's weaknesses.
Though Jodie is a complex character, so very human in her intentions and failings, rooting for her comes as easily as reading the visually rich and thoughtful prose that Spears expertly unravels. For some writers, description, particularly when capturing place, results in phrases as two-dimensional as the letters from which they are built. However, Spears crafts three-dimensional settings, tangible landscapes and locations that hum in the reader's ears while delighting the mind's eye.
To say that Jodie's story is one of resilience oversimplifies a compelling plotline. Jodie is a woman hell-bent on creating her place in the world, all the while aware that staking her claim requires learning where she can risk a moment to thrive when even the most innocent indiscretion could ruin her.
Despite the novel's thematic gravity, which includes discrimination and alienation based on sexual orientation, gender, race, and poverty, Jodie has a sharp, sometimes irreverent tone that punctuates the tension in just the right places. The dialogue is effective throughout and Jodie's is a voice that I would at once recognize and delight in hearing again.
Ultimately, It's Not Like I Knew Her, delivers an unexpected and surprising gift. At first blush, the title might suggest the impossibility of ever really knowing anyone or even the futility in trying. But by the novel's end, the title reveals itself as an invitation to realize that we don't know beyond what our own lenses allow us to see. If we understand this, we might magnify those lenses, recognize ourselves in strangers, and perhaps finally know each other.
John K. Addis
9780692272732, $14.95 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 420pp, www.amazon.com
William Mackela, Reviewer
Bill's Book Reviews
Mr. Addis has gotten it right. He shows what self-publishing can be. He has written an exciting first novel, edited it well, designed the cover and done the leg-work to get it published. It is available for purchase now.
The Eaton is the best kind of horror. Chapter One starts off feeling like a normal, contemporary novel. Sam and Sarah and a few friends are getting together to see Sam's new purchase. He bought an old train depot in Eaton Rapids and plans on turning it into a new hot spot. They discover a trap door, and decide to explore. They find an underground hotel that nobody had ever heard about.
From this point on, Mr. Addis weaves the threads of the present with the past. He changes the point of view to the weekend of the top-secret, preview, opening of The Eaton, the fancy hotel built under the train depot in the early 1900s. The past and present twist together as Sam, Sarah and the rest of their crew discover what has been hidden underground, as well as what they have hidden inside of their own minds. The secrets that they have buried deep, that they never want to have to face, become real, and they have to deal with them, or die.
Some of the images from their pasts are so vivid that I had to put The Eaton down for a few minutes, and let myself relax, take a few breaths, and then I could continue. This book is so well plotted, and the characters feel so real, that you will be as terrorized as they are. You will have to keep reading to see what happens next, even if you are afraid to find out.
I give The Eaton 5 Stars out of 5, and Two Big Thumbs Up! If you like to read Scott Sigler, early Stephen King, or Peter Clines, then this will be perfect.
194275650X, $21.50, 438 pages, www.penmorepress.com
As one who has "seen the elephant" I am very aware that to write a realistic story of war, an author has to have a palette that contains the ingredients of mud and dirt, strategy and tactics, the role and mind of the privates and generals, the "feel" of "incoming, and the ever present specter of death. Thence, the writer must do an intricate weaving of each of the foregoing elements into a narrative that speaks to the "hurry up and wait" and the absolute soul-rendering terror of the assault into the face of fire.
Windmill Point120Jim Stempel's Windmill Point, is a masterful exhibition of all the elements of war crafted into a story that is truly spell-binding. His ability to move from the actions and thoughts of Sgt Wyman White, U.S. Sharpshooters, to the mind-bending disbelief and return to the bottle of Ulysses Grant, following the absolutely devastating assault against Confederate lines at Cold Harbor, is superb.
Stempel imbues the human element in each of the characters in Windmill Point. Be it Wade Hampton, George Armstrong Custer - whose actions at Trevilian Station eerily foreshadow another June day of battle some 12 years hence, Robert E. Lee, or all of the division and regimental commanders, Stempel paints in print the full dimension of men in battle.
And, most worthy of note, he crafts his narrative in such a manner that all of the Federal and Confederate maneuver elements stand out clearly - an area in which many writers of war get lost oft times in the confusing spectrum of action - without being obscured in the ebb and flow of maneuver.
Stempel's forte is vivid, bring to life description such as this:
"Directly ahead the red nips, puckers, and flashes of Confederate guns were blazing away so relentlessly that they occasioned a sort of pulsating, crimson, glow, not unlike a vibrant sunset all across the western horizon. Indeed, from where Wyman stood it appeared that the Federal Infantry was not advancing against a mortal foe at all so much as marching directly toward the glowing gates of hell..."
Of greatest importance is Stempel's ability to clearly, and in an engaging manner, weave through and explain the action at Cold Harbor. His crisp, clear description of the brilliant move by Grant to disengage - unbeknownst to Lee's army - literally in the face of the enemy keeps the reader pinned to the pages. Here, Stempel lays out the strategic factors that could bring the war to an early end, or, slip into a long drawn out siege at Petersburg.
During my read of Windmill Point, I could not help but reflect back on Jim Webb's, Fields of Fire, Rick Atkinson's, Liberation Trilogy, Karl Marlantes, Matterhorn; and, Thomason's, Fix Bayonets!. Windmill Point belongs on the same bookshelf.
Below Your Belt: How to be Queen of Your Pelvic Region
Missy Lavender & Jeni Donatelli Ihm, authors
Jan Dolby, illustrator
Womens Health Foundation
632 W. Deming Place, Chicago, IL 60614-2676
9780996535809, $18.95PB, $8.95 Kindle, 212pp, www.amazon.com
Ragan O'Malley, Reviewer
Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NY
Originally published in the School Library Journal
How does one rule the pelvic area like a queen? With knowledge and confidence, according to Lavender and Ihm. Readers learn what constitutes the pelvic region (the pelvic bones, muscles, and organs), as well as how the digestive, reproductive, and urinary systems function within the region. The authors then focus on healthy practices, which include eating enough fiber to avoid constipation, doing exercises aimed at improving pelvic strength, and keeping track of one's menstrual cycle. Lavender and Ihm bring together different topics related to the pelvic region into one comprehensive guide with the goal of educating girls in order to ensure a lifetime of pelvic health. In an effort to tap into youth culture, the authors use text messaging - style abbreviations. For instance, the phrase pelvic floor muscles becomes PFM and know your cycle is shortened to KYC. This may be frustrating for readers with less than perfect recall; however, a "Text It" lexicon is provided. Information is presented in an accessible format with many highlighted subsections and cute, colorful illustrations that add a decidedly lighthearted feel while augmenting the text. The extensive resources include books for kids and parents as well as online sites. The chummy tone will attract readers, but it might also deter the more sophisticated. Regardless, the content is useful and the title is unique.
VERDICT: Recommended for libraries needing a boost in health material for middle school girls. Gr 4 - 8, Ages 10-12.
Sixteen Rivers Press
P.O. Box 640663 San Francisco, CA 94164-0663
9781939639103, $16.00, PB, 96pp., www.amazon.com
Throughout the years, Oakland librarian Nina Lindsay shelved books, helped cardholders with reference questions, and aided children in interpreting their school assignments, sometimes with instructions from teachers that were somewhat lost in translation. As she helped other people, slowly but surely she was collecting something of her own: poems.
While she worked among the books at the library, she was creating her own writing project. Lindsay's second book, Because, will be published on April 2 by Sixteen Rivers Press, a poetry collective named after the 16 rivers that flow into the San Francisco Bay.
It may not always be explicitly stated, but much of Lindsay's life and experience in Oakland is reflected in her work. "I think that my work, whether it speaks directly to place to the reader, is very focused in the place where I'm perceiving it as the writer. Pretty much all of my poems, even the ones that seem a little strange and otherworldly, are set somewhere in my mind in Oakland," said Lindsay.
Lindsay's poems focus on daily and work life. She wrote many of her early poems while riding the bus to work in Oakland; some of them include scenes and observations from that experience. "Mostly I focus on noticing how people interact," said Lindsay - in particular "thinking about small details that help us make sense of each other and the world."
The first stanza in her poem "Opening Shift At The Bakery" reads:
"Hey, the streetlamps just switched off. See the clouds lift like pastry
layers from the bus commuters? Did I tell you,
last night, at tango, I had a duck for a partner, and I didn't know what
to do so I just sat there."
Her poem "Like" was written in the aftermath of the Occupy protests, and Lindsay refers to it as "kind of a love poem to Oakland." At that time, she was working at the Oakland Public Library on 14th Street. "There were several mobilizations of activists happened right in or around the library," said Lindsay. "It's a good gathering point for people who want to gather in downtown Oakland."
Lindsay and her co-workers would go down to the Occupy camp site on their lunch breaks to help out. "I'm glad I was able to witness it, because I feel like it was very, very different being there than how it was covered in the news," she said.
The beginning of the poem reads:
"I love Oakland like
I love my dirty kitchen. Love
the morning bus like I love
the way that all of us who work in
this geriatric building work
despite it, and together
despite the perils of togetherness."
Lindsay's poem "Four Years Left on Earth" describes a scene in Temescal, at the corner of 51st Street and Telegraph Avenue. In it, Oakland readers can find references to the local Walgreens, Cam Huong Cafe and Bakesale Betty. The third stanza reads:
"Four years left on earth, it is Monday morning of spring break, and
three staff daughters work the counters at the bakery - twelve-year-
olds, cutting scones, delirious with capability. Sunday's "Sorry, sold
out for the day!" sign still hangs at the door. The floor has not been
swept. The sun approaches the corner bank of windows, and then they
"It's meant as an homage to the work that all of us do, everyday, whatever it is ... how the smallest action can be heroic,"
Lindsay wrote in an email.
Lindsay, who is 44, grew up in Oakland and attended Oakland public schools. She developed a love for poetry as an elementary school student, and began to read and write poetry in the classroom. After graduating from Oakland Technical High School, she studied linguistics at UC Berkeley. Through a family friend, she was introduced to a job shelving books at the Berkeley Public Library. While shelving books is physically challenging, Lindsay said it has creative benefits. "It's a good job for noticing what's going on in the library and being able to play in your own mind while you're shelving," said Lindsay.
There, she discovered a group of people who loved their work, and decided on her career path. She attended college in Madison, Wisconsin, earning a master's degree in library science. "I found very quickly I had no interest in working to make a profit for someone else. But the idea of working to help people with whatever information or ideas they're pursuing is really, really appealing," said Lindsay.
Today, Lindsay is a supervising librarian for all children's services in the Oakland library system, and she said that when she was working as a children's librarian, the job provided plenty of inspiration for her poetry. Work as a librarian can be more challenging than some might realize. "It's physically hard, especially in the children's section because the books are all small and low to the ground, and it's kind of dirty, you know. People - you're handling these hundreds of library books that have been through so many hands!" said Lindsay.
Dealing with people at the front desk can also present a challenge. Not all people are happy. Some come in with fines, and others can't find the books they want. "But I actually really enjoy the variety of ways in which you get to meet people and interact with them, find ways to help most people walk away satisfied," said Lindsay.
This experience of dealing with people and finding out what makes them tick influenced Lindsay's poetry. One notable theme in her poetry, she said, is "how to approach the day to maximize happiness for yourself, but also for the people that you come into contact with each day - picking up on what is good in the world and what's not great in the world and trying to spin it so that you leave the world a little bit better than it was when you started."
Title Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America
Taylor Brorby, and Stefanie Trout
Ice Cube Press, LLC
9781888160901, $24.95, PB, 480pp, www.amazon.com
If any one work can shake America out of our complacency about our use and abuse of fossil fuels, it just might be "Fracture." Taking a break from reading it, I just happened to find within my emails my weekly update of publications from the National Academy of Science, which, as always had titles and narratives dull as dirt--no matter how important the results of the research. The National Academy of Sciences was formed in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln to inform and advise Congress on scientific matters. Maybe they did a great job a century and a half ago, but at the beginning of the 21st century they are doing a piss-poor job of it. My criticism isn't at all related to the quality of the research members of the Academy or the scientific establishment they represent do, it's that the vast majority of them don't know how to communicate the importance of the work that happens day in and day out in the scientific community to government officials and the public.
Fracture does. Its 50 contributors are farmers, scientists, environmentalists, activists, sociologists, philosophers, journalists, poets, essayists, historians, teachers, attorneys, and more. Perhaps most significantly, they are powerful writers who integrate science, personal experience and storytelling in a wave of contributions that if read, would likely make even the most oil-money tainted politician take pause. This writing is so good, one doesn't so much "read" Fracture, as one "experiences" it.
Here I risk potential accusations of hyperbole, but I don't care. Read this book, then talk about it and share it with your friends. If we all do, and if politicians and journalists take note, this book will join the canon of other world changing books on the environment and social change, along with "Walden" by Thoreau, "Silent Spring," by Carson, and Sinclair's "The Jungle." And it will have changed the world for the better--with your help.
The fact that the U.S. House of Representatives currently has a "Committee on Science, Space, and Technology" that is anti-science, joining much of America, shows that for whatever reasons the vast majority of scientists have declined to be public intellectuals in the service of humankind, and that they are failing us with respect to informing policy issues. We rarely see scientists anywhere in the non-science media, and please take a moment and try to remember--can you name the last scientist you saw on TV, radio, or print, that wasn't the gifted and hard-working Neil Degrasse Tyson or Bill Nye the Science Guy?
In a world where big corporate media and politicians are in bed with big oil, big ag, and big--you name it, and scientists are sitting on the sidelines hoping their research will influence policy by either osmosis or magic, something needs to happen to integrate the science and human experience with fracking such that it can influence policy in a big way. Fracture is one important step that direction.
If scientists won't get off their asses and do it, hopefully arts and humanities scholars using science to tell powerful stories can. Let's hope so. Buy this book. Read it, understand it, share it, experience it, and take action.
The Master Empath
Women's Intuition Worldwide, LLC
9781935214335, $14.95, 179pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Master Empath: Turning On Your Empath Gifts At Will - In Love, Business And Friendship" is an unassuming little book containing the KEYS TO THE UNIVERSE. Okay, not quite... maybe.
What "The Master Empath" does contain is techniques that land an empath directly into the experience of another person. Keys that fit right into the lock to another person's universe. So beautifully designed, you don't even have to jiggle the handle.
It's called "Skilled Empath Merge," and the techniques in this book allow it to be done safely and easily, yet with subtle intensity. You come back with an even stronger sense of self than before. Amazed at what makes you you, and what makes them them. Transformed in ways you'll love.
More specifically, what is a Skilled Empath Merge? It's a way that a trained empath can choose to take a few minutes to explore a vivid, direct experience of what it is like to be somebody else. Readers of this how-to are given a systematic training in perceptive exploration that begins with learning about a person in the same room as the empath. Later, empaths are taught how to research any "Discovery Person" they like from a regular photograph or video.
Not only is Skilled Empath Merge easy to do. It can help love life, assist with career development, and enhance personal relationships. Here's how I like to think of it: Take anything you've ever read about the advantages of Emotional Intelligence. Then multiply those results by a thousand. Accurate inside information that you receive from techniques in Rosetree's how-to can be that amazing.
In this book, as with all the rest in Rosetree's series of Empath Empowerment(R) Books, you're not studying psychic development but using contemporary skills for energetic literacy. These well-researched skills come from the only trademarked method in America for helping the 1 in 20 people who are born empaths. The system of Empath Empowerment(R) really does deliver what the name promises.
Just make sure that first you read one of the earlier books in this series, "The Empowered Empath -- Quick & Easy" or "Become The Most Important Person in the Room." Only then will you be ready to embark on the master's journey.
Any empath is able, but few journey this far. Will you?
Critique: Innovative and exceptionally well written, systematically presented, " The Master Empath: Turning On Your Empath Gifts At Will - In Love, Business And Friendship" is a unique instructional guide, both practical and thought-provoking; very highly recommended reading. It should be noted that "The Master Empath" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).
Learning to Walk in India: A Love Story
Molly Kate Brown
Diamond Sky Press
9780996616607, $15.9 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 218pp, www.amazon.com
Kirkus Media LLC
"Although the book is, in part, an evocative travelogue, the bulk of the text is dedicated to Brown's personal physical, emotional, and spiritual journey ... an often inspiring account ... a touching chronicle, peppered with humor and raw honesty."
A Soldier's Son
9780997399004, $14.95, PB, 310 pages, www.amazon.com
Kirkus Media LLC
Estes skillfully presents the effect of war on families both in the moment and decades later. His characters are rich and complex. Battle scenes are vividly drawn, keeping the reader caught up in the action. A complex novel of the past and future, fathers and sons, and war and redemption, and the devastating impact of large-scale violence on both the perpetrators and the victims.
Why War?: An Inquiry into the Genetic and Social Foundations of Human Warfare
George R. Pitman
Dog Ear Publishing
4010 86th Street, Suite H, Indianapolis IN 46268
97814575354813, $29.95 HC, $15.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 320 pp
Kirkus Media LLC
A study into the scientific basis of man's attraction to war.
Debut author Pitman is uniquely (and eclectically) credentialed to investigate the genetic and evolutionary explanations of war. He is a trained physicist who become a science adviser to the Arms Control Agency.
His examination begins by confronting a grim but historically unassailable fact: the stubborn persistence of war, which seems to suggest a genetic predisposition to it. The author begins by assessing warlike behavior in primates, contrasting the aggressive territoriality of chimpanzees with the erotic peacefulness of bonobos. Man seems to comprise both inclinations - the ceaseless waging of war and equally ceaseless quest for reconciliation.
Pitman also considers the ways in which the birth of civilization is both a consequence of warlike proclivities and encourages even more large-scale conflict. Even the basic instinct to form closed groups that stigmatize other groups - in other words, racism and ethnic xenophobia - turn out to have a primordial basis in our biological development.
The book touches upon contemporary developments in war, too, including the rising prevalence of terrorism and non-state actors in conflict, and the impact of increasingly sophisticated weaponry.
Scrupulously researched and documented, the study as a whole is a model of analytical tenacity and clarity. As is often the case with a search for scientifically reductive explanations, the study sometimes too neatly compartmentalizes hopelessly intertwined categories. "Our aggressive instincts are part of our genetic inheritance, whereas our rational responses are part of our learned cultural inheritance which is passed from one generation to the next through teaching and learning." . . .
A fresh consideration of an ancient problem.
Understanding and Teaching American Slavery
Bethany Jay & Cynthia Lynn Lyerly, editors
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299306649, $34.95, PB, 340pp, www.amazon.com
Understanding and Teaching American Slavery is an anthology of essays written especially for college and high school teachers tasked with instructing students about the history of slavery in the United States. The legacy of American slavery remains a thorny, contentious issue to this day; a teacher's goal is to help students look past gut feelings of guilt, outrage, or other strong emotions, and develop their critical thinking skills. Each essay focuses upon a different aspect of American slavery, such as the firsthand experiences of slaves, how slavery affected the course of the Civil War, or the connection between slaves and the northern economy. Brimming with instructors' tips, tricks, techniques, and suggested methodologies, Understanding and Teaching American Slavery is highly recommended especially for public, high school, and college library Education collections.
My Sister's Mother
Donna Solecka Urbikas
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299308506, $26.95 hc / $10.99 Kindle amazon.com
My Sister's Mother is a unique memoir about growing up in a family haunted by past suffering. Author Donna Solecka Urbikas grew up as an ordinary baby boomer in the American Midwest, but her Polish-born mother and older half-sister had suffered a horrific ordeal as slave laborers in Siberia during World War II. Taken by Soviet secret police, Donna's mother and sister endured starvation and disease, before they were miraculously able to escape. Donna reflects upon a lifelong journey to understand what her mother and sister went through, and the connection that bound them together so tightly. Although Donna loved her mother and sister, and they loved her, the shadow cast over their past could not be denied or exorcized as simply as that. Profoundly powerful, My Sister's Mother is a true story of grief, enlightenment, and acceptance, and highly recommended.
The Boxcar Traveler
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781532803215, $14.99, PB, 420pp, www.amazon.com
When a man loses everything due to the stock market crash in the 1920s, can he find himself again? "The Boxcar Traveler" is a deftly crafted and compelling read showcasing the storytelling skills of author Christopher Morosoff. While set in the era of America's 'Great Depression', "The Boxcar Traveler" is an inherently fascinating novel that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library "General Fiction" collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Boxcar Traveler" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).
Rouse House Music
PO Box 450, Independence, VA 24348
Joyce "Earth Mama" Rouse has created a grand variety of music albums over the course of decades, all with the common themes of promoting eco-literacy and good stewardship, appreciation for nature's splendor, the manifold joys of love and kindness, and everyday nobility in thoughts and actions (such as the moral principle encapsulated in the song "Only Take What You Need"). Her music is a treasure the whole family can enjoy, and makes excellent addition to school and public library CD collections. A selection of her uplifting, ecology-themed music albums include "A Sense of Place" ($14.99 CD/$9.99 MP3), "Pay Attention" ($15.00 CD/$9.99 MP3), "Around the World" ($14.97 CD/$9.99 MP3), "Love Large" ($15.00 CD/$11.00 MP3), "Grass Roots!" ($15.00 CD/$9.00 MP3), and "Under the Rainbow" ($15.00 CD/$9.00 MP3).
Human Rights in Canada: A History
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771121637, $24.99, PB, 233pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Dominique Clement is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta. He is the author of "Canada's Rights Revolution", as well as "Equality Deferred", and is also the co-editor for "Alberta's Human Rights Story and Debating Dissent". His website, www.HistoryOfRights.ca, serves as a research and teaching portal on human rights. In "Human Rights in Canada: A History", Professor Clement shows how human rights became the primary language for social change in Canada and how a single decade became the locus for that emergence. Professor Clement persuasively argues that the 1970s was a critical moment in human rights history, and one that transformed political culture, social movements, law, and foreign policy. "Human Rights in Canada: A History" is one of the first sociological studies of human rights in Canada. It explains that human rights are a distinct social practice, and it documents those social conditions that made human rights significant at a particular historical moment.
Critique: Enhanced with a listing of Additional Resources; forty-six pages of Notes; a twenty page bibliography of Works Cited; and a fourteen page Index, "Human Rights in Canada: A History" offers an insightfully informative and ground breaking study that is unreservedly recommended for college and university Human Rights/Civil Rights collections in general, and Canadian Political Science supplemental studies reading lists in particular. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "Human Rights in Canada: A History" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).
Cheating The Hangman
Isis Large Print Books
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9781785411960, $35.00, HC, 336pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The Reverend Tobias Campion returns from morning service on Easter Day and makes a grisly discovery: a corpse nailed to a tree. Together with his old friend, Dr Hansard, he pledges to expose the truth - though it means uncovering secrets the hostile villagers would prefer to keep hidden. Questioning the offended and resentful gentry as well, the pair hears whispers of Satanism, unsavory pasts, and sinister obsessions. Before long, an attempt is made to silence their enquiries; Tobias, injured but no less determined, realizes he must be close to the truth if someone wants him dead. With friends and colleagues either unable or unwilling to help, Tobias is forced to confront his own demons, and ask for help from the last person on earth he wants to meet again!
Critique: A former secretary of the Crime Writers' Association, Judith Cutler has taught Creative Writing at universities and colleges for over thirty years and renowned for her feisty and intriguing heroines, including Josie Welford, DS Kate Power, DCS Fran Harman and antiques dealer Lina Townend, she is the author of more thirty novels. Now with "Cheating The Hangman" she has once again demonstrated her impressive skills as a novelist and storyteller. An ideal selection for community library large print Mystery/Suspense collections, "Cheating The Hangman" will prove to be a highly entertaining addition for the personal reading lists of all enthusiastic mystery fans.
The Poisonous Seed
Magna Large Print Books
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9780750542661, $35.50, HC, 432pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When a customer of William Doughty's Bayswater chemist shop dies of strychnine poisoning after drinking medicine he dispensed, William is blamed, and the family faces ruin. William's daughter, Frances, determines to redeem her ailing father's reputation and save the business. She soon becomes convinced that the death was murder, but unable to persuade the police, she turns detective. Armed only with her wits, courage and determination, Frances uncovers a startling deception and solves a ten-year-old murder. There will be more deaths, and a secret in her own family will be revealed before the killer is unmasked, and Frances will find that her life has changed forever.
Critique: Another deftly crafted read from the pen of Linda Stratmann, "The Poisonous Seed" is a riveting mystery that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections -- especially in this large print edition from Magna Large Print Books. If you are a dedicated mystery buff who appreciates clever plot twists and extraordinary surprises, then "The Poisonous Seed" is for you!
Shakespeare's First Folio
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780198754367, $29.95, HC, 379pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Shakespeare's First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book" by Emma Smith, ( who is a Fellow and Tutor in English teaching at Hertford College, Oxford, and who has been published and lectures widely on Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and on the reception of Shakespeare) is basically the biography of the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays printed in 1623 and known as the First Folio. It begins with the story of its first purchaser in London in December 1623, and goes on to explore the ways people have interacted with this iconic book over the four hundred years of its history. Throughout, the stress is on what we can learn from individual copies now spread around the world about their eventful lives. From ink blots to pet paws, from annotations to wineglass rings, "Shakespeare's First Folios" teem with evidence of its place in different contexts with different priorities.
"Shakespeare's First Folio" is a compelling study that offers new ways to understand Shakespeare's reception and the history of the book. Unlike previous scholarly investigations of the First Folio, it is not concerned with the discussions of how the book came into being, the provenance of its texts, or the technicalities of its production. Instead, it reanimates, in narrative style, the histories of this book, paying close attention to the details of individual copies now located around the world (including their bindings, marginalia, general condition, sales history, and location) in order to discuss five major themes: owning, reading, decoding, performing, and perfecting.
"Shakespeare's First Folio" is is a history of the book that consolidated Shakespeare's posthumous reputation: a reception history and a study of interactions between owners, readers, forgers, collectors, actors, scholars, booksellers, and the book through which we understand and recognize Shakespeare.
Critique: Unique, informative, thought-provoking, deftly written and consistently compelling, "Shakespeare's First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book" is itself a masterpiece of painstaking and exhaustive scholarship that is enhanced with the inclusion of notes on the texts, illustrations, a twenty-eight page bibliography, and a six-page index . While an extraordinary and critically important contribution to community, college, and academic library Shakespearian Studies collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Shakespeare's First Folio" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Keep This Quiet! IV: More Initiations
Margaret A. Harrell
Saeculum University Press
9780983704591, $18.95, PB, 424pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "Keep This Quiet!: More Initiations", author Margaret A. Harrell dives even deeper into the world of visions, computer-PK (mental influence over the computer), divine guidance, the psychologist Carl Jung, and science. The fourth volume in a thoughtful and occasionally iconoclastic series, "Keep This Quiet" takes place in the '90s in Tienen, Belgium, where assorted parapsychological phenomena accompany the death of her housemate. Quickly checking in with Hunter Thompson, she winds up at Owl Farm, then returns (via the Bay Area) to her Flemish home base. Initiations welcome her back and she goes further onto her path, which spans spirituality and the quantum mind, Hunter Thompson and the Indian guru Dhyanyogi-ji, whose tradition of Kundalini Maha Yoga she is initiated into.
Critique: "Keep This Quiet!: More Initiations" is an inherently fascinating, engaging thought-provoking, and consistently compelling read from beginning to end. Of special note is the inclusion of exercises to offer the reader deftly crafted practical help in learning how they can work with metaphysical energy. While very highly recommended for community and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Keep This Quiet!" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.95).
The Seed: A True Myth
New Growth Press
9781942572794, $17.99, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Young Madeline and Roark are desperately running from the shadow that destroyed their home and is threatening their lives. One day, they encounter Tatus, an older man who has sworn to avenge the death of his family at the hands of the shadow, and they form an alliance with him. Tatus promises that he can keep them safe from the shadow if they will help him build a fortress. So they build.
But as fortress-building consumes their lives, Madeline and Roark are increasingly filled with anger and fear, and an unseen evil threatens to ultimately destroy them. When they finally face the shadow, he presents them with an unthinkable offer that will reveal shocking secrets of the forgotten past, the unseen present, and the unimaginable future.
"The Seed: A True Myth" is a journey into the personal labyrinths we create to protect ourselves and those we love from the pain of living in a broken world. Guzman's "true myth" takes the reader on an unforgettable journey that is, in essence, the grand narrative of God's redemptive work in the world. "The Seed" is a page-turning Christian fantasy tale packed with mystery and drama. Readers will feel the weight and power of redemption as they journey alongside Guzman's characters in their epic battle. "The Seed" deftly communicates the heart of Trinitarian theology through story-without using theological language or Christian terms-and reinforces biblical themes such as God's character and man's true identity and calling.
Critique: Following in the literary footsteps of John Bunyon's "The Pilgrim's Progress", and C. S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia" series, "The Seed: A Truth Myth" by Erik Guzman is a consistently compelling, reliably entertaining, and ultimately inspiring read that is unreservedly recommended for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation.
Kristine Mraz, Alison Porcelli, Cheryl Tyler
PO Box 6926, Portsmouth, NH 03802-6926
9780325077888, $28.75, PB, 184pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It has long been noted in education that for children, play is serious business. Whether it's reenacting a favorite book (comprehension and close reading), negotiating the rules for a game (speaking and listening), or collaborating over building blocks (college and career readiness and STEM), every day and at every grade level, elementary school teaches see how play helps students reach standards and goals in ways that in-their-seat instruction alone can't do. "Purposeful Play: A Teacher's Guide to Igniting Deep and Joyful Learning Across the Day" covers such issues as how to: optimize and balance different types of play to deepen regular classroom learning; teach into play to foster social-emotional skills and a growth mindset; and bring the impact of play into all your lessons across the day. Play doesn't only happen when work is over. Children show time and time again that play is the way they work. In "Purposeful Play", classroom teachers will find research-driven methods for making play an engine for rigorous learning in their classroom.
Critique: An exceptionally well written, organized and presented collaboration, "Purposeful Play: A Teacher's Guide to Igniting Deep and Joyful Learning Across the Day" is very highly recommended to the attention of preschool and elementary school teachers working with children ages 4 to 8. An ideal teacher education supplemental curriculum textbook, "Purposeful Play" is very highly recommended as an addition to college and university library Educational Studies instructional reference collections.
Karen Halvorson Schreck
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476794839, $14.99, PB, 336pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When a young oil rig widow escapes her grief and the Texas Dust Bowl, she discovers a surprising future - and new passion - awaiting her in California in this lyrically written romance by the author of Sing for Me.
Newly married to her childhood sweetheart, twenty-one-year-old Ruth Warren is settling into life in a Depression-era, East Texas oil town. She's making a home when she learns that her young husband, Charlie, has been killed in an oil rig accident. Ruth is devastated, but then gets a chance for a fresh start: a scholarship from a college in Pasadena, CA. Ruth decides to take a risk and travel west, to pursue her one remaining dream to become a teacher.
At college Ruth tries to fit into campus life, but her grief holds her back. When she spends Christmas with some old family friends, she meets the striking and compelling Thomas Everly, whose own losses and struggles have instilled in him a commitment to social justice, and led him to work with Mexican migrant farmworkers in a camp just east of Los Angeles. With Thomas, Ruth sees another side of town, and another side of current events: the numerous forced deportations without due process of Mexicans, along with United States citizens of Mexican descent.
After Ruth is forced to leave school, she goes to visit Thomas and sees that he has cobbled together a night school for the farmworkers' children. Ruth begins to work with the children, and establishes deep friendships with people in the camp. When the camp is raided and the workers and their families are rounded up and shipped back to Mexico, Ruth and Thomas decide to take a stand for the workers' rights - all while promising to love and cherish one another.
Critique: A wonderfully engaging and consistently compelling read from first page to last, "Broken Ground" clearly establishes author Karen Schreck as a master of the romance genre. While very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Romance Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Broken Ground" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).
Lyah! Lyah! Pants on Fyah!
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781504341103, $28.95, HC, 110pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are often unaware of the psychological baggage they carry that manifests in their lives. Some indicators include: the inability to maintain long-term relationships or consistently choosing inappropriate partners. "Lyah! Lyah! Pants on Fyah!: The Stories, the Lies, and Steps to Sacred Healing for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse" speaks to sinister secrets harbored by survivors of childhood sexual abuse. These secrets impact the lives of their loved ones, children, significant others, and their friends. Read excerpts from the diaries of women who have survived childhood sexual abuse. Explore the lies that many survivors of childhood sexual abuse subscribe to and learn about the steps to sacred healing.
Critique: Lou Bishop is a New York based life coach and motivational speaker who has touched the lives of numerous women. Having herself been directly and deeply impacted by the soul murdering experience of childhood sexual abuse, Lou encourages spiritual healing and restoration through the power of the Holy Spirit, prayer, and strong community for healing soul wounds. She is dedicated to supporting women and men in thriving in spite of past trauma. Impressive, exceptional, informative, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking, Lou's "Lyah! Lyah! Pants on Fyah!: The Stories, the Lies, and Steps to Sacred Healing for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse" is a consistently compelling read from beginning to end. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Women's Studies collections, and Sexual Abuse supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lyah! Lyah! Pants on Fyah!" is also available in a paperback edition (9781504341080, $8.99) and in a Kindle format ($2.99).
1234 West Sims Way Box 1240, Port Townsend, WA 98368
9781627310307, $19.95, PB, 220pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: With savage humor, Death Confetti features performance artist Jennifer Robin's autobiographical sketches of Portland, Oregon, from the grunge-era obscurity of the '90s to its current media-darling status. As an only child raised by reclusive grandparents in upstate New York, Jennifer recalls that she felt "anemic for the real". At seventeen she broke loose and made her way to the west coast. "Civilization is a nightmare-illusion", Jennifer writes, "a three-dimensional spreadsheet perpetuated by machines that hypnotize meat". In a city that's stranger than fiction, grocery-store checkers and meth-heads loom as lost gods. We're introduced to the lady tweaker "Chew Toy," who wears moon boots and sings hair metal songs all night as she collects recyclable bottles. Jennifer visits a bar where executives simulate doggie-style sex acts on the dance floor. Then there's all the tales of late-night life on the city's buses and light rail. Jennifer reflects on her early terror in Catholic school and phone calls with her far-out mother, who disclosed that her gynecologist was a murderer. In the all-too-true pages of Death Confetti, Robin remembers her life among noise musicians, junkies, and her escape from a boyfriend who insisted on reviving the lives of hundreds of deceased fruit flies. "Death Confetti" jolts the senses, and lingers like a mosquito bite to the Portland of everybody's soul.
Critique: A truly exceptional, inherently fascinating, and consistently compelling read from first page to last, "Death Confetti: Pickers, Punks, and Transit Ghosts in Portland, Oregon" is a unique and highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library collections. Unreservedly endorsed, it should be noted that "Death Confetti" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Melanie Marquis & Emily A. Francis
Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125
9780738748306, $17.99, PB, 312pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Written for mothers, by mothers, "Witchy Mama: Magickal Traditions, Motherly Insights & Sacred Knowledge" offers practical and magickal ideas, inspiration, and information to help you overcome stress and exhaustion, banish bad dreams, soothe boo-boos, create a magickal home, achieve personal goals, and more. Discover stones, scents, and colors to increase energy and attract good fortune to yourself and your family. Use simple charms and rituals to ease conflicts, remove fears, protect children, and boost happiness. Connect with your body during pregnancy through magick and meditation, which will infuse your growing baby with positive energy. Guided by dozens of photos, you'll master stretching exercises, breathing techniques, and easy yoga moves that will help you feel healthy, beautiful, and comfortable throughout pregnancy and beyond. "Witchy Mama" contains a wealth of insight gathered from centuries of mother's wisdom as well as from the authors' own personal experiences. "Witchy Mama" is not a 'how to parent' manual, but it will help you be happier and more successful as a parent, while still being your own person, too.
Critique: An exceptionally well written, organized, and presented collaboration by Melanie Marquis (a lifelong practitioner of magick, founder of the United Witches global coven, and organizer of Denver Pagans) and Emily A. Francis (who has worked in corporate wellness and as an aerobic director, kickboxing instructor, and yoga instructor, and who holds a gold medal in the US Open in Tai Chi Form), "Witchy Mama" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to personal and community library Metaphysical Studies, Women's Issues, and Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should also be noted that "Witchy Mama" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Brodie's Bombs and Bombings
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398090937, $52.95, PB, 318pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Now in a newly updated fourth edition, "Brodie's Bombs and Bombings: A Handbook to Protection, Security, Detection and Investigation for Industry, Police and Fire Departments" by Colonel Jim Smith continues to be the definitive text regarding the construction of bombs and the motivation for bombings in the U.S.
Although some law enforcement-sensitive material is excluded, "Brodie's Bombs and Bombings" still presents a thorough understanding of why bombs and bombings remain a constant threat. The chemistry of explosives and how such affects the performance of explosives are an essential part of the text. The reader is taken through a short course on explosive engineering and the chemistry of explosives.
A brief history of bombings provides insight as to how improvised explosive devices were used to shape history and how the situations of the early 1900s are repeating themselves today. While many believe that suicide bombings are something seen only in the Middle East, this text explores the suicide bombings in the U.S. and the motivation of the bombers. Various profiles of several famous bombers such as the Unabomber and the Mad Bomber are reviewed along with other psychological issues that might inspire bombers.
The use of bombs to disperse radioactive materials in the radiation dispersion device configuration is addressed along with the technique used to disperse chemical and biological agents with explosives. Booby traps, especially those targeting law enforcement, are explained, and methods to detect booby traps are developed to allow a rudimentary understanding of the process.
Methods to identify clandestine laboratories manufacturing explosives or other drugs such as methamphetamine are identified providing the reader with an understanding of the items to identify and differentiate the types of laboratories.
Numerous bombings are examined providing an insight as to why and how the attacks were successful. Mitigation techniques such as using alcohol resistant aqueous film-forming foam to suppress blast and fragment formation are explained along with deployment methods.
The text is richly illustrated with photographs depicting IEDs, explosives, and booby traps to assist in the identification of suspicious objects, suspect packages, or potential mail bombs. "Brodie's Bombs and Bombings" provides and overview that those involved in law enforcement, security, and counterterrorism will find elucidating and beneficial in bomb-related operations and mitigation efforts.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, definitively informative, impressively organized and deftly presented, "Brodie's Bombs and Bombings: A Handbook to Protection, Security, Detection and Investigation for Industry, Police and Fire Departments" is an ideal textbook for police department, fire department, college and university bomb making, bomb identifying, bomb defusing, and bomb disposing instructional curriculums and reference collections.
Master of the Mysteries
c/o Feral House
1234 West Sims Way Box 1240, Port Townsend, WA 98368
9781934170632, $22.95, PB, 330pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In 1919, a Canadian teenager with a sixth grade education arrived by train to the wilds of Los Angeles. Within a decade he had transformed himself into a world-renowned occult scholar. His name was Manly Palmer Hall, author of the landmark publication "The Secret Teachings of All Ages", widely regarded as the best introduction to Western esoteric ideas, and the founder of the Philosophical Research Society, which housed one of the biggest occult libraries in the United States. Hall became the twentieth century's most prolific writer and speaker on ancient philosophies, mysticism, and magic, and a confidant of Hollywood celebrities and politicians. In 1990, he died due to "suspicious circumstances", which remains an open homicide case at the Los Angeles Police Department to this day.
This new edition of "Master of the Mysteries: New Revelations on the Life of Manly Palmer Hall" contains dozens of previously unknown love letters from his wife Marie Bauer. They are the closest we will come to an autobiographical portrait of these Los Angeles mystics in love. A new chapter describes Hall's relationship with a rogue flower-child niece, who helped manage a cocaine distribution center, from which Hall learned about and lectured on the dynamics of this illicit drug market in Los Angeles.
Critique: Louis Sahagun is a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times. He was a reporter involved in a Times series on Latinos in Southern California that won a Pulitzer Prize. His work ranges from religion and the environment to crime and politics. It is clear with the publication of this newest edition of "Master of the Mysteries: New Revelations on the Life of Manly Palmer Hall" that he has applied his exceptional journalistic experience and expertise to write a definitive study of the life and accomplishments of Manly Palmer Hall. The result is a compellingly informed and informative study that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Master of the Mysteries" is also available in a Kindle format ($14.38).
CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping
I. B. Tauris
9781784533229, $28.00, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: China has become the powerhouse of the world economy, its incredible boom overseen by the elite members of the secretive and all-powerful communist party. But since the election of Xi Jinping as General Secretary, life at the top in China has changed. Under the guise of a corruption crackdown, which has seen his rivals imprisoned, Xi Jinping has been quietly building one of the most powerful leaderships modern China has ever seen. In "CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping", the noted China expert Kerry Brown (Professor of Chinese Studies at King's College London and Director of the Lau China Institute) reveals the hidden story of the rise of the man dubbed the 'Chinese Godfather'. Professor Brown investigates his relationship with his revolutionary father, who was expelled by Mao during the Cultural Revolution, his business dealings and allegiances in China's regional power struggles, and his role in the internal battle raging between the old men of the Deng era and the new super-rich 'princelings'.
Critique: Xi Jinping's China is powerful, aggressive and single-minded and "CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping" must be considered essential reading for anyone wanting to understand how China operates today and what to rationally expect from any U.S./China issues today. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping" is unreservedly commended as a core addition to community and academic library Contemporary International Relations collections in general, and Modern China supplemental studies reading lists in particular. For students and non-specialist readers with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.66).
Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943
Norman Polmar & Edward Whitman
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781612518978, $49.95, HC, 255pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Hunters and Killers" by the team of Norman Polmar (an analyst, consultant, and author specializing in naval, aviation, and science and technology issues) and Edward Whitman (who after retiring from the Department of the Navy in 1998, served as the senior editor of the magazine Undersea Warfare for several years) is a comprehensive two-volume history of all aspects of Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), covering its beginnings in the late 18th Century through the important role of present anti-submarine systems and operations. The first volume discusses ASW operations up to World War II, ending in early 1943, and this second volume continues from 1943 to the present. In addition to tactical and strategic narratives of major ASW campaigns, this work covers the evolution of ASW sensors, weapons, platforms, and tactics.
The second volume of "Hunters and Killers" begins at the turning point of the Battle of the Atlantic, when Allied efforts forced the U-boats to withdraw from the North Atlantic. With cryptologic breakthroughs, growing numbers of escort and long-range patrol aircraft, and new weapons, the Allied anti-submarine advantage mounted quickly. In the Pacific theater, Polmar and Whitman consider the often-overlooked ASW advances that the Japanese made during World War II.
Turning to the Cold War, this second volume of "Hunters and Killers" examines the ASW developments this confrontation inspired in both the West and the Soviet Union. Both the West and the Soviet Union developed submarines armed with nuclear weapons, and each created techniques to counter the intensified submarine threats. Polmar and Whitman discuss the extensive anti-submarine aspects of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Falklands Conflict, and consider ASW developments into the early 21st Century.
Critique: The second volume of Hunters and Killers completes the most in-depth history of ASW ever published. Embellished with period photos, maps, terms, abbreviations, U.S. Ship Designations, an a appendix (World War II Submarine Losses), twenty pages of Notes, a nine page Bibliography, an eight page General Index; a three page Ship Name and Class Index, and a one page Submarine name and Class Index, "Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943" is a critically important and core addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university Nautical Military History collections in general, and Submarine Warfare supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
Willis M. Buhle
Cuba and the U.S. Empire: A Chronological History
Monthly Review Press
146 West 29th Street, Suite 6W, New York, NY 10001
9781583676066, $89.00, HC, 455pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The 1959 Cuban Revolution remains one of the signal events of modern political history. A tiny island, once a de facto colony of the United States, declared its independence, not just from the imperial behemoth ninety miles to the north, but also from global capitalism itself. Cuba's many achievements - in education, health care, medical technology, direct local democracy, actions of international solidarity with the oppressed - are globally unmatched and unprecedented. And the United States, in light of Cuba's achievements, has waged a relentless campaign of terrorist attacks on the island and its leaders, while placing Cuba on its "State Sponsors of Terrorism" list.
In this updated edition of her classic, "Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History", Jane Franklin depicts the two countries' relationship from the time both were colonies to the present. We see the early connections between Cuba and the United States through slavery; through the sugar trade; then Cuba's multiple wars for national liberation; the annexation of Cuba by the United States; the infamous Platt Amendment that entitled the United States to intervene directly in Cuban affairs; the gangster capitalism promoted by Cuban dictator Fulgencio Battista; and the guerilla war that brought the revolutionaries to power.
A new chapter updating the fraught Cuban-U.S. nexus brings us well into the 21st century, with a look at the current status of Assata Shakur, the Cuban Five, and the post-9/11 years leading to the expansion of diplomatic relations. Offering a range of primary and secondary sources, the book is an outstanding scholarly work. Cuba and the United States brings new meaning to Simon Bolivar's warning in 1829, that the United States "appears destined by Providence to plague America with miseries in the name of Freedom".
Critique: Jane Franklin is an internationally acclaimed historian and peace and justice activist since 1960. The author of several books on Cuba and Panama, she has published in various periodicals including The Nation and The Progressive, and appears frequently on radio and TV as a commentator about U.S.-Cuba relations. Some of her work is available at janefranklin.info. Informed and informative, and absolutely timely in view of the current reconciliation efforts of the Obama administration with the current Cuban government, "Cuba and the U.S. Empire: A Chronological History" is a very highly recommended addition to community, college, and university library International Studies collections. For the personal reading lists of academics and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "Cuba and the U.S. Empire: A Chronological History" is also available in a paperback edition (9781583676059, $25.00) and in a Kindle format ($12.75).
Daniel A. Roberts & Michael Freidman
26 Austin Avenue, Box 337, Amityville, NY 11701
9780895039101, $52.95, HC, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "Clergy Retirement: Every Ending a New Beginning for Clergy, Their Families, and Congregants", retirement is likened to a death experience, but much more. Besides saying goodbye to congregants, colleagues, and a career, it is equally important, as in any other loss, to take time to grieve and then to discover new meaning in life through which to reinvent oneself and grow to new heights. It is particularly relevant for retiring clergy to realize that they are transitioning from an inspirational world to one that may feel more mundane and will require many adjustments, including developing new rhythms in their use of time. In addition, they will need to form new relationships with spouses, former congregants, and successors.
"Clergy Retirement" offers no financial advice, but rather concentrates on understanding the underlying emotional upheaval experienced as a result of retirement (either voluntary or involuntary). "Clergy Retirement" is a kind of manual for transitioning into a new world as one approaches retirement. It not only encourages the retiree to think through the process of making new meaning, but offers practical suggestions of how to do so. Since retirement affects everyone in one's immediate circle, "Clergy Retirement" offers insights and recommendations not just for the retiree but for his or her spouse, children, congregants, congregational leaders, and colleagues.
The intent and purpose of "Clergy Retirement" is to prepare clergy for the emotional ups and downs during their transition, as well as the rewards that are to come during retirement. The more one is prepared psychologically for the inevitability of retirement, the easier it is to deal with the resulting twists and turns of life.
Critique: Informed and informative, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, commentary, organization and presentation, "Clergy Retirement" is very highly recommended and essential reading for all members of the clergy regardless of their denominational affiliation. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Clergy Retirement" is also available in a paperback edition (9780895039118, $32.95) and in a Kindle format ($26.36).
The Pocket-Size God
Robert F. Griffin, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780268029906, $25.00, PB, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Fr. Robert Griffin, C.S.C. (1925 - 1999), was a beloved member of the Notre Dame community. He was well known for his priestly work counseling students as university chaplain for thirty years, his summer ministry to the homeless and parishioners in New York City, and his weekly columns in the student newspaper, The Observer, in which he invited the campus community to reflect with him on the challenges and joys of being Catholic in a time of enormous social and religious change.
Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by J. Robert Baker (Professor of English at Fairmont State University) and Dennis Wm. Moran (Managing Editor of the Review of Politics), "The Pocket-Size God: Essays from Notre Dame Magazine" is collection draws together essays that Griffin wrote for Notre Dame Magazine between 1972 and 1994. In them, he considers many of the challenges that beset church and campus, such as the laicization of priests, premarital sex, the erosion of institutional authority, intolerance toward gay people, and failure of fidelity to the teachings of the church.
Griffin also ruminates on the distress that human beings experience in the ordinariness of their lives including the difficulty of communication in families, grief over the loss of family and friends, the agonies of isolation, and the need for forgiveness. Griffin's shrewd insights still ring true for people today. His efforts to temper the winds of institutional rules, cultural change, and personal suffering reveal a mind keenly attuned to the need for understanding human limitations and to the presence of grace in times of change. Griffin quotes from the works of literary modernists, such as Fitzgerald and Hemingway, whose novels and short stories he loved; in these allusions and in his own reflections and experiences, Griffin bridges the spiritual and the secular and offers hope for reconciliation and comfort.
Critique: A truly fitting memorial to a dedicated Christian and academician, "The Pocket-Size God: Essays from Notre Dame Magazine" is a consistently compelling, informative, and thought-provoking read. While very highly recommended for seminary, college and university Christian Studies collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers that "The Pocket-Size God: Essays from Notre Dame Magazine" is also available in a Kindle edition.
Thank You, Teacher
Holly Holbert & Bruce Holbert, editor
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608684182, $21.95, HC, 312pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: What do rock stars, Nobel laureates, best-selling novelists, astronauts, and attorneys have in common? A teacher changed their lives. Like them, most of us can name a teacher who gave us not only good instruction but also confidence and drive. But, in the face of teachers being blamed for a variety of social and economic woes, teachers themselves can easily wonder whether they are making a difference in students' lives. When veteran teacher Bruce Holbert asked himself this question, his wife, Holly, responded by sending letters to hundreds of people she had never met and had no reason to believe would respond, asking about teachers who mattered to them. She was overwhelmed by answers. "Thank You, Teacher" presents more than eighty of these up-close-and-personal stories. By a delightfully diverse range of contributors, these essays are wise and witty testaments to the teachers who do what they do every day without expecting recognition, but who so richly deserve it.
Critique: A consistently compelling read from beginning to end, "Thank You, Teacher: Grateful Students Tell the Stories of the Teachers Who Changed Their Lives" is unreservedly recommended reading for anyone who is considering a career in teaching and a significantly important addition to community, college, and university collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Thank You, Teacher" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.44). Oh yes, lastly I want to thank my 12th grade English teacher Ms. Emma Jean Furhman who almost 60 years ago personally saw to it that an impoverished student like me would graduate from Jordan highschool despite my rather dismal grades.
Bestiary: Or the Parade of Orpheus
Guillaume Apollinaire, author
Raoul Dufy, illustrator
Pepe Karmel, translator
David R. Godine, Publisher
Fifteen Court Square, Suite 320, Boston, MA 02108-2536
9781567921427, $14.95, PB, 64pp, www.amazon.com
Wilhelm Apollinaris de Kostrowitzki, known by the pseudonym Guillaume Apollinaire (1880 - 1918), was among the foremost French poets of the early twentieth century. An early and influential champion of cubism, the friend of Braque, Picasso, Dufy, Rousseau and Marie Laurencin (who became his mistress), Apollinaire was a seminal figure in the revolutionary art style known as "Surrealism," a term that he coined some seven years before Breton formally founded the movement.
Originally published in 1910 and embellished with the graphically sophisticated and totally appropriate woodcuts of Raoul Dufy, we find the poet at his most accessible. His quatrains, printed in Dante italic and felicitously translated by Pepe Karmel, present a voice that ranges from the colloquial to the impassioned, a brisk combination of lyric imagery and bawdy humor (not surprising for a poet who, after a pious adolescence, supported himself by writing pornography). "Bestiary: Or the Parade of Orpheus" is a small bijou of a livre de peintre, a lovely and lively ensemble of accessible poetry and striking woodcut art.
Critique: A true 'time lost classic', this David R. Godine edition of "Bestiary: Or the Parade of Orpheus" brings to the attention of a whole new generation of readers an illustrated volume of poetry that is ably translated into English for an American readership by Pepe Karmel. This small volume is very highly and unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of poetry enthusiasts, as well as community, college, and university poetry collections.
Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613749531, $27.99, HC, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the wake of World War II, the U.S. automobile industry was fully unprepared to meet the growing demands of the public, for whom they had not made any cars for years. In stepped Preston Tucker, a salesman extraordinaire who announced the building of a revolutionary new car: the Tucker '48, the first car in almost a decade to be built fresh from the ground up. Tucker's car, which would include ingenious advances in design and engineering that other car companies could not match, captured the interest of the public, and automakers in Detroit took notice. "Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow" is automotive historian Steve Lehto tackles Tucker's amazing story by relying on a huge trove of documents that has been used by no other writer to date. It is the first comprehensive, authoritative account of Tucker's magnificent car and his battles with the government. And in "Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow", Lehto finally answers the question automobile aficionados have wondered about for decades: exactly how and why the production of such an innovative car was killed.
Critique: An exceptional and truly impressive study based upon painstaking research and presented in a thoroughly 'reader friendly' style in tone, commentary, content, organization and presentation, "Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow" will prove to be a "must" for all automotive history buffs and an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Automotive History reference collections in general and Preston Tuck supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for both academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.39).
Naming Our Abuse
Andrew J. Schmutzer, Daniel A. Gorski, David Carlson
2450 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825444005, $14.99, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Male sexual abuse is increasingly in the news, ranging from scandals in the Catholic Church to sexual exploitations at Penn State. Yet books and programs about healing are still overwhelmingly oriented toward the female survivor of abuse. As men who experienced childhood abuse, the collaborative authors of "Naming Our Abuse: God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors", Andrew J. Schmutzer, Daniel A. Gorski, and David Carlson, are uniquely qualified to address the healing process of male survivors. Using the metaphor of a car accident, "Naming Our Abuse" leads the survivor from the Wreck to the Accident Report to Rehabilitation to Driving Again. This four step model illustrates that physical, emotional, and spiritual healing is a process to be nurtured rather than something that can be healed in a single telling. Following the authors' examples, readers are invited to find solidarity with other male survivors and develop an understanding of their own wounding through journal writing exercises.
Critique: Candid, practical, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Naming Our Abuse: God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors" is a steadfast study of the horrific realities of sexual abuse and how to overcome them. Simply stated, a copy of "Naming Our Abuse" should be included in every community, seminary, college and university collection. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Naming Our Abuse" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
The Playground Project
Xavier Salle & Vincent Romagny, authors
Gabriela Burkhalter, editor
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9783037644546, $49.95, PB, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Until sometime in the 1980s, playgrounds were places for social experiments, risky projects and spectacular sculptures. Architects, urban planners, artists, parents and children were invited to leave their comfort zones and to venture something new in the design and use of playgrounds. This bilingual edition of "The Playground Project" deftly explores these exemplary initiatives, pioneering acts and adventures in designing modern childhood. Examples from Europe, the US, Japan and India are discussed in depth and illustrated with numerous images. Providing a truly comprehensive overview, "The Playground Project" includes works by artists, architects and landscape architects such as Marjory Allen, Joseph Brown, Riccardo Dalisi, Richard Dattner, Aldo van Eyck, M. Paul Friedberg, Group Ludic (Xavier de la Salle, Simon Koszel, David Roditi), Alfred Ledermann and Alfred Trachsel, Palle Nielsen, Egon Møller-Nielsen, Isamu Noguchi, Joseph Schagerl, Mitsuru Senda and Carl Theodor Sørensen. Swiss political scientist and urban planner Gabriela Burkhalter contributes an introduction, and essays by Xavier de la Salle, Sreejata Roy and Vincent Romagny investigate the stakes of the architectural and artistic experiments surveyed. The first comprehensive overview of this kind, "The Playground Project" addresses laymen as well as experts who want to do more on the playground than just seesaw and swing.
Critique: An inherently informed and informative study that is impressively well written, organized and presented, "The Playground Project" is an essential addition to college and university reference collections, and very highly recommended to the attention of professional and non-professional readers with an interest in the subject.
Blue Blooded: Denim Hunters and Jeans Culture
Thomas Stege Bojer, Josh Sims, editors
9783899556469, $55.00, HC, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Jeans are equal parts subculture and establishment. Worn as both work clothes and luxury fashion, they are practically universal. "Blue Blooded: Denim Hunters and Jeans Culture" contains everything anyone could need or want to know about jeans. Denim embodies authenticity, rebellion, workwear, and the old west. Denim hunters tirelessly search ghost towns for vintage jeans. Families weave heritage cloth for generations. Craftsman on foreign shores preserve the old ways while designers back home redefine the iconic five-pocket look. And all of us trade stories of how we got that perfect fade. "Blue Blooded" is the story of denim and denim culture: The secrets of selvedge. The true origins of the Osaka Five. The immigrants and inventors in the Wild West who created jeans. Exclusive profiles of the independent designers and makers invigorating the denim scene, like 3sixteen and Iron Heart, along with forces like Levi's that shaped the industry. No other garment has the iconic status of jeans. Jeans are never out of fashion, and they will continue to outlive other sartorial trends for the foreseeable future. Providing a contemporary overview of one of the world's favorite articles of clothing, "Blue Blooded" introduces traditional brands as well as designers who are stirring up the industry. "Blue Blooded" covers the topic of jeans in its entirety, ranging from their rivets to their various washes, and from their cultural history to a recommended selection of stores where they can be bought. And, of course: How to wash (or not wash) a pair of jeans.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized, illustrated, and presented, "Blue Blooded: Denim Hunters and Jeans Culture" is as inherently fascinating a read as it is informed and informative from beginning to end. "Blue Blooded" is especially recommended for both community and academic library Fashion History & Studies collections, as well as the personal reading lists for all denim jeans enthusiasts.
Michael J. Carson
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1800, New York, NY 10010
9781250101198, $16.00, 260pp, www.amazon.com
"THE REVENANT" is a frontier Grizzly Adams type saga based on the expeditions of the burgeoning Fur Trading Companies of the early 19th century into what was then newly explored territory in America, now North Dakota and Montana.
It's filled with trappers clashes with warring Indians caught up in the complex and ever changing espalier of relations betwixt tribes as well as with the white-men, along with their moment to moment battles of survival fought against the brutal weather and wilderness along the Missouri River during the fall and winter of 1823.
On the whole the book is a flooded with early American frontier history, detailed survivalist scenes rolled together with flecks of biographies of noteworthy characters of the time, mainly trapper Hugh Glass.
The crux of the tale is based on the true episode of Hugh Glass, being savagely mauled by a bear while out killing the evening meal during an expedition. He's found by his fellow trappers, hanging on to life, barely.
The company of a couple dozen men drag and carry Glass along for awhile, but when the slow pace puts the whole group at risk the Captain pays two volunteers, Fitzgerald and Bridger, to stay behind with the near corpse, so Glass can have a proper burial when he dies, (an act that shows the great amount of respect he garnered), which they assume is inevitably within a day or so.
The truth is heartless ruthless Fitzgerald could care less if Glass dies, in fact the end couldn't come soon enough and he's tempted to quicken the act by doing it himself. The peevish greenhorn Bridger makes an attempt to comfort the ravaged man, whom they've already placed in an open grave, tending to his extensive wounds with pine pitch and poultices.
But Fitzgerald and Bridger end up abandoning the barely breathing crippled body of Glass before he does actually expire. The rest is a dark slogging painful journey, of survival and revenge or rather revenge that fuels survival for Glass.
Michael Punke weaves together a fascinating historical fiction tale, about a time where men almost had to become like wild animals in order to survive.
Special Note: Director Inarritu's rendering of the book into the Academy Award winning film "THE REVENANT" is indeed haunting, a brutally cold heartless Jeremiah Johnson of the 21st century, visually striking, painful to watch, offering no redemption for any character and as well a mere skeleton representation of the book.
The Finest Hours
Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman
c/o Simon and Schuster Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York New York 10020
9781416567226, $15.00, 205pp, www.amazon.com
"The Finest Hours" is not only the story of a daring rescue by two groups of young Coast Guardsmen off the shores of Cape Cod, the kind of heroic real life story that serves to ennoble us all, (remember Sullenberger's miracle landing of the plane on the Hudson, saving 100's of lives), but as well it offers up a documentary of sorts of the Coast Guard or "Hooligan's Navy," and the cover-up that ensued over the doomed poorly welded tankers that were kept in service even though the defects were reported by crews risking their lives sailing them, bringing in the politics and profits involved in unsafe ships, AND in much detail the daunting consequences wrought on the men having to live a life in the shadow of that heroism.
There are some wonderful passages in the book that seem to poignantly sum things up at just the right moments.
"The ocean offers up its bounty and collects its debts."
"The Coast Guard is always at War against all enemies of mankind at sea," (I would say including the sea.)
"It's not a place for crybabies or quitters."
And the men who were ordered out to face the worst nor'easter New England had ever seen, plowing through 70 foot waves and stinging 60 knot icy winds in a 36 foot lifeboat certainly fit neither of those adjectives.
The synopsis of the events: In 1952 Two oil tankers, hastily constructed poorly welded leftovers from WWII, sailing off the shores of Massachusetts, waters second only to the English channel in shipping traffic, also considered the largest graveyard of wooden ribs and planks of boats wrecked by the roaring waters off Chatham bay, were ripped in half by 5 story waves, but were still rolling about in the seas with dozens of sailors trapped aboard fighting for their lives on the rapidly sinking Pendleton and Mercer.
Two crewed Lifeboats were sent out against all odds to try and rescue those men.
Through interviews with the survivors and eye witnesses, Authors Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman, a bit disjointedly, piece together the moment to moment account of the tankers harrowing disaster facing the inevitability of being swallowed up by an angry sea, "the men onboard felt the full range of emotions, their mood and outlook rising and falling like the half ship they were trapped on," and the drama and pathos of the lifeboat crews rescue operations and the miracle those men and little lifeboats pulled off. "You receive the strength and the courage, and you know what your duty is. You realize that you have to attempt a rescue. It's born in you."
Though the subsequent film "The Finest Hours," released this year, has been billed as being based on the book, the Screenwriters - Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, and Director - Craig Gillespie actually chose thin slivers of character and action from the book and built upon them a rich touching story that does huge justice and pays huge homage, even though it's mostly of their own creation, to what really matters. The courage of all the men involved.
In the surviving "Coasties" own words, "They had been young once, willing to risk their lives for their jobs, for one another and for the simple fact they just didn't know any better."
It's a true life story of triumph coupled with tragedy well worth the read and should be in every library for its value as a historical reference.
Karen Chutsky, Reviewer
The Official Heckler Handbook
The Lyons Press
c/o The Globe Pequot Press
246 Goose Lane, Suite 200, Guilford, CT 06437
9781493024513, $16.95, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In general terms, a heckler is a person who harasses and tries to disconcert others with questions, challenges, or gibes. Hecklers are often known to shout disparaging comments at a performance or event, or to interrupt set-piece speeches, with the intent of disturbing performers and/or participants. While any sports fan can yell offensive and stupid things at anyone else, it is only the best that are true hecklers. Good hecklers are game-changers as valuable in their way as LeBron James is to the Cavaliers or Tom Brady to the Patriots. "The Official Heckler Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Offending and Irritating the Enemy" is the essential instruction guide that is specifically written for and about hecklers, as well as for all fans who are ready to make a real difference on behalf of their teams and their players. "The Official Heckler Handbook" is packed from cover to cover with outrageous illustrations, can't-miss sidebars, real-life anecdotes, and expert advice.
"The Official Heckler Handbook" covers: Great moments in heckling history; The best hecklers of all time; Heckling in baseball, football, basketball, hockey, etc.; The most effective lines of attack; Strategic heckling locations; Verbal and nonverbal heckling; and much, much more.
Critique: Eyebrow-raising from start to finish, "The Official Heckler Handbook" can be interpreted either as a hilarious joke, or as a primer for maximum rudeness, hopefully without crossing the threshold into illegal behavior! "The Official Heckler Handbook" makes a great gag gift (as long as the recipient doesn't take its advice too seriously), and will prove to be an enduringly popular and unique addition to community library collections for its sheer fascination value. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Official Heckler Handbook" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).
Food, Sex & You
The Dundurn Group
3 Church Street, Suite 500, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5E 1M2
9781459734425 $21.99 pbk / $8.79 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: The need for food and the desire for sex are powerful forces, so powerful they can turn our bodies into battle grounds. Binging, exercising to exhaustion, even entering repeatedly into unhealthy relationships ? these are all addictive behaviors and symptoms of our body-obsessed world. In Food, Sex & You, psychotherapist and recovered food addict Stacey Gorlicky will set you on a course to achieving full body acceptance and help you leave body obsession behind.
By sharing her personal journey and the stories of her clients, Stacey demonstrates how your attitude toward your body and your relationship with food and sex have been shaped by your upbringing, past traumatic experiences, and societal pressures. She then provides an action plan that will help you to sort out your feelings and behaviors surrounding food, allowing you to gain control of your eating. Feel good about food. Feel great about sex. Embrace the new you.
Critique: Registered psychotherapist Stacey Gorlicky presents Food, Sex & You, a self-help guide to taking control of one's mental state, eating habits, and sex life. Part psychological discussion, part step-by-step plan to free oneself from unhealthy mindsets and bad habits, Food, Sex & You is thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds, and highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Food, Sex & You is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.79).
The Girl on the Best Seller List
Black Gat Books
c/o Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781933586984, $9.99, PB, 188pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Vin Packer (the pseudonym of Marijane Meaker) wrote many fine novels in the 50's and 60's, primarily for Gold Medal Books. They often tackled such topical subjects as sexual orientation and teenage alienation, and sold in the millions. Many of these novels were also superb works of suspense. Now brought back into print for a new generation of appreciative readers, Packer's "The Girl on the Best Seller List" is available in a mass market paperback edition.
This is the story of Gloria Whealdon, a woman who resents them a whole town full of snooty hypocrites and self-righteous bores. She resents her husband Milo the most, the way he is always excusing her lack of sophistication to everyone. And then there s her contemptible neighbors, Fern and Freddy Fulton, and their ugly daughter, Virginia. And Jay Mannerheim, so smug in his pretense of being a doctor when everyone knows he s only a psychologist. And Min Stewart, always looking down on her as if she owned the town. Gloria hates them until she can't keep it in any longer. So she writes a novel, and exposes all their weaknesses, all their secrets. Her book, "Population 12,360" is her personal revenge on the town and becomes a best seller. Now the feeling of the townsfolk and Gloria is mutual . As she becomes a sensation, she also becomes the town pariah. Is it any surprise that someone might want to get even?
Critique: A sharp-minded mystery laced with twists and turns, "The Girl on the Best Seller List" is deftly crafted and consistently compelling from beginning to end. Highly recommended for fans of the genre! It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Girl on the Best Seller List" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.03).
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781620406694, $26.00, HC, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Sofia is a young anthropologist who has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother's unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant who is their very last chance, all in the hope that he might somehow cure Rose's unpredictable limb paralysis.
But Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Sofia's mother's illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sofia's role as detective (tracking her mother's symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain) deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community. "Hot Milk" is a profound exploration of the sting of sexuality, of unspoken female rage, of myth and modernity, the lure of hypochondria and big pharma, and, above all, the value of experimenting with life; of being curious, bewildered, and vitally alive to the world.
Critique: A superbly crafted novel that is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read from beginning to end, "Hot Milk" clearly reveals author Deborah Levy as an exceptionally gifted storyteller. While unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hot Milk" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
You May See a Stranger
c/o Northwestern University Press
629 Noyes Street, Evanston, IL 60208
9780810133532, $17.95, PB, 216pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "You May See a Stranger", author Paula Whyman's debut collection of short stories, we find Miranda Weber hoarding duct tape to ward off terrorists, stumbling into a drug run with a crackhead, and (frequently) enduring the bad behavior of men. A drivers' education class pulsing with racial tension is the unexpected context of her sexual awakening. As she comes of age, and in the three decades that follow, the potential for violence always hovers nearby. She's haunted by the fate of her disabled sister and, thanks to the crack cocaine epidemic of the '80s, the wars in the Middle East, and sniper attacks, the threat of crime and terror in her hometown of Washington, D.C. Miranda can be lascivious, sardonic, and maddeningly self-destructive, but, no matter what befalls her, she never loses her sharp wit or powers of observation, which illuminate both her own life and her strange, unsettling times.
Critique: A deftly crafted series of consistently compelling tales from first page to last, "You May See a Stranger" clearly documents Paula Whyman's total master of the short story format. While very highly recommended for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "You May See a Stranger" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.60).
Hidden in the Valley
Barbara J. Moore
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781490817040, $11.95, PB, www.amazon.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.
Come to the Garden: A Novel
Jennifer Wilder Morgan
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781501131332, $16.00, PB, www.amazon.com
Jennifer Wilder Morgan's debut release, Come to the Garden explores dreams and visions of a lay hospital minister's profound encounters with the Divine framed around imaginative conversations with a mysterious guardian angel. Because the story is based on personal experience the bible-based orientation is sometimes blurred and the book should be read with discernment.
The inspirational story begins with Jenn waking to a mysterious smell of roses. She climbs from bed and slips into her robe, surprised to see her dog Cody sniffing the air from his bed on the floor. Together they pad quietly through the house into the kitchen "where the smell of roses is much stronger."
It's her birthday and her husband Guy has already left for work when through the kitchen window a "brilliant flash of light" catches her eye and she sees a dazzling "shimmer of bright blue" in the backyard garden near the pool. At the same time Cody begins to "whine and paw frantically at the kitchen door."
Jenn cautiously opens the door and Cody "bolts outside" barking. That's when the wind blew the door wide open and Jenn felt the mystical breeze wrap itself around her before the door slammed shut and she knew she was no longer alone. Thus begins an inspirational story that asks, "who am I what is my purpose and how can I connect with the Creator?"
In real life the author had always been afraid to talk about her own dreams and visions, convinced others would think her weird or crazy. However, after four years of praying and listening to critically ill patients relate their divine experiences she gained the courage to "fully embrace the truth of her own encounters."
Jennifer shares those experiences and beliefs in the pages of Come to the Garden. She uses fiction to frame the story around a series of conversations between the main character Jenn and Margaret, who Jenn believes is her guardian angel. The result is an intriguing story of spiritual encounters and mysterious coincidences that reveal a patient and loving God who works in surprising ways to encourage faith, trust and belief in His children.
I liked Jennifer's emphasis on prayer, which is simply talking to God like you would your best friend. Something Billy Graham explained in response to a letter she wrote as a child asking him she should pray. Whether writing about prayer, dreams or visions that "share deep spiritual truths" Jennifer assures readers God's greatest desire is to make Himself known, which is outstanding.
However, I disagree completely with two parts of the story. The first, when Margaret says, "...each of you has been lovingly and joyfully bounced on our Father's knee." And again when Margaret talks about music and says the idea for music is "captured from the soul's remembrance" of a heavenly existence before birth.
Pre-birth sentiments are non-biblical and suggest reincarnation, even though Jennifer begins chapters with Scripture and uses Bible quotes to support her story. Otherwise Come to the Garden encourages knowledge of and intimacy with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit which is why I recommend the book with a cautionary warning.
Growing Food God's Way
S&P Providers, LLC
9780990755203, $17.99, $6.99 Kindle, 255 Pages, www.amazon.com
Would you like to grow vegetables and fruits without extreme hard work and little if any weeding or watering? If that describes you, "Growing Food God's Way" belongs on your book shelf.
David Devine, educator, trainer and businessman, penned Growing Food God's Way after a 2012 tour of Paul Gautschi's gardens in Sequim, WA. There Paul, also a master arborist, practices faith-centered "earth stewardship from the Judeo-Christian" perspective on five acres of land using God's "basic principles of soil building and healing."
Gardeners have long followed the traditional method of rototilling before planting; a process Paul believes disrupts God's intended design for soil. He believes soil is a "living organism" and compares it to God's use of skin to cover humans, feathers to cover birds and fur to cover animals. When soil is tilled it "becomes vulnerable" to nature's elements and can be blown or washed away destroying God's design for the soil.
David's biographical work explores Paul's carbon-centric system of gardening that minimizes soil disturbance with the use of what he calls "the covering" made from wood chips. The wood chips come from "a mixture of chipped tree branches" that decompose into a mulch similar to what is found on the forest floor that surrounds his farm.
Research has shown it takes one hundred years to build one inch of valuable topsoil. Paul found covering the soil with the" right kind of wood chips keeps the topsoil in place and keeps soil erosion in check." He calls his method a simple "bio-grafting" of the land.
Since Paul began "bio-grafting" his gardens produce extremely large, lush and unusually tasty fruits and vegetables that inspire questions and the enthusiastic interest of other gardeners. Especially since Paul's garden needs little weeding or watering, another benefit of using wood chips because they retain accumulated rain water.
That in itself has gained him national and international attention and he "freely welcomes, feeds, and mentors peoples of all nationalities each summer," gaining him the nickname of "Garden Evangelist."
Over the years Paul says he has seen his gardening methods "heal the land one bite at a time" and he freely shares what took him time and hard work to learn. David Devine's guide book of Paul's gardening practices, Growing Food God's Way shares Paul's philosophy, gardening tips and common sense Bible wisdom.
If you're a visual learner the two hour documentary, "Back to Eden" demonstrates Paul's gardening methods that simplify and often eliminate the hard work of gardening. The two hour video has been viewed over four million times in 225 countries since its August 2011 release. Purchase, rent or view "Back to Eden" free by clicking the live link: Back to Eden or copy the URL into your browser: www.backtoedenfilm.com/ . "Growing Food God's Way is available on Kindle at Amazon.com or by free video or book purchase through Paul Gautschi's website.
The Sicilian Nobleman's Daughter
Florence Calderone Blake
PO Box 427, Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781632324726, $10.99, PB, www.amazon.com
Florence Calderone Blake, Oregon newspaper reporter, freelance editor and college writing instructor delivers a hope-filled message of forgiveness and victory in her extraordinary autobiography The Sicilian Nobleman's Daughter. Where she portrays amazing moments of physical and emotional strength throughout a lifetime of abuse and betrayal at the hands of those God intended to love and care for her.
From parents who starved her, to an uncle who molested her, to beatings when her siblings blamed her for things they had done, to a mother who tried to murder her three times. Yet, God had another plan for this child that was set in motion in past generations, a choice of such far-reaching effects it "would reverberate all the way down to my generation," she writes, a choice that would "...have a powerful effect on my life."
It's the story of a mother who felt her sixth pregnancy, which would be Florence, was a "curse" She told her husband "it will kill me to have another baby...I want to get rid of it." Her husband "dismissed" her pleas and her mother treated the unwanted baby with contempt from the day Florence was born.
Saving face was very important to Florence's mother and she would do anything to avoid embarrassment and humiliation which meant she had to preserve Sicilian tradition to retain the family dignity. That's why she named Florence Alfonsa after her own mother on her birth and baptism certificates according to Sicilian tradition, yet everyone called the child Florence.
From Florence's earliest memories she knew she was in for it when her mother called her Alfonsa, which happened with regularity. That's when her mother would scream and use "expressions of anger and scorn" as she beat her, sometimes for hours, even though she treated her other children well.
It was the 1940's when our nation was on a war footing and social services for abused children didn't exist. The young girl couldn't run away and she never turned to alcohol and drugs. Instead God sent random Christians who introduced her to Jesus, people who treated her with kindness and warmth and Florence learned not everyone was cruel and uncaring.
Florence Calderone Blake's compelling and well-written autobiography, The Sicilian Nobleman's Daughter delivers an inspirational message of hope and victory that reveals how the human spirit can survive and even thrive in spite of tragic, cruel and evil circumstances. It's also an unforgettable story of God's grace in a life of undeserved hardship that leads to salvation.
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781496413994, $22.99 HC, $14.99 PB, $8.46 Kindle, www.amazon.com
The Alliance, releasing June 1, begins a compelling and realistic dystopian series by Jolina Petersheim, bestselling author of The Midwife and The Outcast. Petersheim's "what if" new suspense series, similar to Terry Blackstock's Restoration series, is set-in-the-near-future and takes place in Northern Montana near Glacier National Park. The apocalyptic narrative contrasts Old Order Mennonite sanctity-of-life beliefs with those of stranded Englischers after a surprise EMP attack forges an uneasy alliance between them.
The story begins with Leora, an independent young girl who cares for her mentally challenged teenage sister, thirteen-year-old brother and nearly blind grandmother after their mother's death and father's disappearance. Leora's full and busy days are often long and frustrating, but she tries to accept the responsibilities gracefully. She would never have believed their lives could be changed in an instant.
When Leora heard the horrifying crash and saw dirt fly high into the air while fixing lunch for her sister, she ran outside and saw billows of black smoke as "fire leaped to life from the front end of the mangled plane" in the field. She grabbed a piece of firewood from the porch and raced toward the field to help, screaming for her neighbor Jabil, and younger brother Seth logging at the end of the lane.
The ground felt hot through her shoes, the grass seared by the flames now licking at the downed plane. Inside the shattered windshield Leora saw the bloody body of a pilot slumped inside the cockpit. She thought he was dead until she saw his "fingers twitch" She somehow, had to get him out.
Although she stood on tip toe and stretched high as she could the door handle remained out of reach. In desperation she struck the plane's side-window with the firewood in her hand, but she was too short to hit the glass hard enough. Hoping Jabil had heard her screams she pleaded with the man inside, "You have to help. I don't know how to get you out" by myself.
Thus begins a thought-provoking story of cultural and religious differences between traditional Amish and contemporary English beliefs when faced with a surprise EMP attack that fries and destroys all things electrical.
The life-changing account features real characters with real struggles that walk an emotional tightrope. From the romantic tension between military pilot Moses Hughes and Leora Ebersole who nurses Moses back to health, to Jabil Snyder's jealousy of Moses over Leora. To Leora's fears for her special needs sister after she returns home in the middle of the night covered in blood, unable to tell her what happened.
Add terrifying gangs, starving people, and leadership struggles within the community and you have a riveting suspense with a thread of romance wrapped in faith based convictions and the need to survive. It's a gripping story of testing, hope and redemption that lingers long after the book is closed. The Divide, from Tyndale House Publishers continues the fascinating story in 2017.
Gail Welborn, Reviewer
The American Supreme Court, 5th ed.
Robert G. McCloskey
The University of Chicago Press
1427 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637
9780226556864, $63.00 HC, 368pp, www.amazon.com
The judicial system of the United States has always been a popular topic in discussion in today's ever-changing world. To all those who are interested in touching up on their knowledge of the Judicial branch of the United States, I would definitely recommend Robert McCloskey's piece on the history of the court. The American Supreme Court (whichever edition you get) gives you the basic information about the court, its functions and purpose in the American society; but also delivers an in-depth background about some of the major court cases judged in the nation's history. McCloskey first skirts through the colonial era of the seventeenth century explaining the formation of the judicial branch, and the right to self-govern after independence was declared from the British in 1776. He then shifts into the most dynamic period the court entered with the Chief Justice reigns of John Jay and John Marshal; as the country grew and developed into a young superpower, the court increased its powers to the point where the checks and balances system was in danger of collapsing. Judicial power expanded, as the Congress and Executive branches began to gradually weaken. Through the ages of Roger Taney, the court entered a period of decline in power, as Taney's decision in the famous Dred Scott case (1856) ripped the already-torn nation apart as a number of destructive seeds were planted in the beginnings of the Civil War. The court, which would never fully recover from the aftermath of the Civil War, remained fairly balanced throughout the rest of the nineteenth century, and into the twentieth century, as Chief Justices Howard Taft, William Rehnquist, among others navigated the judicial system in the rocky days of World War II, the Civil Rights cases, gay rights, and into the ever-changing future. All this history is bound together in this fascinating informative book; just like the American values of dreams, success, and supporting others around the world are enveloped into the nation that is called "the land of the free."
The book is written in the third person, and utilizes specific documents and background information to convey the message of the book. In addition to giving the reading audience a visual in-depth background of how the court's history has intertwined with the changing history of the nation, the reader has to wonder and ponder on how the court will fare in the future. The nation, its demographics, political views, and such are going to change no matter how the years turn out, so how is the court going to play into the hands of this changing state?
The American Supreme Court is for history nerds, political science and politics fans, and everybody else. This book appeals to such a wide audience, is such that it is an easy read. Not too much information is crammed into this piece, and if you were to sit down and read it thoroughly, you could be finished by the end of the day. I would definitely recommend this book. McCloskey's work was an enjoyable read for me, even when I was buried under stressful but rewarding work for my U.S. Constitutional Law class at Austin College. Not only did this book inform me on how troublesome and enlightening this nation's past has been, but also made me think about what the future beholds for the people of the United States and its Supreme Court.
For Cause & Comrades: Why Men Fought in The Civil War
James M. McPherson
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780195090239, $60.00 HC
9780195090239, $18.95 PB
9780195090239, $8.44 Kindle
There have been many books written about America's bloodiest war, but none compare to the rigors of emotions, bitterness, and horrors than James McPherson's piece, For Cause & Comrades. While most Civil War books dig into the facts about the two opposing armies, their fearless generals, and the pressure surrounding Abraham Lincoln and his dutiful cabinet, McPherson's book dives into fairly new territory; understanding how the soldiers lived, fought, and died during this great chain of bloody events. It was brother against brother, splitting once tough families into two; a horrid sight for the nation, whom had borne independence just sixty years before to do. This nation became split into different directions, fueled by the passion of the people to move westward and the evolution of the sin of slavery to expand. The presence of armed African Americans created disturbances throughout the south, adding to the violence and temper within the Congress's chambers. And by the mid-nineteenth century, the country who had stated that "all men were created equal" now looked to the impending future, which involved war, bloodshed, and tears. In For Cause & Comrades, the reader is placed in the heart of America's Civil War, by not enduring the bloody feats on the sidelines, but instead on the front lines. Soldier's diary and memoirs flood the pages of this book, as readers will finally get a sense of how horrible the war was; what happened to families being split apart and leaving the nest different ways, and how the nation, flooded in freedom and liberty would repair itself for the future. Within the advancement of technology and weaponry, and the use of trench-warfare for the very first time in our history, plus the differences and modernization in battle strategies, no wonder why historians call the American Civil War the precursor of World War I; and McPherson does an excellent job in restructuring and adding on to this theory.
As mentioned in the paragraph before, the purpose of this book is to reveal the true horrors of one of the most talked about wars in American history. This is the same for every other war besides this event; most Americans know about the basic facts and dates of battles, but they truly never understand what the soldiers went through, how they felt, or interacted with the cloud of death over them. Thus, For Cause & Comrades appeals to the generation of people and historians alike whom are interested to know the Civil War on a more complex level; that is, to see the battles on the inside, through the eyes of the men whom died in vain fighting for their beliefs and freedoms.
There are many sources used in this book, that adds to the depth of the subject matter being discussed. Soldier's memoirs and diary entries are utilized to their maximum potential, as McPherson describes the lives of the soldiers fighting in the battles, most predominantly their everyday occurrences on the field, and their feelings of love towards their families and hatred towards the opposing side. Out of all the history books I have read (which are mostly about my subject matter, the American Revolution and the Civil War), this is one of the few books that stands above all others; by serving as a true example of historiography, and diving deeper into the subject material. I first picked up this book while taking a Civil War history class at Austin College, under the direction of Dr. Light T. Cummins, and after a while I could not put the book down. Description and detail are two weak words to describe this piece, as it contains a lot more than this. For Cause & Comrades breathes fresh air and develops a new life over the subject of the Civil War; I would highly recommend this book to all, and when I start teaching at the collegiate level after my graduate degrees then I will definitely put this book on my class syllabus.
When Your Child Is Gay
Wesley C. Davison & Jonathan L. Tobkes, MD
Sterling Publishing Company
387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016-8810
978145491936, $14.95, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Coming out can be fraught with difficulty for both straight parents and their gay or lesbian child. In the pages of "When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need to Know", Wesley C. Davidson (a popular blogger on gay rights issues) and Dr. Jonathan Tobkes (a New York City-based psychiatrist), provide a road map so families can better navigate this rocky emotional terrain. Emphasizing communication and unconditional love, Davidson and Tobkes effectively collaborate to help parents untangle their own feelings, identify and overcome barriers to acceptance, encourage strong self-esteem in their child, handle negative or hostile reactions to their child's sexual identity, and more. Filled with case studies and interviews, along with useful action plans and conversation starters, "When Your Child Is Gay" provides a positive, progressive guide to raising healthy, well-adjusted gay and lesbian adults.
Critique: Remarkably well written, organized and presented from beginning to end, "When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need to Know" is extraordinarily informative, insightful, and practical, making it unreservedly recommended for any parent or grandparent raising a child who is gay or lesbian in their sexual orientation. In addition to personal reading lists, "When Your Child Is Gay" should be a part of every community library and community counseling center LGBT collection.
Queerspawn in Love: A Memoir
Kellen Anne Kaiser
She Writes Press
9781631520204, $16.95, PB, 238pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Despite growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area as the daughter of four lesbians, Kellen Kaiser envisioned her life working out, fairy tale - like, with a Prince Charming. When her possible prince did arrive, however, it was not without complications. Home on leave from the Israeli army, the man Kaiser picks doesn't seem like a sure bet. Starting with some casual sex gone awry, they face a number of obstacles, not the least of which are war in the Middle East, a long-distance romance, and differing views on sexuality and their approaching adulthood. But they find themselves most challenged by a more mundane concern: the upkeep of a relationship between two people. Funny and keenly observed, "Queerspawn in Love" is a story about identity, family, and figuring out, through loving someone else and failing, how to love yourself.
Critique: Deeply and intimately personal, "Queerspawn in Love: A Memoir" is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Queerspawn in Love: A Memoir" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).
Journey to Heal
2450 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825444012, $14.99, PB, 176pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A woman who was sexually abused as a child is confronted with many internal questions: Was it my fault? Am I worthless? Will I get past the pain? Do I matter to God? These and similar questions can carve a deep hole in an already wounded soul. Too often, the lies of worthlessness are believed, the pain becomes too much to handle, and survivors find them selves making choices that lead to more heartbreak. With over 42 million survivors (both male and female) of sexual assault and child abuse in the United States alone, the need for a clear path to healing is great. In "Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse", author Crystal Sutherland, herself a survivor of child sexual assault, knows that while the recovery process is complex, healing is possible with God's help. For women who want to progress from simply coping to living abundantly, "Journey to Health" deftly guides readers through seven essential steps to recovery found in Scripture. Candid and open about her personal journey of healing, Crystal comes alongside her reader as a friend who understands. Infused with biblical truths, stories of hope from other survivors, and practical wisdom, "Journey to Heal" will lead women to discover the life of wholeness God has for them.
Critique: Informative, thoughtful, compassionate, practical, effective, and ultimately inspiring, "Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse" is unreservedly recommended reading for anyone who has experienced the trauma of sexual abuse as a child -- or as an adult. While very highly recommended for church, counseling center, community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Journey to Heal" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Autism Intervention Every Day!
Merle J. Crawford & Barbara Weber
Brookes Publishing Company
PO Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285-0624
9781598579284, $29.95, PB, 144pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Children with autism often don't get a diagnosis in their first few years of life, but if a very young child is exhibiting red flags, what should professionals and parents do in the meantime? Drawing upon their years of experience and expertise working with autistic children and their parents, Merle J. Crawford Barbara Weber have collaboratively written "Autism Intervention Every Day!: Embedding Activities in Daily Routines for Young Children and Their Families", an instruction manual that offers accessible, real-world solutions for use with children birth to three, with or without an autism diagnosis. This is a practical guide that is packed with simple, highly effective suggestions for strengthening critical skills during daily routines, ranging from dressing in the morning to getting ready for bed. Early interventionists and other professionals will learn how to coach families in weaving these activities into everyday life with their child, so that intervention continues long after the professional goes home.
"Autism Intervention Every Day!" features: Recognize red flags for autism spectrum disorder; Help for children in building a foundation for learning to interact, communicate, and participate in routines; Strengthening skills that are especially challenging for children with autism, such as regulation, flexibility, and social communication; Support for families on the journey from pursuing a diagnosis to accessing services; Implementation of concepts and teaching strategies based on applied behavior analysis (ABA); Solutions for common challenges that occur during daily routines and activities; How to monitor progress to ensure that the strategies are helping children reach their IFSP goals; and the general promote of children's participation across settings: in homes, preschools, and other community settings. It should be noted that "Autism Intervention Every Day!" includes a downloadable Reinforcer Survey that helps determine specific ways to motivate a young child, tables that assist with problem-solving in order to identify possible reasons for challenging behaviors, and vignettes and case stories that illustrate effective intervention techniques.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Autism Intervention Every Day!: Embedding Activities in Daily Routines for Young Children and Their Families" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation making it ideal for use by professionals and non-specialist general readers working with autistic children in family, day care, or preschool, or elementary school settings.
One Franklin Park, 6100 Tower Circle, Suite 210, Franklin, TN 37067
9781617956652, $15.99, HC, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Hope is not an accident. Sometimes it has to be hunted, and hunting it takes courage. Hope hunters know how to excavate hope from hardship. There is dirt underneath their fingernails and sweat on their shirts. They rake through the rubble of an unwanted situation, digging into difficult circumstances because they have come to expect that adversity will produce good. They believe that light always triumphs over darkness. They have learned to walk through winter with their eyes on spring.
Nika Maples became a hope hunter after suffering a massive brainstem stroke that left her quadriplegic in her twenties. Doctors warned that she had as little as 48 hours to live, and-if she lived at all-she would never walk or talk again. There was no hope on the horizon. So Nika started to hunt for it. Today, she not only walks, but she speaks to audiences everywhere about the power of hunting hope when a situation appears hopeless. She says hope remains camouflaged in the daily mundane. If we are not looking for it, we will miss it, though it is right before our eyes.
Whether you or someone you know is going through a situation that feels hopeless, you will find encouragement in Hunting Hope. Whether you are experiencing a medical trauma, a financial hardship, or a relational crisis, you will find empowerment in Hunting Hope. As you read, you will cling to 20 truths about God's character and practice 5 daily disciplines that will develop your own character in crisis. You too will become a hope hunter.
Maybe it doesn't matter what causes suffering in our lives as much as it matters what suffering causes in our lives. Maybe we were all meant to be hope hunters.
Critique: Impressively inspired and inspiring from first page to last, "Hunting Hope: Dig Through the Darkness to Find the Light" is one of those extraordinary volumes that can be a life changing read. One of those books that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf, "Hunting Hope" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Hunting Hope" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.55).
Critical Issues in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
501 - 3rd Street, NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20001
9780996506816, $99.65, PB, 226pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Critical Issues in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities" provides a concise review of what we know about ten key areas in the field of IDD and what that knowledge means for future developments in public policy, research, and practice. Developed as a foundational review of the knowledge base in preparation for the 2015 National Goals conference, "Critical Issues in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities" examines the following areas: Aging, Retirement, and End Of Life Education Employment, and Economic Self-Sufficiency Health and Wellness, Justice Long-Term Supports and Services, Self-Determination and Self-Advocacy, Social Inclusion Supports for Families, and Workforce issues "Critical Issues in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities" will be particularly useful to practitioners, policy analysts, researchers, and students. Taken as a whole, this work concisely illustrates the gaps between the existing evidence and what must still be demonstrated, what practices we know to be effective and contemporary strategies for implementing those practices, and where we are and where we aspire to be in our nation's public policy.
Critique: Written especially for aspiring and practicing professionals in education, caregiving, medicine, and more, "Critical Issues in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities" is an impressive compendium of contemporary data. "Critical Issues in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities" is unreservedly recommended for professional, governmental, NGO, college and university library collections.
The Wisdom of the Beguines
9781629190082, $14.95, PB, 208pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The Beguines were an order of the Roman Catholic Church that began to form in various parts of Europe over eight hundred years ago. Beguines were laywomen, not nuns, and they did not live in monasteries. They practiced a remarkable way of living independently, and they were never a religious order or a formalized movement. But there were common elements that these medieval women shared across Europe, including their visionary spirituality, their unusual business acumen, and their courageous commitment to the poor and sick. Beguines were essentially self-defined, in opposition to the many attempts to control and define them. They lived by themselves or in communities called Beguinages, which could be single homes for just a few women or, as in Brugge, Brussels, and Amsterdam, walled-in rows of houses where hundreds of Beguines lived together - a village of women within a medieval town or city. Among the Beguines were celebrated spiritual writers and mystics, including Mechthild of Magdeburg, Beatrijs of Nazareth, Hadewijch, and Marguerite Porete -- who was condemned as a heretic and burned at the stake in Paris in 1310. She was not the only Beguine suspected of heresy, and often politics were the driving force behind such charges. The beguines, across the centuries, have left us a great legacy. They invite us to listen to their voices, to seek out their wisdom, to discover them anew.
Critique: Benedictine Sister Laura Swan is a member of St. Placid Priory in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She is a spiritual director and archivist as well as faculty at Saint Martin's University where the students inspire her to learn and rethink and learn even more. Her passion has been around restoring the histories and stories of women to history. In "The Wisdom of the Beguines: The Forgotten Story of a Medieval Women's Movement", her meticulous research is fully matched by her flair for writing a history that is as consistently compelling as it is informative, thoughtful, and inherently fascinating from first page to last. "The Wisdom of the Beguines" is very highly recommended for community and academic library Medieval Studies; Women's History Studies, and Catholic History Studies collections, as well as the personal reading lists for academics and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.
Lost Powers: Reclaiming Our Inner Connection
J. Douglas Kenyon, editor
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9780990690436, $16.95, PB, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Have we lost our way? Lost our psychic "sense of smell"? The conventional notion of the human psyche is that it is a product of our mass culture, and we are conditioned to see and understand only the stimulus that is provided to it. However, there is a deeper process at work, something coming from our innate ability to discern greater truth. Tapping into this subconscious truth-detector is key in determining whether we buy into the premises of the many mainstream "truths" presented to us in popular culture and popular science. In the quest to reestablish that universal connection, editor J. Douglas Kenyon has culled from the pages of Atlantis Rising magazine in "Lost Powers: Reclaiming Our Inner Connection", a collection of 34 concise and well-illustrated articles by world-class philosophers and theoreticians who offer thought-provoking insights from the lost secrets of ancient and primordial wisdom. Featured are: Secrets of the Alchemists, by Joseph Robert Jochmans; The Psi in CSI, by Barbara Jason; Can We See into the Future?, by Robert M. Schoch; Psychokinesis, by Robert M. Schoch; The Superhero Factor, by Len Kasten; Deathbed Visitations, by Michael Tymn; War and Reincarnation, by John Chambers; Time Travel Evidence, by Joseph Robert Jochmans; The Case for Immortality, by Patrick Marsolek.
Critique: A unique anthology and one that is as informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, as it is insightful, iconoclastic, inherently fascinating, and consistently compelling, "Lost Powers: Reclaiming Our Inner Connection" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections. For the personal reading lists of non-specialist general readers with an interest in any of the subjects covered, it should be noted that "Lost Powers: Reclaiming Our Inner Connection" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).
Black Lives and Sacred Humanity
Carol Wayne White
Fordham University Press
2546 Belmont Avenue, University Box L, Bronx, NY 10458-5172
9780823269815, $90.00, HC, 176pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Identifying African American religiosity as the ingenuity of a people constantly striving to inhabit their humanity and eke out a meaningful existence for themselves amid harrowing circumstances, "Black Lives and Sacred Humanity: Toward an African American Religious Naturalism" by Carol Wayne White (Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Bucknell University) constructs a concept of sacred humanity and grounds it in the writings of Anna Julia Cooper, W. E. B. Du Bois, and James Baldwin. Supported by current theories in science studies, critical theory, and religious naturalism, this concept, as "Black Lives and Sacred Humanity" offers a capacious view of humans as interconnected, social, value-laden organisms with the capacity to transform themselves and create nobler worlds wherein all sentient creatures flourish. Acknowledging the great harm wrought by divisive and problematic racial constructions in the United States, "Black Lives and Sacred Humanity" offers an alternative to theistic models of African American religiosity to inspire newer, conceptually compelling views of spirituality that address a classic, perennial religious question: What does it mean to be fully human and fully alive?
Critique: A unique work of original scholarship, "Black Lives and Sacred Humanity" is an exceptional, compelling, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for college and university Black Studies reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject that "Black Lives and Sacred Humanity" is also available in a paperback edition (9780823269822, $25.00) and in a Kindle format ($16.99).
On Being Stuck
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-4544
9781611802900, $16.95, PB, 192pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years. Throughout history, writer's block has been a documented problem -- indeed, almost every successful author has had to deal with this almost universal experience.
Laraine Herring holds an MFA in creative writing and an MA in counseling psychology. Her short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in national and local publications. Her fiction has won the Barbara Deming Award for Women and her nonfiction work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She currently directs the creative writing program at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona and teaches at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. She's the author of seven books.
Although a common malady among writers, in "On Being Stuck: Tapping Into the Creative Power of Writer's Block", Herring argues that we've been thinking about writer's block all wrong. That by paying attention to its qualities and inquiring into its hidden gifts writers can use the tools of deep inquiry, writing prompts, body and breath exercises, and a range of interdisciplinary approaches to become 'unstuck'. Indeed, "On Being Stuck" will help writers uncover the gifts hidden within their creative blocks, while also deepening the relationship to their work and reawakening creative process.
Critique: Based upon practical experience, "On Being Stuck: Tapping Into the Creative Power of Writer's Block" will prove to be an exceptionally useful read for anyone who aspires to write professionally. Indeed, "On Being Stuck" will also have a very special relevance to students tasked with writing reports, essays or dissertations. Absolutely 'user friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation, "On Being Stuck" should be a part of every professional, community, college, and university Writing/Publishing instructional reference collection. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "On Being Stuck" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Cooper: A Rescue Dog's Tale
James S. Martinez, author
Timothy T. Civick, illustrator
Helping Tales Publishers
9780989428224, $17.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 78pp, www.amazon.com
The fantastic team of James S. Martinez and Timothy T. Civick have created another terrific book; this time an activity book that tells a story entitled Cooper: A Rescue Dog's Tale. First, there is the story about Cooper. He is a pup who is rescued and goes to several different homes until... well read it and find out. Then, before, after or while you read it, you can color the pictures yourself and play the games.
The message that these two convey is that you can help rescue dogs (and other rescue animals) in several ways as they tell a thoughtful and loving story in rhyme. I have not seen books on the subject that are as well-told as the series of books that James and Tim create. Cooper is another outstanding book in their series of books about being helpers and caring for your animals. This is another book by these two that is not to be missed by children and adults alike.
James and Tim donate part of the sales of their books to charities, so when you buy a book, you are helping someone or a shelter. Find out other ways you can help.
The Untold Story of Edwina
Push on Press
9780692686843, $12.00 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 150pp, www.amazon.com
Lynne Handy knows what readers want. As a retired librarian, she has carried her love of books to the world of writing. She has done it again with her latest novella, a paranormal mystery, The Untold Story of Edwina.
There is a mystery that weaves through the research that is done by Mari Pell who has been asked by the nephew of Edwina to write the biography of Edwina Frost, popular with horror fiction readers. Why her? She is a poet! What does the bones of a child discovered in the garden have to do with Edwina? Wil the spirit of Edwina claim Maria? You are going to really enjoy reading this book, especially if you like chills as you delve into the lives of the characters.
This is one of those books you need to read to find out what happens to Maria and her friends, as well as learn about the disturbing story of Edwina.
Lynne Handy is a freelance writer and poet. She holds an undergraduate degree in history and a graduate degree in Library and Information Science. She is a member of Sisters in Crime., Kentucky State Poetry Society and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
Scott M. Graffius
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781533370242, $19.95, PB, 148pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Scrum is the leading Agile development and project delivery framework. It encompasses a powerful set of principles and practices that help teams deliver products in short cycles, which enables speedy feedback, rapid adaptation to change, and continuous improvement. "Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions" by Scott M. Graffius (Founder and President of Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions, a consultancy specialized in project, program, portfolio, and PMO management inclusive of Agile, traditional, and hybrid frameworks) empowers his readers to easily employ Agile Scrum. This comprehensive instruction manual covers the basics to get the reader going quickly by providing clear instructions in plain English. "Agile Scrum" is specifically written for anyone interested or involved in Agile Scrum, project management, technology management, product development, or innovation.
Critique: Nicely illustrated throughout with graphs and charts, "Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions" is an all inclusive instruction guide that is impressively 'user friendly' in tone, content, clarity, organization and presentation. While very highly recommended for college and university collections, it should be noted for personal and professional reading lists that "Agile Scrum" is also available in a kindle edition ($4.95).
9780986399602, $49.95, PB, 672pp, www.chthaeus.com
Synopsis: Fungi are found throughout the world, often playing critical roles at the center of all ecological webs. As culturally important foods and medicines, as well as instigators of religious practices, they have been intimately tied to the development and spread of human cultures. And yet, despite their numerous influences on the history of the world, fungi are completely disregarded by the majority of people today.
Interwoven with short essays on the lessons of the fungi, "Radical Mycology" begins with chapters that explore the uniqueness of fungal biology, the critical ecological roles of micro and macro fungi, skills for accurately identifying mushrooms and mycorrhizal fungi, the importance of lichens as indicators of environmental health, and the profound influences that fungi have held on the evolution of all life and human cultures. With this foundation laid, the reader is then equipped to work with the fungi directly. Techniques for making potent fungal medicines, growing fermenting fungi for food, and cheaply cultivating mushrooms using recycled tools (and yet still achieving lab-quality results) are explored in-depth. Subsequent chapters grow far beyond the limits of other books on mushrooms. Detailed information on the principles and practices of what McCoy calls "regenerative natural mushroom farming" - a practice largely influenced by the design system of permaculture - is presented along with extensive information on cultivating mycorrhizal fungi and the science of mycoremediation, the application of fungi to mitigate pollution in our homes and environment. Concluding the book are deeper insights into the cultural effects that fungi present, from a philosophical reflection of fungal growth in the design of human societies, to an exhaustive examination of the history of psychoactive mushrooms.
Throughout this journey, author and fungi expert Peter McCoy offers personal and thought-provoking insights into experiencing fungi, based on his 15 years of practice and study in the field. In the end, the reader is left with the means to integrate mycology into any aspect of their life, community, or environment.
Critique: With its step-by-step protocols for beginner to its advanced processes, enhanced with the inclusion of hundreds of photographs and illustrations, over a dozen appendices, and 100 species profiles, "Radical Mycology" is an invaluable one-of-kind reference books for anyone interested in Do-It-Yourself (or Do-It-Together) homesteading, community organizing, food security, natural medicine, grassroots bioremediation, and the evolution of human-fungal-ecological relations. More than just another book on mushrooms, "Radical Mycology" is a call to ally with fungi in all efforts to spawn a healthier world. Heavily referenced and illustrated by the author, "Radical Mycology" is unprecedented, comprehensive and far ranging treatise that will undoubtedly remain a classic for generations and decades to come. Simply stated, no personal, professional, community, college, or university library Mycology/Fungi instructional reference collection will be either complete or comprehensive without the inclusion of Peter McCoy's superbly written, deftly organized and exceptionally well presented "Radical Mycology".
Ali vs. Inoki
10300 N. Central Expressway, Suite 400, Dallas, TX 75204
9781942952190, $16.95, PB, 304pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: On June 26, 1976, Muhammad Ali, arguably the most famous athlete in the world at the time, flew to Japan to fight Antonio Inoki, Japan's iconic pro wrestling champion, for the so-called "martial arts championship of the world". Broadcast to an audience of 1.4 billion in 34 countries, the boxer versus grappler spectacle foreshadowed, and in many ways, led to the rise of mixed martial arts as a major sport. The contest was controversial, but the real action was behind the scenes, and various players in the underbelly of organized wrestling and boxing jockeyed for position. Egos, competing interests, and a general sense of apprehension over what would happen in the ring led to hodgepodge rules thrown together at the last minute. Bizarre plans to "save" Ali if the fight got out of hand were also concocted. One scheme (canceled only at the last minute) involved having the boxer nicked with a razor blade if the fight got out of hand, forcing the referee to stop the fight. In "Ali vs. Inoki: The Forgotten Fight That Inspired Mixed Martial Arts and Launched Sports Entertainment", author and a pioneer of mixed martial arts journalism Josh Gross gets inside Ali's head leading up to the match by resurrecting pre-fight interviews that featured the boxer's famous pro wrestling-influenced trash talk he first encountered in Los Angeles in the early 1960s. Gross also introduces us to Inoki, little known in the United States but hugely influential in Japan. After the fight, Inoki became a household name throughout Asia, and his role in Japan's popular Pride Fighting Championships helped shape modern mixed martial arts.
Critique: With the recent passing of Muhammad Ali, interest has never been higher in the life and career of this outstanding, world-class athlete. "Ali vs. Inoki: The Forgotten Fight That Inspired Mixed Martial Arts and Launched Sports Entertainment" focuses upon what will be a new element in Ali's formidable career to most of his fans. Simply stated, "Ali vs. Inoki" will prove to be a strongly popular addition to community library 20th Century Sports History collections in general, and is a "must" for Alis legions of fans throughout the country. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Ali vs. Inoki" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
The Making of Salafism
Columbia University Press
61 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023-7015
9780231175500, $55.00, HC, 328pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The Salafi movement or Salafist movement is an ultra-conservative reform movement within Sunni Islam that references the doctrine known as Salafism. The doctrine can be summed up as taking "a fundamentalist approach to Islam, emulating the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers (the al-salaf al-salih or pious forefathers). They reject religious innovation, or bid'ah, and support the implementation of sharia (Islamic law). The movement is often divided into three categories: the largest group are the purists who avoid politics; the second largest group are the activists who get involved in politics; the smallest group are the jihadists who form a small but violent minority.
The Salafi movement is often described as being synonymous with Wahhabism, but Salafists consider the term "Wahhabi" derogatory. At other times, Salafism has been described as a hybrid of Wahhabism and other post-1960s movements. Salafism has become associated with literalist, strict and puritanical approaches to Islam and (particularly in the West) with the Salafi jihadists, who espouse offensive jihad as a legitimate expression of Islam against those they deem to be enemies of Islam.
In legal matters, Salafis are divided between those who, in the name of independent legal judgement (ijtihad), reject strict adherence (taqlid) to the four Sunni schools of law (madhahib) and others who remain faithful to these.
"The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century" by Henri Lauzière (Assistant Professor of History at Northwestern University) holds that the concept of Salafism is a recent phenomenon projected back onto the past, and sees its purist evolution as a direct result of decolonization. "The Making of Salafism" builds upon the transnational networks of Taqi al-Din al-Hilali (1894 - 1987), a Moroccan Salafi who, with his associates, participated in the development of Salafism as both a term and a movement. Traveling from Rabat to Mecca, from Calcutta to Berlin, al-Hilali interacted with high-profile Salafi scholars and activists who eventually abandoned Islamic modernism in favor of a more purist approach to Islam. Today, Salafis tend to claim a monopoly on religious truth and freely confront other Muslims on theological and legal issues. "The Making of Salafism" is a detailed and documented history that recognizes the social forces behind this purist turn, uncovering the popular origins of what has become a global phenomenon today.
Critique: An exceptional study that is further enhanced with the inclusion of forty pages of Notes, a twenty page Bibliography, and a twenty five page Index, "The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century" is a masterpiece of original scholarship and very highly recommended as a core addition to community, college, and university Islamic Studies reference collections in general, and Salafism supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject that "The Making of Salafism" is also available in a Kindle edition ($43.44).
Color Me Jung
Inner City Books
53 Alvin Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4T 2A8, Canada
9781894574464, $25.00, PB, 64pp, www.innercitybooks.net
Synopsis: The Sanskrit word mandala means "whole circle" in the ordinary sense of the word. In the sphere of depth psychology, it refers to a sacred protective image, often a squared circle, or vice versa, enclosing many intricate, symmetrical forms. ICB Mandala logoMandalas have been created by all peoples everywhere at all times. They are "cosmograms" (images of an individual's psychic reality, a snapshot of where one is at that moment) reflecting how they relate to themselves and the world around them.
The eminent Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung, after extensive research, discerned that mandalas are a traditional antidote for chaotic states of mind. Thus he encouraged his patients to draw, paint or dance mandalas when they were depressed or beset with conflicting desires. In short, mandalas are images that help to heal the split or distressed personality, in service of the self-regulation of the psyche.
There is no need to be a skilled artist. Whether it is approached as meditation, sensation, reflection, or just playful activity, the act of using color and image to amplify the connection with the unconscious is an invitation to enrich one's personal life. You can incorporate it into a ritual; use your favorite music; dance it; frame it - or simply use it as an instant portable entry to a different mode of being.
Critique: Compiled by Daryl Sharpe, "Color Me Jung" is an extraordinary and highly recommended coloring book comprised of twenty-five original mandalas by the Canadian artist David Rankin an invitation to play and create. Offering hours of contemplative fun and recreation, "Color Me Jung" will have a unique, special and enduring appeal.
Reckoning and Ruin
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464205491, $26.95, HC, 298pp, www.amazon.com
Tai Randolph has gladly rebooted her life in Atlanta, Georgia, and is celebrating several landmarks including: A year running the Confederate-themed gun shop she inherited with its busy schedule of reenactments; A year with her sexy, ex-SWAT-team lover Trey, now working a corporate security gig and who's having to reboot his own life and brain after a terrible auto accident; A year of confronting a checkered list of ruffians and outright villains, mostly now put behind bars -- with one of those convicted criminals being her cousin Jasper, whose disreputable family was a big part of Tai's childhood in Savannah.
Tai is determined to keep her amateur sleuthing in the past, not just for her sake, but for Trey's. But here comes Jasper again, complete with a fancy, high-priced new lawyer and a scheme that will surely ruin Tai and Trey financially. But is there more? Jasper, the leader of a white militia splinter group too violent for even the Klan, must be up to something worse than wrecking Tai's life. When other witnesses against Jasper start turning up dead, she decides she has to take him down once and for all. And act on her own, a strategy that high-adrenaline Tai has been working to modify in her life with Trey.
Soon she's back in Savannah and deep in familiar troubles that include a missing ex-boyfriend, a creepily poetic stalker, and a passel of stolen money. She's forced to confront old memories and older ghosts, including an uncomfortable reunion with her Uncle Boone, who's keeping secrets he'd rather die with than reveal. Worst of all, her relationship with Trey starts to fray, and she realizes that chasing the truth might cost her the man she loves.
Critique: "Reckoning and Ruin" is another mystery masterpiece from the pen of Tina Whittle who is clearly a master of the genre. The fifth in an exquisitely crafted Tai Randolph Mystery Series, "Reckoning and Ruin" is filled throughout with atmosphere, humor, deep emotional connections, and surprising plot twists. While very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reckoning and Ruin" is also available in a paperback edition (9781464205514, $15.95) and in a Kindle format ($7.99).
Marcio Hideshi Noguchi & Seth Friedman
c/o The Monacelli Press
236 West 27th Street, New York, NY, 10001
9781580934602, $19.95, PB, 168pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the wonderfully illustrated pages of "Manga Origami: Easy Techniques for Creating 20 Super-Cute Characters", origami masters Marcio Hideshi Noguchi and Seth Friedman show everything needed to be known in order to create adorable paper characters from manga/anime stories with basic origami folding instructions and clear step-by-step diagrams. The first section covers the paper and other necessary materials, the origami symbols and terminology, and the general folding techniques needed to create and assemble all the basic figures. The second section features specific instructions for customizing each of the characters with their outfits/costumes, accessories, and unique hairstyles.
Some of the twenty projects are very recognizable as Japanese manga/anime characters, such as the Ronin Samurai, Kimono-Chan, Tea Picker, and Shrine Maiden, while others, like the French Maid, Nurse, Baseball Player, and Bunny Girl are more western. Also included are some fantasy characters, like the Fairy, Ori Fighter, Santa's Helper, and Dragon Girl. Of course, characters depicting school life and summer vacation fun are here too, such as Schoolgirl, Sailor Fuku, Gym Girl, Beach Bunny, Sensei, Uki-wa Chan, Harem Otoko, and Neko Form. All projects are clearly marked with their difficulty level: beginner, advanced beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert.
Critique: The straightforward instructions make "Manga Origami" thoroughly accessible to hobbyists of all skill and experience levels. Offering hours and hours of just plain fun, "Manga Origami" is impressively 'user friendly' in content, organization and presentation, making it very highly recommended for origami enthusiasts in general, and manga/anima fans in particular. "Manga Origami" also makes a unique and memorable giftbook!
Mario Mainetti, editor
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9788887029659, $85.00, PB, 300pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Goshka Macuga: Before the Beginning and after the End" showcases Polish-born and London-based, Goshka Macuga in her roles as an artist, curator, collector, researcher and exhibition designer, who works across a variety of media to explore how and why we remember both cultural and personal events. Goshka particularly focuses on how we build our own classificatory systems for creating and remembering knowledge in times of rapidly advancing technology and information saturation. "Goshka Macuga: Before the Beginning and after the End" was published for the exhibition To the Son of Man Who Ate the Scroll, and organized as an atlas, retracing for the first time Goshka's career from 1993 to the present day.
Critique: Enhanced with the addition of original essays, along with an anthology of texts by the artist published for former projects, "Goshka Macuga: Before the Beginning and after the End" is an extraordinary volume that is enthusiastically recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary Art History collections in general, and Goshka Macuga supplemental studies lists in particular.
The Book of Spice: From Anise to Zedoary
80 Broad Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10004
9781681771526, $26.95, HC, 273pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Book of Spice: From Anise to Zedoary" by John O'Connel is an impressive, encyclopedic style, compendium of information about spices, including a fascinating history and wide array of their uses as the world's favorite flavors both familiar and esoteric. Erudite chapters combine spice history with insights into the influence of spices and the spice trade in art, religion, medicine, science, in a text that is richly seasoned with anecdotes and recipes. Readers will discover why Cleopatra bathed in saffron and mare's milk, why wormwood-laced absinthe caused eighteenth century drinkers to hallucinate, and how cloves harvested in remote Indonesian islands found their way into a kitchen in ancient Syria. Almost every American kitchen contains a bottle of cloves or a stick of cinnamon, almost every dish a pinch of something, whether chili or cumin. "The Book of Spice" is culinary history at its most appetizing.
Critique: Nicely illustrated with line drawings throughout, "The Book of Spice" is an extraordinary and comprehensive history that is as informed and informative as it is exceptionally well organized and presented. Alphabetically organized, "The Book of Spice" is enhanced with the inclusion of a nineteen page Directory of Spice Mixes, sixteen pages of Notes, a three page Select Bibliography, and a one page list of Acknowledgments, "The Book of Spice" will prove to be an extraordinarily popular addition to community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Book of Spice" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.49).
Teaching Time Management to Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Caroline Dipipi-Hoy & Daniel Steere
11209 Strang Line Road, Lenexa, KS 66215
9781942197157, $27.95, PB, 190pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The collaborative effort of Caroline Dipipi-Hoy (Associate Profess, Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation, East Stroudsburg University, Pennsylvania) and Daniel Steere (Professor Emeritus, Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation, East Stroudsburg University, Pennsylvania), "Teaching Time Management to Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder" presents ways to facilitate time-management skills for learners with autism spectrum disorder. This instructive study encompasses individuals across the lifespan, as time management is a skill that can be developed throughout one's life. "Teaching Time Management to Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder" begins with an overview of what is involved with teach time management to someone who is autistic, and concludes with focusing on time management and the transition to adulthood. There are eight pages of References, and a section comprised of forms for teaching time management skills.
Critique: A complete course of instruction in a single volume, "Teaching Time Management to Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder" is impressively well written, organized and presented. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content and commentary, "Teaching Time Management to Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder" is very highly recommended for parental, professional, community, college, and university library Autism collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
The Magical Guide to Bliss
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781506183688, $19.95, PB, 460pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: To 'Follow Your Bliss' is a commonly given bit of advice. But it is all to easy for most of us to get stuck in our lives, falling far short of where we want and need to be. Whether we feel trapped by tedium or pain, it's hard to keep ourselves from despairing and feeling that this is all there is -- that bliss is just a myth. For anyone who is struggling with the stresses and disappointments that is the all to common lot of life today, author Meg Nocero's "The Magical Guide to Bliss: Daily Keys to Unlock your Dreams, Spirit and Inner Bliss" will prove to be a a lifeline leading us on a life-changing journey of self-discovery. A journey that will help us to recover a sense of meaning and fully realize whatever our personal passions might be.
Organizing the adventure into 366 steps that correspond to one calendar year, "The Magical Guide to Bliss" presents daily quotes and reflections that are paired with magical keys, which will unlock the doors we will encounter on our own particular road to bliss. Readers will learn the art of seizing the day in January, and by the time December comes, all the while witnessing awe-inspiring magic and miracles that are present in daily life!
Critique: Meg Nocero formed with her "soul sisters" her own group, Soul Talk, and also created the five-part workshop Follow Your Bliss and Realize Your Dreams. She also went on to found the "Give Love Project" with her children, as well as established the publishing company of Butterflies & Bliss LLC. Nocero also chaired the successful first annual S.H.I.N.E. Miami Spirit-Hope-Insight-Networking-Event this past October. Impressively well written, organized and presented, "The Magical Guide to Bliss: Daily Keys to Unlock your Dreams, Spirit and Inner Bliss" is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring. "The Magical Guide to Bliss" is one of those life-changing reads that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While "The Magical Guide to Bliss" is very highly recommended for community, college, and university Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.95).
Color Your Chakras
New Page Books
c/o Career Press Inc.
12 Parish Drive, Wayne, NJ 07470
9781632650412, $12.99, PB, 120pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The chakras are powerful energy centers located in your subtle body. Unknown to many people, these vortexes of life energy govern and regulate your physical body. According to the ancient Tantric and Vedic scriptures of India, there are 14 chakras?seven major ones along your spinal column, and seven others, most of which are located in your brain. Each chakra performs a specific function and is associated with discrete body parts and aspects of mind.
Each chakra (or "wheel") has a hub, where subtle energy conduits intersect; and spokes, which are radiations of subtle energy. Chakras are often likened to lotuses, and the radiations of energy are equated with lotus petals. The lotus petals on six of the seven major chakras comprise the entire Sanskrit alphabet, and the seventh major chakra vibrates all 50 letters of the Sanskrit alphabet.
Each left-hand page in "Color Your Chakras" includes a description and explanation of each chakra or chakra deity. Each right-hand page is an appropriate drawing. The explanations include information about the drawings and the specific colors that are mentioned in the scriptures of ancient India.
Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' from first page to last, "Color Your Chakras: An Interactive Way to Understand the Energy Centers of the Body" by chakra expert Susan Shumsky offers hours of contemplative yet informative relaxation and is very highly recommended for children and adults of all ages because all that is needed is a copy of "Color Your Chakras", a box of crayons, and some quiet time.
Tricia Stewart Shiu
Human Being Publishing
9780996881609, $12.95, PB, 148pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Tricia Stewart Shiu's new adult novel "Please Hold" offers her readers an industry insider's look at the world of high-level studio executive assistants and is the fact-based although fictional story of one woman's struggle to make sense of it all. Has she come a long way, baby? Only Mary knows. Not only does "Please Hold" offer a rare glimpse into the world of top tier gatekeepers, it also serves as a reminder that spirituality comes in many forms and no one should judge another before knowing the full story. Everyone's journey to her own truth is layered and we all choose our path based on the highest form of guidance available. As we grow, so does our guidance. In this quirky slice of life story.
Critique: In "Please Hold", author Tricia Stewart Shiu draws from her extensive experience as a veteran, high-level executive assistant at one of the top six entertainment studios in Los Angeles. The result is a consistently compelling novel that could well be the stuff of which movies are made. A riveting read from first page to last (and featuring a foreword by Mike Hopkins who is the CEO of Hulu), "Please Hold" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Please Hold" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).
Basic Level Literacy Programs for English-Speaking and Non-English-Speaking Adults
PO Box 189, Albany, WI 53502
9780996792127, $14.95, PB, 192pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A graduate of Wellesley College, Catherine Blakemore holds M.A.s in education from the University of Colorado-Denver and in economics from the University of Michigan. She taught in a charter school in Denver and worked as an analyst for the U.S. Congress. In "Basic Level Literacy Programs for English-Speaking and Non-English-Speaking Adults", Catherine has written a study specifically designed to provide centers with a variety of options. It describes many features of the adult basic level literacy programs held by forty-two literacy centers in thirty-four states and the District of Columbia.
Critique: Featuring a convenient format, extensive contact information, and an index, "Basic Level Literacy Programs for English-Speaking and Non-English-Speaking Adults" is as 'user friendly' in organization and presentation as it is instructive, practical and pragmatic in its commentaries and concepts. Impressively informed and informative, "Basic Level Literacy Programs for English-Speaking and Non-English-Speaking Adults" is highly recommended for personal, professional, community, academic, and NGO library English Literacy reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
Taking Flight: Mastering Executive Function
Carolyn Carpeneti & Company
9780997237108, $26.00, HC, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: What should we do when our children struggle academically? Should we let them fail so they'll learn from their mistakes and do better next time? Perhaps. But what if they lack the organizational tools to succeed?
Carolyn Carpeneti's son had effectively coped with learning differences through high school and was accepted into the university of his dreams. Only weeks into his freshman year, Carpeneti was stunned to discover that her son was flunking. The problem, it turned out, was not lack of intelligence, interest, or motivation but weak executive function, that is, the ability to plan, organize, manage time, initiate action, and achieve goals, a skill set that often does not develop in the human brain until the late teens and mid-twenties.
Executive function is not a form of intelligence but a way in which people demonstrate intelligence. Is weak executive function one reason why 25% to 30% of college freshmen don't return a second year, or why only 56% of college students graduate within five years? Is weak executive function derailing the confidence and careers of thousands of talented young adults?
"Taking Flight: Mastering Executive Function" chronicles how a mother created a system that rerouted her son from early failure onto a path of success. In the process, she journeyed deep into the silent epidemic of weak or delayed executive function and uncovered a link between traditional education and the inability of kids to thrive and perform at their best. The hard-won, practical solutions Carpeneti embraced, many of her own devising, are shared in "Taking Flight" so that other parents can move beyond confusion and frustration to help their struggling loved ones unlock their dreams and potential.
Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Taking Flight: Mastering Executive Function" is an extraordinary account and one that can be of enduring relevance and invaluable inspiration to other parents of children who are not succeeding academically because they lack the practical mental, emotional, and problem solving skills to do so. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content and commentary, "Taking Flight: Mastering Executive Function" is a very highly recommended addition to community library Parental Skills instructional reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Taking Flight: Mastering Executive Function" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.49).
Super Commuter Couples
Megan Bearce, LMFT
9780989945714, $14.95, PB, 170pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: How does a couple stay connected when living apart is their norm? A super commuter is a person whose job is far enough away from home that they must live apart from their family for days or weeks at a time. During the past several years the number of super commuters in both the United States and abroad has risen exponentially. Through interviews with people from around the world as well as the author Megan Bearce's own personal experience as the wife of a super commuter and professional knowledge as a licensed therapist specializing in supporting super commuter couples, "Super Commuter Couples: Staying Together When A Job Keeps You Apart" takes the reader behind the scenes of this lifestyle where they will find a wealth of pragmatic tips for strengthening relationships, invaluable insights on how to decide if super commuting is right for them, practical advice on how best to navigate a super commuter relationship, as well as six steps to help super commuter families cope with ambiguous loss.
Critique: Exceptional, impressive, experience driven, sensible, 'user friendly' and immediately applicable, "Super Commuter Couples" should be considered a "must" for anyone involved in a relationship that includes extended periods of absence from one another -- especially when those absences are the result of business or military displacement. While a critically important and highly recommended addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Super Commuter Couples" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).
9780996615341, $15.95, PB, 350pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Ellen Rand has been a journalist for more than 40 years, including five years as a housing columnist for The New York Times. As a hospice volunteer with Holy Name Medical Center in Bergen County, New Jersey, she has a unique lens through which to explore the broader issues of late-life care. Her essays have appeared in several medical humanities publications, including Pulse--Voices from the Heart of Medicine; KevinMD; and Life Matters Media. In "Last Comforts: Notes from the Forefront of Late-Life Care", Rand makes a compelling case that all too often end-of-life care in America is fragmented, uncoordinated, costly, and unsustainable. But it doesn't have to be that way. In the pages of "Last Comforts" Rand spotlights and showcases many innovations that can make a significant difference as we approach the last chapters of our lives.
Critique: Impressively well written, extraordinarily well organized and presented, as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Last Comforts: Notes from the Forefront of Late-Life Care" is a critically important and highly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Health/Medicine collections. Simply stated, "Last Comforts" is directly recommended for the personal reading lists of all health care givers and hospice staff members, as well as non-specialist general readers with an interest in end-of-life care issues.
Thanks: Giving and Receiving Gratitude for America's Troops
Edgar S. Welty, Jr.
Resource Publications, Inc.
c/o Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401-2960
9781498220651, $32.00, HC, 138pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Thanks: Giving and Receiving Gratitude for America's Troops" is a book about faith and moral issues facing American troops and veterans. As someone who spent four years wearing a U.S. army uniform, Edgar S. Welty has plenty of "soldier stories". But he does not start his book with those stories. Instead, Welty introduces his work with the telling of Simon's service when he carried the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. He argues that "service" is the same as Jesus's call to "go an 'extra' or 'second' mile." Americans are called by Jesus to walk a "second mile" for American troops and veterans. This act of service is necessary because many troops are in trouble, as is demonstrated by higher than average suicide rates. Each section of "Thanks: Giving and Receiving Gratitude for America's Troops" focuses on a new issue surrounding troops and veterans.
Critique: Exceptionally well written from beginning to end, "Thanks: Giving and Receiving Gratitude for America's Troops" is a critically important contribution to our national dialogue with respect to the treatment of American veterans. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, this is one book that simply must be a part of every community library collection in the country. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Thanks: Giving and Receiving Gratitude for America's Troops" is also available in a paperback edition (9781498220637, $19.00) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).
Marcus Warner & Jim Wilder
820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
9780802414540, $14.99, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In business, in government, in community service, and in church, healthy teams begin with healthy leaders, and at the heart of this dynamic is emotional maturity -- the quality the greatest leaders possess. Combining solid theology, cutting-edge brain science, and decades of counseling and consulting experience, "Rare Leadership: 4 Uncommon Habits For Increasing Trust, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead" shows how to take your leadership and team to the next level. It will equip you to: Cultivate emotional maturity in yourself and others; Develop the four habits of R.A.R.E. leaders; Promote a strong group identity; Keep relationships bigger than problems; Increase productivity through trust, joy, and engagement. Whether you are burnt out or just looking to improve, when you prioritize people and lead from a secure identity, you'll be amazed at the freedom you feel and the results you see. You can lead from a healthy place, respond rather than react, and build the team of your dreams. If you want to take your organization to the next level, it starts with you.
Critique: As informative and thoughtful, as it is practical and pragmatic, "Rare Leadership" is a complete workshop in a single volume. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Rare Leadership" is an especially recommended addition to community, corporate, governmental, and academic library Management Skills reference collections. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content, and commentary, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rare Leadership" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.57).
Where The Time Goes
Jeffrey E. Barlough
Gresham & Doyle
PO Box 45797, Los Angeles, CA 90045
9780978763459, $14.95, PB, 337pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: For as long as most anyone can remember, there has been a monster in Eldritch's Cupboard. Just who is this Eldritch, you may ask, and where is his Cupboard? And why does he keep a monster in it? So begins author Jeffrey E. Barlough's account of the extraordinary adventure on hand in "Where The Time Goes", the new and ninth volume of his acclaimed Western Lights series of fantasy-mysteries. Set in the remote, small town of Dithering in the Lingonshire dales (it's on the road to very few places), the new work is described by Barlough as a grim little tale, unlike any other in the Western Lights series, giving the reader a wild ride through some of the strangest country in the sundered realm. Dr. Hugh Callander, formerly of Maunder College, Penhaligon, has returned home to Dithering to find that the cavern known as Eldritch's Cupboard is active once again. Who is behind the livestock losses on the neighboring farms, the mysterious disappearances of Dithering townsfolk? Is it poachers who are making use of the Cupboard? Thieves and murderers? Or is it something else entirely? Might the dark tales of a monster actually be true? Tales of a ravenous beast that for centuries had made the Cupboard its lair, and Dithering townsfolk its prey?
Critique: Impressively well written by a gifted original novelist who has an absolute master of the fantasy/mystery genre, "Where The Time Goes" is another masterpiece of entertaining fiction from the pen of Jeffrey Barolough. Simply stated, "Where The Time Goes" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections -- and a "must read" choice for all dedicated fantasy fans and mystery enthusiasts!
Paul Smith's Cycling Scrapbook
Paul Smith, author
Richard Williams, contributor
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500292365, $50.00, PB, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Were it not for a serious crash in his teens, fashion designer Paul Smith might have become known as a successful racing cyclist. His cycling career cut short, and after a six-month spell in the hospital, he opened a small boutique in England in 1970. Today, Paul Smith is one of the UK's most successful exports, with over 350 shops worldwide. It was only relatively recently, however, that Smith publicly returned to the world of cycling. "Paul Smith's Cycling Scrapbook" fully illustrates Smith's favorite people, races, and places in the cycling world through the images and ephemera that inspired him. From his collection of cycling jerseys and his extensive library of cycling publications and brochures of the 1950s and 1960s to the inspiration he has found in his cycling heroes (Coppi, Anquetil, Bartali) and his collaborations with bike-makers (Mercian and Pinarello) and race organizers, this is a personal and highly visual journey that connects Smith's love of cycling with his love of design.
Critique: A visual celebration of cycling presented through the passions and personal memorabilia of beloved menswear fashion designer "Paul Smith's Cycling Scrapbook" is a winning combination of design and the world's most increasingly popular pastime, and is very highly recommended, especially for cycling fans and fashion enthusiasts. Profusely illustrated throughout with more than 400 color images, "Paul Smith's Cycling Scrapbook" is a consistently compelling and richly informative read which is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, community, and academic library Sports/Athletic collections.
White Magic: The Age of Paper
c/o Blackwell Publishing
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9780745672540, $19.95, PB, 328pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Paper is older than the printing press, and even in its unprinted state it was the great network medium behind the emergence of modern civilization. In the shape of bills, banknotes and accounting books it was indispensable to the economy. As forms and files it was essential to bureaucracy. As letters it became the setting for the invention of the modern soul, and as newsprint it became a stage for politics.
In "White Magic: The Age of Paper", Lothar Muller describes how paper made its way from China through the Arab world to Europe, where it permeated everyday life in a variety of formats from the thirteenth century onwards, and how the paper technology revolution of the nineteenth century paved the way for the creation of the modern daily press. His key witnesses are the works of Rabelais and Grimmelshausen, Balzac and Herman Melville, James Joyce and Paul Valery.
Muller writes not only about books, however: he also writes about pamphlets, playing cards, papercutting and legal pads. We think we understand the "Gutenberg era", but we can understand it better when we explore the world that underpinned it: the paper age. Today, with the proliferation of digital devices, paper may seem to be a residue of the past, but Muller shows that the humble technology of paper is in many ways the most fundamental medium of the modern world.
Critique: Lothar Muller is editor of the features section of the Suddeutsche Zeitung. He taught general and comparative literature at Berlin Free University and, since 2010, he has been an Honorary Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin. In 2013 he was awarded the Berlin Prize for Literary Criticism. "White Magic: The Age of Paper" is a deftly crafted, informed and informative history that will hold immense appeal for scholars and non-specialist general readers alike. Enhanced with the inclusion a Prologue, an Epilogue (The Analog and the Digital), nine pages of Notes, an eighteen page Bibliography, a one page listing of Photo Credits, and a thirty-five page Index, "White Magic: The Age of Paper" is an extraordinary and strongly recommended addition to community, college, and university library General History collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "White Magic: The Age of Paper" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).
Charles B Neff
Bennett & Hastings Publishing
2400 NW 80th Street #254. Seattle, Washington 98117
9781934733752, $12.95 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 214pp, www.amazon.com
Charles B Neff's Dire Salvation begins at 5:52AM, day one mid-june 2011 as Calla Ogden ponders the after midnight telephone call regarding her younger, 23 year old half-brother Lonny. It was the police. Lonny was in custody and it was not the usual petty theft, occasional public drunkenness or other nuisance activity that included occasional drug usage that had brought Lonny to custody. This time he was being held for his possible involvement with a suspicious death.
Calla, 37 years old, half native American, half Czech, unmarried, social worker with county social services embarks on a rollercoaster of worry, duty to family and duty to job, forming a friendship with the new mayor and discovering that things are not always as they seem at first glance.
A 7:30 AM meeting with her lawyer Sonia D'Amico propelled Calla into her day, filled with her leading a hike for the local Native Plant Society, of which she was a member, and worry for her younger sibling who is forever marked by his mother's alcohol use during her pregnancy.
At 6:30 am Greg Takarchuk, Ukrainian, is tapped by the chief of police for Swiftwater and Portal, Washington, to sit in on the preliminary investigation being conducted by the local Sheriff Department into the death Lonny Ogden may have caused.
Jason Ferris sat in front of his computer's dual monitor display at 7:16 am, same day, he was assessing the streaming data appearing in the 4 split screens filling the two monitors. Jason learned as a child living with a heavy handed father to disappear within himself in a family dominated by brutality administered with a belt.
8:11 am Phil Bianchi, widowed, 52 years old, a journalist for many years; Phil had returned to Swiftwater to become the editor of the local paper 7 years ago. When his wife died just a year after his return to Swiftwater Phil was urged by friends to run for the office of Mayor. He won.
With the introduction to four of the main players in the tale; the reader is carried along on the journey each will make during the investigation into the death of a local, sometime drug user, male who worked at the Salmon fish hatchery run under the auspices of the Yakama Indian Tribe with support from the county, the state and the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The narrative moves to a road house, sheriff's office, the local fish hatchery, and the town of Swiftwater and Portal. Writer Neff has crafted a somewhat meandering tale in which Phil Bianchi and Greg Takarchuck deal with their own personal angst while playing pivotal roles in the investigation.
A well delineated timeline coupled with well plotted storyline peopled with notable characters serve to grasp reader interest and bring writer Neff's mystery to life for the reader.
Characters are well fleshed, dialogue is credible and serves to focus storyline set against an evocative backdrop of small town intrigue arising in the Cascade Mountains. The mystery unfolds via writer Neff's understanding of the area portrayed coupled with personal research.
Neff draws upon a lifetime of experience having taught on the university level, served as administrator at four U.S. universities, led international development projects in Colombia and Russia to provide grist for his novels.
I like the practice used via labeling chapters with date and interspersing the hour during the time frame a particular anecdote, meeting, confrontation and the like take place. I find the technique not only furthers reader interest, but keeps the reader turning the pages to learn what is coming next. This particular tale elapses over a thirteen day period filled with action, some drama, human interaction, sound conversation between characters as well as even a little romance as characters find themselves drawn toward one another.
A thought-provoking twist is found in choice of the murder weapon, i.e. the deceased ate chocolate chip cookies laced with what the natives to the region call Salvation, dimethyltyptamine, a hallucinogenic drug.
Neff's north-west Washington setting is foreshadowed with the cover of the book. My army brat husband noticed the graphic used for the front cover and immediately pin pointed the work as one having to do with the area in which he lived during high school years as his military dad settled in the Washington area close to Fort Lewis ashis choice for retirement.
I found Dire Salvation to be an interesting, tale perfect for a hot summer day spent on the front porch sipping iced tea and reading a nifty tale woven with credible situations, persons, a little Yakama lore and a red herring or two to keep the reader on their toes and not be led astray.
Enjoyed the read, Happy to recommend.
Macmillan Young Listeners
c/o Scholastic Inc
557 Broadway, NYC, NY 10012
9780439893619, $9.99 (PB/CD), 40pp, www.amazon.com
Nick Bruel's Bad Kitty is an additional favorite of Osage County First Grade's cat themed books.
-She wasn't always a bad kitty. She used to be a good kitty-
Accordingly it happened; one day, there was no food in the house for the kitty. There was only nourishing, delicious, STUFF. And beginning with asparagus we began moving through those yummies including eggplant and leeks and parsnips, watercress and zucchini we read our way, A to Z, through the alphabet.
That was when Kitty made up her mind that she would become a bad kitty, mind you, not just any old bad kitty but Kitty would become a very bad one. Consequently commencing with Ate my homework, Osage County First Grade and Kitty went right through the alphabet again hurling hairballs, loitering under the no loitering sign, writing on the walls, and, you get the idea ...
Bad Kitty embraces 4 dissimilar alphabet sequences including food and non-food items, inappropriate behavior, and once more, when kitty friendly kitty food is purchased, reverting to earlier excellent behavior ensues.
Osage County First Grade classroom resounds with peals of merriment from the earliest reading during the first days of the new school term; lasting on to the end of the school year.
Bad Kitty is one of the Alphabet books we have in our ABC book basket for Little Learners to use during alphabet work. It is one of the first removed and used as Little Learners work, it is often chosen for DEAR reading time and for take home to share with family too.
I enjoy the ludicrousness author Bruel presents. Idiosyncratic artworks and kitty treats comprising chicken cheese cake, goose goulash, an order of opossum, turtle turnovers, an eXcess of Tyrannosaurus ReX and baked Zebra Ziti all work to pique Little Learner attentiveness and accelerate the giggles of those hard working Osage County First Grade Learners.
As the school term progresses it is a pleasure to observe the comprehension of the humor inaugurate and mature as Little Learners not only appreciate but truly follow the merriment and glee the writer is conveying.
Bruel has a whole series of Kitty themed works, Osage County First Grade adores them all, however Bad Kitty remains the hands down number one favorite.
Happy to recommend Nick Bruel's Bad Kitty.
This is an Osage County First Grade classroom library edition.
Adios Oscar! A Butterfly Fable
Peter Elwell, author
Andrew T. Pelletier, illustrator
The Blue Sky Press
c/o Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545071598, 10.95, Hardcover, 32 pages, www.amazon.com
Peter Elwell's Adios Oscar! A Butterfly Fable begins with the picture of a house in the upper level window is a flowerpot with a flower and on a leaf was a wee caterpillar. He was Oscar. One day Oscar was excited to meet Bob a butterfly from Detroit who was on his way to Mexico.
Bob is a Monarch butterfly. Oscar admired Bob's wings and was delighted to learn that he too would have wings one day. As Bob disappeared on a passing breeze he invited Oscar to look him up in Mexico if Oscar made the trip.
Oscar was a little discomfited when his caterpillar friends were not at all impressed with the news that Oscar planned to visit Mexico and find his friend Bob. Edna the bookworm encouraged Oscar to just ignore the taunts.
Edna took Oscar into a library where Oscar saw many bookworms and lots of bugs.
In preparation for his jaunt to Mexico; Edna helped Oscar learn some Spanish, and how to read a map. Oscar even learned that butterflies who look like Bob really do fly to Mexico when he found books about caterpillars.
Soon it was time for Oscar to take the long caterpillar nap he and Edna had read about, Edna taught him one last thing in Spanish, Buenas Noches, whispering good night in Spanish Oscar fell asleep with dreams of far away mountains and all the new friends he would meet on his journey from Cleveland, south to Mexico.
Oscar was very excited when he awoke to discover his wings were indeed on his back. He found his friends too had wings and were happily flying around lightbulbs and eating a designer sweater.
What disappointment! Oscar did have wings, but they were not beautiful Monarch wings, for the rest of his life he knew he would fly around lightbulbs and munch on socks. He would never see Mexico.
One night when Oscar went to visit his old flowerpot he found a note from Edna. Oscar decided he should not let his dream just disappear because he didn't look or think exactly as he thought he would.
Osage County First Grade has always delighted in tales well told. As do most young learners they love science and stories with a science theme.
Adios Oscar presents a delightful fun filled tale of a spirited caterpillar who does not let limitations mean an end to his vision. Oscar WAS overjoyed when he thought he would become a Monarch. After emerging from his cocoon Oscar did first he think his dreams could never be.
With encouragement from his friend Edna a bookworm Oscar decides that while he is not a lovely butterfly he CAN put his education learning Spanish and reading maps to good use and fly south anyway.
Osage County First Grade enjoys this appealing saga regarding feeling self-awareness, self-worth and continuing to work toward achieving goals set by each one. The narrative presents an essential understanding to children without becoming tedious or arcane.
Adios Oscar is a book often chosen by our child of the day for listening to story at the end of day, and is often taken by little readers as their choice for free time, DEAR, and take home reading time.
Little Learners enjoy the opportunity for adding to their Spanish language vocabulary, as presented in this child friendly work filled with delightful illustration, child pleasing colors and Science!
Osage County enjoys listening to and reading about caterpillars, and watching them as cocoons and watching the moth or butterfly emerge.
Happy to recommend Adios Oscar as a must have for gifting children Pre School to Primary Grades, for the school library, classroom bookshelf, and child's own book box.
Busy Day Slow Cooking
Vickie Hutchins and Jo Ann Martin
4501 Forbes Blvd. #200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781620931875, $16.95, Plastic Comb Binding, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Vickie Hutchins and Jo Ann Martin's Busy Day Slow Cooking is a lay flat when opened culinary compendium packed with great recipes, homey notes and hints offered across 224 pages.
Readers are offered opportunity to have one of their own favorite recipes featured in the next cookbook offered by the duo. The first page is one to be used for writing a trusted recipe, prize offered is a free copy of the cookbook in which the recipe is placed.
A Table of Contents helps busy cooks quickly locate a recipe needed for preparing a tasty Breakfast, Soup or Weeknight supper. Beginning on page 5 are the Warm & Cozy Breakfasts, I found the Cheddar Cheese Strata to be a tasty Breakfast, or even fall suppertime meal. Other Breakfast offerings include more Stratas, Family Favorite Potatoes, Quiche, Grits, Burritos, Casseroles and more. Apple Coffee Cake will be my next recipe to try.
The section beginning on page 25 offers recipes for Hot Sandwiches to share. BBQ Roast, Sloppy Joes, Chicken, Pulled Pork, Hot Ham, Open Faced and Meat to spoon over Buns, Hoagies and Tacos, are all included. Grandma's Sloppy Joes were a hit at my house.
Simmering Soups begins on page 60 and includes Chowders, Chilis, Stews, Bean Soups, Vegetable Soups, Lentils and Peas, one recipe on a page at a time over 60+ pages. Mom's So Simple Chili is one I have marked to make for our first fall football on the TV and soup in the Crock Pot.
EASY WEEKNIGHT Meals commences with Courtney's Chicken & Noodles, offers several more chicken recipes then moves to Ham & Potatoes and Cabbage & Chops, Casseroles, Enchiladas, Pasta, Beans, and more, comprise these 43 recipes. Sloppy Burritos are becoming a family favorite.
Page 139 begins one of my favorite meal fixing times, family and Scout potlucks and Church Suppers always bring together wonderful food and likeminded people. Potlucks and 'Get Togethers' recipes include Braised Beef, Meatballs, Spaghetti, Cabbage Rolls, Pot Roast, Scalloped Potatoes, Italian Sausage, Meat Sauce, and more are included in this collection of nearly 50 recipes. The Easy Beef Stroganoff was easy to prepare, and tasted delicious.
Beginning on page 185 commences a group of Party Food, Snacks and Sweets including BBQ Meatballs, Chicken Wings, Dips, Appetizers, Wassail, cider, Fondue, Spice Coated Pecans, Chocolate Nut Cups, Pudding, Salad Dessert, Cobbler and Cake, Thanksgiving Cake, and Christmasy Cran Apple Cobbler provide lots of yummy treats. I am anxious to try Pumpkin Bread Pudding when next Thanksgiving is nigh.
An Index, table with US to Metric Recipe Equivalents and a little note telling the reader something of the story behind the cook books round out the work.
I found the format used for this edition to be very easy to use, my cookbook lays flat when open allowing me to see the recipe easily. Most recipes are offered on their own 1 page spread with a handy hint, interesting quote or shopping suggestions at the bottom of the page.
The wipe off cover is sturdy, section cover page is a full page graphic which appears as a pen and ink, hand drawn illustration. Font size used for printing the recipes is large enough that my older eyes can see without need to fumble for reading glasses as I work.
Recipes presented in this work are the type women have kept and shared for as long as we have cooked and shared ideas with friends and family. Similar to the cookbooks many of us have had a part in as a fundraising effort for school, church, scouts, band and the like; these recipes are the ones that women know they can put together quickly using items from their pantry, to produce a meal children, husbands and other family WILL eat. They collaborative cookbooks have always been my favorite type to purchase, use, gift to others and collect.
I especially enjoy reading who has submitted a particular recipe and learn where he or she may live. Personal notes regarding how the dish is served, family enjoys the dish, suggestions for selling as concession offering and the like; make the recipe all the more interesting.
All in all I find Busy Day Slow Cooking to be an excellent, usable cookbook certain to please new brides, longtime cooks needing a new recipe or two, and those who prefer lots of home cooking rather than relying on fast food.
A must have for the personal cooking book shelf, tucking into a wedding shower gift basket, and anyone who uses a crock pot frequently for home food preparation.
Happy to recommend.
Molly Martin, Reviewer
Johann Trollmann and Romani Resistance to the Nazis
Win by Ko Publications
9780990370376, $24.95, PB, 222pp, www.amazon.com
So much as been written about Nazi death camps and the rise of fascism in Germany, it may seem that nothing new can be said on the subject. In Jud Nirenberg's Johann Trollmann and Romani Resistance to the Nazis, we learn that not enough has been said, certainly not enough about the fate of Roma and related groups in Nazi Europe.
While roundups of Roma and Sinti (a related group) began in the late 30s, their genocide did not become official policy until 1942, when Heinrich Himmler issued the "Auschwitz Decree". In this proclamation, Himmler ordered the deportation of all Roma who lived in the "Greater German Reich". These territories included any nation under German control. Murder of Roma was carried out with varying degrees of enthusiasm by different governments. Croatia, for example, showed determination to wipe out every trace of Roma within its borders. France, while exporting thousands for extermination, showed less commitment to the policy.
Mr. Nirenberg uses an effective technique by choosing to focus on the life of one man, an internationally recognized athlete. Johann Trollmann epitomizes the struggle of Roma, and others, who were caught up in the Nazi death machine. In Trollmann we see a confused sense of loyalty, a lack of credulity that such a thing can happen, and a resistance to implementation of the genocidal policy. As we learn about Johann Trollmann's fate, we also read about whole families who suffered and perished in the Nazi extermination campaign.
Today there is a street in Hannover, Germany named Johann-Trollmann Weg. This belated recognition (2004), reflects the long path Trollman and other Roma traveled to acknowledgment as victims, and heroes, of the Holocaust.
After the Fire Comes the Rain (Demo Version)
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B01GNFW8FU, $0.99, Kindle, 25 pp, www.amazon.com
It is inescapable that writers and composers borrow from each other, consciously or unconsciously. This is true not only because there is a finite number of words and musical notes, but also because we are all vessels of a shared culture. In After the Fire Comes the Rain, Khalil-Ghibran dips so liberally into the common well that sounding familiar sometimes seems to be his objective.
Examples of the borrowed, or familiar, may be found on virtually every page. The title of this poetry collection is taken from Tupac Shakur's song, Untouchable: "After the fire comes the rain, After the pleasure there's pain". Then there's Mr. Ghibran's name, with a slightly altered spelling, which is the same as that of the renowned poet, Khalil Gibran. There are more, many more citable instances. For example, Mr. Ghibran's "I Envy the Dead" mirrors a line from Ecclesiastes: "I envy those who are dead and gone..."
Mr. Ghibran does not suffer from a lack of originality. On the contrary, he deliberately mines cultural touchstones for the intellectual and emotion associations they yield.
An analog may be found in Chinese literati painting. In this tradition, rooted in themes and techniques thousands of years old, each painter consciously embodies the work of those who came before. Thus, the 20th century artist Ong Schan Tchow pays homage to his ancestors by utilizing their themes and emulating their techniques in his classic book of paintings, Chrysanthemums.
For me, Mr. Ghibran's poetry collection has the same effect. His pieces are deeply personal and yet utilize broad cultural references.
Mr. Ghibran has a deft hand. His writing is pleasing to the ear and thought-provoking. My favorite, and one of the more literal poems, is "You Can't Get To Heaven". Here Mr. Ghibran offers the familiar image of a gatekeeper who scours a book looking for the name of someone wanting to get into heaven. Entrance is denied because, " You can't get to heaven Until you let it go". Given the collection's title (from the posthumously published After the Fire Comes the Rain), the poem's refrain--Until you give it up, Until that time, Got to live it up--carries particular significance.
Mr. Ghibran's poems work. They invite re-reading and reflection. I hope Mr. Ghibran continues to write. He has a lot to say and knack for knowing how to say it.
A. G. Moore
Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street School Ghost
Kjartan Poskitt, author
Wes Hargis, illustrator
c/o Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544506725, $16.99, 160 pages, www.amazon.com
Agatha Parrot has crazy red hair and freckles. She lives on Odd Street which is so named because the houses are located on the odd side of the street. Coincidentally Agatha's 3 closest friends, Ivy, Bianca, and Martha, also live on Odd Street. And at the end of the block is their school, aptly named the Odd Street School. Oddly enough the school bell begins chiming in the middle of the night, disturbing everyone on Odd Street and beyond. After the tolling carries on for several nights, Agatha and company are certain that a ghost is to blame. Word travels fast and ghost fever takes over the school. At the principal's hastily organized Ghost Watch, a spooky situation quickly turns silly as Agatha and her friends discover who haunts the hallowed halls. Poskitt uses liberal doses of humor to take the scary out of this mystery. Hargis' hilarious black and white illustrations comically mock the characters' antics. "Agatha Parrot and the Odd Street School Ghost" is a cheeky little ghost story for young readers.
Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions
Chris Barton, author
Don Tate, illustrator
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781580892971, $16.95, 32 pages, www.amazon.com
Even as a young boy, Lonnie Johnson possessed a natural talent for engineering. He loved to create and design rockets. In high school, his team won first place at the science fair for his Linex robot invention. After college, Lonnie got a job as an engineer at NASA. At home in his workshop he tinkered with his own inventions. One day while he was working on a new way to cool refrigerators and air conditioners, Lonnie combined water with a blast of air pressure and -- whoosh! -- he invented the Super Soaker. Barton's upbeat narrative describes Lonnie's perseverance along the rocky road he traveled from the joy of his discovery to actually getting his toy on store shelves. Tate's vivid illustrations are as action-packed as a comic book. The Whoosh! foldout spread that mimics the force of water from the Super Soaker is a special blast for young readers. As an added bonus for curious young engineers, the front and back inside covers contain ten drawings of Lonnie Johnson's actual inventions. "Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions" is an inspiring success story for all young readers.
School of the Dead
195 Broadway, New York, NY 10007
9780061740855, $16.99, 288 pages, www.amazon.com
Tony Gilbert thought his Uncle Charlie was a weird old man until he came to live with him and his parents. Uncle Charlie told great stories, played video games, and taught Tony how to use a slackline. Uncle Charlie even convinced Tony's parents to move to San Francisco so Tony could attend his alma mater, the Penda School. Then Uncle Charlie died. Even though he doesn't believe in ghosts, Tony starts seeing Uncle Charlie everywhere. The family moves to San Francisco and Tony starts seventh grade at the Penda School, a creepy old mansion with an even creepier history. The school was established in honor of Mrs. Penda's dead son. At school, not only does Tony see Uncle Charlie but also the dead Penda boy, along with a steady stream of spirits in the ether - and in the flesh. Creepy classmate Jessica recruits Tony into the Weird History Club and he soon comes to the horrific realization that his new friends are about to suck the life out of him. Full of mystery and suspense, "School of the Dead" is a spine-tingling thriller that middle grade readers will eagerly devour.
Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer
Jeffrey G. Roberts
9781626468641, $16.95 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 264pp
The Face on Mars. Since it was discovered by the Viking spacecraft in 1976 the Face on Mars has been a symbol of mystery and wonder to thousands and the object of cover-up by minimization and trivialized by simplistic government explanations. In approximately 2040, the research facility was constructed in Cydonia the northern hemisphere of Mars for the purpose of studying the face and over the next 141 years, many things were learned about the Martians and their technology.
Humans, by nature, are disruptive quarrelsome animals given to extremes of ideological and religious fervor. Most wars among human beings are fought over these issues. Many extremists adopting one or the other idealistic views also adopt violent means of expressing their beliefs. It is no different on Mars in the year 2181 when the Martian's physiology and lifestyle are believed by Christian extremists to challenge their beliefs.
Dr. Reynolds Cully finds himself squarely in the middle of the controversy but is not personally affected by the ideological turmoil until he has an opportunity to study an unexplained 'plague' that struck Alaska in 2012. Using Martian technology for time travel and 2181 human technology Cully finds evidence of a Martian accident in Alaska 159,000 years earlier that created the Alaska 'plague' of 2012. In the process, he is marooned in Anchorage in 2013 due to the ideological upheaval on Mars and must be vigilant that his activities do not change history.
The Healer is a terrific read for science fiction fans or anyone who just loves a good adventure novel. It contains a conspiracy and an ideological seduction that rivals the best conspiracy stories out there. 5-Stars
9781310926655, $3.99, Kindle, 365pp
Guy "Two Buffaloes" Theroux was a trader on the Saskatchewan River in central Canada. Married to Little Badger, also called Elisabeth, he had a son, Thomas, and a daughter, Simone. When a dispute fueled by animosity between an Indian named Running Horse's attitude toward white men results in the death of Guy Thoreau, Little Badger, and Running Horse's brothers, a blood debt is declared by the tribe's chief, White Fox against Thomas Theroux, the sole male Theroux family survivor of the incident.
Thomas Theroux and his uncle, Black Feather, must take two canoes of furs collected through winter trading downriver to Cumberland House, the regional Hudson Bay Company trading post. Pursued by Running horse and two others, and encountering Cree Raiders, they must stay alive long enough to trade their furs and return to the Theroux trading post.
Complicated by the relationship between Thomas and Tehtehma and the manipulating of two Indian girls named Mati and Manay who have plotted to have themselves captured by Cree raiders Dancing Rabbit and Three Trees, the story is full of complex characters whose primary focus in life is continually being manipulated by outside circumstances driven by survival.
A spirited adventure, although dark and bloody, sometimes with excessive detail of blood and gore, it explores the complex feelings between the Native Americans of various tribes, the white men of central Canada, and the complexities of relationships between men and women. The story is very well written, but needs serious proofreading correction. The proofreading errors are frequent and distracting, thereby preventing a five-star rating.
L'Homme Theroux is a fine tale that will appeal to any fan of historic fiction, adventure, Native American stories, or historical romances.
The Borman Factor
Clear Path Publishing
ISBN: 9780994075437, $2.99, Kindle, 221pp
Sergei Mogilevich is a large land developer in Toronto, Canada. His developments include skyscrapers and office buildings worth billions of dollars. To accomplish these massive developments, Mogilevich relies upon bribing a large number of city officials into supporting and protecting his projects. His tactics include bribes enforced by murder committed by members of the Russian Mafia of which his son, Sasha, is a member.
When an insider in Mogilevich's organization brings information to a reporter in return for immunity, the result is the reporter's murder and opens the door for unofficial investigations into Mogilevich's activities; including investigation by Nick Borman, a corporate security expert, hired by the reporter's father-in-law.
The Borman Factor is a fast-moving whodunit that pits Borman and his partner against a swarm of corrupt city officials, corrupt cops, and the Russian mob assassins. The characters are sufficiently well developed to support the story. Reading like many other detective stories, the plot moves along quickly and contains sufficient action to keep readers interested and involved.
The story is a well-written quick read that should appeal to any mystery fan, conspiracy fan, or any fan of detective stories.
ASIN B01E9UB7Z8, $4.99, Kindle, 295pp
Cameron Coelho is obsessed with the roaring twenties. So much so, that he is studying for a Ph.D. in history; his dissertation on the social conduct and mores of Evanston, Indiana during the 1920s. Rather a odd subject to begin with, but one it turns out may be the product of fate when he buys some old papers and memorabilia from a aged relative of Candace Louise Bell who had been a locally prominent reporter for an Evanston newspaper.
Seeing a photograph of Miss Bell, Cameron feels an immediate connection to her and begins to research her life in detail. Soon, he learns that Candace's father and uncle were explorers and scientists of a sort and had allegedly discovered a cave in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California containing the secret of time travel. However, no records currently exist of the cave's location and it's location is being sought by Professor Geoffrey Bell, a descendent of the Bell family. Cameron Coelho forges an agreement with Geoffrey Bell allowing him to return to 1925 to do research, meet Candace Bell and to bring back the cave's location and a quantity of crystals required for the time travel mechanism to function. He is cautioned not to do anything to disturb the existing timeline.
The result is a tale of Coelho's adventures in 1925 during which he encounters crooks, natural disasters, and a young lady, Candace Bell, with whom he falls madly in love. But does he do anything to change the existing timeline? Readers must answer that question for themselves as they read the book.
Indiana Belle is a delightful novel to read. Cameron is concerned for the timeline, but driven by his love for Candace and willing to risk the future for her benefit. Candace, who initially knows nothing of Cameron's background, has experienced poor relationships with men in general, and is concerned about her place in the community and her family. They are beset by bootleggers and drug smugglers and must fight external forces as well as figure out their own relationship.
The story is entertaining and suspenseful and should appeal to anyone with an interest in science fiction/time travel, and anyone who is looking for a romantic adventure painted with risk.
T. K. Laverents
9780692513965, $13.50 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 364pp
Wow! I love this book. This book is a page turner in which the reader will quickly get involved with the characters and be concerned for their safety. Why? Because there is a mad serial killer on the loose preying on Catholic priests and on anyone else gets in his way.
David Sewell, a.k.a. Kelly Cochran, survived a kidnapping and assassination attempt in his church in Africa. With a genetic predisposition to insanity, and the stress of the African ordeal, Sewell begins to hear the voice of the Virgin Mary. In his insanity, Sewell believes that she is directing him to murder the priests that sat on the church review board that led to his defrocking and excommunication.
LAPD homicide detective, Lieutenant McConnell finds himself on the wrong side of an investigation rigged by his superior officer to blame an innocent man with the murders for personal political gain. Working with a former partner, McConnell must keep his investigation under wraps and ensure his friend Dizzy is not located by McConnell's chain of command.
Blood Sacrament is tense, to the point, and well written and edited. It is a guaranteed nail-biter for those who love murder mysteries, serial killers, detective stories or intense adventures of any kind. The characters are believable in every way and all of them have they own personal demons to fight. The reader will find themselves at times cheering, angry, scared to death and burdened by loss. It's a great read, but you will have to buy it and read it to find out how it ends.
Let There Be Linda
Laugh Riot Press.com
9780990544258, $4.99, Kindle, 377pp
It's under that shell! No it isn't! Harvey and Omar want it back. Then, it's under this shell. Hell no, it isn't! The Greenburgs want it too. It's got to be under this one, then. Nothing here; the zombie doesn't have it either. Then where is it? Oh? Oh! Then, Gary Shuler Vista must have it! Shuler may have wanted it, but he doesn't have it; he may have told the zombie what to do with it, but neither of them have it now. So what? It's only $75,000...of a loan shark's money. So what?
And so it goes when estranged brothers, Danny and Mike Miller, are forced to tolerate each other because their mother, known lovingly as "Saint Linda" has died. Both of the brothers bring baggage and personal agendas to the funeral arrangements. Danny brings the residual of his unsuccessful gambling habits and his debts to an unscrupulous loan shark named Harvey. Harvey, of course brings his 'muscle', Omar. Mike brings failed family relationships and a bad relationship with a former client who has lost everything and has placed the blame squarely on Mike. Likewise, the partners in Mike's accounting firm place the blame squarely on him as well and fire him from the firm. Now, the former client has gone insane and is stalking Mike with intent to murder.
Where do the Greenburgs fit in? Greenburg is dentist who is hopelessly in debt to Harvey. He has a poodle dog named 'Chachi' who becomes a pawn in a game facilitated by yet another player, Jenny, who none of them know well including Danny who contracted with her to manage her talent for spontaneous resurrection. Everyone else believes it to be a con game, but none of them are willing to give up the chance to profit from it.
Finally, there is the off-beat, more 'off-duty' than 'on-duty' cop/comedian, Gary Shuler, who wants to profit in his own way at the expense of all of them. Hated by the public and the LAPD alike, Shuler lives for a few minutes of attention on the stage of comedy clubs. To Shuler, life is a joke, and he is there to tell it.
As you may have guessed, Let There Be Linda has a full cast of wacky, nutcase characters. All are sufficiently well developed to support the storyline, but only the Miller Brothers and the Greenburgs have any depth. The story moves very quickly and the amount of information presented seems overwhelming...like, whoa, I didn't see that coming! Let There Be Linda is well written and well edited and is a stimulating read. It can be read in one evening if you're willing to sacrifice some sleep; I did.
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
1523435399, $14.99, PB, 390pp, www.amazon.com
"In an excellent new work by debut author, November Ellison, Beacon: Book One of the Jo Benally Series is a story that will grab readers from the very beginning and keep them reading obsessively all the way through to the very end! Following the story of Pastor Joanna Benally, a woman with a very complicated double life, readers will be taken on an adventure that they wouldn't have been able to imagine on their own!
Jo's public life is that of a woman working to turn around troubled churches. But while on a work assignment in Newark, Ohio, she meets Cain, and her whole life changes. Cain is a man who claims to be both a vampire and history's oldest murderer. And when Jo has to kill in self-defense, her life changes even more when she discovers that she is a "beacon," a being that harnesses the power that allows vampires to feed from humans. Jo's life will never be the same, and the choices she makes now will affect both her and possibly all of humankind. What will she do? You'll need to read the book to find out.
I loved Beacon. Loved. It. How's that for a review? Author November Ellison has done an absolutely fantastic job in creating characters that her readers will be able to connect with, relate to, and will truly care about. If that isn't a hallmark of an excellent author, I'm not sure what is. Her scene setting ability is simply second to none, and her ability to create fantastic scenarios in realistic settings is excellent. This story line was quite unique, and was able to mix elements of fantasy, realism and religious thought together quite successfully. I highly recommend Beacon to any reader looking for a great new series, and I sincerely hope that the very talented new author, November Ellison, is already hard at work on the second installment. I, for one, will be waiting anxiously for its arrival!"
Abandoned in Search of Rainbows
A. K. Driggs
Book Publishers Network
PO Box 2256, Bothell, WA 98041
9781940598772, $18.95, 293pp, www.amazon.com
What a life! That was my exact thought when I finished reading Abandoned in Search of Rainbows by author A.K. Driggs. Found as an infant in a brown paper bag on a toilet seat, the story of her arrival in the world made the news from the very beginning. She was adopted by a loving family, and her journey went from abandonment to the life she was meant to lead. Living an incredible life, experiencing incredible vocations, from animal communicator to phone sex operator, from recording artist to author, A.K. Driggs seems to have done it all. This fascinating autobiography delves into the idea that even those with the saddest of beginnings can end up with the most fulfilling of lives.
I so enjoyed Abandoned in Search of Rainbows. There are some stories that just grab a person from the get-go, and this was definitely one for me. Author A.K. Driggs has certainly written her autobiography in such a way that readers will be completed engrossed in her story, but will also get a lot of personal meaning and thought provoking moments along the way. The idea that an innocent newborn could be left in such dire straits, but that the same person could evolve into such a unique, talented and multi-dimensional person is a wonder. I recommend Abandoned in Search of Rainbows to any reader who loves autobiographies or just a great story. Author A.K. Driggs is certainly an author to watch. While this book is autobiographical in nature, I can certainly see her using her talents and interesting life experiences to write a great work of fiction as well. If she does, I will certainly be in line to read it!
Tracy Slowiak, Reviewer
Roger Arsht and Caitlin Hawker
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480822214, $15.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 224 Pages, www.amazon.com
A fast paced psychological murder, mystery.
Being an animal lover I immediately warmed to the lead character in this fast paced psychological murder mystery, what a woman! However I have to say at the beginning that this is no soppy animal story, it enters the horrific dog fighting world and some of the scenes and stories in it are very graphically written.
Robyn is a veterinarian, passionate about animals and angered and appalled at the poor dogs who are bought in to her, maimed and worse, sometimes by the perpetrators of the crime. Vile characters with no compassion, or thought for life, either human or animal. However the face she puts on at the surgery is a mask. Behind it lies another Robyn a woman whose past has made her the way she is, angry, deadly, passionate and vengeful.
Jack Williams is a police detective who has been put on leave following a horrific case. He has no memory of the details, the event was so traumatic that for his sanity his brain has blocking it out.
Then there is Lizzie, the Corgi, Jacks therapy dog who he takes to Robyn's surgery for treatment.
As the friendship between Jack and Robyn develops he soon realises that she has a hidden side, one which she can't always control - sometimes it comes to the surface, and when it does...
The characters both major and minor are very well written. From the colourful and haughty Ms. Smyth-Anders, to poor Doctor Oliver, a therapist with his own problems. As the story evolves we witness the day to day life at the veterinary surgery and police station, and behind the scenes in the shady world of dog fighting.
This book is like no other I have read, in some parts fascinating in a horrific way, yet there is also compassion and love. The plot is very cleverly written by its two talented authors and contains some very clever twists. Definitely for the reader who wants something different and very fast paced.
The Starlight Club 8: Elvis: Scarface, Goodfellas, Mob Guys & Hitmen
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781534659261, $19.95, PB, 284pp, www.amazon.com
All I can say is wow. After finishing The Starlight Club 7 on a cliff-hanger, and his fans not knowing if there would be another Starlight Club, the master of storytelling Joe Corso has once again well and truly pulled the cat out of the bag with this super story.
One of the endearing things to me is the way these Starlight stories start, with Bobby remembering a tale about the Starlight Club days, Red, Trenchie, Tarzan and all the gang. As he reminisces to his daughter Lynn, these wonderful stories of times gone past come to life, and how! The author is a master at taking you back to Queens, this time in the 1970's and introducing you to its characters, gangsters, and celebrities. Personally, I think is the best book to date, and I have read them all.
In it we join Red as his dreams for the resurrection of the old Starlight Club are realised, and a new era begins, as, sad to be parted from his actress wife Tiffany, he decides to increase interest in the movie industry to building another studio, but this time in New York.
The main theme of this book, as the title suggests, is the supposed staged death of Elvis Presley. The author has thoroughly researched this hypothesis and the result is a story which is fascinatingly detailed and whether you have firm ideas before you read this, by the end you will find yourself wondering, could he still be alive? Is this book true?
However, as with all the Starlight books there are many subplots which feature all the well known and loved characters from the Starlight series. All these books can be read as a stand-alone, however the characters do follow through and evolve.
Just one of the subplots is when Trenchie, Red's right hand man finds that a good deed goes wrong when he is called in to help, when the ex-first ladies daughter goes missing. However nothing could have prepared him for the ex-first lady herself or for the way the plot unfolds. This story could have been a book on its own!
Fans of the Starlight Club series will not be disappointed in this, the latest book. I have loved reading every page of this cleverly written story, laced with intrigue, murder, a thrilling storyline, and the lifetime's experience this author has of living in Queens.
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781532868573, $13.20 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 364pp, www.amazon.com
When Leah Weisman, graduates from the Juilliard School of Music, the gifted daughter of rich parents, and marries, she believes that it's for life. Still starry eyed, she goes with her husband to England for his work. However, finding work herself proves difficult, a chance friendship blossoms and she is happy, until she discovers she has been betrayed, and this changes her life forever.
Suddenly she finds herself alone, with no support from family, and she must make her own way in the world, and what a world it is. No longer the cosseted daughter, or loved wife, but a woman alone, she must make her own decisions and suffer the consequences, as they say.
There are a rich variety of characters in this book, all with their own interesting and very varied lives. As their stories unfold, and become entwined, the reader has first-hand experience of John Needham's real gift of picking the reader up and settling them firmly in the story. We watch as they struggle with the highs and lows of everyday life. Feel the sensations as they enjoy moments of pleasure, and their grief when they deal with its tragedies.
At the end of the story we fast forward to 2021, and see what the future holds, which is lovely, and brings back for the characters, and the reader memories...
And generously, the author has given the lucky reader a chance to sample another of his wonderful stories before you go.
This is a book of love, passion, devotion, betrayal and a myriad of emotions in between which I for one will want to read more than once, as, like any good story, there will be, I am sure, hidden snippets which I have missed the first time around. Highly recommended.
Susan Keefe, Reviewer
Ice Cream Kitty
Nerina DiBenedetto, author
Martha Houghton, illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781480037601, $9.50 PB, $1.99 Kindle, 34pp, www.amazon.com
Young Adult Fiction
Tommy is a small kitten who left the safety of his home to chase after a butterfly. When he realized that his actions had caused him to be lost he feared for his safety. Tommy's salvation is found through Dan the Ice Cream Man. He realizes that Tommy has wandered away from his owners.
Dan takes good care of Tommy; he is determined to help him find his owners. Bobby and Joey were worried when they discovered that Tommy was not at home. They searched everywhere until Tommy was returned.
ICE CREAM KITTY is a delightful story with beautiful illustrations that bring the story to life. I found that I was kept entertained wondering if Tommy would be able to find his way to his owner's.
Nerina DiBenedetto has done a magnificent job in writing this book. I can easily see it being selected to be used in libraries and schools throughout the United States. As an education professional, I felt that it delivers an inner meaning that children should be careful of their surroundings. This reminder is vital to a child's safety.
Confessions of the Dark Deceiver
Dominique St. Clair
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B01DR9CUGW, $2.99 Kindle, 57 pages, www.amazon.com
Francois Leroch was a well-known businessman in South Africa. He had suffered a great loss when he lost two of his companies. Then he receives an unexpected visit form a Detective Jardin from Scotland Yard. The detective questioned him of his association with another business man named Oliver from South America. He remembered the acquaintance as one as felt like he was dancing with the Devil.
As he related the events that would forever change his life he could see how all of them were like pieces of puzzles that fit together to form an overall sinister plan. Only then did he realize how he had been played for his fortune.
There are those that make their living robbing from the rich and filling their pockets. Their words are golden laced, as they weave their way into the lives of their unsuspected victims. To them it is a game to swindle millions out of these rich tycoons. Their world is filled with darkness and greed, and it is their overall mission to bring their pain and misery to those that live above the working class.
CONFESSIONS OF THE DARK DECEIVER is an eye opening book. It shows how a person can play on another's emotions in order to gain control over their actions. As the story unfolds it is revealed that a true mastermind exits behind all the deception. This person has perfected the art of manipulation all through simple actions to befriend his helpless victims.
Dominique St. Clair has unique skill as a writer. Through the introduction it boosts of this being true, with only the names being changed. After reading through the in-depth details that are contained in this book I am convinced that his words ring true. For those who are seeking an up close look of how power can change at the blink of the eyes, then this book is one that you are sure not to miss!
The Tesla Legacy
Amazon Digital Services
9781507676677, $14.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle $4.99, 327pp, www.amazon.com
"Ash was familiar with the rivalry between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison over the safety of direct current, Edison's baby, and alternating current, Tesla's idea and the one that ended up being adopted."
It is the year 1983. George Tesla probably was not the kind of person his legendary ancestor Nikola Tesla could have expected. This soon-to-be father is drunk. What would you expect for a fifty-year-old man who knocked-up a thirty-year-old woman? This particular female is a trapeze artist. You would expect that someone in such a dangerous profession would protect herself from the basic things in life.
What could a trapeze artist and a mathematics professor have in common? Well, they will discover a bundle of joy belonging to both in a few months.
Nikola Tesla had given George's father a mysterious object relaying that it could do great things. Now George has possession of this metal thing with a square base and a cylinder sticking out of the top. Supposedly Nikola had patented the object, but could never get it to work. What was it suppose to be? What does it do?
George is terrified when he discovers what it can do. There is an old saying, "With great power comes great responsibility." His little experiment has caused men's death.
Over forty years has passed and now George's son, Joe is in possession of the object. Unfortunately, his father never revealed the device's secrets to his son.
Joe Tesla is blind and has a service dog, unnaturally named Edison. Joe previously earned a full scholarship to MIT, graduated, and worked enough to be able to retire as a multi-millionaire. Partially due to his blindness, Joe lives underground, by choice. He also suffers from agoraphobia, a fear of the outside world causing the person to retreat and not to leave their home.
With his father's death, Joe must now reenter the world above and discover the power of this inherited device before his hidden enemies find the secrets.
Rebecca Cantrell is an international best-selling author of ten published novels while residing in Berlin with her husband and son.
She has won numerous awards for her books including the International Thriller Writers Thriller Award, Macavity, Bruce Alexander, a Top Indi Pick by Barnes and Noble and nominated for numerous others.
The Tesla Legacy is the second book in Cantrell's Joe Tesla series following the award-winning first novel in the series, The World Beneath and continuing the series with the third book, The Chemistry of Death.
The Tesla Legacy is an intriguing book mixing the actual history of Nikola Tesla into a relevant story set in the present time. The characters are believable and enjoyable in this fast-paced adventure for everyone who enjoys a well-written historical mystery.
God Help the Child
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307594174, $24.95 HC, 192pp, www.amazon.com
"Her color is a cross she will always carry. But it's not my fault. It's not my fault. It's not my fault. It's not."
How can skin color determine your path in life? It does. Even in those with darker skin, how dark or light is very important.
Her mother knew that skin color would be a problem. The was extremely dark, better known as Sudanese black. How did this happen? She is light-skinned as is her husband. How do two light-skinned blacks have a very dark skinned baby girl?
The mother's husband worked as a porter on the train. Obviously he had been away from home for stretches of time. What is the obvious conclusion? Added to that the baby girl has hair that is straight with a little natural curl. How could this baby be belong to this father? DNA did not exist in those days so appearances led to logical conclusions, whether or not they are correct.
This is how Lula Ann entered the world. Even her mother distanced herself from the young girl. With the difference in their skin color, her mother insisted Lula Ann call her "sweetness", not mother. She believed that others would cause problems for them if they knew the truth. What would people think about a light-skinned woman with a dark baby? What would people think about a dark-skinned girl with a light-skinned mother?
How does anyone become a successful adult when they have been rejected their entire life?
Surprisingly Lula Ann Bridewell is successful in business. She is a regional manager at Sylvia, Inc. which is a small cosmetics company. One of their cosmetic lines is hers, You, Girl: Cosmetics for Your Personal Millennium focuses on all make-up for all complexion colors.
She realizes the need for appearances and quickly thinks Lula Ann is not a prosperous sounding name. Logically, she changed her name to match her personality. Now she is just called Bride.
In the business world she is successful but a failure with her personal life.
To someone who seems to have the world at her feet, her personal life is a complete failure and causes Bride many problems. Probably one of her biggest issues is guilt and trust.
Haunting Bride is her guilt from a childhood choice that ruined someone's life. Now she hopes to makeup for what she did years ago. When someone wants forgiveness does that force the other person to give them what they want? Can someone be responsible for what they did as a child?
Can someone be responsible for being born the wrong color?
God Help the Child is an enthralling novel. Unusually, this particular Toni Morrison novel is set in present day rather than the past. The character development is outstanding and a story line that is hypnotic proving that Morrison is a legendary storyteller.
Toni Morrison currently is the Robert F. Goheen Professor at Princeton University. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her novels such as Beloved and Song of Solomon including a Nobel Prize for Literature, a Pulitzer, and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
God Help the Child is a memorable story that stays with you long after reading the book. The lessons about life such as dealing with guilt, blame and forgiveness are enriching to each person who reads this jewel.
Warriors of the Storm
Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062250940, $27.99, HC, 299pp, www.amazon.com
There has been numerous books about Richard the Lionhearted and his mother, Queen Eleanor. However, the years before their reigns do not have the documents supporting the history. The basics have been recorded but not many accounts still exist showing the various perspectives. What about the time period just as England was becoming a country?
Fortunately for most of us, Bernard Cornwell masterfully has researched this time period and has created a phenomenal saga in his Saxon stories.
As in many times throughout English history, the country was in constant civil war. Between the ever-invading Norsemen from Scandinavian lands searching for fertile lands to extend the future of their families and the Saxons who already ruling in the southern part of the island with a continual threat of the Irish and the rebellious Scots, peace is always short-lived.
The land in now known as England even though it was almost Daneland. That is being held together by a thread.
Uhtred is the main character in this Saxon series. He was born a Norseman of wealth and title. Throughout the years, he has won and lost many battles for those he love. Unlike the Saxons, he is not a Christian and believes in the gods of the Norse. Ironically he fights for the Saxons who are Christians. Uhtred has difficulty believing in their god.
For those who see this land as home, life is dangerous. Peace lasts only for short lengths of time.
King Alfred's son, Edward and his daughter, Aethelflaed rule the kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia, and East Anglia. To keep these valuable lands, there is a constant battle from the Norsemen who are always threatening these lands.
Uhtred of Bebbanburg is beginning to feel the effects of aging. He dreams of regaining his homelands again but it appears that this is not to happen yet. He remains loyal Edward and Aethelflaed even if they believe different things and are different in many ways. For years, he has loved Aethelflaed.
Now Raynall Ivarson is invading these lands. To make life more interesting, Uhtred's daughter is married to Raynall's brother. So who are they loyal to? Will Uhtred be fighting his son-in-law?
Raynall's forces are well-trained and equipped and looking forward to raiding these lands. Added to that the Irish have joined forces against Uhtred. Those defending this land are at a disadvantage. How can they possibly win?
Bernard Cornwell is a masterful author. This is the ninth book in this Saxon series. Throughout the books, Uhtred has mellowed and become more likeable and not as barbaric or arrogant. He has learned about life in these fictional accounts. Sometimes the reader can't help but be repulsed by Uhtred, while evolving him through the numerous adventures, you actually begin to sympathize and even love him a little. I doubt that anyone living today would want to go back in time to actually meet this fictional character. This is a character that makes the reader love him while immediately afterward, you can't stand him. The better you know him, the more you understand his motives, choices, and opportunities. He daily struggles with opposing loyalties, commitments, obligations, religion, personal values, and a challenging family.
Cornwell is outstanding at taking these little documented events and creating a vision explaining the history into a readable account. He fills in the blanks surrounded the documents into an engrossing tale of history.
99 Dover Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9780763665333, $17.99, HC, 323pp, www.amazon.com
"I wanted to write about a magical Midwestern small town and a boy who will have to leave that magical town to chase his dream of writing the movies. There's murder, mystery, and mayhem in this novel, but at the heart is the struggle of a boy to leave family, friends, and home behind to pursue his dreams."
For Jack Bell, who is entering his senior year in high school, life is not easy. Jack's mouth tends to have a life of its own and he enjoys the trouble he causes, even if it means numerous detentions. He has big dreams of being a screen writer and believes that this will be his last year living in Utopia. His life next year will need to be in California.
Utopia, Iowa is a quiet town where almost nothing happens. It truly lives up to its name. There is no crime, no murders, almost so safe and quiet that it is magical. Yes, it is magical and even though the residents appear normal, most who call this their hometown have inherited special gifts or talents.
Jack, like those in time, has a special gift. He communicates with the ghost of those recently deceased. Adding to his problems, there is a new ghost visiting him, wanting his help.
All of that changes when there is a death at the local college. This dead female student is the one who is currently "haunting" Jack. She is confused about her death and wants answers. Was this murder or suicide?
This one event seems to upset the entire town. Things that were quiet and perfect and now changing. This quiet town in northeastern Iowa overlooking the Mississippi River is now having family fights. This includes Jack's parents who always seemed to be deeply in love. Now they are fighting and talking about separating. Will they divorce?
The ghost is making more frequent visits and really seems to want peace. So how does a teenaged-boy get into a girl's dormitory room the is closed with police tape? He doesn't even know the girl. Will he risk it? What will the police think when he finds the book that might answer the dead girl's inquiry? Will this solve the mystery? If it is murder, will Jack be involved?
This story is appropriate for all readers with an intended audience of high-school students. There is acceptable language and no violence. There is a light discussion of smoking cigarettes and drinking. The magic is limited to the special abilities of the town.
Author Brian Yansky is an associate professor at Austin Community College in Austin, Texas where he also resides. He has previously written Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences and the sequel, Homicidal Aliens and Other Disappointments. His other published novels are Wonders of the World and My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World.
Utopia, Iowa is a story of the idealistic Midwest of small town Iowa. The characters are basically realistic even with their special gifts all combined into a fast-paced lightly humorous mystery.
The Sins of the Father: A Derek Stillwater Novel
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781478112938, $12.99, Trade Paperback, 319 pages, www.amazon.com
Derek Stillwater enjoys living on his boat. Life this way requires constant upkeep which almost compensates for the peacefulness. That changes when he receives a package. Unfortunately, the letter begins, "If you are reading this, I am dead."
Derek immediately calls Tom Ross, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security requesting an immediate and indefinite leave of absence. He works with preventing and investigating biological and chemical terrorism attacks.
Next, his call is to his travel agent to arrange for his upcoming trip to Moscow.
His final call is to the State Department to arrange a meeting with the director to discuss his plans. Derek plans to investigate the death of Irina Khournikov, who had been a counterterrorism expert in Russia's FSB which is Russia's version of our F.B.I. Irina was his former lover and now that she is dead, Derek learns that he is a father. With a picture, he can easily see himself in the boy.
Being tired after the long plane trip to Moscow, Derek's thoughts were of getting through customs while standing in long lines in rooms filled with cigarette smoke, hailing a taxi and collapsing in his hotel room.
He was surprised to see a sign at the terminal with his name. Perhaps the hotel or his travel agent had arranged this pleasant courtesy.
Derek suspiciously enters the cab meeting the driver and attendant but immediately recognizes something as very wrong. They are driving away from the city, not to his hotel. Has he been kidnapped?
The Sins of the Father by Mark Terry is the sixth novel featuring Derek Stillwater as a counterterrorist agent following The Devil's Pitchfork, The Serpent's Kiss, The Fallen, The Valley of Shadows, and Dire Straits. The book Gravedigger and Vengeance continue Derek's story.
Mark Terry, the author also has written the book Hot Money and three books for middle-grade students. He also is very active and teaches karate.
These books are great fast-action thrillers. Surprisingly in this particular novel, there seems to be a preponderance of redheads. The action is fast-paced to the extreme with characters who appear almost indestructible.
The Sins of the Father is a great page-turner for a great book, action-packed for a summer read.
If You Were Me and Lived in...China
If You Were Me and Lived in...Italy
If You Were Me and Lived in...Egypt
Carole P. Roman, author
Kelsea Wierenga, illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
$10.99 pbk / $1.99 Kindle each, amazon.com
How does anyone prepare to visit another country? Most travelers quickly have discovered that the experience is more enjoyable when you know what to expect. Immersing yourself in any place with another language and culture is the best way to understand others. How do you prepare for the multiple aspects that no one source can explain?
With various mannerisms, inferences, and customs, how does anyone learn about successfully integrating themselves in another place with a different language, food, dress and a life that is completely different from your usual home?
Former social studies teacher, Carole P. Roman, recognized this need and created this series for children of all ages, even though the intended audience is for those between the ages of four and eight.
These books beautifully introduce the country first through geography by looking at the shape of each nation and then a world map showing how it relates to its neighboring countries.
The next focus is the capital city, its name, and sites, sounds, and even smells including name changes and describing the uniqueness of each.
Family life as parents and children is then both written and illustrated, demonstrating the traditional cultural homes, along with their common name. Included also in these short gems of books are a brief discussion of the money system and the typical and traditional food with illustrations. The recreational sports as well as the schools and how they are different including the school systems.
Focusing on the popular tourist attractions are highlighted as well as a little of the history. Also, a brief overview of the major holidays is also included to let the reader know what to expect during these celebrations.
Also included in each book is a short glossary including pronunciations for each country.
These are the perfect books to read before visiting a foreign country. With the multiple illustrations, every reader would know more how to dress and act when visiting the places of which many of us are ignorant.
Carole P. Roman is a former social studies teacher who now utilizes her years of experience by creating this excellent series. Each page perfectly coordinates words with the colorful illustrations for a better understanding of each concept. The illustrations mix photographs inside various drawings.
Previous books in this series visited the countries of Australia, France, Greece, India, Hungary, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, South Korea, and Turkey.
These colorful, educational, informative and entertaining books should be read whether you are planning a trip or dreaming of a future adventure. They are wonderful additions to everyone's home library for all ages.
Flight of the Sparrow
Amy Belding Brown
New American Library
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451466693, $15.00, Trade Paperback, 331 pages, www.amazon.com
"We have both sold our souls to gain acceptance in this new and terrible world."
Living as a Puritan woman in 1676 as a resident of Massachusetts Bay Colony is not easy, even for Mary Rowlandson, who is a local minister's wife. Her daily life is always demanding with raising children and providing for her family. Her position is one of service, night, and day, to her loved ones and church. She does not have free time to reflect, think, or read.
While her husband is away, her home is attacked by Indians. Unfortunately, there is not enough defense to protect her family and friends from the attacking natives. Very few men were left behind to defend them.
During the attacked, she was grazed by a bullet that hit her daughter. With little defenses, her friends and family are either killed or captured as slaves.
Being dragged through the cold and snow while carrying your injured child while being hurt is overwhelming. The prisoners are roped together by both the neck and hands to person both in front and behind her. Somehow she continues while frantically looking for her son and daughter among the prisoners. She witnesses abuse to her friends and neighbors on this arborous journey, even death.
Flight of the Sparrow is Mary's story relating her life as a Puritan woman, through her survival as a slave and even through her return to Puritan life. The reader is with Mary as she quickly learns how to survive as a slave while living day-to-day as a Native American. With the challenges of a new culture and language, while fighting the winter cold, hunger, and exhaustion, she also experiences immense kindness and a way of life that makes her envious of their way, even though their culture is dying.
For Mary, this realization is precisely the opposite of everything in her upbringing whether hating Indians, submitting to her husband and fearing God. She is shocked to learn that this new life is preferable to her Puritan ways.
Flight of the Sparrow is an enthralling novel seen through Mary's eyes. The reader journeys through her experiences both in the daily life of both the Puritan and Indians creating an outstanding example of setting for both the pace of the area of Massachusetts Bay Colony around the year of 1676. The reader is with Mary in both time and place.
While rich in history, I did find fault with this gem weaving itself into a romance novel. This story is well written. For such an excellent fictionalized account based on the published journal of Mary, the intended audience is adult women who enjoy historical romance novels.
Amy Belding Brown is currently a writing teacher at Granite State College. She is married to a minister and has raised four children. Previously she has written numerous articles for various magazines and one novel, Mr. Emerson's Wife.
Overall, Flight of the Sparrow is a wonderful historical romance novel of the Puritanical and Native American times.
Fribbet and the Frog and the Tadpoles
9781499145977, $9.99, 2014
A Flag for the Flying Dragon
9781507826928, $10.99, 2015
Being a Captain is Hard Work
9781522781783, $12.99, 2015
Paperback, 32 pages each
Carole P. Roman, author
Kelsea Wierenga, illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
"Problems can weigh you down like a heavy anchor. When you share your load with others, it's never too heavy to carry."
Do you still remember your childhood when you pretended to reenact some great adventure whether being Robin Hood or the Lone Ranger?
Through your imaginative play, you learned many life skills that built your friendships then and later in life.
Imagine the carpeting in a bedroom as the sea and a bed into a pirate ship, The Flying Dragon, as you enter the adventures of Captain No Beard.
Captain No Beard, the oldest in the group, is again taking his crew on another adventure. Each cousin and sibling have a job in their transformed pirate ship. Cayla is the Cabin Girl and Hallie is swabbing the deck assisted by their ever helpful stuffed animals.
These stories have vivid and colorful illustrations with a story that perfectly matches the action on each page.
In Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles, Fribbet, the stuffed frog, is missing. He is found and is sobbing. Apparently Fribbet doesn't like change. In this imaginative journey featuring Fribbet, things are changing at his home, and he is uncertain of his future.
With A Flag for the Flying Dragon, the crew is challenged with the addition of a new member, Zach. With showing the value and importance of every job, each person compromises in developing closer friendships.
In Being a Captain is Hard Work, demonstrates the importance of listening to others. With Captain No Beard showing his stubborn determination, this journey will be extremely dangerous unless he changes his ways. What will make him hear others and acknowledge their intelligence?
Carole P. Romans been publishing this award-winning series since 2012 and earned the Kirkus Reviews Best, received a Star of Remarkable Merit, NABE Pinnacle Award, ERIK Award for the Best Book, a Readers View Classics Winner, Independent Author Network Book of the Year finalist, and a National Indie Excellence Finalist.
Carole Roman is the author now of many series of books. Along with this Captain No Beard series, she has published many books in the series introducing visiting various countries and time periods throughout the world If You Were Me and Lived In..., as well as Cave Kiddos, Rocket-Bye, and Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?
These books are written for children between the ages of four and eight. Using friendship and problem solving skills, these books are delightful and even educational for all ages.
Out of Control: The Kincaid Brides
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
9781441269911, $14.99, Trade paperback, 329 pages, www.amazon.com
"He'd frozen away everything that was beautiful. He'd cared for his brothers, but he hadn't risked loving them for the fear of how terrible it would be to lose them. He'd never been as kind to his mother as he should have been because his love was locked away. He'd work beside his father and shown him respect but never love."
For Julia Gilliland, her life is out of control. Her father told her he owns and runs a general store. In actuality, he is a gambler and runs a low-class saloon. She dreams of being an archaeologist, studying fossils. She does not enjoy her life. Fortunately, she has a close friend in her step-mother, Audra, who is close to delivering another child. Julia does enjoy her company and helping her with the endless chores.
Audra also has a life out of control. Her father sold her to Wendell as payment for a gambling debt. Now she lives in a shack with a young child, another on the way, her step-daughter, and an abusive much-older husband.
Rafe considers himself successful. He manages his inherited land which includes old mines and caves. He likes things organized, neatly in their places, and living a predictable life.
Years ago, Rafe enjoyed his life as the oldest of three boys and being a leader. With his brothers Ethan and Seth, the three had explored the family land. Unfortunately, the three were part of an accident in a cave that caused Seth to suffer from severe burns. The physical injuries resulted in scars, both physically and emotionally for Seth. Rafe also was scarred emotionally, crippling from taking any risks.
Out of Control is written for women and has a Christianity thread running throughout. It is a romance novel while expertly weaving the history of Colorado into a well-planned and developed series with characters who are multi-dimensional and having authentic daily issues complete with remorse.
Out of Control is the first installment in Connolly's series entitled The Kincaid Brides.
What amazed me about this novel was that it was a romance novel, but that was secondary to the actual historical story.
Mary Connealy has won numerous award for her writing. She lives on a ranch in Nebraska.
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
Amazon Digital Publishing
9781533527875, $9.99 PB, $0.99 Kindle, 44pp, www.amazon.com
"These stories must never make it to paperback. I don't want them edited, and they must never change from their existing format. They're written this way for a reason, and..."
The stereotypical author is introverted, creative, and extremely analytical. These attributes lead greatly assist them in examing and writing about the world around them, whether real or only in their imagination.
Nathan Cartwright fits this description. Living alone in Maine, he is very reclusive to the point of being almost a hermit. His only contact with the real world is through his son, Danny and his granddaughter.
Nathan has an advantage though over most authors. The major publishing houses want his writings, but he refuses to work with each of them, choosing to have his work strictly available through self-publishing only. He tried to write romance and even drama novels with little success, but his magic touch was the thriller. Why?
Nathan is facing the reality of his life ending. His physician has informed him that his days are numbered. Now is the time for him to do one final good deed.
His son needed money for his wife's cancer treatment. Between the medical costs and raising a daughter, Nathan feels obligated to help with the family needs with money.
He is returning to being a successful writer of thriller novels. His books almost have a magical authenticity to them with so much explicit gore that he given the nickname, "Grisly Grandpa."
Nathan now wants to publish a book that will secure Danny's financial needs and those of his granddaughter.
With finally completing the latest novel on his tablet, Nathan meets with his illustrator at a nearby coffee shop that will change all of his plans.
It all begins with a server who eventually recognizes him. Who could predict how this would send his life into a downward spiral?
The author, Ezekiel Cartwright propels his interests into his writing while being influenced by his childhood in New England and writers such as Stephen King, HP Lovecraft, and Dean Koontz.
This novella is tightly wound into an introspective tale around the theme of striving for greatness while being aware of the impending cost of responsibility in that achievement. With realistically flawed characters striving for hope and a better life, the reader views the world through Nathan with his daily frustrations and challenges.
End Matter is a different novella with a unique authenticity that is a frightening page-turner.
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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