Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Reviewer's Bookwatch

Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 11 November 2016 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andrea's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson Bookshelf
Chutsky Bookshelf Clint's Bookshelf Duncan's Bookshelf
Gail's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf
Margaret's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf
Moore's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf Peggy's Bookshelf
Polk's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf Teri's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and Painting the Water Lilies
Ross King
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781408861950, $49.99, hardback, 403pages,

Dr Ann Skea, Reviewer

In 1914, at the age of seventy-four, with failing eyesight and with war between France and Germany imminent, Claude Monet began to paint a series of huge canvases for which he had very precise plans. Each canvas was five feet (approx. 1.5 metres) high and more than six-and-a-half feet (approx 2 metres) wide. Eventually, Monet would donate twelve of these paintings to the French State, but only on condition that he be allowed to design a purpose-built pavilion, oval in shape, in order to display his "Grande Decoration" to its best advantage.

Monet's "Grande Decoration" was, of course, the sequence of magnificent water-lily paintings which are now housed in the Orangery in Paris. Getting them there, however, was a long and complicated process, not least because of Monet's stubborn and difficult character.

Ross King tells the story of their conception, their creation and the many and varied vicissitudes which accompanied their completion and their public display. He also captures the irascible and often tormented character of Monet, for whom they became a "mad enchantment" bordering on obsession.

Monet, at 74, was a highly respected and well-established artist whose work attracted very high prices, especially amongst American collectors. However, this was not always the case. Ross glances back at Monet's impoverished early years when bailiffs once seized his paintings from the wall of an exhibition and he claimed to have survived one winter living on potatoes. He looks, too, at Monet's early links with the Impressionists, some of whom became lifelong friends. And he writes of the times of public derision which eventually turned to acceptance and then to renown. Most of the book, however, is centred on Monet's home in Giverny.

Over the course of the book, we gain a vivid picture of life at Giverny, where Monet drained marshland and diverted part of the river to create the lily pond beside which many of his most famous works were painted. One of his greatest pleasures was entertaining friends and, as Ross writes, "lunch chez Monet was a delightful but demanding gastronomic odyssey" after which guests might be conducted past Monet's extensive art collection to his studio. Monet himself, habitually began the day with a large breakfast and a glass of white wine, started lunch with a shot of home-made plum brandy, and dined on "huge quantities of food and wine that satisfied his refined and discriminating tastes". He also smoked heavily - an "eternal cigarette" burning in the middle of his nicotine-stained "crumb-catcher of a beard".

Monet's daily painting routine was strict but painting was frequently a torment to him. His attempts to capture the infinite fluctuations of light and to chase the "merest sliver of colour" were often frustrating and exhausting. "Oh how I suffer, how painting makes me suffer! It tortures me.", he complained to one art dealer. He was known to slash and destroy canvases in fits of rage and, at times, especially after the death of his second wife and later when his eyesight was failing, he sank into depression and stopped painting altogether. All of which threw the completion of his "Grande Decoration" into question, at a time when the State had gone to considerable expense to comply with his wishes for a specially designed place to display it.

Monet could also be incredibly rude to prospective buyers and was especially rude about Americans, a number of whom had lived and painted in the town of Giverny before the war began in order to be near 'The Master'. Towards the end of his life, too, when his eyesight was so bad that he could not paint, he became unpredictable and impossible even with his closest friends.

Georges Clemenceau, the politician who steered France through the war years and became a national hero, was one of the few close friends who knew how to deal with Monet. His presence in this book is almost as large as Monet's. And it was he who dealt with the problems posed by Monet's donation of his "Grande Decoration" to the State; he who persuaded Monet to have a cataract operation; and he who bullied and cajoled Monet back to work when the worst depressions hit him. It was Clemenceau, too, who ignored Monet's sudden, last-minute decision to cancel his donation of paintings to the State, and who finally pushed Monet to complete the work ready for hanging and public exhibition.

Monet, who had once declared that the paintings would be with him until he died, had his wish. The number of paintings grew to twenty-two, and although he had seen and approved the rebuilt Orangery as their home, they were not publicly displayed there until after his death.

Ross brings to life the short, stout, prodigiously bearded man in the photographs which are scattered throughout this book. He also manages to include something of the history of French art; a picture of life when war-time shortages were acute (although Monet managed to find ways around many of them) and bombs were falling on Paris, just forty miles away from Giverny. He writes about Monet's interest in Japanese woodblock prints and how this influenced Monet's art. And he even manages to include a disquisition on water-lilies. He manages to do all this in an easy and digestible way, but often this extends the story of the creation of Monet's great water-lily paintings so that the twelve years of their creation seem like a lifetime.

What Ross does best, however, is to reveal the genius and acuity of Monet's vision and the painstaking effort and skill with which he worked. When paintings are as well-known and as much reproduced as Monet's many water-lily paintings, it is easy to overlook the originality of his vision and the individuality of his techniques. I, for one, will now look at his paintings with renewed interest and understanding.

Evie and the Volunteers: Animal Shelter, Book 1
Marcy Blesy
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
Amazon Kindle edition, $.99 / Paperback, 102pp. $6.99

Denise Perry Donavin

Evie is ten. School is out. And she has some big plans for the summer before fifth grade. When her mom starts a new job and sentences Evie to a summer at her grandparents' beyond-boring house, Evie fumes, "How could she be so selfish?" An escape to the beach by Evie and her best friend, Logan, causes an uproar in their small town and results in an even stiffer sentence -- volunteer work at the local animal shelter. Evie learns the meaning of selfish as well as how to open her heart to the needy animals she meets. All these lessons are taught with a light touch, lots of humor and well-developed characters. Even the most serious topics, like the PTSD that keeps Evie's father away from home, are thoughtfully discussed at an elementary-school level. Blesy does not offer pat solutions to all the quandaries that Evie encounters, so readers will be drawn to the following books in the series. Best of all, the young girl has fallen hard for the volunteer concept and heads off to a nursing home in Book 2, and into an after-school program with some trying students in Book 3. Blesy is a school librarian and the author of Confessions of a Corn Kid and Be the Vet, as well several middle school titles and young adult romances.

A Fortune in Jewels: A Josy Rose - Cat Burglar Novel
Victoria Rose
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781532005121, $13.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 176 pp.,

Kaye Trout

Genre: Fiction/Romance/Adventure/Contemporary
Rating: Very good

Quoting from the back cover:

"Josy Rose is a young woman looking for a new direction in life, a new career. Her inner guide, Tariki, suggests that she become a cat burglar who steals only from the one-percenters to support animal shelters and sanctuaries, to be the Robina Hood for animal welfare. And having an element of irreducible rascality in her nature, Josy takes to the challenge.

"Her backyard neighbor, FBI Special Agent Nicolas Hawk, watches as Jo turns her backyard into a boot camp exercise course with a jogging path, trampoline, a wire from the roof, and ropes to climb up the house. When he sees her three-ring-circus routine, he's hooked and has to know, 'What the hell is going on?'

"Having watched Jo grow up for twenty-two years, Nick has felt like an invisible older brother. Now Josy's a young woman, and he's starting to have mixed feelings about her. When he joined the FBI, he made a list of rules for himself: No. 1 - No intimate relationships.

"One summer solstice night in Jo's hot tub changed everything."

A Fortune in Jewels is a fast paced, easy read about an important issue: animal welfare and animal rights. It's an eclectic mix of wit, romance, adventure, and factual information.

Victoria Rose skillfully weaves factual information about white supremacists, petty theft laws, famous cat burglars, the Fund for the Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Consumer Freedom, and the Cayman Islands throughout her third-person omniscient narration.

Rose's main characters come to life through their thoughts, feelings, and dialogue--internal and external. Josy Rose, the protagonist, is an unusual woman who takes on an unusual challenge.

As an accomplished writer, Victoria Rose excels at imagination, description, and surprise, and even though the plot may seem simplistic, the underlying message is designed to draw our attention to and inform us about animal welfare/rights issues.

Victoria Rose has published seven books: two nonfiction--Apple Cider Vinegar and Ladies Are You Lost? and five fiction--Into the Mystery of Life - Crystal Rose; Into the Mystery of Life - Pontella Rose; Into the Mystery of Life - Zorasteria Rose; Into the Mystery of Life - Tetralogy; and A Fortune in Jewels.

I highly recommend A Fortune in Jewels for its quality, wit, and uniqueness.

Song of the Sword: A Wolf Slayer Saga Book 5
Richard Dawes
Melange Books, LLC; First Edition
B01M0MZ8X4, $4.99,

Kevin Peter, Reviewer

The Ultimate Quest - A review of the novel 'Song of the Sword'

"No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path." - Gautama Buddha

Richard Dawes' book, 'Song of the Sword', is the latest installment in the 'Wolf Slayer Saga' series. Valka the Wolf Slayer, who hails from the far North, follows the Warrior's Way. The Dragon Blood courses through his veins. It is an ancient bloodline of select initiates who ensure Events in every Age materialize as destined. In this adventure, he visits the Magical Isle of Britain, known also as Logres. There he meets King Arthur, and, with Sir Gawain and the bard, Taliesin, embarks upon a special journey - the famed Quest for the Grail.

The storyline of Song of the Sword puts to good use the allure the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Table Round have had and continue to have on the popular imagination. King Arthur's life and exploits have been depicted many times in literature, movies and television. The King Arthur we meet in this saga, however, is aging and losing his grip on his kingdom and the Round Table Fellowship. Turmoil and strife are rampant in the land. Conspiracies abound among Knights and Lords. There are even rumors of a usurpation of Arthur's throne.

Whenever an Age is coming to an end it is foreshadowed by cataclysmic events. It is into just such a setting that Valka the Wolf Slayer enters. The author then introduces a host of characters and places that are familiar to readers: King Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, Gawain, Taliesin, and the castle in Camelot.

The language is clean and easy to follow in spite of the many archaic and difficult topics it discusses. The book's description of the land, the people, the battle scenes are wonderfully done and it creates a lot of excitement. The author once again explores the human condition to its fullest extent.

For a serious reader there is much to ponder and reflect upon in Valka's discussions and the dynamics of his relationships. There is plenty of action and decapitations to satisfy the blood and guts enthusiasts as well. The pacing of the action sequences vis-a-vis the story line is highly rewarding and never tests the reader's patience.

Valka as usual is in full flow. His legend has been established and there is no land on earth where his past exploits are not known. There is a bit of paradox in that he carries both the sensitivity of a poet and the brutality of a Viking with ease. He is always in control of his faculties and never lets man, woman or nature influence his resolve. As always, he is interested in exploring the role of Man in society. Forever on a quest to achieve a higher standard among men, he asks many deep questions. The topics raised in the book force the reader to look beyond the narrow field of knowledge and education typical of modern society.

Song of the Sword has the earmarks of a great classic and it should appeal to a wide variety of readers. It will be an exciting read even for those who have read previous versions of the Arthurian legends. The novel not only revisits the story, but gives it a fresh twist by injecting a fierce warrior like Valka into the mix. It is certainly the best saga in the series so far.

Imperfect Echoes: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
HowToDoItFrugally Publishing
9781515232490, $9.95 Paperback, $2.99 Kindle, 148 pages,

Marlan Warren, Reviewer

Genres: Poetry Anthology/Social Justice

Narcissus knows her reflection
well. She forgets to peer
under burkas, in our jails,
in the beds of the abused,
deeper, deeper into the pond...

Howard-Johnson, Carolyn. Narcissus Revisited.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson's "Imperfect Echoes: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small" is just perfect.

This Los Angeles award-winning poet lays out the landscape of her contemplative thoughts, feelings and reactions with such honesty and deceptive simplicity that they have the effect of offering a peek into her private journals. What puts this poetry on par with leaping tall buildings is the fact that each poem manages the feat of conveying personal and universal relevance at once.

Do not be scared off by the prospect of political rhetoric masquerading as literature; this is not one of those books. Although the book's subtitle may strike some as rather lofty, it is a quote from Czeslaw Milosz's poem, "Incantation," in his anthology, "The Captive Mind," which reflects Howard-Johnson's poetic themes. She has divided her prolific poems into a Prologue plus four sections: "Remembering What We Must"; "Nations: Tranquil Self-Destruction"; "Acceptance: Waiting for the Gift"; and "Future Stones of Distrust."

Howard-Johnson deftly blends the "Truth and Justice" observations with the "Small" moments of "lie(s)" and "oppression" as they intersperse through her poet's journey. The poems in "Remembering What We Must" address the stark realities of war and global misery, which Howard-Johnson treats with her practiced light touch that floats like the proverbial butterfly and stings like an outraged bee.

In "Belgium's War Fields," she compares the reasons for bygone wars to our present day confusion: "And now a war that takes from the mouths /and hearts of the stranded, the homeless. / How different from those who / marched with snares or flew flags / in a war when we knew / why we were there."

In the "Nations: Tranquil Self-Destruction" section, "The Story of My Missed Connection in Minneola" brings to life a brief rest stop during a road trip, which seems rather amusing at first as the wife relieves her bladder and the husband declines the coffee with "Let's skip it. Coffee's / probably been stewing for days..." but hits an unexpected bump of overt bigotry when the roadside store owner confides in them (in between the screeches of his pet parrot) that he left Los Angeles to get away from the "ragheads."

In the "Acceptance: Waiting for the Gift" section, "Relatives" takes on the ways in which "Small" minds can make a family dinner feel like a stint in Purgatory: "Perhaps you won't invite me back / if I mention that infamous / uncle. You know, the one who killed / three of his wives / but is candid / about who he is, / how many he's killed, / the methods he used / and never gets invited to dinner.

In the "Future Stones of Distrust" section, "Rosa Parks Memorialized" opens with "On the day our September losses / reached 2,000, a tribute / to Rosa..." and asks "If she were alive now.../ would her solo / be enough or do we need now a choir singing, / thousands screaming...?"

Imperfect Echoes allows readers to witness a poet's lifetime revisited in memory and with fresh wisdom. If the topics of oppression, prejudice and war seem to some "overdone," Howard-Johnson responds in her Prologue poem, "Apologies from a Magpie":

Magpies are born to sing others' songs -
stained notes, imperfect echoes -
until the world begins to know
them by heart.

Note: All proceeds from the sales will be donated to the non-profit human rights watchdog, Amnesty International.

The Stranger
Anna del Mar
Carina Press
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9781459294301, $3.99 U.S. / $3.99 CAN, 323 pages,

Mayra Calvani

Genre: Romantic suspense, Contemporary romance, Military romance, SEAL romance

The Stranger is the second book in Anna del Mar's Wounded Warrior series. However, each book is standalone with new, different characters.

Having read the first book, The Asset, all I can say is that The Stranger is another tour de force from del Mar. Once again, she delivers an addictive romantic suspense read with a compelling, emotionally charged plot and engaging, likable characters whom you will root for - not to mention an explosive, passionate love story filled with dangerous twists and turns.

Treacherous circumstances related to the fact that her sister has gone missing bring sassy, hot-tempered architect Summer Silva to the Alaskan wilderness, only to end up freezing and stranded in the middle of a fast-approaching snowstorm.

Enters former military pilot Alaskan native Seth Erickson, who happens to be passing by in his truck on his way to his cabin when he spots Summer and comes to the rescue. However, it isn't that easy. From the minute our alpha hero speaks with her, he becomes suspicious of her presence there, and quickly assumes she's been sent there to spy on his family business. But he's found a match in Summer, for she's as quick to deliver comebacks as he is...and as quick to surprise him, too. That same night, as a result of her rare "condition," Seth ends up having more than he bargains for. Soon after, Summer discovers that someone is trying to murder her.

The Alaskan wilderness, a cold-blooded killer on the loose, and murder bring them together, but they will need to trust each other if they want to get of this alive, something that doesn't come easy for either of them.

This was a fabulous fast-paced read, simply addictive. Sexy, with a touch of darkness, and humor to boot! But the best are the strong, sympathetic, multi-dimensional protagonists and the way their love evolves. If you haven't discovered Anna del Mar's books yet, you're missing something.

The Queen's Accomplice
Susan Elia MacNeal
c/o Random House Group
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780804178723, $16.00 PB, $11.99 Kindle, 368pp,

Rebecca Danos, Reviewer

London is in a blackout, which means the Blackout Beast comes out to play, or rather to kill, in Susan Elia MacNeal's sixth novel in the Maggie Hope mystery series, The Queen's Accomplice. If Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante, the fifth novel in the series, is infectious, then The Queen's Accomplice is addictive.

As in the prior books, the aptly described environment and characters shape a multidimensional World War II stage, this time in London. The realistic details and apropos literary, art, mythological, dance, and musical references contour the setting. The allusions befit the educated clan that populates the Maggie Hope novels. The well-researched world that MacNeal paints with words is believable, even to the hand a wedding ring would occupy depending on the European country in question. As with the others in the series, The Queen's Accomplice is a quick, compelling read with MacNeal's dashing style and story-telling prowess at its apex. The novel successfully weaves and balances a pace of intertwining subplots while advancing the central plot leading you seamlessly, as a partner at a dance party, to the threshold of the upcoming seventh novel.

The theme of friendship threads The Queen's Accomplice as it did in the previous novels. And Maggie's friends who accompany her in her adventures are the kinds of people you'd like to have as your friends. Except for the ones who want her dead, of course. Her friends demonstrate the kind of unconditional ties and love everyone craves, especially, in her case, when biological family might be the enemy. They find her when she's lost, rebuild and renovate her home, and shelter her when she needs safety. We can only hope we all would be so fortunate to forge such steadfast relationships, many of which are the paradigm of platonic love and family in the truest sense of the word. The Queen's Accomplice showcases and develops the strengths and personalities of Maggie's friends, drawing you into her circle and allowing you to appreciate the good that might balance out the evil that dominates the World War II era.

The Queen's Accomplice highlights a number of issues relevant to our contemporary world under the broad category of "good versus evil." The most obvious of these is the one of gender inequality, especially regarding unequal pay and misogyny. MacNeal illustrates gender discrimination by characters' derogatory and judgmental opinions of women's ideas, characters, and personalities. In the book, MacNeal features the lose-lose situation women often find themselves in where the same strength that would be valued in a man might undermine a woman's reputation. Additionally, women's appearances are overvalued, whether the woman be attractive or not, whereas a man's appearance is generally considered irrelevant and diminished in importance compared to his abilities or, perhaps, even just his gender. Another presented idea is the danger of first impressions based on someone's appearance, which is good for all of us to keep in mind.

In The Queen's Accomplice, MacNeal explores many evils, one of which is the ingrained misogyny that leads certain people to wage wars against women, against working women specifically in the novel. One critique might be that the men in The Queen's Accomplice might be too black and white, obviously discriminating, and prevalent, possibly painting too many men simplistically as being villains. However, the lack of subtlety and sexist ubiquitousness does lead the reader astray in trying to identify the Blackout Beast, keeping the reader guessing. Additionally, the degree of gender discrimination that faces Maggie Hope might very well be more accurate than we'd like to admit in her line of work as a spy or during that era at large. However, despite the war of the genders that Maggie encounters, she never concedes but recognizes steadfastly, as others in the book say, that "women are our secret weapon" in the greater war facing Britain and the world.

The book focuses on good versus evil, also highlighting the good in people like Maggie Hope and some of her compatriots. Her courage as a secret agent will inspire you to be your bravest self. The choices that the characters must make will precipitate you to question if you would suffer and perish for your ideals, should you be in the same position as they are. When the time comes, will you sacrifice yourself for others? Although we might feel safe from war, as MacNeal writes, the "war never, ever begins or ends." The war didn't begin with the Nazis, though they presented a patent evil, nor has it died with their demise.

Maggie Hope is fearless and brilliant yet humble, courageous yet human. In the case of capturing the Blackout Beast, her need for mathematical precision might have slowed her down, since her calculations were redundant compared to circumstantial evidence, and her need for certainty and proofs might well have been to her detriment, rather than a strength. Yet she stayed in character, and her logical brain and resistance against seismic emotions are what ultimately keeps her alive in each book, even when things get a little psychedelic.

"It isn't fair," some of the characters shout from the book, each with a different agenda and perspective. No, life isn't fair. But with Maggie Hope as your friend, life is a little more enjoyable. And exciting.

The Dhammapada for Awakening: A Commentary on Buddha's Practical Wisdom
Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri)
Light of the Spirit Press
P. O. Box 1370, Cedar Crest, NM 87008
9781500767563, $14.95 PB, $0.99 Kindle, 336pp,

Anna Hourihan, Reviewer
Vedanta Shores Press

In this compelling book, Abbot George Burke brings his considerable knowledge and background in Christian teachings and the Vedic tradition of India to convey a practical understanding of the teachings of the Buddha.

Having come originally from a Christian background and adopting Vedanta as my path, I appreciate the parallels and comparisons he draws to the Bhagavad Gita and the Holy Bible. Not surprisingly there are many similar or even identical teachings with the Bhagavad Gita since Buddha himself grew up and studied with the sadhus and sages in India.

To illustrate some of the teachings and make them more real to us Abbot Burke uses examples drawn from his personal experience.

The Dhammapada for Awakening is aptly titled. The author gives us the full impact of these teachings, as the Buddha intended, and does not gloss anything over. To illustrate, here's an excerpt:

"Occasions of hatred are certainly never settled by hatred. They are settled by freedom from hatred. This is the eternal law." (Dhammapada 5).

[Abbott Burke's comment] "...That is the nature of the world. It is the violent ward of the lunatic asylum we call the universe. Everyone here is either an active or a recovering homicidal maniac. This is the truth."

This is a book you'll want to take your time to read and keep as reference to reread. Highly recommended for earnest spiritual aspirants, especially those who may need a prod to keep them moving forward.

The Christ of India: The Story of Saint Thomas Christianity
Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri)
Light of the Spirit Press
P. O. Box 1370, Cedar Crest, NM 87008
9781535100632, $8.95 PB, $1.99 Kindle, 100pp,


Author Abbot George Burke weaves his research and knowledge expertly into his book The Christ of India bringing out high quality content that highlights strong connection between Jesus and India. By tracing back the history of foundations laid by Apostle Saint Thomas, author enlightens the knowledge of his readers regarding the unique form of christianity known as 'Saint Thomas Christianity' in India.

Interpreting the teachings of Jesus from the perspective of Santana Dharma, 'The Christ of India' is a knowledgeable yet engaging collection of authentic details and evident manuscripts about the Essene roots of Jesus and his 'Lost years'. An invaluable book for anyone desiring to know more about Jesus; delightful to read and a work of substance, vividly written and rich in historical analysis, this is an excellent work written by a masterful teacher & a storyteller.

I was genuinely impressed by the wealth of knowledge author has in his subject material and the way he distills research into an informative read that is not restricted to any religion, region or age. This book is an enriching gem of historical knowledge that deserves to be highly appreciated and possessed by all mature readers. Highly recommended.

Wanda DeHaven Pyle 
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781492189718, $10.98, PB, 232pp,

Bobby Underwood

Heartfelt and at times quietly moving, this memoir-like work of fiction uses the tapestry of one family in the Flint Hills of Kansas and their struggles, triumphs and tragedies over decades to paint a portrait of a country as it grows and changes with the world around it. Wanda DeHaven Pyle uses a fast-flowing narrative more than dialog to cover much ground within only a few chapters or pages, yet there exists an intimacy, as though we the reader are being offered a view from heaven of this particular family and the decisions which shaped their future and those of successive generations.

Those who have read Catherine Marshall's Christy, or Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' Cross Creek will hear echoes of those two voices in the author's deceptively readable narrative. Almost a Walton's type of atmosphere contains many tender and poignant moments as readers become involved in the plight of this family from the very onset. We feel a tender connection to Virginia as she bestows upon her sister the love her mother is unable to give. That connection between reader and narrative continues without waver as Virginia must move forward and leave her family behind in order to teach; a decision which will reverberate through the coming decades.

It is perhaps when Virginia meets Will, however, that the die is cast for following generations. Though there are many moments of poignancy within the narrative, none are more telling than Virginia's and Jack's, giving a vivid picture of a place and time in America. When Virginia walks through her classroom for the final time because her marriage to Will has restricted her from teaching, we feel deeply for this woman whose time has not yet come, and won't until Leah. But for me, it is Jack's story, covering the war years and the aftermath of coming home which most touched me. There is no way to read this book and ever forget what sacrifices were made during the war, many of them not brought to fruition until years had passed.

As with all families placed under a microscope for decades, there is love and tragedy, triumphs and poor decision-making, and a spirit passed on to succeeding generations. Spanning the time period in America from 1910-1985 there is sort of a Studs Terkel feel to the history we are seeing through the lives of this family over generations. Yet where Terkel's history is oral, by using narrative rather than dialog for the most part, here, we get something nearly cinematic. Reading Windborne is tantamount to watching a film spanning decades in the lives of one family, providing us not only a portrait of them, but also the country in which they lived. All of this makes for a fabulous and memorable read.

As of the date of this review, there is a new edition of this book soon to be released, and I highly recommend it for those who enjoy memoirs and history. In its intimacy Wanda DeHaven Pyle has managed to give us a panorama of a time and place, and a nation. Great stuff.

The Road to War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture
Steven Burgauer
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Hardcover: 348 pages, ISBN-10: 1450218822, ISBN-13: 978-1450218825
Paperback: 348 pages, ISBN-10: 1450218806, ISBN-13: 978-1450218801
Kindle: 350 pages, ASIN: B003Y74NR2

Don Sloan, Reviewer
Publishers Daily Reviews

It's a little after 8 a.m., June 13, 1944, and Lt. William C. Frodsham, Jr. is in the fight of his life.

Eight days earlier, he and his platoon had waded ashore on Dog Green Beach along with thousands of other determined G.I.s. during the famous D-Day invasion. Then, they had slogged 12 miles into the Normandy countryside under withering enemy fire.
Now, Frodsham and his men are pinned down and outnumbered among the hedgerows, waging a brave and bloody battle against equally determined German forces.

It's an action-packed start to this excellent first-person narrative about one man's harrowing -- and sometimes humorous -- experiences in World War II.

Well-told in an almost cinematic style, this tale draws the reader immediately back to that unforgettable time when America -- and its young men and women -- were thrown into a global conflict whose outcome was perilously uncertain.
In large part, however, the book, which is largely based on Frodsham's personal diary, is full of anecdotes and fascinating stories that will surely appeal to anyone who has spent time in the military. Indeed, much of it rivals Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues in its ability to enthrall the reader.

Flash back to December 7, 1941. Frodsham has kissed his girl goodbye, along with his family, and shipped off to Fort Dix, NJ -- the first of several Army posts where he is taught to be a soldier.

What follows is a highly entertaining account of what it was like to be in the U.S. Army back in the early days of the war. Frodsham excels in every posting, and is soon on his way to OCS -- Officer Candidate School.

But his journey is not without its share of off-base adventures -- like the 24-hour AWOL Christmas trip to a friend's home, and the brief but victorious alley confrontation in which he and a ranking middleweight sergeant dispatch four paratroopers intent on getting them kicked out of OCS.

Time passes and Frodsham seeks -- and wins -- the hand of his beloved Connie, and they are married in a full-blown regimental ceremony on May 22, 1943 at Fort Leonard Wood in rural Missouri.

Their precious time together is brief, however, as he ships out to England in October aboard the newly refitted SS Mauritania. The five-day voyage is uneventful -- except for two exciting days wallowing through 50-foot ocean swells -- and he lands at Liverpool along with thousands of his shipmates.

Endless days of drills and preparation for the Normandy invasion are interspersed with fascinating stories of Frodsham's fraternization with the Brits -- and inspiring insights into how this remarkable island nation not only survived the Blitzkriegs, but found humor and hard-won conviviality in its neighborhood pubs each night.

Then, D-day arrives, and it finds Frodsham floating with his men just off the Normandy coast. It's a hellish scene that confronts them as they wade ashore. Body parts litter the beach, but Frodsham and his platoon forge ahead, intent on their mission to make it to the village of Isigny and hold it until relieved.

In trying to get there, however, murderous crossfire by German machine guns costs the soldiers dearly in terms of dead and injured. By the time they finally cross one field bordered by six-foot hedgerows, Frodsham wonders to himself: "If the enemy (is) going to surrender France only one hundred feet at a time, this (is) going to make for a very long war."

Finally, they come upon a German force larger than them, and, after a furious firefight, Frodsham orders his men to lay down their arms. They become prisoners of war, and the remaining pages detail the hardships, pain, and debilitating slow starvation inflicted upon the troops.

Still, Frodsham and his fellow detainees find opportunity for gaiety even in a Gulag. A theatre group sprouts up, and even a camp newspaper, The Oflag 64 Item. Still, starvation is a constant companion. Frodsham, like most of his fellow POWs, loses more than 60 pounds while in captivity.

I won't reveal the book's surprising and satisfying end. Suffice to say, celebration of the War's final actions is sweet for Frodsham -- who at many times during a forced wintertime march from Poland by his captors, fleeing the advance of Russian liberators, lay huddled against cattle for simple warmth during the long, frozen nights.

This memoir is a saga of celebration and hardship, heroism and tragedy, set against the sweeping backdrop of the twentieth century's most important worldwide conflict.

Yet it carries with it a tone and craftsmanship at once imminently readable and startlingly personal. The author has written a masterpiece of first-person narrative gleaned purely from Frodsham's meticulous diary and equally exhaustive research that often puts the reader squarely in the middle of war-torn France and into the very hearts and souls of the valiant men and women who secured the peace we now enjoy.

Five-plus unequivocal stars to The Road to War. It's an extraordinary read that everyone should enjoy.

Doggy Drama
Andra Gillum
Mascot Books
560 Herndon Pkwy #120, Herndon, VA 20170
9781631771491, $14.95, HC, 24 pages,

Lisa Butts

In Doggy Drama by Andra Gillum, a fluffy white dog named Riley, adorably rendered by illustrator Andy Case, puts on a brave face while confronting an escalation of changes in her household.

In first-person narration, Riley recalls happy times as the focal point for all of his "parents'" attention, followed by the chaotic aftermath of family additions: first one child, then another, then a new puppy. While each addition is disruptive, Riley learns to take it all in stride and celebrate the positive. The babies drop scraps of food from their high chairs and the new puppy is a great scapegoat when Riley misbehaves.

A fun and entertaining story for children of all ages, Doggy Drama imparts a valuable message: change is inevitable and the best thing we can do is learn to adapt. While Riley still pines for "the good old days" of being the center of attention, he accepts his new way of life with admirable enthusiasm. This could be a particularly useful read for a child expecting a new sibling or another sudden change in the family dynamic. The child will get a sense of what to expect, the encouragement to overcome the challenges, and the reassurance that they will still be loved and valued. Case's illustrations will charm children and parents alike.

Gator Jack
Janice Daugharty
Snake Nation Press
110 West Force Street, Valdosta, GA 31601
B002Q0Y2R4, $8.99 Kindle, 68pp,

Niles Reddick

I first came to know Janice Daugharty in 1994 when I interviewed her for my dissertation Eccentricity as Narrative Technique. I was fascinated by her depth, by her creation of a fictional world based on Echols County, Georgia, where she'd lived all her life and where my maternal grandfather's family had lived, a family she referenced in our interview, mostly for their ability to make moonshine, not for sale, of course, but for their own consumption. The area is a fairly desolate rural one (not even a stop light, but a flashing one) and a dry county, where people mostly commute to surrounding areas for work. It's one of the few counties a criminal can be banished to in Georgia, if that tells you anything. My guess is that there are more pine forests and rattlesnakes than people.

Captivated by Daugharty's writing, by her ability to describe the people and area with such accuracy and beauty, I wrote positive reviews of her work, asked her to serve on the editorial board of the literary journal The Distillery I edited for two years and asked her at least twice to be a guest writer for a series at Motlow College, a small college in the land of Jack Daniel's in middle the hills and hollows of middle Tennessee. Through the years, she churned out multiple novels from Harper Collins, had a Pulitzer nomination from her editor Larry Ashmead at Harper Collins for Earl in the Yellow Shirt, had a collection published by Joyce Carol Oates and Raymond Smith. Daugharty never deviated from her roots, from her characters, or from her Southern Georgia rural landscape.

More than twenty years later, when Snake Nation Press published Gator Jack, which they classify as a "young adult', and sent me a review copy, I was immediately pulled back into that world and couldn't put the novella down. It's a realistic depiction of poverty stricken families and the thin tight rope of survival they walk on a daily basis, living from paycheck to paycheck, week to week. Writers have obviously covered the poverty stricken rural South, highlighting racism, classism, and sexism, but few have done so and expanded the vision in such a succinct way as to cover the human experience as Daugharty has done in Gator Jack.

Told from the point of view of Doodle (whose real name is Merwin), the nine-year-old in the family, we learn how even children can take care of and attempt to solve complex problems in their own way. In this case, Doodle's mama has secured a Mercedes-Benz from her employer, so she has a dependable ride to get to the hospital in time to deliver her fourth child. She seems to think the employer has given it to her, but even Doodle knows that's not the case. Keeping his siblings (Mikey and Peepie) and the pregnant dog from playing and destroying the car before the baby is born and even after seems to be a formidable task. Tensions mount as we begin to see the Mercedes-Benz become "ruined" by everything from mud to gum to urine.

Doodle knows the family can't return it in its condition and can't pay for it either, so he decides to get his grandfather, a grotesque character with a stiff leg that hangs out the truck's door as his grandfather drives around, despite warnings from law enforcement. Unlike O'Connor, Daugharty's grotesque has redeeming qualities and becomes the saving grace for the downtrodden family. Offering insight into a culture not often viewed by society, except as a stop on the way to visit the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Daugharty offers her readers hope that feels reassuring in a world that seems to be spinning out of control. This is a must read, and Daugharty's work is ripe fruit ready to be devoured by literary critics.

Niles Reddick's is author of a novel Drifting too far from the Shore, a novella Lead Me Home, and a collection, Road Kill Art and Other Oddities. Author of over seventy stories published around the world in literary journals, Reddick works for the University of Memphis, Lambuth campus, in Jackson, Tennessee.

Tupelo Honey
Lis Anna-Langston
Mapleton Press
c/o CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781535458504, $14.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 270pp,

Publishers Weekly

A humorous, unconventional family yarn about a young girl navigating a hardscrabble upbringing in northern Mississippi. Meet Tupelo Honey. She divinely lays out the framework and quirky intricacies of growing up in a house only "slightly better than an orphanage," her days spent chattering with imaginary friend Moochi, and navigating sleepovers at her pious, curmudgeonly grandmother Marmalade and mentally unstable Uncle Randall's ramshackle house. Things change when her mother, a callous, irresponsible junkie, brings home Nash, a paranoid local drug dealer whom Tupelo surprisingly bonds with during treacherous expeditions to New York and Mexico. Through bong smoke-filled hallways at home, the pageantry of kiddie beauty contests, Sunday School, and spying on Nash burying his stockpiles of drug money in the backyard, Tupelo somehow survives. Eventually, her mother replaces Nash with another man who lives in Los Angeles, and a heartbroken Tupelo begins resenting the unsettled nature of her life. After her grandmother dies, child welfare places Tupelo in a group foster home. A loveable, engaging, original voice, Tupelo brightens this accomplished tale of dysfunction in a family where "nothing had ever been right." Readers eager for a wild ride will be pleased with this one.

Do You Solemnly Swear? A Nation of Law, The Dark Side
Lin Wilder
Wilder Books
9781942545187, $15.75 PB, $7.19 Kindle, 344pp,

Sue Smith, Reviewer
Eyes & Ears Book Blog

It's always interesting to read sequels featuring characters you loved in previous novels. Lin Wilder successfully follows up her first novel "The Fragrance Shed by a Violet" with this legal thriller "Do you Solemnly Swear." blog

Having recently completed book one, the returning cast was very familiar to me and I enjoyed the immediate jump in time detailing their growth and changes. "Solemnly Swear" features: Dr. Lindsey McCall, newly VERY rich, who has graduated from prison inmate to medical director to the prison system; intrepid reporter Kate Townsend who has attained the highest praise of a writer and is now exploring developing her personal life and Lindsey's new husband Rich Jansen who once again makes a career change from prison administrator back to attorney-at-law.

Wilder also smartly introduces new, intriguing characters in the form of private investigators, lawyers and, most compelling, a returning US soldier and current Texas State Trooper who becomes the catalyst for the plot. Gabe McAllister battles the trauma of war and through a series of unfortunate events becomes involved with a dicey single mom. His decision to leave this unstable woman prompts a charge of rape against McAllister; the victim being the 6-year old daughter of the ex-girlfriend.

The subject matter is uncomfortable, but Wilder is careful to not make the novel so graphic as to be unreadable. As much as the author spent time in her "Fragrance" book educating the reader on the inner workings of drug development, this novel provides a great deal of information about the legal system and the incidences of false charges regarding sexual crimes. Having no knowledge of these things, I found this background interesting. Wilder is proving herself quite deft at writing novels which serve both to entertain as well as educate.

Sometimes it is necessary to read all the books in a series in order to understand the long term developing plot, "Lord of the Rings" comes to mind. Wilder's books could stand alone, but if you're like me and very orderly and systematic when it comes to character development, please do start with book one. And, bonus! Book three is in the works so if you care to binge over a winter's snowy evening......

I enjoyed the "Fragrance" novel. See my earlier review here:

and I think this sequel is even better. I imagine at this rate, the third book in the series is likely to be the best yet.

Take on Aging as a Sport: The Athletic Approach to Aging
Sharkie Zartman
Motivational Press
7668 El Camino Real #104-223, Carlsbad, CA 92009
9781628652994 $19.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 166pp,

Jay Lickus, Reviewer

If you are a Baby Boomer like me and have been looking for a sensible strategy to win at the sport of "Aging" then the game plan Sharkie Zartman brings to the field in this book should be studied carefully like an opponent's film. Based on her training as a world class volleyball player and coach, her indomitable outlook on how to attack the symptoms and challenges of becoming older lays out simple guidelines that ensure you a sporting chance of retaining a full and vibrant life To quote her directly: "If you think you are old you will start to act like it and the body will follow." By comparing aging to the logistics, training and experiences she learned as a professional athlete, Sharkie compels you think about growing older as a sport where you connect with your inner athlete, meet your competition head on and beat old age at it's own game.

Alex P. Serritella
Bookstand Publishing
305 Vineyard Town Center, #302, Morgan Hill, CA 95037
9781634983556, $17.95 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 530pp,

Henry Makow, Reviewer
4.0 out of 5 stars

A Useful and thorough survey of a bizarre phenomenon, this is a 500-page book that covers every aspect of the Transgender issue from a common sense perspective. Alex's writing is straight forward and easily understandable. You cannot but conclude that a powerful force with a sinister agenda is behind the sudden promotion of transgenderism. This is a vicious psychological attack on the gender identity of 98% of society. The ultimate goal is to erase the concept of male and female gender altogether as a step toward recasting people as docile drones.

That Weekend in Albania
Peter J. Meehan
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781478777090, $15.95, 276 pages

Audrey Driscoll

That Weekend in Albania is a thoroughly researched and well-written work of travel fiction introducing Albania to readers interested in adventurous travel. Peter J. Meehan presents this fascinating Balkan country through two perspectives - an ex-pat family's, and that of Albanian entrepreneurs trying to create prosperity in a post-Communist world. The family must cope with issues such as midlife crisis and parent-child relations in a context of culture shock, separation, language barriers and an unfamiliar environment. The businessmen do not hesitate to use questionable means to achieve their ends, within a framework of recent conflict and ancient loyalties. Several thriller-like episodes, featuring fast cars on bad roads, furnish jolts of excitement. Altogether, this book is an interesting and informative vicarious journey through a new and unfamiliar country.

Always Want More
Banke Awopetu McCullough
Concrete Rose Publications
9780997471106, $14.99, Paperback, 278 Pages,

Christine Green

Always Want More is more than a love story.
It's more than a teacher-saves-the-school story.
It's more than a fast-paced story about urban crime.
At its core, it's a Rochester story.

During her 11 years as an English teacher in the Rochester City School District, author and Monroe Community College development studies professorBanke Awopetu-McCullough ( experienced some disturbing and tragic episodes, including the murder of a beloved former student. The author channeled this and other events in the district onto the pages of Always Want More, a raw and often painful story of an African-American woman discovering her true self in the classroom, and in the arms of one of the most intriguing criminals running the streets of Rochester.

Just released this month in its second edition, Always Want More takes the reader on a ride that Awopetu-McCullough calls "soul-stirring, yet fast-paced; gritty and poetic; sexy and smart."

Her main character, Tracy Mitchell, is a strong-willed and intelligent educator not unlike Awopetu-McCullough herself. Tracy falls for a dangerous yet alluring man known as "X" and embarks on adventures that lead her through fear, grief and love to a place of determination and strength, with Rochester as the backdrop.

The city with all its beauty and its problems is more than just a setting in this book, though; it's another character that will appeal to even those beyond the city limits.

Friend and mentor Tokeya Graham, an MCC English professor, says, "Athough it is set in our beloved city, the experiences will resonate with readers all over the world who can identify with the inner compulsion to not just want more, but to need more as well."

Awopetu-McCullough is a professor, a playwright and a blogger. She grew up in Rochester, where she attended John Marshall High School. She later earned a bachelor's degree in drama and African and African-American Studies from the University of Virginia and a master's degree in adolescent education from Roberts Wesleyan College. She is also an education consultant for the Rochester City School District.

Her company, Concrete Rose Publications, does media consulting and publishing. Awopetu-McCullough won the 2016 Rocaward for best author. Learn more at

Guardianship: How Judges and Lawyers Steal Your Money
Michael Larsen
9780692586211, $13.38, PB, 208pp,

Katherine Hine, Reviewer
Activist Post Daily Newsletter

Setting the stage for Michael Larsen's collection of personal accounts of escalating crimes against the elderly in probate courts, one typical story from the reference manual, GUARDIANSHIP, describes the techniques probate judges, attorneys and predatory guardians use to plunder the wealth of the elderly, destroying their remaining years:

Kevin Gallagher had a trusted, long-standing pact with his beloved parents. When the time was "right" he would make arrangements for their safe return to Maine where they would reside in assisted living. That "right time" came unexpectedly one day after Sunday services when Robert and Elsa Gallagher became slightly disoriented in traffic when they happen chanced upon orange cones in a road detour. Kevin and Lisa, delighted to hear that their parents were ready to journey home, began making all the necessary arrangements. Kevin even phoned his estranged Orlando-based sister, Lori, and asked if she would simply "telephone" Mom and Dad during the interim. The sister, however, consulted the Yellow Pages and telephoned a company, Geriatric Care Management, that specializes in elder care. . . . [p. 31]

Within 48 hours, a woman armed with a court order and accompanied by law enforcement, announced she was the "emergency temporary guardian" while she and her crew forcibly removed Kevin's parents from their home and placed them in separate nursing facilities. Kevin's first notification of this was a phone call from his mother, crying, her speech slurred from forced drugging. The time had become ripe for quick psychiatric evaluations of both parents. Suddenly the "emergency temporary guardian" was the "permanent, plenary guardian" - over both Elsa and Robert. The fleecing and the feasting began. Instead of having his parents closer to him, Kevin's next 3 years were filled with frantic scrambles to find Florida attorneys who would or could make the nightmare stop. The guardian hotly contested the Gallaghers' desires to be together and was rewarded with generous attorney fees from the Gallaghers' assets, courtesy of the probate judge. Eventually, once the assets were gone, the nightmare did stop. When his parents finally arrived in Maine with a single suitcase, Kevin found that inside it were "tattered clothes with the names of other people in Magic Marker inside the clothes. Everything they had owned - even their clothes - had been sold or trashed by the guardian." Elsa and Robert died soon after their move to Maine. [pp. 31-32]

Larsen, the editor of GUARDIANSHIP, is a businessman whose family experienced similar frustration and despair in probate court. He states that "elder cleansing," a term coined by attorney Kenneth Ditkowsky, "has escalated since the last Governmental Accountability Office's report published in 2010." With additional inspiration from Charles Pascal's interview on View From the Bunker, Larsen organized contributors to address the GAO's request for a summary, resulting in this unique resource book for families, citizen activists and the general public, not to mention journalists and attorneys. It is written from the point of view of family members who have given their all to stop the torture, thievery, and often the killing of their elderly. This important reference work adds to what is already known about the greed of corrupt judges, attorneys, guardians and psycho-social hucksters on display in other judicial venues.

Stories included in the book follow the same basic sequence of events: (1) allege that the target is in imminent danger - to justify emergency temporary guardianship and the isolation of the target from his or her family - all without even a pretense of a due process hearing; (2) employ a willing psychiatrist or other MD to prescribe the contra-indicated psychotropic drugs to propel the ward into a stupor just in time for the "competence evaluation;" (3) begin the feast by liquidating the target's non-liquid assets and looting everything in sight; and (4) continue looting until the target is killed by the premeditated over-drugging topped off with opiates. On occasion guardians can and do continue looting even after their victim's death.

Many of the contributors are also attorneys, professional journalists, and various other professionals, most of whom were powerless to stop the devastation in their own families. All seem to be deeply committed activists. Investigative journalist Janet Phelan describes the retaliation against attorneys Joanne Denison and Kenneth Ditkowsky - both having been suspended from the practice of law for their truthful disclosures. Both had advocated for Mary Sykes and Alice Gore and exposed the fact that a guardian was even allowed to order Alice's teeth to be mined for gold. [pp. 16-17] When another activist, Rebecca Schultz, tried to move her father home to be with her, she was arrested for "kidnapping" him. [p. 70]

I found an unmistakable ring of truth in the horror stories, particularly the retaliations and judicial disregard of law. The experience of watching judges refuse to even read the pleadings or the statutes in black and white in front them resonated with my own experiences. As one contributor explained, when she questioned 5 separate instances of double charging during a Washington guardianship proceeding, Commissioner Carlos Velategui, a judicial officer, would not acknowledge the double charges existed, although they were right in front of him, undeniably so. In the absence of any kind of explanation from the guardians, what he was really saying was that he wasn't going to be bothered with details. [p. 145]

The accounts in the book portray a certain inevitability as each contributor takes the reader through the formula that enables judges, lawyers, and guardians to "isolate, medicate, take the estate" - often killing the "ward" in the process - a seemingly additionally desired outcome. Some readers may find the steady drumbeat of outrage upon outrage repetitious - certainly depressing, but I also found the commonalities to be essential to include in this work in order to drive home the enormity of the $36.48 billion dollar yearly "tragedy for Americans individually, as families and for us as a country in that the [now destroyed] intergenerational transfer of assets has historically helped to strengthen our social and economic fabric." [p. 52]

Each contributor's story reveals through its personal, state-specific details that what we are seeing in guardianship court is no anomaly created by a "few bad apples." Some 64% of probate courts responding to a federal agency survey indicated that guardianship abuse had become so flagrant they admitted having taken action against at least one guardian for misconduct in the previous three years. [p. 156] The National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse [NASGA] estimates that some five million elders lose their life savings to the financial crimes of guardianship every year, a national tragedy that translates to an annual theft of some 2.6 billion. [p. 142].

The federal government has known about guardianship abuse at least since its "1987 report by a House subcommittee of the Select Committee on Aging." [p. 166] Yet to this day the problem seems to be barely studied. The statistics continue to not be kept consistently - thus providing a further excuse for a "court system that provides no oversight." [p. 166]

A very few times a contributor's style of writing yields a less than clear understanding of who did what and when. But in those instances a careful re-read usually resolves the confusion. Overall the impression that stuck with me after reading the book in two sittings was a sense of oppression and futility, but also hope that the enormity of the losses is such that more of the public will finally wake up, get off the couch, and get organized.

The only inaccuracy or slight misinterpretation I found was the reference to the belief that ethics rules for lawyers require that they cover for each others' crimes. [P. 129] Certainly this is the conduct that usually occurs, in the experience of this reviewer. Lawyers, like corrupt judges and police officers, do not usually report on each other's misconduct. Indeed, there is nobody to report to in any meaningful way. Judicial complaint tribunals are secret, self-policing travesties, as are bar disciplinary entities and police department internal affairs departments. In light of this expose and others, including a recent 60 Minutes expose of Wall Street lawyers, more citizens are waking up to the alarming reality that the justice system itself may not be designed to dispense justice to the American public. Nevertheless, Rule 8.3 of the Model ABA Rules of Professional Conduct does technically require the reporting of "substantial" ethical breaches.

From the courts of Florida, a state once thought to be a refuge for the elderly, to those in California, Nevada, Texas and other states, the "isolate, medicate, take the estate" m.o. repeats. The style of each story reflects a continuum from angry outrage, through informative warnings. Included throughout are references to websites, telephone numbers of activists, and citations to other reference books, websites, and media contacts. There is definitely information and inspiration enough for any reader looking for answers and direction.

Some of GUARDIANSHIP's contributors comment that those without money are safe from predatory guardians. Certainly the super-wealthy, such as the unfortunate Brooke Astor, betrayed by her son, are not shielded by their millions. [pp. 132-133] Some contributors remark that even the poor and those who are not elderly can be targeted, locked up, and plundered for their social security checks - while the guardian foists the substandard "care" of the "ward" on the public in underfunded human warehouses. Often a relative could and would have cared for the elderly person personally if they only had the use of the person's meager income to buy his or food.

The final chapter provides us with no real solutions. There are no advance directives, living wills, trusts or other more creative legal instruments that cannot easily be ignored or undone by a corrupt judge or attorney. What remains is a stark reminder that the probate court oppressors' schemes to steal from us and lay waste our families and our heritage, all constitute criminal acts. GUARDIANSHIP may well be a warning to the public that half-way measures failing to address the overarching criminality will be useless. The challenge is to find effective means of bringing these high-placed criminals to justice before we pay them any more of our tax dollars to plunder and then murder those we love.

Escape from ISIS
Thomas E. Berry
9781681813196, $10.95, PB, 110pp,

E. Lund, Reviewer
Phi Beta Kappa

Disillusionment with society and culture, pervasive ennui, and the bending of ideologies to fit personal needs, are common products of the alienated West. The ensnaring restrictions of homogenized space often inspire dissatisfied westerners to break from all they've ever known, to engage with cultures so far removed from their cognitive matrix so as to seem almost otherworldly, or even celestial. While, for many, this catharsis proves healing, a social exchange that returns participants home as fuller human beings, it too can prove deadly - the realm of metaphysical engagement turning out to be, instead, Hell itself.

Escape from ISIS perfectly captures this tragic potential, chronicling the adventures of Rob Delodge, a Harvard graduate who embarks on such a journey - only to find himself the victim of this very horrific dimension of the ex-pat impulse - and, in a perfect contemporary reification of such a heart of darkness, the prisoner of none other than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
As the drama unfolds, Rob wrestles for the very heart of mankind, demonstrating the endurance and unbreakability of the human spirit - beyond culture, beyond origin, and beyond all ideology. Escape from Isis is powerfully written, full of evocative passages of horror and daring, beauty and intrigue, and a resonating sense of overcoming. Mr. Berry delves into the psyches of his distinct and distorted characters, revealing the mechanisms of thought and feeling that drive them on - whether towards good or evil.

While the moral grey is explored, an ethical imperative is championed in this novel that is sure to inspire and, perhaps, even rejuvenate those very disillusioned and dissatisfied western youth for whom the book seems to be written. We are all looking for meaning and purpose, and Escape from ISIS may indeed prove a catalyst for self-engagement, self-reflection, and a celebration of human dignity - both at home and abroad.

Baltimore Now
Thomas E. Barry
9781681813523, $10.95, PB, 78pp,

Charles Asher, Reviewer
Phi Beta Kappa

Baltimore Now delivers a uniquely nuanced, and yet explosive, meditation on contemporary U.S. race-relations. Dr. Berry demonstrates, with intellectual skill and highly tuned empathy, the complex dynamics - socio-economic, historical, inter-personal, etc. - that compose urban life, managing to use Baltimore as almost a microcosm of society at large, a comprehensive subject which, through the careful dissection of its parts, may yield a further understanding of the whole - and ultimately lead to some kind of unity.

Ann and Mike are engaging, textured characters in their own right, but, on a post-textual level, they function even more powerfully in an archetypal capacity, as dialectical extremes through which the modern, domestic U.S. narrative plays out, encapsulating decades of quickly shifting power relations through the slightest exchange between characters, in a minor moment of human connection or antipathy.

The synecdoche here is brilliant, and yet the characters and story of Baltimore Now are enough to compel a reader - if even on a purely fictive level, as a complex narrative of inter-personal negotiations. And that is the power of this novel: it works both politically and literarily, allowing an audience of any ideological predilection to engage on a personal level and perhaps, along the way, learn something essential about both the human condition and our contemporary social climate. This book is, without a doubt, an important read. It captures a decisive point in our history while as well offering a dynamic literary event that is sure to captivate readers. I recommend Baltimore Now highly.

Alchemy of the Afterlife, A Memoir
Linda Kinnamon, RN
Flatirons Press
9780996732901, $14.00 PB, $4.99, 361pp,

Mia Manns

Those we love never truly leave us. It's a truth we all accept, but it can be so easy to forget. Alchemy of the Afterlife is a reminder of that, and there's some healing magic between these pages. Linda has a comforting vision of heaven: "It wouldn't be heaven if we had to leave the people we love."

It's also a collection of stories about the end of life, the final moments that bring families together and heal old wounds, and about what brings peace to someone about to cross over. All it takes is knowing that the family they're leaving behind will be okay. It's also about the lengths hospice nurses, or as Linda puts it, "medically educated friends," go to bring comfort and dignity to their patients. It's a tearjerker, and there are some parts that are hard to read. But peace can always be made with the past, especially when you have the love of someone rooting for you from the other side.

The Cat Tender
Martin Drapkin
Dog Ear Publishing
4010 WS. 86th Street, Suite H, Indianapolis, IN 46268
9781457547768, $15.95, PB, 188pp,

Ronald Wallace

Ernest Hemingway famously advised aspiring authors to "write one true sentence." And that's exactly what Martin Drapkin does, again and again, in The Cat Tender, his third quirkily moving and mesmerizing book. From Maggie Mullen's opening declaration ("I've been dreading this day") to her closing affirmation a la her beloved Frank Sinatra ("here's one more for my baby . . . and one more for the road"), Drapkin richly evokes his first person narrator's outwardly lonely and limited life as she "tends" her and her clients' cats and prepares mentally to participate, as a reluctant bridesmaid, in her sister Mindy's wedding.

Structured as an internal monologue while Maggie takes her nightly bath with her cat, Lucy, ("my green-eyed girl") resting on the closed toilet seat lid nearby, in chapters each featuring a Sinatra song, Drapkin perfectly captures the voice of an often sarcastic, dismissive, and judgmental woman, who, raised by an abusive father, and unlucky at love, has withdrawn into a comfortable pattern of tending cats in her clients' empty houses and living herself in a world of reality TV ("I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant," "Teen Mom," and "A Baby Story"), romantic Rat Pack music, old movies, and her own often romantic and sometimes outlandish fantasies.

And yet, while ostensibly cynically dismissing love, marriage, motherhood, personal relationships, family matters, and patriotism as "silly" and "ridiculous" and "overblown," she inwardly longs for those very things, and seeks to find them in fantasies of a love affair with Sinatra and an imagined child of her own whom she names Corinna. "Everyone's lonely," she insists, "me and everyone else. That's just how it is." But if on the surface Maggie seems to be a very sad character, one with whom a reader might not want to spend an entire novel, by turns angry, assertive, irritable, sarcastic, pathetic, and resigned to her fate, Drapkin never leaves us there for long. With poignant detail and unswerving sympathy, Drapkin elicits Maggie's humanity in her edgy humor (she founds the imaginary "Legion of Overweight Cat Avengers;" she tells her cats leper jokes!), her vivid imagination, her curiosity about her clients' lives based on the contents of their houses, her love for her cat-confidante and best friend Lucy, and her deep concern for the lives of the other cats she tends.

Further, although Maggie is the central character and only speaker (the major events in the book - the bridal shower, the rehearsal dinner, the wedding itself - are all narrated in summary, after the fact), the novel is full of the life, both real and imagined, that she invests in her family members, her former lover, her fellow bridesmaids, her clients, and especially her cats. Thus we meet Katie, Julie, and Diana, the bridesmaids whose more conventional physical appearance offsets Maggie's notable physique (which, Maggie jokes, resembles that of Moby-Dick or the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers); Alex, the former boyfriend with whom she broke up after an unpleasant bathroom incident; clients John and Doris, a pleasantly "squat" older couple; Giselle and Annie, lesbian partners; Jackie, the parole officer and relentless neatnik; Larry, the barber, who might serve as a possible future mate; and many more.

Even more fully developed are the beloved cats Maggie tends - Chester and Festus, Groucho and Bupkis, Princess, Clarence and Murphy, Meepers, Bosco, and Bella (whose death at the end is as moving as that of any mere human being).

But finally, the novel is all Maggie's, as she joins a host of other memorably self-deluded but ultimately lovable literary figures, sharing, for example, Holden Caulfield's dismissiveness and rejection of "phonies," Emma Bovary's immersion in bad romantic media, Emma Woodhouse's unflappable but redeemable egotism. Given the range and depth of Drapkin's depiction, finally we come to love Maggie who, large in size and spirit; friend of Frank Sinatra and all cats everywhere; meditator on the vagaries of love, mortality, Catholicism, sexuality, family dynamics, interior decoration, fashion accessories, music, and art; is, despite her failings, incurably romantic and full of hope for the future.

All three of Martin Drapkin's books to date - Now and at the Hour, Ten Nobodies (and their somebodies) and now The Cat Tender - specialize in intimate and sympathetic portrayals of the limited, the compromised, the lonely, the down and out, the marginal, the ordinary - that is, all of us to some extent. In one true sentence after another, Drapkin finds the oddball in the everyday, the dazzling in the diurnal, the marvelous in the mundane. In The Cat Tender, Martin Drapkin has given us a truly unforgettable character and an exhilaratingly unforgettable book.

Note: The reviewer, Ronald Wallace, is the former Director of Program in Creative Writing, University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of English.

Ups and Downs: Elementary Monologues that Explore Emotions
Rebecca Wright
Meriwether Publishing
c/o Pioneer Drama Service, Inc.
9707-A East Easter Lane, Englewood, CO 80112
9781566082099, $15.95, PB, 192 pages,

Dr. Warren Knepper, Reviewer
School Psychologist and Teacher of Affective Education

"This book provides great learning opportunities for young actors who wish to practice conveying emotions. It is also an ideal tool to increase the affective vocabulary for other elementary students to better share their feelings. The monologues and comprehensive lists of feelings invite a variety of activities to help young people identify and express a wide range of emotions. The upper elementary reading level encourages students to express different emotions, while younger elementary children can develop their listening skills to identify the feelings being conveyed. I especially appreciate the book's exploration of alternative perspectives to practice and develop empathy, which is a key goal of Affective Education."

Town of Dudley Sixth
Zagham Shebaz Karim
Infinity Publishing
9781532744273, 6.99 Brit. pounds pbk.
B01DUR8F7O, $9.99, Kindle, 77pp,

Dr. K. G. Balakrishnan Kandangath
Reviewer & Poet

This book "Town of Dudley Sixth" a novella in just 48 pages attracted me very much. Firstly because it is from a budding writer in his late teens! Really the book astonished me!

Secondly, the work is the opening work of the Author. To my wonder, he presents the story very beautifully and skilfully! The style is very mature! I honestly believe that the youngster is having a brilliant future as a storyteller as well as a great writer.

The book is rather a fantasy. Am not going to the details. Still, I can assure one thing. The flow of the story will attract you! "The Dark world" is separated(rather protected) from the goodness with a strong unbreakable wall! How much true it is! But attempt to break it is going on! Yes, it is the picture of human life! One can interpret this concept in this way: This is the story of the day to day rather of moment by moment struggle going on between inner and outer world! The conflict going on continuously between the True and the untrue!

Conclusion: The young writer has mastered the language very well. This book deserves wide reading and appreciation. Me as a senior writer, (am a septuagenarian writing since 55 years!) wish all the best to this talented young novelist.

Noam Osband, directory & producer
Filmmaker's Library
$295.00, DVD, Color, 50 Minutes

Tom Ipri, Reviewer
Drexel University

Jr. High - General Adult: Immigration, Latin Americans, Multiculturalism, Religion

Adelante is a touching portrait of how one Catholic parish adapted to the changing demographics of their community. Noam Osband's film documents how an influx of Mexican immigrants invigorated a traditionally Irish church that had slowly been losing parishioners. Although brief mention is given to some members of the community who resent the immigrants, the overall tone is uplifting as the church members depicted in the film are welcoming and willing to adapt their traditions to those of the new parishioners. The title, Spanish for "come in," is apt.

The film does an excellent job at setting the stage, giving a brief history of St. Patrick's Church in Norristown, PA. The majority of the film focuses on Father Murphy who works with the immigrant community to make the church an important part of their new experience. Fluent in Spanish, Father Murphy provides support without judgment. He offers masses in both English and Spanish. Although sex before marriage is anathema to Catholics, Murphy is understanding of young couples who have children prior to marriage not wanting to marry without their families, still back in Mexico, present. He works with those who want to get married to provide group weddings to make them more affordable.

In addition to Murphy, Osband's film follows a select few immigrant and a handful of older church members to tell this fascinating story of how these two cultures worked together to create a vibrant church. Despite a slight hint of self-preservation, Father Murphy's desire to bring these two cultures together feels genuine.

Osband accomplishes a lot in 50 minutes. The production is pretty basic, but the premise and the stories of the church members make this a special and memorable film.

Highly Recommended Highly Recommended

Awards: Canada International Film Festival, 2014 - Rising Star Award

Tell Me Your Story: How Therapy Works to Awaken, Heal, and Set You Free
Tuya Pearl
She Writes Press
c/o Sparkpoint Studio
80 E. Rio Salado Pkwy, Suite 511, Tempe, AZ 85281
9781631520662, $16.95 PB, $8.49 Kindle, 336pp,

Allyson Gracie

Tell Me Your Story: How Therapy Works to Awaken, Heal, and Set You Free is penned by therapist Tuya Pearl, who herself is an amazing storyteller. Pearl is an experienced therapist with her own family (translates into "issues") and, like most healers, her foundation is solid from her own process. A quote from an early chapter "My decision to become a psychotherapist was made a long time ago, by a young girl hungry to bring some good out of a confusing reality" portrays her depth and sensitivity.

In her engaging book, Pearl walks readers step by step into a therapy session, encouraging the reader to get comfortable as she describes symptomologies and storytelling. The chapters gently skip back and forth between clients and topics to create a balance between real-life experience and lecture.

Pearl's written voice is gentle and calming, grounded in her own healing as she invites readers to consider taking a risk on face-to-face therapy as a primary door to change. You'll love the list of rewards for awakening, healing, and being freed up from past you'll find at the end of her book, such as her Symptoms of Inner Peace: Loss of interest in conflict, loss of ability to worry, and frequent episodes of appreciation. Paperback: $16.95. Healing from the past: Priceless.

One Last Dance
Ernesto Patino
Indigo Sea Press
9781630662721, $11.95 PB, $4.95 kindle, 174 pages,

Danielle Urban

One Last Dance by Ernesto Patino is an inspirational romance story. One that will tug at reader's hearts. I definitely felt the pull on my own heart. The emotions that flew through me were sadness, loss, grief, hope, and love. I was amazed at the survival and second chances that occurred in the tale.

Ernesto Patino wrote a beautifully woven story that I won't ever forget. The character's loss and grief were realistic. It was easy for me to connect with him on those levels. It's never easy to lose someone we loved. As fate would have it, Marco Anissi ends up in a coma from crashing into the same spot that he crashed into before. Except the first time, ended up killing his fiance. The second time, fate only put him into a deep sleep. After waking up from his coma, Marco learns that his fiance's heart lives in another woman. This propels the man to find the woman and meet her. A part of his fiance still lives and he wants to be there to be near the heart of his fiance's.

The novel is deeply engaging, fast-paced and absolutely brilliant. I couldn't stop reading it. Maybe...Marco can find peace and love once more... Overall, I highly recommend One Last Dance to all.

A Buss from Lafayette
Dorothea Jensen
BQB Publishing
9781939371904, $16.95 pbk / $7.99 eBook, 266pp

I Read What You Write Blog

"In this coming [of] age novel, Clara Hargraves must come to terms with a stepmother she feels is trying to take her dead mother's place, her flaming red hair that draws attention and teasing, and just being a 14 year old girl.

The book takes place in 1825 and as the title suggests, central to the story is the tour of The States by Revolutionary War Hero, General Lafayette. While Clara navigates the inevitable and timeless pitfalls of being a 14 year old, the world around her is abuzz with Lafayette's tour stops. It seems that whereever she goes the adults are discussing him and his contribution to the Revolutionary War. Against that canvas Clara gets to learn a few things about life not always being what it seems. Maybe her Evil Stepmother/Aunt isn't the villain Clara would like to believe. Maybe her hateful "perfect' cousin isn't so perfect after all. And that boy who has been teasing her mercilessly for years, well just maybe he isn't so bad either. An unexpected meeting will change her perspective on herself and her family.

Middle grade girls will immediately identify and relate with Clara. Despite the historical time gap, Clara's life isn't so different from theirs; Chores, boys, growing womanhood and greater responsibilities. Meanwhile, without even realizing it they will pick up an excellent education on the primary figures of the American Revolution, as well what life was like for kids their age in the early 1800's. For that reason, I believe in a classroom setting this book would also appeal to middle grade boys."

Drifting Too Far From The Shore
Niles Reddick
Summertime Publications Inc.
9781940333090, $14.99 PB, 202 pages,

Sandra Warfield

Niles Reddick's "Drifting Too Far From the Shore" is an excellent literary novel that combines nostalgia, complex characters and a good deal of humor as the book follows the aging Muddy Rewis, who is hoping to soon be reunited with her late husband, Claude. Muddy lives in a small Southern town with her children not so far away that they can't visit her, but she doesn't want to be that involved or to meddle in their lives. She is content to stay home at this point in her life and let them come to her.

Her two grandsons visit one day and Muddy has them do some yard work for her. After they've finished she roots through the closet and gives the boys a few pieces of clothing that belonged to her late husband. She also takes out a box that contains her husband's two pistols because she wants her grandsons to have them. Muddy doesn't know that one still has a bullet in it and her grandson accidentally shoots out the window of the neighbor across the street, Fred Stalvey. From this incident, Muddy learns that Fred isn't the old dirty scarecrow she thought he was.

Muddy has many incidents with family and friends in the book, but nostalgia took over when songs like "Farther Along" and "Angel Band" were mentioned. "Drifting Too Far From the Shore" has a bit of everything that brings the book together in one delightful look at a woman's strengths and life lessons from a character who isn't easy to forget.

This copy of the book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Breakfast for Alligators: Quests, Showdowns, and Revelations in the Americas
Darrin DuFord
Tilted Hat Press
9780692664438, $15.95 PB, $8.95 Kindle, 294pp,

William Caverlee
Perceptive Travel

In this lively collection of travel dispatches from the Americas, north and south, Darrin DuFord, a contributor to this webzine, has a knack for befriending locals, tracking down hidden communities, sampling local cuisine, and seeking out curiosities and singular citizens.

Most of Breakfast for Alligators takes place in South and Central America. Guyana, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Guatemala all receive multiple chapters. In a characteristic encounter, DuFord finds himself in the town of Chuy (or Chui), which is located half in Uruguay, half in Brazil. There, he goes looking for an espeto corrido, the kind of nonstop Brazilian steakhouse that vegans run shrieking from in their nightmares. There, he meets a cheerful, expansive Uruguayan rancher named Edelmar. Edelmar loves his land, his cattle, his sheep, and his ranching business as much as he loves tucking into a steak. "He mentioned that several investors had approached him recently about renting out part of his land to well-heeled hunters. 'I want to keep the land the way it is,' he said, and then added, 'why do something that doesn't make you happy?'"

"Why indeed?" we ask, recognizing a philosophy worth adopting.

In North America, DuFord visits New York, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and Quebec - these final chapters comprise only six of the book's thirty-two dispatches. Still, there's time to visit a competitive hamburger-eating contest in Queens and to accompany a pair of law enforcement officers on a nighttime nutria hunt (using rifles) in the canals of New Orleans. Nutria are beaver-sized South American rodents that have been chomping and eating their way through Louisiana since first being brought here in the 1930s. Even their status as fast food for alligators hasn't stemmed the tide.

DuFord's excellent tour of the Americas is gritty, funny, street-savvy, boisterous, and informative.

Big Flies
Keith Hirshland
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781532719363, $14.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 227pp,

Alexander Rigby

After Chester Daniel David, highly celebrated travel writer and hospitality critic, dies in an automobile accident, his son, Leland, is the heir to his prosperous estate. Among the late writer's possessions are stacks of magazines hidden in an attic that suggest that his stories about his world travels were less than authentic.

As Leland grew up, it seemed as if his father was never home. Leland begins to recognize that his father was not the man he thought he was and admits to himself he always felt like something was missing. Through his discoveries, Leland finds his father wasn't merely missing a piece of himself, he was expertly hiding his true self. In a witty mystery that simultaneously follows the lives of the father and son, clues that Chester leaves behind point to notorious unsolved crimes committed within a fifteen-year span. As Leland unlocks the mysteries surrounding his father's true life, he finds himself with even more unfathomable questions that he never anticipated asking about his family - and himself.

Told with humor through vibrant characters, Big Flies, draws you into the mischief and budding excitement of two young men discovering hidden taboo skills like mind control and cracking safes. Based in the beautiful and serene landscape of the Sierra Nevada, Hirshland brings the tale of two talented young men full circle. Each chapter brings an alternating point of view that can be jarring at times and make you wonder where you are in the story. Used as a storytelling mechanism, the frequent time jumps give the reader glimpses of what Leland will soon discover about his father, what he has already discovered about himself, and what is yet to come. With each page, the secret life of Chester Daniel David comes to light and we begin to get a glimpse of the man he really was and the man Leland hoped he had been. Big Flies offers readers a thrilling ride to self-discovery and a chance to solve a few of the biggest mysteries of the last century.

Gratitude Miracles: The 5-Minute Journal That Could Change Everything
Joyce Wycoff
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781535592581, $12.95, PB, 220 pages,

G. L. Snead, Reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars -- Making the Gratitude Journal Process a Pleasure.

I've worked with gratitude journals sporadically over many years and I always experience results that make me wonder why I don't do this every day. It's like daily exercise: even though we know how important it is, and yes it makes a difference, it's still hard to do every day. Joyce Wycoff has put this book together with a design, a process, and forms, that make this a pleasure to experience. I've been sitting on the deck with my partner this morning, both of us writing in our own books, and having a delightful and meaningful experience doing this together. We just talked about buying a case of these to use for gifts. We know some people may not understand or be open to the idea that miracles can occur from something so simple but many of our friends truly understand the concept and will welcome a tool that makes it such a pleasure. I've been a fan of Joyce, her books, and her creative process for many years. I think this is her finest work.

Darkness in Paradise
Gloria VanDemmeltraadt
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781480815391, $14.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 199 pages,

Lynn D. Garthwaite

As a history buff I was very intrigued by the inside look at what life was like during World War II for people in a time and place completely different from my own experiences. The Japanese occupation of Indonesia changed everything for this Dutch family which had made Indonesia their home, and Gloria VanDemmeltraadt does a beautiful job of describing how the war affected them. Reading that schools were closed for four years stunned me, and understanding how the culture of Indonesia was changed under Japanese rule was fascinating. This is a well told story of one family and their life in Indonesia, their transition to life in Holland and then back to Indonesia and how everything flipped again as the island nation struggled for independence after the war. Then to add Onno's fascinating anecdotes about some supernatural events - I was hooked!

The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street
Jacob M. Appel
Howling Bird
Augsburg College
9780996195218, $20.00, 184 pages

Joan Baum

It's been said that you can tell good writing from page one, line one, and that is certainly true with the opening story, of eight, in a new fiction collection The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street by polymath Jacob Appel - physician, lawyer, bioethicist and award-winning fiction writer and playwright with a record as well of numerous publications in major journals and newspapers. With graduate and professional degrees from Brown, Columbia, Harvard, NYU and Albany Medical College, Appel also, a brief bio indicates, "taught for many years at Brown University, and currently teaches at the Gotham Writers' Workshop and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine." Such a multi-discipline resume would suggest a long and unusual lifetime of achievement, so it comes as a surprise, a shock, actually, to learn that Appel is only 43! Were he 83, his expertise would still startle, as these stories evidence, covering as they do, in authentic detail, widely diverse subject matter and settings. Some stories are in the third person, some in first, some hilarious, others verging on fantasy, absurdity or pathos, all remarkably compelling and impressively imaginative.

The title story, the second in the collection, is preceded by the opener, "The Current Occupant," a quirky, if not loony, situation treated with humor and compassion. It begins this way: "Idiot that he was - and every time Lewinter dozed off, his wife woke him to remind him of his infernal stupidity - he'd bought a house from a mail-order catalog." It turns out that someone's living in Lewinter's house, way off in the New Hampshire boonies, and it's his former hippie college sweetheart." Appel's strength is in in slyly and smoothly expanding the ostensible narrative. Here, the initial situation is buttressed by other events - a forthcoming baby shower for Lewinter's first grandchild - and scenes of both affection and distress with his difficult, sarcastic wife. "The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street," set in a small town in Virginia, is just as peculiar - a young lawyer's mother insists on going around topless, but what would seem to be sit com eases into a heartfelt insider look into what keeps older people full of spirit, as Quincy comes to realize that clothed and in-conformity-with-his-and-the-town's-wishes Mom could be - clothed - only "a breathing shell that you might pass on a public street without even taking notice."

"Lessons in Platygaenism" will surely send readers off to a dictionary, but if not, the narrative nicely explains that "platygaenism" is a hypothesis that the earth is flat, a position adamantly advanced by the elderly uncle of the protagonist. Living out his days in remote Bear Claw Alaska, Uncle Rex, with a history of mental illness, is clearly a smart and well-read man and even more intuits how to ease his nephew and the nephew's younger step brother, into a world that otherwise might prove painful. The heart here rules over empirical truth or science.

"Bioethics for Dunces" takes a dark turn, as a specialist in ending life support and with a medical ethics show on public ratio, faces the fact that his daughter is in a coma from an attempted suicide, and that his wife refuses to acknowledge the situation. She goes so far as to hold a birthday celebration at the hospital bed. How to accommodate both of them, practically and compassionately. In "One Wish" Appel goes fabulous with a tale of a lonely man who picks up a bottle with a genie inside. The genie tells him he must make one wish. A kind man, a deeply devoted veterinarian, he's torn between wanting the love of his young assistant, who's engaged, and wanting to establish a nationwide chain of free animal clinics. The ending will surprise and please.

"Toward Uncharted Waters," arguably one of the weirdest, or is that imaginative, in the collection, takes so many cuckoo turns that it's almost unbelievable, but of course, Appel's forte is in getting the reader to engage in a willing suspension of disbelief in order to appreciate from a new vantage point the irony of how chance accident can inform and totally change one's life. In "Rendezvous in Wiketernity" Appel returns to cleverly crafted humor with a story about editing one's bio online in accordance with a wished-for life that contains one (of many) great Appel metaphors: "The woman had her hair curled into a pager boy flip, like a Kennedy-era model, and she exuded a vibe of marinated displeasure." The final story, "Long Term" concerns a man, Philip, a doctor, who collects iron lungs in his basement ("How easy to mistake them for vessels of the early NASA fleet") and has graciously opened his home to his confused great niece. The concluding theme is a gentle revisiting of the theme of the opening story - accepting life which "for all its ordeals" has left him unbroken - wisdom that what in earlier times seemed a "burden" may become a "blessing."

The Topless Widow of Herkimer Street could and should be part of the curricula of creative writing classes.

This review first appeared in Education Update. www.

Andrea's Bookshelf

The Jewelled Kitchen
Bethany Kehdy
c/o Angel Business Club
9781848992894, $19.95, PB, 224pp,

Bethany Kehdy is renowned for the contemporary Middle Eastern and North African recipes that she publishes on her blog ( In "Jewelled Kitchen: A Stunning Collection of Lebanese, Moroccan, and Persian Recipes", she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to create a truly impressive and beautifully illustrated culinary compendium of exotic dishes made thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly'. The palate pleasing, appetite satisfying dishes range from Lamb & Bulgur Torpedoes; Chicken with Caraway Couscous; Spiced Lamb with Flatbread Pizzas; and Chickpea Flour Quiche; to Salmon with Herby Butter and Barberries; Mixed Bean & herb Noodle Soup; Middle Eastern Cheesecake; and Turkish Delight. Inherently fascinating to browse through and inspiring to plan menus with, "The Jewelled Kitchen" is enthusiastically recommended for personal, family, professional, and community library cookbook collections. It should be noted that "The Jewelled Kitchen is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).

300 Things I Hope
Iain S. Thomas, author
Carla Kreuser, illustrator
Central Avenue Publishing
c/o Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781771680462 $14.95

Illustrated with simple black-and-white line drawings, 300 Things I Hope is a collection of three hundred brief thoughts, hopes, and dreams, most of which are expressed in a single sentence. Heartfelt and inspirational, 300 Things I Hope is emotional to browse and makes an excellent giftbook. Encouraging vignettes include "I hope you see something everyone's seen a million times, and you see something different," and "I hope you read the books you love reading and that reading never feels like hard work." Highly recommended.

My Own Dear Brother
Holly Muller
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781632865335, $28.00, HC, 464pp,

It is 1944, and war has taken the men in Nazi-controlled Austria to the front line. For thirteen-year-old Ursula Hildesheim, life in the village of Felddorf remains almost as it was: bullied by her schoolmates, enlisted in endless chores by her mother and sister, thieving, and running wild with her adored older brother, Anton. But then Russian prisoners escape from the local concentration camp, her mother starts an affair with a married man, her only friend goes missing, and her brother's allegiance to the Hitler Youth emerges in shocking ways--and Ursula finds herself alone, disturbed by dark memories, and surrounded by threat. In this new world of conflict, Ursula discovers a bravery she has never known before and is forced to recognize that danger comes not only from the enemy at the door but from the enemy within. "My Own Dear Brother" is a compelling coming-of-age story and an unflinching study of both cruelty and courage. A consistently engaging read from beginning to end, "My Own Dear Brother" clearly establishes author Holly Muller as an exceptionally gifted novelist. While unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "My Own Dear Brother" is also available in a Kindle format ($19.99).

The Pact
Amanda West Lewis
Red Deer Press
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited
195 Allstate Parkway, Markham, Ontario, Canada, L3R 4T8
9780889955448, $14.95, PB, 352pp,

Peter Gruber is a ten year old German boy who, in May of 1939, is dealing with the drowning death of his closest friend, living with his mother in Hamburg. "The Pact" by Amanda West Lewis" follows Peter's life through the war years and the ultimate defeat of Germany, exploring how an intelligent, sensitive youth responds to the propaganda and posturing of the Nazis. "The Pact" also provides keen insights into the realities of living in a country at war, as seen through the eyes of a boy who is drawn into the Hitler Youth, while having growing misgivings about what he is being told about his country and its destiny. A deftly crafted and consistently engaging novel from beginning to end, "The Pact" is unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for personal reading lists of young readers ages 10 to 15, as well as school and community library collections.

Goddess and God in the World
Carol P. Christ & Judith Plaskow
Fortress Press
P.O. Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1209
9781506401188, $29.00, PB, 364pp,

In "Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology", theologians Carol P. Christ (Director of the Ariadne institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual) and Judith Plaskow (Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at Manhattan College, Bronx, New York) propose a new method for thinking about theological questions: embodied theology rooted in experience and tested in dialogue. Their theological conversation begins from the premise that the transcendent, omnipotent male God of traditional theologies must be replaced with new understandings of divinity that can provide orientation and guidance as we face the social, political, and environmental challenges of our time. Situating divinity in the world and placing responsibility for the future firmly in human hands, they argue for an inclusive monotheism that affirms the unity of being through a plurality of images celebrating diversity and difference. Carol proposes that Goddess is the intelligent embodied love that is in all being, a personal presence that can inspire us to love the world more deeply. Judith counters that God is an impersonal power of creativity, the ground of being that includes both good and evil. Their probing of the autobiographical sources of their theologies combined with an intense questioning of each other's views offers both a new way of speaking about Goddess and God and a fruitful model of theological conversation across difference. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Goddess and God in the World" is a consistently compelling, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking read. While very highly recommended for church, seminary, community, and academic library General Religion Studies collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Goddess and God in the World" is also available in a Kindle format ($15.65).

Andrea Kay

Bethany's Bookshelf

Moscow in the 1930s
Natalia Gromova
Glagoslav Publications
9781784379728, $33.50, HC, 366pp,

Synopsis: "Moscow in the 1930s: A Novel from the Archives" by Natalia Gromova reveals Moscow as it was in a bygone age, a city now found only on old maps, but an era that continues to haunt us today. The novel features a wide cast of characters, who are all tied together by the author herself. The reader plunges into the remarkable Moscow literary scene of those days, and literature aficionados will encounter within a number of important locations for the history of Russian letters: the Dobrov house, Peredelkino, Lavrushinsky Lane, Borisoglebsky Lane - and also the names of legendary figures such as Olga Bessarabova, Maria Belkina, and Lydia Libedinskaya.

History is brought to life in the pages of "Moscow in the 1930s" as the author introduces the reader to Leonid Andreyev, leads us on a tour of the side-streets and alleyways of the Arbat district, and shows us the tattered notebooks of Olga Bessarabova. All this has long since fallen away into history, but now it proves so easily accessible to us.

About the author: Natalia Gromova was born into a military family in the Russian Far East in 1959 and moved to Moscow at an early age. At 16 she found employment at the State Historical Library. After completing her studies, she served as an editor on The Soviet Encyclopedia, and later worked at the Marina Tsvetaeva Museum. Since the late 1990s, her exploration of the Russian archives and of private collections has resulted in a number of acclaimed historical and biographical studies focusing on the early 20th century and the war years. Natalia Gromova is a writer and researcher specializing in the literary life of the 1920s - 1950s. Her books (The Knot. Poets: Friendships and Breakups, Wanderers of War. Memoirs of Writers' Children and The Tablecloth of Lydia Libedinskaya) are based on private archives, diaries and face-to-face conversations with real people. She lives in Moscow.

Critique: Impressively well written and a consistently compelling read from beginning to end, "Moscow in the 1930s" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Moscow in the 1930s" is also available in a paperback edition (9781784379711, $34.25) and in Kindle format ($9.99).

Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader
Matthew Qvortrup
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9781468313161, $37.95, HC, 376pp,

Synopsis: "Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader" by Matthew Qvortrup (Professor of Political Science, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry, England) is the inherently fascinating story of Angela Merkel's political ascent, in which she outmaneuvered her male colleagues and made Germany the strongest economy in Europe.

With the storytelling gifts of a novelist, as well as nuanced political expertise garnered from over a decade of experience as an academic and journalist, Matt Qvortrup gives readers unprecedented, personal insight into Frau Merkel's upbringing under communism, describing how the Secret Police tried to recruit her as a spy, how she lived as a squatter in Berlin, and how she went from distributing leaflets to sitting at the Cabinet table in Helmut Kohl's government in less than a year. "Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader" (told for the first time in English) reveals how Merkel and her staff of mostly female advisors repeatedly outsmarted the old boys network of conservative male politicians in Germany, turning her country into a more liberal and more prosperous place.

"Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader" combines the narrative of Merkel's life with a vivid account of German history from 1945 to the present day, featuring cameo appearances by Willy Brandt, Konrad Adenauer, and Helmut Kohl. At a time when Merkel is the chief representative of the west in the negotiations with Putin over the Ukraine, she is also the woman who holds the keys to British membership of the EU. Of special note is that Angela Merkel holds a doctorate in quantum physics.

Critique: Impressively researched, exceptionally detailed. extraordinarily well written, organized and presented, "Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader" is a consistently compelling read from beginning to end and very highly recommended for community, college, and academic library Biography collections in general, and Contemporary German Political History supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Angela Merkel: Europe's Most Influential Leader" is also available in a Kindle format ($16.99).

Manga Vision: Cultural and Communicative Perspectives
Sarah Pasfield-Neofitou & Cathy Sell, editors
Queenie Chan, illustrator
Monash University Press
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9781925377064, $49.95, PB, 302pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Sarah Pasfield-Neofitou and Cathy Sell, the contributions comprising "Manga Vision: Cultural and Communicative Perspectives" deftly examines cultural and communicative aspects of Japanese comics, drawing together scholars from Japan, Australia and Europe working in areas as diverse as cultural studies, linguistics, education, music, art, anthropology, and translation, to explore the influence of manga in Japan and worldwide via translation, OEL manga and fan engagement.

"Manga Visions" includes a mix of theoretical, methodological, empirical and professional practice-based chapters, examining manga from both academic and artistic perspectives. Manga Vision also provides the reader with a multimedia experience, featuring original artwork by Australian manga artist Queenie Chan, cosplay photographs, and an online supplement offering musical compositions inspired by manga, and downloadable manga-related teaching resources.

Critique: Exceptionally informed and informative, offering a wealth of thoughtful and thought-provoking insights, "Manga Vision: Cultural and Communicative Perspectives" is a unique and highly recommended addition to community and academic library Popular Culture collections in general, and Managa Art supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

How Does That Make You Feel?
Sherry Amatenstein, editor
Seal Press
1700 - 4th Street, Berkeley, California 94710
9781580056243, $17.00, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by professional therapist Sherry Amatenstein, "How Does That Make You Feel?: True Confessions from Both Sides of the Therapy Couch" is comprised of thirty four articles that obliterates the boundaries between the shrink and the one being shrunk with unabashedly candid writers breaking confidentiality and telling all about their experiences in therapy. Revelatory, no-punches-pulled, "How Does That Make You Feel?" brings to light both sides of the "relationship" between therapist and client, and the establishment of a bond that can feel pure and profound, even if it is, at times, illusory. Contributors include an array of essayists, authors, TV/film writers and therapists, including Patti Davis, Beverly Donofrio, Royal Young, Molly Peacock, Susan Shapiro, Charlie Rubin, Estelle Erasmus, and Dennis Palumbo.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, consistently compelling, insightful and thought-provoking read from cover to cover, "How Does That Make You Feel?: True Confessions from Both Sides of the Therapy Couch" is strongly recommended and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. Of special note for non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject is that "How Does That Make You Feel?" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.99).

That Night Alive
Tara Deal
Miami University Press
356 Bachelor Hall, Oxford OH 45056
9781881163602, $15.00, PB, 113pp,

Synopsis: "That Night Alive" by Tara Deal is part futuristic fiction and part meditative memoir. The story begins on the narrator's death date and moves backward in time to tell her story. She traces her path as a successful crypto-reporter, navigating a life of secrecy and solitude and world travel. A counter-narrative intersects, told by the same woman as a young artist struggling to create a work of beauty. In the pages of "That Night Alive" author Tara Deal deftly investigates art and failure, persistence and success.

Critique: Original, compelling, thought-provoking, impressively well written and completely riveting from first page to last, "That Night Alive" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.

Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU
Jenny Jaeckel
Raincloud Press
PO Box 9078, Chico, CA 95927
9781941203118, $19.95, PB, 116pp,

Synopsis: A visually gripping and deeply personal memoir, "Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU" delivers the gritty details of a mother, a newborn, and a five-month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). A routine prenatal exam reveals a dangerous problem and the first-time parents find themselves thrust into a world of close calls, sleepless nights, and psychological crisis. Surrounded by disagreements, deaths, extended family tensions, and questions of faith, the mother struggles to maintain a positive frame of mind. Against the antiseptic, mechanical reality of the NICU, the dedicated health professionals are drawn as sympathetic and wry animal characters. Doctor Eyes and Nurse Gentlehands are two of the care providers that do all they can to take care of Baby Asa. At times the parents battle feelings of helplessness but their determination, insight, bravery, and connection ultimately helps keep their little one alive.

Critique: Presented in a kind of graphic novel format, this non-fiction personal story is exceptionally well presented and will prove to be a consistently riveting read from cover to cover. Simply stated, "Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU" is highly recommended for community library collections and personal reading lists.

The Secret People
Melusine Draco
Moon Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
9781785354441, $12.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: Much of what passes for 'witchcraft' today was everyday knowledge to our forebears, especially those who lived and worked in the countryside. "The Secret People: Parish-Pump Witchcraft, Wise-Women and Cunning Ways" is comprised of practical household hints, remedies and family recipes that had been handed down from generation to generation, some still existing in the form of treasured journals and notebooks. There is, however, nothing fanciful or far-fetched about this information - in fact, "The Secret People" is author Melusine Draco's remembrances of times past and a preservation of 'parish-pump witchcraft, wise-women and cunning ways' adapted for use in the 21st century. "The Secret People" may also go a long way in helping those present-generation pagans in search of an identity and answer the questions: Who ... what am I?

Critique: Melusine Draco originally trained in the magical arts of traditional British Old Craft with Bob and Meriem Clay-Egerton. She has been a magical and spiritual instructor for over 20 years with Arcanum and the Temple of Khem, and writer of numerous popular books. In "The Secret People: Parish-Pump Witchcraft, Wise-Women and Cunning Ways" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to provide the non-specialist general reader with a compendium of extraordinarily well organized and presented information that will prove to be an inherently fascinating and impressively informative read from beginning to end. 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 "The Secret People" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).

Manifest Your Magnificence
Joan E. Walmsley
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781504341042, $42.95, HC, 418pp,

"Manifest Your Magnificence: The Energetics of Being" by Joan e. Walmsley (who is the founder of the Manifest Your Magnificence Foundation and creator of the Manifest Your Magnificence programs dedicated to the development of evolutionary leadership and activism through self-empowerment, personal mastery, and management of the human energy system) describes the synthesis currently occurring between science and metaphysics that reveals the energetic nature of all life and the amazing truth behind physical reality. "Manifest Your Magnificence" discusses the relationship between energy and consciousness, and how management of your own energy signature can change your reality and even your physical body. "Manifest Your Magnificence" demonstrates how you can connect to the immense energy available at the higher frequencies of your own being to manifest abundance, love, and peace for yourself, your family, your business, your community, and your world.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Manifest Your Magnificence: The Energetics of Being" is an inherently thoughtful and thought-provoking read that might well provide a life changing experience and is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal self-help, self-improvement reading lists that "Manifest Your Magnificence" is also available in a paperback edition (9781504341035, $24.99).

Nanjing Never Cries
Hong Zheng
Killian Press
c/o The MIT Press
One Rogers Street, Cambridge MA 02142-1209
9781944347000, $29.95, HC, 376pp,

Synopsis: John Winthrop and his MIT classmate, the brilliant Chinese physicist Calvin Ren (Ren Kewen); Judy, Calvin's Chinese-American wife; and the beautiful and determined young woman Chen May. John and Calvin take up positions at Nanjing's National Central University and collaborate on a top-secret project to design and build warplanes to enable the Chinese to defend themselves against Japanese bombers. Meanwhile, John enjoys his new life in Nanjing. He helps the lovely May with her English, falling a little in love with her; he shops for antiques; meets with Chiang Kai-Shek and Madame Chiang; and once attends an evening's entertainment at one of Nanjing's notorious Wine Houses. But when the Japanese invade, there is no safe place in the city. The Japanese murder, torture, and rape indiscriminately. May sees her own family killed; John works in a shelter for women and children; Calvin's family flees the city while Calvin, weakened by overwork, stays behind to work on the warplane project. Each tries to survive against the odds. May vows to hunt down the soldier who murders her father. When the war is over, she finds him sweeping Nanjing streets as a war prisoner. The story then ends with the force of an explosion.

Critique: Set in the city of Nanjing during the time of the Sino-Japanese war (1937--1945), "Nanjing Never Cries" by Hong Zheng is the story of four people who are caught up in the violence and tumult of these turbulent years. Vivid and disturbing, Nanjing Never Cries offers an exceptionally compelling story of the horror of war and the power of love and friendship. A deftly crafted novel with flawless background details and a consistently engaging storyline, "Nanjing Never Cries" is a truly riveting read from beginning to end and unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nanjing Never Cries" is also available in a Kindle format ($28.45).

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

False Prophets and Preachers
Christopher S. Mackay
Truman State University Press
100 East Normal Street, Kirksville, MO 63501-4221
9781612481418, $65.00, HC, 400pp,

Synopsis: In February 1534, a radical group of Anabaptists, gripped with apocalyptic fervor, seized the city of Munster and established an idealistic communal government that quickly deteriorated into extreme inequality and theocratic totalitarianism. In response, troops hired by the city's prince-bishop laid siege to the city. Fifteen months later, the besieged inhabitants were starving, and in the dead of the night, five men slipped out. Separated from his fellow escapees, Henry Gresbeck gambled with his life by approaching enemy troops. Taken prisoner, he collaborated with the enemy to devise a plan to recapture Munster and later recorded the only eyewitness account of the Anabaptist kingdom of Munster. Gresbeck's account, which attempts to explain his role in the bizarre events, disappeared into the archives and was largely ignored for centuries. Before now, Gresbeck's personal account was only available in a heavily edited German copy adapted from inferior manuscripts. In "False Prophets and Preachers: Henry Gresbeck's Account of the Anabaptist Kingdom of Munster", Christopher S. Mackay (Full Professor in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta, Canada), who previously produced the only modern translation of the main Latin account of these events, has adhered closely to Gresbeck's own words to produce the first complete and accurate English translation of this important primary source.

Critique: An impressive and seminal work of outstanding scholarship, "False Prophets and Preachers: Henry Gresbeck's Account of the Anabaptist Kingdom of Munster" is enhanced with the inclusion of a twelve page Appendix, a four page Bibliography, and a thirteen page Scripture References Index. While very highly recommended for community, college, and university library European History collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers that "False Prophets and Preachers" is also available in a Kindle format ($49.99).

Elite Minds
Stan Beecham
McGraw Hill Professional
1221 Avenue of the Americas, 45th Floor, New York, NY 10020
9781259836169, $25.00, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Elite Minds: How Winners Think Differently to Create a Competitive Edge and Maximize Success", sports psychologist and performance consultant Stan Beeham reveals the winning secrets of some of the world's most consistently successful people. "Elite Minds" takes the reader inside the minds of major-league athletes, Olympic medal winners, and world-class business leaders to reveal the key motivators and mental processes that drive people to victory. Readers will learn how to: retain their brain to think like a winner; conquer fears and go after goals; achieve peak performances and reach full potentials; become who they truly want to be mentally, physically, personally, and professionally. The proven mind techniques presented in "Elite Minds" apply to any field or endeavor quickly, easily, and effectively.

Critique: Impressively insightful, exceptionally practical in application, informed and informative, "Elite Minds: How Winners Think Differently to Create a Competitive Edge and Maximize Success" is one of those 'life changing reads' that can change the course of personal destiny. While very highly recommended for community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Elite Minds" is also available in a Kindle format ($14.75).

Creativity and Innovation
Jonathan A. Plucker, editor
Prufrock Press
PO Box 8813, Waco, TX 76714-8813
9781618215956, $65.00, PB, 334pp,

Synopsis: Creativity and innovation are frequently mentioned as key 21st-century skills for career and life success. Indeed, recent research provides evidence that the jobs of the future will increasingly require the ability to bring creative solutions to complex problems. And creativity is often the spice of life, that little extra something that makes the mundane into the interesting, making our routines into fresh new approaches to our daily lives. Over the past quarter century, our understanding of creativity has advanced significantly-we know more about what it is (and isn't), we better understand how to foster it, and we have deeper, more complex knowledge about how it relates to intelligence, leadership, personality, and other constructs. Compiled and edited by Jonathan A. Plucker (who is the Julian C. Stanley Professor of Talent Development at Johns Hopkins University, where he is affiliated with the Center for Talented Youth and School of Education), "Creativity and Innovation: Theory, Research, and Practice" brings together some of the world's best thinkers and researchers on creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship to provide a comprehensive but highly readable overview of these exciting, important topics.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Creativity and Innovation: Theory, Research, and Practice" is an impressive compendium of informed and informative articles contributed by experts in the field. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Creativity and Innovation" is also available in a Kindle format ($61.75).

Future: Economic Peril or Prosperity?
Robert M. Whaples, Christopher J. Coyne, Michael C. Munger
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621-1428
9781598132748, $21.95, HC, 160pp,

Synopsis: What will the economy look like in fifty years? How will our lives as consumers and workers be transformed by the coming innovations in technology, the marketplace, and the workplace? How will changes in demographics and dependency affect our political system? Will economic freedom rise or fall? What, if anything, would greater prosperity do for one's total well-being?

"Future: Economic Peril or Prosperity?" poses these and related questions to a diverse group of economists whose predictions will inspire thoughtful consideration and debate.

Just as important as the book's predictions are its insights into how we should think about an uncertain future. Perhaps only by delving more deeply into long-term forecasting, and reflecting on past mistakes, can we minimize the hubris that so often clouds the judgments of prognosticators in academia, business, and (perhaps especially) government.

Critique: Exceptionally and impressively organized and presented, "Future: Economic Peril or Prosperity? " is especially well informed and informative, occasionally iconoclastic, and at times down right inspirational. Very highly recommended for community, college, and university library Economics collections and supplemental studies reading lists, "Future: Economic Peril or Prosperity? will prove to be an invaluable and insightful aid for anyone who understands the need to prepare for the future, even if that future cannot be fully anticipated. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Future: Economic Peril or Prosperity?" is also available in an ebook format ($13.99).

How to Use the Internet to Advertise, Promote, and Market Your Business or Web Site - With Little or No Money
Bruce C. Brown & Lawrence Chan
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
1405 S.W. 6th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34471
9781601389497, $39.95, HC, 336pp,

Synopsis: Now in a significantly updated and expanded third edition, "How to Use the Internet to Advertise, Promote, and Market Your Business or Web Site - With Little or No Money" is specifically written for the non-specialist general reader who
is interested in promoting his or her business and/or web site, but must operate on a shoestring (or even no string!) budget.

This thoroughly 'user friendly' instruction manual effectively shows how to build, promote, and make money off of a web site as well as a brick and mortar store using the Internet, with minimal costs. This do-it-yourself guide shows how to generate more traffic for a web site or store with hundreds of Internet marketing methods, including many free and low-cost promotions.

Offering a comprehensive, hands-on, step-by-step guide for increasing web site traffic and traditional store traffic by using hundreds of proven tips, tools, and techniques, readers will be taught how they can target more customers to their business and optimize their web site from a marketing perspective -- including targeting campaigns, using keywords, generate free advertising, employ search-engine strategies, apply inside secrets of e-mail marketing, as well as building web communities, co-branding, auto-responders, Google advertising, banner advertising, eBay storefronts, web-design information, search-engine registration, directories.

Of special note are the inclusion of real-world examples of what strategies are succeeding and what strategies are failing.

Critique: Offering a complete course of practical and methodical instruction, "How to Use the Internet to Advertise, Promote, and Market Your Business or Web Site - With Little or No Money" is especially recommended to the attention of non-specialist general readers with no previous experience with marketing on the internet or using the internet to promote the goods and/or services offered by their established business. While unreservedly and emphatically recommended for community and academic library Business Management instructional reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted that "How to Use the Internet to Advertise, Promote, and Market Your Business or Web Site - With Little or No Money " is also available in a paperback edition (9781601389497, $24.95).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen
Adam Snow & Shelley Onderdonk
NHF Press
9780997585421, $29.95, HC,

Synopsis: "Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen" delves into the world of high goal polo through the uniquely situated lenses of former 10-goaler Adam Snow and his wife and veterinarian, Shelley Onderdonk. Together their voices provide an unprecedented level of access into the horse and human dynamics that make the sport tick, their passion, respect and commitment for the sport and each other shine through each page.

Less polo manual than human interest story, the individual chapters cover a broad range of topics: there is a horse so good she single-handedly altered the trajectory of Adam's career; a farm named after the city where this couple met in college; a country and polo culture that shaped Adam as a player...and where they had luggage stolen more than once; and a serendipitous meeting with a sports psychologist that turned Adam's career around.

Adam recounts his childhood obsession with ball sports; Shelley hers with horses. Together, they reveal how sports psychology has been integral to Adam's success, tell behind-the-scenes stories about teammates, grooms and trainers, celebrate their legendary equine partners, and provide an uncensored glimpse into the glamorous international component of the sport from Buenos Aires to Bandar Seri Begawan.

The dynamics of maintaining a healthy marriage and family within the framework of a professional athlete's career are also fundamental to Adam and Shelley's polo life. Their prose is by turns humble, humorous, and inspirational, perfectly showcases the sport's enduring appeal.

Critique: Exceptionally well presented and an impressively engaging read from cover to cover, "Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen" is an inherently fascinating and highly recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen" is also available in a paperback edition (9780997585407, $17.95) and in a Kindle format ($6.95).

Merrie England: A Journey Through the Shire
Joseph Pearce
Tan Books
c/o Saint Benedict Press
PO Box 410487, Charlotte, NC 28241
9781505107197, $24.95, HC, 128pp,

Synopsis: Readers of "Merrie England: A Journey Through the Shire" will join author Joseph Pearce (currently Writer in Residence and Visiting Fellow at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire) on a journey into the real Shire. This is a literary voyage into the mysterious presence of an England which is more real than the we are accustomed to seeing, the one which seems to be in terminal decline. The England Joseph Pearce wants us to know is an enchanted and unchanging place, full of ghosts who are as alive as the saints. It is an England that is rural, sacramental, liturgical, local, beautiful -- a place charged with the grandeur of God . "Merrie England" reveals the true England through the splendor of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. "Merrie England" shows an England that can never die, not because it lingers like a fading coal in the memory of mortal men, but because it exists as a beautiful flower in the Gardens of Eternity.

Critique: A beautifully crafted, lyrically infused, consistently engaging read from cover to cover, "Merrie England" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and university library collections. It should be noted that "Merrie England" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.98).

Utopian Road to Hell
William J. Murray
WND Books
2020 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, #351, Washington, DC 20006
9781944229085, $16.95, PB, 304pp,

Synopsis: Utopian dreamers are deceived and deceiving. Their "fight for the people" rhetoric may sound good at first, but history proves egalitarian governments and the cultures they try to create destroy freedom, destroy creativity, destroy human lives, create poverty and misery, and often spread beyond their borders to bring others under slavery. Utopians believe that through their own personal brilliance a better society can be created on earth. When the belief in man as a creation in the image of God is completely rejected, the use of slavery and mass execution can be justified in the name of the creation of a utopian state for the masses. Pol Pot, Vladimir Lenin, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung together these so-called visionaries through their fanciful policies are responsible for the deaths of millions of people.

In "Utopian Road to Hell: Enslaving America and the World With Central Planning", social conservative William J. Murray (Chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition in Washington, DC) describes the totalitarians throughout history and the current utopians who are determined to engage in social engineering to control the lives of every person on earth. From Marx to Hitler, Murray explains the progression of socialist engineering from its occultist roots to the extreme madness of the Nazis nationalistic racism. From Margaret Sanger's Planned Parenthood and Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, the rebellious desire to be free from morality drives the at-any-cost campaigns such as abortion on demand, no-fault divorce, same-sex marriage, and overreaching government provisions. From Woodrow Wilson's living document distortion of the Constitution and his income tax to FDR's New Deal to Obama's executive orders, those who seek centralized power typically do so by proclaiming some utopian scheme that they claim will perfect mankind and eliminate competition, greed, poverty, and war.

Murray masterfully educates the reader on the utopians swath of destruction throughout history and warns of the dangers of present-day utopians fighting to hold power. We must heed the warning of George Washington when he said in his 1796 Farewell Address that it is important for those entrusted with the administration of this great and free nation, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. We must reclaim the freedom of the individual to avoid the continued path down the utopian road to hell.

Critique: Especially appropriate and critically important reading during our present national political crisis, "Utopian Road to Hell" is a significant and highly recommended addition to community and academic library Political Science collections. A deftly crafted and enormously informative read, is should be noted for personal the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that the "Utopian Road to Hell" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism
Samir Amin
Monthly Review Press
134 W. 29th Street, Suite 706, New York, NY 10001
9781583676028, $89.00, HC, 144pp,

Synopsis: Out of early twentieth-century Russia came the world's first significant effort to build a modern revolutionary society. According to Marxist economist Samir Amin, the great upheaval that once produced the Soviet Union has also produced a movement away from capitalism - a long transition that continues even today. In the seven concise, provocative chapters comprising "Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism", Amin deftly examines the trajectory of Russian capitalism, the Bolshevik Revolution, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the possible future of Russia - and, by extension, the future of socialism itself.

Amin manages to combine an analysis of class struggle with geopolitics - each crucial to understanding Russia's singular and complex political history. He first looks at the development (or lack thereof) of Russian capitalism. He sees Russia's geopolitical isolation as the reason its capitalist empire developed so differently from Western Europe, and the reason for Russia's perceived "backwardness". Yet Russia's unique capitalism proved to be the rich soil in which the Bolsheviks were able to take power, and Amin covers the rise and fall of the revolutionary Soviet system. Finally, in a powerful chapter on Ukraine and the rise of global fascism, Amin lays out the conditions necessary for Russia to recreate itself, and perhaps again move down the long road to socialism. Samir Amin's great achievement in this book is not only to explain Russia's historical tragedies and triumphs, but also to temper our hopes for a quick end to an increasingly insufferable capitalism.

Critique "Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism" is impressively well written, exceptionally well organized, and an consistently compelling, thoughtful, informative read that is especially relevant to our understanding of Vladimir Putin's Russia of today. While emphatically and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Russian Studies collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism" is also available in a paperback edition (9781583676011, $23.00) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Trotsky in New York, 1917
Kenneth D. Ackerman
Counterpoint Press
1919 Fifth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710-1916
9781619026070, $30.00, HC, 396pp,

Synopsis: Lev Davidovich Trotsky burst onto the world stage in November 1917 as co-leader of a Marxist Revolution seizing power in Russia. It made him one of the most recognized personalities of the Twentieth Century, a global icon of radical change. Yet just months earlier, this same Lev Trotsky had become a refugee expelled from Europe, writing obscure pamphlets and speeches, barely noticed outside a small circle of fellow travelers.

Between January and March 1917, Trotsky found refuge in New York City. America had kept itself out of the European Great War, leaving New York the freest city on earth. During his time there (which lasted just over ten weeks) Trotsky immersed himself in the local scene. He settled his family in the Bronx, edited a radical left wing tabloid in Greenwich Village, sampled the lifestyle, and plunged headlong into local politics. His clash with leading New York socialists over the question of US entry into World War I would reshape the American left for the next fifty years.

Critique: Exhaustively researched, impressively well written, exceptionally accessible in organization and presentation, "Trotsky in New York, 1917: Portrait of a Radical on the Eve of Revolution" by Kenneth D. Ackerman is a seminal work on the life and times of Leon Trotsky. Very highly recommended for community, college, and university library collections in general, and Leon Trotsky supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Trotsky in New York, 1917" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.50) and in a complete and unabridged audio book CD format (Blackstone Audio, 9781504786140, $29.95).

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Essays On Thermodynamics, Architecture, and Beauty
Inaki Abalos & Renata Snetkiewicz, authors
Lluis Ortega, editor
Actar D
c/o Actar Publishers
355 Lexington Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9781940291192, $39.95, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: Written in collaboration by Inaki Abalos and Renata Snetkiewicz, and editorially assisted by Lluis Ortega, "Essays on Thermodynamics, Architecture, and Beauty", is an inherently compelling study that unfolds arguments and designs around the concept of "thermodynamic beauty". This new aesthetic category opens up new and unexpected directions to the architect's work, connecting architecture and thermodynamics without giving up the tectonic tradition. This compendium is developed through the concepts of Somatisms, Monsters Assemblage, Verticalism and Thermodynamic Materialism, summarizing design strategies, and opening new territories at the scales of building, public space and landscape.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, "Essays On Thermodynamics, Architecture and Beauty" is an impressively informed and informative work of exceptional scholarship and especially recommended as a core addition to professional, college, and university library Architectural Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Fault Lines: Life and Landscape in Saskatchewan's Oil Economy
Emily Eaton, author
Valerie Zink, photographer
University of Manitoba Press
301 St. John's College, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2M5
9780887557835, $31.95, PB, 216pp,

Synopsis: Oil is not new to Saskatchewan, Canada. Many of the wells found on farmland across the province date back to the 1950s when the industry began to spread. But there is little doubt that the recent boom (2006 - 2014) in unconventional oil production has reshaped rural lives and landscapes. While many small towns were suffering from depopulation and decline, others reoriented themselves around a booming oil industry.

In place of the abandoned houses and shuttered shops found in many small towns in Saskatchewan, housing developments sprang up with new trucks and boats parked in driveways. Yet people in oil-producing areas also lived amid flare stacks that made them ill, had trouble finding housing due to vacancy rates that were among the lowest in the country, suffered through family breakdown because of long working hours and time spent away from home, and eddured spills and leaks that contaminated their landscape.

In the summer of 2014, at the height of the boom, geographer Emily Eaton and photographer Valerie Zink traveled to oil towns across the province, from the sea-can motel built from shipping containers on the outskirts of Estevan to seismic testing sites on Thunderchild First Nation's Sundance grounds. In text and photographs, "Fault Lines: Life and Landscape in Saskatchewan's Oil Economy" fully captures the complexities of engagement, ambivalence, and resistance in communities living amid oil.

Critique: An extraordinary and consistently compelling read from beginning to end, "Fault Lines: Life and Landscape in Saskatchewan's Oil Economy" is an inherently interesting read that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. While very highly recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject that "Fault Lines" is also available in a Kindle format ($25.00).

Artifacts of the Battle of Little Big Horn
Will Hutchison
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
9780764351471, $49.99, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: "Artifacts of the Battle of Little Big Horn: Custer, the 7th Cavalry & the Lakota and Cheyenne Warriors" by writer, photographer, and historian Will Hutchison is a first-of-a-kind comprehensive, photographic essay regarding surviving artifacts of Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn - some of which have never before been published.

Hutchinson spent years photographing and acquiring artifacts in museums and private collections, all of which are presented here in vivid, high-resolution color photographs, shot from various angles with the researcher and collector in mind.

The photographs are catalogued under chapters devoted to the battle, Custer's 7th Cavalry, and the Lakota and Cheyenne warriors who fought them. Hundreds of photographic images accompanying the chapters are filled with informative descriptions regarding physical properties, history, origin of the items, and the stories behind them.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented from first page to last, "Artifacts of the Battle of Little Big Horn" is definitive work will prove to be a enduringly valuable resource for military researchers and historians, as well as an aesthetically stunning photographic essay to compliment any personal, community, college, or university library American Western History collection.

Advanced Interviewing Techniques
John R. Schafer & Joe Navarro
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398091231, $37.95, PB, 216pp,

Synopsis: Now in a significantly expanded and updated third edition, "Advanced Interviewing Techniques: Proven Strategies for Law Enforcement, Military, and Security Personnel" continues to emphasize interviewing skills that are critical for solving criminal investigations, obtaining information, and developing intelligence.

Specifically designed as a quick reference guide with an enhanced outline format, "Advanced Interviewing Techniques" contains an expanded table of contents for easy reference, reading, and comprehension. The reader is quickly immersed into the dynamic "theater of the interview," exploring methods and techniques that enhance the interview process and increase the probability of a successful outcome.

Material comprising "Advanced Interviewing Techniques" is drawn from numerous sources, including formal interviewing models and decades of social and psychological research, as well as co-authors John Schafer and Joe Navarro's more than fifty years of combined law enforcement experience.

Chapter topics include planning for the interview, the interview setting, props, assessing the interviewee, establishing dominance, rapport, Miranda warnings, detecting deception, nonverbal behavior, verbal clues to deception, the interviewing tool box, the anger cycle, breaking the impasse and other problems, and the end game.

"Advanced Interviewing Techniques" contains the latest verbal and nonverbal techniques when interviewees are lying or concealing information, and builds on interviewers' communication skills thus expanding their repertoire of interviewing techniques.

Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Advanced Interviewing Techniques" is unreservedly recommended as a basic textbook on the subject and especially commended to the attention of law enforcement, military, and intelligence personnel, as well as attorneys, human resource professionals, private investigators, and anyone else who makes inquiries of others on a daily basis. This third edition of "Advanced Interviewing Techniques" should be considered a core addition to professional, community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Advanced Interviewing Techniques" is also available in a Kindle format (9780398091248, $37.95).

Michael J. Carson

Chutsky's Bookshelf

Deep Truth: The Lives of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
Adrian Havill
Birch Lane Press
c/o Carol Publishing Group
9781559721721, $4.36 (Used), HC, 263 pages,

Adrian Havill's biography chases not only the truth behind the Watergate reporting by "Woodstein" (Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward) but the real-life bones of these two icons of journalism that most of us assume are clones of their on screen counterparts Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.

In real-life they were quite different, like oil and water, or more accurate rather a dogged plodding reporter paired with an eccentric rebel genius writer (or some would say a talented screw-up).

Their common bond; both shared unsettled youths, a dedication to succeed and were paddling around in the pool of political and military elite for most of their young lives. That set up all the needed threads of connections that became crucial to their unraveling the Watergate scandal. And Havill explores those surprising relationships in detail including C.I.A. Director William J. Casey, Deep Throat and Alexander Haig.

It's also a behind the scenes look at the dogged world of boiler room newspaper journalism, albeit decades ago. Plus it offers a great roadmap as to how the film version, All the President's Men, actually came about and what effects the fame it garnered had on both men.

It's worth searching this book out on Amazon. It's a great portrait of the "deep truth" of two of our most influential journalistic heroes told in a witty entertaining style.

The Man Who Knew Infinity
Robert Kanigel
Washington Square Press
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York, 10020
9781476763491, $17.00 PB, $12.99 Kindle, 436pp,

It's been said, Great knowledge often comes from the humblest of origins.

In the case of the book THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY, based on the life of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a self-taught Indian Mathematician who some say could decipher the very fabric of existence, you can ramp that up a notch to a mathematical genius coming from a lower than plebian class in Southern India.

Ramanujan was a man possessed by calculations practically from birth, his equations scribbled on temple floors before he ever opened a mathematics books. He was an artist and numbers were his medium. Infinite series of equations were his first love.

But for that infinitesimal percentage of humans that attain the prefix of genius, life is a very tumultuous road. Geniuse's don't usually produce money, are often treated as freaks and not really appreciated by society until way beyond their deaths, when their theories- way ahead of their time, finally flow out like a sticky viscous molasses of proofs by lesser minds. Post mortem is when these often fragile people become vindicated and elevated and finally recognized for their achievements.

The synopsis of the book:

In the 1910s, Srinivasa Ramanujan's boundless mathematical and theoretical intelligence struggled to rise above the abject poverty of his home in Madras-India. Eventually, his stellar confidence in his mathematical ideas attracts the attention of the noted British mathematics professor, G.H. Hardy, who invites him to further develop his computations at Trinity College at Cambridge. Forced to leave his young wife, Janaki, behind, Ramanujan finds himself in a land where both his intuitive mathematical theories and his cultural and spiritual values run headlong into both the stringent cold academic requirements of England's professorial elite who demanded proofs of all his work and the prejudiced realities of a Britain heading into World War. Even the mutton stew served at Cambridge's grand student hall, was an affront on his vegetarian diet. The constant damp climate of England and the scarce availability of meek rations of fresh vegetables and fruits due to the outbreak of WW1 took a toll on Ramanujan's health. Sadly the islands of serenity he enjoyed in mathematics was short lived, lasting only a year or so beyond his time at Cambridge.

The portrait created by author Robert Kanigel shows Ramanujan a quite gregarious rotund fellow, one who loved to spin stories to entertain people. He would often stay up all night expounding on theories and astronomical wonders, sometimes to the point of having to be doused in water to end his fervent discussions. He exhibited a prima donna like self-importance, as most geniuses do, leaving him unwilling to conform to societal norms even amongst the British academics he sought to impress and for Ramanujan to achieve his promise he needed those British solidly in his corner. His spiritual-mystical-metaphysical beliefs were not consigned to the fringes of his life, they lay near the heart and center of his existence as a Hindu Brahmin.

"An equation has no meaning for him unless it expresses a thought of God."

The mindboggling mathematical problems Ramanujan was trying to solve are thoroughly explained in the book but to a laymen are still quite unaccessible.

Kanigel incorporates a tapestry of Indian culture and history, including India's rich tradition of mathematics which surprisingly predated the Greeks. Actually the Indians were doing mathematics 1000 years before the British and before the seventh century they had already introduced the numerals we use today.

There is an intriguing man at the core of this fascinating volume of mathematical history!

Karen Chutsky, Reviewer

Clint's Bookshelf

How To Get Rid of Socialism
Dr. Patrick R. Colabella, CPA, EdD
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781514468708 $19.99 pbk / $3.99 Kindle

Synopsis: How to Get Rid of Socialism is book borne out of the frustration of teaching taxation and spending countless hours preparing tax returns amidst the ever-increasingly complexities of tax laws. I discovered too late that too much human capital was being expended on figuring out what we owe the government and painfully questioning why. The answer was simple when I discovered that the origins of the internal revenue code were based on a socialist ideology and the law was designed primarily to redistribute wealth. This book is the culmination of my examination of the detrimental effects of creeping socialism from the progressive era Economic Security Act and culminating with the abominable Affordable Care Act. The conclusion is that it has to go and this book is my road map to recapturing American freedom! This book makes the case for the eradication of socialism and the income tax code that is its cornerstone. I introduce a new, fairer, and simpler automated tax system called the withdrawals tax that is not the flat tax or the fair tax and give you my recipe for fixing the shadow economy with perishable currency and finally how to tackle the woes of social security the national debt. Its fresh and new and I hope you like it!

Critique: How To Get Rid of Socialism: And Solve the Fiscal Problems of the United States of America is a brainstorm of ideas to improve America's financial health. Author Dr. Patrick R. Colabella openly denounces the Progressive Era, the Affordable Care Act, and the eternally increasing complexity of American tax laws. An automated taxation system called the "Withdrawals Tax" (that is not a "flat tax"!) is suggested as an alternative, in addition to suggestions for overhauling social security programs so that they won't bankrupt the nation as more and more baby boomers retire. How To Get Rid of Socialism is highly recommended, even (especially!) to readers who may disagree with some of its assertions, since the fiscal policy problems it tackles are an ongoing threat to America.

Crossroads for Liberty
William J. Watkins, Jr.
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621-1428
9781598132793, $32.95, HC, 336pp,

Synopsis: What did the American Founders actually intend for the country, and does it even matter today? If America began as an idea, then what kind of idea? In a time of increasing turmoil over American history, politics, and society, "Crossroads for Liberty: Recovering the Anti-Federalist Values of America's First Constitution" by William J. Watkins, Jr. (a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute) takes a surprising and thought-provoking look at the American Revolution, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution, and asks what we can learn from them. "Crossroads for Liberty" arrives at an important time in American political life, and its reexamination of the American Founding presents a significant contribution to the story about America. Readers will come away with a greater understanding of current political and constitutional issues, as well as a new perspective on American history.

Critique: While unreservedly recommended as a critically important addition to community, college, and university library Political Science and American History collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject that "Crossroads for Liberty" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Butcher's Son
Grant McKenzie
Polis Books
1201 Hudson Street, #211S, Hoboken, NJ 07030
9781943818020, $25.99, HC, 336pp,

Synopsis: Ian Quinn has spent his life protecting children from the monsters that live among us. As a Child Protection Officer, Ian places their lives above his own, and has no qualms about getting his hands dirty when it comes to protecting those who can't protect themselves. Years ago, Ian was unable to protect his own daughter when she was killed, and has channeled the anger and sadness into his vocation. Ian has tried to bury his past. But the past is far from done with him. Ian's own father left years ago, leaving Ian and his sister alone. But out of the blue Ian is called by an attorney, claiming his father has recently died and named Ian in his will. Ian had assumed his father was long dead, and confused as to what he could possibly be needed for. When Ian goes to the lawyer's office, he is given three items: The first is a key; The second is a deed to his grandfather's old butcher shop; The Third is a letter from his from his father that reads simply and cryptically: "Sorry for everything, son, but it's your burden now."

Critique: A completely riveting, compulsive page-turner of a read from cover to cover, "The Butcher's Son" reveals author Grant McKenzie's truly remarkable storytelling skills. While very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Butcher's Son" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99). Librarians should note that "The Butcher's Son" is available in a complete and unabridged MP3 CD audio book (Brilliance Corporation: 9781536625530, $9.99).

Jacob The Jew VS. The Chinese Blood
J. W. Durrah
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500313449, $24.99, PB, 478pp,

Synopsis: When NYPD detective Jacob Jennings signs on for a three-year tour with the US Army's Military Intelligence unit, he expects to be deployed to Vietnam like his father before him. Instead, Jennings finds himself working a complex undercover sting in cooperation with the Chinese police.

The drug, cherry berry is the hot new topic on the streets of Hong Kong, and while dealers and gang members insist the drug is real, no one seems to have seen it and it is not for sale there. All that's known is it's powerfully addictive, made in Hong Kong, and it causes horrifying physical side effects to certain users.

Infiltrating the Chinese Blood gang and posing as an American hustler, Jacob draws closer to the drug's suspected creator, the high-ranking medical research scientist Dr. Wo Ling Cheung. Cheung's association with Jerry Baofung, a much-feared sorcerer, is unclear to others but not to Jennings.

Having been raised by his grandmother teaching him the occult, Jacob is unwilling to dismiss Baofung's power as superstitious fakery. Sorcery, Jacob believes is the obvious contribution Baofung would make to the creation of cherry berry.

Tracking this drug to its source, Jacob realizes he's running out of time because Cheung plans to unleash it on the streets of New York where he is already catering the drug to a dangerous clientele with unusual tastes and compulsions.

Critique: A simply riveting read from beginning to end, "Jacob The Jew VS. The Chinese Blood" is the first volume in author J. W. Durrah's 'Jacob Blood' series and clearly documents Durrah as an impressively gifted novelist. While very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Jacob The Jew VS. The Chinese Blood" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Once Upon A High-Rise
J. Allen Woodard
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491741313, $17.95, PB, 290pp,

Synopsis: Captain Mark Winslow of the NYPD, was a former sheriff in Montana who moved to Manhattan after the horrific death of his wife and son in a car accident. Celibate for six years, Mark meets and falls in love with Attorney Kristen Miller, who lives in a Park Avenue high-rise apartment. Mark's efforts to capture two psychopaths (rapists of the worst kind) intermingle with his love life, family, friends and his six year old daughter, Pamela, who twists him like a pretzel with her logic. But now the rapists hold Kristen Miller captive and Captain Winslow, never one to go strictly by the rules, uses any means to rescue her.

Critique: Deftly crafted and grittily realistic, "Once Upon A High-Rise" is a consistently compelling read from cover to cover. While highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Once Upon A High-Rise" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).

Clint Travis

Duncan's Bookshelf

Magicians of the Gods
Hancock, Graham
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010
9781250045928, $27.99; HC; 440pp + 60pp Appendices,

Hancock, Graham. Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilizations. We face danger from a massive chunk of comet in the Taurus 'donut' thru which Earth passes twice each year. Astronomers estimate our Earth will begin to intersect with the danger zone in 2030.

Hancock reports large (ie. 1/2 kilometer) comets struck the Laurentian Ice Shield (10,800 BC) melting the ice and flooding Earth. He also expands on evidence (ie. Gunung Padang) of a pyramid on Java, Indonesia (dated to 20,000 BC) and presents images of Göbekli Tepe 'temples' (SE Turkey) and 'scabland' in Washington State. In short, blunt words: Earth was devastated and an ancient technological civilization wiped from our memories.

Graham Hancock also authored The Sign and the Seal which followed the travels of the Arc of the Covenant from Solomon's Temple to Oak Island, Nova Scotia. Hancock is one voice in a wilderness of closed minds. As he notes, "myopic territorialism prevails in science" against the Younger Dryas comet event that extinguished Earth's first civilization ('Atlantis'). He warns us that we must pursue scientific research of our past and prepare for the arrival of enormous comets.

The Emperor's Revenge
Cussler, Clive with Boyd Morrison
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399175961, $29.00, 464pp,

Cussler, Clive with Boyd Morrison. The Emperor's Revenge. This is a fun read, with 'deus ex machina' advanced technology to spice the adventure. This is vintage Cussler with a hero and sidekicks who face dangerous challenges. During the Monaco Grand Prix a band of cyber pirates insert a virus into the European bank database. Our heroes battle the pirates and their 'very advanced' yacht (modified in a Russian port by an enterprising Admiral). Our heroes rescue hostages; they recover an artifact; Juan almost dies when a sunken ship rolls over. The bad guys do not survive; the Russian admiral who modified their yacht ('pocket battleship?) left a 'shut down' trap in the yacht's offensive weapons.

If you like suspense with action, read Cussler. Be prepared for the advanced technology that seems to flow into the plot and helps the heroes. 'Revenge' was fun to read.

Ian McEwan
Anchor Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307739537, $15.95 PB, $11.99 Kindle, 332pp,

Solar by Ian McEwan. Michael Beard, a Noble-Prize winning physicist faces the challenge of a failed marriage (his fifth). And, he has been appointed director of a new research lab where 'his' 20-year-old Phd physicists insist they can develop a vertical wind turbine for the roofs of England's small houses. At age 50, Beard leads a group of brilliant researchers while he realizes he really does love Patrice, wife #5. His world collapses when a young researcher (Aldous) is 'caught' in Michael's house, slips on a bear rug and dies. Beard is given the opportunity to 're-invent' himself and his career.

Solar is darkly satirical: McEwan paints a canvas with a self-absorbed man who should receive an award for self-deception. This novel is almost entirely the internal thoughts of a man who rejects emotion (and his friends) when he should embrace his own humanity. Any reader who survives this novel should also receive the 'persistence' award. My apologies to Mr. McEwan ...I found his novel to be bereft of action and intolerably long. However, I will read the new novel that was issued in 2016 with an open mind.

The Life We Bury
Eskens, Allen
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
9781616149987, $15.95, PB, 300pp,

In our lives, as humans, we tend to 'bury' the horrible events of personal tragedy deep inside our minds. Until the day a trauma awakens those deep memories. In Eskens' novel, The Life We Bury, a college student (Joe Talbert) deals with a dysfunctional mother, an autistic brother, the memory of his grandfather drowning while Joe failed to act and a thirty-year-old murder conviction.

Allen Eskens is a practicing attorney whose debut novel (The Life We Bury) is breathtaking, real, scary and hopeful. When Joe has to escape from his car trunk, I held my breath while the murder suspect was shooting at him. He survived a blizzard by real action to adapt items in an abandoned shack. When Lila is threatened with death Joe's attempt to save her was scary. Joe's life becomes hopeful when Lila and he have the means to care for his autistic brother Jeremy.

The story of Carl Iverson, revealed to us slowly, shows a Vietnam Vet who has buried his guilt and carried that guilt with him while serving thirty years in prison. This novel by Eskens will grab your attention and grab your spirit. During my second reading I cried at the last scene in Carl Iverson's room. Thank you, Mr. Eskens.

Marty Duncan, Reviewer

Gail's Bookshelf

Space at the Table
Brad Harper & Drew Stafford Harper
Zeal Books
9780997066906, $15.99,

Brad Harper, loving father, author and professor of Theology at Portland, Oregon's Multnomah University penned "Space at the Table" with his son Drew Harper, subtitled, "Conversations between an Evangelical Theologian and His Gay Son." Together they provide a narrative style memoir of family struggles bridged by time, patience and their love for their family and one another.

Their thought-provoking narratives begin with Drew's birth in 1989 where Brad writes, "I loved him the moment I set eyes on him." Yet, Brad didn't know that over time their loving relationship would be tested with irreconcilable mine fields "of conflict over sexuality and morality" caused by deep religious beliefs.

While for Drew, he was always "much happier doing things girls typically did." He was also drawn to music, art and anything theatrical very early, illustrated by an incident on his first birthday when he buried his face in cake frosting and "discovered what an audience was." However, by the time Drew turned seven, other children viewed him as a freak, neither boy nor girl. He endured his isolation supported by his family and "there was always Jesus to talk to," he writes. It would be years before Drew understood he would never "experience what he idolized as a child: the storybook heterosexual Christian marriage."

Brad, Drew and their family share with vulnerability, raw honesty and humor, their grief and struggles living out, to the best of their ability, the second commandment found in Mark 12:31, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."

They have learned to listen to one another and invite you to do the same in these conversations in spite of the challenging polarization and division between the LBTGQ and conservative Christian Evangelical communities. Although they don't see the world in the same way they both can say, "I can't imagine my world without you in it."

God Gave Us Thankful Hearts
Lisa Tawn Bergren, author
David Hohn, illustrator
12265 Oracle Blvd. Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601428745, $10.99,

Lisa Tawn Bergren's "God Gave Us..." series introduces an adorable new wolf character named "Lil Pup" in "God Gave Us Thankful Hearts" with a story that reveals everyone has reasons to be grateful. David Hohn's colorful, full page characterizations of quirky animals, mountain rivers, streams and urban forests are similar to what surrounds the artist from his home in Oregon.

The story opens with Mama and Papa wolf raking multicolored fall leaves in to large piles in front of their mountain cabin when Mama notices Lil Pup looks sad and asks, "Why are you looking so glum?"

She learns he's sad because winter is coming, snow will soon cover the ground and he won't see some of his favorite friends until spring when they come out of hibernation. She drops her rake, grabs his paw and they take a walk in the words where she encourages a change in attitude as she reminds Lil Pup of some reasons to be grateful.

She explains the season of winter lets the land rest and without winter we wouldn't have spring to look forward to. His sometimes rambunctious "pack buddies" who annoyingly pig-pile on him at times, keep him from getting lonely. She also tells him what she's "thankful for, such as the freedom to wander and explore...the pretty country we live in." Papa chimes in to say when they don't catch fish to " thankful..." they could go and spend together which was better than fishing.

This engaging children's story delivers a simple biblical message on perspective everyone in the family can relate to about negative feelings and positive attitudes.

God's Got an App for That
Dee Bedsole
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500965723, $12.95,

Oregon author Dee Bedsole's debut summer release compares her walk of faith to that of a Smartphone application in "God's Got an App for That" A memoir that's also the story of a troubled child who grew into a more troubled woman until she accepted Christ and became a child of God. Her clever comparison of spiritual growth to technology came to her during a "time of worship" when she was plagued with trust issues. That's when God broke into her thoughts and said, "I have an app for that."

With those words her focus changed and she asked the Lord about other spiritual problems such as sin, guilt, fear, and the need for wisdom, healing and peace. Each time God impressed on her that "He had an app for that."

Continuing with the Smartphone example she realized God's app for sin and guilt was redemption through Christ. His app for fear was trust God and His Word says God "gives wisdom generously to those who ask." Another important app was for healing and wholeness because we are healed and made whole "by His stripes and the Word of His testimony, and the blood of the Lamb. (Isaiah 53:5)

In "God's Got an App for That" Dee shares how she "received a word from the Lord," which she shared with a friend. That's when God impressed on her that was a book He wanted her to write, a book about God and who He was in her life. A book that would tell their story, not just Dee's story"

Whether comparing communicating with older technology such as limited use land lines, flip phones or Smart phones, she writes, "You become the hotline to God, the red phone between heaven and earth," because, just like Smartphone technology updates older technology we need to update our communication with the Lord.

Dee's memoir has an important message for today with a focus on an intimate relationship with the Lord because spiritual growth only comes through reading God's Word, prayer and fellowship with other believers. The book would be especially good for technology driven teens and twenty something's.

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Julie's Bookshelf

Interfaith Leadership: A Primer
Eboo Patel
Beacon Press
24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210
9780807033623, $18.00, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: In "Interfaith Leadership: A Primer" renowned interfaith leader Eboo Patel (who is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Cor) offers a clear, detailed, and practical guide to interfaith leadership that is illustrated throughout with compelling examples. "Interfaith Leadership: A Primer" explains what interfaith leadership is and explores the core competencies and skills of interfaith leadership, before turning to the issues interfaith leaders face and how leaders can prepare to solve them. Interfaith leaders seek points of connection and commonality whether in their neighborhoods, schools, college campuses, companies, organizations, hospitals, and any other spaces where people of different faiths interact with one another. While it can be challenging to navigate the differences and disagreements that can arise from these interactions, skilled interfaith leaders are vital if we are to have a strong, religiously diverse democracy. "Interfaith Leadership: A Primer" is a basic primer presenting readers with the philosophical underpinnings of interfaith theory and outlines the skills necessary to practice interfaith leadership today.

Critique: As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is informed and informative, "Interfaith Leadership: A Primer" is both practical and inspiring. Offering a complete course of instruction in a single volume, "Interfaith Leadership: A Primer" is very highly recommended for community, church, synagogue, mosque, and seminary Interfaith Studies collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Interfaith Leadership: A Primer" is also available in a Kindle format ($17.99).

The Orphan Keeper
Camron Wright
Shadow Mountain Publishing
P.O. Box 30178, Salt Lake City, Utah 84130-0178
9781629722245, $24.99, HC, 432pp,

Synopsis: Seven-year-old Chellamuthu's life is forever changed when he is kidnapped from his village in India, sold to a Christian orphanage, and then adopted by an unsuspecting couple in the United States. It takes months before the boy can speak enough English to tell his parents that he already has a family back in India. Horrified, they try their best to track down his Indian family, but all avenues lead to dead ends. Meanwhile, they simply love him, change his name to Taj, enroll him in school, make him part of their family--and his story might have ended there had it not been for the pestering questions in his head: Who am I? Why was I taken? How do I get home? More than a decade later, Taj meets Priya, a girl from southern India with surprising ties to his past. Is she the key to unveil the secrets of his childhood or is it too late? And if he does make it back to India, how will he find his family with so few clues? "The Orphan Keeper" by Camron Wright is based on the remarkable true story of Taj Rowland.

Critique: Based on a remarkable true story of Taj Rowland and a deftly crafted read from cover to cover, "The Orphan Keeper" is a riveting story of self-discovery and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Orphan Keeper" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.16) and in a complete and unabridged CD audio book format (9781629722313, $39.99).

Trivium: The Classical Liberal Arts of Grammar, Logic, & Rhetoric
John Michell, et al.
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781632864963, $22.00, HC, 416pp,

Synopsis: The trivium refers to the three liberal arts considered in classical Greece to be the pillars of critical thought: grammar, logic, and rhetoric. Following on the success of Quadrivium and Sciencia, the contributing authors of "Trivium: The Classical Liberal Arts of Grammar, Logic, & Rhetoric" gathers six Wooden Books titles together into a beautiful six-color package that presents ancient wisdom in an accessible way.

Critique: Beautifully presented, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, exceptional in design and presentation, "Trivium: The Classical Liberal Arts of Grammar, Logic, & Rhetoric" is unreservedly recommended, especially for personal, community, college, and university library collections.

Goodbye, Hurt & Pain
Deborah Sandella
Conari Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950-4600
9781573246781, $18.95, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Emotions are invisible, taken for granted and dismissed much of the time. This is a paradox given they are some of the most powerful forces on Earth. They inflame wars, induce death, inspire invention, and control stock markets. More important, each of us has them -- all the time.

In the pages of "Goodbye, Hurt & Pain: 7 Simple Steps for Health, Love, and Success", Deborah Sandella (a psychotherapist, a university professor) uses cutting-edge neuroscience research and her own revolutionary Regenerating Images in Memory (RIM) technique to show how blocked feelings prevent us from getting what we want, and she introduces a process that bypasses logic and thinking to activate our own emotional "self-cleaning oven".

Using imagination, color, and shape to visualize feelings and get straight to the root of longstanding problems, she teaches us to move destructive feelings such as fear, anger, hurt, resentment, and envy out of the body. Letting go of old feelings and traumatic memory at a deep, cellular level makes people feel and look younger, lighter, more energized, and less burdened. And they can begin to experience results after just one or two self-directed sessions.

Goodbye, Hurt & Pain also provides seven organic ways of using your feelings to attract more love, better health, and greater success. The process is fast, fun, and as easy as 1-2-3.

Critique: Informative and exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Goodbye, Hurt & Pain" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in a tone and commentary that is as practical as it is potentially life changing. A consistently engaging read from cover to cover, "Goodbye, Hurt & Pain" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted that "Goodbye, Hurt & Pain" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99) and as a complete and unabridged MP3 audio book (Tantor Media, 9781515958697, $24.99).

Call it a Difficult Night
Mishka Hoosen
Deep South / University of KwaZulu-Natal Press
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9780987028266, $14.50, PB, 160pp,

Synopsis: Institutionalized after a 'final break', a young woman remembers in sharp detail her disturbing childhood visions, which have become overwhelming by the time she is at a boarding school in the US and later at university in South Africa. When she finally gets a diagnosis - temporal lobe epilepsy - a doctor explains that she is likely to be either demented or brain dead by the time she's 30. Set mainly during the short spell in the mental hospital, the story proceeds through encounters with nurses, doctors, other patients, and also the friends who visit, many of them frightened by her state of mind. These encounters, painful but quite often funny, takes us deeper into the feelings of the young woman and further into the workings of the mental health system which generates the definitions of madness. She is defiant in her noncompliance and deeply suspicious of her treatment. She is sure that her hallucinations, dangerous and terrifying as they are, are preferable to the dulling effects of her medication and its theft of her creativity.

Critique: "Call it a Difficult Night" by Mishka Hoosen follows a nonlinear path in tracing the life of its young narrator and protagonist through the use of anecdotes, poems, dialogue, and fragments of historical research. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, "Call it a Difficult Night" is an exceptionally lyrical, original, and deftly empathetic novel that is a consistently compelling read from beginning to end.

Gender Medicine
Marek Glezerman, M.D.
Overlook / Duckworth
c/o The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9781468313185, $29.95, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: Over millions of years, male and female bodies developed crucial physiological differences to improve the chances for human survival. These differences have become culturally obsolete with the overturning of traditional gender roles. But they are nevertheless very real, and they go well beyond the obvious sexual and reproductive variances: men and women differ in terms of digestion, which affects the way medications are absorbed. Sensitivity to pain is dependent on gender. Even the symptoms of a heart attack manifest differently in a man than in a woman.

And yet the medical establishment largely treats male and female patients as though their needs are identical. In fact, medical research is still done predominately on men, and the results are then applied to the treatment of women. This is clearly problematic and calls for a paradigm change -- and such a paradigm change is the purpose of "Gender Medicine: The Groundbreaking New Science of Gender- and Sex-Based Diagnosis and Treatment" by Dr. Marek Glezerman (Professor Emeritus Chairman of Gender Medicine, and the Chairman of the Ethics Committee at the Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University).

Critique: Impressively informed, exceptionally written, organized and presented, ""Gender Medicine: The Groundbreaking New Science of Gender- and Sex-Based Diagnosis and Treatment" is extraordinarily informed and informative from beginning to end. Enhanced with the inclusion of twenty eight pages of Endnotes and a seven page Index, "Gender Medicine" is unreservedly recommended and a critically important addition to community and academic library Health/Medicine collections and supplemental studies lists. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "Gender Medicine" is also available in a paperback edition (9781468314977, $17.01, and in a Kindle format ($14.99).

Libertarians on the Prairie
Christine Woodside
Arcade Publishing
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781628726565, $25.99, HC, 292pp,

Synopsis: Generations of children have fallen in love with the pioneer saga of the Ingalls family, of Pa and Ma, Laura and her sisters, and their loyal dog, Jack. Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books have taught millions of Americans about frontier life, giving inspiration to many and in the process becoming icons of our national identity. Yet few realize that this cherished bestselling series wandered far from the actual history of the Ingalls family and from what Laura herself understood to be central truths about pioneer life.

"Libertarians on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of the Little House Books" is a groundbreaking narrative of literary detection by Christine Woodside who reveals for the first time the full extent of the collaboration between Laura and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane.

Rose hated farming and fled the family homestead as an adolescent, eventually becoming a nationally prominent magazine writer, a biographer of Herbert Hoover, and a successful novelist, who shared the political values of Ayn Rand and became mentor to Roger Lea MacBride, the second Libertarian presidential candidate. Drawing on original manuscripts and letters, Woodside shows how Rose reshaped her mother's story into a series of heroic tales that rebutted the policies of the New Deal. Their secret collaboration would lead in time to their estrangement.

Critique: "Libertarians on the Prairie" offers readers a consistently compelling, exceptionally well written, and impressively researched based account of the mutually supportive relationship between two strong-willed women and successfully deconstructs an established American myth. "Libertarians on the Prairie" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library collections. It should be noted for non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Libertarians on the Prairie" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.33) as well as in an MP3 audio book format (Brilliance Audio, 9781536627220, $9.99).

Nimble, Focused, Feisty
Sara Roberts
BenBella Books
10300 N. Central Expressway, Suite 400, Dallas, TX 75204
9781942952138, $26.95, HC, 336pp,

Synopsis: The success of iconic companies like GE, Apple, and Google shows how culture is a strategic lever that can be utilized for driving growth, change, and innovation. With globalization, rapid technology shifts, and constant disruption, the 21st century marketplace is more volatile and uncertain than ever. To thrive, businesses need a new kind of emphasis around culture.

Sara Roberts (the former CEO and founder of Roberts Golden and a seasoned executive consultant to dozens of Fortune 500 companies and their CEOs) draws upon her years of experience and expertise in "Nimble, Focused, Feisty: Organizational Cultures That Win in the New Era and How to Create Them" to provide a look into what these organizations are doing differently and also presents a blueprint and framework so any company, large or small, can follow and implement her precepts to create a cultural strategy to thrive and succeed in this new era of capitalism.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Nimble, Focused, Feisty: Organizational Cultures That Win in the New Era and How to Create Them" is enhanced with the inclusion of ten pages of Notes and a six page Index. While unreservedly recommended for community, corporate, and academic library Business Management collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for students, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers that "Nimble, Focused, Feisty" is also available in a Kindle format ($11.99).

This Side of the Whirlwind
Steven R. Harrel
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781512734065, $38.95, PB, 416pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "This Side of the Whirlwind", author Steven Harrel maintains that Christians are being deceived! Until now, he argues, the Body of Christ has enjoyed less than the whole truth regarding The End Times, in fact, less than half!

Harrel asks if is any wonder the current End Times doctrines are so muddled and missing volumes of prophetic information?

"This Side of the Whirlwind" reveals why the prophets Daniel and John concealed important End Times facts; the significance of the Great Consummation message that is the second half to the Covenant of Jesus Christ; while the final chapters unveil the grand conclusion to God's extraordinary plans for the greatest story ever told.

"This Side of the Whirlwind" lays out the evidence that our contemporary world is heading for more than a single apocalypse! Information within its pages will certify the Great Tribulation is neither God's Wrath nor His plan for Christ's return. "This Side of the Whirlwind" uncover previously hidden biblical facts which confirm the first apocalypse will forcefully separate True Christians (the Sheep) from the Goats.

Recent revelation will also prove the Rapture cannot take place before the tribulation period has been fulfilled; thus, negating any possibility a Pre-tribulation Rapture event could exist. All this and more will be firmly established and confirmed in "This Side of the Whirlwind".

Critique: A consistently compelling, iconoclastic, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end, "This Side of the Whirlwind" is especially commended to the attention of all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "This Side of the Whirlwind" is also available in a Kindle format ($4.99).

Julie Summers

Logan's Bookshelf

Loyal Gunners: 3rd Field Artillery Regiment
Lee Windsor, Roger Sarty, Marc Milner
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771122375, $59.99, HC, 473pp,

Synopsis: "Loyal Gunners" uniquely encapsulates the experience of Canadian militia gunners and their units into a single compelling narrative that centers on the artillery units of New Brunswick. The story of those units is a profoundly Canadian story of dedication and sacrifice in service of great guns and of Canada military engagements.

The 3rd Field Regiment (The Loyal Company), Royal Canadian Artillery, is Canada's oldest artillery unit, dating to the founding of the Loyal Company in Saint John in 1793. Since its centennial in 1893, 3rd Field - in various permutations of medium, coastal, and anti-aircraft artillery - has formed the core of New Brunswick's militia artillery, and it has endured into the twenty-first century as the last remaining artillery unit in the province.

"Loyal Gunners" is the first modern assessment of the development of Canadian heavy artillery in the Great War, and provides the first look at the development of artillery in general in both world wars, and the first exploration of the development and operational deployment of anti-tank artillery in the Second World War. It also tells a universal story of survival as it chronicles the fortunes of New Brunswick militia units through the darkest days of the Cold War, when conventional armed forces were entirely out of favor. In 1950 New Brunswick had four and a half regiments of artillery; by 1970 it had one -- the 3rd Field.

"Loyal Gunners" also traces the rise and fall of artillery batteries in New Brunswick as the nature of modern war evolved. From the Great War to Afghanistan "Loyal Gunners" provides the most comprehensive account to date of Canada's gunners.

Critique: A singularly well researched, written, organized and presented military history, " Loyal Gunners" is the collaborative work of Lee Windsor (who holds the Fredrik S. Eaton Chair in Canadian Army Studies at the University of New Brunswick; is the Deputy Director of The Brigadier Milton Gregg VC Centre for the Study of War and Society, and is an Associate Professor in UNB's Department of History); Roger Sarty (Professor of History at Wilfrid Laurier University, formerly the Senior Historian at the Department of National Defense, and Deputy Director at the Canadian War Museum); and Marc Milner ( winner of the Stacey Prize for the best book in military history in Canada). This chronologically presented history is enhanced with the inclusion of a number of maps, four pages of Source Notes, and a sixteen page Index, "Loyal Gunners" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Canadian Military History collections.

Star Talk
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Jeffrey Simmons & Charles Lu, editors
National Geographic Press
101 West 104th Street, Suite 8, New York, NY 10025
9781426217272, $30.00, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: "StarTalk: Everything You Ever Need to Know About Space Travel, Sci-Fi, the Human Race, the Universe, and Beyond" is a beautifully and profusely illustrated companion to celebrated scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson's popular podcast and National Geographic Channel TV show Star Talk -- and provides an eye-opening journey for anyone curious about the complexities of our universe.

For decades, beloved astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has interpreted science with a combination of brainpower and charm that resonates with fans everywhere. "Star Talk" is pioneering and provocative book that brings together the best of StarTalk and devoted to solving the most confounding mysteries of Earch, space, and what it means to be human.

Filled with brilliant sidebars, vivid photography, and unforgettable quotes from Tyson and his brilliant cohort of science and entertainment luminaries, "StarTalk" will help answer the most pressing and commonly asked questions about our world ranging from how the brain works to the physics of comic book superheroes. Fun, smart, and laugh-out-loud funny, this National Geographic Press edition of "Star Talk" is the perfect guide to everything needed to know about the universe -- and beyond.

Critique: Neil deGrasse Tyson is justifiably considered to have inherited the mantle of the late great Carl Sagon as the premiere spokesperson on interpreting science and the cosmos to the general public. "StarTalk: Everything You Ever Need to Know About Space Travel, Sci-Fi, the Human Race, the Universe, and Beyond", ideal for the non-specialist general reader, is an inherently fascinating, informed and informative study that is impressively well written, organized and presented from beginning to end. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library collections, "Star Talk" will be considered a 'must' for the legions of Neil deGrasse Tyson fans.

Rails in the Road: A History of Tramways in Britain and Ireland
Oliver Green
Pen & Sword Books Ltd.
9781473822238, $49.95, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: There have been passenger tramways in Britain for 150 years, but it is a rollercoaster story of rise, decline and a steady return. Trams have come and gone, been loved and hated, popular and derided, considered both wildly futuristic and hopelessly outdated by politicians, planners and the public alike. Horse trams, introduced from the USA in the 1860s, were the first cheap form of public transport on city streets. Electric systems were developed in nearly every urban area from the 1890s and revolutionized town travel in the Edwardian era.

A century ago, trams were at their peak, used by everyone all over the country and a mark of civic pride in towns and cities from Dover to Dublin. But by the 1930s they were in decline and giving way to cheaper and more flexible buses and trolley buses. By the 1950s all the major systems were being replaced. London's last tram ran in 1952 and ten years later Glasgow, the city most firmly linked with trams, closed its network down. Only Blackpool, famous for its decorated cars, kept a public service running and trams seemed destined only for scrapyards and museums.

A gradual renaissance took place from the 1980s, with growing interest in what are now described as light rail systems in Europe and North America. In the UK and Ireland modern trams were on the streets of Manchester from 1992, followed successively by Sheffield, Croydon, the West Midlands, Nottingham, Dublin and Edinburgh (2014). Trams are now set to be a familiar and significant feature of twenty-first century urban life.

Critique: Profusely and beautifully illustrated, informed and informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Rails in the Road: A History of Tramways in Britain and Ireland" by Oliver Green (former Head Curator of the London Transport Museum and who has become its first Research Fellow) draws upon his years of experience, research and expertise and has created a unique and unreservedly recommended transportation history for community and academic library collections. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Rails in the Road: A History of Tramways in Britain and Ireland" is also available in a Kindle format ($16.18).

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Sifting through Ashes: Words & Images
Robert Miller, poetry
Bruce Gendelman, photography & artwork
Gefen Publishing House
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9789652298904, $18.00, HC, 72pp,

Synopsis: Robert Miller is a poet living in North Miami Beach, Florida. Bruce Gendelman is an artist living in Palm Beach, Florida. Together they have collaborated to produce "Sifting through Ashes: Words & Images". This project arose from their August 2015 tour of the sites of Holocaust atrocities. Led by the former Special Envoy to Combat and Monitor Anti-Semitism and a Catholic priest, and accompanied by survivors of the Holocaust, the two of them met witnesses, deniers, and the ghosts of their own ancestors. "Sifting through Ashes" is their joint effort to capture what they experienced in words and images, and an attempt, in some small way, to make sense of how the Holocaust happened.

Critique: An especially timely memorial in the current political climate that has seen the renewed rise of bigotry, white supremacy, and antisemitism in America's national politics once again, "Sifting through Ashes: Words & Images" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Sifting through Ashes: Words & Images" is also available in a Kindle format ($4.99).

Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook
Albert Johnson & Kathy Landoll
Infamous Books
9780997146233, $24.95, PB, 118pp,

Synopsis: Albert "Prodigy" Johnson is a Multi-Platinum recording artist and member of the legendary Hip-Hop duo Mobb Deep. In 2006, Prodigy was arrested for gun possession and served a three-year prison term. With the help of journalist Kathy Landoll he has compiled an impressively illustrated and unusual compendium of recipes drawn from his prison experience.

But more than that, "Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook" provides a deeper perspective of what it's like to consume meals in prison. The recipes themselves are accompanied by various anecdotes about situations in prison involving food.

Meal prep in prison is very limited, so while "Commisary Kitchen" will hold immense appeal for anyone who has served time or is curious about prison life, it also speaks to those who prepare food with limited access to various cooking luxuries (such as college students in dorms). While the work is informational, above all it humanizes the prison experience in a way that has never been done before.

Critique: The thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly', palate pleasing and appetite satisfying recipes comprising 'Commissary Kitchen" range from Buffalo Fried Chicken; Honey Chicken and Sausage; P's Barbecue Salmon; and Vegetable Fried Rice; to Garlic Bacon Grilled Cheese; Shakira's Dirty Pie; BBQ Chili Pie; P's Prison Sangria, and Vegetarian Curry. While very highly recommended for personal and community library cookbook collections, it should be noted that "Commissary Kitchen" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).

Van Gogh in Provence: Modernizing Tradition
Sjraar van Heugten, editor
Actes Sud
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9782330063023, $35.00, HC, 144pp,

Synopsis: Vincent van Gogh was born in the Netherlands in 1853. His painting career began when he was in his late twenties, influenced first by his work as a missionary in a mining region of Belgium, and later by his exposure to Impressionism while living in Paris. His bright, signature style emerged after relocating to the South of France, where he produced over 2,000 artworks in just over a decade. After bouts of mental illness, van Gogh took his life in 1890.

Although Vincent van Gogh is now considered one of the most original artists of his time, his art was deeply rooted in tradition. Modern subjects and styles began to enter Van Gogh's oeuvre after he arrived in Paris in 1886, and his subsequent years in Provence found him experimenting and refining his personal style. But Van Gogh always remained true to the subject matter that had interested him in his early years.

Three genres dominate Van Gogh's work from the beginning of his career to its end: the figure, the landscape and the still life. Van Gogh in Provence argues that Van Gogh's achievements as a modernist are best understood in relation to these traditional loyalties. Using vibrant colors, surging brushstrokes and daring compositions to give established motifs new, expressive form, Van Gogh built a modern house on a traditional foundation.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout with flawlessly reproduced images of his paintings, "Van Gogh in Provence: Modernizing Tradition" is impressively well written, exceptionally well informed, particularly well organized and presented, making it a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Art History reference collections in general, and Vincent van Gogh supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

The 6Rs of Bullying Prevention
Michele Borba
Free Spirit Publishing
217 Fifth Avenue North, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1299
9781631980206, $34.99, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: "The 6Rs of Bullying Prevention: Best Proven Practices to Combat Cruelty and Build Respect" by educator and bullying prevention expert Michele Bora utilizes the strongest pieces of best practices and current research for ways to stop bullying. Based on a practical, six-part framework for reducing peer cruelty and increasing positive behavior support, "The 6Rs of Bullying Prevention" includes guidelines for implementing strategies, collecting data, training staff, mobilizing students and parents, building social-emotional skills, and sustaining progress. Used on its own or to supplement an existing anti-bullying program. "The 6Rs of Bullying Prevention" (Rules, Recognize, Report, Respond, Refuse, and Replace) are not a program, but a comprehensive process for reducing bullying from the inside out, involving the entire school community.

Drawing upon her years of experience and expertise, Michele Borba (who has worked with over 1 million parents and educators worldwide) offers realistic, research based strategies and advice. Digital content includes customizable forms from the book and a PDF presentation for use in professional development.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The 6Rs of Bullying Prevention" is enhanced with fourteen pages of Resources, six pages of References, and a twelve page index, making it an invaluable and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Educational reference collections in general, and bullying prevention supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade
Debbie Barr, Edward G. Shaw, Gary D. Chapman
Northfield Publishing
c/o Moody Publishers
820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
9780802414502, $15.93, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: Across America and around the world there are five 'love languages' that have revitalized relationships and saved marriages from the brink of disaster. Can these 'love languages' also help individuals, couples, and families cope with the devastating diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease ?

To this pressing question coauthors Chapman, Shaw, and Barr give a resounding yes in "Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade: The 5 Love Languages and the Alzheimer's Journey". Their innovative application of the five love languages creates an entirely new way to touch the lives of the five million Americans who have Alzheimer's, as well as their fifteen million caregivers. At its heart, this book is about how love gently lifts a corner of dementia's dark curtain to cultivate an emotional connection amid memory loss.

This collaborative, groundbreaking work between a healthcare professional, caregiver, and relationship expert will: Provide an overview of the love languages and Alzheimer's disease; correlate the love languages with the developments of the stages of AD; discuss how both the caregiver and care receiver can apply the love languages; address the challenges and stresses of the caregiver journey; offer personal stories and case studies about maintaining emotional intimacy amidst AD. The precepts comprising "Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade" are heartfelt and easy to apply, providing gentle, focused help for those feeling overwhelmed by the relational toll of Alzheimer's. Its principles have already helped hundreds of families.

Critique: An exceptionally well written, organized and presented compendium of information that is as experienced-based practical as it is insightfully informative and immediately applicable, "Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade" is an especially useful and even inspiring read from beginning to end. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Health/Medicine reference collections in general, and Alzheimer Disease supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for the family members of AD patients and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.51) and in a complete and unabridged CD audio book format (Oasis Audio, 9781613758359, $19.99).

The Listening Book: The Soul Painting & Other Stories
James Webb, author
Mark L. Lewis, photographer
Lioness Writing Ltd
9780993438301, $20.00, HC, 144pp,

Synopsis: Beautifully illustrated with the photography of Mark L. Lewis, "The Listening Book: The Soul Painting & Other Stories" by James Webb is a thought-provoking and beautifully written challenge to the way in which we live our lives in a complex world. Through a set of parable-like short stories, Webb offers us an innovative and creative insight into God's word and, while being engaging and captivating throughout, the stories never lose their subtlety and charm.

These tales are an exploration of some of the ideas we find in the Bible, with each one carrying the essence of God's word. Webb uses his background in Bible teaching to combine both scriptural integrity with an enchanting written style to create what is, without doubt, a unique and perceptive book.

Critique: A thoughtful and inspiring read from beginning to end, "The Listening Book: The Soul Painting & Other Stories" is especially commended to the attention of all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. While highly recommended for community, seminary, and academic library Christian Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Listening Book" is also available in a paperback edition (9780993438325, $15.00) and in a Kindle format ($5.99). Also highly recommended is James Webb's newly published companion volume: "The Second Listening Book: Loaded Question & Other Stories" (9780993438363, $20.00 HC / 9780993438349, $15.00, 148pp).

Rebel Crossings
Sheila Rowbotham
20 Jay Street, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201-8346
9781784785888, $34.95, HC, 502pp,

Synopsis: "Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers, and Radicals in Britain and the United States" relates the interweaving lives of four women and two men as they journey from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, from Britain to America, and from Old World conventions toward New World utopias. Radicalized by the rise of socialism, Helena Born, Miriam Daniell, Gertrude Dix, Robert Nicol and William Bailie cross the Atlantic dreaming of liberty and equality. The hope for a new age is captured in the name Miriam and Robert give their love child, born shortly after their arrival: Sunrise. A young Bostonian, Helen Tufts learns of Miriam's defiant spirit through her close friendship with Helena; the love she feels for Helena and later for William fundamentally alters her life.

All six are part of a wider historical search for self-fulfillment and an alternative to a cruelly competitive capitalism. In articles, poems and allegories Helena, Helen and Miriam resist the cultural constraints women face, while female characters in Gertrude's novels struggle to combine personal happiness with radical social commitment. William campaigns against class inequality as a socialist and an anarchist while longing to read and study. Robert, the former union militant, becomes preoccupied with personal growth and mystical enlightenment in the wilds of California.

"Rebel Crossings" offers fascinating perspectives on the historical interaction of feminism, socialism, and anarchism and on the incipient consciousness of a new sense of self, so vital for women seeking emancipation. These six lives bring fresh slants on political and cultural movements and upon influential individuals like Walt Whitman, Eleanor Marx, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, Patrick Geddes and Benjamin Tucker.

Critique: Sheila Rowbotham, helped start the women's liberation movement in Britain and is known internationally as an historian of feminism and radical social movements. In "Rebel Crossings: New Women, Free Lovers, and Radicals in Britain and the United States" she applies her literary expertise to pen a unique and impressive work of cultural history that is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. Informed and informative, "Rebel Crossings" is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read from beginning to end. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rebel Crossings" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).

Margaret Lane

Mason's Bookshelf

The Arab Spring: The Hope and Reality of the Uprisings
Mark L. Haas & David W. Lesch, editors
Westview Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780813349749, $27.00, PB, 338pp,

Synopsis: Beginning with Egypt in late 2010, peaceful protests against entrenched regimes unexpectedly erupted in a number of Arab countries, causing political upheaval across the region. Through contributions from noted scholars this newly updated and expanded second edition of "The Arab Spring: The Hope and Reality of the Uprisings" continues to provide a comprehensive overview of the causes, key issues, and aftermath of these significant political events.

Divided into two parts, the contributed articles comprising "The Arab Spring: The Hope and Reality of the Uprisings" examines the Arab countries most dramatically impacted by the uprisings, as well as why some of their Arab neighbors avoided large-scale protests. The second part explores other countries's inside and outside the region that have a stake and interest in the uprisings and their aftermath.

This newly revised second edition of "The Arab Spring: The Hope and Reality of the Uprisings" includes a new chapter on Iraq and coverage of developments in the region since 2012 and how they have altered initial assessments of the Arab Spring's effects. New part introductions and a revised concluding chapter provide contextualization and comparative analyses of key themes and broader questions.

Critique: "The Arab Spring: The Hope and Reality of the Uprisings" is a critically essential, informed and informative volume for students, scholars, and non-specialist general readers seeking the fullest understanding of how the Arab uprisings continue to impact the region and the world in general, and United States foreign policies in particular. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library International Studies collections in general, and Arab Spring supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Arab Spring: The Hope and Reality of the Uprisings" is also available in a Kindle format ($18.99).

Improve Your Communication Skills
Alan Barker
Kogan Page USA
1518 Walnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19102
9780749475758, $14.95, PB, 176pp,

Synopsis: Excellent communication skills are vital in today's workplace. Whether keeping the interest of a large audience, impressing a potential employer or simply winning the argument at an important meeting, sounding the part is key. This newly updated and expanded fourth edition of "Improve Your Communication Skills" by Alan Barker (Managing Partner of Direction, a consulting firm that works to develop creativity and skilled communication) is packed from cover to cover with a wealth of practical advice on all aspects of verbal and non-verbal communication. "Improve Your Communication Skills" gives vital tips on improving conversations and building rapport with colleagues, learning the skills of persuasion, and writing effective emails, letters and reports. Of special note is that this new edition of "Improve Your Communication Skills" features new information focusing on communicating across borders and virtual teams and a special chapter on managing difficult conversations.

Critique: As befits the subject and intent of this 'do-it-yourself' instruction n manual, "Improve Your Communication Skills" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. While earnestly commended for community, college, and academic library collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Improve Your Communication Skills" is also available in a Kindle format ($14.95). Also very highly recommended from Kogan Page USA is Alan Barker's "How to Manage Meetings: Improve Problem Solving; Encourage Participation; Keep Control" (978-0749463427, $14.95 PB, $11.96 Kindle, 176pp).

The Campaigns of Sargon II, King of Assyria, 721 - 705 B.C.
Sarah C. Melville
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806154039, $32.95, HC, 300pp,

Synopsis: Backed by an unparalleled military force, Sargon II outwitted and outfought powerful competitors to extend Assyrian territory and secure his throne. "The Campaigns of Sargon II, King of Assyria, 721 - 705 B.C. " by Sarah C. Melville (Associate Professor of History at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York) shows through a detailed analysis of each of his campaigns, the king used his army not just to conquer but also to ensure regional security, manage his empire's resources, and support his political agenda. Under his leadership, skilled chariotry, cavalry, and infantry excelled in all types of terrain against an array of culturally diverse enemies.

"The Campaigns of Sargon II, King of Assyria, 721 - 705 B.C." represents the first in-depth military study of the great Assyrian king. Drawing extensively from original sources, including cuneiform inscriptions, the letters of Sargon and his officials, archival documents, and monumental art, Professor Melville presents Sargon's achievements as king, diplomat, and conqueror. Contrary to the stereotype of the brutal Assyrian despot, Sargon applied force selectively, with deliberate economy, and as only one of several possible ways to deal with external threat or to exploit opportunity.

"The Campaigns of Sargon II, King of Assyria, 721 - 705 B.C." aptly demonstrates how Sargon changed the geopolitical dynamics in the Near East, inspired a period of cultural florescence, established long-lasting Assyrian supremacy, and became one of the most influential kings of the ancient world.

Critique: An impressive body of exceptional scholarship, "The Campaigns of Sargon II, King of Assyria, 721 - 705 B.C." is a definitive work that should be considered a core addition to college and university library Ancient History collections in general, and Assyrian History supplemental studies reading lists in particular. Enhanced with the inclusion of two appendices ('Dramatis Personae and Geographical List' and 'Solving the Puzzle of Assyrian-Urartian Chronology'), thirty-eight pages of Notes, and a nine page Index, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialists general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Campaigns of Sargon II, King of Assyria, 721 - 705 B.C." is also available in a Kindle format ($16.17).

Congress Buys a Navy
Paul E. Pedisich
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781682470770, $39.95, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: Paul E. Pedisich holds MA and PhD degrees from Stony Brook University and held the Admiral Stephen B. Luce Chair of Naval Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College. His interest as a historian is on the undeveloped economic history of U.S. Navy expansion.

In "Congress Buys a Navy: Politics, Economics, and the Rise of American Naval Power, 1881-1921" he offers a new look at the nexus of U.S. politics, economics, and the funding and creation of what is thought of as the "modern" U.S. Navy. Filling in significant gaps in prior economic histories of the era, "Congress Buys a Navy" analyzes the role played by nine presidencies and cabinets, sixteen Navy secretaries, and countless U.S. congressmen whose work and actions shaped and funded our forces at sea.

Surveying the development of the new steel Navy from 1881 to 1921, this study begins with James Garfield's appointment of William Hunt as Secretary of the Navy and the formation of the forty-seventh Congress in March 1881, and continues on to the reduction of the naval forces by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1921.

While the main acts in U.S. political history often privilege the actions of the President and his cabinet, "Congress Buys a Navy" brings to light the individual rationales, voting blocs, agendas, and political intrigue that drove this process of making a modern Navy.

Critique: An informed and informative work of seminal scholarship, ""Congress Buys a Navy: Politics, Economics, and the Rise of American Naval Power, 1881-1921" is exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented. Enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-eight pages of Notes, a six page Selected Biography, and an eleven page Index, "Congress Buys a Navy" is a highly recommended and core addition to personal, community, college, and university library American Military History collections in general, and American Naval History supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Nikola Tesla's Electricity Unplugged
Tom Valone, editor
Adventures Unlimited Press
PO Box 74, Kempton, IL 60946
9781939149572, $21.95, PB, 464pp,

Synopsis: The immense genius of Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 - 7 January 1943) resulted from a mind that could see an invention in 3-D, from every angle, within his mind before it was easily built. Tesla's inventions were complete down to dimensions and part sizes in his visionary process. Tesla would envision his electromagnetic devices as he stared into the sky, or into a corner of his laboratory. His inventions on rotating magnetic fields creating AC current as we know it today, have changed the world?yet most people have never heard of this great inventor Is he a suppressed inventor, as many historians contend? Many of Tesla's concepts and inventions are still thought of as science fiction today -- more than 60 years later! Compiled and edited by Tom Valone, "Nikola Tesla's Electricity Unplugged: Wireless Transmission of Power as the Master of Lightning Intended" includes Tesla's fantastic vision of the future; his wireless transmission of power; Tesla's Magnifying Transmitter; the testing and building of his towers for wireless power, tons more.

Critique: Because of studies such as those comprising "Nikola Tesla's Electricity Unplugged", the unique genius of Nikola Tesla is being realized by new generations of appreciative engineers and scientists. With nineteen original contributions by experts in the life and work of Tesla being organized and presented in three major sections (Tesla's Life Events Leading to Wireless Power; Popular Tesla Wireless Power Concepts; Zenneck Surface Wave Theory), "Nikola Tesla's Electricity Unplugged" is a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library collections in general and Nikola Tesla supplemental studies reading lists in particular. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the life and work of Nikola Tesla it should be noted that "Nikola Tesla's Electricity Unplugged" is also available in a Kindle format ($12.99).

Capital and the Common Good
Georgia Levenson Keohane
Columbia Business School
c/o Columbia University Press
61 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023-7015
9780231178020, $29.95, HC, 248pp,

Synopsis: Despite social and economic advances around the world, poverty and disease persist, exacerbated by the mounting challenges of climate change, natural disasters, political conflict, mass migration, and economic inequality. While governments commit to addressing these challenges, traditional public and philanthropic dollars are not enough. Here, innovative finance has shown a way forward: by borrowing techniques from the world of finance, we can raise capital for social investments today. Innovative finance has provided polio vaccines to children in the DRC, crop insurance to farmers in India, pay-as-you-go solar electricity to Kenyans, and affordable housing and transportation to New Yorkers. It has helped governmental, commercial, and philanthropic resources meet the needs of the poor and underserved and build a more sustainable and inclusive prosperity.

"Capital and the Common Good: How Innovative Finance Is Tackling the World's Most Urgent Problems" by Georgia Levenson Keohane (who is the Executive Director of the Pershing Square Foundation, a Professor in the Social Enterprise Program at Columbia Business School, and a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation) shows how market failure in one context can be solved with market solutions from another: an expert in securitization bundles future development aid into bonds to pay for vaccines today; an entrepreneur turns a mobile phone into an array of financial services for the unbanked; and policy makers adapt pay-for-success models from the world of infrastructure to human services like early childhood education, maternal health, and job training. Revisiting the successes and missteps of these efforts, Professor Keohane ably and persuasively argues that innovative finance is as much about incentives and sound decision-making as it is about money. When it works, innovative finance gives us the tools, motivation, and security to invest in our shared future.

Critique: An impressively written, organized and presented study, "Capital and the Common Good: How Innovative Finance Is Tackling the World's Most Urgent Problems" is a critically important and seminal work of exceptional scholarship that is unreservedly recommended, especially for community and academic library Contemporary Economics collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Capital and the Common Good" is also available in a Kindle format ($28.45).

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

Heartstrings: A Legacy Novel
Marilyn Boone
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781514166611, $12.95, Paperback, 228 pages,

Genre: young adult fiction

Writer Marilyn Boone's Heartstrings begins as High School Senior, Anna Holmes is astonished to come face to face with fellow senior, E. C. Coleman, Madison High School's star football player who will be volunteering a few hours at the Samaritan Center; Anna helps dish up the food to be served to the hungry who come to eat at the Samaritan Center where she has been volunteering for several years.

The pair begin a rather wary relationship. E. C. is, Anna believes, quite as she expected; arrogant, narcissistic and only there for a grade. Mr. Jenkins, teacher during last hour government class, encourages his students to do some volunteering at various charitable venues in town. While E. C. is a child of wealthy influential parents; Anna and her asthmatic little brother live upstairs over the family restaurant.

One high spot for Anna is the weekly violin lessons she receives from Louisa, the center's resident housekeeper. Louisa is a quiet woman who says little. Over time Anna learns more of Louisa's life and the sorrow she bears, both her husband and son died in Hungary during the 1956 uprising.

Anna is dedicated to her dream of perfecting her musical prowess and receiving a violin scholarship to university while keeping her grades up, volunteering at the center and helping with the family cafe where she helps with whatever needs the most attention. When Louisa dies of illness just after Anna has taken part in a music competition; Anna is bereft.

Anna has had a hard time believing in herself; with Louisa's encouragement Anna has grown as a musician and Anna had been coming to grips with her hopes, dreams, and the world in general. Louisa's death leaves Anna feeling unsure what she should do.

Heartstrings is a nice, positive, coming of age tale in which characters are well developed, conversations are plausible, situations, are somewhat predictable and realizations that foregone conclusions developed before actually getting to know others around themselves may not be wholly accurate.

Anna is a girl filled with many of the angst producing self-doubts as countless young people her age often feel. Anna's gentle, understanding, manner with the folks who come to the center to eat does not carry over to her relationships with fellow students. As she comes to know more of the students at her school, Anna begins to realize that what she has thought to be self-importance or arrogance may not be that at all. Dialogue between characters is believable, vocabulary is always acceptable, settings are nicely detailed, I enjoyed reading the narrative and watching as Anna grew in serenity, perception and wider understanding toward others peopling the tale.

Watching the misunderstanding falling away as E. C. and Anna reveal more of their true selves to each other and to themselves as well, has produced a highly readable, gently romantic, account sure to please those who enjoy a little romance intertwined in a down to earth, slice of life story.

No coarse language, no sexual innuendo. Enjoyed the read Highly Recommended for the Young Adult audience.

Amazon About the Author: Marilyn Boone is a former elementary school teacher and award winning author. Heartstrings is the first Legacy Novel, a stand alone series of young adult inspirational books containing a little history, a little mystery, and always a little romance. Heartstrings was the winner of the 2016 Best Juvenile Book award at the Oklahoma Writer's Federation Inc. annual conference.

Thirteen Soldiers
John McCain & Mark Salter
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476759654, $28.00, HC,

Authors US Sen McCain and his aide Mark Salter have created a work featuring military figures spanning from the inception of our country through many conflicts culminating with war in the middle east.

13 Soldiers is a work of 364 pages including title page, Table of Contents, Afterword, Acknowledgements, Selected Bibliography and Index.

Each of the 13 soldiers featured are ones McCain holds in high regard beginning with chapter one Soldier of the Revolution and 15 year old Joseph Plum Martin who, a tad hesitantly, joined the rebellion against England and served until the end of the revolution.

Martin, all but forgotten in history, lived his life in obscurity and poverty receiving little recompense either monetary or reverence of fellow soldiers for his service.

History has Martin's 'Kip's Bay Affair' memoir to thank for bringing that bit of our combined record to light. While Martin was little recognized during his lifetime, his 'A Narrative of some of the Adventures, Danger and Suffering of a Revolutionary Soldier, Interspersed with Anecdotes of Incident that Occurred Within His Own Observation' has provided much valuable information for later historians regarding the revolutionary war leading to the founding of the America we know today.

Joseph Plum Martin was among the first to fight for his country, and watch ungrateful fellow citizens belittle, begrudge and question the bravery, worth and need for pensions for the old soldiers who had done so much to gain the freedom for those who were now taking that freedom for granted.

Each chapter offers insight into the life and mettle of another brave and perhaps disdained patriot.

2 Brothers in Arms chronicling particularly the 1812 war service of African American sailors, begins on page 37

History has not recorded nearly as much of the history as it might have. George Roberts, American seaman is pictured on page 36. Charles Black, a freeborn African American sailor, son of a Revolutionary War combatant lived in Philadelphia after battling during the war of 1812. Caught up in the ongoing strife between Irish immigrants and Philadelphia's African American community; He suffered indignity and beating.

3 Adventure featuring the deeds of Brevet Brigadier General Samuel Chamberlain begins on page 63

Chamberlain was an adventurer, flawed hero of the Mexican American War, his actions inspired novelist, playright Carman McCarthy.

My Confession; Recollections of a Rogue, handwritten by Chamberlain is dotted with watercolor renditions painted to illustrate his descriptions of the horrors of the war.

4 Touched with Fire narrative re War Between the states begins on page 87

1st Lieutenant Oliver Wendell Holmes 20th Mass Volunteers is pictured in uniform on page 86

5 Fog recording the service of those engaged in the short lived Spanish American War in begins on page 117

Medal of Honor recipient, Buffalo Soldier Capt. Edward L Baker, fought heroically in the battle of San Juan Heights, Cuba

6 A Howling Wilderness the Phillipine American War begins on page 143

4 February 1899 the Second Battle of Manilla initiated a war lasting 3 years with sporadic fighting continuing for some time after that.

Pictured on page 142 Major General Littleton Waller 'Tony' Tazewell Waller of whom legendary Marine Corps Smedley Butler said, 'the greatest soldier I have every known' was court marshaled when he refused to massacre Filipino soldiers

7 Lost Scared Kids a Long Way From Home recollections of WW1 begins on page 167

Cpl. Elton 'Lucky' Mackin who survived one of the most dangerous assignments of the action is shown on page 166

8 Lone Wolf narrative re Marine PFC Guy Louis Gabaldon begins on page 193

Galbaldon trekked cave by cave alone to persuade 1500 Japanese to surrender on Saipan WW2 was recommended for Medal of Honor by his company commander

Posing with a Japanese family he saved from mass suicide on the island of Saipan, Galbaldon is pictured on page 192

9 Duty featuring the Korean war activity of Sgt 1class Chester D 'Pete' Salter who fought hand to hand to get off a hill in Korea was wounded fighting to take back the hill while retrieving the body of the man who had saved his life begins on page 221

10 Valor narrating the Viet Nam War bravery of US soldiers, and, at time perplexing decisions of those in charge of the situation begins on page 247

Wild Weasels Leo Thorness as the pilot and POW fought Migs missiles and artillery to protect the lives of his wingmen

Thorness and fellow Wild Weasel Henry Johnson sporting regulation mustaches and bush hats are pictured on page 246 with their F 105 Thud.

11 Wounds chronicling the bravery of members of the 14th Quartermast Detachment Pennsylvania reserve unit during their tour in the Persian Gulf War begins on page 271.

Sgt Mary Rhodes Rhodes, pictured on page 270 was an army reservist whose life was forever changed by an Iraqui Scud missile.

12 The Job narrative re Combat Medics and Corspmen begins on page 293

Few jobs are more important, dangerous or critical to the morale of a platoon than that of the Medic. 75 medics and corpsmen have received posthumous Medals of Honor. The most decorated solder during WW1 was not Sgt Alvin York as is widely thought, but was PFC Charles Denver Barger a stretcher bearer.

Combat Medic Specialist Monica Lin Brown a frontline medic in Afghanistan risked her life to save others during an ambush. Brown, decorated for 'extraordinary heroism' is pictured on page 292

13 Above and Beyond account re special forces begins on page 315

Navy SEAL Mikey Mansoor, Iraq received a Bronze Star for his actions in 11 separate operations in Ramadi.

Petty Officer Monsoor is shown with his men on patrol on the streets of Ramadi on page 314

Aferword p 339 we tried not to sentimentalize the soldiers whose stories we chose for this book, or their wars. They have earned our admiration without embellishing what they did or the cause they served.

American soldiers have been at war since the second year of this century... peace no matter how long it endures is always temporary.

Acknowledgments pp 343
Selected Bibliography 345
Index 353

I found this work to be filled with history, detailing often little remembered soldiers who have served to keep our country safe. Writers McCain and Salter mentioned in the foreward of their book that they wanted to chronicle the lives of ordinary soldiers, and were not particularly interested in showcasing a superman warrior.

With some of their anecdotes there was an abundance of material to provide grist for the book, journals and other writings help flesh out the name and the actions. For at least one little has been recorded and little could be located for the writers to use.

Writing is done in clear, lucid prose, easily understood, easily read. 13 Soldiers is a nifty work for history and/or military buffs, I bought this edition for my Nam vet husband who is a history/military buff.

I found each of the anecdotes to follow pretty much the same outline, soldier is listed and then his/her activities in battle or other settings is set down without a lot of embroidery or personal discourse on the part of the authors.

Having said that, I do not want it to seem that the book is simply dust dry commentary, on the contrary each of the soldiers listed comes alive on the page. I like the photos or other illustrations used throughout the book. Seaman Charles Black is shown in his worn and battlestained attire little written record is left regarding this stalwart, I am happy the writers have included his story in their book. What little they did glean through research now can be read by citizens today.

13 Soldiers is not a story book, it is a book of stories about brave soldiers going about their duties and everyday lives, and fighting battles when combat called for them to do so.

Some of the soldiers listed in this book are ones I have read about before, some are new to me and I am enriched with the reading. As a student of history I find much to enjoy within the covers of 13 soldiers and look forward to searching others written by these two authors.

Interesting read Recommended especially for the target audience of readers of history, military history or well written books by those whose research compel them to write the book.

5 stars

About the Author: Senator John McCain entered the Naval Academy in June of 1954. He served in the United States Navy until 1981. He was elected to the US House of Representatives from Arizona in 1982 and to the Senate in 1986. He was the Republican Party's nominee for president in the 2008 election.

Mark Salter is the author, with John McCain, of several books, including Thirteen Soldiers and Faith of My Fathers. He served on Senator McCain's staff for more than fifteen years.

Going Dark
Dennis Must
Illustrator: Rostislav Spitkovsky
Coffeetown Press
9781603813976, $13.95, Paperback, 184 pages

Dennis Must's Going Dark Selected Stories is a succession of 17 short stories opening with Title tale Going Dark in which an aging actor tells us of his life, or theirs, or ours, who knows; as he offers the address, or name of spouse and children of characters he has played.

Writers may well be supposed to be a congregation of discrete and distinct persons working in harmony to generate something on paper solely from their productive minds; and Writer Must does give the impression to fit that analogy. Dennis Must's third short story anthology, Going Dark, presents a raconteur a la F. Scott Fitzgerald meditative pretext by transporting the reader into each of the dissimilar accounts be they matter-of-fact or stately, rational or imaginative.

Going Dark, the initial sketch offered presents a mature actor as he reminisces re his life and looks back short of appreciating wholly what is recollected, and what was merely a performance. The fight to comprehend death and managing skills to accept the state of affairs is the focus for Marine Band. A couple facing tedium in their marriage look for ways to add a little zing, only to grasp they might have considered and accepted life as it had been. Writer Must's writing is expressive, as he approaches the numerous stages of life we all share as we too transfer from childhood to youth, to conceivably consider marriage or other association, and, at

the end face the inevitable death that awaits us all. Lives so unrelated yet very much the same; are the ones brought to life under the pen of this skillful writer.

Dennis Must's assortment of short accounts, is at once a multilayered thought provoking psychological frolic in addition to being a deeply seated thoughtful work; brimming with anxiety, as distant, unapproachable, self-absorbed characters usually at odds with themselves, others around them, and life in general.

Whatever the overview or leitmotif, each portrayal in this work ultimately goes dark as Must probes deep within the core of his intricate, complex characters. Overall, "the collection becomes a captivating study of the quandary of good, evil, the nature of human identity, and the function of art."

Various story titles found in this slim volume of 17 short stories includes Marine Band, Boys, Houseguest and Chet Baker Crosses the Allegheny. The latter relates a series of mishaps in which autos play a key role.

A few of the tales are graced with an illustrations done by Rostislav Spitkovshy; Boys, The Day My Father Died, The Joining and Dry Bread and Turnip Soup each is embellished with a single page drawing. A short author bio finishes the work ; Author Must was born and raised in Pennsylvania, attended college and in Pennsylvania. He decided against entering the clergy despite 2 years at Princeton Theological Seminary, he opted instead to attend a playwright's workshop in Iowa before teaching at various locations in Pittsburgh and New York City.

After a pleasant career spent writing, directing and co-producing his own plays in collaboration with John Hawkins; his final production ended in Greenwich Village 1974.

In addition to writing, Must, has worked as a cabinet maker, bartender, bell hop, founded a real estate firm, and has worked as a general laborer in a glass factory, steel mill and on a rail line. With is diverse life he is well equipped to write tales of substance on many subjects and flesh them out so that they come alive on the page.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend for those who enjoy a bit of the avant garde.

Amazon: About the Author Dennis Must is the author of two other short story collections: Oh, Don't Ask Why, Red Hen Press (2007), and Banjo Grease, Creative Arts Book Company, Berkeley, CA (2000). His first novel, The World's Smallest Bible, was published by Red Hen Press in March of 2014. His second novel, Hush Now, Don't Explain, was published by Coffeetown Press in October of 2014. His plays have been performed Off Off Broadway, and his fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary reviews. Dennis and his wife Aviva live in Massachusetts. Visit him online at

Amazon Biography Dennis Must is the author of two short story collections: OH, DON'T ASK WHY, Red Hen Press, Pasadena, CA (2007), and BANJO GREASE, Creative Arts Book Company, Berkeley, CA (2000), plus novels: THE WORLD'S SMALLEST BIBLE, Red Hen Press, March 2014, and HUSH NOW, DON'T EXPLAIN, Coffeetown Press, Seattle, WA, October 2014. His plays have been performed Off Off Broadway and his fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary reviews. He resides with his wife in Salem, Massachusetts

The Power of a Praying Parent -- The Power of a Praying series
Stormie Omartian
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736957670, $15.99, Paperback, 224 pages,

Genre: inspirational, Parenting

Stormie Omartian The Power of a PRAYING PARENT The Power of a Praying® series commences with a Foreword from the author in which she states something about the book, as well as, how it and the series in which it is a cornerstone, came to be.

The Introduction furthers reader comprehension of this volume in addition to providing explanation of the series of works regarding prayer offered by the author.

A Table of Contents outlines the 31 chapters comprising the book itself. Becoming a Praying Parent, Releasing My Child into God's Hands and Securing Protection from Harm are chapters designed particularly to serve as a guide for new parents.

Each chapter is packed with thoughts and notions, ideas and suggestions the author has found work for her as a parent, and praying individual throughout the continually ever-changing, developing, and fluctuating phases of growth and behavior children enter and leave all through their growing up years. Most parents swiftly discover that just when you have confidence you have this stage figured out, and things are moving smoothly; the kid enters another phase, and, you start all over again.

Omartian enlightens what prayer really is and how praying works. Omartian sprinkles pages with Bible quotations for the reader to use for reference. She offers prayers she has prayed as illustration to be used as a model for how to pray for particular instance or as a prayer to use as is.

Prayers themselves are presented across a two page spread with the prayer on side of the spread, and Biblical verses apropos to the prayer on the other. And, to help reinforce the message for those who may be new to the notion of relying on prayer to add another dimension to daily life; Omartian frequently adds an example or two of Answered Prayer.

Some of the chapter titles include Maintaining Good Family Relationships, Feeling Loved and Accepted, Instilling Desire to Learn, Enjoying Freedom From Fear, Inviting the Joy of the Lord.

And, she addresses some of the dilemma intrinsic to child rearing all parents face; Attracting Godly Friends and Role Models, Enjoying a Life of Health and Healing, Having the Motivation for Proper Body Care, Destroying an Inheritance of Family Bondage, Avoiding Alcohol, Drugs and other Addictions, Rejecting Sexual Immorality, Seeking Wisdom and Discernment.

Praying for Your Adult Children wraps up the work. Parents' work does not end when the kids become adults. More than ever our adult children can gain the strength needed for their journey as adults with responsibility.

An Appendix is offered with suggestions for Praying Together With Other Parents.

Stormie Omartian The Power of a Praying Parent -- The Power of a Praying series features optimistic revelations, recommendations, and devotions delivered by a woman who lives the power of prayer. Omartian has recovered from an abusive childhood, has dedicated her life to service for others, prayer, raising her children and the God she serves.

I found as I was raising my own children the trials and joys of parenting form a bond all parents seem to appreciate, recognize and share. Knowing that others have also had children who conduct themselves much as my own in a given situation does bring some joy to each stage of the parenting situation.

Omartian's bestselling The Power of a Praying® series with 28 million + copies sold, is intended to provide a tool, prayer, for use to an always changing and growing group of readers ready to determine the power of prayer for their lives, and the individuals and circumstances making up ever fluctuating lives as development, maturity and situations alter.

This small 5 X 8.5 book can easily be tucked into briefcase or handbag and taken out for reading during breaks at work or school, or for those moments when the reader is sitting in the dentist office waiting for child or children, or is stopped at the rail crossing and seemingly endless train of cars is passing.

The one fault I find with the book, the size of type is difficult to read as eye sight dims with age.

The Power of a PRAYING PARENT has a place on the home bookshelf, as well as the book case of class leaders, case workers, care givers. The small size makes the book ideal as a tuck in gift in the basket prepared for new mom, or grandmother, as well as anyone who is or wants to become a praying parent, care giver or educator dealing with children.

Interesting, educational, helpful read, happy to Recommended.

Amazon About the Author Stormie Omartian is the bestselling author (more than 35 million books sold) of The Power of a Praying® series, plus Lead Me, Holy Spirit ; Prayer Warrior ; Choose Love ; and Out of Darkness . Stormie and her husband, Michael, have been married more than 40 years. They are the parents of two married children and have two granddaughters.

Biography Stormie Omartian is the best-selling author of The Power of a Praying series with over 32 million books sold worldwide. In high demand as an international speaker, Stormie's passion is to help people know God and love Him in a deep way. A survivor of child abuse, Stormie brings a deep understanding of recovery issues to her work.

In 2014, Stormie Omartian and her daughter-in-law, Paige Omartian launched a new online community called, This online community gives its members an opportunity to receive exclusive, members only content from Stormie and Paige.

Interesting read Recommended 5 stars


Stormie Omartian is the best-selling author of The Power of a Praying series with over 32 million books sold worldwide. In high demand as an international speaker, Stormie's passion is to help people know God and love Him in a deep way. A survivor of child abuse, Stormie brings a deep understanding of recovery issues to her work.

In 2014, Stormie Omartian and her daughter-in-law, Paige Omartian launched a new online community called, This online community gives its members an opportunity to receive exclusive, members only content from Stormie and Paige.

Request an invite when you visit:

The Eleven Commandants of Good Teaching: 2nd Edition
Vickie Gill
Corwin Press, Inc.
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218
9780761978107, Paperback: 104 pages,

Genre: Education

Foreword -Vanderbilt Professor Emeritus, James R. Lent, sets the tone for the book with his opening statement, 'there is something different about this book: It is useful, really useful.

Gill tells the reader that she has been teaching, in 2001 when this book was copyrighted, for the better part of 2 decades during which time she has spent a good bit of time defending the profession and giving advice to help struggling teachers succeed which has led to her setting down her thought in a book meant to provide tools and courage to allow teachers to follow their best instincts about what to do in the classroom.

Vickie Gill's The Eleven Commandments of Good Teaching 2d edition, Creating Classrooms Where Teachers Can Teach and Students Can Learn features a Table of Contents for easy perusal of various topics Writer Gill showcases as necessary for setting the tone of a classroom.

Gill's belief that teacher's teach people not subjects, are among an elite group of people who can truly change the world, and are a closely watched role model who communicates more by what they do than by what they say; is summed up by her first chapter title Thou Shalt Have a Calling to Teach.

Gill's notion that Thou Shalt Demonstrate and Project the Joy of Learning came about in large part because it appears that many people who do not teach seem to have the impression that teaching is a boring, joyless profession. She reminds us as teachers that we need to take time to remember what drew us to teaching including remembering the kinds of things done by our own favorite teachers.

Characteristics of educated persons in writer Gill's opinion include educated people can find out what they need to know, they share a common body of knowledge with other educated people that aids them in finding out what they need to know and they are curious; in short, educated people are lifelong learners. When deciding what to teach Thou Shalt Keep Your Eyes on the Prize educated persons is the prize.

Thou Shalt Be Organized and Accountable Gill notes that it is incumbent upon each teacher to document what is taught in his/her classroom. The notion that every teacher and every classroom is a mirror of all others is not a very functional idea. Every class is different because needs of each student must be considered along with state and local requirements concerning what must, should, will be taught in the classroom.

Writing lesson plans, using the plans, and maintaining records showing the progress of each student is easier to accomplish when the teacher is organized, accountability is easier to establish when documentation is kept showing what was taught and what learners produced as a result of the teaching.

Gill notes Thou Shalt Ask and Ye May Receive was one of the first things I was taught in my first teacher preparation, college class. If you need something for your classroom ask, and be prepared to explain how you will use whatever it is, and why you hope to use the whatever.

Thou Shalt Be Fair and Prepared and Thou Shalt Use Some Common Sense seem to be self-explanatory and to be expected. Preparation is the basis of successful teaching whether the teacher is using a commercial lesson plan book, used by many teachers across the nation, in which he/she writes hourly subject notes concerning the lesson to be taught day by day.

Fairness is expected by teachers and students alike. Common sense or the lack thereof assure whether success or failure will be the outcome for every teacher. Gill points out that 'children like to know there is someone in charge, someone who has their best interests at heart.' No matter how they may chafe at rules; children do know that they are not skilled or old enough to make what may be life changing decisions.

For peace of mind teachers do well to remember Thou Shalt Be Open-Minded and Flexible one of the most important sentences I find in this chapter reads 'Schools are filled with all types of personalities and styles. What works well in one classroom may not in the one across the hall. Find your style and, so long as students are learning you are happy with the style and progress; implement it. The chapter closes with another sentence worth remembering; 'because we, teachers, work with people, we have to be ready to embrace the unexpected and make it work.'

Thou Shalt Not Work in Fear help new teachers and seasoned ones too remember that while our successes give us more confidence and raise our standing in the eyes of fellow teachers; it is the failures that are the best teachers for refining our technique.

Because students come to the classroom with varying degrees of want to and can do it is important for teachers to remember Thou Shalt Raise Your Expectations. Gill points out that people fall pretty much into 3 types, the ones who make things happen, those who watch things happening, and those who ask what happened. Students tend to perform up to reasonable standards, or down to standards set lower than they need.

Thou Shalt Keep Things in Perspective Gill helps new and seasoned teachers remember that we are the masters of our own destiny in large part. Things happen in life, we can change some and some we cannot. Fix what we can, and move forward.

My well used copy of The Eleven Commandments of Good Teaching 2d edition, Creating Classrooms Where Teachers Can Teach and Students Can Learn attests to the fact that I too found, as did Professor Lent in the Foreward, 'there is something different about this book: It is useful, really useful.

While my career of nearly 4 decades was spent in K-1 and Writer Gill primarily taught high school English; her easily read book is filled with down to earth suggestions for setting up a classroom promoting a learning environment, the need for planning and proposals regarding how to go about devising lessons. Whatever the grade level, age of students or subject matter planning, learning environment and lessons are something all teachers do.

I read The Eleven Commandments of Good Teaching 2d edition, Creating Classrooms Where Teachers Can Teach and Students Can Learn cover to cover more than once during my almost 40 years, kept the book in my rolling bag taken to the classroom each day and read individual chapters again, and again as I felt I needed a nudge in one direction or another.

I come from a family of teachers, grandfather taught, my two sisters taught, their husbands were also teachers. I particularly enjoyed reading Gill's personal teaching moments, while hers were different than mine because our students were widely apart in age, all teachers have stories of classroom happenings and enjoy remembering their own and hearing those of fellow teachers whatever their classroom makeup.

Excellent gift for a new teacher, student teacher, any teacher.

Interesting, useful, educational read, happy to Recommend 5 stars

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Moore's Bookshelf

What Do We Do About Inequality?
Chris Oestereich
4900 Lacross Rd, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781530305421, $17.95, PB, 302pp,

The title of this essay collection, "What Do We Do About Inequality?", is a bit like a traffic sign. We're clearly told the orientation of the book and where it will take us if we decide to read further. Some readers will see this title and follow the path. Those who do, likely will proceed for one of two reasons: either they believe inequality is a problem that needs correction, or, they believe the issue of inequality is a straw dog, and they're eager to shoot down the arguments of those who stress about it. Of course, some who read this title will look away. They may believe the issue has nothing to do with them, or is so intractable that discussion is pointless.

The greatest value of "What Do We Do About Inequality?" is that it doesn't offer one solution, or even one point of view. It gives space to commentators who have a variety of perspectives. Readers should be prepared to agree, disagree, or shake their heads in puzzlement. As informative as some essays are, a few others get bogged down in jargon that will mean little to lay readers. However, on the whole, the contributors to this book have a great deal to offer. The inequalities considered are not limited to economic disparity, but also include other manifestations of inequality, including race and gender.

One essay I found persuasive, "The Age of Inequality: Causes, Discontents and A Radical Way Forward", was written by Jason Hickel and Alnoor Ladha. Hickel and Ladha offer a fact-based analysis of economic inequality. In the view of these authors, inequality is a "self-perpetuating cycle: the rich are able to buy policy decisions that shore up the very system that delivered them their wealth in the first place." The Hickel/Ladha analysis suggests two remedies they describe as cosmetic, but nonetheless essential: impose a global tax on capital and institute a minimum "living wage" that is pegged to inflation. True reform, however, will not come, the authors assert, until more profound changes are effected: the global "power imbalance" must be corrected.

"What Do We Do About Inequality?" is an important book. Chris Oestereich, its editor (and a key contributor) has created a platform for comparing ideas about a core social issue. It's hard to find an area of life, or of the world, that inequality does not influence. Those who enjoy the privileges of inequality, whether it be racial, religious, gender or economic, may not regard inequality as a problem. This fortunate minority live in a bubble of denial. Moral considerations aside, resentment engendered by inequality is noxious and enduring. To ignore simmering discontent is to invite a chaotic, volatile, and spontaneous solution. This would certainly bring change, but of the sort that would have profound and unpredictable consequences.

If we look to history, we see clearly how gross inequality can destabilize government and social order. The French and Russian Revolutions, for example, were instigated largely by the issue of inequality. Even in the United States, dramatic government reform was enacted during the Great Depression, largely to forestall civic unrest. There was very real concern that growing inequality would lead to an uprising by those who were suffering.

It may be true that the poor will always be among us, but the number of poor and the degree of their poverty, according to "What Do We Do About Inequality?", can be affected by rational application of sound social and political reform. It's either that, or wait for the despair of the poor to overwhelm them. At that point, upheaval will undermine the social order, an order that seems secure to those who exist in remote perches of privilege.

Chopin: Complete Novels and Stories
Kate Chopin
Library of America
14 E 60th St #1101, New York, NY 10022
9781931082211, $31.50, HC, 1075pp,

Kate Chopin was born in Missouri, fifteen years before slavery was abolished in the United States. By the time she began writing, in 1890, the state of racial relations in the country had been cemented for the next sixty-four years. This was partly due to an 1890 Louisiana law that gave legal cover to segregation. The law affirmed the 'equal but separate' principle. In 1896, the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of this principle in its Plessy V. Ferguson ruling. When Kate Chopin wrote her books, she lived in Louisiana. It is probably not surprising, therefore, that "Kate Chopin: Complete Novels and Stories" reflects the values of her era and region. The book is saturated with racism.

Literary critics today acknowledge Miss Chopin as a feminist writer. Her most well-known novel, "Awakening" (included in this collection), is reminiscent of Ibsen's "A Doll's House". The protagonist of "Awakening "is a married woman who feels suffocated by the course her life has taken. She has met the expectations of society by becoming a dutiful wife and mother. In the process, she has suppressed eruptions of sensuality that disturbed the smooth progress of socialization over the years. Her 'awakening' comes in response to a young man's attentions. She recognizes the sensations he arouses and this time does not deny them.

"Awakening" was a scandal. As a result of its publication, Kate Chopin's career as a writer came to an abrupt halt. It was about half a century later that her work was rediscovered and recognized as an expression of feminism. It is this aspect of Chopin's work that is generally addressed, and not her overt racism. It is difficult for me to understand how critics can address one important part of her writing and overlook another profoundly significant element.

Ms. Chopin is a master of her craft. Her characters come alive, and her scenes are vividly described. It was perhaps this ability to capture the moment exactly as she saw it that allowed undiluted racism to seep into her writing. "Chopin: Complete Novels and Stories" is a valuable book, though disturbing. It offers insight into the role of women in late nineteenth-century United States. It brings to life the culture of a declining South in the wake of Reconstruction. And it reveals the psyche that allowed Jim Crow to flourish in post-bellum United States.

I can recommend this book only with the understanding that it will be profoundly disturbing to some readers. As I make this qualified recommendation, I recall other writers whose work revealed the biases of their time. Dostoyevsky, for example, reflected the anti-Semitism of nineteenth-century Russia. And Dickens was guilty of the same. If we use the standard of judgment that is generally applied to these great writers, perhaps we can allow the bigotry of Kate Chopin. However, there is a matter of degree. Racism is intrinsic to Ms. Chopin's oeuvre. That is hard to get around.

Lolly Willowes: Or The Loving Huntsman
Sylvia Townsend Warner
New York Review of Books Classics
435 Hudson Street, Suite 300 New York, NY 10014
9780940322165, $15.95, PB, 230pp,

Betty Friedan's "Feminine Mystique" is often cited as the starting point for feminism's 'second wave' in the United States. The first wave is said to have been prompted by the suffragist movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is in the first wave that Sylvia Townsend Warner's "Lolly Willowes" would approximately fit. However, viewing feminism as a movement that surges in bursts tends to minimize the experiences of women, over the centuries, who have yearned for equal rights.

Through much of history it has not been acceptable for women to protest the role assigned to them by gender. As I write these words I think of a diary written in tenth-century Japan. Entitled "The Gossamer Years" ("Kager? Nikki" in Japanese), this book is a plaint about the frustration of being the second wife to a nobleman. The author of the diary has no independent existence. She waits for the scant attentions of her husband and devotes her time to their one child, a son. This is how the author of an acknowledged Japanese masterpiece is recorded in history: she is Michitsuna's mother. Michitsuna's mother would probably not consider herself a feminist, and yet her discontent is not very different from the malaise described in Friedan's "Feminine Mystique" -- written a thousand years later.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to catalog a history of victimization if the voices of the victims have been silenced. This dynamic of silent protest is exquisitely explored in "Lolly Willowes". The protagonist of the book, Laura Willowes, enters the world in the latter part of the nineteenth century. She is the dutiful daughter of a successful businessman. Laura cares for her father until his death, and then, as an unmarried woman, is consigned to live with one of her married brothers. Although her father has left her with independent means, she is not independent. Her existence is contingent on other people's lives. Even her given name, Laura, is erased as she morphs into Lolly, the beloved aunt who is always reliable, and always on hand.

One day, as she is approaching middle age, Lolly enters a small shop, where her imagination is stirred. Before this stirring, there had been hints of disquiet beneath the veneer of acquiescence. Lolly had begun to bring exotic flowers home, and fill her bedroom with these aromatic extravagances. It is in pursuit of her exotic flowers that Lolly enters the small shop. Entranced by the quaint artifacts within, she decides to leave her home and take up residence in the village from which they came.

Despite the resistance of her family, Lolly makes her break and moves away. In new surroundings, Laura reemerges. She revels in her freedom, in her solitary walks and private thoughts.

Laura's liberation comes at a price, for convention is not easily vanquished. The assistance of a supernatural intermediary is necessary to insure independence. At this point in the story, the narrative takes an excursion into the fantastical. Instead of rendering "Lolly Willowes" absurd, however, this fantastical turn drives home Warner's point: society buries women alive. In order to dig themselves out, they need to use extraordinary means.

Because of its feminist message, "Lolly Willowes" may not be to everyone's taste. However, Warner has not written a screed. At its heart, this is a story about a woman in conflict. As Lolly/Laura resolves this conflict, she comes across colorful characters in a rustic English setting. Warner spins an entertaining, at times humorous tale. I enthusiastically recommend "Lolly Willowes".

A. G. Moore

Paul's Bookshelf

Ben Franklin for Beginners
Tim E. Ogline
For Beginners LLC
30 Main Street, Suite 303, Danbury CT 06810
9781934389485, $16.99, 160 pages,

This book looks at the life of Benjamin Franklin. He was a lot more than "just" one of America's Founding Fathers.

A native of Boston, Franklin's father wanted him to become a minister. Realizing that Ben was not cut out for the religious life, he took Ben on a tour of the local trades. Ben ended up as an indentured servant to James, his older brother, a printer. It was not a happy relationship. Ben left Boston and found himself in Philadelphia.

Over time, he became a successful printer, gaining contracts through word-of-mouth advertising. He used a variety of pseudonyms to write articles, poems and letters to the editor for a number of different newspapers, including his own. James, his older brother, was not happy on learning that a series of very popular letters signed "Silence Dogood" that he printed, actually came from Ben, his younger brother. Ben was also a well-known hoaxster and humorist.

Franklin was interested in many things besides printing. He invented swim fins (at age 11!). He invented the Franklin Stove, a new kind of fireplace. People were reluctant to accept his invention of the lightning rod, fearing that re-directing lightning bolts was defying the will of God. Ben felt that six of the alphabet's 26 letters were redundant, and could be removed, replaced with new letters. He was also known for his famous "air baths." Ben founded the first lending library, the first volunteer fire department and helped raise money for America's first hospital.

Franklin made several trips to Europe, spending more than 25 years overseas. His duties ranged from agent for several different American colonies, to later being American Ambassador to France.

This is an excellent introduction to the life of Benjamin Franklin. It is very much worth reading for everyone, including teens, and those who know him only as one of America's Founding Fathers.

Get Smart!
Brian Tracy
Jeremy P Tarcher / Penguin
c/o Penguin Random House LLC
375 Hudson St., New York NY 10014
9780399183782, $23.00, 202 pages,

Everyone wants to act and think like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. This book shows how anyone can move in that direction.

What do you really, really want to accomplish, either personally or professionally? Writing that Ultimate Goal on paper, and posting it somewhere prominent, is more meaningful than simply keeping it in the back of your mind. Be sure to break that Ultimate Goal into smaller, more manageable pieces. Resolve to do at least one goal-oriented thing every day.

Corporate thinkers are concerned with pleasing their bosses, following the rules and doing the absolute minimum necessary to keep from getting laid off. Customers are nothing but whiny irritants. Entrepreneurial thinkers obsess about customers all the time, they continually upgrade their skills and look for ways to become more valuable to their company. Which one are you?

Is it worth it to be in motion all day, looking like a video tape stuck on fast forward, and ultimately not getting much done? On the other hand, maybe you should prioritize your tasks, doing the important ones first, and resolve to actually work while you are at work. Leave the socializing for lunch time. Also, you should resolve to check your email only at specific times during the day. Stay away from it for the rest of the day.

Every policy and procedure in your company should be periodically re-evaluated, for possible changing or removing.The reason that most people stay poor is because of ingrained bad habits, like procrastination, fear of failure and lack of persistence. This book tells how to change those habits.

Start with "excellent" and go from there; that is how good this book is. It is highly recommended for people from any walk of life, young or old, blue- or white-collar.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Peggy's Bookshelf

My First Book of Hockey
Mark Bechtel and Beth Bugler
Illustrated by Bill Hinds
Time Inc. Books
225 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10281
9781618931771, $11.95, 48 pages,

Pay no attention to the age recommendations. "My First Book of Hockey: A Rookie Book: Mostly Everything Explained About the Game" is not just for little kids, or beginners. Brought to you by "Sports Illustrated for Kids" this is the perfect illustrated guide for anyone -- young or old -- who wants to learn more about this complex sport. The book is cleverly divided into three periods with a digital countdown clock on each 2-page spread. A cartoon rookie hangs out and makes comments as readers learn about equipment, rules, how to score, and how to land in the penalty box. Cut-out photos of current NHL players illustrate hockey's non-stop action while their humorous comments pop up in word and thought bubbles. Whether teaching kids the fundamentals or brushing up on your favorite sport, you'll score the hat trick of facts, fun and entertainment with "My First Book of Hockey."

Eda Akaltun
Flying Eye Books
9781909263758, $16.95, HC, 40 pages,

Marcel may be a French bulldog but in his soul he's a bona fide New Yorker. Marcel and his human love their downtown neighborhood for its bagels, jazz, and doggy spa. He has no interest in uptown Manhattan except he imagines that the museum full of bones would be "the most magical place ever." One day his human replaces their leisurely strolls downtown for "fun runs' in Central Park and Marcel is not happy. Then she meets a man and much to Marcel's chagrin they're spending all their precious time uptown. Even worse, at home the man is on Marcel's couch and in his bed. When Marcel sees the ring on his human's finger he is crushed. But his human and her fiance have a surprise in store for Marcel that will change everything. Akaltun's fusion of decoupage, collage and pastels illuminates New York's art deco style. "Marcel" is an irresistible story about the rewards of change.

Rosita and the Night of the Radishes
Dorothy Thurgood Manning
33 Loretta Kids' Books
9780986345418, $17.99 HC, $8.99 PB, 60 pages,

Rosita tends her family's fruit and vegetable gardens in the hills of Oaxaca, Mexico, while her mama and papa sell their crops in the city. Her parents need to sell more fruits and vegetables and Rosita needs someone to help her with the gardening work. Rosita dreams of winning the radish carving contest at The Night of the Radishes celebration so her family can use the prize money to hire extra help. One day Rosita saves a bird from the jaws of her cat. The bird just so happens to be a talking bird who gives her three magic seeds that instantly grow into jumbo radishes for her to carve into three beautiful "muchachas." At The Night of the Radishes celebration something miraculous happens to Rosita's radish carvings. Manning's enchanting fantasy about a gifted young girl introduces readers to this delightful yet little known Mexican tradition. The history of The Night of the Radishes contest and the Spanish glossary at the end make this book a valuable addition to multicultural and bilingual classroom studies. Manning's radiant watercolor illustrations portray the vivacious Mexican culture. A bonus gallery containing 45 photos of elaborate radish carvings brings to life this unusual festival. "Rosita and the Night of the Radishes" weaves magical realism and culture into an engaging fable about the power of imagination.

Bang Bang I Hurt the Moon
Luis Amavisca, author
Esther G. Madrid, illustrator
Nube Ocho
9788494444678, $16.95, HC, 44 pages,

It's bedtime but Nicholas isn't the least bit sleepy. He fidgets under the covers and holds his hands together like he's pointing a gun. His brother Charlie reminds him that their mom would not approve of his game. Defiantly Nicholas points his pretend gun at the moon and shouts, "Bang Bang!" To everyone's shock and amazement, the moon tumbles down from space and lands in their garden. Luckily for Nicholas, the moon is alive but now everyone faces the astronomical task of returning to the moon to the cosmos before dawn. And time is running out. Madrid's illustrations blend pencil, watercolor and gouache to create an opalescent lunar landscape on earth. To view this as an anti-gun cautionary tale misses Amavisca's greater theme that actions have consequences. This is not a story about the death of the moon. "Bang Bang I Hurt the Moon" is about the uphill climb to right a wrong.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Polk's Bookshelf

Queen of Diamonds: Part 2 of the Red Dog Conspiracy
Patricia Loofbourrow
Red Dog Press LLC
B01JDTWYIE, $3.99, 252 pages

Jacqui has finished saving David Bryce, and in the process she has shot and (she thinks) killed Frank Pagliacci. However, Jack Diamond, Frank Pagliacci's sinister partner, still hovers threateningly in the background, his motives unknown. Meanwhile, Jacqui is busy stumbling roughshod over the guest list for a dinner party with little understanding of the potentially fatal social implications of seating arrangements in Bridges. While Tony, her husband, tries to smooth over her social errors, she is ensnared by a scheme woven by one of her 'friends' who has become quite the con-artist - aided, it appears, by a not so dead Frank Pagliacci and potentially abetted by Jack Diamond. The atmosphere in Bridges continues to intensify through tea party after tea party, through misunderstands and tidbits of information until the reader fairly screams for a little meaningful action. The screams are finally rewarded with an explosion.

In all candor, I found Queen of Diamonds to provide a great deal less reader satisfaction that Jacq of Spades. Queen struggles for a storyline lost in cob webs of tea parties and social interactions that left me yawning. There is simply no closure. Like the many-headed hydra, there is a partial story of a confidence game involving jewels that seems to involve Pagliacci and maybe Jack Diamond, but there is no closure and no one is ever quite sure what to believe. There is innuendo of a pending war between certain of the families against the Spadros family, but no one ever seems quite sure who will be the aggressor. There is always an undercurrent that all is not well in the Spadros family, yet, the situation never comes to a head. Even the much anticipated confrontation between Jacqui and Roy Spadros resolves nothing. Finally, there is nothing resolved concerning the Red Dog Gang. To me, Queen of Diamonds seemed to be intended to set the stage for future books rather than provide an entertaining and satisfying story. Many books are written for that purpose and many readers are fine with that. I'm not one of them.

Queen of Diamonds is generally well written and edited. It would appeal to those who like to read steam punk series books and possibly to those who like mysteries in general and at least some patience with literary tea parties. 3 1/2 Stars

A Mighty Fortress
S.D. Thames
B01FMWET52, $4.99, 458 pages

"Milo Porter Private Investigation and Process" his business card said. Milo is an ex-military power-lifter who normally functions as a process server in the Tampa Bay area. Milo is not prepared for the results when attorney Mattie Wilcox convinces him to serve a civil complaint on Chad Scalzo, the son of a well-known Tampa mobster. What follows is an entertaining brouhaha involving networks of mobsters, pornographers, prostitutes, dirty cops, gutless lawyers and guardian angels stretching from Tampa to Miami and back.

A Mighty Fortress contains well developed characters, some of whom are very likable and some of whom every reader will love to hate. Milo Porter is a physically large ex-Navy power-lifter who has seen combat and who suffers from PTSD. Milo has a spiritual side with which he tries to come to terms, but his friends and his work keep getting in the way. Milo's girl-friend, Valencia (Val for short) is an emotional Cuban-American whose heart is in the right place, but whose emotions are often volatile. His friend, Rico is Val's brother and the owner of a power-lifting gym where Milo is a volunteer coach. Rico is a good guy who makes bad decisions. An acquaintance, Judge Francis Pinkerton, former Hillsborough County Chief Judge, is a bored retiree with no family who knows everyone in Tampa. And, last, but not least, is Bob Hunter, former Baptist Preacher, Vietnam veteran and one-hell of a sniper.

The bad guys are legion; too numerous to name. The plot is not apparent from the beginning, although we know that it involves prostitution and pornography in some manner. Death and mayhem follow Milo's investigation as he tries to untangle a plot with more twists and turns than a slinky.

Besides being a fan of these types of books, I plead guilty to growing up in Tampa and living there over forty-three years. My family is from Hardee and Polk counties and most still live there, so reading A Mighty Fortress was like a weekend visit.

A Mighty Fortress will satisfy any mystery lover who likes mysteries entertaining with a twist of serendipity, those who love adventure stories of any ilk, and those who relate to unlikely heroes who must sort out their values. 5 Stars

Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection Box Set
Barbara Venkataraman
9781522804994, $13.00, paperback, 360 pages
B00NB78KDS, $2.99, Kindle

Jamie Quinn Mystery Collection Box Set, Book 1-3

Death by Didgeridoo
The Case of the Killer Divorce
Peril in the Park

Jamie Quinn is a South Florida Family Lawyer who frequently finds herself in hot water, usually because of a situation involving a friend or a family member. Jamie is a bit timid and becomes easily rattled when things go wrong, however, she is bolstered by a law school friend, Grace, an unconventional private detective, named Duke, and (eventually) a boyfriend named Kip. Together, they are able to figure out the strange occurrences that plague them.

In Death by Didgeridoo, Jamie's handicapped cousin, Adam, who is a music lover is accused of killing his music teacher, a drummer that everyone loved to hate, by hitting him over the head with an Australian Aboriginal musical instrument, a didgeridoo.

In The Case of the Killer Divorce, a client's ex-husband dies unexpected of an overdose of medication; medication that belonged to his ex-wife. Who gave it to him, or was it a tragic accident?

In Peril in the Park, Jamie's new (old) boyfriend Kip is having political problems at work; problems that cause the death of one of Duke's private investigator colleagues. What's at stake, and more importantly, who's behind it?

Jamie Quinn is a likeable complicated character who is almost too simple and trusting for her role. Grace, is a much more sophisticated character whose role is to have friends, contacts and other resources and to save Jamie from herself. Duke is convenient private eye whose forte is pulling informational rabbits out of his hat at opportune moments.

I would have to classify the Jamie Quinn mysteries as 'cozy' mysteries; they do have dead bodies but little violence and more anxiety than actual fear. To that end, that almost any lover of a quiet cozy mystery should love them. 4 Stars

Breaking Gravity
Mitty Walters
Privately Published
9780692239711, $12.00, Paperback, 216 pages
9780692237090 Smashwords
B00KXDW82C, $2.99, Kindle

Dale Adams is a graduating business major from Emory University who serendipitously managed to combine the guts of an electronic multi-meter with a Coke can in such a way as to defy gravity. Dale discovers the same effect can be achieved by attaching aluminum strips to anything. Needing a presentation for a course in obtaining start-up capital, Dale makes a presentation featuring a floating skateboard to a select panel of investors- and suddenly all hell breaks loose! Pursued by three different blood-thirsty groups with different interests leaving a dead panel of investors, Dale runs for his life never knowing who to trust. Will he survive? Will he outsmart his pursuers? I suggest you buy the book to find out.

Breaking Gravity contains characters that are appropriately developed if a bit cliche. That familiarity with the character types makes them immediately identifiable and the reader is likely to find himself grinning and nodding at the type even before he learns any real details about the characters. The story is fast paced and action packed; entertaining for anyone who loves zany action books with a message behind them.

I enjoyed it for a light read and would recommend it for anyone who loves mysteries, and action adventures whether or not you are a lover of science fiction or fantasy. 4 Stars

The Eighth Day Brotherhood
Alice M. Phillips
Black Rose Writing
P.O. Box 1540, Castroville, TX 78009
9781612967370, $15.95, paperback, 180 pages
161296737X, $6.99, Kindle

This is a very dark tale of symbolic ritual murder committed by a handful of psychotic painters in Paris in the late 1880s. The story is intense and heart-rending weaving a spiders web of intrigue encompassing a number of romantic artists of the Parisian community of romantic artists and a depraved, but well - known (in the story), psychiatric hospital, l'Hopital Sainte-Genevieve and its infamous director, Dr. Jacque-Andre Veyssiere.

The characters of the Eighth Day Brotherhood are well developed and believable. The grief they exhibit after each murder seems appropriate and creditable. The character's actions are reasonable given the context. The bad guys are bloody, unconcerned with their actions as they influence the present, and universally focused on a delusional future.

Truthfully, books like The Eighth Day Brotherhood are not my favorite. However, I found it to be darkly entertaining and captivating and even though it is predicable it remained interesting to me to see how the story carried through to the end. This is a book for those who like macabre dark mysteries and psycho-thrillers. 4 Stars

Clabe Polk

Susan's Bookshelf

Dynomike: Back to School
Frankie B. Rabbit
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781530894192, $14.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 44 Pages,

Genre: Children's

As soon as you open this wonderful children's book you fall in love with Dynomike. He is young green dinosaur, and he's scared, and afraid, because today, he must go to school for the first time...

He doesn't know what to wear, boots, slacks, cap, nothing feels right. His mom knows he is scared, but he must do this thing alone, and so she gives him the best advice she can "Be yourself and be kind," she knows, if he does this, he will be fine.

He wonders if there is a way out, something else he can do, but no, he must be brave. And so, even though he's worried, and a little afraid he walks out to the bus, with his mom's wise words playing in his head.

Bravely he faces his fears, and discovers everything is okay, all the kids are different, unique in every way, and he learns they don't judge, they just want to be his friend and play.

What a super, confidence building book for children of all ages who are facing new challenges for the first time. After all, everyone can relate to this type of situation when things are scary, and new, and you don't know what to do!

This children's book is beautifully illustrated, sensitively written, and its important message shines through.

Dynomike: Happy Shoes
Frankie B. Rabbit
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781539001782, $14.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 46 Pages,

Genre: Children's

In this wonderful new rhyming children's story from Amazon Best Selling author Frankie B. Rabbit, we join everyone's favorite dinosaur Dynomike on another fun, yet educational adventure.

Poor Dynomike has a real problem, and he doesn't know what to do! He has too many shoes, and can't decide which ones to wear. Sadly he realizes that he will never get out of the house, unless he can choose a pair, but which ones?

You see, there are all sorts, some are new, and others are old, all different colors, and styles, a pair for every occasion. He is spoilt for choice. What should he do?

So he thinks hard to try and find a solution, then he realizes that there is one great answer which will not only help others, but will make him happy too.

You will have to read this lovely book to see what Dynomike will do!

I did just that, and read this book to my grandsons who are five and seven, and I found it a very good way to explain that helping others can be really good, not only for the people who receive, but also for those who give.

I especially loved the way that it conveyed the very important message, that it is not necessary to have lots of the same things, and sometimes less is more.

The book, with the engaging character of Dynomike is very easy to read in its rhyming format, and is beautifully illustrated.

Deborah Rising: A Novel Inspired by the Bible
Avraham Azrieli
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
B01BKD8YIK, $2.99 Kindle, 295 Pages,

Genre: Religious Novel

It was the author's family trip to the ruins of the ancient city of Shiloh in Israel, which vividly reawakened the stories he had been told, and brought back to life the Holy Tabernacle. Inspired by what he had seen, and motivated by his imagination, the author felt compelled to write this outstanding story about Deborah, one of the most remarkable women in biblical lore.

In this fascinating novel, the author asks the reader to join him on a journey, a voyage of the imagination, to ponder on the past of Deborah, an amazing woman whom the Book of Judges describes as "a prophet, a judge, and a military leader who liberated her people form Canaanite oppression."

She was the first woman in the history of mankind to lead any nation to freedom. What would it take to make a woman so strong, empower her to follow the strength of her convictions, against all the odds? Well in this book, the author offers a fictional hypothesis.

Set in ancient Israel, an amazing scene plays itself out in front of the reader from the very beginning, as it opens with young girls collecting stones and putting them in a pile near the Pit of Shame.

The story unfolds of the plight of Tamar, Deborah's sister, and how, at the tender age of 14, Deborah is forced to observe her fate. Brutally misjudged, solely because of a claim made by her new husband, Seesya. Tamar has no opportunity to defend herself, and no one to speak in her defence, and in accordance with the law, Deborah looks on as Judge Zifron pronounce her fate.

With the realization of what the future may hold for her, Deborah, decides she must take her destiny into her own hands, before it is too late...

However, what can she do?

This intriguing question is the subject of this captivating novel, as, with the arrival of her womanhood, we follow her desperate flight from what appears to be her only fate.

Bravely travelling strange lands, a woman alone, her adventures unravel before the reader's eyes as she urgently seeks a slave, who it is told, has magical powers, and may be her only hope, whist being relentlessly pursued by Seesya.

Her strength and fortitude, fueled by conviction and the knowledge that her father dreamt that she was destined to be a prophet of God, leads her down a very hard path, but one which is to be her destiny...

In the modern world we are used to women being equals, however this has only happened in very recent history. This enthralling story gives the reader an amazing insight into what life was really like for women at this fascinating time in history.

I found this book absolutely absorbing and highly recommend it.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Teri's Bookshelf

Senile Squad: Adventures of the Old Blues
Chris Legrow
CL1557 Publishing
9780997703610, $16.95, Trade Paperback, $3.99 Kindle, 302 pages,

'We're all undercover now. Cops playing cops that people think aren't cops. It's given all of us a new lease on life. We were just rotting away. Nobody needed us to do what we've done for most of our lives. It's just so good to be needed again and to help fellow cops even if they don't know it. To tell you the truth, that's what makes it fun.'

What happens when people who have worked all their lives in law enforcement retire? Do they miss the danger, the excitement, getting their adrenal pumped?

Wouldn't it be great if somehow their years of experience and the expertise each one possesses could be utilized rather than just having a younger, cheaper recruit replace them?

Wouldn't it benefit the community if someone could find some way to use their years of cumulating all the knowledge into one think tank? Naturally, no one would want to place these retirees in danger, but could former undercover cops now go undercover to benefit local law enforcement? Not officially, but off-the-books, behind the scenes?

A group of wealthy Omaha-based business people is discussing this possibility to have a home for retired police officers. They would fund the home with the medical staff needed and also supply it with anything an undercover officer would need. These would be law enforcement officers without the active law enforcement community being aware of their existence.
After all, who would suspect old men wandering around assisting the police? Yes, they have weapons but not the type used by active duty officers.

Senile Squad is a fun read. The protagonists are delightful, comical, and unfortunately, too realistic. With picturesque action, the book has everything, danger, romance, conflict, resolution, death, and most importantly a sense of doing the right thing.

Detective Chris Legrow is part of the Omaha Police Department's Special Victims Unit. When not working, with his wife, he raises nine children.

Who would enjoy Senile Squad? Naturally, law enforcement but also retirees would thoroughly enjoy this delightful gem that is just fun.

Shelby's Creek
Mark Matthiessen
Wave Cloud Corporation
9781622177554, $16.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 306 pages,

"The way a person treated nature was the way a person treated human beings."

Everyday farming life in Shelby County, Iowa during 1943 was idyllic. As an Iowan farmer, life it seems too tranquil for Valentin Schmitz. Responsibly he farms his 160-acres of fertile farmland near Council Bluffs, refusing to use pesticides, helping his neighbors in need, and contributing to the war effort through rationing, collecting scrap metal, and nurturing his own Victory Garden.

Valentin is a 33-year-old college-educated bachelor who recently separated from the woman he believed was going to be his wife. While time heals, the challenges of the world and the community frequently occupy his thoughts. He relaxes by playing his flute and enjoying his art collection.

Valentin longs to enter this war. He has grandparents currently residing in France where the Nazi occupation has begun. As his grandfather is arrested and working at a concentration camp due to his religion, Jehovah Witness, Valentin's grandmother hides witnessing the everyday life in this occupied country. Dealing with the day to day rationing, living under the military law of the Nazis, being dependent on others for your life, is part of the daily routine.

Two thoughts make him hesitate to rescue his grandparents. The first is that farmers are not to be conscripted since they supply the food the fighters and the nation.

Secondly, Valentin suffers from certain anxieties. He has a fear of the dark and has separation anxiety disorder. To help himself, Valentin keeps flashlights with him at all times.

How could he possibly serve again in Europe or help his family? Why would he leave the safety of being a farmer to enter the war in Europe?

His grandparents taught Valentin many life lessons demonstrating words of wisdom to guide him through the challenges of life. Besides raising Valentin after the death of his parents, he feels indebted to both.

Shelby's Creek enters the world of the French people working behind the scenes fighting for their country during this time with their constant fears and practical problems which unified their citizens with a common enemy. The part of the French underground is part of the personal voice in this engrossing tale.

Mark Matthiessen knows this story as it is personal to him. This Shelby County native was born and raised on the1 family's 160l-acre farm which is now operated by the fifth-generation. He has worked with a computer company while writing their technical manuals. Recently he is writing articles for national and international magazines.

Shelby's Creek is the first book in this new series by Mark Matthiessen with the next book in this series available this fall.

Shelby's Creek is a work of love of family and the farmland of Shelby County. The characters are realistic with authentic problems of the time placing the reader into each situation. Each setting vividly exposes the time and place making the reader feel as if they are the character, creating an enthralling historical journey.

5 Days to Landfall
Robert Roy Britt
Ink Spot Books
B01LZPM1GF, $4.99, 312 pages

Living along the Pacific Ocean in South Carolina, most people know how to prepare for hurricanes. Their communities understand the potential disaster and work well to minimize the amount of damage to the communities. They know that nature always wins. These communities almost can write a book about storm preparedness including evacuations.

Not all cities near the Pacific Ocean are that way, especially those further north. For New York City, a hurricane was recorded in 1821. In 1938 another one devastated the area fifty-five miles east of Manhattan.

Since the Northeast seldom experiences hurricanes, they are not prepared. Hurricane Sandy could have caused exponentially more damage. These communities were not prepared then and still lack a plan for this possible disaster.

5 Days to Landfall is a fictional account of what could happen if a hurricane struck this highly congested area. Infused into this thrilling novel is authentic science interlaced with history, real technology, and political realism.

Amanda Cole works at the nation's Hurricane Center as a forecaster. She is one of the meteorologists who study every aspect of each storm and based on the information from several forecasting models, predicts the paths and intensities of these possible hurricanes. She has the responsibility of notifying cities if they are in the path of destruction.

This enormous burden is complicated. No community wants to shut down, especially if the storm diverts at the last minute. Many will only close and evacuate residents only if they are one hundred percent confident. In the Carolinas, people understand. In the Northeast, with few tropical storms becoming a hurricane and causing destruction, most just ignore the warnings.

Like many people, Amanda daily excels with a challenging life raising her daughter, Sarah. Her ex-husband shares the curious youngster just two weeks a year. These are difficult times for Amanda during this short separation.

Amanda knows that this particular storm will hit the York City area. Her daughter is in the area with her ex-husband while her father resides near the ocean at a retirement home. Who should be taken to safety first? Strangely, someone is playing the stock market prices; specifically, insurance companies who work with communities in these possible areas. With no plan in place for this disaster, the politicians refuse to inform their constituents of the impending danger. She is also aware of the numerous homeless will not have a chance to survive while living in the tunnel system around the subways under the city.

The author, Robert Roy Britt, is a journalist who has authored a mystery series featuring Eli Quinn in Closure, Drone, and First Kill along with the prequel, Murder Mountain.

5 Days to Landfall masterfully blends a fictional thriller with science and history. Britt weaves a page-turner while educating the reader about past hurricanes, the science of hurricanes, a guide to surviving during these storms, and even a little research into preparing a home for these attacks. All of this, as well as interspersing political corruption, thrills, romance, and realism are thrown into an actual political meltdown.

The Candidate
Lis Wiehl and Sebastian Stuart
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
97800718037680, $26.99, Hardcover, 352 pages,

How can you be certain that who you vote for as President is the person the country needs and who you believe is the best person?

Erica Sparks has worked hard to overcome her personal problems with alcohol to become one of the nation's highest rated cable news host. It isn't easy to be on the top since logically at some time, you know that you have to come off that mountaintop.

Now she has the responsibility and privilege to get to know the two Presidential candidates. One is a woman, Lucy Winters who appears sincere, down-to-earth, genuine and trustworthy. The other is a handsome veteran who also was kidnapped while on a humanitarian mission to Iraq. This man, Mike Ortiz at times appears charismatic while often his eyes look empty and coached by his wife. Who would get your vote?

Erica's life is not all glitz and glamor. She is a single-parent of a precocious and questioning daughter, Jenny. Unfortunately, the time demands of her career require her to be separated from Jenny longer than either of them likes.

Erica is bothered by the relationship between Mike Ortiz and his wife. There is not anything the is noticeable, but she is questioning the possible control of the candidate through his wife.

Author Lis Wiehl knows the world of news broadcasting by being a legal analyst and commentator for Fox New Channel while appearing weekly on The O'Reilly Factor, Lou Dobbs Tonight, Imus in the Morning, Kelly's Court and numerous other programs. She bases her books from being a graduate of Harvard Law School and being a former federal prosecutor. She has authored and co-authored many book series with the Mia Quinn Mysteries, the Triple Threat Series, the East Salem Trilogy and the novel, Snapshot.

Sebastian Stuart is the author of four books: The Hour Between, The Mentor, To the Manor Dead, and 24-Karat Kids. He has also written under the name Kendall Hart while writing non-fiction e-books, and a senior editor for the book publisher, New World City.

The Candidate is the second novel in Wiehl's series entitled The Newsmakers, with the first book being a novel of the same name.

The Candidate is a fast-paced page-turner following Erica day-by-day as she researches into each candidate while attempting to have a long-distance relationship with her fiance, occasionally reconnecting with friends, and doing her best to be a good parent for her daughter. Realistically, the constant demands on her time forcing her to make choices placing her career over her personal life applies to every parent, as the guilt accumulates.

The Candidate is what every person should read as they make decisions about the upcoming Presidential election.

Three Sisters, Three Queens
Philippa Gregory
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781476758572, $27.99, HC, 550 pages, Hardcover,

"You can't do what you want when you are a princess,...You are doing the work of God, you are going to be the mother to a king, you are one below the angels, you have a destiny."

Can anyone possibly imagine what Margaret Tudor's life was like as a child? Author, Philippa Gregory, her natural curiosity to this character has created a marvelous, insightful perspective to the infamous and long-lasting events of the time.

Margaret adored her older brother, Arthur who was to be the next King of England. Along with her younger sister, Mary, the two sisters joined by a third, the intended wife of her brother, Katherine of Aragon from Spain, these three united in a sisterly bond lasting most of their lives. Her parents were Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the ones who sponsored the expedition of Columbus.

As with all sisters, loyalty is fierce but not always consistent and not always meeting their personal desires. The sisterly bond between Katherine, and the Tudor sister, Margaret and Mary is an unusual relationship involving death, riches, power, debt, as well as moral support as each discovers and completes their royal duties, as God, the King and men allow. Throughout the years, none of these ruling women lived a life of leisure with each enduring hardship and pain.

Margaret and Mary have a unique lineage combining the Lancaster and Plantagenet into the House of Tudor along with their brothers Arthur and Henry. Because of this, each one's future is carefully planned to benefit the English crown.

Arthur marries Katherine. Margaret is to become the Queen of Scotland after marrying James creating peace between the Northlands and England. Mary, who is much younger, is to become the wife of the Holy Roman Emperor or the Queen of France.

However, life changes for all of them when their beloved brother Arthur dies of the sweating sickness leaving his wife Catherine, childless and widowed. Henry is only ten-years-old and now is heir to the throne in England.

Eventually, Henry marries his brother's wife to begin their ruling of England. All that is needed is a male heir to complete their destiny.

Three Sisters, Three Queens, is an unusual novel in which the lives of the royals is realistic showing how these women who believed their birthrites led to power, riches, and happiness in actuality suffered immense pain, humiliation, debt, and suffering. These women could never live the life of their dreams.

Three Sisters, Three Queens is an outstanding novel based on real history revealing many of the explanations for many of the conflicts even in today's world.

Teri Davis

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design