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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 20, Number 4 April 2021 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Money/Finance Shelf Business Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Military Shelf Political Science Shelf
General Fiction Shelf Historical Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf
Romantic Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Christian Studies Shelf Self-Help Shelf Biography Shelf
Poetry Shelf    


Reviewer's Choice

Why is Grandma Naked?: Caring for Your Aging Parent
Ellen Pober Rittberg
www.ellenrittberg.com
Turner Publishing
https://www.turnerpublishing.com
9780578828626, $9.99 PB / $2.99 Kindle 113pp

https://www.turnerpublishing.com/authors/detail/ellen-pober-rittberg

Synopsis: Directly tackling the serious issue of adult children caring for their aging parents, "Why is Grandma Naked?: Caring for Your Aging Parent" by Ellen Prober Rittber takes a decidedly humorous but quite practical and insightful self-help instructional guide and DIY manual.

As a journalist, an attorney, and someone caring for her own elderly mother, Rittberg candidly shares the stresses and satisfactions she has personally encountered while caring for her aging parent. Rittberg's use of humor is reflected in her chapter headings such as: Be the Alpha Dog; Boundaries? Huh? Your Aging Parent Has None; Your Parent May Develop Sticky Fingers; Jeopardy! (illustrating why elderly parents continue to need their favorite television shows even when they can no longer answer any of the questions posed to the contestants).

Rittberg also details common scenarios used when caring for her aging mother at home including: toilet training your senior parent on the "rump on the hump" technique when incontinence is an issue; taking away the car keys before reading about a parent in a newspaper crime blotter; their hobby of digging deep into their nostrils and other recesses; how to stay awake while hearing the nineteenth retelling of childhood stories; dementia delusions; playing matchmaker to hired caregivers; avoiding shopping trips turning into shoplifting trips; understanding declining parents' sometimes hilarious fantasies and delusions.

Of special note is Rittberg sharing with her readers the life-changing, humbling and deeply rewarding benefits of caring for elderly parents -- and the value of a good belly laugh as a stress reliever.

Critique: With a 'real world' DIY practicality, "Why is Grandma Naked?: Caring for Your Aging Parent" is expertly written and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, making it essential reading for anyone having to care for an aging parent -- especially when they are having to deal with dementia and other health issues associated with the aging process. While highly and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Why is Grandma Naked?: Caring for Your Aging Parent" is also available in a digital book format (9780578847290).

Editorial Note: Ellen Pober Rittberg is an award-winning journalist, a feature writer specializing in parenting children of all ages, as well as grandparenting. Her humorous essays and features about families and social trends have appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, New York Daily News and other large urban daily newspapers and magazines. She is also the winner of the FOLIO award-Best Public Affairs Show for "The Changing Family," a live cable television show she hosted and produced. An attorney, she has represented children in court for over thirteen years.

A Journey of Love, Faith, Strength and Determination
Grover Jackson, Mary Fullard, and E. Christine Jackson
Newman Springs Publishing
https://www.newmansprings.com
9781648015755, $36.95, HC, 422pp

https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Love-Faith-Strength-Determination/dp/1648015751

Synopsis: "A Journey of Love, Faith, Strength and Determination" by the collaborative team of Grover Jackson, Mary Fullard, and E. Christine Jackson is a literary work that is both autobiographical and biographical in nature. It recounts the Jackson family's ancestry to the ninth generation and the lives of fourteen siblings raised in a two-parent household.

"A Journey of Love, Faith, Strength and Determination" also relives the time from a life of farming that never yielded any financial benefits to a move to the North. The move was in pursuit of a better life and the fulfillment of a Mother's dream for her children. The siblings never dwelled on the thought that they deserved better, just believed they could do better -- and better they did!

Critique: An inherently interesting, informative, and engaging combination of family memories and life experiences, "A Journey of Love, Faith, Strength and Determination" will prove to be a welcome addition to community, college, and university library American History and American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Journey of Love, Faith, Strength and Determination" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781645317227, $24.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).


The Money/Finance Shelf

Build Wealth Like A Shark
Scott Keffer and Kevin Harrington, authors
https://www.scottkeffer.com
https://kevinharrington.tv
Wealth With No Regrets
www.WealthWithNoRegrets.com
The Diamond Group
www.diamondgroupwealthadvisors.com
Blue Ocean Publishing Group
9781735856001, $19.95, HC, $9.99 Kindle, 333pp

https://www.amazon.com/Build-Wealth-Like-Shark-Authorities-ebook/dp/B08N66XWCJ

Synopsis: "Build Wealth Like a Shark: Insights From Some Of North America's Leading Authorities" is comprised of practical wealth building tips contributed by 31 of North America's leading authorities, including, Kevin Harrington, original Shark on ABC TV's Shark Tank series, Scott Keffer, international business growth coach, and co-authors: Joel R. Baker, Doug Bauerband, Jeff Busbee, Kenneth V. Byers, Jr., Dan Carson, Joseph Catanzarite, J. Richard Coe, Rey Cruz, Chad Disbennett, Peter Dobrich, Navi Dowty, John P. Dubots, Sharon Duncan, Brian Gray & John Goodhue, Dan Hagler, Greg Hammond, Tim Hansen, Don Harmelin, Erica Herbs, Dan Hunt, William McLaughlin, James T. Niemeyer, Anthony Roberts, Mark Sherwin, Art Sobczak, Barry Spencer & Scott Noble, Marilyn Suey, Amy Wolff, and Alan Yanowitz.

Readers will discover, among other insights: The biggest financial and tax obstacles to build and keep wealth; The principle of "true wealth"; The seven major financial blind spots; How to avoid one of the worst retirement-income strategies; The three reasons never to invest in real estate; How to avoid financial divorce disasters -- and so much more!

Critique: Expertly organized and thoroughly 'user friendly' in presentation, "Build Wealth Like a Shark: Insights From Some Of North America's Leading Authorities" will prove to be an exceptionally appreciated and valued addition to personal, professional, community, corporate, college, and university library Contemporary Money/Finance collections. It should be noted that "Build Wealth Like a Shark: Insights From Some Of North America's Leading Authorities" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Business Shelf

Billion Dollar Sales Secrets
Joe Paranteau
https://billiondollarsalessecrets.com
Independently Published
https://www.linkedin.com/in/thejpar
9781735232775, $29.95, PB, 214pp

https://www.amazon.com/Billion-Dollar-Sales-Secrets-Superstar/dp/1735232777

Synopsis: The COVID economy has changed the selling landscape. A new approach is necessary and "Billion Dollar Sales Secrets: Superstar Selling Tips For All Seasons " by Joe Paranteau will help get you on a new path. "Billion Dollar Sales Secrets" showcases fifteen proven sales secrets that work. The secrets are the result of years of formal sales training, street smarts, winning strategies, and scientific and behavioral research.

"Billion Dollar Sales Secrets" also utilizes proven methods to accelerate your selling career. Drawing upon his own years of experience and expertise, Joe Paranteau (a veteran salesperson who has driven $1.6B in sales in a little more than a decade) will teach you to stand out from the crowd and connect with your customers.

"Billion Dollar Sales Secrets" explains how to: Break down and address what's holding you back; Accurately analyze and prepare for amazing customer engagements; Dominate your competition as you rewrite the rules for the new economy; Build a plan for your success that will enrich your life and your value -- and so much more!

Critique: Expertly written and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Billion Dollar Sales Secrets: Superstar Selling Tips For All Seasons" will prove to be invaluable reading for anyone engaged in sales -- especially in today's volatile local, state, regional, national, and international economies. While a highly recommended addition to community, corporate, college, and university library Business Management & Sales instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Billion Dollar Sales Secrets: Superstar Selling Tips For All Seasons" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781735232751, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

The Horses of Second Wind Farm
Diane Moschera
Carpenter's Son Publishing
https://www.carpenterssonpublishing.com
9781952025297, $19.99, HC, 96pp

https://www.amazon.com/Horses-Second-Wind-Farm-Lessons/dp/195202529X

Synopsis: Diane Moschera is an aspiring author and life-long, avid horse lover. Her life is defined by all the horses she has loved and cared for over the years. She and her husband, Larry, own and operate Second Wind Farm, a horse boarding facility near Franklin, Tennessee. She grew up on a family farm in Delphos, Kansas and has worked as a Certified Public Accountant for over thirty-five years. She loves to compete in barrel racing and enjoys giving riding lessons. Diane loves sharing her God-given, life-long passion for horses. Her first great love is horses. Her second, horses.

Each of her horses has come into Diane's life in a different way. Each one came to teach a lesson or bring a message. 'Horses may be without speech, but they are not without a voice. Life can get complicated, but its truths are often very simple. Her horses are loved no matter who they are or where they are in life.'

Diane's underlying message throughout "The Horses of Second Wind Farm: Their Lives - Our Lessons" is that God loves each of us too, individually and completely. That we are all "keepers" in his sight. That we each carry a spark of God's heart with an important message to be shared with the world. And that we can and do make a difference in other's lives.

Let these stories that comprise "The Horses of Second Wind Farm: Their Lives - Our Lessons" bring the reader new wisdom, salvaged strength, hope for our future, and the eternal message of how loved and special we are in the sight of God.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "The Horses of Second Wind Farm: Their Lives - Our Lessons" is a 'must' for anyone who has ever had an equine companion, as well as all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations. While highly recommended for community library Horse Care collections in general, and Christian Inspirational reading lists in particular, it should be noted that "The Horses of Second Wind Farm: Their Lives - Our Lessons" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Blessed To Be Your Dog
Jean Alfieri
www.jeanalfieri.com
Independently Published
www.zuggythepug.com
9781734308617, $10.99, PB, 92pp

https://www.amazon.com/Blessed-Your-Dog-Celebrate-Stories/dp/1734308613

Synopsis: For anyone who has been blessed with a "soul dog" as their canine companion, "Blessed to be Your Dog: Celebrate the Stories of Your Fur Hero " by Jean Alfieri will inspire and guide you to capture your fondest memories with that exceptional spirit.

"Blessed to be Your Dog" has two parts. In part one, seven story-starters provide the path to capture the special experiences you and your canine companion have lived (from your perspective).

In part two, seven different prompts are for the pup to answer. You write from the point-of-view of your dog! You know what they're thinking and exactly how they'd say it, so this adds a unique and heart-warming dimension.

Ponder your stories as you doodle, and color. Enjoy the collection of celebrity quotes. Have your favorite pictures printed to add even more smiles to this fun collection of souvenirs. No matter the age of your pup, this is a great way to celebrate your special bond. If your dog has passed on, it's a perfect way to honor their memory.

The best time to celebrate your fur hero is right now!

Critique: While a 'consumable' book that would not be appropriate for community library collections, "Blessed to be Your Dog: Celebrate the Stories of Your Fur Hero" is an extraordinary, unique, and unreservedly recommended and ideal choice for personal DIY collections to celebrate and commemorate personal relationships with canine companions.


The Military Shelf

The Best of Medic in the Green Time
Marc Levy
Independently Published
https://medicinthegreentime.com
9798638930783, $24.00, PB, 597pp

https://medicinthegreentime.com/book/the-best-of-medic-in-the-green-time

https://www.amazon.com/Best-Medic-Green-Time-Aftermath/dp/B08CMDCHK5

Synopsis: In the pages of "The Best of Medic in the Green Time", Marc Levy, as a writer of memoir and collector of memoirs of others, has masterfully transformed what could have been one veteran's story into a chorus of voices on different topics relating to war and its aftermath.

Herein are chilling, first person accounts of a base overrun. Elsewhere, an MP describes the astonishing attempted escape of a handcuffed Viet Cong. A grunt relates in vivid detail his months long recovery from grievous wounds. After the war, a man is interrogated by the same U.S. army he fought with in Vietnam.

In fast-paced postwar traveler's tales the war nips at the narrator's heels at every step. Veterans say what they feel about "Thank you for your service." About using drugs on patrols. A sampling of grunts' grisly humor pulls no punches. Fake vets are unmasked. The author has breakfast with Muhammad Ali.

Marc interviews the Vietnamese writer Bao Ninh. As does another man nearly twenty years later. A half dozen war poems round out this solid collection on war and its aftermath by those who were there. Marc has been writing reminiscences, poetry, fiction, and analysis for decades -- partly for himself to externalize and process what happened while working on his (considerable) craft, but also with the archivist's sense of social purpose.

Critique: An invaluable and unique contribution to the growing library of Vietnam military histories and biographies, "The Best of Medic in the Green Time" is compelling and informative read. While especially recommended for community, college, and university library Military History collections in general, and Vietnam War supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of military buffs that "The Best of Medic in the Green Time" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note: Marc Levy was an infantry medic with the First Cavalry in Vietnam and Cambodia in 1970. His decorations include the Combat Medic Badge, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, the Air Medal, and Arcom. His work has appeared in New Millennium Writings; Cutthroat; CounterPunch, War, Literature and the Arts; Stone Canoe; Revue LISA; KGB Bar Literary Review; Chiron Review; The Comstock Review, The VVA Veteran and elsewhere. It is forthcoming in Paterson Literary Review and Stand (UK). He won the 2016 Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families Writing Prize, judged by Brian Turner. He maintains an informative website at: https://medicinthegreentime.com/book/the-best-of-medic-in-the-green-time


The Political Science Shelf

Democracy and Demographics in the USA
Zekeh S. Gbotokuma
Independently Published
9798559418803, $25.00, PB, 335pp

https://www.amazon.com/DEMOCRACY-DEMOGRAPHICS-USA-Transform-Elections/dp/B08MSQ3WM2

Synopsis: The United States is quite arguably 'the first modern democracy'. Unfortunately, Trumpism has increasingly become an imminent threat to democracy and national unity.

For the last five decades and more, the American exceptionalism that had allowed U.S. presidents to be leaders of the free world has, sadly, through a largely Republican Party southern political strategy, presidential abuse of power, and a growing culture of isolationism, that democracy is in severe peril.

President Trump has proven that he is "unfit to lead" domestically and globally, especially during the current coronavirus pandemic crisis. The general elections 2020 are about keeping the U.S. as a republic by rescuing its democracy from tweetocracy, protecting and defending its national security and sovereignty.

Unfortunately, Congressional 'Trumpublicans' have put party before country and failed to patriotically carry out their oversight duty. Consequently, it is imperative that Democrats transform the midterms 2018 'blue wave' into a blue tsunami. That is the best possible way to restore sanity, decency, law and order in Washington.

Critique: The subsequent 2020 election of Joe Biden to the presidency, Trump's advocacy of insurrection based upon the false claim of the election having been stolen from him, and yet the continued re-election of anti-democratic Republicans to the House and Senate, and only the fortuitous election of two new Democratic senators from the state of Geogia giving President Biden a one vote Senate majority in the form of his Vice President Kamala Harris, have borne out the validity of dire warning and political advocacy of "Democracy and Demographics in the USA: The Squad's Roadmap to Transform the Blue Wave Into a Blue Tsunami in the 2020 Elections" by Zekeh S. Gbotokuma -- it is continuing relevance for the election cycles of 2022 and 2024. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary American Political Science collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of political science students, academia, political activists, and non-specialist general readers that "Democracy and Demographics in the USA" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.00).

Editorial Note: Dr. Zekeh S. Gbotokuma is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, and the founding President of Polyglots in Action for Diversity, Inc. He is also the author of numerous multilingual publications (articles and books), including: A Polyglot Pocket Dictionary of Lingala, English, French, and Italian (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016); Global Safari: Checking In and Checking Out in Pursuit of World Wisdoms, the American Dream; Cosmocitizenship, and A Pan-African Encyclopedia (Edwin Mellen Press, 2003).


The General Fiction Shelf

Flynn & Miranda: Right of Silence
Joseph B. Wallenstein
TrineDay Fiction
https://trineday.myshopify.com/collections/fiction
9781634243100, $19.95, PB, 200pp

https://www.amazon.com/Flynn-Miranda-Silence-Joseph-Wallenstein/dp/1634243102

Synopsis: A deftly crafted ans simply riveting historical novel based upon real events that would have a major impact on the American criminal justice system, "Flynn & Miranda: Right of Silence" by Joseph B. Wallenstein is the inherently fascinating and dramatic story of how two men from opposite ends of the human social spectrum would come together in one blazing moment of legal history -- and how that moment changed their lives and the lives of all Americans.

Critique: The stuff of which major motion pictures are made, Joseph Wallenstin's new novel, "Flynn & Miranda: Right of Silence", is an especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Flynn & Miranda: Right of Silence" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).

Editorial Note: Joe Wallenstein is member of the Directors Guild of America as well as a member of the Writers Guild of America West and expert in all aspects of physical production, scheduling, budgeting, location filming, stage work, union, and non-union shows. He also oversees and administers all aspects of filming by the more than 700 students making over 1500 films each year at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. His tri-annual safety seminars are a unique and highly sought after facet of Cinematic Arts education. Joe is known for consulting, lectures, seminars, and personal appearances - as well as an accomplished author. He has an informative website at: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0909010/

Union Made
Eric Lotke
Hard Ball Press
http://hardballpress.com/index.html
9781734493832, $15.99, PB, 362pp

https://www.amazon.com/Union-Made-Eric-Lotke/dp/1734493836

Synopsis: Catherine Campbell is a union organizer. She wants to raise wages and form a union at the Pac Shoppe retail chain in Virginia. Nathaniel Hawley is an accountant. He works for the company that's planning a corporate takeover of Pac Shoppe. Nate develops more than a professional interest in Catherine. When he finds his company using illegal tricks against the union, he faces a choice. Can he interest her by sharing his information? Will it help the union? Will he lose his job, his license and his self-respect?

Critique: A deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine flair for the kind of narrative storytelling style that immediately engages the reader's full and entertained attention from first page to last, "Union Made" by Erick Lotke is a truly gripping, impressive fast-paced, and compelling love story emerging from a fierce contested labor union vs. company battle for supremacy. The stuff of which Oscar-winning movies are made, "Union Made" is highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Union Made" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

The Vines
Shelley Nolden
Freiling Publishing
https://freilingpublishing.com
9781950948406, $26.99, HC, 412pp

https://www.amazon.com/Vines-Shelley-Nolden/dp/1950948404

Synopsis: In the shadows of New York City lies forbidden North Brother Island, where the remains of a shuttered hospital hide the haunting memories of century-old quarantines and human experiments. The ruins conceal the scarred and beautiful Cora, imprisoned by contagions and the doctors who torment her.

When Finn, a young urban explorer, arrives on the island and glimpses the enigmatic woman through the foliage, intrigue turns to obsession as he seeks to uncover her past -- and his own family's dark secrets. By unraveling these mysteries, will he be able to save Cora? Will Cora meet the same tragic ending as the thousands who've already perished on the island?

Critique: An original, deftly written and inherently compelling novel of love, betrayal, survival, and loss, "The Vines" draws upon the author's own emotionally charged medical history and experiences adroitly intertwined with North Brother Island's horrific and elusive history in a compulsive page turner of a read from cover to cover. Showcasing author Shelley Nolden's genuine flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that raptly holds the reader's total attention through many a cliff-hanger plot twist, "The Vines" is especially commended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated medical fiction and historical thriller fans that "The Vines" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

For All She Knows
Jamie Beck
Montlake
www.brillianceaudio.com
9781542008754, $14.95, PB, 395pp

https://www.amazon.com/All-She-Knows-Potomac-Point/dp/1542008751

Synopsis: Grace first met Mimi when she blew into their sons' toddler playgroup like a warm bay breeze that loosened Grace's tight spaces. Despite differing approaches to life and parenting, the fast friends raised their kids together while cementing a sisterlike bond that neither believed could be broken. But when a string of ill-fated decisions results in a teen party with a tragic outcome for Grace's son, the friendship is ripped apart and an already-splintered community explodes.

Accusations are leveled, litigation ensues, and the people of Potomac Point take sides, all of which threatens Mimi's business and her current custody agreement. Her sole salvation is a young cop who just might be her second chance at love. That fact only antagonizes Grace, whose marriage is crumbling beneath the weight of blame and the echo of past mistakes.

With their lives unraveling, the former friends stand to lose everything they love unless they learn to forgive -- both themselves and each other.

Critique: An inherently reader engaging and impressively original story of friendship, hardship, love, tragedy, and redemption, "For All She Knows" clearly showcases author Jamie Beck's genuine flair for the kind of deftly crafted characters and narrative driven storytelling style that makes a novel truly memorable and an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "For All She Knows" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713551645, $14.99, MP3-CD).


The Historical Fiction Shelf

Nights of the Moonless Sky
N. S. Vishwanath
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781480895744, $29.99, HC, 260pp

https://www.amazon.com/Nights-Moonless-Sky-Vijayanagara-Empire/dp/1480895741

Synopsis: In the sixteenth century in South India and the Vijayanagara Empire is in the throes of a succession struggle that threatens to disrupt the peace of the realm.

Far away from the chaos, the splendorous estate of Madhuvana sits in relative heaven where its seventy-year-old patriarch, Rajanna, has just died. After elders decree that his widows are to perform an ancient ritual in which a widow is cremated alive, the lives of three people intersect. Aadarshini is Rajanna's twenty-two-year-old third wife and mother of his heir. Azam Khan is Rajanna's trusted bodyguard, left rudderless after the death of his master. Prabhakara Swami is the enigmatic temple priest who holds the strings that control the fates of others.

When Aadarshini is thrust into a forbidding darkness, she discovers what it means to become the hero of her own story as destiny tosses her around like a straw in the wind. While events in the capital close in around her, she must seize her fate and overpower not just those who want to see her down, but also her inner demons.

"Nights of the Moonless Sky: A Tale from the Vijayanagara Empire" by N. S. Vishwanath is the story of a widow of a South Indian patriarch who embarks on a journey of self-discovery in order to take control of her destiny and survive in an uncertain world.

Critique: An original, deftly crafted, and inherently absorbing historical novel by an author with a genuine flair as a novelist for the kind of narrative storytelling style that is fully entertaining from first page to last, ""Nights of the Moonless Sky: A Tale from the Vijayanagara Empire" by N. S. Vishwanath" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nights of the Moonless Sky: A Tale from the Vijayanagara Empire" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781480895768, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

The Queen's Dog
N. L. Holmes
https://www.nlholmes.com
WayBack Press
9781734986877, $14.99, PB, 418pp

https://www.amazon.com/Queens-Dog-Empire-Twilight/dp/1734986875

Synopsis: In the Bronze Age Syrian kingdom of Ugarit, a eunuch slave mistakenly believes his mistress the queen loves him, so when asked to spy on her under threat of punishment, he finds a way to avoid it. When she shows she cares nothing for him, he justifies reporting her disloyal activities but can't escape agonies of conscience. As her sentence of divorce turns into execution, he decides he must avenge her and expurgate his own guilt.

Critique: A beautifully crafted historical novel from an author with a genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling style that is inherently absorbing and captures the reader's complete attention from first page to last, "The Queen's Dog" by N. L. Holmes (the third volume in the author's simply outstanding Empire at Twilight series) is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Queen's Dog" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Nights of the Moonless Sky
N. S. Vishwanath
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781480895744, $29.99, HC, 260pp

https://www.amazon.com/Nights-Moonless-Sky-Vijayanagara-Empire/dp/1480895741

Synopsis: It is the sixteenth century in South India and the Vijayanagara Empire is in the throes of a succession struggle that threatens to disrupt the peace of the realm.

Far away from the chaos, the splendorous estate of Madhuvana sits in relative heaven where its seventy-year-old patriarch, Rajanna, has just died. After elders decree that his widows are to perform an ancient ritual in which a widow is cremated alive, the lives of three people intersect.

Aadarshini is Rajanna's twenty-two-year-old third wife and mother of his heir. Azam Khan is Rajanna's trusted bodyguard, left rudderless after the death of his master. Prabhakara Swami is the enigmatic temple priest who holds the strings that control the fates of others.

When Aadarshini is thrust into a forbidding darkness, she discovers what it means to become the hero of her own story as destiny tosses her around like a straw in the wind. While events in the capital close in around her, she must seize her fate and overpower not just those who want to see her down, but also her inner demons.

Critique: "Nights of the Moonless Sky: A Tale from the Vijayanagara Empire" by N. S. Vishwandath is a deftly crafted and intriguing historical thriller that will introduce an American readership to a centuries old culture that is not all that well known in the West. This fully engaging and inherently fascinating story of the widow of a South Indian patriarch who embarks on a journey of self-discovery to take control of her destiny and survive in an uncertain world will prove to be a welcome addition to community, college, and university library History Fiction collections, and have a special appeal Women's Adventure Fiction fans and Mystery Action/Adventure buffs. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nights of the Moonless Sky" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781480895768, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).


The Literary Fiction Shelf

At the End of the Matinee
Keiichiro Hirano, author
Juliet Winters Carpenter, translator
Amazon Crossing
9781542005203, $24.95, HC, 316pp

https://www.amazon.com/At-End-Matinee-Keiichiro-Hirano/dp/1542005205

Synopsis: Classical guitarist Satoshi Makino has toured the world and is at the height of his career when he first lays eyes on journalist Yoko Komine. An emotional bond forms instantly.

Upon their first meeting, after Makino's concert in Tokyo, they begin a conversation that will go on for years, with long spells of silence broken by powerful moments of connection. She's drawn by Makino's tender music and his sensitivity, and he is intrigued by Yoko's refinement and intellect. But neither knows enough about love to see it blooming nor has the confidence to make the first move. Will their connection endure, weaving them back together like instruments in a symphony, or will fate lead them apart?

Blending the harmonies of Kazuo Ishiguro's Nocturnes and the sensuality of Ian McEwan's Enduring Love, At the End of the Matinee is an enchanting and thought-provoking love story.

Critique: Deftly translated into English by Juliet Winters Carpenter, "At The End Of The Matinee by Japanese author Keiichiro Hirano is an extraordinary and compelling read throughout. Destined to be acknowledged as a literary classic, "At The End Of The Matinee" is an especially an unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Cultural Heritage, Family Life, and Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "At The End Of The Matinee" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781542005180, $14.95), in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713560999, $24.99, MP3-CD).

Editorial Note: Keiichiro Hirano is an award-winning and bestselling novelist whose debut novel, The Eclipse, won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize in 1998, when he was a twenty-three-year-old university student. A cultural envoy to Paris appointed by Japan's Ministry of Cultural Affairs, he has given lectures throughout Europe. Widely read in France, China, Korea, Taiwan, Italy, and Egypt, Hirano is also the author of At the End of the Matinee, a runaway bestseller in Japan. Hirano's short fiction has appeared in The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature and The Transparent Labyrinth. A Man, winner of Japan's Yomiuri Prize for Literature, is the first of Hirano's novels to be translated into English. Keiichiro Hirano can be followed on Twitter at @hiranok_en

A Moment of Fireflies
John McCluskey
Summerfield Publishing
https://newplainspress.com
9780998685700, $14.95, PB, 99pp

https://www.amazon.com/Moment-Fireflies-John-McCluskey/dp/0998685704

Synopsis: Michael Callahan is a freight conductor for a railroad, and he drinks heavily, resulting in late-night rages that terrify David and his younger sister Meggy. His mother gets David out of the house to protect him, but the bleak Chicago streets in 1934 are full of their own heartache and despair.

Additionally, Meggy is sick and was possibly exposed to tuberculosis by a neighbor girl. Michael unfairly blames David for Meggy's illness, and it isn't long before the drunken man becomes violent toward his son.

"It's not me, it's the times that make him so angry", David tells himself, but he is also concerned about Meggy, who is housebound and desperate to go to the movies. He decides to build a wagon for her. Meanwhile, the hung-over Michael stumbles on a funeral for a boy that brings back memories of his own childhood in Ireland and the painful secret that drives his unending rage.

Critique: Set in Depression-era Chicago, "A Moment of Fireflies" by John McCluskey is all the more impressive when considering that it is the author's debut as a novelist. Deftly handling raw realities of alcoholism, depression, domestic violence, and the persevering resilience of the human spirit, "A Moment of Fireflies" is an inherently compelling and memorable read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended, especially for community, college, and university library Contemporary American Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Moment of Fireflies" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: John McCluskey has had poetry, short fiction, and photography published in various literary journals and anthologies including Jerry Jazz Musician, New Plains Review, Sonic Boom, Third Wednesday, The RavensPerch, Quill & Parchment, One For The Road, Connections: New York City Bridges in Poetry, and Cradle Songs: an Anthology of Poems on Motherhood (2013 International Book Award winner). John's poem "My Gray Child" from Cradle Songs was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. John received a graduate degree in writing from Manhattanville College.

Thirty Rich: 30 Incredible Short Fiction Tales
Wen Henagan
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
www.lulu.com
9781684718306, $10.95, PB, 194pp

https://www.amazon.com/Thirty-Rich-Incredible-Short-Fiction/dp/1684718309

Synopsis: The masterpieces of literary fiction, the thirty short stories comprising author Wen Henagan's "Thirty Rich" are each around six pages. -- yet they are packed with unforgettable characters, engaging plots, and surprising endings. Almost every kind of genre is represented.

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, inherently fascinating, and a thoroughly engaging collection by an author with a genuine flair for narrative storytelling and the creation of memorable characters and entertaining plots, "Thirty Rich: 30 Incredible Short Fiction Tales" by Wen Henagan is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Thirty Rich: 30 Incredible Short Fiction Tales" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Author and teacher Wen Henagan maintains an informative website at https://www.linkedin.com/in/wen-henagan-07925928


The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Moments Like This
Anna Gomez & Kristoffer Polaha
Rosewind Books
https://vesuvianmedia.com/rosewind-home
9781645480457, $14.95, PB, 314pp

https://www.amazon.com/Moments-Like-This-Kona-Love/dp/1645480453

Synopsis: After Andrea "Andie" Matthews chooses her career over a marriage proposal and then loses a promotion she worked so hard for, she jumps at the chance to take a break and help run a friend's coffee shop. Alone in Hawaii, Andie befriends the staff and quickly grows to care for them, making her determined to revive the company.

As luck would have it, she meets the mysterious Warren Yates on Christmas Eve. They share a cup of coffee, some conversation, and even a moment, which leads to many more in the coming weeks. When Andie learns who Warren really is (and what he actually wants) she is torn between her feelings and his deception. But will Warren be able to win her heart back?

Critique: Book One in the new From Kona with Love series of romances by the team of Anna Gomez and Kristoffer Polaha, "Moments Like This" blends multicultural romance with love, loss and redemption. An original, deftly woven, engagingly entertaining, and truly memorable family saga that is set in the beautiful islands of Hawaii, "Moments Like This" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Moments Like This" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Mainely Fear
Matt Cost
www.mattcost.net
Encircle Publications
https://encirclepub.com
9781645991670, $27.99, HC, 300pp

https://www.amazon.com/Mainely-Fear-Goff-Langdon-Mystery/dp/1645991679

Synopsis: "I want you to find out who is responsible for ruining his life and I want them to pay for it" is the stated desire of Latricia Jones as she hires Goff Langdon to investigate her son's arrest for burglary, vandalism, and possibly hate crimes.

Langdon is a laid back, slacker detective, happy with his work, friends, and way of life in the town of Brunswick, Maine. To complement his income in Brunswick's scarce private detective market, Langdon also owns and operates a mystery bookstore named after his trusted companion, Coffee Dog. He was on the fast track to success. And then something happened.

Jamal Jones is an eighteen-year-old rising star attending a post-grad prep school in central Maine to bring his grades up so he can play college basketball at the D1 level. Then he is arrested for crimes that his mother knows he committed, but not why. She's sure someone has put him up to it, the behavior so unlike him as to be unthinkable, especially since Jamal was on the verge of beginning a better life. Latricia wants Langdon to track down those responsible for her son's sudden turn from grace, and she wants them to pay.

Critique: An exceptionally well crafted thriller of a read from cover to cover, "Mainely Fear" showcases author Matt Cost's impressive originality combined with his exceptional narrative driven storytelling skills. A compelling read riddled with unexpected plot twists and turns, "Mainely Fear" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "Mainely Fear" is also readily available in a paperback edition ( 9781645990963, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Nimue: Freeing Merlin
Ayn Cates Sullivan
Infinite Light Publishing
https://www.infinitelightpublishing.com
9781947925199, $29.95, HC, 340pp

https://www.amazon.com/Nimue-Freeing-Ayn-Cates-Sullivan/dp/1947925199

Synopsis: Nina is a seventeen-year-old girl who lives with her mother in modern day Manhattan. The two of them decide to spend the summer in London. Believing she is a normal person just like any other, Nina has no idea what awaits her in Britain. She is a young modern-day woman who comes to realize that she was a Mage (or Enchantress) in a previous life. She was, in myth, the one responsible for sealing Merlin up in a tree until the hour of his return. Now, she is the only one who can find him. Traveling back in time to 5th Century Ynys Witrin, she discovers more than she ever imagined possible.

Critique: "Nimue: Freeing Merlin" by Ayn Cates Sullivan is the deftly crafted, inherently riveting and complexly engaging story of a heroine's quest to find the legendary Holy Grail. This original combination of adventure fantasy fiction and time travel tale stays true to Nimue's adventures in Arthurian legend but is fully updated for today's contemporary readers -- making it an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nimue: Freeing Merlin" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781947925182, $19.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: "Nimue: Freeing Merlin" is a stand-alone novel, and also the third book in the Legends of the Grail series. The books do not need to be read in order, but all of the legends and folktales interrelate. The earlier books in the series focus on Celtic Goddesses and heroines. Like the other books in the series, there are Celtic rituals, mystical practices and visualizations for the avid reader who wishes to delve more deeply into Arthurian magic.


The Christian Studies Shelf

Unlocking the Book of Revelation
Patti Hanni
Pearson Jagoe Publishing
www.pearsonpub.us
9781732720602, $20.00, PB, 124pp

https://www.amazon.com/Unlocking-Book-Revelation-Patti-Hanni/dp/1732720606

Synopsis: "Unlocking the Book of Revelation" by Patti Hanni was written specifically for those members of the Christian community who have been reluctant to read the Book of Revelation -- which is the last and arguably the most fearful book of the New Testament. This study guide is for those who have attempted to read it but found it confusing or frightening, who have wondered about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or the Seven Churches, Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets, or the Seven Plagues, who have questions regarding the Beast or the Dragon and the many more symbols that are part of this ancient two thousand year old text.

Patti Hanni writes with clarity and reason, offering lucid explanations of the symbolism and references contained within as she seeks to reassure Christians to not be afraid of what many call the End Times. Her map of the areas mentioned and chart of seals, trumpets, and plagues help the reader to obtain a greater comprehension of what the author of the Book of Revelation, John of Patmos, is presenting.

Hanni shares her invaluable knowledge of the historic setting of this text and the outside influences affecting the people of the cities where each of the Seven Churches were located. "Unlocking the Book of Revelation" is intended as a Study Guide, and the reader is encouraged to read this Guide with their Bibles open to the Book of Revelation, and follow Hanni as she discusses each chapter and verse.

Critique: Exceptionally 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "Unlocking the Book of Revelation" is especially and unreservedly recommended as an informed and informative New Testament study guide for all members of the Christian community, including clergy, seminary students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.

Editorial Note: Patti Hanni is also the author of The Quest for Wisdom published by Pearson Jagoe Publishing in 2018. She also provides a regular devotional to the weekly newspaper The Whitewright Sun.

An Evolved, Professing Christian Man
Byron Demery
Standing in the Gap Publishing
9780983521822, $12.99, PB, 174pp

https://www.amazon.com/Evolved-Professing-Christian-Man-Experience/dp/0983521824

Synopsis: As male Christians we are called to be leaders and examples to our families and our fellow members of the Christian community. However, there is a process in evolving into the Man, Father and/or Husband that Jesus and God the Father would have us to be.

Many times this type of spiritual maturity only develops through life's circumstances. Some of these circumstances can be challenging, unexpected and heartbreaking. However, as Christian men, we are called upon to adapt to these situations and evolve in the spirit of love.

In the pages of his personal memoir, "An Evolved, Professing Christian Man: My Experience of Failures, Trials, Faith, Victories and Love", Byron Demery invites us into his personal journey of faith, vulnerability and love. He details his shortcomings and failures as a man, as he voyages through an uncertain wilderness period in his life where he learns to trust GOD and appreciate life like never before.

In testifying of GOD's goodness, "An Evolved, Professing Christian Man" encourages all Christian men to lead with love and learn to enjoy everyday life while embracing the process of growth in the midst of life's most trying circumstances.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "An Evolved, Professing Christian Man: My Experience of Failures, Trials, Faith, Victories and Love" is a life-changing, faith-enhancing, spiritually-motivating read and one that is commended to the attention of all male members of the Christian community. It should be noted that "An Evolved, Professing Christian Man: My Experience of Failures, Trials, Faith, Victories and Love" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).


The Self-Help Shelf

Stop Drifting
David R. Ibarra
3L Publishing
http://3lpublishing.com/3l
9781733915090, $21.99, HC, 136pp

https://www.amazon.com/Stop-Drifting-Become-Thought-Positive/dp/1733915095

Synopsis: For Tom Stanley, a slightly overweight lost soul, life has lost its luster. Rather than face the daily grind of life working at his Chevrolet dealership, he'd rather sleep his days away. Just when Tom's malaise seems like it can't get any worse, a chance meeting with fellow car dealership owner Daniel Santos changes everything. Tall, tan, and fit, Daniel is renowned for his success and decides to take Tom under his wing. Under Daniel's guidance, not only does Tom train to run his first marathon but also learns what it takes to turn his business into a success!

From the mind of Utah business leader and success coach David R. Ibarra, "Stop Drifting: Become the Switch Master of Your Own Thought & Pivot to Positive" is the illustrative story about how one man finds his way to success, both in business and in life, by following key strategies that the author credits for his own successful career.

"Stop Drifting: Become the Switch Master of Your Own Thought & Pivot to Positive" uses a compelling narrative to teach readers not only how to identify their purpose in life, but to apply that purpose to their business, create new training processes, implement new business strategies, and how to "Pivot to Positive" and overcome the debilitating influence of doubt and uncertainty. "Stop Drifting" is a story of great imagination that offers readers new strategies to spark inspiration and new ways to master their mindset and achieve their dreams.

Whether you're looking for inspiration in your business or personal life, with "Stop Drifting: Become the Switch Master of Your Own Thought & Pivot to Positive" will wake readers up to exciting new ways of thinking, being, and living.

Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "Stop Drifting: Become the Switch Master of Your Own Thought & Pivot to Positive" by David Ibarra is a life-changing, life-enhancing, life-celebrating, DIY instructional guide and manual that is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Stop Drifting: Become the Switch Master of Your Own Thought & Pivot to Positive" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781733915083, $16.99) and in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Editorial Note: Currently residing in Salt Lake City, Utah, David R. Ibarra is a leadership consultant, speaker, and author. At 28 years old he started his first business, beginning an entrepreneurial career that spans the hospitality, automotive, and leadership consulting industries. He is the founder of eLeaderTech, IBG, David Ibarra Enterprises and the Think and Grow Rich Institute - Latin America.


The Biography Shelf

Hits, Heathens, and Hippos
Marty Essen
Encante Press
https://www.facebook.com/Encante.Press
9781734430325, $17.95, PB, 274pp

https://www.amazon.com/Hits-Heathens-Hippos-Activist-Adventurer/dp/173443032X

Synopsis: Herpetology is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians (including frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians (gymnophiona) and reptiles (including snakes, lizards, amphisbaenids, turtles, terrapins, tortoises, crocodilians, and the tuataras).

But Marty Essen's childhood dream of becoming a herpetologist was to ultimately give way to his dream of becoming a popular DJ, which, in turn, led to his dream of becoming a big-time talent manager, which eventually morphed into the dream of becoming an in-demand author and college speaker.

While he achieved most of his dreams at various levels, he also realized that he didn't necessarily have to reach the top to find success or happiness. Sometimes "almost" is close enough.

"Hits, Heathens, and Hippos: Stories from an Agent, Activist, and Adventurer" is Marty's entertainingly humorous and down-right inspirational memoir that explores relationships and careers and how seemingly minor events can lead to life-changing results. Compelling stories have filled Marty's life, and he in this candidly personal account he tells those stories in a conversational style that combines his talents as an gifted author with his impressive talents as the creator of a one-man stage show that he has performed at hundreds of colleges across the United States.

Critique: A thoroughly absorbing and inherently fascinating account of a most unusual life lived out in a series of equally unusual circumstances, "Hits, Heathens, and Hippos: Stories from an Agent, Activist, and Adventurer" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary American Biography collections. It also should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hits, Heathens, and Hippos" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: Marty Essen began writing professionally in the 1990s as a features writer for Gig Magazine. His first book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents, won six national awards, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune named it a "Top Ten Green Book." His second book, Endangered Edens: Exploring the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica, the Everglades, and Puerto Rico, won four national awards. His novels, Time Is Irreverent, Time Is Irreverent 2: Jesus Christ, Not Again! and Time Is Irreverent 3: Gone for 16 Seconds are all Amazon #1 Best-Sellers in Political Humor. Marty is also a popular college speaker, who has performed the stage-show version of Cool Creatures, Hot Planet on hundreds of campuses in forty-five states.


The Poetry Shelf

Tempest: Poems
Ryan Meyer
Independently Published
www.NothingPeak.com
9780578831756, $12.99, PB, 82pp

https://www.amazon.com/Tempest-Poems-Ryan-Meyer/dp/0578831759

Synopsis: The poetry of Ryan Meyer that comprises "Tempest: Poems" collectively explores fear, hope, and self-identity through striking fictional vignettes and surreal personal accounts. The poetry showcased in this absorbing collection is a deftly scribed blending of musical, rhythmic and poetic dialogue, as well as the deeper, innate anxieties that accompany change - both expected and unexpected.

Critique: Unique, memorable, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Tempest: Poems" is one of those volumes of verse that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary American Poetry collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Tempest: Poems" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Ryan Meyer literary work has been featured in Freshwater Poetry Magazine, Beechwood Review, Folio Literary Magazine, and Moon Tide Press' Dark Ink Anthology. His first book of poems, "Haunt" (9780692069981, $16.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 84pp) was self-published in February 2018. Ryan Meyer also maintains a website at www.NothingPeak.com


James A. Cox
Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937
e-mail: mbr@execpc.com
e-mail: mwbookrevw@aol.com
http://www.midwestbookreview.com


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