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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 8 August 2016 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Islamic Studies Shelf Art Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Self-Help Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Biography Shelf Fiction Shelf Poetry Shelf
Metaphysical Studies Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf Photography Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Criminology Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

My Family Record Book
Harris N. Rosen
Harris N. Rosen Books
9780692481622 $15.95 pbk / $3.95 Kindle

Synopsis: My Family Record Book is a complete step-by-step guide that will help you keep tract of and organize: final wishes & arrangements, computer information and passwords, estate planning documents, employment records, insurance policies, tax records, retirement accounts, government benefits, real estate records, house maintenance and more!

Whether you are planning for retirement, have aging parents, or are a caregiver or estate executor, this book will help you organize important information so everyone will feel in control and know what to do during a stressful time.

My Family Record Book is the easiest and best way to organize your records and instructions for you and your family. Most importantly, it provides you with peace of mind knowing that vital information is easily accessible and is a loving and important gift for those you care about most.

Critique: Filled with practical, user-friendly advice and checklists, My Family Record Book is an invaluable resource for ensuring that, in case of an emergency or a death, one's family will not be burdened with bureaucratic problems on top of everything else. Step-by-step instructions walk the reader through using Microsoft Word(R) to make tables and other useful documents. The no-nonsense wisdom of My Family Record Book is invaluable. Here's just one example "Taking future care of your pet(s) should be high on your list. What becomes of him/her/them if something unexpected happens to you? Possibly you have established a trust for future care, as many states now allow, or your local SPCA can be involved. In addition, some Schools of Veterinary Medicine will assume responsibility for the pet if you have created an endowment at the school." Highly recommended.

All His Bright Light Gone
Peter McKenna
New Frontier Publishing
9780997137200, $25.00, PB, 316pp,

Synopsis: President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. The American nation was never the same after that terrible day. In the pages of "All His Bright Light Gone: The Death of John F. Kennedy and the Decline of America", author and journalist Peter McKenna explains why. The loss of this idealistic young president damaged the nation far more profoundly than is commonly believed. He created a modern-day version of the type of government the Founders created for us, the type of government we must have if we are to succeed as a nation.

The presidents and political leaders who came after Kennedy, however, did not continue his enlightened approach to government. Ronald Reagan, for example, actually reversed it, making the private sector more powerful than government. The results of this change have been disastrous for the United States. Today, government is driven by pointless ideological warfare, something Kennedy warned us to avoid, and the needs of the people are ignored. Our republic is in peril because we ignored the principles Kennedy left behind.

Critique: Impressively well researched, written, organized and presented, "All His Bright Light Gone: The Death of John F. Kennedy and the Decline of America" is a compelling, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community, college, and university American Political Science collections in general, "All His Bright Light Gone" is especially commended to the attention of non-specialist general readers with an interest in today's political climate as being a particularly relevant study for understanding how the American political climate has changed over the last half century.

Art & Soul
Sandra Leader
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781504342261, $20.95, PB, 52pp,

Synopsis: A meditator for twenty-five years, Sandra Leader is an associate minister at the Center for Spiritual Awakening in Pacific Grove, California. A former journalist, she is also an artist with a passion for helping others discover their own creativity.

"Art & Soul" is a collection of Sandra's affirmative prayers, spiritual poetry, and inspired artwork that emerged out of deep connection with the Divine. It reveals spiritual truths that have the power to uplift, transform, and heal. All the works comprising "Art & Soul" were completed while in a state of profound stillness after deep and prolonged meditation.

The prayers, each accompanied by an original and expressive image, can take the reader on a truly transformative journey to a place of awe and wonder. Each addresses a specific need or potential outcome, making it a powerful resource for those looking for antidotes to the pressures of daily life or who simply seek greater spiritual realization.

Taken together, the poetry and artwork impart a glimpse into that which cannot be named or explained and so help to break through the limitations of our rational minds to penetrate the mystery and beauty that is always and forever behind this material world. "Art & Soul" can be experienced by one of any faith, anyone seeking greater depth and peace, and is a gateway to what lies within and beyond.

Critique: Original, compelling, insightful, and inspiring, "Art & Soul" is one of those reading experiences that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf, making it unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections.

Each Step I Take
Lila Dooley
SDP Publishing
9780997285352, $10.95, PB, 52pp,

Synopsis: "Each Step I Take" is the poetic story of one girl's journey through bullying. Told from Lila Dooley's teenage point of view, "Each Step I Take" reflects what many teenagers are experiencing in today's world of growing up with social media and extreme feelings of being excluded by peers or classmates. Lila's intensely personal poetry, divided into themes of darkness and light, sheds light on how bullying is not just physical-it affects young adults psychologically as well. Lila's message of acceptance and hope is something we all can learn from. As she writes in the poem, "Perfect": Perfect is a word to describe ordinary / That's the thing about me / I am not perfect / I am not ordinary / I am extraordinary.

Critique: The author, Lila Dooley, was just thirteen years old when she wrote "Each Step I Take". Consistently compelling and deftly crafted from beginning to end, it is no exaggeration to observe that "Each Step I Take" is one of those extraordinary works that can be a life altering read. Unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of teens and young adults, as well as an invaluable addition to public school and community library collections, "Each Step I Take" is one of those rare works of literature that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf.

The Islamic Studies Shelf

Women in the Qur'an
Asma Lamrabet, author
Myriam Francois-Cerrah, translator
Square View
c/o Kube Publishing (dist.)
9781847740823 $19.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Today, the issue of Muslim women is held hostage between two perceptions: a conservative Islamic approach and a liberal Western approach. At the heart of this debate Muslim women are seeking to reclaim their right to speak in order to re-appropriate their own destinies, calling for the equality and liberation that is at the heart of the Qur'an.

However, with few female commentators on the meaning of the Qur'an and an overreliance on the readings of the Qur'an compiled centuries ago this message is often lost. In this book Asma Lamrabet demands a rereading of the Qur'an by women that focuses on its spiritual and humanistic messages in order to alter the lived reality on the ground.

By acknowledging the oppression of women, to different degrees, in social systems organized in the name of religion and also rejecting a perspective that seeks to promote Western values as the only means of liberating them, the author is able to define a new way. One in which their refusal to remain silent is an act of devotion and their demand for reform will lead to liberation.

Critique: Women in the Qur'an openly challenges both Muslim and Western status quo perceptions of women in the Islamic world. Closely re-reading and analyzing passages in the Qur'an about women, this revolutionary text emphasizes the spiritual message within the holy book of the Muslims. "How can we convince those who seem to resist this entire movement of reformism through fear of losing themselves? How can we explain to them that, in fact, we cannot remain faithful to Islam without renewal, without a critical conscience, without deep reflection and constructive debate?" Enlightened, inspiring, and meticulous in both philosophical rigor and attachment to justice, Women in the Qur'an is highly recommended.

The Art Shelf

The Golden Valley
David Huber and Dave Glantz
Baronet World Wide
9780997566925 $65.95

Synopsis: The recent discovery of a rich cultural treasure trove of ancient Tibetan monastic art and furniture shines a light on an overlooked cluster of monasteries located in an eastern region of Tibet known as The Golden Valley. Tracing the tumultuous history of the valley from the 7th century to the present day, a history sometimes triumphant but often atrociously tragic, provides the backdrop for the many influences on the evolution of its art, whether from enlightened Buddhist teachers or murderous invading armies. Richly photographed, the book not only features the art itself - from exquisite centuries-old wall hangings to ingeniously designed furniture, all produced by dedicated monks - but also explains in unprecedented detail the symbolism and philosophy incorporated into these pieces, their stunning decorations serving a dual purpose as teaching devices. Finally, the book introduces the reader to daily life at the monasteries. It delves into the everyday routines of the monks and nearby villagers, and the continued practice, even under today's repressive conditions, of such ancient and profound rituals as the chanting of special mantras, sutras and pujas. These and other rites are explained in great detail, right down to the deep significance of the simple act of spinning a prayer wheel. Taken together, the art showcased in this book is meant to guide the reader into the culture, mind and faith of the artists and their communities, and tell their previously untold story.

Critique: Illustrated with full-color photography throughout, The Golden Valley: The Untold Story of The Other Cultural Center of Tibet is an exquisite tour of the art and cultural history of Tibet's Golden Valley region. Monastic art is not displayed in a vacuum; the text thoughtfully chronicles Tibet's rich and sometimes violent history, as well as the purpose and symbolism of works, and how they enriched daily life and prayers at Buddhist monasteries. As much an introduction to the faith, culture, and way of life of Golden Valley artists as it is a display of art, The Golden Valley is highly recommended for personal, public, and college library art history collections.

The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Behavioral Issues in Horses
Nicole Brickner
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781532887925, $15.99, PB, 142pp,

Synopsis: Nicole Brickner has worked with, trained and shown horses from an early age. She graduated from UW River Falls in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with an equine emphasis. Her mission is to make our presence in animals' lives a positive experience, through mutual respect, trust, consistency and compassion.

In "Behavioral Issues in Horses: Why Do They Do That?" Nicole has created a valuable information and instructional resource for anyone who has experienced the fear or frustration of their horse exhibiting dangerous/undesirable behaviors. Through personal accounts that are both entertaining and educational, Nicole covers the most common behavioral issues horses develop, including bucking, kicking, rearing, biting, bolting, and more.

Nicole begins by describing natural horse behavior and why horses behave the way they do, and then explains how we can use this knowledge to work with a horse on a level it can understand. Next, she explores the possible physical, behavioral, and emotional causes of the various behaviors, and explains how the solution to a particular behavior can be very different depending on which of those possible causes is the root of the issue. In this unique approach, the root causes are recognized as originating from either physical (pain, hunger, etc.), behavioral (choice, conditioning, habit), or emotional (fear, anger, instinct) sources. Depending on which of these triggers is causing the issue, the path to resolving the behavior is very different.

Finally, Nicole explains how to address the various behaviors, with dozens of stories based on her own experiences that illustrate solutions to each behavior, for each possible root cause.

Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, commentary, organization and presentation, "Behavioral Issues in Horses: Why Do They Do That?" is especially commended to the attention of non-specialist general readers who have a horse as their animal companion and who wish to establish an enduring bond with their animal. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Pets/Wildlife collections in general, and Horse Behavioral Issues supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for student veterinarians and members of the horse-loving public that "Behavioral Issues in Horses" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Self-Help Shelf

Life 101
Ashley Anne Connolly
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781504344869, $8.99, PB, 98pp,

Synopsis: "Life 101: 21 Practical Personal Growth Principles for the 21st Century" by licensed psychotherapist Ashley Anne Connolly is a handy companion for seekers of the digital age who expect information to be presented to them in a concise, practical, and useful manner. A quick and easy alternative to typically boring self-help books "Life 101" is a concise yet wisdom packed volume in which Ashley provides 21 Principles for Living, including: How to Manage Your Thinking; How to Get Self-Esteem; How to Manage Difficult Relationships; How to Still Your Mind; How to be the Happiest and Best Version of You! Happiness and wellness are not as difficult as all too many self-help gurus would have you believe. You can attain peace of mind by incorporating these 21 principles into your life. "Life 101" is the book that will show you how.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and impressively well organized and presented, "Life 101: 21 Practical Personal Growth Principles for the 21st Century" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content and commentary. A life changing, life improving read, "Life 101" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Self-Help / Sel-Improvement collections.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Vegenrage: The Magic User
Robert Spina
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781503535633, $34.99, HC, 506pp,

Synopsis: Get ready to be swept off your feet and taken away. Just image you go to your job like you do everyday and on your lunch break a demanding presence that only you can see offers to take you away to another world so you can fight the forces of evil. Would you go? Would you take on the challenge of learning magic and wielding it's power? Join Vegenrage as he accepts the challenge and is taken away to find that not only is he going to learn magic but he is one of it's most powerful beings. The magic is a part of him and he is quickly in need of it. See the visually stunning worlds of the Maglical System as Vegenrage travels them using all the imagination he can to stay one step ahead of those waiting to steal the secrets he himself is unaware of. Vegenrage brings a touch of brutality a glimpse of gore and a hint of the creepy as he battles through the adventure he has been thrown into. The magical monsters, demons and down right bad people that want to steal his life force will test his every wit. See how the worlds of the Maglical System have evolved and the species of man, dwarve, elf, and others fight for the survival of their race as do the dragons, demons and unbelievably lethal monsters. The adventure of Vegenrage's life has begun and the range of creatures he must face is beyond measure. So many races so many in seek of power and Vegenrage gets caught up in all the drama using fantastic magic and guided by his friends and instincts he too seeks the mystery of the Maglical System. See how the most beautiful woman in the Maglical System is drawn to Vegenrage and how they tackle the prophecy that is about to unfold. This is stunning action and adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat and the ending will leave you speechless. Get to know all the races of the Maglical System and get ready as the phenomenon Vegenrage begins.

Critique: In "Vegenrage: The Magic User", author Robert Spina has taken a new and original approach to the fantasy action/adventure genre. An inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read from beginning to end, "Vegenrage: The Magic User" clearly documents Spina's impressive skills as a storyteller who is able to keep the reader's rapt attention as the protagonist encounters unexpected plot twists and turns in his struggle with magic, prophecy, strange creatures, and an unexpected destiny. While very highly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Vegenrage: The Magic User" is also available in a paperback edition (978-1503535640, $23.99) and in a Kindle format ($3.03).

Ron Rayborne
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500956417, $18.33, PB, 540pp,

Synopsis: In Ron Rayborne's novel "Opalescence: The Middle Miocene Play of Color", the future is dystopian. Earth's biosphere has finally begun to crash wholesale due to man's perennial mismanagement. It's been a death by a thousand cuts. The world government, a fascist corporatocracy, has ruled with an iron fist, but it's losing its grip. Chaos is spreading, threatening the borders. The time is short.

Experimental physicists at the Institute de Physica in Southern California stumble upon time travel to a distant, unspoiled past, and soon the regime is interested. Maybe this will be the out they've been hoping for. For themselves and their friends, that is.

First, though, they decide to send scouts back to investigate. Two people are chosen: Paleontologist and Under-Curator at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum Julie Pine, and Dietrich Jaqzen, who is a professional survivalist, government hit-man and big game hunter. While Julie gathers information, Jaqzen's job is to keep her safe for the 30 days the mission is to last. There is a problem though. Jaqzen is an unscrupulous rogue who has designs on Julie and secretly plans to live a Tarzan and Jane life with her in an earth all his own, raping and pillaging both Julie and the beautiful Miocene world.

When 30 days come and go and the two fail to return, the men at the Institute learn of Jaqzen's treachery. Now, through a fast-paced (and subversive) chain of events, Tom Pine, Julie's husband, is sent back to rescue her. But at the last minute, while launching, government men break in to stop it, shooting up the place. A man falls over the controls, changing them, and Tom is still sent, but now to a locality many hundreds of miles away. Thus begins Tom's long journey down the prehistoric California coast. Along the way he befriends an Aelurodon, a Barstovian wild dog, who becomes his hiking partner, and together they face experiences both harrowing and enrapturing. Along the way, Tom learns about an edenic world and its unfamiliar species, beasts he never knew existed, while simultaneously growing in the process. At the end of the trek, though, Tom knows he will have to confront Jaqzen.

Critique: "Opalescence" is a fantastic and deftly written tale set in a very real world of the middle Miocene some 15,000,000 years ago. A time of incredible biodiversity and the perfect setting for a science fiction action/adventure. Impressively well written and consistently compelling from beginning to end, "Opalescence" is very highly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. For the personal reading lists of science fiction fans it should be noted that "Opalescence" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Magic Sack Come Back Come Back
Deborah Watters
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781514443484, $40.31, HC, 286pp,

Synopsis: What if you were a kid that had a powerful enemy who never lets you alone? What if that enemy was your own big sister, and all you wanted was for her to be your friend? Shoshi O'Malley is a kid just like this.

Her life is hell. She feels totally alone. The family housekeeper, her beloved Signora Pagani, uses her powers (yes, she is a witch) to grow giant vegetables in her garden, but she is unable to protect her young charge, her little Principessa. That is until another supernatural being becomes involved.

Everybody has had enough, it seems, of Kelly O'Malley's awful behavior and of Shoshi O'Malley's terrible, nerve-shredding scream. It is the day of her ninth birthday, and everything is about to change. Someone nearby is waiting for an invitation to help. Someone lying in a dusty heap in the back shed is woken by the local bush fairies, who are fed up with the noise and strife.

It is the night of the full moon. It is a time when the magic in the land stirs and wakens. It is a time when Salladin Q. Sack, a magnificent flying carpet of Fabled Faroffistan, a magical carpet who has been turned into a jute burlap sack, rises from the dust and flies on missions to help anyone in distress.

Shoshi's magic sack is to become an indispensable ally in triumphing over her sister's malice. Incredible adventures with the creatures of the bush and the sea await Shoshi. Other supernatural beings, such as a mysterious python and a rat under an enchantment, will join her on her adventures. Magical powers are acquired, lessons are learned, and confidence is gained. After one last terrible, thrilling, and enlightening journey with the sack, Shoshi has at last come into her own, and everyone has been transformed.

Critique: An extraordinary and exceptional fantasy adventure, "Magic Sack Come Back Come Back" reveals author Deborah Watters as an impressively gifted and original storyteller. This debut novel will leave its readers looking eagerly toward Deborah's next literary effort. While very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Magic Sack Come Back Come Back" is also available in a paperback edition (9781514443477, $24.19) and in a Kindle format ($4.99).

The Biography Shelf

Field of Souls
Andrew Williams
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478769422, $38.95, PB, 250pp,

Synopsis: "Field of Souls: Solving the Mystery of My Lost Generation" is a story that began with author and academician Andrew Williams attempt to find answers to his family history by means of searching for his mother's ancestors. To his surprise, he found out that his mother's parents had in fact both died within months apart in the early 1900s leaving behind five young children. One of who was his mother, who was also the grandchild of a couple who had interracial characteristics in their ancestry. Because of these two tragic deaths and the fact that there were no family members able to care for all five children, Williams' mother and her siblings were split up at a very young age. In addition, in searching for the places where many of his ancestors were buried, Williams discovered that burial sites were abandoned and in one case almost became a place where new construction would be built on. When Williams moved to Georgia, he was determined to find the answers to all sorts of questions that stuck with him regarding his family's history. Williams was eventually able to find out lots of information regarding his ancestors whose story was just about to disappear from existence. This was due to the fact that there were so many systemic issues in society during the 1800 & 1900's and in the local community that it was extremely difficult to piece together all of the information regarding his African American lineage. However, Williams still felt that these peoples story deserved to be told. "Field of Souls" is Williams personal story and it led him on an incredible journey as he attempted to solve many of the mysteries surrounding his 'lost generation'. It is interesting to note that the book title "Field of Souls" was inspired by the memory of Mildred Ponder and her family, and the places of burial for many of Williams ancestors which is what is now a preserved African American burial site located in Savannah Georgia known as the LePageville Memorial Cemetery.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and impressively well written, organized and presented genealogical study deftly combined with a consistently compelling autobiographical narrative, "Field of Souls: Solving the Mystery of My Lost Generation" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to both community library African-American Biography and academic library Black Studies collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Field of Souls" is also available in a paperback edition (9781478767671, $25.95).

The Darkness of My Shattered Heart
Elizabeth Jordan
Green Ivy
9781943955091, $15.00, PB, 198pp,

Synopsis: At seventeen, Elizabeth Jordan lost her first boyfriend in an accident. At twenty-two, she lost her fiance in another accident. She crawled into a bottle of vodka to cope and stayed there for over a year. When a surgery went horribly wrong, the only way Elizabeth could see to remove the pain was suicide.

She watched her parents deteriorate as she cared for them, and losing them weeks apart dropped her into a pit of darkness. Three months later, she lost one of her greatest friends, sending her even deeper into darkness and despair.

And all of this while she dealt with a nephew who was on meth and a sister who would not give her mother her dying wish.

"The Darkness of My Shattered Heart" is the intensely personal story about how Elizabeth fought through love, loss, alcohol abuse, and attempted suicide, and made it back from the depths of hell to find a sliver of light. Elizabeth wrote her memoir to inspire others to dig deeper into themselves for a greater strength than they ever thought was possible.

Critique: An extraordinary and compelling read from first page to last, "The Darkness of My Shattered Heart" is a truly remarkable and memorable story told with unflinching candor. "The Darkness of My Shattered Heart" is a testimony and evidence of the ability of the human spirit to ultimately overcome seemingly overwhelming tragedy. While unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Darkness of My Shattered Heart" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.72).

Dear Mom and Dad: You Don't Know Me, But...
Georgia Lee McGowen
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781475931686, $31.95, HC, 271pp,

Synopsis: Much has been written both about and by people who feel they were assigned the wrong body at conception, exploring the struggles and too often the tragedies that result from that mismatch of nature. Very little has been written, however, to chronicle the lifelong struggle of people to understand and come to terms with two distinct sets of emotions, one male and one female - a single soul, at times divided, at times united, by two clearly identifiable spirits.

"Dear Mom and Dad: You Don't Know Me, But ..." traces the life of George through the eyes of Georgia Lee McGowen, the female half of their soul, from early childhood in the post war Texas oil fields through the innocence of his early school years in northeastern Oklahoma. With the onset of puberty, Georgia watches the omnipresent feeling of not being normal cast a destructive pall over nearly everything George attempts. After the collapse of his lifelong dream, George begins again with hopes, new dreams and the love they've both longed for. Georgia finally emerges, but understanding her part in their soul comes slowly and is complicated by a tragedy of profound proportion.

"Dear Mom and Dad: You Don't Know Me, But ..." considers the ultimate understanding of God's will for both George and Georgia and its unusual conclusion, sharing a story of struggle and self-acceptance.

Critique: An extraordinary and exceptionally well written account of an extraordinary and exceptionally complicated life, "Dear Mom and Dad: You Don't Know Me, But ..." is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections in general, and LGBT Studies supplemental reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Dear Mom and Dad: You Don't Know Me, But ..." is also available in a paperback edition (9781475931679, $21.95).

Idiot Boys: A Memoir
Bradley Butterfield
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781514343449, $12.95, PB, 291pp,

Synopsis: In telling the story of his own accidental "coming of age", English professor Bradley Butterfield tells the stories of a whole cast of lovable, if fallible, characters from his childhood and of the Denver he grew up in from the dawn of disco to the Reagan era. "Idiot Boys: A Memoir" is a relentlessly funny, heartbreakingly sad, and ultimately philosophical look at the particular idiocy of boys and the universal stupidity of man. Each chapter, or "Exhibit", represents a rough archetype of idiot boy behavior and a stage in young Butterfield's quixotic quest to figure himself out and become the hero of his own movie. Butterfield's narration meanders between every phase of his youth, from pre-school to his first semester in college, but there turns out to be a method in this seeming madness as it builds to a gut-wrenching climax involving repressed memories surrounding his mother's death and the inevitable dissolution of those childhood friendships he thought would last forever.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "Idiot Boys: A Memoir" is a deftly crafted and exceptionally personal account that is both descriptively singular and recognizably universal. While unreservedly recommended for community library American Biography & Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Idiot Boys: A Memoir" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.95).

The Fiction Shelf

The Lost Chronicles of Ara: The Mirkwood Codex
Stephen Hillard & Joel Eisenberg, authors
Deborah Jackson, editor
Topos Books
9781944589004, $24.95, PB, 544pp,

Synopsis: In "Chronicles of Ara: Creation" (Incorgnito Publishing Press, 9780986195334, $16.95 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 356pp) and "Chronicles of Ara: Perdition" (Topos Books, 9780996911108, $17.95 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 394pp) which are volumes 1 and 2 of "The Chronicles of Ara" trilogy by the team of Stephen Hillard and Joel Eisenberg, we learned of a series of "lost" documents that allegedly map the escape of both man and god from imminent catastrophe. When the first of these documents is discovered in London, entitled "The Mirkwood Codex", the secrets contained therein expose far more than expected. Centuries ago, a telling section of "Beowulf" was composed in a strange, almost Elvish language and discreetly hidden. In 1939, decades prior to author J.R.R. Tolkien authenticating the document in "Creation," the Nazis infiltrated Bletchley, believing the sought-after book of legend to be present within the walls of its top-secret spy compound. To plumb the secrets of the lost book, esteemed philologist Tolkien is mysteriously recruited by His Majesty's Secret Service to serve as a code-breaker, alongside Ian Fleming, Alan Turing, Kim Philby and Winston Churchill. When his service is soon terminated and all records of his Bletchley activity erased, however, the muse Ara suddenly emerges with a grave secret she has strived to keep quiet, a secret that threatens to derail one deadly plot but initiate another: a war far grander than even she could have previously imagined

Critique: Complex, multi-layered, exceptionally well written, consistently compelling, and thoroughly entertaining, "The Lost Chronicles of Ara: The Mirkwood Codex" can be read as a 'stand alone' novel, but to be fully appreciate will leave readers looking eagerly toward the first two volumes in this outstanding series. While the entire trilogy is highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that like the first two volumes, "The Lost Chronicles of Ara: The Mirkwood Codex" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Freak Fall
Dave Cheadle
Flashback Press
9780967962290 $16.99 pbk / $7.99 Kindle

Synopsis: High above Mark Hanson's back deck, a feathery silver plume records the leisurely descent of 300 passengers preparing to land in Denver. But in one explosive flash, everything changes forever. Plucked from the snow of a Colorado ski valley, a mysterious survivor claims that on a day of planet-wide terror, he was saved by God to deliver a startling message for the end of the world. The stranger's apocalyptic prophecies have captured the media's imagination, and Mark finds himself thrust into the role of wingman for the ever-baffling "Freak." But as the unlikely duo joins forces with a team of tight-lipped security professionals and the beautiful reporter Saundra Paige, Mark has his doubts. He questions Freak's visions of angels and "Dark Riders," and he nervously watches the news as millions of frightened citizens respond to predictions of epic disasters and impending doom. Disillusioned and ready to bail, Mark is suddenly caught short. Television reports are coming in via live broadcasts from around the world. And the news not good....

Critique: Minister Dave Cheadle presents Freak Fall, the first of a trilogy of religious novels with a central theme about the apocalypse. Was the mysterious "Freak", who inexplicably survived an impossible fall, really chosen by God to herald the Earth's destruction? Mark Hanson, an ordinary man thrust into an extraordinary situation, has his doubts at first; but the news from abroad is increasingly grim. Introspective and sober, Freak Fall prompts the reader to think long and hard about life, choices, consequences, and what it means to confront the end of all there is. The second novel in the trilogy, Freak Unleashed, is forthcoming! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Freak Fall is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Eugenia: Destiny and Choice
Georgeos C. Awgerinos
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491740187, $28.95, HC, 290pp,

Synopsis: Eugenia Corais (known to her friends as Jenny) is a brilliant intellectual who aspires to transform her Columbia University activism into a media crusade. After she crosses paths with Dietrich Neuendorf, a charismatic, unyielding German human rights attorney haunted by his secret family past, they quickly fall in love.

Meanwhile, eight thousand miles away, in Southern Africa, Rhodesian white settlers break away from the British Commonwealth and are surrounded by hostile Africans demanding immediate independence. The UN imposes an embargo on the former colony, while the hardline Rhodesian regime declares a state of emergency. As violence in the country intensifies, Dietrich is offered a job there to investigate civil rights violations, and a few weeks later, Jenny flies to Africa to join him. Together, they begin a dangerous journey in a tumultuous country on the brink of war.

When Jenny meets an armaments contractor, an unscrupulous man of immense power and oppressive colonial military background, she will encounter a shadow government operating behind the mainstream political smokescreen. She will also discover her own dark side she never knew existed.

Jenny's personal saga unfolds on a historical canvas that spans from cabaret Berlin and wartime Europe to the American Civil Rights era, the anti-Vietnam War protests, and the explosive final days of colonial Africa. "Eugenia: Destiny and Choice" charts a quest for human awareness and social conscience in a political dystopia. The epic narrative follows three compelling characters tested by love and promiscuity, moral conflicts and momentous circumstances.

Critique: Impressively well written with an accurate attention to historical background details, "Eugenia: Destiny and Choice" is a consistently compelling read from beginning to end. Author Georgeos Awgerinos clearly demonstrates his truly exceptional mastery of the political thriller genre. While unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Eugenia: Destiny and Choice" is also available in a paperback edition (9781491740170, $18.95) and in a Kindle format ($4.99).

Gone Wrong
Bill Garwin
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781530776757, $11.90, PB, 326pp,

Synopsis: The latest political thriller in author Bill Garwin's outstanding 'Paladins' series, "Gone Wrong" takes the reader on a virtual roller coaster of a ride with unexpected plot twists and turns. Norcal is a government sponsored utopia. But something has gone decidedly wrong. Greed and deception flourish amid the rush of federal dollars financing previously unimaginable social and scientific advances. Every resident is monitored by an embedded computer chip tied to satellite enforced borders. The privileged encourage division and competition, distracting attention from festering, far greater evils. Chance Crawford and his associates are new world vigilantes, wandering the streets, enforcing the simple civilities that should bind the people together. They soon become embroiled in something larger, more vile and ultimately, deadly.

Critique: A deftly crafted novel that fully showcases author Bill Garwin's exceptional and original storytelling talents, "Gone Wrong" could well be a foretelling of the near term future should American (and global) politics continue to spiral out of control. A solid entertainment from first page to last, "Gone Wrong" is unreservedly recommended for community library collections. For the personal reading lists of science fiction and suspense thriller enthusiasts it should be noted that "Gone Wrong" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

Shadowboxing With Bukowski
Darrell Kastin
Fomite Press
9781942515371, $15.00, PB, 251pp,

Synopsis: "Shadowboxing with Bukowski" by Darrell Kastin is the tragicomic, cautionary tale of a young bookseller who struggles to keep his bookstore afloat in the harbor town of San Pedro, CA, where the infamous Charles Bukowski resides. Pushed to the edge by events beyond his control: his flailing marriage, the curmudgeonly ghost of the former owner, and the community that sees him as an outsider, the intrepid book lover fights the noble battle against mediocrity and apathy while in a moment of desperation his wife enlists Bukowski's aid.

Critique: A refreshingly original, deftly crafted and consistently compelling story from beginning to end, "Shadowboxing With Bukowski" clearly documents author Darrell Kastin as an exceptionally gifted novelist. While certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Shadowboxing With Bukowski" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

The Soul Hypnotist
Edwina Orelus
Page Publishing
9781683480846, $13.95, PB, 198pp,

Synopsis: After Laoise watches her father, Abiageal, die when she was merely six years old, her mother, Clymene, regrettably cannot continue to take care of her. Her mother immediately gives her up for adoption to a rich family with parents, Ahab and Iezabel. Laoise's adoptive parents eventually force her to leave her true soul mate, Alsainder, and marry a rich man named Matchitehew. Little do they know, Matchitehew has an agreement to give the souls of special young women like Laoise to the devil.

Critique: A deftly written and original entertainment from beginning to end, "The Soul Hypnotist" clearly establishes author Ediwna Orelus as an exceptionally gifted novelist. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Soul Hypnotist" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Great Leap
Jeff Sher
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478770596, $15.95, PB, 277pp,

Synopsis: Mundu, an indigenous teenager from the Brazilian rainforest, is the best long jumper in the world -- only no one knows it. That is, until idealistic botanist and power company scout Luis Moraes sees Mundu effortlessly launch himself across a wide stream. Luis convinces the power company to let him take Mundu to Rio de Janeiro to share his great gift with the world. But first Luis must gain the trust of Mundu's mentor, the shaman of his village, who agrees to Luis' plan without revealing that Mundu was marked at birth by Iara, goddess of the inland waters. Mundu quickly proves himself and becomes Brazil's best hope for track and field gold at the summer Olympics coming to Rio in 2016. The power company hires Mundu as its corporate symbol, and together with Brazil's Olympic organizers, they try to exploit Mundu's popularity to gain support for the Olympics among Rio's poor, who resent the excessive costs of hosting the Games while they suffer unreliable public transportation, inferior schools, and inadequate health care. But everyone's plans for Mundu, including his own, are turned upside down when shortly before the Olympics begin, it leaks out that the power company plans to build the giant hydroelectric dam that will flood Mundu's village. With the help of his friends and the timely intervention of the goddess, Mundu must carry out a daring plan to bring the plight of his people to the attention of the whole world.

Critique: Although a work of fiction, "The Great Leap" by journalist Jeff Sher is a story that is particularly timely and relevant in view of the controversies surrounding the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil. A deftly crafted and compelling read from beginning to end, "The Great Leap" is unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Great Leap" is also available in an inexpensive Kindle edition ($0.99).

House on a Swing
Victoria James
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781504920193, $37.95, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: "House on a Swing" by Victoria James is the story of a girl named Lizzie who must struggle with the people around her. Her birth mother abandons her. Her adoptive mother beats her and tortures her mentally and physically. She runs away to find her birth mother, who promptly sells her as a sex toy to the highest bidder. She is abused by foster fathers. Throughout her life, the very people who were to take care of her and show her love are the very people who betray her. She goes through several abusive relationships until she finds spiritual healing, self-love, and peace. Eventually, she escapes the cycle of abuse and finds her true love.

Critique: A gritty, realistic, and at times horrific read, "House on a Swing" has as its theme the ability of the human spirit to persevere in the face of sustained outrage. Consistently compelling from beginning to end, "House on a Swing" showcases a remarkable storytelling talent of author Victoria James. This is a novel not to be read lightly, but will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "House on a Swing" is also available in a paperback edition (9781504920186, $22.95) and in a Kindle format ($6.99).

Mercy Me
Mary Tyler
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491776681, $11.95, PB, 132pp,

Synopsis: Jessie Mann always in the shadow of others. Never taking control in work, love or her personal life. Standing up for herself was out of the question she thought. Jessie never saw the beauty that others saw and drew them to her. She was a stranger to love and the zest for life. Then Michael Sands walked into her life and changed everything, making her come alive for the first time. Showing her the dominate side of sex and control. But who is controlling whom? Can he make her see and feel what they could have or is it too much for both of them. Can Jessie be the one to help him with his demons? Then to find out the one you called family, her BFF Sarah Canter is into a lifestyle that is dark and sensual. Can all the lies and secrets change or break their bond they shared? How accepting can you be to the deception never really knowing someone?

Critique: A riveting and deftly crafted read from beginning to end, "Mercy Me" clearly demonstrates author Mary Tyler as a master of erotic fiction. Enthusiastically recommended, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mercy Me" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Nidhi Dalmia
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781532933301, $14.95, PB, 403pp,

Synopsis: Set in the context of the zeitgeist and idealism of the late sixties, "Harp" is a novel by Nidhi Dalmia about love, longing and coming of age. The three main protagonists are a young man travelling in a Europe-less-travelled including the Iron Curtain; a young woman who has a calling to music; and another young woman who has loved and lost once. "Harp" provides the frame for a narrative about journeys we make across countries, even as we embark on a private quest within to know ourselves better, and to seek what it is we really want from life. Moving through India, Europe and USA, "Harp" follows the lives of these three young people even as they engage with the cultural, sexual, student revolutions, and the music of the sixties.

Critique: A deftly crafted and consistently compelling read from beginning to end, "Harp" is an extraordinarily entertaining novel that clearly documents author Nidhi Dalmia as an original, skilled and innately talented storyteller. While "Harp" is unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

A Time To Act
S. J. Knight
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781514440315, $48.38, HC, 618pp,

Synopsis: "A Time To Act" by S. J. Knight is a novel about Paul the Apostle from his birth to the end of his first missionary journey. "A Time To Act" offers a fresh and different 'back story' creating warm empathy on the reader's part with a complex man who is both anguished and admirable, flawed and likeable. In the pages of "A Time To Act", Shaul Benjamin of Tarsus steps out of the New Testament pages, coming to life in a story of ambition, failure, and redemption. The childhood, formative years, friendships, and struggles of this driven man are all depicted in intriguing detail, with lively characters, believable incidents, and a well researched background. "A Time To Act" also gives insight on what might have been behind the more unusual quirks of his strong personality, which shaped his outlook to life and the gospel. Culturally relevant, and faithful to the New Testament record, this fictional work takes the reader on a journey of love and laughter, fear and failure, tears, and excitement. For believers and non believers alike, it is enjoyable as a robust story of Jewish experience and travel in the first century Roman empire, and the birth of a momentous new world faith.

Critique: Impressively well written and consistently compelling, "A Time To Act" is an especially recommended addition to community library fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "A Time To Act" is also available in a paperback edition ($32.25) and in a Kindle format ($4.99).

The Poetry Shelf

Quiet Sheba: Volume 1
Elizabeth Clayton
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781490745428, $58.41, PB, 203pp,

Synopsis: When a fire burns into its ashes, only the fragrance of it is still left, together with the images of its passion, biding in smoke, billowing up, and into the away. Events do occur in our physical and emotional worlds, and these are, oftentimes, worthy of memories of them. In the years between spring of 1993 and the closing of 1999, a significant portion of Elizabeth Clayton's life burned away within the face of its circumstances-ashes left of physical and emotional properties -- so that recording through hundreds of verses and colorful artistic expression were/are here gathered: the ashes with bittersweet, still-fragrant smoke lifting away of left passion. We cannot comfortably live in the past or the future but in the moment itself, composed of the ashes and continuing passion alongside the dreams and visions of tomorrow's largess. We remember and we press forward as we, with gratitude, come to table of the feast of life through moments, often and long.

Critique: Jessie's Vine: Coming to me were Christmas rounds, / Of handsome green, / Empire into shadowed dark, / Dressed with scarlet water, / Brighness embracing waiting, / Hued darkness, / Somber and Beautiful, / Quietly speaking again promised grace bestowed: / Blood drops upon a tree. / Colored deep are the secrets of the vine of Jessie. -- Christmas, 1999, I believe. Elizabeth Clayton's poetry is intensely personal yet universal. Her free verse poetry is thoughtful, thought-provoking, and consistently compelling, making this first volume of a 'Quiet Sheba' trilogy unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Poetry collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Quiet Sheba: Volume 1" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Morgan Daimler
Moon Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
9781785350511 $21.95 pbk / $3.99 Kindle

Synopsis: An in-depth manual for practicing Fairy Witchcraft including theology, fairy lore, rituals, holidays, and magical practices. This book aims to pick up where Pagan Portals - Fairy Witchcraft leaves off and teach interested people the comprehensive practice of this system of honoring the Fair Folk and liminal Gods by blending the old Fairy Faith with modern paganism.

Critique: Fairycraft: Following the Path of Fairy Witchcraft is fascinating to browse for creative inspiration. The simple rituals and prayers to honor forces unseen can be incorporated into one's daily actions, used as meditative focus, or simply practiced out of respect for the wonderful and mysterious natural world. "When outdoors, if you find yourself in danger from anything Fey, one method to protect yourself is to cross running water. It is best if the water you cross is south-running, as anything moving southwards, like anything moving sunwise, has positive and blessing qualities. This method of protection is also said to work against ghosts and malignant spirits." Also highly recommended for metaphysical studies shelves is author Morgan Daimler's previous title, "Pagan Portals - Fairy Witchcraft: A Neopagan's Guide to the Celtic Fairy Faith" (9781782793434, $9.95 pbk / $3.03 Kindle).

The New Strong
Rose Rosetree
Women's Intuition Worldwide, LLC
9781935214410, $14.95, PB, 228pp,

Synopsis: "The New Strong: Stop Fixing Yourself -- And Actually Accelerate Your Personal Growth!" by Rose Rosetree is essentially a how-to book that can help men and women to live a much better life in this new Age of Awakening.

Readers will be able to develop what Rosetree describes as 'vibrational street-smarts' in this new and unprecedented age on earth, with all of the very different ways that vibrational frequencies of energy work. There are three main types of vibrational frequencies. There are human vibrational frequencies, that include types of energy like calories and watts. There are astral (or psychic) vibrational frequencies, such as "feeling vibes" and The Romance of the Astral. There is The Divine Vibrational Frequency -- perfection everywhere now.

In the Age of Awakening, everybody is energy sensitive. But that doesn't mean we have automatically become energy smart. One of the benefits of reading "The New Strong" is the realization that all energy is not interchangeable. If you pay attention, energy isn't the same at human vibrational frequencies versus astral vibrational frequencies versus Divine vibrational frequencies.

Critique: Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, insightful and iconoclastic, "The New Strong: Stop Fixing Yourself -- And Actually Accelerate Your Personal Growth!" is a consistently compelling read and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Metaphysical Studies collections. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "The New Strong" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Health/Medicine Shelf

The Patient's Resource and Almanac of Primary Care Medicine
Agnes Oblas, ANP-C
New Paths to Health Care
9780692309087, $19.99, PB, 174pp,

Synopsis: "The Patient's Resource and Almanac of Primary Care Medicine" is comprised of essays by Agnes Oblas (who is a Certified Adult Nurse Practitioner in Adult Primary Care Medicine) on medical topics of interest to the non-specialist general reader including common diseases or conditions that are presented with illustrations, and easy to understand graphs or charts. Resources are also identified for more in depth information. "The Patient's Resource and Almanac of Primary Care Medicine" ably serves as a basic reference and guide to thirty common medical and health related topics. Readers will find these topics to be pertinent, helpful, and thoroughly reader-friendly in tone, commentary, organization and presentation. The essays are presented with resources, fun facts, and time line to make the reading even more enjoyable. Of special note is a section called "The Savvy Healthcare Consumer", which highlights points about that essay's topic which the reader should be aware of as it relates to a visit to a healthcare provider. These essays are all free of medical jargon (or with definitions included) yet scientifically and medically sound. The singular purpose of "The Patient's Resource and Almanac of Primary Care Medicine" is to educate and clarify some complex medical issues while at the same time allowing the reader to enjoy the experience!

Critique: Informative, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Patient's Resource and Almanac of Primary Care Medicine" is alphabetically organized by topic, with nurse Agnes Oblas essays covering Antioxidants and CoQ; to Blood Clots, Earwax, Food Poisoning, Peanut Butter, Sugar Substitutes, Tuberculosis, and so much more! An extraordinary and highly recommended addition to all community library Health & Medicine collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Patient's Resource and Almanac of Primary Care Medicine" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.45).

One Solution to Many Diseases
Pratap C. Singhal
Happy Life Publishing of New Jersey
9780989141734, $19.97, PB, 206pp,

Synopsis: One Solution to Many Diseases is a collection of twenty-four and half inspirational stories from the medical practice of Pratap C. Singhal MD. Each story is unique as is every patient. Each story covers a different aspect of health and disease. Since there are 24 1/2 stories there are wide varieties of subject discussed such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, arthritis, the diseases of the teeth, fear of death, cancer, quit smoking in one hour, families in distress, family catastrophe. There are stories of patients who had to deal with difficult challenges in life for example, there is a story of a cancer patient who had only 35 days to live, and how miraculously he pulls himself from the death's door. There's another story of a patient who was in his deathbed and refused all treatment with the intention to die. The dialogue between the doctor and patient is thought invoking.

There are additional chapters on QA at the end of the book. That addresses many issues such as what is normal weight, what's is normal BMI, what food are the best to eat to stay healthy, how much water you should drink, it removes some misconception about eating. There is a BMIs chart provided at the appendix.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "One Solution to Many Diseases: Presented in 24 1/2 Inspirational Stories" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation. Practical, compelling, accessible, "One Solution to Many Diseases" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Health/Medicine collections.

The Photography Shelf

Historic Cottages of Glen Lake
Barbara Siepker, author
Dietrich Floeter, photographer
Leelanau Press
9780974206813, $55.00, HC, 248pp,

Synopsis: "Historic Cottages of Glen Lake" by Barbara Siepker is a stunning coffee table book showcasing the photographic images of Dietrich Floeter. Rarely seen interior images of 50 cozy summer cottages and narratives provide a portrait of a special place and state of mind evoked by summer cottage living on beautiful Glen Lake. These cottages are viewed against the backdrop of early summer resort life in northern Michigan the first half of the twentieth century.

Dietrich Floeter's duotone photographs and author Barbara Siepker's captivating historical narratives include personal anecdotes on each cottage. The cottage is shown in its glory and reveals its importance in the lives of its owners and the broader community. In total they document the essence of these wonderful old cottages as well as life and time of bygone years.

Dietrich Floeter's intentional choice of a wide view camera replicates the type and style of camera that would have been used during the time period of the early resort era fully captures their essence through close attention to light and detail meticulously set up and framed.

Barbara Siepker owns The Cottage Book Shop in Glen Arbor and has interviewed over 75 local and summer resorters for this project. Paging through "Historic Cottages of Glen Lake" is like taking a walk through a time-warp. Rich images and narratives honor resort and cottage lore and memories in a manner not previously captured in a book.

Critique: Printed in duotone and featuring more than 300 memorable photographs, "Historic Cottages of Glen Lake" is enhanced with a number of illustrations and maps. A pure pleasure for browsing and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections, "Historic Cottages of Glen Lake" is one of those rare volumes that will linger in the mind and memorable long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf.

The Graphic Novel Shelf

Ohio is for Sale
Jon Allen
Alternative Comics
9781934460825 $19.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Three cartoon animals live in a house together in the American Midwest. They get a job, get sick, and throw a party. Their lives are lit by street lamps and the flickering TV set. They do incredibly stupid things with hilarious and disastrous results. It's about friendship, booze, and the slow collapse of western civilization. And they're so cute!

Critique: Ohio is for Sale is a darkly funny comic story, intended for mature readers due to its bleak outlook verging on nihilism. (Some violence is also present, though not an extreme amount). While the three anthropomorphic animal friends are not aggressively criminal, they won't hold back from robbery, vandalism, or making a pact with evil souls, should the circumstances warrant it! Ranging from a savage deconstruction of slow-paced Midwestern life, to a morosely introspective reflection on not sweating small stuff (as delivered by a roadkill deer), Ohio is for Sale laces its grim insights with unforgettable, ironic humor.

The Criminology Shelf

Blood On The Mitten
Tom Carr
Chandler Lake Books
c/o Mission Point Press
9781943338078, $14.95, PB, 160pp,

Synopsis: Before Michigan became a state, it was a home to witch trials, scalp collectors, dirty sports, and a massacre of epic proportions. The lumber era that followed made Michigan as hazardous place to live. When Prohibition came to Michigan it allowed a group of Detroit thugs to run roughshod over even the likes of Chicago's Al Capone. This is all related in the pages of Tom Carr's "Blood on the Mitten: Infamous Michigan Murders 1700s to Present". Also includes is the story of: A father who shoots his daughter and friends for being hippies, just as an eerily similar tale hits the silver screen; A widow whose love of dressing up leaves a trail of poisoned relatives across the Lower Peninsula; A lawless Upper Peninsula town that not only hangs two criminals without trial, but forces women to lie with the corpses; A murder that spread its victim's body parts along I-75 from Detroit to Pellston. "Blood on the Mitten" is an historical compendium of crimes of passion, crimes of necessity and cold, calculated evil take on flesh, bones and blood.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a profusion of illustrations, "Blood on the Mitten: Infamous Michigan Murders 1700s to Present" is a consistently compelling read from beginning to end. Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "Blood on the Mitten" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library American History collections in general, and Michigan History supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Senile Squad: Adventures of the Old Blues
Chris Legrow
CL1557 Publishing, LLC
9780997703610, $16.95, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: Grab your walker, secure your catheter, and make sure there's double adhesive on your dentures! Then hang on for dear life because you are about to ride along with the covert Senile Squad -- a bunch of elderly cops who refuse to stop catching crooks just because they've long since retired from the force. Fighting street crime the old-fashioned way is their modus operandi. The Ol' Blues, are led by their cigar-chewing Sarge and aim to bring justice back to the streets of Omaha by taking down a brutal Sudanese kingpin who thinks he's a powerful gang lord. Crime fighting has never been so funny or effective when seasoned cops armed only with walkers, canes, and wheelchairs (and some gross tactics) take back the streets.

Critique: A unique blend of humor and crime novel action/adventure, "Senile Squad: Adventures of the Old Blues" is a terrifically fun read from beginning to end that will leave the reader looking eagerly toward the next Senile Squad adventure from the mind and imagination of author Chris Legrow. Unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Senile Squad: Adventures of the Old Blues" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

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

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