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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 8 August 2019 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Parenting Shelf Military Shelf
Biography Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf General Fiction Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Photography Shelf
Literary Studies Shelf Self-Help Shelf Native American Studies Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Poetry Shelf Theatre/Cinema Shelf


Reviewer's Choice


The ABCs of Law School
Teresa Anne Powers
Stafford House Books
https://staffordhousebooks.com
9780998107073, $15.95, PB, 360pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In "The ABCs of Law School: Diary of a First Year Student" attorney, author, and publisher Teresa Power takes her readers on a journey into the inner workings of the first year of law school, as seen through the lens of an actual student.

Power uses the ABCs to de-mystify entering law school: A covers the law school application and admission process, B goes behind-the-scenes of the first year of law school, and C offers class outlines and other survival skills, including yoga as a stress reduction tool.

An easy to read guidebook, "The ABCs of Law School" will help not only those considering law school, those who are about to start law school, and those already in law school, but also those who are interested in knowing more about the legal process. Each chapter of the book contains a wealth of information condensed into a readable form. Law school is characterized by substantial amounts of reading, writing and researching, and "The ABCs of Law School" will give readers a greater awareness and clarity as to what constitutes the body of law covered during one's first year.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively informative, extraordinarily well organized and presented, "The ABCs of Law School: Diary of a First Year Student" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. The ideal introduction and explanation of what attending law school encompasses and a 'must read' for anyone contemplating applying for law school, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The ABCs of Law School" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Leaves on Frozen Ground
Dave Carry
Guernica World Editions
https://www.guernicaeditions.com
9781771833455, $20.00, PB, 226pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Celine Vaillancourt saw the untamed forest in shades of apprehension: a dark, trackless wilderness that ran from the shore of Lake Superior to an unknown boundary on an unnavigable map. But Edmund, her 11-year-old son, was possessed of a different vision, as though, having been brought into that country as a child in his father's arms, he had put the very same brooding colors together and produced a painting shot through with adventure and the light of discovery.

There was no talking to either of them, husband or son. But talk no longer seemed to matter. Now they were in the maw of the great recession. Now her husband's construction business, built on the housing boom in the lake-side village of Port Landing, Wisconsin, was failing. And now, on a cold, moonless night in December, on the brink of the worst that Lake Superior could throw at them, Edmund was alone in the woods, the temperature plummeting, a killing storm bearing down, with little more than his beloved Border Collie, Breeze, to keep him warm.

Only the dog Breeze would survive. The death of a child is as sudden as a rifle shot, but the death of a marriage is as prolonged as the change from summer to winter, an erosion of will and desire. Celine would gain no great epiphany from the loss of her son and the failure of her marriage.

But she would survive.

Critique: A complex, heart wrenching, deftly scripted page turner of a read, "Leaves on Frozen Ground" by Dave Carry is a complex and memorable novel by an author with a genuine flair for a reader engaging narrative storytelling style. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, "Leaves on Frozen Ground" is one of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf.


The Parenting Shelf

Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk"
Dr. Lanae St. John, ACS
The MamaSutra Publishing
https://www.themamasutra.net
9781732414501, $12.99, PB, 224pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Parents talking to their children about sex is one of the hardest tasks they have do so if they are to be good parents -- but in our American culture it is so awkward that many have no idea of how best to perform this inevitable task. Especially if they want their kids to grow up confident and have healthy relationships (save them or their kids thousands on future therapy!).

Sexologist and mom, Dr. Lanae St. John, aka, The MamaSutra, believes it's time to shake up the status quo and normalize sex and sexuality. Dr. St. John uses "The Five Building Blocks to a Healthy Sexuality" to ensure children and adults of all ages have the best resources, support, and skills to make good decisions and grow into a happy and fulfilling sex life.

In the pages of "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk", parents are given tools like: How to identify your own hurdles when it comes to discussing sex; How to stay ahead of today's information overload and guide your kids to the best information to support their curiosity: The steps to open the door of communication with your kids and keep the eye-rolling to a minimum.

Children at any age want information when it comes to their emerging sexuality, physical, and emotional health. Dr. St. John hands mothers and fathers with a mindful approach to integrate discussions of sexuality, relationships, decision making, and other relevant topics into everyday conversations.

Critique: Impressively informative and 'real world practical' in scope, organization and presentation, "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk" is an ideal, effective, and thoroughly 'user friendly' instruction guide and manual for parent-child discussions about sex and human relationships appropriate to every age of childhood. While unreservedly recommended for community library Parenting instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Military Shelf

My American Military Life in Asia
Karl E. 'Squeaky' Schoelch
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9781480959088, $42.00, PB, www.dorrancepublishing.com

Synopsis: Like so many Americans, Karl E. Schoelch (nicknamed Squeaky) was called to join the U.S. Army, which he did on April 3, 1960. After being stationed at a handful of places, in December 1960, President Eisenhower sent him overseas. Leaving Oakland, California, on the U.S.N.S. Barret and sailing to Japan, he spent his Christmas on the Pacific Ocean for eighteen days.

Once in Japan, Schoelch was sent to Camp OJI, in Tokyo. He became a member of the 29th Engineer Battalion, known as the United States Army Map Service Far East. Schoelch and his team were also the first line of defense for the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

This was when a very interesting part of his life began.

"My American Military Life" in Asia details Schoelech's travels, the places he went, the new and interesting foods to which he was introduced, and the many people he met and with whom he formed lifelong friendships.

Critique: An informative and engaging memoir, "My American Military Life" will prove to be a welcome and enduringly valued contribution to both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography and 20th Century American Military History collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "My American Military Life" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $37.00, www.amazon.com).


The Biography Shelf

Shut Up, I'm Talking!
Jason Stuart, author
Dan Duffy, author
CCB Publishing
http://ccbpublishing.com
9781771433938, $15.95, PB, 206pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Shut Up, I'm Talking!: Coming Out in Hollywood and Making It to the Middle" chronicles the life and career of actor and comedian Jason Stuart. It's the funny, poignant story of a gay Jewish boy whose life changed after seeing Funny Girl at a second-run movie theatre in Hollywood. "I thought to myself, I'm in love with Omar Sharif - who am I left to be but Barbra Streisand! And I'm a guy... Oy!" It's about surviving a crazy family who survived the Holocaust and clearing up the wreckage of one's past while learning how to become a man.

Jason has appeared in over 200 films and TV shows and has had a long and varied career, from his coming out in 1993 on the Geraldo Rivera Show to having a major supporting role in the historical drama The Birth of a Nation playing "Joseph Randall" a white, heterosexual, Christian, slave owner in 1891 while being a gay liberal Jew!

As a comedian he has headlined at all the major comedy clubs, appeared twice at prestigious Just for Laughs comedy festivals and did stand-up on Broadway with Joan Rivers and Sandra Bernhard. He was featured in Comedy Central's groundbreaking special Out There, and his own stand-up comedy special Making It to the Middle.

Jason has acted with George Clooney, Faye Dunaway, Angelina Jolie, Angela Lansbury, John Lithgow, Laurie Metcalf, Alexandra Paul, Keanu Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Marisa Tomei, Jon Voight, Damon Wayans and they are all in the book!

His movies include Kindergarten Cop, Lost & Found, Vegas Vacation, Love Is Strange, Tangerine and on some of the most popular TV shows, Love, Sleepy Hollow, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Will & Grace, The Closer, George Lopez, House, Charmed, My Wife & Kids, The Drew Carey Show and Murder, She Wrote.

Jason lives alone in Hollywood, takes care of his mom and is still looking for Mr. Right.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and compulsive page-turner of a read from cover to cover, "Shut Up, I'm Talking!: Coming Out in Hollywood and Making It to the Middle" is a 'must' for all TV and movie buffs. A deftly written and impressively informative memoir of an interesting life live out in interesting times, "Shut Up, I'm Talking!" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Shut Up, I'm Talking!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Brain Candy: A Memoir
Deirdre Allen Timmons
Independently Published
9780991105052, $19.99, PB, 336pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: While fighting an aggressive brain tumor, Deirdre Allen Timmons must care for her mother who has advanced Alzheimer's, raise her teenage daughter, and help her husband chase a new dream -- opening a barbecue restaurant. Her greatest defense is her sense of humor in this tender memoir chronicling life struggles that are often tragic -- but can still be very funny.

Readers can grab a tissue and take a ride as one batty broad battles her way through the tragicomic trials of her most perilous adventure yet -- brain cancer.

Critique: An absolutely riveting life story told with both wit and wisdom, "Brain Candy: A Memoir" is the truly extraordinary account of a truly extraordinary life. While unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Brain Candy: A Memoir" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Shadows of the Night
D. L. Byron
Zen Archer
9781733565028, $24.99, HC, 262pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Shadows of the Night" is the intensely personal story of D. L. Byron -- a gifted young man who endured a tormented childhood at the hands of his mentally troubled adoptive mother. Told that his birth mother had died to give him life, he shouldered the blame yet still found the strength to attempt the impossible.

With a week's worth of clothes and a guitar, he left his small town for New York City to make his mark as a singer/songwriter. Navigating treacherous twists and turns along his journey to fame, overcoming his personal demons of abandonment, self sabotage, substance abuse, heartbreak and failure, he always held true in his heart that his real mother was indeed alive and that one day he would find her.

This beacon served as a guiding light as he discovered himself in a true spiritual sense, and set about making peace with his past; paving the way for his biggest success, writing the Grammy award winning, classic Rock anthem "Shadows of the Night".

He would finally become ready for the realization of his most secret, heartfelt and cherished dream.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Shadows of the Night: How One Man Survived the Trauma of Adoption, the Snares of the Music Business, and Found His Birthmother and Seven Sisters" is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary man. A deftly penned and intensely personal memoir, "Shadows of the Night" is one of those exceptional biographies that will linger in the mind long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Shadows of the Night" is also available in a paperback edition (9781733565004, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs
Judy Morgan DVM and Hue Grant
www.drjudymorgan.com
Thirty Six Paws Press
9780997250138, $29.99, PB, 254pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Why should anyone prepare food for their canine companion? It's simple. The pet food industry has let them down. The pet food industry has failed to provide wholesome nutrition to keep pets healthy. They advertise ingredients as holistic, natural, and human grade; in reality, ingredients are often waste products from the human food industry or rendered meals from diseased animal carcasses. The pet food industry has spent millions of advertising and teaching dollars to convince veterinarians and the pet-owning public that the only way to provide a complete diet is to feed processed industrial food.

Unfortunately, since the advent of processed food for pets, the pandemic of degenerative health problems has escalated in dogs and cats. Veterinarians continually treat inflammatory and degenerative diseases, yet they fail to see any correlation between the highly processed diets and disease. The profession has been talked into believing that industrial food cannot possibly be a causative factor in disease. In fact, they have been taught by the major pet food companies that the only way to treat chronic disease is to prescribe more processed industrialized foods.

A nationally renowned author, speaker, and holistic veterinarian certified in acupuncture, food therapy, and chiropractic care for dogs, cats, and horses, Judy Morgan has a passion for healing her animal patients with whole foods, minimizing medications and chemicals, allowing the body to heal from within. In "Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs" she explains, in understandable language, how to utilize Traditional Chinese Medicine food therapy to keep a dog naturally healthy. Making food for a dog doesn't have to be complicated; in fact, it can cost less than buying prescription diets and medications to treat disease. The path to good health is good nutrition. "Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs" will enable pet owners to how their canine companions some love with a healthy and nutritious home cooked meal!

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, "Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs" is an ideal instruction and reference guide for the non-specialist general reader who wants to raise their own canine companion to be healthy and happy. Nicely illustrated and exceptionally well organized and presented, "Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs" is unreservedly recommended for community library Pets/Wildlife collections -- as well as those of professional dog kennels and shelters. It should be noted for the personal reading lists that "Yin & Yang Nutrition for Dogs" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The General Fiction Shelf

Water Lily Dance
Michelle Muriel
Little Cabin Books
www.littlecabinbooks.com
9780990938354, $26.95, HC, 426pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Missouri, 2014. Sophie Noel, an emerging artist and daughter of renowned artist Josephine de Lue, holds an extraordinary imagination, but a year after the unexpected deaths of her father and husband, she cannot imagine a way to "move on" from loss -- or the buried childhood memory trying to resurface that would have torn her family apart. To cope with grief and the temptation to leave it all behind, Sophie escapes into a painted world of color and light venting her anxiety to an old childhood friend -- an imaginary one: French Impressionist artist, Claude Monet.

Paris, 1865. Camille Doncieux is captivated by the rebirth of Paris and the rebellious artists who wage war against tradition and the government's censorship at the annual art exhibition at the Paris Salon. Behind the windows of her father's luxurious dress shop, Camille plots a rebellion of her own after meeting three bold artists who will change her life forever: Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Frederic Bazille. But in Paris, where a young woman's life is ordered and controlled, a family secret and Camille's quest for love and fame may cost her everything, perhaps even the man she loves.

From an eclectic town in Missouri to the stunning backdrop of 19th-century Paris at the height of the Impressionist art movement, "Water Lily Dance" is a heartbreaking, heart-mending tale of loss, love, and second chances.

Critique: A brilliantly penned and original novel showcasing the extraordinary talent and genuine flair of a distinctive narrative storytelling style, "Water Lily Dance" by Michelle Muriel is an unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library General Literary Fiction collections. An absorbing and inherently riveting read from beginning to end, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Water Lilly Dance" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Children of the Knight
Michael J. Bowler
https://michaeljbowler.com
Independently Published
9780990871163, $9.99, PB, 339pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When 14-year-old Lance is saved from death, his life is forever changed. For starters, his savior claims to be King Arthur, the once and future ruler of ancient Britain. Lance has met lots of weirdos on the streets of L.A., and they claim to be many things. But this "king" not only reeks of sincerity, he wears armor, rides a gorgeous white horse, and lives in the storm drains underneath the city!

Arthur has a throne, old-school clothes, and weapons up the wazoo. Swords, daggers, bows and arrows -- the kind Lance has only seen in movies. Turns out this Arthur guy wants to start some kind of revolution. He plans to collect other cast-off kids like Lance (even teen gang members) and create a New Camelot of Knights to gain more rights for youth and shake up the out-of-touch politicians who run Los Angeles.

Lance is all for helping kids like him. He's spent his entire life in and out of the system, and it sucks. And he wants to believe in Arthur, but doubts even a king can accomplish such lofty goals. Despite these uncertainties, Lance readily accepts the position of First Knight (youth leader of Arthur's new army) thereby setting in motion a crusade of tsunami proportions.

When the children rise, will the city fall?

Critique: Clever, original, and a deftly crafted read with more plot twists and turns than a Disney Land roller coaster, "Children of the Knight" is the first volume of author Michael J. Bowler's new 'The Lance Chronicles' series. While certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Children of the Knight" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

The Fourteenth of September
Rita Dragonette
She Writes Press
www.shewritespress.com
9781631524530, $16.95, PB, 376pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: On September 14, 1969, Private First Class Judy Talton celebrates her nineteenth birthday by secretly joining the campus anti-Vietnam War movement. In doing so, she jeopardizes both the army scholarship that will secure her future and her relationship with her military family. But Judy's doubts have escalated with the travesties of the war. Who is she if she stays in the army? What is she if she leaves?

When the first date pulled in the Draft Lottery turns up as her birthday, she realizes that if she were a man, she'd have been Number One -- off to Vietnam with an under-fire life expectancy of six seconds. The stakes become clear, propelling her toward a life-altering choice as fateful as that of any draftee.

The Fourteenth of September portrays a pivotal time at the peak of the Vietnam War through the rare perspective of a young woman, tracing her path of self-discovery and a "Coming of Conscience." Judy's story speaks to the poignant clash of young adulthood, early feminism, and war, offering an ageless inquiry into the domestic politics of protest when the world stops making sense.

Critique: Offering a new and unique perspective of the politically divisive Vietnam War here in America, "The Fourteenth of September" is a deftly written and thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end. While unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that Rita Dragonette's "The Fourteenth of September" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.69).

Hyperspeed
William Grovere
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
www.iuniverse.com
9781532060199, $28.99, PB, 424pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In "Hyperspeed" author William Grovere offers his readers a glimpse into the world as it might exist in the year 2076. The scenarios are plausible based on a logical extension of modern technological developments, where intercontinental travel is carried out in evacuated tunnels, called portals, that permit supersonic global travel, such as Paris to Shanghai, in just three-and-a-half hours.

Christophe Conally is a recently retired corporate executive who inadvertently stumbles into a conspiracy to counterfeit and smuggle gold bullion by a sinister group called The Syndicate, who are intent on commandeering the global economy and seeking to fill the power vacuum left behind when central governments became irrelevant in the post-modern age.

"Hyperspeed" describes extremely complex construction projects; physicists, scientists, and engineers; farmers and vintners; diabolical international agents; pets and other friendly creatures. Both highly personal, with Christophe's longing for closure to painful chapters of his life and his engagement with a pair of turtledoves and a few domesticated animals, interspersed with impersonal multinational corporations constructing nearly unimaginable public transport systems spanning the globe that double as gold-smuggling vessels.

Critique: "Hyperspeed" is one of those unique novels that while futuristic, is not science fiction as the genre is usually understood. An impressively reader engaging and thoroughly entertaining read by an author with a genuine knack for a distinctive narrative story telling style, "Hyperspeed" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hyperspeed" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

The Eagle and the Dragon
Lewis F. McIntyre
www.lewis-mcintyre.com
Privately Published
9780692820803 $19.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: The Eagle and the Dragon takes the reader on an epic journey of thousands of miles by sea and land across three continents. When Senator Aulus Aemilius Galba is tapped to lead the first Roman mission to China, he anticipates an easy path to fame and fortune. Gaius Lucullus sees a bright military future, but his reluctant centurion Antonius Aristides would rather be somewhere else. Translators Marcia Lucia and her brother Marcus were taken from their village in China to serve the Han court, abused and despised, hiding a horrible secret. A notorious Arab pirate, with a Roman price on his head and crucifixion in his future, shadows the entourage, seeking the wealthy prize of their treasure-laden ships.

But Fate has other plans for these unlikely companions, sending them together on a journey that will take them thousands of miles by sea and land across the tapestry of the mysterious worlds at the close of the first century. From the storm-tossed Indian Ocean to the opulent Hanaean court, from the wild grassy steppes north of China to the forbidding peaks of the Pamir Mountains of Bactria, they fight for their lives, hoping to find the road that will lead them back to Rome.

Critique: The debut novel of senior engineer and retired Naval aviator Lewis McIntyre, The Eagle and the Dragon: A Novel of Rome and China is a work of historical fiction set in 100 AD, inspired by an actual Roman mission to China that once took place. Although the main characters are fictional, painstaking care has been to present historical figures as authentically as possible. Packed cover to cover with excitement and adventure, the Eagle and the Dragon is an immersive tour of complex cultures from millennia past, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Eagle and the Dragon is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

1969: A Brief & Beautiful Trip Back
Sea Gudinski
https://www.seagudinski.com
Privatley Published
9780578487793 $29.95 pbk / $7.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: Take a trip down the rabbit hole without ever leaving the comfort of your living room...This is a novel in which history meets science fiction and psychedelics meet spirituality through a seamless blend of fact and fantasy. 1969: A Brief and Beautiful Trip Back is one girl's account of her fantastic and unique experience of the hippie counterculture and how it changed her and those around her for the rest of their lives. From a run-of-the-mill existence in the ultra-conservative town of Fresno, California, formerly naive teenager and rock devotee Rhiannon Karlson takes the trip of a lifetime after a drug dealer sells her a particularly potent and mysterious substance, sparking her unparalleled journey of soul-searching, consciousness-expansion, and unyielding search for the Truth. The rest, you may say, is history.

Critique: 1969: A Brief & Beautiful Trip Back is an extraordinary twist on the historical fiction genre, about how the hippie counterculture of the late 60's touched and transformed lives. Adventurous, soul-searching, and transcending the borders of time and reality, 1969: A Brief & Beautiful Trip Back is a thought-provoking saga that will keep the reader enraptured from cover to cover. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that 1969: A Brief & Beautiful Trip Back is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

This Mortal Boy
Fiona Kidman
Aardvark Bureau
9781910709580, $15.95, PB, 288pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Albert 'Paddy' Black, known as the 'jukebox killer', was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fueled a growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand.

But what really happened? Was this a love crime, was it a sign of juvenile delinquency? Or was this dark episode in our recent history more about our society's reaction to outsiders?

Black's final words, as the hangman covered his head, were, 'I wish you all a merry Christmas, gentlemen, and a prosperous New Year.' "This Mortal Boy" is his story.

Critique: A fictional account of a true event by author Fiona Kidman (one of New Zealand's foremost contemporary writers), "This Mortal Boy" is a simple riveting and compulsive page-turner of a read from beginning to end. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "This Mortal Boy" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Bolinda Audio, 9781489484697, $29.99, MP3 CD).


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Car Wars
Mike Brogan
www.mikebroganbooks.com
Light House Publishing
9781733803700, $14.95, PB, 332pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Madison Parker is excited. She just won a big advertising account for a revolutionary new XCar. Competitors have nothing to compete with it. But one competitor will do anything to sabotage XCar. And he's discovered a way. A way that will cause injuries and deaths to innocent men, women and children. As Madison and the FBI get closer to stopping the man, he gets closer to them, and soon they find themselves running for their lives!

Critique: The Writers Digest award-winning author of six suspense thrillers, once again Mike Brogan showcases his genuine flair for originality and a distinctively reader engaging narrative storytelling style in "Car Wars". A compulsive page turner of a read from beginning to end, "Car Wars" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary Suspense/Thriller Fiction collections.

Simpatico's Gift
Frank Martorana
https://frankmartorana.com
VinChaRo Ventures, LLC
9780998932620, $13.80, PB, 280pp

https://www.amazon.com/Simpaticos-Gift-Kent-Stephenson-Thriller/dp/0998932620

Synopsis: It's the middle of the horse breeding season in Upstate New York, and the top stallions in Kent Stephenson's veterinary practice are being systematically eliminated by sudden death, rare disease, and mysterious disappearance.

Kent, his Redbone hound, Lucinda, and his teenage daughter, Emily, put their lives on the line to find out why. Their investigation leads them from horse racing's seedy underbelly of fixes and doping, to the staid aristocracy of Kentucky's famed bluegrass horse farms, struggling to keep their legacy of great stallions.

Then they descend into the world of a super-rich, South American drug lord, who collects horses the way he collects beautiful women. It's a race to the wire as they jockey to keep themselves alive, save the stallions, and stop whoever is behind it all. What they discover rocks the horse industry. And it will rock the very soul of any lover of these great beasts!

Critique: A superbly crafted novel of suspense with more plot twists and turns than a carnival roller coaster, "Simpatico's Gift" showcases author Frank Martorana's genuine flair for originality and a particularly effective narrative storytelling style. A thoroughly absorbing, page-turner of a read from beginning to end, "Simpatico's Gift" is unreservedly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Simpatico's Gift" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Dark Data: Control, Alt, Delete
Douglas J. Wood
Plum Bay Publishing
https://plumbaypublishing.com
9781733525329, $27.99, HC, 282pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Paula Jankovic is a willing tool of Constantine Petrenko, a Russian oligarch with a penchant for world domination and insatiable greed. Using a superstorm of dark data and fake news, Jankovic has become skilled at harnessing the power of the mysterious Selfish Ledger and personal social media accounts to get innocent people to do her bidding, however horrible it may be.

Abu al-Badri is a terrorist leader who wants to further his cause. By aligning himself with the same wealthy benefactor, he has all he needs to access top targets around the world to wreak unimaginable violence and destruction.

Together Jankovic and al-Badri unleash a coordinated attack that is designed to leave societies and financial markets in ruins and no one richer or more powerful than the Russian standing at the top.

Critique: A work of fiction that has unsettling resonances with what we see happening in today's covert cyber war activities by the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, and United States, "Dark Data: Control, Alt, Delete" by Douglas J. Wood is a darkly prophetic novel that is a simply riveting read from first page to last. While unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dark Data" is also available in a paperback edition (9781733525312, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Witches Protection Program
Michael Okon
www.michaelokon.com
WordFire Press
https://wordfirepress.com
9781614759942, $14.99, PB, 200pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Wes Rockville, a disgraced law-enforcement agent, gets one last chance to prove himself and save his career when he's reassigned to a 232-year-old secret government organization. The Witches Protection Program.

His first assignment: uncover a billion-dollar cosmetics company's diabolical plan to use witchcraft for global domination, while protecting its heiress Morgan Pendragon from her aunt's evil deeds. Reluctantly paired with veteran witch protector, Alastair Verne, Wes must learn to believe in witches...and believe in himself.

Critique: A deftly crafted fantasy novel that adroitly blends humor, adventure and suspense, "Witches Protection Program" by author Michael Okon takes place in an alternative reality -- one in which witchcraft is real and the witches cast spells and wreak havoc among the general populace of a present-day New York City. A consistently entertaining read from cover to cover, "Witches Protection Program" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated fantasy fiction fans that "Witches Protection Program" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

The Missing Spirit
P. J. Maia
https://pjmaia.com
CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781721093632, $14.85, PB, 424pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Set 200,000 years in the past during a grueling Ice Age, immortal gods ruled over cave people, mammoths and saber-toothed-tigers.

15-year-old Keana and her friends have never set foot outside their realm, but they are about to receive the godly powers they have always coveted.

Danger strikes when a forsaken human tribe begins to hunt their elusive paradise, hungry for a piece of their deathless privilege.

Will Keana play by the rules in order to become a goddess or will she be tempted to escape into the human world, even if it costs her the right to live forever?

Critique: Written by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctively entertaining narrative storytelling style, "The Missing Spirit" showcases P. J. Maia's mastery of the fantasy saga genre and will leave her readers looking eagerly toward her next title. While unreservedly recommended for community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated fantasy fans that "The Missing Spirit" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).

REAP 23
J. J. Perry
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.xlibris.com
9781543427424, $29.99, HC, 390pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Future nations, surviving a devastating pandemic, collaborate in the Repopulation, Expansion, and Annexation Program (REAP) designed to send one-way missions to twenty-five potentially habitable moons or planets within five thousand light-years from Earth. Four couples staff each mission with two critical goals: populating the new planet and sending a message back that the orb is habitable.

REAP 23, the twenty-third and longest mission, takes eight months of gravitational acceleration to achieve 70 percent of the speed of light. Despite extensive psychological screening and years of training, the stress of pending hibernation ending in finding a planet that is unsuitable results in conflicts on many levels. Insanity, sabotage, mutiny, violence, adultery, and death mar the ideological journey before entering ultrahibernation under the care of robots for thousands of years. After awakening, the reduced crew faces a deteriorating ship and systems. After orbiting and analyzing the distant planet, they send a message that is instantly delivered, utilizing quantum mechanical entanglement theory regarding the suitability for sustaining human life.

Hundreds of years after the REAP missions departed, geopolitical changes wrought by nature and war obscured the missions, overwritten by subsequent history and buried under a short ice age. Only a small number of people retained the memories that became legend and the basis of a religion based on heroes in rockets sent away in the dawn of space travel to save humanity. This cult, called Reapers, survived over the millennia.

Thousands of years later, Porliche, a graduate student, pursues a faint trail left by the Reapers. She finds lost information of this long-forgotten program and evidence that the bunker built at its inception to receive the messages both exists and has messages from the stellar-bound saints stored within. What she finds changes her world!

Critique: A thoroughly entertaining and deftly scripted saga of a science fiction novel from an author with a genuine flair for originality and a reader engaging narrative storytelling style, "REAP 23" by J. J. Perry is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated science fiction fans that "REAP 23" is also available in a paperback edition (978-1543427417, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Before the Broken Star
Emily R. King
www.emilyrking.com
Skyscape
9781542043786, $16.99, HC, 300pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Everley Donovan is living on borrowed time. The lone survivor of her family's unexplained assassination, she was saved by an ingeniously crafted clockwork heart. But the time she was given won't last forever. Now, every tick-tock reminds her how fragile her existence is and hastens her quest to expose Killian Markham, the navy admiral who shattered her world and left her for dead. But Everley's hunt for justice will be a long and hard-won voyage.

Her journey takes her to a penal colony on a cursed isle, where she will be married off and charged to build the new world. It is here, and beyond, that hidden realms hide, treasures are unearthed, her family secrets are buried, and young love will test the strength of her makeshift heart. When Everley discovers Markham may not be who he seems, her pursuit for truth is bound to his redemption, her tragic history, and her astonishing destiny.

Critique: With "Before the Broken Star", author Emily R. King launches her new fantasy sage series 'The Evermore Chronicles'. An exceptionally entertaining and epic story of a young and adventurous woman who must 'battle time itself to claim her destiny', "Before The Broken Star" will have its riveted readers looking eagerly toward the next installment of this original and wonderfully scripted novel. While unreservedly recommended for community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all fantasy fiction fans that "Before the Broken Star" is also available in a paperback edition (9781542043762, $9.99), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Cinderella -- A Love Story
Gina LoBiondo
http://www.ginalobiondo.com
Nephthys Publications
9780982264812, $20.00, PB, 130pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ella's parents are young and in love and the family is happy until Marie suddenly dies. Her father remarries, hoping to give his beloved child a mother's love and care. But Charles's new wife is a cruel, unaffectionate woman, who cares only for her own two very backward daughters, and turns her step-daughter into a servant. Ten years later, when the King throws a ball in honor of his son, Ella's only chance at happiness comes from a most unexpected source.

Critique: "Cinderella -- A Love Story" by Gina LoBiondo is a new re-working of one of literature's best known and most beloved faerie tales. This time it is set somewhere in mid-16th century Europe. Here are all the elements of the classic including an inseparable bond between mother and child that transcends time and space and even death itself, as well as borrowed magic that enables Ella to attend the ball! A highly recommended fantasy for readers ages 8 to 88, "Cinderella -- A Love Story" is a wonderfully entertaining read from cover to cover and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists, as well as school and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.


The Photography Shelf

Earthforms: Intimate Portraits of Our Planet
Joel Simpson
JSS Books LLC
www.earthforms.net
9780578211220, $39.95, HC, 168pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Earthforms: Intimate Portraits of Our Planet" is an outstanding and beautiful compendium of landscape photography that borders on fine art. Of special note is the inclusion of Geological Time Scale end papers and informative essays by Danny Sheehan, Lyle Rexer, Chase Iron Euyes, and John Farndon.

Critique: A visual joy to browse through page by page, and this superbly crafted and assembled volume of geological photography by Joel Simpson is a very highly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary Photography collections and the supplemental curriculum lists of student geologists. It should be noted for personal reading lists of students, academia, photographers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Earthforms: Intimate Portraits of Our Planet" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Literary Studies Shelf

Damn the Novel
Amr Muneer Dahab
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.authorhouse.com
9781546271307, $23.99, HC, 160pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Amr Muneer Dahab, a Sudanese essayist and poet, is best known for his critical essays tackling controversial cultural, literary, intellectual, and political issues in the Arab world and worldwide. His over twenty years' experience as a columnist in opinion journalism, in addition to his academic engineering degree and relevant practical career, allowed his words to be architected in a skillfully depict reality with honesty, objectivity, and creativity.

In "Damn the Novel: when a Privileged Genre Prevails Over All Forms of Creative Writing" Dahab proposes that it is time to extend our reading arena outside the novel and narrative fiction.

As Dahab notes, life is profound and gorgeous; it deserves to be experienced beyond fantasy! So in "Damn the Novel" he asserts an overt condemnation of all forms of privilege granted to a literary genre over other writing genres.

Though "Damn the Novel" could be perceived as a vociferous cry against the novel per se, it is actually an objective view against the process of perpetuating the delusion that the novel specifically, and narrative fiction in general, should inevitably be the most dominating and influential literary trend.

"Damn the Novel" offers an exciting and challenging reading experience, through which the reader will be able to realize that it is time for literature to embrace a fresh literary atmosphere in which all genres are granted equality to get the same chance to flourish in total freedom without any literary sponsorship.

Critique: An iconoclastic, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from first page to last, "Damn the Novel: when a Privileged Genre Prevails Over All Forms of Creative Writing" is an extraordinary and inherently fascinating literary argument and one that will be of particular interest to writers and readers in general, as well as everyone and anyone who has ever wanted to write 'The Great American Novel' in particular. While very highly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Studies, as well as Writing/Publishing collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Damn the Novel" is also available in a paperback edition (9781546271321, $13.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).


The Self-Help Shelf

Permanent Happiness
Iyabo Y Ojikutu MD
Dr Iyabo's Books & More, Inc.
9780692884898, $14.99, PB, 168pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Dr. Iyabo Ojikutu is a board-certified pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She received her medical degree at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Nigeria. She lives with her two daughters in Atlanta, Georgia, where her practice is based. She actively pursues peace in every area of her life.

Happiness is the world's most sought-after feeling and emotion. As we wake up each morning, we do so hoping to find happiness in all that we experience, whether we are consciously aware of this desire or not. We do, of course, find happiness at different points and phases in our lives. The problem is, this situational happiness tends to be short lived.

We are happy for a few days and then fall back into anxiety, sadness, and/or worry. In "Permanent Happiness" Dr. Ojikutu outlines three easy steps to pursuing permanent happiness. She tackles key life situations we encounter during our daily living and shows how to pursue peace and be positive influencers on those around us.

When our lives are in balance, we discover we let go of the stress and worry that arise when life throws us curveballs. Get ready to be challenged and inspired. More importantly, get ready to learn about and understand permanent happiness and peace from a different perspective!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Permanent Happiness" by Dr. Iyabo Ojikutu is one of those life changing, life enhancing, life celebrating volumes that is as inspired and inspiring as it is 'real world' practical in application and utilization. While very highly and unreservedly recommended for community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Permanent Happiness" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Life Beyond Burnout
Alan Shelton, M.D.
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
www.balboapress.com
9781982210489, $14.99, PB, 190pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Do you dread going to work? Have you become so weary and depleted you can't wait until the end of your shift? Have expanded regulations and limited resources dashed your dreams of caring for the people you serve? Have you lost the joy you once experienced in your job? If so, you are not alone. Burnout is an enormous problem for those in the helping professions.

Author Dr. Alan Shelton knows the pain of burnout. He's struggled through those dark feelings himself. As Clinical Director of the Puyallup Tribal Health Authority, Shelton now oversees a large ambulatory clinic which offers multiple services while seeing his own patients. Not long ago, however, burnout nearly sidelined him. Then a remarkable meeting with a Native Healer gave him surprising insight into his situation.

Instead of resigning or changing professions, Shelton found a way to recover his passion for his work and use his new creative energy to address issues. "Life Beyond Burnout: Recovering Joy in Your Work" traces Dr. Shelton's journey from a depressed, hopeless, and encumbered physician to an energetic, creative, and enthusiastic caregiver.

In this self-help book, Dr. Shelton shares the secrets he discovered while finding his way back. Whatever you do, if it involves helping people, you know how difficult it is to keep giving, day after day. But by rediscovering and growing your inner life, you can recover the joy and excitement you felt when you first began your career.

Critique: An absolute 'must read' for anyone who works with people having problems of any kind to the point where they are contemplating a radical change of career due to frustration, boredom, or disappointment, "Life Beyond Burnout: Recovering Joy in Your Work" should be a part of every community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collection -- And if you have a friend struggling with job burnout, the best thing you can do is to gift them with a copy of this 'real world practical' and effective instructional guide and manual. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Life beyond Burnout: Recovering Joy in Your Work" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.03).


The Native American Studies Shelf

When the Creator Moves Me
Shelley Muniz
Word Project Press
https://wordprojectpress.com
9781732869110, $18.95, PB, 346pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When hippie activists first wound their way on to the Navajo Reservation at Big Mountain, Arizona, what they saw and what they did would influence social and environmental activism in the Black Mesa region for many years to come.

Navajo Grandmothers were being tormented. Water wells had been capped. As a result of corporate interest in uranium and coal extraction, and the passage of the 1974 Navajo/Hopi Land Settlement Act, sheep, goats, cattle, and horses were being confiscated and sacred ceremonial sites desecrated.

In 1994, the activist band, Clan Dyken, followed the lead of their predecessors and made their first annual Beauty Way Supply Run to Big Mountain. "When the Creator Moves Me: A Story about Music, Resistance, and Creative Activism" by Shelley Muniz is the story of both the Big Mountain Dineh, and Clan Dyken -- it is a history of what happened, how they met, and why they have remained in each other's lives for over a quarter of a century.

Critique: Reading with a effortless literary ease that is like listening to an extended conversation, "When the Creator Moves Me: A Story about Music, Resistance, and Creative Activism" is impressively informative, thought-provoking, emotionally evocative, and a valued contribution to the growing body of literature with respect to 20th Century Native American History. A deftly written and detailed account from first page to last, "When the Creator Moves Me" is an extraordinary, erudite, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections.

Editorial Note: Shelley Muniz lives in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, near Sonora, CA. She has been a teacher's aide, an elementary school librarian, and a library specialist for thirty-five years. Her short stories appear in several publications including Wisdom Has a Voice: Every daughter's memories of mother, and Wild Edges.


The Health/Medicine Shelf

Hack Your Health Habits
Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp
www.drnathaliebeauchamp.com
Next Century Publishing
9781681028101, $29.95, PB, 608pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Hack Your Health Habits: Simple, Action-Driven, Natural Health Solutions For People On The Go!" by Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp is the key to feeling great and have more energy than ever before.

The basic premise of "Hack Your Health Habits" is that in this new age of information technology, it can be hard to stay up to date, let alone implement the lifestyle changes necessary to live well. So Dr. Beauchamp put it all together for you and give you a prescription for wellness, -- and even the steps to implement it?

"Hack Your Health Habits" will help you: Simplify confusing health information, and deciphering what is real and what is hype; Save tons of time by cutting to the chase and providing actionable health solutions; Learn how to think critically and personalize your health decisions; Stay current with the latest advancements in natural health; Spark your motivation and keep you accountable.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Hack Your Health Habits: Simple, Action-Driven, Natural Health Solutions For People On The Go!" is an ideal educational and information resource for the non-specialist general reader wanting to maximize their health by controlling their lifestyle and habits. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Health & Medicine collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hack Your Health Habits" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Poetry Shelf

Just Beyond Your Fingers
Placidus Henry
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
www.lulu.com
9781483496399, $10.90, PB, 68pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: As a young adult, Brother Placidus Henry had several experiences that he interpreted as invitations to get close to God. But like the prodigal son, he developed a taste for the world, ignored the quiet calls of the Spirit, and became lost. Eventually he became a counselor, a profession that allowed him to work with lost people and find both himself and poetry.

"Just Beyond Your Fingers: Poems in Search of Spirit" is comprised of the best of his religious poetry highlighting the moments in life when we search for and meet the universal Spirit. Though Christian in orientation, it is open to all religious traditions and to all people who walk in peace.

Humanity is facing a chaotic period of radical change, cultural clashes, and religious confusion and conflict. These verses suggest moments of deep peace and clarity within a time of chaos and confusion, especially for modern pilgrims. This collection of poetry explores the search for the Spirit through the human life cycle, reflecting an aesthetic of emotion, clarity, and spontaneity.

Critique: Showcasing a genuine flair of engaging his readers through the emotive and reflecting images of language, the poetry of Placidus Henry is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring. A little volume of verse that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "Just Beyond Your Fingers: Poems in Search of Spirit" is very highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library Contemporary American Poetry collections.


The Theatre/Cinema Shelf

Road to Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History
Manny Pacheco
Book Publishers Network
https://www.forgottenhollywood.com/about
9781948963084, $18.95, PB, 178pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Author Manny Pacheco has enjoyed a growing acclaim through his Forgotten Hollywood Book Series, which is now included in the library collections of the Hollywood Heritage Museum, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, American Film Institute, among others. He's currently in production to turn his literary work into a Forgotten Hollywood Documentary. A Southern California television and radio personality for over three decades, Manny currently is a Traffic Anchor on KNX 10-70 News Radio; and was on NBC's Santa Barbara, and co-hosted the Daytime Emmy-nominated In Studio on KCOP.

In "Road to Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History", Pacheco has compiled and presents a wealth of fascinating and often obscure facts and history-making moments about a roster of character actors that were key to establishing the Golden Era of American studio movie making. Pacheco's informative website can be accessed at https://www.forgottenhollywood.com/about.

Critique: Focusing on the men and women who made their film careers as 'character' actors, the "Road to Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History" is an impressively informative and exceptionally well organized presentation -- and one that will prove to be a core and essential addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library American Film History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.


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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