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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 12 December 2019 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Christmas Shelf Psychology Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Political Science Shelf LGBT Studies Shelf
Hobby Shelf General Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf African-American Studies Shelf Christian Studies Shelf
Self-Help Shelf Business Shelf Photography Shelf
Art Shelf Cookbook Shelf Biography Shelf


Reviewer's Choice

Coyotes in the Pasture & Wolves at the Door
John Jamison, author
Sukey Jamison, author
Christopher Hirsheimer, illustrator
Word Association Publishers
http://www.wordassociation.com
9781633852693, $35.00, PB, 198pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In 1985, Sukey and John Jamison started a farm business with two mortgages, three kids, and no job. They started raising lambs on grass, developed a mail order business, got discovered by many of the chefs who were fueling the Food Revolution, bought a USDA meat plant, and somehow educated their three kids whom they hoped would support them in their golden years.

There story is told in the pages of "Coyotes in the Pasture & Wolves at the Door: Stories and Recipes from Our Farm to Your Table" as Sukey and John relate how they dodged the bullets of under-capitalization, learned how to farm sustainably, and made Jamison Farm Lamb a staple on the menus of the best restaurants in the country. Of special note is that "Coyotes in the Pasture and Wolves at the Door" includes photos and some of Sukey's own recipes.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and fun read from cover to cover, "Coyotes in the Pasture & Wolves at the Door: Stories and Recipes from Our Farm to Your Table" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Coyotes in the Pasture & Wolves at the Door" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

A Third Place: Notes in Nature
Bob Kunzinger
MadVille Publishing
https://madvillepublishing.com
9781948692168, $16.95, PB, 144pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A Third Place exists in the extremes, pinpointing the details in nature which demand attention, and finding within those details our place in the bigger picture. Set in a series of observations and experiences, "A Third Place: Notes in Nature" by Bob Kunzinger on the one hand brings us all closer to nature through the eyes of the author yet makes us wonder if he has been following us around on our afternoon excursions.

Critique: An absorbing read from cover to cover, "A Third Place: Notes in Nature" clearly documents author Bob Kunzinger as an especially gifted writer and essayist who is able to engage and keep his reader's thoughtful attention from beginning to end. "A Third Place: Notes in Nature" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library collections.

Tales of Tara: The Awakening
Tara Shen
https://www.tarashen.com
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
www.balboapress.com
9781982221393, $28.95, HC, 108pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Tales of Tara: The Awakening" is the true-life story of author Tara Shen's spiritual awakening as her past that was repressed surfaces and rocks her world and feeling like an emotional roller-coaster careening up and down, back and forth, moment to moment.

Tara realizes that all is happening for a reason, and she believes she will come through it. She had faith in the process and many guides. The foundation of her world is ripped out from under her. The present challenges she faces of violence, her divorce and death of her mother hardly compare to her horrific past that she is reliving. She pieces together the truth of her past as memories from the past are triggered by violence in the present day.

Critique: A compulsive page turner and simply riveting read from first page to last, "Tales of Tara: The Awakening" is an extraordinary and deftly crafted memoir that will prove to be a unique and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Tales of Tara: The Awakening" is also available in a paperback edition (9781982221409, $8.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Stealing Cinderella
Mark D. Diehl
Fencetree Productions, LLC
9781732819931, $16.00, PB, 346pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Stealing Cinderella: How I Became an International Fugitive for Love" is the personal story of author Mark D. Diehl who, when he showed up in South Korea with $20 and a dubious offer to teach English, met Jennifer, who was the wickedly smart, fiercely independent second daughter of one of Korea's most influential families.

They fell in love in a country where even sitting together brought angry stares, taunts, and threats. Their employer forbade us from seeing each other, but they continued in secret. Eventually, Jennifer's family became suspicious and had her followed. Their efforts to separate the two young lovers in the days after that were relentless and violent. They were forced to abandon everything and flee to Hong Kong, where they were to find their situation only becoming more dire.

Critique: Reading with all the suspense of a thriller novel, "Stealing Cinderella" is a deftly written and true life account is an inherently riveting read from beginning to end. While unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Stealing Cinderella" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).


The Christmas Shelf

The Gospel of Santa Claus
Wayne A. Van Der Wal
Privately Published
http://www.thegospelofsantaclaus.com
9781732771000 $14.95 pbk / $4.95 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: It's Christmas Eve, and a troubled Joe and Mary and their three children are taking the train to visit family. Suddenly, a bearded stranger with a twinkle in his eye takes a seat and begins spinning a provocative tale that intrigues, delights, and inspires.

Masterfully weaving past and present through story, lessons, and devotions, The Gospel of Santa Claus follows the incredible story of Saint Nicholas, born in third century A.D., who overcomes childhood tragedy, feels called by God to take a vow of poverty, endures horrific persecution for his religious faith, and goes on to become one of the most beloved, generous, loving, and famous figures in human history.

A meaningful, touching story to be shared with the entire family, Wayne Van Der Wal's powerful debut historical novel will raise important questions, ignite hope, and reaffirm your faith in God and the human spirit.

Critique: A historical novel based closely on the true-life story of Saint Nicholas (270-342), The Gospel of Santa Claus is a saga that celebrates Christmas as a time of joy, faith in God, and love for one's fellow human beings. The Gospel of Santa Claus is a delight to read from cover to cover, and highly recommended for personal browsing or as a holiday gift. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Gospel of Santa Claus is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.95).


The Psychology Shelf

Curing Psychological Symptoms
Henry Kellerman
AMHF
http://americanmentalhealthfoundation.org
9781590566046, $115.00, HC, 176pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Curing Psychological Symptoms" was specifically written by Dr. Henry Kellerman for clinicians as well as the curious non-specialist general reader. "Curing Psychological Symptoms" examines psychological symptoms such as obsessions, compulsions, and phobias by using a symptom code to unravel, and then cure, the symptom.

The unfortunate fact is that psychotherapists have never really had a map or an instruction manual that they could follow so that any symptom could be unlocked and cured. Even though psychotherapists know a great deal about the processes of psychotherapeutic treatment, nowhere is there any spelled-out technique that they systematically could use to penetrate the symptom and then cure it.

"Curing Psychological Symptoms" is more than a technical treatise. It considers 10 fascinating cases to show how Dr. Kellerman's methods have worked over a half-century of private practice. A majority among those profiled do not require medication, some do. In addition to discussing the cure, Dr. Kellerman employs a way to struggle better, with the objective of learning how to utilize the symptom code.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Curing Psychological Symptoms" is a unique and impressively informative study that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Psychology & Psychiatry reference collections. While immanently suitable as a curriculum textbook, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, practitioners, and members of the general public with an interest in the subject that "Curing Psychological Symptoms" is also available in a paperback edition ( 9781590566053, $15.00).


The Health/Medicine Shelf

How a Nursing Home Works
Peter D. Busacca
AuthorHouse
www.authorhouse.com
9781546276302, $26.99, HC, 110pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Nursing homes provide residential care for elderly or disabled people. Nursing homes may also be referred to as old people's homes, care homes, rest homes, convalescent homes, convalescent care, sheltered living facilities, skilled nursing or long-term facilities. Often, these terms have slightly different meanings to indicate whether the institutions are public or private, and whether they provide mostly assisted living, or nursing care and emergency medical care. Nursing homes are used by people who do not need to be in a hospital, but cannot be cared for at home. The nursing home facility nurses have the responsibilities of caring for the patients' medical needs and also the responsibility of being in charge of other employees, depending on their ranks. Most nursing homes have nursing aides and skilled nurses on hand 24 hours a day. (Wikipedia)

Peter D. Busacca, BA, MBA, ACHA, LNHA has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 2003. He has a Bachelor of Arts in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics, a Masters of Business Administration, an Advanced Certificate in Health Administration, and is a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator in the State of New York.

In "How a Nursing Home Works", Busacca draws upon his years of experience and expertise to take readers through each department of a nursing home to show them the complexities of what goes on there to deliver quality care to the patient/resident. Healthcare is the fastest-growing sector of the economy, so a young person thinking of a career in healthcare could see what they are going to get themselves into. A family member who has a loved one in a nursing home can learn more about the process. Someone who works in a nursing home can see what goes on in other departments.

Critique: Offering an expertly presented, succinctly comprehensive, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' overview of the services provided in nursing home care, "How A Nursing Home Works" is an ideal introduction for prospective residents and their families. Also available in a paperback edition (9781546276319, $13.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99), "How A Nursing Home Works" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, senior citizen center, academic, and nursing home library collections.


The Political Science Shelf

Do We Have A Center?
Walter Frank
Independently Published
9780578541051, $18.95, PB, 256pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Politics was once described as the art of the possible. It no longer feels that way. Today, it seems more like a battle between two feudal armies. Part of "Do We Have A Center?: 2016, 2020, and the Challenge of the Trump Presidency" by Walter Frank is aimed at showing it doesn't have to be that way. Polarization didn't start with Trump and it won't end with him unless we can somehow rescue the country from the political ditch into which it has fallen.

So another primary purpose of "Do We Have A Center?" is to examine just how we got here and how the Democrats, with the right kind of message and an appealing candidate, can lead the way to a more sensible politics.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton made a terrible mistake: she thought she could win if she simply replicated the Obama coalition. She was wrong and examining why she was wrong, how she misunderstood the electorate, and how and why an outsider like Donald Trump turned out to be the more effective candidate, is also a key purpose of "Do We Have A Center?".

Critique: As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is informed and informative, "Do We Have A Center?: 2016, 2020, and the Challenge of the Trump Presidency" is a timely and useful contribution to our on-going national dialogue with respect to the on-coming 2020 presidential campaign that is already underway. Especially recommended for the personal reading lists of political activists, governmental policy makers, academia's political scientists and students, as well as non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, that "Do We Have A Center?" should be a part of every community, college, and university library's Contemporary Political Science collection and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

The Constitution Needs a Good Party
James Anthony
Neuwoehner Press
www.bookshout.com/publishers/neuwoehner-press
9781948177009, $28.99, HC, 252pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A chemical engineer with a master's degree in mechanical engineering, James Anthony has spent his career researching proven solutions and reusing them for new applications. In "The Constitution Needs a Good Party: Good Government Comes from Good Boundaries" he has turned his attention to the field of contemporary American political science in general, and what has gone so wrong with U.S. politics today in particular.

His fundamental assessment is that our current political representatives in both the Republican and Democratic parties have ignored the Constitution in the flawed execution of their sworn duties.

But his proposed solution is as simple as it would be effective. What is needed is to design a political party with the goal and mission to elect representatives who will fully use their constitutional powers, keeping our government within its required good boundaries. This would leave us all free to pursue happiness ourselves.

In the pages of "The Constitution Needs a Good Party" Anthony explains: Why every election leaves us with a solid majority of Progressive Democrats + Progressive Republicans, who violate the Constitution; How to list these violations as the grievances in a new party's declaration of independence from past parties, creating a pledge to support the Constitution through specific actions; How to reuse the Constitution to structure a new party to keep the grassroots in charge; How the Constitution-respecting presidents George Washington and Ronald Reagan were the most electable ever: How a well-designed party would not have been rigged in 2016 to nominate Donald Trump, and the party's grassroots would have nominated Ted Cruz.

The promise of "The Constitution Needs a Good Party" is that when the United States followed the Constitution better from 1789 through 1913, Americans and their governments changed the world -- and by returning to the Constitution we can once again change the world for the betterment of us all.

Critique: The principle that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely was what motivated the framers of our American Constitution to create a document for our Republican style Democracy that embodied the concept of a separation of powers between the congressional, the administrative, and the judicial. Each branch of the federal government was to keep a check upon the other two in order to avoid what would otherwise inevitably result in that feared corruption.

There is a corollary to that political principle regarding the corruptive tendency of political power. It is the observation that "Money corrupts and big money corrupts big time". And we see that principle at work as well in terms of the increasing erosion of Constitutional governance and our role in that corruption that major political parties have contributed to over the last decade.

Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Constitution Needs a Good Party: Good Government Comes from Good Boundaries" is as insightfully thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is ultimately hopeful and inspiring. An especially timely and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library American Political Science collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, social activists, political reformers, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, that "The Constitution Needs a Good Party" is also available in a paperback edition (9781948177016, $13.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Not One Normal Day
Berl Falbaum
Independently Published
9781705550977, $16.95, PB, 356pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Not One Normal Day - Trumpedia: A Tome of Lies, Scandal, Corruption and Much More" is a compilation of more than 100 critical columns on Donald Trump which were originally published in Michigan newspapers. The columns start with Trump's presidential candidacy and covers Trump's administration through October 2019.

"Not One Normal Day" points out that for four years we have had daily scandals, controversies, corruption and a president who, according to fact-checkers, has told some 13,500 lies during his 993 days in office --- roughly 13.5 lies a day.

Critique: No other president in the whole of American history has been such a compulsive liar about things big and small, consequential and irrelevant as Donald J. Trump. Yet his dedication to untruthfulness has never been a 'deal breaker' of a liability in the eyes of his dedicated supporters -- most of whom are willing to acknowledge his perverse constant and daily stream of falsehoods. "Not One Normal Day" provides a complete documentation to Trump's daily diet of lies, half-truths, obfuscation, and perjuries. While very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Contemporary Political Science collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Not One Normal Day" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).


The LGBT Studies Shelf

HomoAmerican - The Secret Society
Michael Dane
Independently Published
www.homoamerican.com
9780578463285, $24.95, HC, 500pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In this current climate of post truth and subjective realities, of grappling for social recognition and change, it is important that we recognize our past and the challenges that ignited the gay rights movement. With the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion just behind us, "HomoAmerican - The Secret Society" by Michael Dane remembers that time through the eyes of a witness who grew up in a world where we were invisible -- not merely the tale of a gay man growing up in America, but a firsthand, disturbing and yet often hilarious portrait of those turbulent and confusing times.

In ghettos and in stereotypes there is an underlying thread of a war, not with society at large, but with ourselves -- and the cost of acceptance is always denial. We see the past being whitewashed and erased to conform to popular tastes. As a result of conspicuous rebellion, that of simply being and not living in disguise, HomoAmerican presents another society, a kind of Secret Society, comprised of people who have grown up and survived, despite a world where lies of omission shape our destiny and keep us apart.

For those who, despite the dangers, lived defiantly and openly through those dark times, free of convention we wander along dangerous paths in search our own; we confront the confines of society and pursue the promise and myths of sexual liberation at our own peril. As an openly gay man in Iran, as witness to the lavish extravagances and social horror of apartheid South Africa, arrested for murder in Paris and for prostitution in New York, reinvented and reborn in silence Michael Dane recounts a very personal journey of that man, being pieced together, bit-by-bit, out of shadows.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively informative, notably thoughtful and thought-provoking, "HomoAmerican - The Secret Society" is a deftly crafted history that is both intensely personal and at the same time universal in scope and subject. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library LGBTQ collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "HomoAmerican - The Secret Society" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Easing Out: Accepting My Gay Self
Seth Vicarson
Quarry Creek Press
https://quarrycreekpress.com
9781732350106 $14.95 pbk / $7.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: A straight-from-the-heart autobiography of gay denial that portrays the author's upbringing in the Bible-Belt South by loving, yet conservative evangelical parents. Humorous as well as agonizing stories filled with attempts to become straight are weaved throughout the authentic narrative. When the battle was finally won, other challenges loomed. Easing Out is a fascinating book that offers thought-provoking insights, understanding, and encouragement for others who are grappling with their own conflicts, as well as for those who love and support them. LGBT resources are included at the end of the story.

Critique: Florida native Seth Vicarson presents Easing Out: Accepting My Gay Self, a candid, no-holds-barred autobiography of the ups and downs of 65 years, and the difficult process of coming to terms with his own sexual identity. America was not always as welcoming toward its own LGBT citizens as it is today, and even now the degree of acceptance varies widely depending on where in the nation one happens to reside. Easing Out is features not only vivid memories and moments, but also the difficult labor of constructing one's own path toward happiness and well-being. Easing Out is highly recommended not only for readers coming to terms with their own identity, but also for friends and family members of LGBTQ individuals who wish to better understand their loved ones. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Easing Out is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).


The Hobby Shelf

Incredible LEGO Creations from Space with Bricks You Already Have
Sarah Dees
Page Street Publishing
www.pagestreetpublishing.com
9781624149108, $16.99, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Now kids can turn their bucket of LEGO(R) bricks into fun new space expeditions -- complete with epic spaceships, kooky aliens and cool vehicles! Bestselling author and unmatched LEGO mastermind Sarah Dees showcases 25 new, out-of-this-world projects to launch playtime to a whole new level.

Every amazing LEGO creation is assembled from bricks already owned, and comes with step-by-step instructions, detailed picture guides and helpful parts lists. While building epic LEGO landscapes, kids ages 6-12 will get to know the fun adventure stories that go along with them. Each chapter has a lovable, rag-tag team of fearless space explorers, daring astronauts, smart scientists and dangerous aliens to explore and travel with. Fly the Galaxy 10 Space Shuttle and help Captain Cal Galvian get safely to Planet Plexar. Man the Police Cruiser Space Jail with officers Carlos and Astrid. Build a whole Space Station, complete with a Flight Simulator, a Weightlessness Trainer and a Rocket Launch Pad to prepare future astronauts Garrett and Levi for liftoff.

Critique: An absolute 'must' for dedicated LEGO fans, "Incredible LEGO Creations from Space with Bricks You Already Have" is unreservedly recommended and will provide endless hours of pure LEGO fun and creativity! Although "Incredible LEGO Creations from Space with Bricks You Already Have" is accessible to young people ages 6-12, the hands-on projects will appeal to LEGO hobbyists of all ages.

Editorial Note: Sarah Dees is the author of Awesome LEGO Creations with Bricks You Already Have, Epic LEGO Adventures with Bricks You Already Have and Genius LEGO Inventions with Bricks You Already Have. She is also the founder of the kid's activity blog Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls.


The General Fiction Shelf

Convergence
Scott Gulyas
www.facebook.com/SocttGulyasAuthor
Buckeye Publishing
9780999318607, $12.95, PB, 226pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The three teenage friends stood in the pitch dark of the cave. The only sounds were that of their breathing and the water drips echoing off the cavern walls as it seeped through the floor of the woods above them. The small light beams from their headlamps illuminated the narrow cavern passageway. Ham led the way as they squeezed through the tight crevice -- nervous about going deeper, but excited about what may lie ahead. Ham, John, and Mary J are no different from the typical high school teenagers growing up in the small town of Danville, Ohio until they find something in the cave. A discovery that will change their lives and the lives of everyone in Danville -- forever.

Critique: An impressively well crafted and inherently riveting novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctively reader engaging narrative storytelling style, "Convergence" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Convergence" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

101
Tom Pitts
Down & Out Books
https://downandoutbooks.com
9781948235389, $16.95, PB, 276pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: On the cusp of pot legalization in California, Jerry runs afoul of some San Francisco bikers in the marijuana game. He flees straight up Highway 101 to Humboldt County to hide out deep in the hills at Vic's, a reclusive pot farmer and old pal of his tough-as-nails mother. But trouble finds Jerry no matter where he goes and soon the bikers, a pair of stone killers, and a Russian weed tycoon named Vlad the Inhaler are all hot on Jerry's trail.

Fallout from the unfolding chaos piques the interest of SFPD detective, Roland Mackie, when he learns Jerry's host, Vic, is somehow involved. It opens a twenty-year-old wound, an unsolved case called the Fulton Street Massacre, and Mackie is willing to do whatever it takes to get a pair of cuffs on the elusive Vic.

When Jerry and his protectors are chased off the mountain and back down the 101 to an inevitable showdown back in the Bay, he learns Vic is much more than his host, he's a mentor, his mother's hero, and the toughest man he's ever met.

Critique: An inherently riveting novel by a master of the storytelling arts with a genuine flair for originality and vividly memorable characters, "101" by Tom Pitts will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction and Crime Thriller collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "101" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Animating Principle
Darin Graves
AuthorHouse
www.authorhouse.com
9781546266464, $23.99, HC, 110pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In the pages of "Animating Principle", author Darin Graves presents his reader with questions whether or not the main character, Jim, can sin against what he believes in and still pass into heaven's gates.

Wealthy yet sad through his entire life, Jim has his whole life stolen from him as he loses his loved one. He asks, "Will revenge somehow make my life better? Will killing another human being who may or may not be guilty show how I am happy exploring the vastness of heaven?"

"Animating Principle" aptly covers a range of topics-dreams, desires, law, and order. What should we do with criminals? Individual changes and cultures can influence how a person feels. Pure love is growing with Jim and Allicia, and because of that, they change. "Animating Principle" is the story of their entire lives, how their future and pasts altered.

Critique: A unique and deftly scripted work of fiction that is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inherently fascinating and entertaining a read from cover to cover, "Animating Principle" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Animating Principle" is also available in a paperback edition (9781546266457, $13.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.03).

Special Investigative Reporter
Malcolm R. Campbell
Thomas-Jacob Publishing
http://www.thomas-jacobpublishing.com
9781950750238, $16.99, HC, 220pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In this satirical and somewhat insane lament about the fall of traditional journalism into an abyss of news without facts, Special Investigative Reporter Jock Stewart specializes in tracking down Junction City's inept and corrupt movers and shakers for his newspaper The Star-Gazer.

Since Stewart is not a team player, he doesn't trust anyone, especially colleagues and news sources. Stewart, who became a reporter back in the days when real newsmen were supposed to smoke and drink themselves to death while fighting to get the scoop before their competition sobered up, isn't about to change.

Stewart's girlfriend leaves him, the mayor's racehorse is stolen, people are having sex in all the wrong places (whatever that means), and townspeople have fallen into the habit of sneaking around and lying to reporters and cops. Sure, everyone lies to the cops, but reporters expect gospel truths or else.

Stewart may get himself killed doing what he was taught to do in journalism school, but that's all in a day's work.

Critique: A riveting great read from first page to last, "Special Investigative Reporter" showcases author Malcom R. Campbell's impressive narrative storytelling talents. 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 "Special Investigative Reporter" is also available in a paperback edition (9781950750221, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note: Malcolm R. Campbell is an author of magical realism (Conjure Woman's Cat, Eulalie and Washerwoman, Lena, and Florida Folk Magic Stories) and fantasy (The Sun Singer, Sarabande, At Sea, and Mountain Song). His work has appeared in The Lascaux Prize 2014 Anthology; Spirits of St. Louis: Missouri Ghost Stories Anthology; Quail Bell Magazine; A View inside Glacier National Park: 100 years, 100 Stories; Future Earth Magazine; The Smoking Poet Magazine; Nonprofit World Magazine; Nostalgia Magazine; and Living Jackson Magazine.

Dreaming the Marsh
Elizabeth McCulloch
Twisted Road Publications
https://twistedroadpublications.com
9781940189260, $18.95, PB, 224pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Mother Nature has had enough and a day of reckoning is coming, foretold by words that mysteriously appear on the side of a shiny new building. When the reckoning arrives, in the form of a giant sinkhole that swallows the site of a planned development, a large lake, and several miles of interstate highway, the citizens of Opakulla, Florida struggle to understand what is happening. A geologist wants to study it, the developers relish its wild beauty, and the mayor plans to stop it. Only the owner of a local cafe, who speaks with the Ancients, understands it, and she isn't telling!

Critique: An inherently fascinating environmental fable, "Dreaming the Marsh" artfully showcases author Elizabeth McCulloch's genuine flair for originality and a distinctively reader engaging narrative storytelling style. The result is a genuinely entertaining and unexpectedly thought-provoking novel that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dreaming the Marsh" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.69).

Editorial Note: Elizabeth McCulloch has been writing fiction for thirty years, and her blog, "The Feminist Grandma", for the last eight years.

Reverent Whisper
Chetna Asmi
https://www.chetnaasmi.com
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
www.balboapress.com
9781504317276, $16.99, PB, 234pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Jimmy Digne is an ordinary, basically good guy who doesn't care if the world is saved or not. He believes the planet will continue to evolve, even if humans do not exist because Jimmy knows full well that saving the world begins and ends with the power of the human mind.

As he puts pen to paper and begins contemplating the world around him, Jimmy shares not just his own story, but also the stories of others in order to make himself appear more interesting. Jimmy starts by looking back to the beginning when, as a boy, he was put through the rigors of society's programming, the expectations of who he should be, what he should do, and how to do it.

During his search for his identity, the meaning of life, and his purpose, an imaginary friend guides him on his journey. But to Jimmy, the imaginary might just seem real. After all, the mind is a powerful thing and nothing is ever what it seems.

"Reverent Whisper" reveals the story of a young man as he reflects back on his life in order to find the truth about himself and the world around him.

Critique: A unique and inherently interesting novel about an unusually insightful and thoughtful man and the people he comes into contact with, "Reverent Whisper" will prove to be a very special addition to both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reverent Whisper" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Beyond the Fences
Muriel W. Sheubrooks
Archway Publishing
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781480876248, $44.95, HC, 506pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: It is the late 1940s as little Marilyn White grows up in tranquil Kentucky farm country, distant from the countries ravaged by the Second World War. Surrounded by a loving, supportive family, Marilyn's life experiences take her through incredible obstacles and personal growth as her younger sister struggles with a paralyzing illness. As she matures and decides to study in Milan, Marilyn begins executing a plan to achieve her dreams.

As her journey leads her to take flight into the world, Marilyn is catapulted into a dichotomy between freedom gained from worldly experience and protection secured from familiarity. When fate takes the ambitious Marilyn into the sophisticated European industry of high fashion, she finds herself blindsided by those who helped her reach her career goals. While resolving to adhere to family loyalty, Marilyn learns dark, profound secrets from her aging mother that propel her on a new path where she must make dramatic life choices with confidence and resolution.

In this coming-of-age tale, a Kentucky farm girl matures into a young woman full of big dreams as her life's journey leads her into the European fashion industry and to discovering her true identity.

Critique: Unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, "Beyond the Fences" is a deftly scripted and thoroughly reader engaging novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctive narrative storytelling style perfectly suited to the creation of a saga style work of simply outstanding literature. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Beyond the Fences" is also available in a paperback edition (9781480876231, $33.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

A Ferrie Tale
David T. Beddow
Archway Publishing
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781480865341, $44.95, HC, 516pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Through the night after JFK was assassinated, a quirky New Orleans man named David Ferrie drove from the Big Easy, rain beating on his windshield, to a deserted ice skating rink in Houston, arriving at three fifteen in the morning. After nervously making several payphone calls then and the next day from the rink, Ferrie turned around and headed home, where he was immediately arrested for conspiring to murder the president. Why? And why, thirty-nine months later, on the verge of being rearrested for the same crime, did he suddenly and suspiciously die?

"A Ferrie Tale" vividly paints a memorable picture of the life of a complex man-commercial pilot, amateur Catholic priest, weekend scientist, hypnotist, detective, pianist, practicing psychologist, criminal. Appearing throughout the mosaic of his improbable story are the likes of mobster Carlos Marcello, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, a crafty Cuban exile named Sergio Arcacha Smith, cancer researcher Dr. Mary Sherman, DA Jim Garrison. Strippers. Gamblers. Popping in and out is an unlikely trio bound together by their tangled connections to JFK-Frank Sinatra, Chicago kingpin Sam Giancana, and JFK girlfriend Judith Campbell.

The seductive and decadent city of New Orleans, the most unique and operatic city in America, provides the beat to this tale. Over time New Orleans's citizens have been suffused with an amuse-yourself attitude-sometimes reasonable, sometimes not-that affected events in Ferrie's life. "In this town," as Ferrie was wont to say, "the craziest things make perfect sense."

Critique: "A Ferrie Tale" by author David T. Beddow is a thoroughly engaging, deftly scripted, multilayered, historical fiction novel that will hold the readers full and rapt attention from beginning to end -- making it a certain and enduringly interesting addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Ferrie Tale" is also available in a paperback edition (9781480865334, $33.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Mama Hissa's Mice
Saud Alsanousi, author
Sawad Hussain, translator
Amazon Crossing
9781542042178, $24.95, HC, 400pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Growing up together in the Surra section of central Kuwait, Katkout, Fahd, and Sadiq share neither ethnic origin nor religious denomination -- only friendship and a rage against the unconscionable sectarian divide turning their lives into war-zone rubble. To lay bare the ugly truths, they form the protest group Fuada's Kids. Their righteous transgressions have made them targets of both Sunni and Shi'a extremists. They've also elicited the concern of Fahd's grandmother, Mama Hissa, a story-spinning font of piety, wisdom, superstition, and dire warnings, who cautions them that should they anger God, the sky will surely fall.

Then one day, after an attack on his neighborhood leaves him injured, Katkout regains consciousness. His friends are nowhere to be found. Inundated with memories of his past, Katkout begins a search for them in a world that has become unrecognizable but not forsaken.

Critique: Moving through decades of Kuwaiti history well into a cataclysmic twenty-first century, "Mama Hissa's Mice" is a harrowing, emotional, and caustic novel of rebellion. It also speaks to the universal struggle of finding one's identity and a reason to go on, even after the sky has fallen. Ably translated into English for an American readership by Sawad Hussain, "Mama Hissa's Mice" by author Saud Alsanousi is a deftly crafted and inherently fascinating novel that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Saud Alsanousi is a Kuwaiti novelist and journalist born in 1981. He won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for The Bamboo Stalk in 2013, and Mama Hissa's Mice was nominated for the 2016/17 Sheikh Zayed Book Award. His first novel, The Prisoner of Mirrors, was published in 2010 and won the fourth Laila al-Othman Prize, a prestigious award for novels and short stories by young writers. He also won first prize for his story "The Bonsai and the Old Man" in the July 2011 Stories on the Air competition organized by Al-Arabi magazine with BBC Arabic. In October 2016, the Gulf Cooperation Council presented Alsanousi with the Contribution to Literature Award in Riyadh. His work has appeared in a number of Kuwaiti publications, including Al-Watan newspaper and Al-Arabi, Al-Kuwait, and Al-Abwab magazines. He currently writes for Al-Qabas newspaper.

In Dante's Footsteps: My Journey to Hell
Charles Patterson
www.charleswpatterson.com
Christian Faith Publishing
www.christianfaithpublishing.com
9781642993547, $38.95, HC, 652pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "In Dante's Footsteps: My Journey to Hell" by Charles Patterson is a modern divine comedy that is based on the original Divine Comedy that Dante wrote 700 years ago and tells the story of Tom Reed and how his early interest in Dante inspired him to make his own viaggio (journey) to the Underworld.

After describing Tom's church upbringing and his joining, then leaving the church, the story continues in the Underworld (a.k.a. Hell) with a cast of characters Dante never could have imagined: Tanya, the CEO; Umberto, the Guest Master; Rachel, a young Dante scholar from Berkeley; visitors from China, India, Kenya, and Germany; and famous people in history woken up from the Big Nap for a "Great Minds and Personalities" conference attended by such greats as Socrates, Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc, Einstein, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Groucho Marx. Tom also visits his father who's in a "Purgatory precinct" and talks to Hashem, his "wife" Naomi, and somebody called Satan who wears a cowboy hat and walks with a swagger.

The climax of Tom's viaggio is his visit to the Crusaders who used to be in charge because he wants to include them in the book he plans to write that could make him the next Dante. However, because the Crusaders disapprove of his being a "defrocked priest," when he arrives, they withdraw their invitation and put him on trial.

After he survives his ordeal with the help of Wanda (an ex-nun), members of GETA (Ghosts for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and Dante himself, Tom is taken to the exit and resurfaces in New Jersey where Beatrice, his college girlfriend with whom he's back in contact, is waiting for him. Dante had his Beatrice (one of the great love stories of world literature), so why shouldn't Tom have his?

Critique: An inherently fascinating, original and multi-story thread read, "In Dante's Footsteps: My Journey to Hell" is a complex and compelling saga by an author with a genuine flair for reader engaging storytelling. While unreservedly recommended for community library general fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "In Dante's Footsteps: My Journey to Hell" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Still Come Home
Katey Schultz
Apprentice House Press
https://www.apprenticehouse.com
9781627202305, $26.99, HC, 264pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The three main characters in Katey Schultz's novel, "Still Come Home" are each searching for the best way to be, the best way to live -- all the while fighting cultural, societal, and political forces far beyond their control. As their paths intersect over the span of three days, Still Come Home explores how their decisions will forever alter each other's lives.

Aaseya, an ambitious, educated Afghan girl, struggles to walk the line between social disgrace and faith that her hometown of Imar can unharden and heal. Though she cannot bear her older husband, Rahim, a child, and she suspects her sister-in-law played a part in her family's murder, Aaseya maintains self-reliance and dignity by rebelling against the misogyny and violence surrounding her.

Second Lieutenant Nathan Miller blames himself for the death of a soldier under his command and worries that his constant absence from his North Carolina home has permanently damaged his marriage. Though he believes his final mission is purely about "winning hearts and minds," nothing could be further from the truth. As he leads Spartan Platoon to the remote village of Imar, a dangerous plot, much larger than the mission itself, unfolds.

When Rahim learns that the Taliban, whom he reluctantly works for, are hatching this violent plan, conflicting loyalties to country, to enduring peace, and to his young wife take all three down a road that will change their lives forever.

Exploring the tensions between loyalty to self and loyalty to country, "Still Come Home" reveals how three vastly different lives meet this challenge head-on, learning first-hand that remaining true to one's self is the only way to survive, no matter the cost.

Critique: Showcasing a genuine literary talent in the form of an inherently reader engaging narrative storytelling style, author Katey Schultz's deftly scripted novel "Still Come Home" is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Still Come Home" is also available in a paperback edition (978-1627202312, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.29).

Ascending Power
Malcolm Gibson
Independently Published
9781633372900, $15.00, PB, 350pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: NFL star quarterback Billy Strikeleather is living the dream -- he has a beautiful wife, adoring fans, and a multi-million-dollar mansion. But when an injury sidelines him permanently, he turns to the bottle for solace. With the DWIs piling up, his marriage hits the rocks and his self-confidence is shaken.

Feeling unmoored, Billy warily responds to a call from his uncle, returning to his childhood home on the Chinati reservation in rural west Texas to help the old man investigate a troubling mystery. Something's been contaminating the reservation's hot springs, and Uncle Sam Longbird is hoping Billy can help him uncover the truth.

The water is contaminated, all right. The deep springs have brought to the surface a rare mineral that could disrupt the global energy market and make the tribe wealthy beyond its imaginings. This may be Billy's one chance to restore his tribe's fortunes and prove his value not only to his people, but to himself.

But when Longbird narrowly avoids death at the hands of a mysterious gunman, Billy realizes someone will kill to keep that mineral a secret, someone with pockets deep enough to bribe local law enforcement and government. What can a washed-up quarterback do against influence like that?

Billy may not have much power, but he does have friends: a lonely professor with a shipwrecked career and dangerous knowledge, a young TV anchor whose ambitions for the future are at war with her past, and an old Indian chief whose love for his people is rivaled only by his self-doubts. They must work together to protect the hot springs' gift -- or die trying!

Critique: A simply riveting read from first page to last, "Ascending Power" showcases author Malcolm Gibson's impressively effective and entertaining narrative storytelling style. Original, engaging, deftly crafted, "Ascending Power" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ascending Power" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Bell Bottoms to Gucci
Ellen Everman
Acclaim Press
www.acclaimpress.com
9781948901185, $24.95, HC, 234pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Bell Bottoms to Gucci" is set in the year 1964 when the first protests of that era are born-campus takeovers, billy-clubbing, students being dragged into police vans, etc. Patti's boyfriend, David, a student at UC Berkeley inspired by the real kingpin of protests in those days takes Patti under his wing and grooms her for the stereotypical role of hippie campus protester.

Hell No, We Won't Go! echoes her true feelings about the Vietnam War during her college years. But after three assassinations and the Kent State shootings, Patti wears down and eventually admits her revulsion of the protests themselves. Upon graduation she returns home and grabs the gusto of a different life when she enters the yuppie corporate environment.

From The Plaza in NYC to corporate boardrooms to the Fifth Avenue pied-a-terre of a wealthy descendant of Dutch patroons, Patti navigates a world of deception, greed, high stakes and power players. Now out of sync with her previous love and peace persona and her beloved David, a descent into this darker world ensues.

What she doesn't know is that her past relationships with conspiratorial figures involved in the Kennedy assassination are about to catch up with her in a life and death situation.

Critique: A deftly crafted novel replete with cultural and political references identified with tumultuous decades of the ever evolving of babyboomer generation, Ellen Everman's "Bell Bottoms to Gucci" is an original and entertaining novel by a skilled and talented storyteller that is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Middle Sister
Jesse Miles
http://jessemilesbooks.com
Robert Peoples, Publisher
9780990474043, $8.99, PB, 326pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Jack Salvo teaches philosophy one night a week at a community college, but he pays his bills by working as an L.A. private detective. When a wealthy woman hires him to find her wayward daughter Lillie, who has been missing for a week. Salvo simply figures the girl is probably hiding out with her friends.

All he has to do is interview the friends, bust their stories, and deduce the missing brat's location. But Salvo soon learns that her "friends" are somewhat parasitical. When he finds Lillie, she is hosting different kinds of parasites - the little ones that help rid the world of rotting corpses.

Salvo is then pulled into a maze of murder, arson, and blackmail. During his high-speed run down L.A.'s fast lane, he spars with grifters and gangsters, dodges the cops, and digs up a dark, deadly family secret.

Critique: A compulsive page-turner of a gripping and original 'whodunnit' style mystery novel by a deft expert in the genre, "The Middle Sister" by Jesse Miles is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "The Middle Sister" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Little Voices
Vanessa Lillie
Thomas & Mercer
9781542092265, $15.95, PB, 335pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Devon Burges is in the throes of a high-risk birth when she learns of her dear friend's murder. The police quickly name another friend as the chief suspect, but Devon doesn't buy it -- and despite her difficult recovery, she decides to investigate.

Haunted by postpartum problems that manifest as a cruel voice in her head, Devon is barely getting by. Yet her instincts are still sharp, and she's bent on proving her friend's innocence.

But as Devon digs into the evidence, the voice in her head grows more insistent, the danger more intense. Each layer is darker, more disturbing, and she's not sure she (or her baby) can survive what lies at the truth!

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Little Voices" is author Vanessa Lillie's debut as a novelist, here deftly crafted and reader engaging narrative storytelling style are put at full service to her genuine flair for originality -- making this riveting read unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "Little Voices" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781978670006, $14.03, MP3 CD).

A Brush with Death
Jody Summers
JS Books Publishing
www.jodysummersbooks.com
9781733177504, $14.99, PB, 399pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: It all started innocently enough when New Orleans painter Kira McGovern mixed some of her mother's cremated ashes into her oil paints. Entering an altered state, she channeled key moments of her mother's life into a breathtaking memorial work of art. Her new business, Canvas of Life, was begun, and commissions rolled in.

But things get strange when Kira meets Sean Easton, a Midwestern rancher, hiding a secret of his own. Both are unprepared for the horrific terrors that emerge with every brush stroke from an unexpected new commission. Even as the pair fall for each other, the evil in the painting grows more malevolent. Soon, the awakened entity isn't satisfied to just flood Kira's dreams with blood and murder. It wants her as its next victim.

Can Kira and Sean unmask the horror (and stop Kira becoming its next possession) before it's too late?

Critique: With a unique storyline about an evil presence longing to commit murder and an artist's canvas that becomes its portal into the human world, author Jody Summers' new novel, "A Brush with Death" is a deftly crafted and page-turning thriller blending of romance and the supernatural. While especially recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Brush with Death" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

A Woman Like Me
Francine Rodriguez
BookLocker.com, Inc.
www.booklocker.com
9781644388471, $25.99, PB, 608pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Inspired by real-life events, "A Woman Like Me" by Francine Rodriguez is a gritty and dark crime thriller, telling of a warrior's journey. The traveler on this journey is an of a one-of-a-kind disconcerting individual, a transgender, and biracial woman, who is isolated, lonely, and emotionally troubled, a stranger in her own body.

Her crimes of violence are at first, life-preserving, and later become opportunistic as she fights the obstacles that fuel her fear of returning to childhood misery. Our warrior begins her journey in a notorious prison in the Philippines where she is locked up for murder at a young age, with the belief that she will not survive. She is noticed by the prison's warden and selected to fight in the Muay Thai underground prison circuit, where prison and government officials conduct rigged fights for betting purposes.

When a promised journey outside of the Philippines allows her to leave the prison with her warden, she escapes to Bangkok, transitions sexes, and lives, and works in the district infamous for the tourist sex trade. Seeking to find her father, an ex-serviceman, she comes to the United States to begin her search. Here through misrepresentation, and overcoming countless obstacles, she becomes a police officer, and her new identity leaves her living her life in turmoil, struggling to find where she belongs in a field ruled by toxic masculinity, corruption, and cruelty. She attempts to exact justice for victimized children who have been cast aside by the system.

Critique: A veritable saga of a novel from an author with a genuine flair for originality, a distinctive and thoroughly reader engaging narrative storytelling style, as well as an impressive attention to stylistic detail, "A Woman Like Me" by Francine Rodriguez is one of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf. 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 "A Woman Like Me" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

An Equal Justice
Chad Zunker
Thomas & Mercer
9781542043083, $15.95, PB, 222pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: An ambitious Stanford graduate, David Adams has begun a fast-track career at Austin's most prestigious law firm. It's a personal victory for the rising superstar - a satisfying reversal from his impoverished and despairing childhood. Now he has the life he's always wanted: an extravagant salary, a high-rise condo, a luxury SUV, and no limit to how far he can go in the eyes of the top partners.

But after the shocking suicide of a fellow associate (one who, in his final hours, offered David an ominous warning) he feels the pull of powerful forces behind the corporation's enviable trappings. The suicide leads unexpectedly to David's discovery of a secret enclave of the city's homeless, where he can't help but feel an affinity to these outcast souls. Nor can he ignore the feeling that they hold the key to the truth behind a dark conspiracy.

When one of his new street friends is murdered, David's clear doubts about his employer start shifting into a dark reality. Now torn between two worlds, David must surrender all that he's achieved to fight for a larger cause of justice -- and become his firm's most dangerous acquisition.

Critique: A deftly crafted legal thriller of a novel by an author with genuine knack for a reader engaging narrative storytelling style, Chad Zunker's "An Equal Justice" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists and community library Suspense/Thriller collections. It should be noted that "An Equal Justice" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and in a complete and unabridged audio book edition (Brilliance Audio, 9781721340897, $14.99, CD).

Identity Theft
Bob Avey
Black Rose Writing
www.blackrosewriting.com
9781684334025, $19.95, PB, 286pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Kenny Elliot has decided to quit his job as a police detective with a knack for perceiving things beyond the scope of ordinary people. He dreams of leading a normal life with Carmen, the woman he loves, and the mother of his child. But when the pastor of his church asks for his help, he discovers that a fellow police officer, David Yates, has gotten himself into a jam that only someone like Elliot can handle.

Critique: A deftly crafted suspense thriller of a novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and an impressively effective narrative storytelling style, "Identity Theft" is unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Identity Theft" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Cross Wires
Greg Stallworth
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
www.iuniverse.com
9781532081057, $13.99, PB, 132pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: What would you do if you receive messages on your office phone about an alleged drug trafficking operation going on where you worked? What would you do if you believe this illegal drug activity could possibly involve your boss?

"Cross Wires" is a powerful mystery that brings to light the dangers of a very respectful and successful employee who is caught in a vice between his loyalty to the company or reporting what he knows to the authorities. By going to law enforcement do you take a chance of losing your job and more risking your life by reporting these illegal acts?

What happens next is cathartic scenes of the most devastating turn of events one can encounter dealing with fear.

Critique: A deftly crafted novel of corporate crime and personal responsibility by an author with a genuine flair for originality and an inherently riveting storytelling style, "Cross Wires" by Greg Stallworth is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary Suspense/Thriller collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cross Wires" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Shadow of Evil
Rhonda Kazmierski
Commonwealth Books Inc
9781892986139, $15.99, PB, 124pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Senator Jack McKenzie had two beautiful daughters. Bella Eileen was married to David Matthew Wright, their favored son-in-law. Charity Faith had chosen, Abdul Fattah, who was a Muslim and questions remained as to who he was and where his allegiance really lay.

This Senator's family, and other important guests, including the President of the United States, were gathering at the Wright estate for their annual Christmas festivities when David learns that Abdel Fattah was plotting, with a deadly terrorist, Abdelmalik Khan, to sabotage the celebration with an attack on the family, leading to the assassination of President Toley.

Would this Christmas be their last? Or would they even live to see Christmas? It all depended on David, who stood to lose everybody he held dear to his heart. He vowed to use every weapon at his disposal, and would call on all of the training the United States government had provided him. Nobody threatened his family, or his president, and that included Abdulmalik Khan!

Critique: A wickedly great read from cover to cliff-hanging cover, "Shadow of Evil" showcases novelist Rhonda Kazmierski as an author with a genuine flair for originality and a thoroughly reader engaging narrative storytelling style. "Shadow of Evil" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library Contemporary Suspense/Thriller collections.


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes
Howard V. Hendrix
Fairwood Press
https://www.fairwoodpress.com/index.html
9781933846774, $17.99, PB, 318pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ranging from flash to full novella lengths, the ten pieces comprising "The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes: Analog Stories for a Digital Age" include stories by Howard V. Hendrix about time travel and the 1939 World's Fair, a tendentious man/dog relationship on Mars, a spam-blocker program that incidentally shuts down the universe, giant artworks among the nearly immortal, Einstein channeled by a fortune teller, Big Data meets March Madness, and enhanced bonobos trying to re-create Shakespeare's lost play Cardenio.

Critique: Hendrix's deftly scripted and entertainingly original stories transcend time and reveal possible futures the human race yet may face -- in the digital age and beyond! While unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated scifi fans that "The Girls With Kaleidoscope Eyes: Analog Stories for a Digital Age" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Until All Curses Are Lifted
Tim Frankovich
Warpsteel Press
9781733328500, $14.99, 436pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Marshal has been cursed since birth for his unknown father's crimes. When he discovers he's also heir to immense magical power, he must flee for his life. His half-brother wants the power for himself and has hired an assassin to pursue Marshal and his mother. No one has ever escaped from a curse, but it's the only way for Marshal to be truly safe.

Seri wants to become the most powerful mage in history. But the magic that holds the world together is failing and no one knows why. While the ground itself shakes, someone begins murdering mages. In danger from all directions, Seri must learn how to use her unique abilities before everything falls apart.

Neither of them know they are being watched from another realm!

Critique: An inherently riveting read by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctively engaging and entertaining narrative storytelling style, "Until All Curses Are Lifted" by Tim Frankovich will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all fantasy action/adventure fans that "Until All Curses Are Lifted" is also available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Reaper Moon
Ted Neill
Independently Published
9781791550943, $23.93, PB, 554pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In the near future the human race suffers a cataclysmic world wide catastrophe in the form of a HEDV retrovirus outbreak. The effects of the virus were catastrophic. Billions died. Some people had immunity to the virus: the small percentage of the population that carried one abnormal copy of the hemoglobin gene, the gene that causes sickle cell disease.

More people of color have survived, immune, than whites. The usual demographics of the US are now inverted. With the correlation of survival with darker skin color, it has become all race. It always was. Most white people were all right with this change. But not the White supremacist, MAGA hat wearing, confederate flag waving, tiki torch bearing white people.

Poverty, illness, criminality, the breakdown of family and civility are rampant, with the supremacists (in full and utter denial that it is their obscure genetic connection to Africans that has granted them immunity) are apoplectic. They've declared war. They're out to exterminate all people of color.

And thanks to their persistent lobbying efforts of the NRA to ensure semi-automatic rifles, high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks were never regulated (even while things such as cars, nasal decongestants, milk, and happy meals were), there are more guns left in America than people.

Black people, their white allies now know that it is time to organize and fight back if they are to save their lives now that the apocalypse has come!

Critique: A deftly crafted and impressively original dystopian novel by an author with a genuinely reader riveting narrative storytelling style, Ted Neill's "Reaper Moon" will be a very special and enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated science fiction fans that "Reaper Moon" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Unfettered Child
Michael C. Sahd
Independently Published
9781073070923, $15.99, PB, 393pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When eight-year-old Samara faces the capture of her tribe, an unimaginable power awakens within her. Her tribe is shattered. Her parents are gone. But even as this internal magic threatens to consume her, a disembodied voice intervenes, offering guidance and helping her control these newfound abilities. Meanwhile, Samara's father chases his wife's captors across an unfamiliar terrain. But can Orin find his wife in time to save her? Will Samara learn to control her power and reunite with her family? And who is the mysterious entity traveling with her?

Critique: A deftly crafted, impressively original, and inherently riveting fantasy novel by an author with a genuine gift for narrative driven storytelling, "The Unfettered Child" by Michael C. Sahd is unreservedly recommended to community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy action/adventure fans that "The Unfettered Child" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).


The African-American Studies Shelf

NAACP 110th Anniversary 1909-2019
Martha Ward Plowden
Ward Plowden Publishing Company
978194064417, $24.95, HC, 190pp

Synopsis: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as a bi-racial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group of African-Americans that included W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington and Moorfield Storey.

Its mission in the 21st century is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination." National NAACP initiatives include political lobbying, publicity efforts and litigation strategies developed by its legal team. The group enlarged its mission in the late 20th century by considering issues such as police misconduct, the status of black foreign refugees and questions of economic development. Its name, retained in accordance with tradition, uses the once common term colored people, referring to those with some African ancestry.

The NAACP bestows annual awards to African Americans in two categories: Image Awards are for achievement in the arts and entertainment, and Spingarn Medals are for outstanding achievement of any kind. Its headquarters is in Baltimore, Maryland. (Wikipedia)

Compiled by Martha Ward Plowden, "NAACP 110th Anniversary 1909-2019 Georgia State Conference" was published in acknowledgment of the past 110 years of one of America's most significant organizations working for the political, economic, social, cultural equality of African Americans and against institutionalized racism in all its forms.

Comprised of six deftly organized chapters (Georgia State Conference Executive Committee; History of the Georgia State Conference; History of Georgia State Branches; History of the national NAACP; Reflections; Remembering), this very special edition of "NAACP 110th Anniversary 1909-2019" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of three pages of Suggested Reading, and a five page Index.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and impressively detailed, "NAACP 110th Anniversary 1909-2019" is a model of seminal scholarship, making it a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library African American History collections in general, and NAACP supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Editorial Note: Martha Ward Plowden is a published author of children's books and young adult books. Some of the published credits of Martha Ward Plowden include Olympic Black Women, Famous Firsts of Black Women.


The Christian Studies Shelf

From Fear to Faith
Julie Klenk
Tristan Publishing
www.tristanpublishing.com
9781939881182, $19.99, PB, 144pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Fear is a crippling epidemic for many. World events, finances, health matters, depression, work and school demands, even the day- to-day challenges of life can overwhelm us leaving us fearful, in despair and without hope. But there is hope! We don't have to stay in that place of misery. There is an answer.

There can be peace no matter what our circumstances. That's why Julie Klenk (a discipleship and biblical counselor, author of a number of Bible studies, and a teacher in a variety of settings) wrote "From Fear to Faith", a 12 weeks study guide showing members of the Christian community with respect to understanding how God invites us, through His Word, to rest securely in His care, His protection and His love, so that they may trade a life shadowed by fear and anxiety for a life marked by faith and trust.

"From Fear to Faith" is a simple, impactful, life-changing study of who God is, who we are, and where we can find our identity, peace, strength, and freedom.

Critique: "From Fear to Faith" is an ideal workbook for individual study, as a one-on-one discipleship resource, or as a small-group study -- making it unreservedly recommended to all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations.

Editorial Note: Julie Klenk is a discipleship and biblical counselor, an author of Bible studies, and a teacher in a variety of settings. She has been married to her better half, David, since 1995. She is a mom to three kids: Emma (with son-in-law Luke), Lily, and Elijah.

Lamp to My Feet
Frances Smith
Gazelle Press
9781581697131, $19.99, PB, 446pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The principle message of "Lamp to My Feet" by Frances Smith is that God never promises us a sweeping floodlight that will show us the whole picture, but He does promise us a lamp to our feet so we can see the next step. We have to learn to trust Him to do that, and take the next step on faith.

Additional messages include: We are all here for a purpose; God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things; By staying vigilant and watchful, we will find opportunities to do God's work; Where do you go, and what do you do, when you want to get in touch with God; God doesn't always answer prayers in the way we expect Him to - but He answers; The Lord is never finished with us and therefore there are always new, unexpected blessings just down the road; Nobody is protected from life's storms: the key is to weather and embrace them; Our most challenging and painful times are those we learn and grow from; Even when you have no idea what lies ahead, God will lead the way.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Lamp to My Feet" is unreservedly recommended reading and especially commended to the attention of all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations. While appropriate for church, seminary, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lamp to My Feet" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).


The Self-Help Shelf

Significance and Means of Self-Knowledge
Tushar Choksi, author
Atri Choksi, editor
Advaya Press
9780578578996, $10.47, PB, 142pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Significance and Means of Self-Knowledge" by Tushar Choksi is about understanding that knowledge of one's self is a qualitative measure of one's well-being. In other words, self-knowledge determines our true well-being. If we understand the significance of self-knowledge, we find the key of how to be happy and safe at all times and everywhere irrespective of objective conditions surrounding me.

"Significance and Means of Self-Knowledge" dives into human personality. Not only does it show the connection of human suffering with its root, self-ignorance, but it also provides the means to acquire self-knowledge. Once we understand the significance of self-knowledge, then we want it. Because self-knowledge is the subtle origin and resolution of all secular knowledge, the means of self-knowledge that train the mind are indispensable. The self becomes in reaching distance of the self when these tools of self-knowledge are practiced.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Significance and Means of Self-Knowledge" is impressively written, organized and presented throughout -- making it an unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Spiritual Self-Help and Contemporary Philosophy collections.

Editorial Note: Tushar Choksi was a sincere seeker of reality of human experience since his childhood days. Due to the undercurrent force of spirituality and the desire to be a good human, he practiced meditation and studied vedantic scriptures for more than twenty five years. During his life, he studied in depth and participated in various activities based on the vedantic tradition. One major activity he as been part of for most of his life is the activity of Swadhyay inspired by Pujya Padurang Shastri Athavale. He was also engrossed in the teachings of Ramkrishna and Vivekananda and the tradition of Arsha Vidya of Swami Dayananda Saraswati. Currently, Tushar lives in California, USA, where he conducts classes on vedant, and continues his study of vedant.


The Business Shelf

What's Working Now?: YOU-centric Marketing
Shahla Hebets
Hasmark Publishing
https://hasmarkpublishing.com
9781989161814, $14.97, PB, 136pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In the new and pervasive commercial world of digital marketing, what works and what works best are commonly asked questions, regardless of the particular industry products or services being offered, or what the size of the market is, or who competition is. Whether it's a start-up or an established brand, the digital marketing environment has undergone a massive amount of change over the past 5-10 years alone.

The good news is there is much that is working now in the digital marketing landscape. It just takes a shift in focus, perspective and a willingness to forge your own unique path, and leave the copycats behind. And that's where "What's Working Now?: YOU-centric Marketing" by Shahla Hebts.

Shahla Hebets has held executive management positions in media companies specializing in ecommerce, pay-per-click (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO) and other forms of digital marketing and advertising. With over two decades of experience developing digital marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, Shahla founded Think Media Consulting in 2016 with a focus on helping healthy lifestyle brands grow.

Hebets is an expert in the field discussing customer-centric, socially, environmentally-conscious, and generational marketing as well as the future landscape of marketing. She has been featured in Yahoo Finance, Ecommerce Times, Swaay, Natural Foods Merchandiser, Luxury Daily, Brand Experience Magazine, The New Food Economy, Icarian Times and Cannabis Business Magazine.

In "What's Working Now?: YOU-centric Marketing" Hebets draws upon her impressive experience and expertise to create the ideal DIY curriculum for aspiring entrepreneurs and business managers needing to update their on-line marketing skills in our ever evolving digital marketplaces.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is inspired and inspiring, "What's Working Now?: YOU-centric Marketing" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition professional, community, corporate, college, and university library Contemporary Business Marketing instructional reference collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of business students, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "What's Working Now?: YOU-centric Marketing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).


The Photography Shelf

Spirit of the Southern Speedways
Hunter Barnes
Reel Art Press
https://www.reelartpress.com
9781909526648, $39.95, HC, 128pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Photographer Hunter Barnes is one of the foremost documentary photographers working in America today. For the publication of his photographic compendium, "Spirit of the Southern Speedways", Barnes was given extraordinary access to document NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) culture. In order to capture the true essence of NASCAR, Barnes went on the road with the Ganassi team, spending time in the parking lot with fans for a week before the race to really get a sense of the spirit of the culture and how it originally started?in the South, with the moonshiners building cars to outrun the revenuers.

"Spirit of the Southern Speedways" presents an exhilarating photographic essay of racing culture and gives an intimate and insider look at NASCAR, capturing some of the most recognizable figures in racing, including Richard "The King" Petty, the legend Junior Johnson who has won 50 races as a driver and 139 as an owner, Jack Roush, the owner of Roush Fenway Racing team and famed race car driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

"Spirit of the Southern Speedways" also reflects on the intimate relationship between the fans and the drivers.

Barnes is known for photographically documenting American communities that have been ignored or misrepresented by the mainstream media, including the dying communities of the Old West, and inmates in the California State Prison. "Spirit of the Southern Speedways" ably continues this quest with its focus on a distinctive cultural subgenera -- southern stock car racing.

Critique: Of immense interest for automotive racing enthusiasts and aspiring photographers, "Spirit of the Southern Speedways" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary American Photography collections.


The Art Shelf

Learn How to Draw for the Non-Artist
Earl R. Phelps
Phelps Publishing
https://www.phelpspublishing.com/index.html
9781887627122, $19.95, PB, 132pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Learn How to Draw for the Non-Artist" was specifically created by Earl R. Phelps for anyone who is intimidated by a lack of previous experience (or perceived lack of talent) for drawing -- or simply wants to improve their drawing skills as an artist.

Anyone and everyone can learn how to draw with this thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide and manual which includes a combination of pencil and ink drawings. All that is required is a pencil and paper to get started.

Aspiring artists will learn to draw many different things and after completing "Learn How to Draw for the Non-Artist" will have accomplished drawing such things as Still Life, the Human Head, Human Figure, Mammals, Reptiles, Sports Figures, Supercharacters, Fantasy drawings and basic Perspective drawing.

Critique: Very nicely organized, inspiring, and an ideally personal DIY instructional resource, "Learn How to Draw for the Non-Artist" is especially and unreservedly recommended to the attention of anyone of any age or background who would like to learn the basics of drawing -- or simply improve their drawing skills.


The Cookbook Shelf

Deep Flavors
Kenneth M. Horwitz
Inspire On Purpose Book Publishing
9781941782514, $39.95, HC, 350pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Deep Flavors: A Celebration of Recipes for Foodies in a Kosher Style" is an impressive compendium of kosher recipes for sauce and spice mixtures, breakfast entrees, breads, appetizers, soups and stocks, salads and dressings, grain-based dishes, tradition jewish foods, side dishes, and deserts.

Of special note are the recipes for Non-Jewish Vegetarians and Pickles (beets, cucumbers, jalapeno peppers), candies, and ice creams.

Critique: Thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' in organization and presentation, "Deep Flavors: A Celebration of Recipes for Foodies in a Kosher Style" is a delight to browse through and ideal for planning kosher meals and menus with. While unreservedly recommended for personal, family, professional, and community library cookbook collections, it should be noted that "Deep Flavors" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Biography Shelf

My Swan Lake Life
Louise Blocker
L&L Publishers
https://www.llpub.com
https://www.facebook.com/LLPublishing
9781732834705, $18.13, PB, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When Louise Blocker's then eight-year-old grandson asked her two poignant questions (one about slavery and the other about her childhood) she initially gave him brief responses. But upon further reflection, she realized he deserved more thoughtful answers, which would involve embarking on a fact-finding mission, both into her own ancestry and into the history of slavery itself. "My Swan Lake Life: An Interactive Histoir: 80,000 B.C. - May 31, 1965" is the surprising, moving, and remarkable result.

Featuring nearly seven years of dedicated research, Louise explores the often hidden history of African Americans that you likely never read in school textbooks. From the origins of the term "race" to the American Revolution, from the era of slavery to the Civil War, and from decades of Jim Crow to the nine-year Civil Rights Movement, Blocker reveals seldom-told history about a multitude of unsung heroes and heroines (including inventors, educators, and activists) who fought in their communities, on battlefields, and in courtrooms for the liberties American citizens enjoy today.

But "My Swan Lake Life" is not only a riveting history, it is also an engaging memoir -- or what the author has coined a 'histoir'. Tracing her ancestry to 80,000 B.C., and using censuses, DNA analyses, and passed-down stories to round out her family's history, Louise takes us on her own journey as a bright but sharp-tongued young child in the segregated South (one who dreamed of going to college and marrying Nat King Cole) introducing us along the way to the resilient, hardworking, and resourceful generations who made her captivating journey possible.

Critique: A unique and inherently fascinating blend of personal memoir and racial history, "My Swan Lake Life: An Interactive Histoir: 80,000 B.C. - May 31, 1965" by Louise Blocker is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary American Biography collections in general, and Black Studies supplement curriculum reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "My Swan Lake Life" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.39).


James A. Cox
Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937
e-mail: mbr@execpc.com
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