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Robert Wideman & Cara Lopez Lee
Graham Publishing Group
9780997364606, $15.95, PB, 374pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When Lieutenant Robert Wideman's plane crashed on a bombing run in the Vietnam War, he feared falling into enemy hands. Although he endured the kind of pain that makes people question humanity, physical torture was not his biggest problem. During six years as a prisoner of war, he saw the truth behind Jean-Paul Sartre's words: "Hell is other people". Written with the assistance of Cara Lopez Lee, "Unexpected Prisoner: Memoir of a Vietnam POW" by Robert Wideman explores a POW's struggle with enemies and comrades, Vietnamese interrogators and American commanders, his lost dreams and ultimately himself.
Critique: A consistently compelling read from cover to cover, "Unexpected Prisoner: Memoir of a Vietnam POW" is an exceptionally and memorable read that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. An extraordinary autobiography, "Unexpected Prisoner" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Biography collections in general, and Vietnam War supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists that "Unexpected Prisoner" is also available in a Kindle format ($4.95).
Among The Dead
John W. Harper
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781530388462, $11.95, PB, 182pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: John W. Harper served twenty-one years in the United States Air Force and was Honorably Retired in 2006. His final assignment was at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware where he served with the Dental Evidence Response Team at the Dover Port Mortuary. "Among The Dead: My Years in The Port Mortuary" details those years following September 11th which involved forensic dental identifications on those killed in the Pentagon Disaster, and then the thousands of fallen heroes returning from the battlefields of Iraq. Harper provides an inside look at how exposure to human remains affected the team, and their individual battles with post-traumatic stress disorder. It is noteworthy that the teams' efforts were always directed by dignity, honor and respect for the fallen heroes. This work is meant as documentation, as well as some closure for those team members who continue to suffer the symptoms of PTSD.
Critique: Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, insightful and engaging, "Among The Dead: My Years in The Port Mortuary" is a compelling and very highly recommend read from cover to cover. While a critically important addition to community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Among The Dead: My Years in The Port Mortuary" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
T. Pearl Joynz
iScribe Publications, Inc
c/o KPG Publishing & Education
PO Box 481318, Charlotte, NC 28269
9780996262996, $17.95, PB, 274pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Shattering" by Pearl Joynz is a 'Life After Adultery' memoir. Two weeks before her 18th wedding anniversary she was faced with the painful realization that her husband was having an affair.
While this is unfortunately a common story, what happened afterwards was not. Not only did the Lord lead her to the discovery of the affair, He immediately led her on an unbelievable adventure to establish her true identity and mend her broken heart.
Life after adultery is often filled with fear, doubt, anger and depression but it doesn't have to. "The Shattering" is the first volume in the three part series and deals with the "elephant in the room" known as the affair partner. They are often the cause of bitterness, shame, and divorce.
"The Shattering" seeks to help all parties involved, to include the affair partner, by providing a critical look at the two leading ladies in the drama known as adultery. "The Shattering" uniquely details a story of faith, hope and ultimately the long road to forgiveness.
Looking insecurity and betrayal in the eye is not easy but necessary and you will be able to confidently do it after reading "The Shattering. Inside will be found valuable knowledge, wisdom and encouragement to help live a wonderful life after adultery.
Critique: Exceptionally candid, impressively well written, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Shattering" is an extraordinary and original read that is unreservedly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library collections. It should be noted that "The Shattering" is also available in an inexpensive Kindle format ($3.33).
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491710883, $22.95, HC, 162pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: For the Lady Kaline de Belmar, it should be a time of great happiness. As the official social season begins, Kaline and her grandmother, the dowager duchess Catherine de Belmar, accept an invitation to attend a ball at Greywycke Castle, the ancestral home of her godfather. Before they depart, however, the duchess informs Kaline that a male heir has been found for the Belmar title, supplanting both women-and that Kaline should prepare for an arranged marriage, a prospect she does not care for.
Kaline is being courted by the mysterious Sir Edward Brune, but her grandmother informs Kaline that Brune is an unsuitable match and that other prospective suitors she has chosen for her will be present at the ball. Soon after Kaline arrives at the event, however, eerie occurrences begin to undermine the event, putting Kaline and her companions under the control of an unknown force that seems to be shaping the course of the weekend-and their destinies.
Critique: "Greywycke" is a suspenseful tale, murder, mayhem, and mystery surrounding a castle above the sea, and a young lady who discovers she must rely on the wisdom of strange creatures and her own inner strength in order to triumph over evil and take control of her fate. A compelling and consistently engaging read from cover to cover, "Greywycke" showcases author Roger Davis as an extraordinarily skilled novelist. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Greywcke" is also available in a paperback edition (9781491710869, $12.95) and in a Kindle format ($3.99).
The Porcupine's Quill
9780889843974, $16.95, PB, 96pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Seth is the pen name of Gregory Gallant (born September 16, 1962), a Canadian cartoonist best known for his series Palookaville and his mock-autobiographical graphic novel It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken (1996).
Seth draws in a style influenced by the classic cartoonists of The New Yorker. His work is highly nostalgic, especially for the early-to-mid-20th Century period, and of Southern Ontario. His work also shows a great depth and breadth of knowledge of the history of comics and cartooning.
"Palookaville: Seth and the Art of Graphic Autobiography" by Tom Smart (author, art gallery director, curator, columnist and special advisor to Canadian art galleries and museums) examines the construction self-identity and the wafer-thin distinction between fiction and autobiography in Canadian cartoonist Seth's Palookaville series of graphic novels.
Critique: Informed and informative, profusely illustrated, impressively insightful, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Palookaville: Seth and the Art of Graphic Autobiography" is a 'must' for the legions of Seth fans. Simply stated, "Palookaville: Seth and the Art of Graphic Autobiography" is very highly recommended, especially for college and university Contemporary Graphic Novel & Art collections and supplemental studies lists.
The Health/Medicine Shelf
Surviving in a Ever-Changing Healthcare Industry
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478780717, $9.95, PB, 96pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the pages of "Surviving in an Ever-Changing Healthcare Industry", Donna Gault draws upon her nearly 50 years of experience and expertise as a registered nurse to clearly and concisely explain today's many changes in the healthcare industry and the challenges facing doctors, nurses, hospitals, and especially the patients. Donna then provides guidelines to help everyone obtain safer healthcare. "Surviving in a Ever-Changing Healthcare Industry" includes sections written by two physicians who offer their own viewpoints on the changes facing physicians today, and how to help doctors provide the best care for you as a patient.
Critique: Practical, informative, insightful, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Surviving in a Ever-Changing Healthcare Industry" is very highly recommended for clinic, community, and academic library Health/Medicine collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Surviving in a Ever-Changing Healthcare Industry" is also available in a Kindle format ($5.95).
Lymphedema and Lipedema Nutrition Guide
Chuck Ehrlich, et al.
9780976480686, $34.95, PB, 348pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Lymphedema is a condition of localized fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system, which normally returns interstitial fluid to the thoracic duct, then the bloodstream.
Lipedema is an incurable, chronically progressive affliction that occurs almost exclusively in women. It causes a symmetrical accumulation of fat in the subcutaneous tissue that disproportionately affects the lower limbs from buttocks to ankles.
"Lymphedema and Lipedema Nutrition Guide" is an instruction guide specially designed to help diagnosed patients to eat to starve lymphedema and lipedema by having foods that fight these conditions (and cancer) and avoiding foods that contribute to symptoms or related conditions.
"Lymphedema and Lipedema Nutrition Guide" shows how food choices affect both conditions and how better nutrition can improve symptoms (including pain) and delay changes associated with progression to more advanced stages.
"Lymphedema and Lipedema Nutrition Guide" is specifically intended for anyone with, or at risk for, lymphedema or lipedema, caregivers, lymphedema therapists, and other health care providers.
Critique: The collaborative work of Chuck Ehrlich (a medical researcher and writer for LymphNotes.com, as well as a lymphedema caregiver); Emily Iker (a medical doctor specializing in treating lymphedema and lipedema at the Lymphedema Center in Santa Monica and who has lower-extremity lymphedema; Karen Louise Herbst (a medical doctor who treats people with lymphatic issues including lymphedema and lipedema, and leads the Treatment, Research and Education of Adipose Tissue (TREAT) Program, at the University of Arizona College of Medicine); Linda-Anne Kahn (a lymphedema therapist, nutritional consultant and integrative health coach at Beauty Kliniek Day Spa and Wellness Center in San Diego, and who has lipedema) Dorothy D. Sears (a researcher in diet and behavior patterns for reducing disease risk at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine); Mandy Kenyon (a consulting dietitian and research leader for Salk Institute and Veteran's Medical Research Foundation); and Elizabeth McMahon (a clinical psychologist specializing in health-related behavior change and the author of several lymphedema books including Overcoming the Emotional Challenges of Lymphedema), "Lymphedema and Lipedema Nutrition Guide" is a reliably informed and comprehensive reference and resource that should be a part of every personal, professional, community, college, and university Health/Medicine collection in general, and Lypmphedma/Lipedema supplemental studies reading list in particular.
Toxic Food Nation
George M. Burnell, M.D.
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478775355 $31.95 amazon.com
Synopsis: Toxic Food Nation; Why the American Diet Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It is a wake-up call to all Americans about the typical American diet, rich in processed foods, fat, sugar, salt, omega-6s, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and hundreds of untested chemicals. This diet triggers chronic inflammation in the body and brain, which leads to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Crohn's disease, arthritis, anxiety, mood and behavior disorders, and cancer. We are now faced with several questions about the safety and toxicity of the American diet. How harmful are these chemicals? Can we rely on the government and food industry to protect us from potential threats to our health? What can we do to protect ourselves?
Toxic Food Nation answers all these questions and tells you what the food and chemical industries don't want you to know and why governmental agencies and elected officials remain silent on the subject. Our food supply is laced with dangerous toxic chemicals that will harm you and your loved ones for years to come unless you take action now. Toxic food is now the new tobacco. It took over two decades before the public accepted the fact that tobacco caused cancer. Meanwhile, plastics and pesticides in our food continue to stockpile in our issues for decades, eventually erupting into a full array of chronic diseases in midlife.
In Toxic Food Nation Dr. Burnell shows you how to benefit from cutting-edge science, explaining how to protect and enhance your immune system, which is the key to overcome the devastating effects of chronic inflammation. Drawing from clinical and laboratory studies as well as the latest research around the world, Toxic Food Nation gives you a highly practical program of simple dietary recommendations to prevent disease and heal the symptoms that threaten you and your loved ones.
Critique: Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial to day-to-day wellbeing, as well as potentially saving a fortune in health care costs. Yet selecting healthy food is a challenge in the modern era of supermarkets filled with foods that are processed, high-calorie, high-fat, or low-nutrition! Toxic Food Nation discusses the chemicals commonly added to food, what to look for (or avoid!) in nutrition labels, the circumstances under which vitamin/mineral/dietary supplements can be toxic, and much more. Thoroughly accessible from first page to last, Toxic Food Nation is a "must-read", highly recommended! "...there are no studies supporting the use of colonics to enhance general health or provide cures for various ailments. In fact, potential side effects can be serious; they include nausea, diarrhea, life-threatening blood poisoning caused by contaminated equipment, [...] inability to have bowel movements without colonic irrigation or enemas...."
The Autism Shelf
Autism: The Potential Within
Richard Solomon, MD
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781483448282 $39.95 pbk / $8.79 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Every parent wants to discover the potential within his or her child. For parents of children with autism, The PLAY Project can help.
Autism: The Potential Within describes the journey of Jacob Grant - a composite of all young children with autism - and his family as they learn The PLAY Project approach. The book follows Jacob along the path from early diagnosis until entry into kindergarten. Through a series of office visits, "Dr. Rick" empowers Jim and Julie Grant to be Jacob's best play partners. He also guides them on how to use Jacob's misbehavior - tantrums in public, sibling rivalry, picky eating and sleep problems - to help him learn appropriate behavior and social skills. Over time, Jacob moves from nonverbal to constantly talking, and from self-isolation to being warmly connected.
Based on scientific research and decades of practice, this guide provides parents and professionals with a new way of working and interacting with young children with autism.
Critique: Written for both professionals and parents, friends, or family members of children who have autism, Autism: The Potential Within is a thoroughly reader-friendly and accessible. Author Richard Solomon, MD, a board certified pediatrician, distills his 25 years of work with thousands of ASD children and their families into this excellent, practical-minded guide. The PLAY project is a developmental, play-based approach designed to help autistic children engage more with their parents, other people, and the outside world. Autism: The Potential Within is a "must-read", highly recommended. "Autism's onset is typically between 15 months and two years. A family bring their child in for a shot and within the month, the child loses language milestones. Such 'regressive' autism occurs in up to 30% of children with autism. The parents connect the shot with their child's autism and blame the shot. But there is no link between autism and immunizations. There are dozens of studies that show no relationship between autism and immunizations and no studies that link the two."
The Sports Shelf
Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen
Adam Snow & Shelley Onderdonk
9780997585421, $29.95, HC, 228pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The collaborative work of the husband and wife team of Adam Snow and veterinarian Shelley Onderdonk, "Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen" delves into the world of high goal polo. Together they provide for their readers an unprecedented access into the horse and human dynamics that make the sport tick. Their passion, respect, and commitment for the sport and each other shine through each page.
Less polo manual than human interest story, "Polo Life" covers a broad range of topics including: there is a horse so good she probably single-handedly altered the trajectory of Adam's career; a farm named after the city where the couple met in college; and a country and polo culture that shaped Adam as a player -- and where their luggage was stolen more than once.
Adam recounts his childhood obsession with ball sports; Shelley hers with horses. Together, they reveal how sports psychology has been integral to Adam's success, tell behind-the-scenes stories about teammates, grooms and trainers, celebrate their legendary equine partners, and provide an uncensored glimpse into the glamorous international component of the sport from Buenos Aires to Bandar Seri Begawan.
The dynamics of maintaining a healthy marriage and family within the framework of a professional athlete's career are also fundamental to Adam and Shelley's polo life. Their prose, which is by turns humble, humorous, and inspirational, impressively showcases the sport's enduring appeal.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Polo Life" is an extraordinary and engaging read from cover to cover. While highly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Polo Life" is also available in a paperback edition (9780997585407, $17.95) and in a Kindle format ($6.95).
The Parenting Shelf
Saving Our Sons
Quest Project Press
9780996360708, $16.95, PB, 196pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: There's never been a more challenging time to be the mother of a teenage boy. Our young men are currently in crisis, falling far behind their female counterparts in school and in life and failing to learn the lessons they need to survive and thrive in the adult world. With "Saving Our Sons: A Parent's Guide to Preparing Boys for Success, veteran psychotherapist and founder of 'The Quest Project', Clayton Lessor dedicated to helping parents reverse this trend.
Based on years of research, study and practical application, "Saving Our Sons" provides mothers (as well as fathers and other caregivers) with the expert guidance they need to help their sons navigate the turbulent transition between boyhood and manhood.
"Saving Our Sons" covers such issues as: Why what you're doing now isn't working; The wound that all adolescent boys share: The five things a boy needs to grow into a healthy man; What mothers can (and can't) do to help their sons transition to manhood; How to tell when your son is in trouble, and where to turn for help; An overview of The Quest Project(R), including exercises you can do with your son at home; Case studies of eight young men who have completed The Quest Project; a great deal more.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Saving Our Sons: A Parent's Guide to Preparing Boys for Success" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone and practical in application for the non-specialist general reader. While very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Parenting instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Saving Our Sons" is also available in a Kindle format ($4.99).
The Business Shelf
How to Catch a Mouse with No Cheese
Author Donnie LLC
9781495127113, $18.50, HC, 148pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Donnie P., an entrepreneur and native of Jeanerette, Louisiana, realized early in his professional business career that he was equipped with the necessary drive and determination that would allow him to start businesses from the ground up without any money. He used these tools and, immediately upon graduation from Southern University A & M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he established Community Case Management, an adolescent substance abuse counseling services. Soon after, he would also create Preventive Medical Services, a community-based medical health center.
In the pages of "How to Catch a Mouse with No Cheese: Real World Lessons and Experiences from an Entrepreneur", Donnie draws upon his years of experience and expertise to write a kind of do-it-yourself instruction manual and guide specifically intended for people who either have been in business for up to a year or are interested in starting a business, but are short on the money necessary to finance their enterprise.
Donnie discusses five life-changing principles that will help anyone to succeed on a shoestring (or no-string) budget. Each individual principle has its own basis for preparing the novice entrepreneur to get a business up and growing with no money.
Critique: Whether owning a fledgling business or planning to start a business, "How to Catch a Mouse with No Cheese: Real World Lessons and Experiences from an Entrepreneur" is an informatively practical and thoroughly 'reader friendly' instruction guide. While highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Business Management collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of aspiring entrepreneurs that "How to Catch a Mouse with No Cheese" is also available in a Kindle format ($2.99).
Objection Free Selling
Robert P. deGroot
Sales Training International
9780986405839, $19.95, PB, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Objection Free Selling: How to Prevent, Preempt, and Respond to Every Sales Objection You Get " is a unique and effective instruction guide and manual that contains the knowledge, skills, and strategies needed to prevent, preempt, and respond to every sales objection to a marketing pitch or campaign. It even has what is needed to know to answer the otherwise unanswerable objection.
Examples are provided on how to prevent, preempt, and respond to each of the 85 most common sales stopping objections. Scan the list starting on page eight and make note of those that are similar to the ones you get. Look them up in the book and personalize the recommendations to your sales situation.
Critique: Practical, insightful, effective, thought-provoking, informative, "Objection Free Selling: How to Prevent, Preempt, and Respond to Every Sales Objection You Get" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation. While very highly recommended for professional, company, corporate, community, and academic library Business Management collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Objection Free Selling" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.95).
The Self-Help Shelf
Shift of Heart: Paths to Healing and Love
Cheryl Melody Baskin
I. W. A. Publishing Services
9781518727269, $11.99 pbk / $11.99 Kindle, 128pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The pages of "Shift of Heart: Paths to Healing and Love" by Cheryl Melody Baskin positively vibrate with love, inspiration, compassion and encouragement. Each individually crafted chapter gently guides the reader towards an increased self-love, inner peace, balance, presence and mindfulness. Every inspiring word written seeks to unchain inner turmoil and encourage a sense of greater freedom and creative flow. "Shift of Heart" is packed from cover to cover with crystal wisdom, practical tools for navigating challenges, true inspirational stories, short guided visualizations, reflections and meditations, positive affirmations, and a self-help approach humorously entitled My 5 Minute (Chakra) Quickie.
Critique: A compelling, enlightening, informative, insightful, inspiring read from beginning to end, "Shift of Heart: Paths to Healing and Love" is very highly recommended, especially for community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Shift of Heart" is also available in an inexpensive Kindle format ($11.99).
The Call Of The Day
JoyJourney of You Publications
9780997313802, $16.95, PB, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "The Call of the Day", Jodi Hershey offers a compelling invitation to see beyond the turbulence of our ego-driven lives and connect with who we really are; not our material outward looking self but the spiritual entity that dwells eternal in each of us.
Hershey plots this journey with tremendous insight and experience, guiding us to a realm of true contentment and happiness. She explains succinctly what is happening in this unique time and why change is imperative. Through personal growth and a change in perspective, Hershey lets us discover how we can stand sincerely in our authentic truth, allowing us to create a peaceful world brimming with unconditional love.
"The Call Of The Day" will resonate with anyone thirsting for meaning and spirituality in their lives. It will help you uncover your unique talents and realize your potential. Accept this invitation with both hands and rejoice in the freedom and joy that comes from tapping into the Universal Source. This is your call.
Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally 'reader friendly' in tone, organization and presentation, "The Call Of The Day" is a consistently engaging, thoughtful and inspiring read that is unreservedly recommended for community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Call Of The Day" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
A Drop of Water: A Spiritual Journey
Yvonne Williams Casaus
Laughing at Myself LLC
9781627472289, $12.95, PB, 130pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "A Drop of Water: A Spiritual Journey" by Yvonne Williams Casaus is a truly extraordinary and intensely personal account in which she reflects upon her past experiences, grief, and losses to find her way back to her spirituality and strength. Yvonne candidly bares her soul, yet is able to use water as a lighthearted, uninhibited, and fun way to express how we are all connected.
"A Drop of Water" is a spiritually inspired book about healing, grief, and personal growth. It becomes a beautiful poetic journey as Yvonne discovers her love of water as part of what led her towards her spiritual path. Through her writing she is able to express how she was able to find her way through several tremendous losses, including the loss of her husband, and find strength she never knew she had.
Critique: An inherently engaging and consistently compelling read from beginning to end, "A Drop of Water: A Spiritual Journey" reveals author Yvonne Casaus has having a genuine flair for communicating in ways that her readers will find to be both inspired and inspiring. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Self-Help / Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Drop of Water" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
The Best Investment Is Within One's Self
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478776871, $14.95, PB, 114pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The holistic life coaching philosophy of Carrie Register-Haley is grounded in the understanding that every individual is an innate expert in their own life realization. It is her fundamental belief that all men and women possess the ability, expertise and knowledge to create and embody their own definition of success. Because happiness, self-defined success and peace are all at the core of your being; we just have to learn to invest time into tapping into it.
Critique: With her emphasis on self-empowerment being accessible to anyone and everyone, Carrie Register-Haley draws upon her years of experience and expertise as a mentor, a coach, a Human Resources Trainer, a Group Counseling Facilitator, a Victim Advocate, and a Back to School Event Coordinator to deftly write a self-help instructional guide that is impressively 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation. Motivating, inspirational, practical, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Best Investment Is Within One's Self: Self-Investment Quick Tip Guide" is a potentially life-changing read that is very highly recommended for community library and counseling center Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Best Investment Is Within One's Self" is also available in a Kindle format ($8.99).
The Fiction Shelf
North Side Hellion
Benjamin Broeren, Publisher
9780996776349, $15.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle, 328pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Aiden McCarthy enjoys thieving and scheming much more than abiding by the morals of his Catholic, Irish-American, working-class parents. He has always been a pisser, but working for the North Side Gang feeds his youthful desire for action, rebellion, and romance. When Aiden's pa is injured in crossfire between Italian gangsters, he must balance adventure with duty to family. With his interest in the daughter of one of the Italians and a sense of justice in the midst of gangland competition, he must find his way through undercurrents of lust, social upheaval, and rebellion against Prohibition. "North Side Hellion" intertwines with Irish-American gang leader Dean O'Banion, a young Alphonse Capone, John Torrio, and other historical Chicago gangland figures in a Jazz Age tapestry of violence, intrigue, and ambition.
Critique: North Side Hellion is a roller-coaster ride of a historical adventure. An impressively well crafted and riveting read from beginning to end, "North Side Hellion " is a novel of vice, loyalty, and passion in the era of the Roaring Twenties and showcases "North Side Hellion " author Ben Broeren's exceptional and genuine flair for creating the kind of story that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself is finished and set back upon the shelf. While very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "North Side Hellion" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).
Taming the Dragon Series: There Is No Rainbow
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781524613174, $31.99, HC, 254pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Taming the Dragon Series: There Is No Rainbow" by Helen Webster is a grim but engaging story of what happens to a twelve-year-old boy growing up in a violent home. While a work of fiction, all the violent incidents are true and drawn from the professional experience of the author who is an anger management therapist in Calgary, Canada, working with extremely violent patients as well as young victims of abuse. "Taming the Dragon Series: There Is No Rainbow" is the story of the emotional, physical, and psychological abuse done to young Jason Winters and his siblings by his brutal father. Jason's mother appears helpless to stop the abuse but is herself a victim of traumatic bonding, unable to break free of her abuser, her husband.
Critique: A sobering and compelling read from beginning to end, "Taming the Dragon Series: There Is No Rainbow" is seriously recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Taming the Dragon Series: There Is No Rainbow" is also available in a paperback edition (9781524613198, $20.99) and in a Kindle format ($3.99).
Pants On Fire Press
9781537214528, $12.99, PB, 264pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Kathy Bishop is moving up in the world. Recently hired as the CEO of the pharmaceutical giant, MedVasive, she graduates from a successful law firm into a fast-paced world of medical innovation and high-profile publicity. Her new position tests her skills as both a lawyer and a businesswoman, but she is determined to let nothing stop her from taking her company to new heights. With the support of her small-town family and her childhood best friend, Kyle, Kathy harnesses the power she has been given and begins to make her mark on the world. Until the unthinkable happens. When tragedy strikes and her life is turned upside down, Kathy's faith in herself, in her company, in everything she believes, is shaken in ways she never thought possible.
Critique: A compelling and deftly crafted novel that showcases author Sara Blackwell's genuine flair for creating memorable characters and engaging storylines of unexpected twists and turns, "Venergy" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections.
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781365444401, $12.00, PB, 174pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Junkyard Lucy" is a collection of short stories by Canadian underground writer Tony Nesca. Stylistically alternating between Nesca's unique free-flow style, full of that incredible, rhythmic prose that only he can do, and street-tough, short declarative sentences, the stories reveal an author with an incredible range of subject matter.
The themes stories are varied and widespread, ranging from love, sex, music, and death, to old age, rebellious youth, and everything in-between, "Junkyard Lucy" is a subversive celebration of being alive, a romantic, sexually charged discourse on life, alive, unfettered and free.
Critique: An inherently compelling and simply riveting read, this impressive short story anthology is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community library Contemporary General Fiction shelves, and college/university library Canadian Literary Fiction collections.
Nobody Knows Where Frank Hutchison Is Buried
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781537168241, $21.85, PB, 658pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Frank Hutchison is raised in a laissez-faire manner by his widowed mother and has to fashion an identity by observing the way adults and his schoolmates act and speak. Though often lonely and insecure he cherishes his freedom and believes that he can recognize others who possess a similar consciousness, which he finds is often expressed in creativity and non-conformism.
He imagines himself becoming a baseball player, and activist, a historian, and a writer, but his real goal is simply to remain free of any responsibility except to himself. Threatened by military conscription he changes his name and moves to a small town with three friends who call themselves The Experiment.
When events force them to separate, Frank finds that he is no longer certain who he is. He spends years on the fringes of society imagining that the government is pursuing him. He becomes a janitor, and when he retires he discovers that his best friend, who became a prominent restaurateur but whom Frank has not contacted for forty years, has died. As he drives across the country to visit the friend's grave, he recalls the events of his own life and his youthful desires are re-awakened.
But when offered the chance to revive The Experiment he realizes that the identity and purpose that he has always sought cannot be found in a person or a place or material success, but are manifestations of a journey that for him will never end.
Critique: "Nobody Knows Where Frank Hutchison Is Buried" by Richard Siciliano satirizes an ethos often ascribed to the war baby generation. A complex, multilayered, deftly crafted read from beginning to end, "Nobody Knows Where Frank Hutchison Is Buried" showcases Siciliano as having a genuine flair for deftly crafted and memorable characters and a consistently compelling story that fully engages the reader's attention at every twist and turn of the storyline. While highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nobody Knows Where Frank Hutchison Is Buried" is also available in a Kindle format ($8.99).
The Irish Tempest
Elizabeth J. Sparrow
The Waxing Gibbous Press
9780997685114, $17.99, PB, 287pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: After seven centuries of unyielding oppression, there is a tempest rising, a national yearning for Irish independence in 1911. It threatens to sweep away all that is precious to the very privileged O'Rourke and de la Roche families. Seismic changes are but a whisper away.
What begins as a squabbling friendship between the wastrel Courtland O'Rourke and the defiant, mischief-making Lacey de la Roche matures into a deeply passionate, tempestuous love, fraught with secrets of lethal consequences and sins of omission.
Pulled apart by personal and social conflicts, Court and Lacey experience the world from perspectives both transformative and destructive. Court, compelled to accept a commission in the British army, initiates a disastrous affair with rippling aftershocks. Lacey, fueled by the arrogance of adolescence, is beguiled by a charismatic but sociopathic horse trainer.
"The Irish Tempest" thrusts the reader into the anguish of the 1916 Easter Rising and beyond as Ireland seethes on the cusp of revolution.
Critique: "The Irish Tempest" is author Elizabeth Sparrow's debut novel and beckons the reader into a world, where landowner and tenant farmer, the well-off and the working-class are chafing under the chokehold of British domination. Deftly paced with vividly drawn characters, "The Irish Tempest" embraces historical elements while preserving the essence of evocative storytelling and reveals author Elizabeth Sparrow as having a genuine flair for deftly creating memorable characters and a riveting storyline that fully engages the readers rapt attention from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Irish Tempest" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).
Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air
Stephen F. Austin University Press
9781622881031, $18.00, PB, 175pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air" is an anthology of 13 short stories by Jeff Fearnside that are linked thematically by the recurring idea of flight, in its various definitions and senses. The characters are sometimes in flight from their situations, sometimes from other people, sometimes from themselves.
The stories range from contemporary to historical, from realistic to magical realist. The known and the unknown often blur as the characters struggle to understand the unseen forces that move them. Ultimately, the crises that all the characters encounter are psychological or spiritual in some way, however each may define that; as the title of the collection suggests, the characters find themselves levitating somewhere between their deepest desires and an exquisite and terrifying nothingness.
No one in these stories "wins" in the traditional sense; there are no tidy answers. But the stories are subtly life affirming in how each character deals with the difficulties of life. Each learns something about himself or herself, however fleeting that knowledge may be, however small a step forward it inspires. Life isn't static, and neither are these people.
Critique: Showcasing and documenting author Jeff Fearnside's genuine flair for deftly creating memorable characters and original, entertaining, and thought-provoking storylines, "Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air" is highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Literary Fiction collections.
Cable of Fate
John Eric Vining
101 Tyrellan Avenue Suite 100 New York, NY 10309
9781684090617, $15.95, PB, amazon.com
Synopsis: On both sides of the turn of the twentieth century, there emerged a style of writing that was a distant kin to the modern historical novel. It was known as Les Guerres Imaginaires, which can basically be translated into "The Imaginary War."
It was a literary device used to tell how future wars might occur and be fought. This type of novel was written by military authors who sought to mold and enhance their foresight with intricate historical and political analyses. Examples of this genre include "The Battle of Dorking," a 1871 short story in Blackwood's Magazine by Sir George Tomkyns Chesney; The Great Naval War of 1887, written in 1886 by Sir William Laird Clowes and Commander Charles N. Robinson; The Great War of 189-, A Forecast, by Rear Admiral Philip Colomb, written in 1893; The War Inevitable (1908), by Alan H. Burgoyne; The Valor of Ignorance (1909), by Homer Lea; and two great novels of the 1920s, Sea Power in the Pacific (1920) and The Great Pacific War (1925), by Hector Bywater.
In "Cable of Fate: The Zimmermann Affair and The Great Southwestern War of 1917", author John Eric Vining resurrects a mirror image of this genre to look back into history and explore what might have happened if Mexico had taken Germany's 1917 Zimmermann Telegram seriously and attempted to recapture the American Southwest at the height of World War I.
While this is fantastically unbelievable at first glance, a further analysis is warranted. What you might find is that not only was a Mexican invasion of the American Southwest quite possible in 1917, the real surprise is that it did not happen in the actual history of World War I!
Critique: With a kind of imaginative realism, "Cable of Fate: The Zimmermann Affair and The Great Southwestern War of 1917" is a consistently compelling read from cover to cover. An iconoclastic but thoroughly riveting 'what if' look at history, "Cable of Fate" is an unfailingly engaging read that is as entertaining -- and clearly showcases author John Eric Vining as having a genuine flair for originality and storytelling. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cable of Fate" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).
Games of Make-Believe
Julie Ann Wambach
9780981481814, $12.95, PB, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Amidst the 1960-1990 Phoenix transformation, the Prince family struggles to create what we now call a "blended family" before they ever heard the term. When a prosperous gentleman convinces her to marry him, Bella's arduous existence suddenly holds the promise of enchantment. Thus begins twenty-eight stories, some in the style of a romantic fairytale, others of a comedy or a tragedy. Together, the stories explore the role of make-believe in a dysfunctional stepfamily trying to make sense of their lives in the changing community around them.
At the center of the family discord is the daughter who Bella's husband brings into the marriage. Renata immediately rejects her new stepmother and two stepsisters. No one knows how to unify this group. As an adult survivor of child abuse, Bella struggles to create a convincing self-identity within her new husband's affluent world. Her take-charge approach to running the family convinces others, but not herself. In an effort to make sense of it all, Bella latches onto a series of religions and pop psychologies, while her husband wholly devotes himself to the intense competition surrounding his flourishing home development business.
Critique: "Games of Make-Believe" is author Julie Ann Wambach's debut novel and reveals her to have an authentic flair for deftly creating a memorable story that is a deeply engaging and consistently entertaining read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Games of Make-Believe" is also available in a Kindle format ($5.99).
Green Ivy Publishing
18 W 140 Butterfield Road, Suite 1500, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181-4843
9781943955787, $17.89, PB, 424pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Cage fighter Mathew Stemp is known as a hero to some, a criminal to others, and a legend to all who live in northern Utah. As a cannibal virus spreads internationally, the world is torn between Exterminationists and Curists. This is also when Mathew leaves his prostitution business to repair his relationship with his brother and his God. But his journey becomes even more difficult when he meets Shaylee, the victim of both the virus and his brother's bullying. While battling his ongoing depression, Matt fights to protect his friends from his past in SemiViral.
Critique: Original, engaging, and a deftly crafted read from cover to cover, "SemiViral" clearly showcases author Jax Anderson as a genuinely gifted storyteller with a particular knack for creating a memorable story that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "SemiViral" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.99).
No More Tears
Joseph J. Sollish
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478779957, $24.95, HC, 112pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "No More Tears", author Joseph J. Sollish tells the story of a young girl's aspiration to be a movie star, and what her life becomes in the years after she first leaves her home in New Jersey to travel to Hollywood. Candace Donato lives in many places; Perth Amboy. New York, Century City, Los Angeles. Her "family" is all she lives for.
Critique: Written with a genuine flair for realism, "No More Tears" by novelist Joseph Sollish is a consistently compelling and unfailingly entertaining read from beginning to end. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "No More Tears" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
The Liberty Box
C. A. Gray
9780991185849, $12.99, PB, 332pp, www.amazon.com
Kate Brandeis has it all: a famous reporter at the age of twenty-four, she's the face of the Republic of the Americas. She has a loving fiancee and all the success she could wish for. But when she learns of the death of a long-forgotten friend, her investigations unravel her perfect memories, forcing her to face the fact that she's been living a lie.
Jackson MacNamera, trained from a young age in the art of mind control, returns to the Republic for his mother's funeral. Within a few hours of his arrival, authorities collect Jackson and take him by force to a room ironically called The Liberty Box, where he must choose between surrendering his thoughts to the new Republic, or fleeing for his freedom.
Kate, bereaved and confused, finds her way to a cave community of refugees, where Jackson seems to offer her an escape from her grief. The two forge an uneasy bond, and in the process Jackson learns that Kate has some insight which may help the hunters in their attempt to free other citizens from the tyranny of the Potentate.
Against the expressed wishes of the Council, the hunters plot a series of daring raids, attempting to prove that not only is freedom possible, but that the citizens are not too far gone to desire it. But with the odds so stacked against them, can the refugees succeed in their rescue missions right under the Potentate's nose?
Critique: Original, compelling, and a consistently compelling read from cover to cover, "The Liberty Box" wonderfully showcases author C. A. Gray's impressive flair for deftly crafted characters and riveting story elements. Simply stated, "The Liberty Box" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections and the personal reading lists of Science Fiction 'Alternate History' fans.
Black Rose Writing
PO Box 1540, Castroville, TX 78009
9781612966526, $17.95, PB, 266pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Charlotte Alexandra Long is determined to create her own life, but severe reverberations await her at the crossroads of each decision and always the possibility that the very thing she put in place on her own terms could be wiped away by an uncertain future.
As "Pepper's Ghost" weaves in and out of her experiences as a teen and young adult, and locations in the South and Midwest, Alex emerges from the remains of young Charlotte, but her evolving identity will never escape being an outsider in society's eyes.
After a series of ill-fitting jobs, Alex joins a traveling amusement company as a sideshow performer, where illusion and reality interplay through the metaphor of an old theater trick. There she faces challenges from her troubled but devoted father, her self-absorbed mother, a spectrum of circus employees, and emotional ties to memories and places that give solace in times of ambiguity and loneliness.
Critique: An immediately absorbing read, "Pepper's Ghost" is a deftly crafted and consistently compelling novel that reveals author William Auten as a genuinely gifted and impressively skilled storyteller. While certain to be an enduringly popular addition to any community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Pepper's Ghost" is also available in an inexpensive Kindle format ($0.99).
The Year of Loving
Traci L. Slatton
9781942523062, $19.99, PB, 432pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Art gallerist Sarah Paige's world is crumbling. One daughter barely speaks to her and the other is off the rails. Sarah is struggling to keep her gallery afloat in a tough market when she learns that her most beloved friend has cancer. In the midst of her second divorce, two men come into her life: an older man who offers companionship and stability and an exciting younger man whose life is as chaotic as hers. Sarah's courage, humor, and spirit strengthen her, but how much can she bear, and what sustains her when all else falls away?
Critique: A deftly crafted and compelling read from beginning to end, "The Year of Loving" clearly showcases author Traci Slatton's genuine flair for storytelling. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary Romance & General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Year of Loving" is also available in a Kindle format ($4.99).
Freedom, 250,000 BC
PO Box 221974, Anmchorage, Alaska, 99522-1974
9781594336331, $9.95, PB, 102pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: After years of abuse from his father Wing leaves the only home he's ever known to find, as the male lion he sees leave its pride, a new home or die. At age 16, frail, injured, and alone in the mountainous untamed and untouched wilderness of Mexico of 250,000 BC, Wing struggles to survive, proving himself against a bear, where he learns elementary freedom.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and unfailingly entertaining novella that demonstrates author Bonnye Matthews as having a genuine flair for deftly crafting a truly riveting read from beginning to end, "Freedom, 250,000 BC", although a work of fiction, is based upon years of painstaking iconoclastic research on the origins and history of homo sapiens in general, and the arrival of humans in the America's in particular. While very highly recommended, for readers to whom this is their first introduction to the writings of Bonnye Matthews, it should be noted that she is the author of five novels comprising her "Winds of Change" series on the theme of the 'peopling of the Americas' and include: "Ki'ti's Story: 75,000 BC" (9781594333125, $19.95 PB, $10.49 Kindle); "Manak-na's Story: 75,000 BC" (9781594333736, $19.95 PB, $8.79 Kindle); "Zamimolo's Story: 50,000 BC" (9781594334566, $19.95 PB, $10.49 Kindle); "Tuksook's Story: 35000 BC" (9781594335211, $19.95 PB, $9.49 Kindle); "The SealEater's Story: 20,000 BC" (9781594336003, $19.95 PB, $9.49 Kindle).
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
The Rage of Plum Blossoms
Christine M. Whitehead
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781537338576, $9.99, PB, 318pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Attorney Quinn Jones is in over her head. Her husband, Jordan Chang, Annapolis grad and superstar businessman, has been found dead outside their Greenwich Village brownstone. He's wearing clothes that aren't his, and was last seen at a place he never went while consorting with people he shouldn't -- and he's vastly richer than he ought to be. Since NYPD has labeled Jordan's death a suicide, Quinn is on her own to uncover the truth. Courtrooms, Quinn knows. Chanel No. 5, horses, frizzy hair, and martial arts, she knows. Murder, she doesn't know but she's learning fast in order to stay alive. With a few clues to work with, including a photo of Jordan with a stunning unknown Asian woman and a copy of a 1986 check payable to Jordan for twelve million dollars, Quinn stalks the back streets of Chinatown, haunted by the need to know what happened that day and why.
Critique: An original and riveting mystery, "The Rage of Plum Blossoms" showcases author Christine Whitehead's genuine flair for deftly crafting memorable characters and skillfully creating consistently compelling twists and turns in her story. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "The Rage of Plum Blossoms" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.49).
The Grave Tracker
9780974343853, $16.95, PB, 318pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Upon learning of his young wife's affair, Anthony Falcone murdered her and tossed her lover's infant son into a dumpster. After his arrest his criminal father bribed the head of the Phoenix mental hospital to drug his son and declare him incompetent for trial, thus preventing Anthony from trying to obtain a plea bargain and throw his father to the wolves. After spending thirteen years being drugged and kept in the ward for the criminally insane, Anthony is finally able fool a new nurse into believing he was taking his medication. With careful planning, he quickly manages to escape, intent on exacting revenge against his father and those who conspired to keep him from being put in prison where he had a reasonable expectation of parole someday, rather than living a lifetime in a drugged stupor. The man they call The Grave Tracker is intent upon locating Anthony before he can wreak havoc on the child he thought he had killed; a boy who has been adopted with a now unknown name and location. Anthony is fanatically ingenious and hell bent to find the boy, no matter how many bodies he has to step over to do so. The Grave Tracker plans to intercept Anthony and find the boy first with his own unique set of skills, and there is no time to waste.
Critique: A simply riveting read from cover to cover, "The Grave Tracker" showcases author Teresa Mariotta's genuine flair for deftly created and memorable characters and constructing a fully engaging storyline of twists and turns until reaching a climatic conclusion. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Grave Tracker" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.95).
Vector: Tradecraft: Phase Zero
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781537261751, $14.95, PB, 368pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When researcher Jawad Khattib gasps his last breath on the Massachusetts General Hospital floor, the Department of Homeland Security wants answers -- especially after a preliminary autopsy suggests he died of radiation poisoning. What exactly was Khattib working on? And who was he working for? DHS Agent Lee Jansen is rushed to Boston and paired with expert toxicologist Dr. Emma Hess to crack the case. All evidence points to the creation of a dirty bomb, but the clues seem too clean, too obvious. During the course of their investigation, they discover the horrible truth. This new weapon is far more deadly than anyone had expected. It isn't just capable of killing hundreds -- it's capable of killing hundreds of thousands. Can they stop what's been set in motion by a madman with a dangerous secret before it's too late?
Critique: An exceptionally well crafted and thriller, "Vector: Tradecraft: Phase Zero" reveals author Michael Shusko to have a genuine flair for creating a truly memorable thriller. While this riveting novel is very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Vector: Tradecraft: Phase Zero" is also available in a Kindle format ($4.99).
S. K. Nicholls
Brave Blue Heron Books
9780989568609, $14.50, PB, 238pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When a young immigrant woman and an exotic dancer are fleeing men with guns and have no place to hide, Richard Noggin, P.I., can't turn his back on them, even if helping them makes him a target.
Richard plans to impress an aspiring politician by taking on a big white-collar case with the potential of getting him off the streets and into air-conditioned offices. Instead, he's handed a cold case and quickly finds himself sucked into a shadowy world of sex, secrets and murder.
Marked for a bullet and stretched thin by his investigations, he reluctantly teams up with the unlikely, brassy custodian of the young woman on the run. With bodies piling up, they go undercover in a nudist resort, determined to catch the killer and bring down the mastermind of the Alliance before someone else dies.
From the dark corners of Orlando's Little Saigon, to the sunny exposure of Leisure Lagoon, the Naked Eye juggles to keep his balls in the air.
Critique: A deftly crafted and riveting read from cover to cover, "Naked Alliances" showcases author S. K. Nicholls as a master of the genre. While unreservedly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Naked Alliances" is also available in a Kindle format ($2.99).
Murder In White Lace
Karen Sue Walker
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781537603728, $8.95, PB, 190pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The last thing anyone expected in the idyllic seaside California town of Crystal Shores was murder! Max Walters is a talented bridal consultant with dreams of moving to New York and being a designer. When her boss goes on vacation, things quickly unravel when one of her clients is poisoned. With her childhood friend arrested, Max decides to investigate and clear his name. With help from her new assistant, Keiko, and the other colorful residents of Crystal Shores, Max begins to weave together a list of suspects, much to the concern of the handsome Detective Cruz. Will she be able to tie up the loose threads and catch the murderer -- or will the murderer get to her first?
Critique: A thoroughly entertaining and consistently compelling read from beginning to end, "Murder In White Lace" showcases author Karen Sue Walker's impressive flair for deftly crafted characters and truly memorable knack for conjuring up unexpected plot twists and turns. While highly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Murder In White Lace" is also available in an inexpensive Kindle format ($0.99).
The Key to Cabo
Viveca Smith Publishing
9780974055114, $13.99, PB, 296pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Danger is a way of life for Rock Pounder, so when the DEA asks him to recover $250 million in drug money hidden somewhere in Mexico, the 10% finder's fee makes the risk worthwhile for Rock and his team. The money comes from an Asian drug lord for the purchase of drug routes into the United States from a Mexican cartel, which makes twice as much danger for Rock and his team. When his beautiful publisher Penelope Dickens Frost finds herself in possession of a key that leads to the drug money, Rock finds trouble on more levels than he ever expected. Penelope is one of the only women who hasn't immediately fallen for Rock's charms, but things heat up as the two of them race across the Mexican desert on Rock's dirt bike, with Mexican drug lord El Raton in hot pursuit. From Dallas to Cabo San Lucas and into mainland Mexico, Rock and Penelope follow the money trail, with Rock's unique team aiding in the escapade. But someone on the inside is betraying them. And publisher Penelope Dickens Frost proves to be almost more than even Rock Pounder can handle.
Critique: A riveting read from cover to cover, "The Key to Cabo" is a non-stop thriller showcasing author Dave Harrold's impressive mastery of this action/adventure genre. The second volume of novelist Harrold's 'Rock Pounder' series, "The Key to Cabo" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Suspense/Thriller Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Key to Cabo" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
David G. Barnett
9781944703165, $9.95, PB, 154pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Hank Barker is a hardened detective who's seen just about every terrible thing one human can do to another. But the horrors he found in an abandoned warehouse in a forgotten part of the city leave him shaken beyond belief.
Dack is a small-time meth dealer whose life just went up in smoke. He figures he has limited time on this Earth before his boss comes looking for a pound of flesh. So he runs to the one place he feels at home -- a dive bar run by Bull. But Dack's home away from home quickly turns into a downward spiral of murder and chaos.
Zee is an otherworldly bounty hunter who shows up at Bull's bar to collect his bounty, but finds something far more interesting.
Bull and Dack suddenly find themselves on a road trip with the bounty hunter whose hunt leads them headfirst into a maelstrom of stunning revelations and utter destruction.
Critique: An original and riveting read from cover to cover, "Neon Wings" showcases author Hank Barker's impressive storytelling skills. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Action Adventure/Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Neon Wings" is also available in a Kindle format ($2.99).
The Old Lady Detective Agency
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781535557771, $15.00, PB, 338pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Old Lady Detective Agency" by Ryan Herrin is a laugh-out-loud humorous detective story that follows two inept ladies that stumble their way through their first case that no one asked them to take on.
Pam is the leader; she is also a delusional paranoid that believes she can take down the crime syndicate that she invented to explain her missing car keys. Betty is her reluctant partner. She wouldn't mind helping Pam solve crimes, but reality T.V. is on, and she has half a sheet cake in her fridge. How could these two not succeed?
Critique: Wonderfully entertaining and consistently well written from beginning to end, "The Old Lady Detective Agency" showcases author Ryan Herrin's originality and truly impressive reader engaging and storytelling skills as a novelist. While very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Old Lady Detective Agency" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
National Writers Press
9780881001648, $14.95, PB, 390pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Edie Firebaugh and her team of young, career-oriented women, are coerced to dye their hair to blend into their insurance company's event planning department to conceal their real work in special investigations, fraud prevention, and agent termination. As they ascend, and infiltrate the company's hierarchy, they uncover a layered scheme in the private placement annuity unit, which limits pay-outs to customers through mass murders designed to look like tragic accidents. The unit also happens to be the most profitable for their company.
Critique: Original, entertaining, compelling, "Hatchet Women" is a consistently riveting read and clearly showcases author Nick Sconce and his genuine flair for deftly created characters and impressive storytelling skills. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hatchet Women" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
A Price for Genius
9781942545682, $15.75, PB, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Dr. Lindsey McCall's worst fears are realized. Not only have both drugs been stolen but two women have been kidnapped -- and one of them maybe dead. Lindsey had known Lisa Reardon's new drug was alchemy, only this time, the end product actually more precious than gold. The desperate call from Hank Reardon in Switzerland came late at night. Could Lindsey and Rich Jansen uncover who was behind the crimes? It was an inside job-could they figure out who had sold out the Reardons? All in time to save Reardon's daughter and her chief tech Ariana? Were they risking their lives as well?
Critique: An impressively entertaining and consistently compelling read from cover to cover, "A Price for Genius" reveals author Lin Wilder's genuine flair for narrative storytelling and deftly crafted, memorable characters. While very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Price for Genius" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.19).
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781631857645, $25.99, HC, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Twenty-nine years after the tragic death of her childhood best friend, Hope, Jean Cartwright Rhodes returns to her hometown with her husband and daughter after she inherits the house her friend's family once lived in. Now, years later, she finds herself haunted by a dark truth - and by the specter of Hope herself.
Every time Jean looks through her kitchen window, she sees two stark reminders of her troubled past; the Afta-U sailboat, ironically named after young Hope, and the old oak tree where her eleven-year-old friend met her death at the hands of another child.
"Afta-U" unfolds as a psychological chess match, a complex web of intrigue, unexpected relationships, lies, and devastating secrets as Jean struggles with the impact of decisions she made long ago on all the lives around her. When Jean confronts and tries to come to grips with Hope's killer, she finds herself waging a personal battle between madness and redemption.
Critique: A strikingly original and consistently compelling read from beginning to end, "Afta-U" showcases author Jennifer-Lynn Keniston as having a genuine flair for creating truly memorable characters and a riveting storytelling skill set. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "After-U" is also available in a paperback edition (9781680284270, $16.99) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
The Cygnus Virus
T. J. Zakreski
Dancing Star Publications
9781533391827, $14.00, PB, 366pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Andron's life goes into full wtf mode when he accidentally downloads a space virus, after enrolling his old computer in a SETI-like program. A virus that crashes the entire Internet. A virus that has a name. It's Cygnus, a foulmouthed digital pest, who was expelled from a dystopian planet Earth. And it only gets worse.
Cygnus strong-arms Andron into doing his dirty work. But, goes too far when someone winds up dead. That's when Andron discovers Cygnus' shocking plan. A plan to hijack a human cloning trial using blood from a burial cloth, so that he can come back as Terra's Jesus. Andron comes to the only conclusion he can. That he has to stop this psychopath. But, how does he stop a digital god who's holding all the cards? What if the only person who can help him, can't decide if she hates him, or just thinks he's nuts?
The birth's about to go down in Bathsheba and Andron's bringing a gun. This is the story of rum, tarot cards, eternal recurrence and a Second Coming that you won't see coming.
Critique: Very highly recommended for both community library Science Fiction collections, "The Cygnus Virus" is the first volume of a planned trilogy and showcases author T. J. Zakreski's genuine flair for deftly created characters and a original, consistently compelling storyline that engages the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end. It should be noted for the personal readers lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "The Cygnus Virus" is also available in an inexpensive Kindle format ($0.99).
Atlantis: The Akashic Trials
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781537414485, $9.99, PB, 238pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: There is something so intoxicating and familiar about Luke. Never in a million years did Lee think the live-stream she runs with her narcissistic ex, Austin, would lead her to him and, most importantly, to the lost island of Atlantis. Lee and Austin have created success by live-streaming the retrieval of stone skull artifacts from around the world. Luke and his research team, Indigo Deep, call upon the live-stream's internet celebrity to broadcast the return to what is believed to be the recently discovered island of Atlantis. There, they hope to open the mysterious Hall of Records. However, it is not as simple as turning a key. The group is forced to undergo a series of seven trials designed to test mortal worth. Together, Lee and Luke must somehow survive, relying solely on their otherworldly connection to each other, and the critical realization that the Hall was closed for reasons directly connected to them.
Critique: A singularly original and deftly crafted novel, "Atlantis: The Akashic Trials" is a simply riveting read from beginning to end and clearly showcases author Cristiana Dipietro's genuine flair for storytelling. Unfailingly entertaining from cover to cover, "Atlantis: The Akashic Trials" is especially recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Atlantis: The Akashic Trials" is also available in a Kindle format ($2.99).
USFP: A New Beginning
M. I. Clark
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781456716615, $21.99, HC, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A woman taken by aliens, working for the Galactic Entity, assigned to work as a Police Officer. When Matrix was returned to Earth sixty years had passed on Earth. She was returned to a world she didn't know, and with emotions she wasn't use to. She could finally choose what to do for a job; she chose to be a police officer on Earth, since that is all she'd known for many, many years. For the first time since she was taken by the Galactic Entity, Matrix had a choice of who to work for. She chose to work for Lieutenant John Doe in Texas. She was drawn to him more then she'd ever been drawn to anyone before. Little did she know just what that choice would cost her and those around her.
Critique: Original, compelling, unfailingly entertaining, "USFP: A New Beginning" is an extraordinary science fiction novel that will prove to be a riveting read from beginning to end. While certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of science fiction fans that "USFP: A New Beginning" is also available in a paperback edition (9781456716622, $15.99).
9781593309145, $12.95, PB, 177pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It's been a year since Selena D'Agostino fled Castle Cormoran and her vampire kinsmen, staking Philip and setting Kieran on fire as he slept in his coffin. After Kieran appears at her book signing (and just as quickly vanishes) Selena receives a mysterious telephone call from a solicitor in Leeds, urging her to return to claim her inheritance. Will Selena return to Cormoran for a reunion with her beloved Kieran -- and possibly her death?
Critique: A simply riveting read from cover to cover, "Selena's Requiem" is a novel that clearly showcases author Ria Dimitra as a master of the vampire fantasy genre. Very highly recommended, especially for the personal reading lists of vampire fantasy fans, "Selena's Requiem" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library fantasy fiction collections. Also very highly recommended by Ria Mimitra is her earlier Selena D'Agostino novel "The Blood Waltz" (9780595125630, $11.95, PB, 184pp).
The Tormented Witch
J. C. Beckham
The Solopreneur Publishing Ltd.
9780993452758, $8.95, PB, 334pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Apart from the fact that Leila Albergo was born in England, she was just like any other seventeen-year-old U.S. high schooler. That was until, by a dark twist of fate, she develops supernatural powers. Leila is convinced that her feelings for school heartthrob Luca Jareau will remain unnoticed until he turns out to be her greatest ally. With his help, she must learn to control her magic and conceal the truth from everyone else, in order to protect the people she loves. Leila also realizes that some friends are not always who they seem to be and that staying alive at any cost, can sometimes be too high a price to pay.
Critique: A deftly crafted and, original, and compelling read from beginning to end, "The Tormented Witch" is an extraordinary novel that showcases author J. C. Beckham's genuine flair for truly engaging storytelling. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Tormented Witch" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.63).
The Christian Studies Shelf
9781945304156, $18.95, 268pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "Miscarried Joy: Moving Beyond Incredible Pain to Extraordinary Faith", Tanika Fitzgerald transparently shares her deeply personal and disappointing experiences of losing her babies due to miscarriage. There were times when she felt God was the cause of her pain. However, her journey through the lives of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth and Naomi, revealed quite the opposite -- God had allowed her pain for a much greater purpose. Each of these women had something in common: they learned to surrender their will and trust God's plan beyond the pain. They were pushed to a posture of prayer that led them from questioning God to have total confidence in Him. Tanika discovered that this season of waiting didn't show up simply to challenge her, but to change her.
With biblical depth, heart-filled transparency and a voice of passion, Tanika's readers will: Understand God's heart in the midst of incredible pain; Discover the importance of trusting God's plan over their own; Arm themselves with the strength to let go of bitterness and comparison to appreciate the beauty of their story; Learn and implement spiritual principles and strategies to walk boldly in faith; Embrace God's delay and birth contentment in their season of waiting
For those who have miscarried, for those who have had difficulty conceiving, for those to whom motherhood is a calling that they fear stepping into, for those whose vision of motherhood has not yet come to pass, "Miscarried Joy" has something for any and all of them who needs help pushing through incredible pain to conquer discouragement, walk in faith and birth their purpose. God's delay in their lives could be a set up for their greatest calling to be fulfilled.
Critique: Impressively well written with candor and insight, "Miscarried Joy: Moving Beyond Incredible Pain to Extraordinary Faith" is very highly recommended for all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations. Inspired and inspiring, "Miscarried Joy" will prove to be an immensely appreciated addition to church and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Miscarried Joy" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).
All the King's Horses
9781629984193, $17.99, PB, 448pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: With a happy family and millions in assets, Barry Milazzo seemed to have it all. Like that fairytale egg, his second child, Bryson, was suddenly shattered by catastrophic brain-injury. It was predicted that he would never walk or speak, and he would be virtually uneducable. An unwanted divorce resulted in his raising his children alone. Financial ruin came and he lost his family home. Shocking episodes of bullying and abuse caused his impaired son to threaten suicide. Finally, physical disease and collapse nearly ended this single father's life.
Tempted to curse God and die in the face of unbearable pain, Barry Milazzo chose to rely fully upon God, and in the process, discovered timeless Scriptural truths which are passed on to the reader in the pages of "All the King's Horses: Finding Purpose and Hope in Brokenness and Impossibility".
Critique: Impressively candid, extraordinarily well written, exceptionally engaging from cover to cover, "All the King's Horses: Finding Purpose and Hope in Brokenness and Impossibility" is a potential life-changing read that is very highly recommended -- especially to all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "All the King's Horses" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.99).
The Antiques/Collectibles Shelf
Collect Value Divest: The Savvy Appraiser
Flandricka House Press
9780998102504, $13.95, PB, 182pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A certified member of the Appraisers Association of America, Elizabeth Stewart draws upon her years of experience and expertise as a seasoned appraiser to share her secrets of the art and antique marketplace in "Collect Value Divest: The Savvy Appraiser". Her readers will learn what appraisers don't want them to know -- including all the tools to assess value, beauty, provenance, and quality. Stewart employs real-life cases and rich images to illustrate and instruct her readers on all the Do's and Don'ts; how, what, and where to collect the next big thing; clues to identification and worth; online tools for value; how to sell and what to donate; and what the children will not want by way of inheritance.
Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation, "Collect Value Divest: The Savvy Appraiser" is very highly recommended for both community, professional, and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists that "Collect Value Divest: The Savvy Appraiser" is also available in a Kindle format ($4.99).
The Biography Shelf
Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe
Good Knight Books
c/o Paladin Communications
9780996274050, $28.95, HC, 400pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In March 1941, Jimmy Stewart, America's boy next door and recent Academy Award winner, left fame and fortune behind and joined the United States Army Air Corps to fulfill his family mission and serve his country. He rose from private to colonel and participated in 20 often-brutal World War II combat missions over Germany and France. In mere months the war took away his boyish looks as he faced near-death experiences and the loss of men under his command. The war finally won, he returned home with millions of other veterans to face an uncertain future, suffering what we now know as PTSD. Younger stars like Gregory Peck were now getting roles that might have been Stewart's, and he didn't know if he would ever work in Hollywood again. Then came It's a Wonderful Life.
For the next half century, Stewart refused to discuss his combat experiences and took the story of his service to the grave. Mission presents the first in-depth look at Stewart's life as a Squadron Commander in the skies over Germany, and, his return to Hollywood the changed man who embarked on production of America's most beloved holiday classic.
Author Robert Matzen sifted through thousands of Air Force combat reports and the Stewart personnel files; interviewed surviving aviators who flew with Stewart; visited the James Stewart Papers at Brigham Young University; flew in the cockpits of the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator; and walked the earth of air bases in England used by Stewart in his combat missions of 1943-45. What emerges in Mission is the story of a Jimmy Stewart you never knew until now, a story more fantastic than any he brought to the screen.
Critique: Exhaustively researched, exceptionally well written, "Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe" is as informed and informative as it is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. While certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library American Biography collections and a 'must' for all Jimmy Stewart fans, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.49).
Photographer, Paratrooper, POW
Anamcara Press LLC
PO Box 442072, Lawrence, KS 66044-2072
9781941237038, $31.95, PB, 446pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Photographer, Paratrooper, POW: A Wyoming Cowboy in Hitler's Germany" tells the story of three brothers who leave their Wyoming home to fight in World War II. Carroll started with extensive, detailed family histories assembled by Merle Harris and other genealogists, and added the voluminous collection of military records, memorabilia, photographs, war-time correspondence, and personal notes saved by Harold Carroll, who, as the title suggests, was one of America's first paratroopers, a combat photographer, and a prisoner of war who escaped repeatedly from the Nazis. Carroll supplements these extensive primary-source materials with meticulous research of other published and unpublished works, all fully documented and cited for the benefit of further research.
Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of black-and-white photos, "Photographer, Paratrooper, POW: A Wyoming Cowboy in Hitler's Germany " is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. An impressively informative and consistently compelling read from cover to cover, "Photographer, Paratrooper, POW" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to the growing library of World War II military biographies. It should be noted for personal reading lists of military history buffs that "Photographer, Paratrooper, POW" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
The Olive Picker: A Memoir
Jazz Dog Press
9780986192906, $12.99, PB, 270pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: More than a just another memoir, "The Olive Picker" by Kathryn Brettell is a touching and deeply personal account of experiences brimming with strength and triumph. Facing an horrific attack, a resourceful nurse must summon her wits or lose her life. In this brave and shocking autobiographical, Brettell masterfully guides us through the pivotal points of her life, from an abusive upbringing that destroys her self-confidence, to the wreckage of an ill-conceived marriage, and onto a defining moment, full of grace and mercy, which gave her the wings to become the conquering and triumphant phoenix she is today. Kathi's story is a heart-wrenching testament to the endurance of the human spirit. Beautifully portrayed, "The Olive Picker" will grab you by the soul and hold you captive to the very last page.
Critique: Impressively candid, consistently compelling, ultimately inspired and inspiring, "The Olive Picker" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to community library Contemporary American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Olive Picker" is also available in a Kindle format ($5.99).
Cry Into the Wind: A True Story
9781522890522, $18.95, PB, 426pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Cry into the Wind" by Othello Bach is a truly spellbinding story of triumph over incredible tragedy, and an inspirational guide for those struggling to overcome the effects of abuse. Abject poverty, a house fire that claimed her mother's life, the loneliness of an orphanage where she was separated from her siblings, and so much more -- yet nothing was able to break the spirit of Othello Bach.
She couldn't read until the eighth grade, yet Othello Bach sold her first novel to Avon Books at the age of 27. She is the author off 17 published books and has 35 recorded songs by Broadway, TV, and Hollywood stars including Joel Grey, Tammy Grimes, and Sandy Duncan.
Critique: An impressively written, fully reader engaging, candidly informative, inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Cry Into the Wind: A True Story" is very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cry Into the Wind: A True Story" is also available in an inexpensive Kindle format ($2.99).
A Life To Remember: An Autobiography
Balawant Shankar Joshi
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781503549265, $29.99, HC, 308pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "A Life to Remember" is an amazingly detailed memoir that spans three continents and nearly a century of the life of Balawant Joshi. In it he recalls a journey beginning in a small village in southern India and ending in the southern United States.
The son of a poor but brilliant school teacher and linguist, Joshi relates his beginnings at school, moving through hard-fought successes to the completion of the highest levels of education at Cambridge. Throughout the journey and for all his life, a philosophy of peace, regard for his fellow man, and an attitude of determination regardless of the pitfalls of life shine through his modest writing.
Joshi expands on his long career in experimenting with plants and Natural Products for synthesis and use in pharmaceuticals in India, Switzerland, and the United States. He writes of family, weddings, and celebrations in India, and travels to many countries. He recalls a small but dangerous role he played in the fight for independence of India from Great Britain.
Retired many years ago and living in Georgia, he loses his beloved wife, finds productive activity in a Natural Products, learns painting, and finds new friends and companionship throughout his senior years. Joshi is a great example for all of a life well lived and a love for humanity and a mind still keen and full of stories at the age of ninety.
Critique: An interesting life live out in interesting times, "A Life To Remember: An Autobiography" is an impressively written account presented with candor, wit and wisdom. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Life To Remember" is also available in a paperback edition (9781503549272, $19.99) and in a Kindle format ($3.99).
The Activity Shelf
Robert K. Swisher Jr.
Open Talent Press
9780997909609, $16.95, PB, 236pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A do-it-yourself, fill in the blank blending of the hilarious and the serious, "Vent" is groundbreaking reader participation book that provides a unique opportunity to vent frustrations in privacy and without the fear of being interrupted by some loudmouth idiot that does not believe the same way you do. Within the story you are asked YES or NO questions that range from political and serious, to the utterly ridiculous things we overburden our minds with and seem to leave us in a state of bewilderment. After the question there is a blank for you to write your personal opinion.
Critique: Vent is a groundbreaking contribution to the realm of interactive storytelling books. Unique, insightful, cathartic, thoughtful and thought-provoking, inherently fascinating and consistently compelling, "Vent" is very highly recommended. It should be noted that "Vent" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).
The Poetry Shelf
PO Box 10, Callicoon, NY 12723
9781937658557, $15.95, PB, 80pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Juliet Patterson is the author of "The Truant Lover", winner of the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize, and the chapbooks "Epilogue" and "Dirge". "Threnody" is her latest volume of published poetry. "Threnody" (the word originates from the Greek, threnos, "wailing" and oide "ode."), examines the beauty and violence of our present ecological moment with a lyric and meditative eye. Concerned with the precise relationship of components in the world these poems exist in the overlap between imagination and fact, truth and history, territory and map, the living and the dead.
Critique: Comprised of free verse poetry that is part lamentation and part ode, "Threnody" is an inherently fascinating and engaging read that showcases Juliet Patterson's genuine flair for linguistic image making and truly memorable verse in a compendium that is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Poetry collections. 'Nounal': Purblind wall-space, white / white, tree-studded / tract in the windowed / air. Ray of light point, the dark marsh / shows its way through / the ragged wood. // The half-opened door, / you, with all your otherness, . Hee, the faint sounds / of shade, the tumbled sheen / of home. A wave, a word, / adrift.
I AM Change
David A. Best
The Hummingbird and the Tree Publishing
9781945224003, $15.95, PB, 130pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "I Am Change" is a book of prose and poetry by David Best who combines warm, personal experiences and compelling true life drama with spiritual guidance toward acceptance of everything that this universe has to offer us, without labeling it as bad or good.
The tone of "I AM Change" is welcoming and charismatic, featuring a quality of modesty that encourages the reader to consider the ideas presented by someone who does not exalt himself but simply and eloquently tells what he has experienced and learned.
The poetry has a bright, captivating quality, and yet at the same time it expresses some powerful truths about birth, life, death and the essential nature of all three as forms of change. The way the poetry is interspersed with the prose of "I Am Change" is illuminating.
The two different forms of communication enhance and intensify each other. Together they provide a unique approach to sharing David's heartfelt message of hope and change!
A wonderful philosophy underlies the story, the poetry, and the message of "I AM Change" which seems upon retrospect to be the only effective and reasonable way of living: to under- stand that there is an eternal force that brings us to growth through change, in ways that we may not always comprehend at first.
Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "I AM Change" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, commentary, organization and presentation making it an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.
Bluebonnets, Firewheels, and Brown-Eyed Susans, or, Poems New and Used From the Bandera Rag and Bone Shop
9781609405205, $16.95, PB, 232pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Utah's first and longest serving Poet Laureate, David Lee offers consistently and hilariously insightful (and linguistically accurate) observations of rural culture and America at large while using a host of astute literary allusions and techniques. "Bluebonnets, Firewheels, and Brown-Eyed Susans" is comprised of poems focused on the women of mid-20th century rural Texas: frontier survivors and the daughters of frontier survivors, indomitable women with tastes that run from Baptist preaching to bourbon-and-branchwater. No element of hypocrisy escapes the poet David Lee's lethal attention. It is in many ways a folkloric study of women in hard times: characters, survivors, intellects, harbingers, anonymous influencers.
Critique: Compelling, thoughtful, entertaining, engaging, and sometimes out loud funny, the free verse poetry of David Lee is a pure delight and this anthology is very highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Poetry collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bluebonnets, Firewheels, and Brown-Eyed Susans, or, Poems New and Used From the Bandera Rag and Bone Shop" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.99).
What the River Knows: Conversations with the Natural World
Halcyon Wind Press
PO Box 2242, San Anselmo, CA 94979
9780989089715, $14.95, PB, 110pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "What the River Knows: Conversations with the Natural World" by Andrea Freeman is an inspiring book of poetic reflections that pays tribute to the beauty and wisdom of the natural world and invites the reader to open into wonder and gratitude as a way to help heal the Earth and ourselves.
Written with the sensibility of a nature lover and spiritual seeker, the poems comprising "What the River Knows: Conversations with the Natural World" serve to heighten awareness of our deeper nature, the beauty that abounds, and our interconnectedness with all life.
The Spring: Don't go far off. / Stay close to where the water pours / like nectar from the spring. // Drink there. / Rest awhile. / the water remembers / what you need to know. // Oh, wayward traveler, / fill your cup / and drink deep, / until dust is washed away / and only love remains. // How else will you be able to serve?
Critique: Andrea Freeman is a naturalist, writer, poet, artist, teacher, harpist, and mystic. She is a dedicated peace activist and advocate for the rights of nature, the preservation of biodiversity, and the cultivation of compassion and expanded consciousness. All of which comes through in this consistently absorbing, thoughtful, reflective, and deftly crafted series of free verse poems. "What the River Knows: Conversations with the Natural World" is an especially and unreservedly recommended volume of poetry for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary American Poetry collections.
The Automotive Shelf
Untold Secrets About Auto Repair
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478772040, $10.95, PB, 94pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: As an ASE automotive technician since 1993, Hezekiah Odi has been helping family, friends, and customers save big money with his trustworthy approach toward car repair. So trusted is he for both his competence and his honesty that some of his customers refuse to drop their car off for service if Hezekiah is off duty. He often receives cash tips from grateful customers, and one even gave him a car in appreciation for his hard work, honesty, and respect.
Now in the pages of "Untold Secrets About Auto Repair" Hezekiah draws upon his many years of experience and expertise to expose the secrets of automobile repair and assist every car owner in avoiding fraud and acquiring honest service.
In this easy-to-follow yet comprehensive guide, Hezekiah shares tips on what to look for in a repair shop; when to do it yourself and when to let an expert take over; and even how to teach teenage drivers to take good care of a car. He also covers the basics of preventive maintenance, simple repairs, and how to spot warning signs.
Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of numerous concrete tips and replete with down-to-earth advice, all of which is specifically designed to save time and money, "Untold Secrets About Auto Repair" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, organization and presentation. "Untold Secrets About Auto Repair" will prove to be an enduringly popular and highly valued addition to personal and community library instructional reference collections.
The Money/Finance Shelf
The Scholarship Game
c/o National Book Network
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781782794196 $10.95 pbk / $4.61 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: The Scholarship Game is a guide to the college application and scholarship selection processes written from the perspective of someone who just finished them. The book provides a step-by-step walkthrough of the application process beginning with developing a resume and deciding where to apply, and ending with negotiating with colleges and making a final decision. It covers how to approach every aspect of a college application as well as tips for writing scholarship applications and breakdowns of every type of interview the author experienced during his own process.
Critique: Author Luke Arnce, who was able to earn over $1,000,000 in scholarships and is currently attending Emory on a full-ride merit scholarship, shares his wisdom and insights to financing one's college education in The Scholarship Game: A No-Fluff Guide to Making College Affordable. Chapters walk the reader through building a resume, writing essays, obtaining letters of recommendation, presenting for interviews, and more, all to obtain scholarships to fund one's expensive education. The Scholarship Game is a "must-read" for every prospective college student, highly recommended. "Task-based group interviews are not evaluated on who builds the best whatever. They're judged on how well the candidates handle themselves in the situation and interact with their teammates. You may have the best idea ever, but if your team doesn't want to do it, you'll be better of listening to your teammates instead of going rogue."
Countdown to Financial Freedom
Mark Avallone, MBA, CFP, CRPS
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781504361903 $15.99 pbk / $6.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Your financial clock is ticking, and you're running out of time to pursue your desired retirement. Whether you're a Millennial, Gen Xer, or Baby Boomer, the bite of bear markets, inflation, taxes, and higher health care costs is making the seconds tick even faster. In his Countdown to Financial Freedom, Certified Financial Planner(TM) practitioner and Forbes contributor, Mark Avallone, offers bold and practical guidance to help you pursue your ideal retirement and financial freedom.
In this refreshing, easy-to-ready book, Avallone presents a decade-by-decade guide for everyone whether you're just starting out, entering your peak earning years, or about to retire. Regardless of your current financial position, you'll find Your Unique Formula for determining a clear path to your retirement.
Drawing on stories of people who have overcome financial setbacks, Avallone explains strategies like how to avoid the destructive forces of the 3 D's - disability, divorce, or death of partner - which can ravage even the most sound financial plan. In Countdown to Financial Freedom, you will see how an award-winning financial advisor clearly communicates ideas and strategies for people of all ages.
Critique: Countdown to Financial Freedom: Your Path to a More Meaningful, Active, and Vibrant Retirement is an accessible, practical guide for readers of all ages. Featuring financial advice tailored decade-by-decade for Millennials, GenXers, and Boomers and beyond, Countdown to Financial Freedom focuses on straightforward strategies, priorities, and guidelines to support a middle-class lifestyle, and eventually, a successful retirement. Highly recommended! "Once you start earning, it's important to build some liquidity. Liquidity is money that, while saved, is available to you for emergencies, important purchases, or a down payment on a home. You can't build liquidity if you are spending all of your take-home pay." It should be noted for personal reading lists that Countdown to Financial Freedom is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).
The Theatre/Cinema Shelf
150 Timeless Movies
Hannacroix Creek Books, Inc.
9781938998768 $19.95 pbk / $7.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: This is a choice collection of 150 movie reviews of classic and contemporary timeless movies by international syndicated film critic Susan Granger. It includes films from the earliest days to today, from the Russian film, "Battleship Potemkin" (1925) and "Gone With the Wind" (1939) to "Bridge of Spies" (2015) and "Zootopia" (2016). 150 TIMELESS MOVIES includes reviews reprinted from Granger's popular website, www.susangranger.com, as well as more than two dozen new reviews of English language classics and foreign language films to discover and an original introduction about what makes a movie memorable and timeless by Granger.
Critique: International film critic Susan Granger presents 150 Timeless Movies, a guide to the classic "must-see" movies for every cinephile. Each motion picture is celebrated with a one-page review that describes what makes it great without giving away any significant plot spoilers. 150 Timeless Movies lives up to its title! It should be noted for personal browsing and reference that 150 Timeless Movies is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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