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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 7 July 2018 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Women's Studies Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Cookbook Shelf Psychology Shelf Business Shelf
Sports Shelf Folktale/Fairytale Shelf Biography Shelf
Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Pets/Wildlife Shelf Self-Help Shelf Coloring Book Shelf


Reviewer's Choice

Rats, Mice, And Other Things You Can't Take to The Bank
Leslie Handler
HumorOutcasts Press
https://humoroutcasts.com/humoroutcasts-press
9780999412732, $14.99, PB, 178pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Leslie Handler is a Society of Newspaper Columnists award winner. She's an international syndicated columnist with Senior Wire News Service and a frequent contributor to WHYY and CityWide Stories. She freelances for The Philadelphia Inquirer and writes for Humoroutcasts, ZestNow, and Boomercafe, as well as blogs for HuffPost.

Part memoir, part essay collection, "Rats, Mice, and Other Things You Can't Take to the Bank" is written by Leslie with her characteristic wit and charm as she takes her readers on a ride that ranges from finding a mouse in the house to the mortgage crisis, from a smile to a chuckle and from a few tears to the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket sipping a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter's day.

"Rats, Mice, And Other Things You Can't Take to The Bank" offers a rich, touching, heartfelt and reflective read that will leave the reader with an indelible uplifting spirit.

Critique: A master wordsmith and natural born storyteller, Leslie Handler's "Rats, Mice, And Other Things You Can't Take to The Bank" is an extraordinary read that is as entertaining as it is humor based and thought-provoking. As insightful as it is a compendium of recognizable testaments to the human condition, "Rats, Mice, And Other Things You Can't Take to The Bank" is very highly recommended, especially for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rats, Mice, And Other Things You Can't Take to The Bank" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

The Legacy Letters
Carew Papritz
King Northern Publishing
http://thelegacyletters.com
9780985708870, $21.95, HC, 248pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "The Legacy Letters: His Wife, His Children, His Final Gift" is comprised of rediscovered private letters from a dying father to his children (and his wife) which reveals what can arguably be described as a passionate and powerful guidebook to life.

The letters reveal to the personal stories, intimate memories, and even the music of the father, which ultimately becomes the practical, moral, and spiritual gift and guidebook for his children he'd never live to see, and for his wife, his redemptive story of love.

Critique: An extraordinary, unique, special, and inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "The Legacy Letters" is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring. Deserving as wide a readership as possible, "The Legacy Letters" is a kind of balm for our troubled times and our troubled lives. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Legacy Letters" is also available in an inexpensive digital format (Kindle, $0.99).

A Shadow Away
Joan K. Lacy
http://joanklacy.com
Alazo International, Inc.
9780999661703, $14.95, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When British archaeologist Andrew Seaton discovers a jewel-encrusted golden statue, he realizes he may have uncovered the key to the lost city of El Dorado. The statue disappears before he can verify his findings, and Andrew must rely on private detective Alex Cort to recover the prized artifact.

The two men find themselves caught up in a dangerous race against a corrupt colleague and a ruthless art thief who will stop at nothing to claim the statue for themselves.

As each new clue leads them up the Amazon River and deeper into the jungle, they soon discover things are not quite what they appear. When all seems lost, the mystical powers of a beautiful woman guide them out of danger and ultimately to the ruins of an ancient city, where Andrew must right the wrongs he committed in a past life and Alex discovers a secret of his own.

Critique: Showcasing author Joan K. Lacy's genuine flair as a novelist for originality and deftly crafted narrative storytelling, "A Shadow Away" is an extraordinary and thoroughly entertaining read from first page to last. The first volume of a planned 'Alex Cort Adventures' series, "A Shadow Away" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Action/Adventure fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Shadow Away" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).


The Women's Studies Shelf

The New Old Maid
Maureen Paraventi
https://maureenparaventi.com
Chatter House Press
http://chatterhousepress.com
9781937793463, $20.00, PB, 252pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The women featured in "The New Old Maid: Satisfied Single Women" by journalist, novelist actor, singer, and award-winning playwright Maureen Paraventi tell their stories with unflinching honesty and wry self-awareness, whether they're discussing unhappy childhoods, men who didn't measure up, or the fun and frustrations that come with being independent.

In addition to sharing the stories of real-life women, "The New Old Maid" takes a look at how depictions of fictional old maids in books, movies, stage plays and TV shows have evolved over time - and explains why such portrayals matter.

"The New Old Maid" speaks to a topic that's trending and a demographic that's growing. The percentage of never-married women in the U.S. has been on the rise for decades, with more women identifying as single and eager to discuss what that means, especially in blogs.

Critique: "The New Old Maid" is emphatically not anti-marriage or anti-man; rather, it's about how women can enjoy a fulfilling life whether they choose to marry or to remain single. A deftly crafted and inherently fascinating read that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The New Old Maid: Satisfied Single Women" is a unique and highly recommended addition to both community and academic library Women's Studies and Contemporary Sociology collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The New Old Maid: Satisfied Single Women" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Social Issues Shelf

Caring for Caring
Jane Edwards
http://www.janededwards.com
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
www.iuniverse.com
9781491797501, $24.95, HC, 142pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: No one wants to relegate our wisdom-rich elders to the demeaning borders of our society. Still, the idea of caring for our elders in their own homes can sometimes become overwhelming, especially without proper guidance from those who have been there.

"Caring for Caring: An Enriching, Kindhearted, Ethical Journey with Our Elders" is a thoughtful guidebook tailored for just this purpose by seasoned caregiver Jane Edwards who offers philosophical reflections, poignant stories, and practical advice that will help anyone respect, empower, and treat elders as complete beings with the right to live their lives as independently as possible.

Edwards draws upon her more than forty-five years of experience in caring for elders, to share wisdom imparting real-life stories that support her desire to ensure that those who wish to can remain in their homes in their later years.

Through concise advice presented from the perspective of an outside caregiver, Edwards provides gentle guidance regarding many delicate topics that include navigating family dynamics, creating end-of-life plans, and meeting emotional and spiritual needs. Included is a list of family resources followed by a compilation of real-life stories that provide a glimpse into the challenges, joys, and fun that accompany caring for an elder.

"Caring for Caring" is specifically intended to assist elders to remain as independent (and cherished) as possible.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, expressly informative, 'real world practical', inspired and inspiring, "Caring for Caring: An Enriching, Kindhearted, Ethical Journey with Our Elders" is an extraordinary and very highly recommended addition to community, senior center, and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of caregivers and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Caring for Caring" is also available in a paperback edition (9781491794029, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).


The Cookbook Shelf

Kool Kosher Kitchen: Collection of Recipes
Dolly Aizenman
Independently Published
https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com
9781973535492, $9.99, PB, 377pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: From the four corners of the world, "Kool Kosher Kitchen" is a unique compendium of recipes showcasing an international fusion cuisine the kosher way!

Now even the most novice of kitchen chefs can cook Indian, cook Italian, cook Chinese and Japanese, or cook traditional Jewish; make it vegetarian, pescatarean, or vegan, make it festive and nutritious, always easy to make and delicious, for holiday and every day, but above all, have fun in the kitchen and make the kitchen a fun place to be!

With running commentaries that are illustrated with occasional black-and-white photography, the recipes comprising this uncommon and singular collection range from Spring Rolls in Summer; Colorful Lentil Soup; Fried Flounder in Seasoned Corn Meal; and Baked Chicken Rosemary; to Meatloaf with Surprise; Shepherd Pie Light; Brownie on a Date; and One-Minute Chocolate Cake.

Critique: "Kool Kosher Kitchen: Collection of Recipes" is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to family, personal, professional, and community library Ethnic Cookbook culinary collections. The recipes are easy-to-follow, utterly delectable, and highly recommended!


The Psychology Shelf

Picture Memories: Understanding Dementia
Sherri Henderson
Henderson Haven, Inc.
www.hendersonhaven.org
9781732011809, $24.99, HC, 38pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Sherri Henderson founded Henderson Haven, Inc. with her husband, Lee, when families began seeking her advice on providing their children with the same opportunities her Down Syndrome son Trey has had in his life. Always believing that any individual has the capacity to live on their terms regardless of their perceived abilities, she has written "Picture Memories: Understanding Dementia" for the benefit of others.

After her son, a young man with Down syndrome, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, Sherri Henderson wrote a short story to explain to him and his friends what this diagnosis meant, what to expect, and what it meant to them. After being encouraged by doctors to make the story available to all, Sherri worked with an illustrator and "Picture Memories: Understanding Dementia" is the result of their work.

Critique: Sensitive, informative, thoughtful, insightful, inspired and inspiring, "Picture Memories: Understanding Dementia" is a unique and extraordinary 'picture book' that should be read by all parents and caregivers working with Down Syndrome children (and adults!). "Picture Memories: Understanding Dementia" is unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Picture Memories: Understanding Dementia" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Business Shelf

From Campus to Corner Office
Chrtis L. Odom
https://www.stuckonstartcoaching.com
Booknology
www.adducentinc.com
9781937592790, $15.95, PB, 226pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Many students (and their parents) believe that grades are all that matter for admission to graduate school or to land a good entry-level job right out of college. That thinking is dead wrong. Colleges are the first to say that you need more than a degree.

The current job market has created a demand for those with paid internships or structured cooperative learning (co-op) work experience while in school. Those with it rise to the top. That is why such experience is now an essential graduation requirement.

Gaining a hands-on understanding of the industry you're interested in impresses a potential employer. Many students find their chosen industry so compelling that an internship or co-op cements their college major and career decision. Some, however, find the industry so boring that it leads them to change their plans. But it's better to learn that lesson during a one-semester internship, or six-month co-op, than after a year or more as a full-time employee.

Whether it is a paid or volunteer status, a co-op or internship will increase your confidence and savvy while exhibiting dedication and responsibility. Finding the right placement can be tricky, and planning your effort is vital to getting it right from the start! The advice and guidance comprising "From Campus to Corner Office: How Co-Ops and Internships Will Help You Win in the Workplace!" will improve your opportunities and help you create your personal career strategy to go from college campus to corner office in today's workplace.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "From Campus to Corner Office: How Co-Ops and Internships Will Help You Win in the Workplace!" is extraordinarily informed and informative, making it an ideal and highly recommended addition to school and community library Jobs/Careers collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "From Campus to Corner Office" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).


The Sports Shelf

Play Golf Better Faster
Kalliope Barlis
Building Your Best
www.buildingyourbest.com
www.PlayGolfBetterFaster.com
9780990452621, $13.99, PB, 218pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Kalliope Barlis picked up a golf club for the first time in her twenties. Against all odds, and in a remarkably short time, she became a pro golfer.

Play Golf Better Faster is the strategy she developed that took her from beginner to Pro at lightning speed. She has taught executive men and LPGA golf clinics for executive women and children.

Kalliope's passion for optimizing performance is contagious. Kalliope is a speaker in the fields of Golf, NLP, Acupuncture and Health. She is rigorously scheduling international golf clinics for individuals and groups, and workshops and lectures.

In the pages of "Play Golf Better Faster", Kalliope draws upon her experience and expertise to share all the secrets she used to go from golf novice to pro golfer in just two years as well as the insights she developed during her twenty-year career teaching golf to thousands of students.

"Play Golf Better Faster" is divided into three sections and covers how to use your brain, practice your game and play your game, offering information found in no other golf book.

Aspiring golf enthusiasts will learn how to: Erase bad shots from their mind; Anchor great shots so they have more of them; Practice correctly; Eliminate bad habits; Cultivate the right attitude on and off the course.

Play Golf Better Faster is a game changer. By following its step-by-step instructions, even the most novice of beginning golfers will revolutionize their golf game and have more fun doing it!.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively well organized and expertly presented, "Play Golf Better Faster" is extraordinarily 'user friendly' and will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, golf course shops, and community library Golfing instructional reference collections. It should be noted that "Play Golf Better Faster" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).


The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

Slipper
Hester Velmans
https://hestervelmans.com
Van Horton Books
9780999475607, $16.95, PB, 378pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Lucinda is a penniless English orphan who is abused and exploited as a cinder-sweep by her aristocratic relatives. On receiving her sole inheritance (a pair of glass-beaded slippers) she runs away to France in pursuit of an officer on whom she has a big crush. She joins the baggage train of Louis XIV's army, survives a horrific massacre, and eventually finds her way to Paris. There she befriends Charles Perrault, a man who will some day write one of the world's best loved fairy tale: Cinderella.

"Slipper" is also the story of a witch hunt, the sorry truth about daydreams, plus some truly astonishing revelations, such as the historical facts behind the story of the Emperor's new clothes, and a perfectly reasonable explanation for the compulsion some young women have to kiss frogs.

"Slipper" isn't quite like the fairy tales we all remember from our childhood!

Critique: Hester Velmans' new novel, "Slipper" is an extraordinary and original take on some classic fairytales which will prove to be an inherently riveting read from first page to last. While certain to become an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Slipper" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).


The Biography Shelf

Blades of Grass
Mark Aylwin Thomas
http://www.georgeaylwinhogg.com
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.authorhouse.com
9781524676971, $45.77, HC, 502pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: George Aylwin Hogg (26 January 1915 - 22 July 1945)) was a British adventurer and a man of remarkable dedication and honour. Though he died in 1945 at the age of thirty, Aylwin's name and legacy is remembered in China to this day -- where as a wise and noble friend to the people of China, he immersed himself in the culture and life of the Chinese people whom he served in his mission.

In "Blades of Grass: The Story of George Aylwin HoggP, author and nephew of the late Mr Hogg, Mark Aylwin Thomas, explores his uncle's own letters and writings and shares this astonishing life story of perseverance, service, and dedication. Thomas offers a personal and compelling window into the character of this remarkable man, and Hogg's own words lend an authentic and distinctive insight into his service -- training young Chinese men in their vocations in the remote confines of Northern China in Shandan.

George Aylwin Hogg was part of a vision to create a unique form of industrial training on which to base the reconstruction of industry for a new post-war China. While a vignette of Aylwin's life was portrayed in Roger Spottiswoode's 2008 film, "The Children of Huang Shi", the full picture of this remarkable life (often painted with Aylwin's own words) shows how this young Englishman's life was deeply interwoven in the lives of the men and people he served.

Critique: A remarkable life lived out in remarkable times, "Blades of Grass: The Story of George Aylwin Hogg" is a deftly crafted and impressively informative biography that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library 20th Century Biography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that this biography of George Aylwin Hogg is also available in a paperback edition (9781546289272, $18.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).


The Fiction Shelf

Carissa's Law
Misty Boyd
Defiance Press
www.defiancepress.com
9781948035019, $24.95, HC, 272pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Carissa Schultz, hangs between childhood and adulthood. While trying to navigate college, her health and her growing independence, she feels a calling on her life to change things for the generation following her.

Born with a severe birth defect called spina bifida, Carissa has already overcome many challenges in her life, but can she find it in herself to follow her calling and keep her health in check while Isaac, a young man with dreams and ambitions of his own, is competing for her attention?

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently compelling read by a novelist with a genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling, "Carissa's Law" by Misty Boyd is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Carissa's Law" is also available in a paperback edition (9781948035101, $18.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.69).

Alpine Ballad
Vasil Bykau, author
Mikalai Khilo, translator
Glagoslav Publications
www.glagoslav.com
9781909156821, $26.40, HC, 206pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Towards the end of World War II, a Belarusian soldier and an Italian girl escape from a Nazi concentration camp. The soldier wonders if he should get rid of the girl; she is a burden and is slowing him down. However, he cannot bring himself to abandon her in the snowy wilderness. Somewhere along the way, the two develop feelings for each other, but their love is not destined to grow beyond the edge of the mountains. Yet their bond cannot be denied, and in the end it proves stronger than death itself.

Vasil Bykau is a master of psychological narrative whose firsthand experience with World War II enabled him to re-create the ordeal on pages of his novel, "Alpine Ballad"

This is Vasil Bykau's most heartfelt story and sends a powerful message to his readers: human values can be extrapolated and in the context of war people can still uphold their humanity.

Critique: Ably translated from Belarusian by Mikalai Khilo, "Alpine Ballad" is an extraordinary and thought-provoking novel by an author with a genuine flair for narrative storytelling. While "Alpine Ballad" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also available in a paperback edition (9781784379445, $19.90) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Escapades
Lilly Atlas
Lilly Atlas Books
www.lillyatlas.com
9781946068224, $12.99, PB, 316pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Alyssa Jackson is one of the lucky ones. She has a thriving business, great friends, a devoted husband, an adorable daughter, and a scorching hot sex life that would be the envy of any married couple. Then, one tragic loss flips her world upside down.

Floundering and unsure of how to cope with their grief, Alyssa and her husband drift apart until they are living as roommates instead of a deeply connected couple. Alyssa will do anything to get the intense passion back into her life and marriage, no matter how far out of the box she has to step.

If there is one thing tattoo shop owner Derek knows, it's that once he set his sights on his wife, he never wanted another woman. Years together haven't begun to put a dent in his desire for her.

But everything falls apart when the anguish of loss barges into their lives. Adrift in his own suffering, Derek doesn't realize how damaged his marriage is until his wife forces him to confront their issues. Now, he'll do whatever it takes to get their lives back on track, even if the plan seems outrageous.

Critique: An original and deftly crafted romance novel of tragedy and ultimate triumph, "Escapdes" showcases author Lilly Atlas' genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling. While very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Escapades" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Life During Wartime
Katie Rogin
https://katierogin.com
Mastodon Publishing
https://www.mastodonpublishing.com
9781936196869, $18.00, PB, 226pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Post-9/11 America is an uneasy place where soldiers and civilians try to find their way through a fallen world of personal trauma and social disconnection.

Twenty-one-year-old Nina Wicklow, untethered after a tour of duty in Iraq, has gone missing outside Los Angeles in the small mountain town of Sierra Madre. An ad hoc search party of damaged family and friends assembles to look for her.

The anxious pursuit to find the missing soldier, before she comes to harm, plays out against a backdrop of global financial near-collapse and raging wild fires, and becomes, for the walking wounded, a quest for meaning and a way to live during wartime.

Critique: "Life During Wartime" is a novel whose realistic and narrative driven elements could be torn from the pages of tomorrow's newspapers. Engaging and entertaining, "Life During Wartime" by Katie Rogin will prove to be an exceptionally popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Life During Wartime" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

December Soldiers
Marvin Tyson
Defiance Press
www.defiancepress.com
9781948035064, $24.95, HC, 216pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: From the gold inlaid floors of a high-class casino in Macau to the windswept winter hills of Kurdistan, from the snow-covered top of Pike's Peak to the halls of government in Washington D.C., evil men with evil plans create an ominous plot to topple the newly created Republic of Texas and incite civil war between Texans and Americans.

Only a handful of freedom-loving patriots stands between the looming destruction of liberty and self-rule in Texas as a sinister cabal of rogue U.S. political leaders and members of the Chinese underworld threatens to corner and control the global oil market.

In the end, it comes down to a very pregnant Hill Country rancher's wife, an ex-hooker from Washington, and three tough, grizzled veterans standing in the gap to prevent the potential conflict and protect Texas and its larger neighbor to the north from a total collapse of the world's economy.

Critique: "December Soldiers" is an inherently engaging and entertaining read that reveals author Marvin Tyson's natural flair as a novelist for originality and narrative driven storytelling. Featuring more plot twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster, "December Soldiers" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "December Soldiers" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.95).

House of Rougeaux
Jenny Jaeckel
http://jennyjaeckel.com
Raincloud Press
www.raincloudpress.com
9781941203248, $26.95, HC, 308pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: For Abeje and her brother Adunbi, home is the slave quarters of a Caribbean sugar plantation on the Island of Martinique. Under the watchful eye of their mother they survive, despite what threatens to break them. But when one night of brutality leaves the two children orphaned, it is the strength of their extraordinary bond that carries them through, establishing a legacy of tremendous spirit and courage that will sustain the Rougeaux family for generations to come.

In an engaging literary prose, author Jenny Jaeckel's "House of Rougeaux" creates a brilliantly imagined epic, weaving a multi-layered narrative that celebrates family as much as it exposes systemic brutalization and the ways in which it marks us. As each new member of the family takes the spotlight a fresh piece of the puzzle is illuminated until at last, spanning nearly two centuries, the end brings us back to the beginning.

Jaeckel masterfully blends genres of mysticism, coming-of-age, folklore, and historical fiction with explorations of gender and race, creating a wondrous tale of hope and healing through trauma. A relevant work of love, determination, and the many small achievements that make up greatness, "House of Rougeaux" draws a new map of what it means to be family.

Critique: An extraordinary novel by a master of narrative driven storytelling, Jenny Jaeckel's "House of Rougeaux" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "House of Rougeaux" is also available in a paperback edition (9781941203255, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Plumbelly
Gary S. Maynard
Flat Hammock Press
http://www.flathammockpress.com
9780981896038, $24.95, HC, 226pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Gabe lives on a sailboat with his dysfunctional family, on the mountainous South Pacific island of Ma atea, where his parents dream of an idyllic world voyage has turned dark.

Gabe is both an outsider ashore and the object of his father's cruelty at home, his only solace his remarkable gifts as a sailor, his love of wooden boats and the sea, and his friendship with Lloyd a kindred spirit who longs to escape from his own world of abuse and violence.

When they salvage Plumbelly, an abandoned wooden sloop, their dreams of freedom begin to take shape. Soon the two boys, along with strong-willed and rebellious Tanya, flee aboard Plumbelly into the vast Pacific.

Grappling with life at sea, their sexuality and their pursuers, Gabe and his friends are forced to face themselves and find the strength to survive.

Critique: An original, inherently engaging, and unfailingly entertaining read from cover to cover, "Plumbelly" showcases author Gary S. Maynard's genuine flair as a novelist for narrative driven storytelling. While an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Plumbelly" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Brimstone
John Allen
Allen & Allen Semiotics, Inc.
www.louiseconandoyle.com
9780984271696, $9.99, PB, 224pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The scent of brimstone lingers in the air. A young woman, heavily pregnant and completely distraught, begs for forgiveness as she stands over the body of her husband. Does the brimstone emanate from the gunshot that killed him, or the open door to Hell? Anna Perenna is destined for the inferno by way of the gallows unless Louise Hawkins (later to be known as Louise Conan Doyle) can prove her innocence.

Through mathematical and scientific inquiry, Louise will first prove to herself, and then to David Lindsey, a London newspaper publisher with a deep secret of his own, that someone else murdered William Perenna. Louise and David together will try to convince the lawyers, police and courts involved of Anna's innocence, only to run into mockery and obstruction at every turn.

Will they be able to break through and save her in spite of her silence? Or will Anna hang?

Critique: An original, inherently fascinating read, and the first volume of a new 'Louise Conan Doyle Mysteries' series by John Allen, "Brimstone" is set in 1879 Victorian England in a kind of 'alternate universe' where the literary creator of Sherlock Holmes is actually a woman named Louise Conan Doyle. A professional investigator of a series of mysteries, Louise is assisted by her brother Jeremy. Intelligent, scholarly, and an enlightened visionary, because of the social norms of the time, Louise allows an eager Arthur Conan Doyle to take credit for her work. A deftly crafted novel that will have special appeal for the legions of Sherlock Holmes fans, "Brimstone" by John Allen will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Brimstone" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Conflux: Threat from the Troika
William Brazzel
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
www.balboapress.com
9781504391788, $39.95, HC, 344pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A new threat to the United States has emerged within its own borders. Deutsche Christen, a powerful paramilitary organization, led by a ruthless ex-Special Forces Officer, Carl Dietrich, is threatening to overthrow the U.S. government and assume absolute power over the country. Bolstered by the overwhelming support provided by two foreign governments, Dietrich believes his forces to be invincible, and his future rise to power inevitable.

Hoping to garner additional members for his organization, he demands an interview with Sean Carrol, an ex-Special Forces officer and an investigative reporter for the New York International News. Dietrich orders that their meeting be held at one of the Deutsche Christen paramilitary camps.

To assure Sean's cooperation, he kidnaps his niece and nephew. Understanding Dietrich's rationale for the meeting and further realizing that his niece and nephew aren't going to be released, Sean develops a plan to rescue the children.

Desperate, he along with Colonel Gannon, his ex-commander, reorganize his old Special Forces team and create a rescue mission. While tensions rise worldwide and threats of war loom, panic takes center stage, as the prospect for cataclysmic destruction promises to annihilate civilization as we know it.

Critique: Written by a novelist with a genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling, "Conflux: Threat from the Troika" is an inherently compelling read from first page to last. While very highly recommended and certain to be an immediately popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Conflux: Threat from the Troika" is also available in a paperback edition (978-1504391764, $21.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.40).

The Apprentice
Rick Pullen
Blair House
9780999491003, $14.99, PB, 198pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Tish Woodward is a rookie newspaper reporter covering City Hall for the Washington Post-Examiner when she is suddenly thrust into the national spotlight. She rides a wave of success investigating a horrific crime while always fearing her sudden rise is just dumb luck. She dreads the world will wake up and realize she lacks the depth and experience to now take on President-Elect Derrick Templeton, a billionaire oil and real estate baron with no political experience.

Tish navigates the labyrinth of Washington's political world getting ever closer to the truth, yet she doesn't know whom to trust. This is Washington, of course, where motives are always suspect and allegiances change like the weather -- all in pursuit of raw power. She has taken on the most powerful and vengeful man who has ever occupied the White House -- and he now has his sights set on her.

Critique: Another deftly crafted and inherently engaging read by an author with a genuine flair for originality combined with narrative storytelling, "The Apprentice" by novelist Rick Pullen is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Suspense/Thriller fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Apprentice" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Surface Tension
Mike Mullin
http://mikemullinauthor.com
Tanglewood Publishing
http://www.tanglewoodbooks.com
9781939100160, $17.99, HC, 350pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: After witnessing an act of domestic terrorism while training on his bike, Jake is found near death, with a serious head injury and unable to remember the plane crash or the aftermath that landed him in the hospital.

A terrorist leader's teenage daughter, Betsy, is sent to kill Jake and eliminate him as a possible witness. When Jake's mother blames his head injury for his tales of attempted murder, he has to rely on his girlfriend, Laurissa, to help him escape the killers and the law enforcement agents convinced that Jake himself had a role in the crash.

Critique: Written by an author with a genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling, Mike Mullin's "Surface Tension is an inherently engaging read from first page to last in a novel with truly memorable characters, realistic scenarios, and more plot twists and turns than a Cony Island roller coaster. While unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Surface Tension" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Moira Ashe: Enemy Within
Brendon Bertram
https://brendonbertram.com
Privately Published
9780995981232, $9.99, PB, 144pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A blood moon is rising above Abalon. Werewolves, once heard of only in whispers around the borderlands, have been spotted in villages and towns mere miles from the capital, and the king is worried -- worried enough to send Lincoln Clarke to find help.

But hunters this far from Abalon aren't exactly keen. Lincoln's gone through half a dozen leads before he finds Moira Ashe lurking in the corner of a tavern, her dark eyes glinting in the candlelight. It takes a bag of gold for Moira to agree even to tell Lincoln what she knows, and more still for her to allow him along on a hunt.

But what should have been a simple job turns out to be anything but. With a suspect Moira can't pin down and a string of bodies piling up in the beast's wake, Lincoln finds himself doubting Moira's skill. And with time running out and the full moon approaching, failure is not an option.

But Moira has her own secrets to protect, and the beast she and Lincoln are hunting may not be the biggest threat after all!

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently riveting read from beginning to end, "Moira Ashe: Enemy Within" by Brendon Bertram is a simply compelling (and at points spellbinding!) novel by a master storyteller. While certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of werewolf fantasy fiction fans that "Moira Ashe: Enemy Within" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

The Thing in the Close
Jeffrey E. Barlough
http://www.westernlightsbooks.com/home.html
Gresham & Doyle
PO Box 45797, Los Angeles, CA 90045
9780978763466, $14.95, PB, 272pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "The Thing in the Close" is author Jeffrey E. Barlough's newly published tenth volume in his acclaimed 'Western Lights' series of fantasy-mysteries. Set in the ancient episcopal city of Bogminster, in deepest Slopshire, "The Thing in the Close" is an engaging read filled with surprises.

What, for example, is the thing that has been haunting the hallowed walks of the Cathedral close? Who is the enigmatic stranger who has descended - literally - upon Bogminster in the dead of night? And last but hardly least, what to make of this new field sport which threatens to take town and country by storm, concocted by the local parish priest of St. Dunstan's and his boyhood chum, a vicar from the wilds of distant Lingonshire?

Critique: Although an integral part of a series, "The Thing in the Close" is an unfailingly entertaining and 'stand alone' read with a very special appeal for dedicated mystery-fantasy fans. But for those new to novelist Jeffrey Barlough, "The Thing in the Close" will send them out looking eagerly for the previous nine books. A deftly crafted read from beginning to end, "The Thing in the Close" is unreservedly recommended and will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections.

Eternity's Account: Rulers
Julie Bryson & Catherine Sharpe
CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781982055318, $16.99, PB, 364pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Patterns. They are the material weaved to make the intricate fabric of the universe.

The one guiding the threads is the one teaching the 12 chosen children to recognize the complex design within the fabric of time. Each stitch aligns the essential elements of the story, revealing the intended pattern to be followed.

Owr, the master creator, has tucked the invisible into the hem of the visible, allowing the children to peek between the tightly drawn threads to study how the spiritual affects the physical.

The Eternity's Account series continues beyond the creation, the inception of evil, the fall of man, the division of kingdoms, and the fusion of dimensions.

As the children tug on the seam of the cosmos, a new set of patterns is exposed. They prepare to witness the next stage in the saga; the rise of the rulers and the effects they will have upon the fate of the universe.

Critique: "Eternity's Account: Rulers" is the forth volume in the 'Eternity's Account' series by collaborative novelists Julie Bryson and Catherine Sharpe that is both a logical extension of the series story arc, yet can be read as a stand alone work of science fiction and fantasy fiction. An inherently fascinating and thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end, "Eternity's Account: Rulers" is unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction and fantasy fans that "Eternity's Account: Rulers" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).

The Keeper of Fire
Davina Marie Liberty
https://www.libertyreads.net
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781480859838, $18.99, PB, 282pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A deadly plague ravages both humans and mystical creatures alike in the divided world of Nigh. A young woman named Deiji is recruited by a mysterious necromancer named Mowat to break the spell on each of the four elements, in order to quell the fever that Mowats mortal enemy, Relant, brought upon the world and thereby reunite the continents.

Hoping to escape an arranged marriage, Deiji is all too eager to accept Mowats proposition. She leaves her simple village life behind and is thrust blindly into distant regions of the unmapped, uncharted world. She must enter the elements of fire, water, earth, and air, where she subsists on a desert island, tracks her way through the deep forest and even explores the ocean as a mermaid. She battles tigers and giant squid, all leading to the final struggle against the evil Relant himself. Only time will tell if Deiji has what it takes to meet the challenge and save her world.

Critique: The first volume in novelist Davina Liberty's action/adventure fantasy series 'The Dolphin Code Trilogy', "The Keeper of Fire" is an original, inherently engaging and unfailingly entertaining read from beginning to end. Revealing the author's genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling by a master of the genre, "The Keeper of Fire" is unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans that "The Keeper of Fire" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Clod Makes A Friend
David J. Pedersen
https://www.gotangst.com
Odysia Press
www.odysiapress.com
9780692981542, $17.99, HC, 126pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Bullies love to hate Clod. Not just because he's bigger, clumsier, and uglier than his classmates - he's also the only student in his school without magic. In a world where all magic is possible and everyone else is born with great gifts to do amazing things, Clod is alone.

Living with his mum in a broken-down cottage on barely enough, the only thing Clod has to play with is the clay she occasionally brings him. Bleak is an understatement. More than anything, Clod wants a friend. The only way that's going to happen, is to make one himself.

After an angry visit from the worst of the bullies, his teacher Learned Yugen, Clod's clay sculpture of a little girl comes to life and introduces herself as Ada. For a clay girl barely the size of his hand, she has more confidence and courage than he knows what to do with. Every adventure she leads him on gets Clod into trouble. She may be the friend he wants, but is she the friend he needs?

After many years, and too many pranks, Yugen becomes convinced that Clod is tainted by the evil slowly infiltrating the Kingdom of Pag. Especially when Ada isn't the only one Clod can bring to life.

Critique: "Clod Makes A Friend" by David J. Pedersen is another deftly crafted and refreshingly original (if somewhat bittersweet) fairy tale by a master of the fantasy genre. An inherently fascinating, entertaining, and reader engaging read from cover to cover, "Clod Makes A Friend" is unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans of all ages that "Clod Makes A Friend" is also available in a paperback edition (9780692045664, $9.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).


The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Beasts of India
Kanchana Arni & Gita Wolf, editors
Tara Books
https://tarabooks.com
9789383145584, $30.00, HC, 48pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Kanchana Arni has taught art and craft at schools in India and Thailand. She was also a curator and acquisitions manager in a folk art gallery in New Delhi. Arni has been closely associated with various book projects in tribal and folk art, and has conducted numerous workshops for children.

With the editorial assistance of Gita Wolf, she has produced "Beasts of India" showcasing India's best-known beasts (tiger, elephant, deer, snake) as rendered by a variety of folk and tribal artists. Each of their artistic traditions conceives of the beast in distinctive ways, as original in the imagining as it is in the rendering.

This handmade and handsome book is a volume of individually screen printed images on handmade paper and offers a simply wonderful introduction to Indian painting styles is an art and book lover's dream.

Critique: A beautiful browse thorough truly memorable artistic images in a series of representative Indian artistic traditions, "Beasts of India" is a volume to be enjoyed by animal lovers and art lovers of all ages. Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to family, community, and academic library collections, "Beasts of India" is unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended!


The Self-Help Shelf

Lessons from Life
Steven M. Darter
CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781981970919, $14.99, PB, 242pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Steve Darter has a distinguished career as a consultant, author, educator, and speaker. For more than forty years, he has counseled people, ranging from troubled teenagers to CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations, on work, career, and life issues. He.

Drawing upon his years experience, expertise and wisdom, "Lessons from Life: Four Keys to Living with More Meaning, Purpose, and Success" by Steven is specifically written for, and will have pertinent relevancy for, anyone who has every asked themselves the questions: What the purpose of my life? What is the secret to living a life that has meaning? What path should I take to achieve my purpose? Do I even have a purpose or an intended destiny?

In his deeply personal memoir, Steve utilizes an effective form of entertaining storytelling as he takes his readers on a journey of emotion, reflection, and insight that encourages them to think about how to live with more meaning, purpose, and success at any age -- young, old, or in between.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Lessons from Life: Four Keys to Living with More Meaning, Purpose, and Success" is thoroughly 'reader friendly', thoughtful and thought-provoking, real world practical, inspired and inspiring from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lessons from Life" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).


The Coloring Book Shelf

Colorful Havana: Explore & Color
Laura Lahm, author
Trevor Essmeier, illustrator
Colorful Cities LLC
9780989897235, $14.95, PB, 32pp, www.colorfulcities.com

Synopsis: An adult coloring book, with "Colorful Havana: Explore & Color" we can follow the map and explore the famous landmarks and hidden gems of Havana, Cuba -- and color along the way.

Exploring is made easy as "Colorful Havana" begins with a map of the city followed by a corresponding index in both Spanish and English for each of the whimsically illustrated locations featured in the book.

Explorers can travel and color from the colonial cobblestones of Old Havana to the musicians playing along the Malecon.

Critique: Offering so many hours of contemplative fund and do-it-yourself entertainment, "Colorful Havana: Explore & Color" is especially recommended for the armchair traveler and anyone who enjoys coloring. It should be noted that individual pages, once completed, can be extracted for framing. There are three other outstanding titles available in this series of adult coloring books: "Colorful Seattle" (9780989897204); "Colorful Tokyo" (9780989897211); and "Colorful Portland" (9780989897228).


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


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