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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 11 November 2019 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Social Issues Shelf Nautical Shelf
Music Shelf Self-Help Shelf General Fiction Shelf
Romantic Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Political Science Shelf Biography Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf
Christian Studies Shelf    


Reviewer's Choice


Cybersecurity Is Everybody's Business
Scott N. Schober with Craig W. Schober
ScottSchober.com
Privately Published
9780996902267 $19.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: Since publication of his first book, HACKED AGAIN, Scott Schober has dedicated himself to educating anyone who would listen by telling his own story of being hacked in the hope that others can learn from his own mistakes. Now joined by his brother Craig, the two have set their sights on the biggest target of all, small businesses.

There are 30 million small businesses currently operating in the United States. Some of them are single owner/operated while others collectively employ hundreds of millions. This book is for all of them and anyone who makes it their business to stay safe from phishing attacks, malware spying, ransomware, identity theft, major breaches and hackers who would compromise their security. We are all in this together which is why cybersecurity is everybody's business.

Critique: Cybersecurity expert Scott Schober presents Cybersecurity Is Everybody's Business: Solve the Security Puzzle for Your Small Business and Home, a reader-friendly guide to protecting one's small business or personal home from phishing attacks, malware spying, ransomware, identity theft, hackers and more. From how to minimize one's digital footprint, to the importance of using strong passwords (and not reusing the same password), to the inherent flaws of Bitcoin, to lessons that can be learned from major hacks of Yahoo, Equifax, Uber, etc., Cybersecurity Is Everybody's Business is an absolute "must" for every business owner or head of the household in today's digital age. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Cybersecurity is Everybody's Business is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Fresh Eyes Upon The World
Neal Grace
Grizzly Peak Press
https://www.grizzlypeakpress.com
9780998831046, $14.95, PB, 320pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In the pages of "Fresh Eyes Upon The World: Making Life A Spectacular Journey", the principle purpose of author Neal Grace is to offer important questions and answers relevant to almost all of us. The answers are his own and he believes that these answers embody a sense of wisdom and truth designed to encourage his readers to draw their own conclusions.

We all need to get a clearer perspective of who we are. We need to assimilate new information that will broaden our understanding of ourselves and of our world.

The answers laid out in "Fresh eyes Upon The World" are intended to inspire the reader to step bravely forward by following the passionate dreams of their inner soul. To have a purpose between birth and death.

The world needs our contributions no matter how small or how significant. We are all in this show together. The more conscious we are, the more successful we will be in transforming fear, doubt, anger and resignation into joy, fulfillment and triumph. "Fresh Eyes Upon The World" is an ideal launching pad for such contemplations and considerations.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, reasoned, organized and presented, "Fresh Eyes Upon The World: Making Life A Spectacular Journey" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as community, college, and university library collections.


The Social Issues Shelf

The Great Healing
Stephen Erickson, et al.
TGH Press
9781733202701, $24.99, PB, 480pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: More and more of us are realizing we are now facing humanity's greatest challenge. Over just the next two decades, the global warming climate crisis threatens to bring about the end of our Anthropocene Epoch - of us and virtually every multicellular life form.

"The Great Healing - Five Compassions That Can Save Our World" is a "save-the-planet" general alarm in which author Stephen Erickson introduces the reader to exquisite creatures both human and non-human and the challenges they face which reveal the immensity and urgency of the threat facing each of we humans.

Widespread awareness is essential if we as a species are to survive. Most of us don't realize who our Arch-Villain is - the main cause of our predicament. We all need to. And we can't win this fight without a clear understanding of the one solution we have. One which has been in existence since the beginning of time.

Key to achieving this solution rapidly and at necessary scale are Five Compassions: for Animals, for Self, for the Land, for Community, and for Democracy. Compassionate activism can create what Erickson refers to as 'The Great Healing", that is, the healing of our planet and the halting of the ongoing sixth great extinction.

More than a "call-to-action" book, more than just a book of compelling stories, "The Great Healing is a book with a plan. Four esteemed thought leaders have joined Stephen, contributing three new short essays, photos, and a poem: Wendell Berry - essayist, novelist, poet, farmer, national treasure Joel Fuhrman, MD - author of 5 New York Times bestsellers including Eat to Live and The End of Diabetes Alan Lewis - Food and Agriculture Policy for Natural Grocers Jo-Anne McArthur - We Animals, investigative photojournalist whose images are as heartbreaking as they are beautiful.

The underlying message of "The Great Healing" is that there is a reason you were born here in human form at this very special time. You matter. You are part of a special generation. You can create the future you want to see. Find your voice, use it. Join us in what will become the most important cause of all of humanity's endeavors to date. It is no hyperborly to note that if life on planet Earth is to continue as we have known it, then among all the social issues confronting us today, climate change must be your first priority.

Critique: An exceptionally well and persuasively written clarion call to personal and collective action, "The Great Healing - Five Compassions That Can Save Our World" is unreservedly and urgently recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Social Issues collections in general, and Climate Change Environmental supplemental studies curriculums in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, environmental activists, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Great Healing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).


The Nautical Shelf

Self Sufficient Sailor, third edition
Lin and Larry Pardey
Pardey Books
9781929214877 $29.95 hc / $22.95 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: Lin and Larry Pardey's hugely popular and encouraging book, the Self Sufficient Sailor, has been revitalized and expanded by more than 40%. This has been an exciting project for me, said Lin, especially as I have spent much of the past two years voyaging through the western Pacific on a boat that has not only an engine, but much of the electronic gear Larry and I chose to sail without. This let me evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of what many folks call modern equipment. Better yet, it put me in touch with the people who are out cruising right now. And it is exciting to see that there are young and young at heart folks setting off voyaging on limited budgets and finding fine adventures.

Critique: Now in a completely revised and expanded third edition, Self Sufficient Sailor is an in-depth guide to the art, craft, science, and labor of yacht sailing. Chapters address how to guard against dangers ranging from inclement weather to piracy, invaluable preparations to make (including an "Abandon Ship Kit"), details that make one's yacht easier to maintain, and much more. Self Sufficient Sailor is an absolute "must-read" for aspiring and practicing cruisers of all skill and experience levels, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Self Sufficient Sailor is also available in a Kindle edition ($22.95).


The Music Shelf

This Magic Moment
William H. Morris
Fitting Words
9781732239166, $27.99, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The Moonglows were considered, by many in the know, to be the best of the doo-wop era singers.

A rare and unlikely incident led Bill to rescue Prentiss Barnes from the depths of despair. Prentiss was the original bass singer of The Moonglows and was disabled from a train car collision years before. He was now living in Jackson, Mississippi, Bill's hometown. Prentiss and Bill connected and became very close friends.

From that historic encounter, Bill facilitated a reunion of Bill Pinkney of The Original Drifters and Prentiss. This led to Bill producing The Original Drifters first two gospel CDs. Over the next few years, he found himself singing with The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Drifters and Moonglows at various events. The last occasion was with the legendary Harvey Fuqua and The Moonglow's in their final performance at the Doo Wop Hall of Fame milestone moment held in Boston Symphony Hall.

"This Magic Moment: My Journey of Faith, Friends, and the Father's Love" reveals the deep chemistry that existed between Bill and each of these singers the kind of friendship that changes the world. When people of different backgrounds and races come together with the love given from above, miracles begin to happen.

Critique: A deftly written, impressively informative, inherently fascinating, inspired and inspiring read from first page to last, "This Magic Moment: My Journey of Faith, Friends, and the Father's Love" is a 'must' for all Moonglow fans and is especially recommended for community and academic library 20th Century American Popular Music History collections.


The Self-Help Shelf

Chrysalis Crisis
Frank Pasiuti
Rainbow Ridge
9781937907600, $16.95, PB, 336pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Recovering from a life ordeal, be it the death of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a job, or a serious physical injury or sickness can sometimes result in personal and spiritual growth. When it does, Dr. Frank Pasciuti calls the transformative experience a "Chrysalis Crisis".

If properly managed, these kinds of crises can result in increased physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and moral development.

Using stories from his clients and his personal life, Dr. Pasciuti shows how a Chrysalis Crisis can prompt growth in ten key areas of human functioning. It can awaken our very real capacity for psychic abilities and deeply enhance our spiritual lives.

"Chrysalis Crisis: How Life's Ordeals Can Lead to Personal & Spiritual Transformation" offers a model of human development that enables everyone (and not just those currently embedded in crises) to transform their lives, and create for themselves an increased sense of peace, happiness, and well-being.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, organization and presentation, "Chrysalis Crisis: How Life's Ordeals Can Lead to Personal & Spiritual Transformation" is an extraordinary, 'real world practical', and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Chrysalis Crisis" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Frank Pasciuti is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified hypnotherapist. He is founder and president of the Associated Clinicians of Virginia, where he provides psychotherapy and organizational development services to individuals and businesses. Dr. Pasciuti is chairman of the Institutional Review Board at The Monroe Institute, and he collaborates on research related to NDEs, psychic phenomena, and the survival of consciousness at the University of Virginia School of Medicine's Division of Perceptual Studies.

The Fifth Revolution
Immanual Joseph
Independently Published
9780578577890, $19.99, PB, 292pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: for anyone who has struggled at work and wished that their workplace was happier, kinder and empowering. In "The Fifth Revolution: Reinventing Workplace Happiness, Health, And Engagement Through Compassion" Dr. Immanual Joseph shows: Why compassion is the key to creating amazing workplace experiences; How the 9-Pillars can transform your inner world and your work relationships; How you can influence and direct your company's culture through compassion; How you can help your company become a force of good; How compassionate workplaces are the foundations of a fifth industrial revolution -- one that is powered by the human spirit.

People from many walks of life including Engineers, Educators, Scientists, Doctors, and changemakers from ranging from Google, to Facebook, to Shell, to VMWare, and other companies big and small have shared their incredible stories of compassion in "The Fifth Revolution".

In addition to teachings, stories, and perspectives, "The Fifth Revolution" has exercises and assessments to inspire, challenge and nudge you toward a happier, kinder and empowered future. Whatever your role in your organization, 'The Fifth Revolution' can raise your personal and professional presence and performance to a whole new level!

Critique: Impressively informative and thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "The Fifth Revolution: Reinventing Workplace Happiness, Health, And Engagement Through Compassion" is highly recommended for community, corporate, and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Fifth Revolution" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Holding a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Tulane School of Medicine, New Orleans, Dr. Immanual Joseph, Ph.D., CPC., is a co-founder of Metamindfulness Multiversity and founder of Compassionleaders.


The General Fiction Shelf

Holding On To Nothing
Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne
Blair / Carolina Wren Press
9781949467086, $25.95, HC, 272pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Lucy Kilgore has her bags packed for her escape from her rural Tennessee upbringing, but a drunken mistake forever tethers her to the town and one of its least-admired residents, Jeptha Taylor, who becomes the father of her child. Together, these two young people work to form a family, though neither has any idea how to accomplish that, and the odds are against them in a place with little to offer other than bluegrass music, tobacco fields, and a Walmart full of beer and firearms for the hunting season.

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Holding On To Nothing" is author Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne's debut as a novelist. This deftly crafted and inherently riveting read showcases the author's genuine flair for originality, the creation of memorable characters, and a distinctively reader engaging narrative storytelling style. While unreservedly and especially recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Holding On To Nothing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $24.65).

Vices/Virtues
Beatrice De Soprontu
Independently Published
9781733195003, $12.99, PB, 332pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Vices/Virtues" by Beatrice De Sporontu is a racy, funny, philosophical story about family, friendships and fetishes. A work of literary fiction in the manner of a memoir, "Vices/Virtues" is the story of Cristela Davila, a bright young woman who works at a real estate office by day and moonlights at a professional S&M dungeon at night.

Intertwining stories explore a wide range of topics. American poverty is placed at the forefront as Cristela (inheriting her mother's welfare shame) goes to great lengths to hide her own status as a welfare recipient from her college friends.

Race is relative as Justine (the daughter of a Kenyan Heiress and an Italian nobleman) is deemed 'White" by her Kenyan side of the family.

Agency is shown as Daisy (a daughter of the Florida backwoods) devices a clever ay to free herself from abuse.

In "Vices/Virtues" author Beatrice De Soprontu' deftly explores the interacting lives of a diverse group of women through a series of vignettes highlighting how very universal the seemingly unconventional can be!

Critique: A deftly crafted, inherently fascinating, fully entertaining, thought-provoking and original novel from beginning to end, "Vices/Virtues" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Vices/Virtues" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Absolute Cornelia
Lucretia Bingham
Rand-Smith, LLC
www.Rand-Smith.com
9781950544042, $16.00, PB, 198pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Absolute Cornelia" follows Cornelia's bewildering and unusual childhood journey. Catapulted from her mother's island shack to her wealthy father's life with a "religious group," Cornelia struggles to find her footing. Her father's rigid moral standards feel safer than her mother's emotional unreliability, but beneath the deceptively calm exterior of the group lurks power-hungry adults, sexual harassment, and mental manipulation.

Will Cornelia's tender inner strength prevail against evil? Will she be able to break the mental bonds of the church? And if so, does she return to the chaos of her mother's home? And will Hadji be waiting for her when she's ready for love?

Critique: An original, deftly written, and engagingly entertaining read from beginning to end, "Absolute Cornelia" is a work of fiction that is based upon author Lucretia Bingham's own life and showcases the author's distinctive narrative storytelling style. While certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Absolute Cornelia" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Requited Harvest
Charlsie Russell
Loblolly Writer's House
www.loblollywritershouse.com
9780989430258, $16.95, PB, 484pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Following the War Between the States, brothers-in-arms Hugh King and James Gibson combined their timber assets to create a successful company linked to antebellum lumbering. But during the decade that followed, King and Gibson Lumber's direction became mired in the ambition of Hugh King's mother-in-law, Evangeline Markiston, who embraced the tempo of the New South and covertly threatened the company's meager assets with dreams of a lumber empire.

A carnal romance between James Gibson's eighteen-year-old son, Jack, and Eva's sixteen-year-old granddaughter, Adel, exacerbated the strife, which ended seven years earlier with the murder of Hugh King and the execution of James Gibson for the crime. Gibson's death left Eva in charge of the company and a guilt-ridden Jack disinherited. In the intervening years, Eva has run King and Gibson Lumber into the ground, but what she lacks in business acumen, she makes up for in ruthlessness.

Penny King is the only child of Hugh King and Eva's daughter Clarissa. Ten years old when her father died, Penny never harbored doubt that justice was served with the execution of "Uncle" Jimmy. Now seventeen, the deaths behind her, she has promised herself to a young medical student, who pledged his troth in return. Shortly after his graduation from medical school, however, Mark Reed elopes with Penny's sister, Adel.

The double betrayal is as inexplicable as it is devastating, but Penny soon finds herself the object of interest of the heir to Biloxi's wealthiest importer, and she hastens into marriage with a seemingly agreeable young man. But Harold Noble harbors secrets that make him anything but agreeable.

Additionally, her marriage comes with stipulations that could lead to boon or bust for her father's company, stipulations driven by the ambitions and perverse lusts of a family whose influence stretches from Mississippi City to Mobile, and Penny is suddenly caught between her ruthless grandmother and her twisted in-laws in a plot fraught with jealousy, greed, and murder in a de facto prison of a house harboring an unshackled evil of its own.

Defeated and alone, Penny turns to an unlikely ally, the enemy of her enemy, a man with reasons of his own to untangle the twisted mystery threatening to crush Hugh King's daughter.

Critique: A true saga of a novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctively reader engaging narrative story telling style. While "Requited Harvest" especially recommended for personal reading lists as a compelling read from cover to cover, it would prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections.

Ascending Power
Malcolm David Gibson
Independently Published
9781633372900, $18.99, PB, 350pp, www.amazon.com

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

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

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

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

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

Critique: An impressively exceptional, deftly crafted, and inherently riveting story from a novelist who has a distinctively original and reader engaging narrative storytelling style, "Ascending Power" by Malcolm David Gibson is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ascending Power" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.19).

The Unicorn Project
Gene Kim
IT Revolution Press
https://itrevolution.com
9781942788768, $32.00, HC, 352pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Maxine is a senior lead developer and architect who is exiled to the Phoenix Project (to the horror of her friends and colleagues), as punishment for contributing to a payroll outage. She tries to survive in what feels like a heartless and uncaring bureaucracy and to work within a system where no one can get anything done without endless committees, paperwork, and approvals.

One day, she is approached by a ragtag bunch of misfits who say they want to overthrow the existing order, to liberate developers, to bring joy back to technology work, and to enable the business to win in a time of digital disruption. To her surprise, she finds herself drawn ever further into this movement, eventually becoming one of the leaders of the Rebellion, which puts her in the crosshairs of some familiar and very dangerous enemies.

The Age of Software is here, and another mass extinction event looms. "The Unicorn Project" is a story about rebel developers and business leaders working together, racing against time to innovate, survive, and thrive in a time of unprecedented uncertainty -- and opportunity!

Critique: Although "The Unicorn Project" is a kind of sequel to author Gene Kim's earlier novel, "The Phoenix Project", this newest and thoroughly reading engaging story of 'developers, digital disruption, and thriving in the age of data' is a deftly crafted and compelling read from first page to last. While certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Unicorn Project" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.49).

You Can See More From Up Here
Mark Guerin
Golden Antelope Press
http://www.goldenantelope.com
9781936135714, $25.95, PB, 436pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In 2004, when middle-aged Walker Maguire is called to the deathbed of his estranged father, his thoughts return to 1974. He'd worked that summer at the auto factory where his dad, an unhappily retired Air Force colonel, was employed as plant physician. Witness to a bloody fight falsely blamed on a Mexican immigrant, Walker kept quiet, fearing his white co-workers and tyrannical father. Lies snowball into betrayals, leading to a life-long rift between father and son that can only be mended by the past coming back to life and revealing its long-held secrets.

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently compelling coming-of-age tale about the illusion of privilege and the power of the past to inform and possibly heal the present, "You Can See More From Up Here" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "You Can See More From Up Here" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).


The Romantic Fiction Shelf

The Devil and Dayna Dalton
Brit Lunden
https://www.britlunden.com
Chelshire Inc.
9781950080021, $9.99, PB, 128pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Reporter Dana Dalton's reputation has been ruined since birth. The daughter of wild child, Becky Dalton, is expected to follow her mother's footsteps; never given a chance to prove she's different.

Dana's been in love with Clay Finnes since she was a teenager. Her unrequited love for Sheriff Finnes leaves her empty. He's happily married and unavailable. Instead, Dayna finds herself stuck in the revolving door of bad relationships. But this is Bulwark, Georgia, a town where strange things are always happening. Dana is doomed to this loveless life until she can find someone who will appreciate the depth of her character.

Can she overcome her fears and look beyond her own perceptions to accept a greater love?

Critique: A thoroughly absorbing read from cover to cover, "The Devil and Dayna Dalton", is highly recommended, but because of its sexual content should be restricted to mature readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Devil and Dayna Dalton" is also available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Editorial Note: Brit Lunden is a prolific author who's written over 50 books in assorted genres under different pen names. Bulwark was her first effort in adult fiction and was chosen by several of her fellow authors as the basis for a new series, A Bulwark Anthology. Using her characters, they are creating new denizens in spin-off stories to this bizarre town. Brit Lunden lives on Long Island in a house full of helpful ghosts.


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Woman in the Pin-Striped Suit
Al Butkus
Archway Publishing
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781480872417, $30.99, HC, 310pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A chemist mysteriously drowns in an Iowa resort lake. Months later, his lawyer daughter is shot in a Kansas City hotel. These could be coincidences -- or not. It's all part of a power play, a race to acquire a certain formula that will yield the biggest fortune in the coming years. The chemist's secret is a prize, and greedy money men and a powerful politician want it more.

The call for justice is answered by a tightly knit group of battle-seasoned veterans under the unlikely leadership of Cable Wheeler. He's unlikely considering he knows nothing about police work or investigating crimes. He's a former Wall Street accountant and coast guard rescue swimmer, but he's now embroiled in a patent battle that ended in murder.

Despite his inexperience, Cable proves worthy time and time again in this bloody business. To save lives, he takes three of the dead chemist's remaining children on a whirlwind cross-country game of hide-and-seek, dodging villains as they go while trying to put a stop to those who would do anything for money. Cable is just trying to do the right thing, but it could get him killed!

Critique: A deftly crafted suspense thriller with many an unexpected plot twist and turn, "Woman in the Pin-Striped Suit" by Al Butkus is a true compulsive page-turner of a read from cover to cover. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Woman in the Pin-Striped Suit" is also available in a paperback edition (9781480872400, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Fake
John DeDakis
Strategic Media Books
http://strategicmediabooks.com
9781939521767, $18.95 PB / $10.99 Kindle 261pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When popular First Lady Rose Gannon dies suddenly (and mysteriously) during an interview with White House correspondent Lark Chadwick, Lark is thrust into the midst of a media-bashing frenzy. Lark, still reeling from the death of her photographer boyfriend, finds herself covering a grieving president struggling with his pain while trying to defuse a looming nuclear war. In the era of fake news, when all facts are suspect (and reporters are targets), Lark tries to discover the truth while also under personal attack.

Critique: A fascinating suspense thriller of a mystery novel by an author who employs more plot twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster, John DeDakis novel "Fake", is a mystery for our times with the integrity of political journalism being called into question by a Trump era presidential administration that labels journalists as 'Enemies of the People' and generators of 'Fake News' when accurately reporting the behavior of politicians and their cadres of supporters and enablers. While especially recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fake" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

A Dream to Die For
Susan Z. Ritz
She Writes Press
www.shewritespress.com
9781631525575, $16.95, PB, 256pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In Riverton Falls (a small New England town), globe-trotting bartender Celeste Fortune stands in her kitchen puzzling over last night's frightening dream -- a woman at a window, lilacs blowing in the breeze, someone's hands tight around her neck. Celeste is sure the dream belongs to someone else.

Perhaps she has finally broken through to the collective dreams of Dreamland cult. Hoping her therapist and cult leader will help her untangle it, she heads off into the cold November morning to her final appointment with him -- or so she hopes. Her estranged fiance has delivered an ultimatum: Leave the cult of Dreamers, or end their relationship for good.

Instead of help, however, Celeste discovers her therapist dying in a pool of blood, skull stove in by his own healing crystal. His computer, containing the intimate dreams and secrets of half the town, is gone. Suspicion immediately falls on Celeste, known to be a rebellious member of his cult. To clear her name, Celeste enlists the help of her old friend, Gloria. But when the two women discover the power of the stolen dreams, they unwittingly become the killer's next target!

Critique: A skillfully and deftly written blend of fantasy and mystery with more unexpected plot twists and turns than a Disney Land roller coaster, "A Dream to Die For" by Susan Z. Ritz is an inherently fascinating and compulsive page turner of a read from cover to cover. While unreservedly and especially recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists that "A Dream to Die For" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).

Chicago's Designs
Peter H. Green
Greenskills Press
www.authorpetergreen.com
9781941402146, $14.95, PB, 282pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Patrick MacKenna, a young architect, amateur sleuth and suitor of the beautiful Gloria Bohannon has it made. But when he accepts the design challenge of a new casino and resort project for Gloria's father, malapropic Mob boss "Chicago Joe" Bohannon, conflicts quickly complicate his promising career.

He spots a fedora-topped man on a window washer's scaffold and stumbles on a murder case, which police think is mob-related, and becomes a suspect. Meanwhile he falls helplessly for Kitty, a brainy waitress his father has brought over from Ireland to work and sing in his family's Irish pub. But a chance encounter with Gloria and her ex-stripper mother as he tours Kitty through the Art Institute reveals his duplicity and sets off a chain of events he can't control.

Although Patrick has let down his client's daughter, he must find a way to finish the project, help law enforcement solve the crime and clear his name. In this dark crime thriller, set in rough-and-tumble Chicago at the turn of the millennium, Patrick must face the age-old challenges of the FBI against the mob, self-interest vs. honor and marriage of convenience versus love. He must make the hard choices among these opposites which will determine the course, the quality and the length of his life.

Critique: A deftly scripted mystery with more unexpected twists and unanticipated turns than a Disney Land roller coaster, "Chicago's Designs" is a compulsively compelling read from cover to cover. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "Chicago's Designs" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Gretchen: A Thriller
Shannon Kirk
Thomas & Mercer
9781542041348, $15.95, PB, 363pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ever since Lucy was two, she's been on the run alongside her mother. She's never understood the reason for a lifetime of paranoia, aliases, and lies. All she understands are the rules: never lock eyes with strangers, never let down your guard, and always be ready to move on.

Finally, after thirteen years and eleven states, their next hideaway seems perfect. An isolated, fortress like place in the New Hampshire woods is the new home they share with its owner, a gentlemanly pianist, and his lonely daughter, Gretchen. She's Lucy's age and soon becomes Lucy's first real friend.

But Gretchen and her father have secrets of their own -- and an obsession with puzzles that draws Lucy into a terrifying new game of hide-and-seek. Lucy's dark past is about to come calling. And this time, for her and her mother in the house on the hill, it might be too late to run.

Critique: A masterpiece of suspense from first page to last, "Gretchen" by Shannon Kirk fully showcases the author's complete master of the suspense/thriller genre and a genuine flair for originality and a thoroughly reader engaging narrative storytelling style. While especially recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Gretchen" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99) and as a complete an unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781721334056, $25.99, CD).

The Unseen
Lisa Towles
9mm Press
https://www.facebook.com/9mmPress
9780578422671, $16.95, PB, 340pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ancient scrolls discovered by Rachel Careski threaten the power of the Church. Descendants of Pope Theopolis, sworn to protect Christianity, believe Soren Careski took possession of them after Rachel disappeared -- but he is dead.

Forty years later, Soren's son, Alex Careski receives an email from a dead man, he is fired from his job, shot at, his car is rammed, and his wife, Simone, is kidnapped.

In London, two rare books go missing from the British Museum. The Director of Antiquities disappears. Her colleague is murdered and her would-be lover is caught up in the intrigue.

Soren left boxes of diaries in Alex's cellar -- will they help unravel the truth about the disappearances of Alex's wife, father, and aunt? Desperate for answers, he travels to Italy where he is kidnapped along with an enterprising young woman who is also embroiled in the deadly mysteries of the ancient scrolls.

Critique: Taking her readers on a roller coaster of ridge, Lisa Towles new novel, "The Unseen" is an inherently riveting read replete from cover to cover with unexpected twists and unanticipated turns. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library contemporary general fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Unseen" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Passover
Jeff Yocum
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
www.iuniverse.com
9781532073649, $34.99, HC, 262pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: During World War II, at the selection ramp of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz, Dr. Joseph Mengele selects four-year-old Jakob Bauer and his sisters for his notorious experiments. Mengele takes keen interest in Jakob's intelligence and Nordic features, resulting in a paternal-like relationship that shelters Jakob from many of the concentration camp's cruelties, and he survives the Holocaust.

In 2019, Dr. Chris Malone investigates seventy-five mysterious deaths for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All deaths occurred within a twelve-hour period in three remotely located communities spread across the country. Peculiarities from Malone's investigation lead her to Tudos Pharmaceuticals, a drug manufacturer known for innovation and egalitarianism.

The founder is Jakob Bauer, seventy years removed from his liberation from the death camp. Jakob has recently been demoted after falling out of favor with the stockholders for his role in creating an anti-addiction drug available to millions, in turn destroying profits.

Despite his reputation for social conscientiousness, evidence keeps pointing Malone to Jakob's involvement with the mysterious deaths. What Malone eventually uncovers defies comprehension and leads her on the trail of a pathogen as old as mankind.

Critique: A deftly crafted, intricately woven and inherently fascinating novel by an author with an impressive and original narrative storytelling style, Jeff Yocum's "Passover" is very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Passover" is also available in a paperback edition (9781532073625, $20.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Journey to Where
Steven Paul Leiva
Third Street Press
https://thirdstreetpress.wordpress.com
9781948142328, $14.99, PB, 266pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When a radical experiment into the nature of time is sabotaged, the scientific team finds themselves in an alternate universe, where humans never became the dominant life force. Instead, dinosaurs evolved into intelligent bipeds, developing language and societal structures.

The scientists have to learn to communicate with this alien species, who view them as unusual pets, and figure out how to recreate the original experiment in a non-industrialized world, so they can go back home -- that is, assuming there's a home, or even a universe, to return to!

But the scientist who sabotaged them is trapped in this new world with them. And he's looking to rise to power, even if his quest means the death of his traveling companions.

Critique: A deftly crafted, inherently interesting, and thoroughly entertaining read from cover to cover, "Journey to Where" impressively showcases author Steven Paul Leiva's genuine flair for originality and a distinctive, reader engaging narrative storytelling style. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of SciFi fans that "Journey to Where" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Tetrastatum
Tim Smith & Dr. Richard
Epigraph Publishing Service
http://www.epigraphps.com
9781948796682, $29.95, HC, 300pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The world we once knew has been destroyed by man's greed. The only hope to restore the planet Earth is Dr. Tim Smith. In the material world that once existed, Smith was the head of the Quantum Teleportation Program at DARPA and a "Time Smith" in the non-matter thotonic universes whose shadows persist. Unfortunately, mankind's last hope, Dr. Smith is quite clearly, insane.

"I think therefore I am," says Descartes's thotonic skeleton of the past. Tetrastatum is the ultimate test. We are transported through the tunnel of institutionalized insanity as helpless voyeurs perceiving existence through Smith's eyes. Dr. Smith's mental meltdown takes us on a journey as a "Time Smith" exploring the meaning of reality and the human psyche.

Critique: A deftly crafted, fully entertaining, and impressively thought provoking time-travel novel, "Tetrastatum" is unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated SciFi fans that "Tetrastatum" is also available in a paperback edition (9781948796675, $19.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).


The Political Science Shelf

America's Identity Crisis, revised and updated edition
Michael Gellert
http://www.michaelgellert.com
Reputation Books
www.reputationbooksllc.com
9781944387259, $44.95, HC, 574pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: This newly revised and fully updated edition of "America's Identity Crisis: The Death and Rebirth of the American Vision" by Jungian psychoanalyst and Humanities Professor at Vanier College, Montreal, Canada) Michael Gellert examines the national character of the United States against the backdrop of its history, popular culture, and media.

Professor Gellert suggests that the deterioration of America's "heroic ideal" at the heart of its national character, is responsible for the country's deepening social ills and the erosion of its vital institutions. He calls for a spiritual and intellectual renaissance and a renewed sense of national purpose in order to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

With an new Preface and a new Appendix on the Trump phenomenon's paradoxical effect, Professor Gellert informatively profiles the development of the American heroic ideal and how this concept expresses the nation's aspiration toward greatness and its sense of identity.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought-provoking, "America's Identity Crisis: The Death and Rebirth of the American Vision" is an extraordinary analytical survey of the contemporary American political, cultural, social, and economic issues that have resulted in a deeply polarized body politic and the erosion of respect for America's institutions and core values. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "America's Identity Crisis" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Social Issues collections in general, and Political Science supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for students, academia, political activists, social reformers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "America's Identity Crisis" is also available in a paperback edition (9781944387242, $24.95).


The Biography Shelf

Secrets on Saulter Road: A Memoir
Joan Kendall
Rush Avenue Press
https://www.secretsonsaulterroad.com
9781733898652, $24.95, HC, 182pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Secrets on Saulter Road: Discovering Hope and Forgiveness in the Wake of My Toxic Upbringing" is an intensely personal story of growth, resilience, and hope. With remarkable honesty and wit, author Joan Kendall nimbly explores her upbringing in the prim and proper segregated South during the 1950s with an outrageously unpredictable and destructive alcoholic mother.

Joan and her two sisters (Linda, the perplexing spendthrift, and Susan, the practical optimist) never knew which mother would appear on the scene: the charming Mary Poppins or the spiteful Cruella de Vil. Their loving father did his best, but behind closed doors, his criticism of their mother's drinking fueled her bizarre and neglectful behaviors and further withdrawal into an ocean of whiskey.

The sisters often had each other's backs, and the family maid and daytime buffer, Jadie Bell, provided a fortress in their domestic war. Although Jadie Bell loved them as her own, she could not rid their home of gloom and shame.

In Joan's adulthood, a lamentable family secret is divulged, and the pain and trauma of the past becomes clear. In this beautifully written memoir, Joan reveals her own brokenness, and shares her path to redemption, healing, and joy.

Critique: A deftly written memoir of an interesting and troubled life lived out in interesting and troubled times, "Secrets on Saulter Road: Discovering Hope and Forgiveness in the Wake of My Toxic Upbringing" is unreservedly and especially recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Secrets on Sautler Road" is also available in a paperback edition (9781733898614, $19.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

From Manchurian Princess to the American Dream
Anna Chao Pai
iUniverse, Inc.
www.frommanchurianprincesstotheamericandream.com
9781532064487, $60.99, HC, 510pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: While most immigrants to the United States seek better lives than what they had, author Anna Chao Pai's parents came seeking safety from the Japanese; they left a life of luxury and power to become ordinary American citizens. In the end, the transition to ordinary was traumatic for Pai's mother, who became mentally unbalanced.

In "From Manchurian Princess to the American Dream: An Anecdotal Memoir of Two Immigrant Lives", Pai shares her story which is as much about her mother as it is about her.

Pai was four years old when her family came to America from China, forced to flee because of war. She tells how they moved almost once a year, experiencing discrimination against Asians during World Word II, and attended twelve different schools before starting college. While her father and her siblings adjusted, despite racism against Asians, Pai's mother, unable to learn the language, never assimilated into American life.

"From Manchurian Princess to the American Dream" offers an insightful look at modern Chinese history and culture. It provides insight into the impact of immigration on people who are ripped from their homes and find themselves beginning life in a foreign country where they must learn a new language and eventually lose all they left behind. Noting the courage it took for Pai's parents to survive, this memoir is a testament to them and her family.

Critique: An inherently interesting read throughout, "From Manchurian Princess to the American Dream: An Anecdotal Memoir of Two Immigrant Lives" is an impressively candid and detailed memoir that is unreservedly for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "From Manchurian Princess to the American Dream" is also available in a paperback edition (9781532064463, $50.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).


The Health/Medicine Shelf

When to Call a Therapist
Robert C. Ciampi
Scrivener Books
www.whentocallatherapist.com
9781949165128, $14.95, PB, 217pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Whether it's due to fear about asking for help, feeling overwhelmed by which type of help to get, or simply a lack of awareness that their symptoms are danger signs, many people wait far too long to get support when problems crop up.

Frequently, couples enter therapy as a last-ditch effort to save their relationship only to find the damage is too great to recover from. Those dealing with anxiety wait until they start fearing the fear itself or develop unhealthy coping strategies. Substance abusers wait until they hit "rock bottom." And those suffering from prolonged depression lose the energy or will to call a therapist - often with deadly consequences.

But this suffering is needless when help is only a phone call away! In "When to Call a Therapist" Robert C. Ciampi draws on his twenty years of experience and expertise in behavioral healthcare and private practice to help his readers avoid these painful and unnecessary consequences.

"When to Call a Therapist" will help to overcome roadblocks to getting help by being able to recognize: The symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks and how to prevent them from hijacking your life; When it's just "the blues" versus serious depression; The signs of a relationship in trouble and how a therapist can help you repair the damage or work through difficult decisions; What unhealthy coping strategies look like and what to do instead; When you're facing abuse, neglect, or serious red flags and how to get help; How assertiveness and setting healthy boundaries create freedom; Which type of therapist specializes in the struggles must be faced.

Critique: Exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "When to Call a Therapist" is impressively informative and perfectly geared to the needs of the non-specialist general reader with respect to seeking professional services for any kind of emotional or mental health concerns. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Health/Medicine collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "When to Call a Therapist" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

The Art of Strength
Tammy Wise
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
www.balboapress.com
9781982209469, $28.99, PB, 444pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The human body's design has been honed over millions of years. It has its own inherent wisdom, and it knows what it needs and how to survive. Our modern lifestyle has undermined that wisdom. The result? Exhaustion, anxiety, fatigue, tension, pain, even sickness.

"The Art of Strength: Sculpt the Body - Train the Mind" is a combination Book/3D-Video Learning System that provides a foundational understanding of how the physical energy of the human body is motivated -- and offers an approach to accessing and channeling that energy to achieve full strength.

Based in Tao theory and practiced in workouts, "The Art of Strength" is the how-to instructional guide for living relaxed on the inside and strong on the outside. Aided by 15 video tutorials, readers will gain a comprehensive philosophy on how energy optimally flows through the body and how tension obscures that flow.

While new fitness trends emerge from one week to the next, "The Art of Strength" offers a far more integrated approach: deep insight into Eastern thought coupled with a self-analysis system and physical fitness workout routine which integrate for a complete mind-body wellness experience.

This innovative combination of in-depth instructional manual's content and 3D animation will guide readers to the emotional root of physical tension. A 3D avatar and live video model demonstrate internal and external energy movement, while practical Tao principles are explained and related to workout challenges.

"The Art of Strength" shares the nuts and bolts of the BodyLogos(R) practice to offer you an understanding of your own blocks to living the power of your intention.

Critique: Appropriate for both individual DIY exercise routines and as a Physical Education curriculum textbook, "The Art of Strength" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Health & Exercise collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Art of Strength" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).


The Christian Studies Shelf

Worship Wars
Robert Bakss
https://www.robertbakss.com
Initiate Media Pty Ltd.
9780994429919, $14.99, PB, 310pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Many practicing Christians grapple today with what the 'proper' style of music for church should be and sadly it often becomes a kind of 'worship war'. Like the movie Star Wars, the battles rage from episode to episode, with Bible verses being used as the proverbial light sabers to attack and defend each other.

With the publication of "Worship Wars: What The Bible Says About Worship Music", Robert Bakss (Senior Pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia) answers the questions amongst Christians and churches today in regard to 'worship music' and appropriate styles and genres. This is a biblical guide to worship music spanning early church history to the present day; providing clear, concise guidelines, Biblical principles and practical suggestions to support the implementation of a balanced blend of traditional and contemporary worship music in churches.

Critique: A unique, biblically based, impressively informative, and ultimately inspiring read, "Worship Wars" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to church, seminary, and academic library Contemporary Christian Studies collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of any and all members of the Christian community that "Worship Wars" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


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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