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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 9 September 2014 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Social Issues Shelf
Money/Finance Shelf Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf LGBT Shelf Poetry Shelf
Travel Shelf Christian Studies Shelf Buddhist Studies Shelf
Self-Help Shelf Cookbook Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

The Round Barn, A Biography of an American Farm
Jacqueline Dougan Jackson
Beloit City Press
9781881480150, $24.95, 519pp,

Synopsis: The third and latest volume of "The Round Barn" series by Jacqueline Dougan Jackson continues the story of the Dougan farm and its denizens, expanded now to include a nearby farm, with its landscaping and remodeling under the direction of the University of Wisconsin. The growing hybrid seed corn business is housed there. Rock County Breeders, the second artificial breeding co-op in the nation, hires Amos as their first inseminator, and Jackie learns the "facts of (cow) life" when she watches him in the barn. She travels Rock County with the vet, witnessing milk fever, garget, and scours. At a barn dance she receives her first kiss. Grampa's second son boards a sailing schooner to Alaska, then returns to enroll in Ag School. Tragedy strikes one of the children attending the one-room schoolhouse that adjoins the farm. Grampa starts 4-H clubs in the county. Ronald, a member, enjoys raising his piglet, but loudly moans the intense labor of his corn plot. Overall, an older Ron recounts in letters to his family and friends "the infinite variety of Turtle Township".

Critique: As with the first two volumes of this impressive series, author Jacqueline Jackson fully engages her reader's rapt attention and holds it firmly from beginning to end. Extraordinarily well written, as informative as it is entertaining, "The Round Barn, A Biography of an American Farm, Volume Three: Ron's Place, Breeders Co-op, Hybrid Corn, Neighbors, Town, and County" is very highly recommended reading and (along with volumes one and two) will prove to be enduringly popular additions to community library collections.

Democracy In Business
G. Michael Blahnik
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781497530164, $21.95, 430pp,

Synopsis: Is hierarchy the inevitable result of human evolutionary biology? Is hierarchy a rational, practical choice in the face of anarchy and chaos? Is hierarchy a distortion of natural human cooperation? Is hierarchy the inevitable consequence of population growth in a world of limited resources? In "Democracy in Business: A Transdisciplinary Critique of Hierarchy, Volume 1", Author and academician G. Michael Blahnik argues that though there might exist a biological, psychological and social vulnerability for people to create hierarchies, there is not and never has been an innate disposition to do so. This disposition was learned. Blahnik argues that under pressures to survive, people are vulnerable to mistreating and being mistreated by their fellow human being. Such mistreatment will often produce the desired result, but that result is achieved at a price. That price is no less than a distortion of human identity.

Critique: An extraordinary and seminal work, "Democracy in Business: A Transdisciplinary Critique of Hierarchy" is a masterpiece of meticulous scholarship organized into four major sections: Establishing a Primary Social Unit in the Male-Female Bond; Establishing a Primary Social Unit in the Mother-Child Bond; Distorting Human Cooperation; Economics and Hierarchy). As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Democracy in Business: A Transdisciplinary Critique of Hierarchy" is an especially recommended addition to academic and university library Sociology, Psychology, and Social Psychology reference collections and supplemental reading lists. It should be noted that this is the first volume of a planned series of texts

Achievers: Ordinary People Who Do Extraordinary Things
Rob Severson
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
RMA Publicity
9781499230222, $10.95, 188pp,

Synopsis: "Achievers: Ordinary People Who Do Extraordinary Things" is a collection of stories from ordinary people demonstrating that all people are created equal and have different skills, talents and interests, that when used to the best of their ability, make the world a better place. These are but a few of the millions of achievers who have used their gifts to serve others and make a living. Thank you to all who shared their stories so others may see how they too can make it in the world.

Critique: One of the chief values of this outstanding collection of true stories is that it reveals to the reader how they too can 'make it in the world' regardless of their past and current circumstances. As inspired and inspiring as it is informed and informative, "Achievers: Ordinary People Who Do Extraordinary Things" is deserving of the widest readership possible and highly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted that "Achievers: Ordinary People Who Do Extraordinary Things" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.00).

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

An Agent Speaks
Joan West
4900 LaCross Rd.
North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500257347 $5.45

Author, publisher, and professional agent Joan West presents An Agent Speaks: A Primer for Unpublished Writers, a practical, no-nonsense advice guide. Although An Agent Speaks is especially intended for unpublished writers who are new to the system, veteran writers will also find its tips, tricks, and techniques invaluable! Chapters discuss why one might or might not need an agent, self-publishing, how to prepare query package for fiction or a proposal for nonfiction, how to search for an agent, how to format a fiction manuscript, and much more. "In my opinion, it is unethical for an agent to charge a reading fee and all negotiations with an agent who charges one should be halted immediately. Essentially, the same is true for an editing fee... Sometimes an agent will see potential in a manuscript and suggest that the author have it professionally edited. In that case, it is permissible for the agent to provide the author with a list of editors from which the author may choose. It goes without saying that the agent's name should not appear on the list." An Agent Speaks is an absolute "must-have" for debut writers, worthy of the highest recommendation.

Why Books?
Allen Johnson, Jr.
Premium Press of America
6581 Jocelyn Hollow Road
Nashville, Tennessee 37205-3950
9781887654906 $4.95

As ebooks become more and more common, are printed books on their way out? Why Books? The Value of Stories on the Printed Page makes a compelling case for the value of the printed book. A brief, pocket-sized, yet compelling case, Why Books? stresses the gratification and inspirational value of reading physical books, and their role as a storytelling treasures. A persuasive contemplation written by a book lover, for book lovers, Why Books? is highly recommended! "There is another mysterious power often found in good novels... their ability to engage us. An engaging novel welcomes me. Being drawn into a novel by an engaging writer is like visiting a home on a cold night and being invited into a warmly lit room where a fire is burning, and an old friend is waiting by the hearth."

The Social Issues Shelf

In the Public Interest
Peter Bowden
Tilde University Press
c/o International Publishers Marketing
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
9780734611864, $29.95, 200pp,

Synopsis: Written by a whistleblower himself, Peter Bowden's book could not be more timely given recent developments. In the Public Interest takes a look at both the benefits of whistleblowing, and the suffering and persecution whistleblowers are often subjected to. Issues of moral philosophy are carefully dealt with, including the motivation of the whistleblower and why whistleblowers are 'crucified'. Case examples come from both the private sector and from government, and are drawn from all across the globe, including the US, Australia and Europe. They include such recent and high-profile cases such as Wikileaks, WorldCom, Enron and Clapham Junction. Some case problems are also included to help the reader apply the lessons that can be learned from each case. Making a case for the protection of whistleblowers and for those who speak out, the book concludes by looking forwards to a more ethical society thanks to whistleblowers.

Critique: A whistleblower is a person who exposes misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in an organization. The alleged misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health and safety violations, and corruption. Whistleblowers may make their allegations internally (for example, to other people within the accused organization) or externally (to regulators, law enforcement agencies, to the media or to groups concerned with the issues). Efforts to suppress whistleblower activities are present in every governmental agency and corporate board room in the United States. Legislation has been enacted to protect whistleblowers from retaliation but is often disregarded. Simply stated, "In the Public Interest: Protecting Whistleblowers and Those Who Speak Out" by Peter Bowden should on the shelf of academic, college, and governmental agency library in the country -- and thereby available to anyone who has ever seen the need to report wrong doing by those in authority.

The Money/Finance Shelf

Basic Accounting for Community Organizations and Small Groups
John Cammack
Practical Action Publishing
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781853398216, $31.95, 228pp,

Critique: "Basic Accounting for Community Organizations and Small Groups: A Practical Guide" offers a step-by-step guide to basic accounting and financial management techniques. It is written in plain language for people who have no previous experience of accounting and book-keeping. The described procedures are not just specific to development programs. The success of any venture, whatever its size, depends on proper financial control. Using simple case studies, the author shows how to: construct a budget and cash-flow forecast; record and control cash payments; draw up an analyzed cash book, and a receipts and payments account; operate a bank account; and prepare a budget and actual statement. Each section is followed by activities to practice the material covered. Full solutions and notes for trainers and facilitators are also included. "Basic Accounting is suitable for training non-governmental organizations in an international development context. "Basic Accounting for Community Organizations and Small Groups: A Practical Guide" should be useful to any small group that needs to keep accurate records of its financial transactions.

Critique: Informed and informative, exceptionally well written and presented, thoroughly user friendly, "Basic Accounting for Community Organizations and Small Groups: A Practical Guide" will prove to be an invaluable instruction manual and is very strongly recommended for anyone charged with the responsibilities of a treasurer for their organization, club, association, institution, or civic group. Very highly recommended for school and community library collections.

The Fiction Shelf

Dream Chaser
Pat Spears
Twisted Road Publications
1400 Village Square Blvd., Suite 3-234
Tallahassee, FL 32312
9781940189024, $14.95, 360pp,

Synopsis: Jesse McKnight wakes to find that his wife has vanished with only a vague note declaring that she has done so in search of "something better." Her departure thrusts Jesse into the reluctant role of single parent, and his clumsy attempts to bridge years of emotional absence only further alienates his three children. His artistic sixteen-year-old son, Cole, is ashamed of his father's inability to affect a more promising future and blames him for his mother's unlikely decision to abandon him and his sisters to his inept care. Five-year-old sister, Sky is afraid of her father, and will not so much as speak. Only eleven-year-old Katie, a tough realist with a soft spot for broken things, has always tried to believe in him. It's Katie's dream of owning a horse, coupled with Jesse's imagined redemption that leads him to purchase, sight unseen from a brutal owner, a mustang mare. Upon delivery, the terrified animal crashes through a hastily constructed corral and escapes into the nearby national forest. Jesse vows to a broken-hearted Katie that he, with the help of his oldest friend, a paraplegic, and his lesbian neighbors, will recapture the mare. Thus begins Jesse's journey to fatherhood through an emotional landscape strewn with joyful discovery, comic ineptitude, and unforeseen tragedy.

Critique: An extraordinarily well written and original novel, "Dream Chaser" clearly documents author Pat Spears as a talented and imaginative wordsmith. With its deftly crafted characters and a riveting storyline from beginning to end, "Dream Chaser" is highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library general fiction collections. It should be noted that "Dream Chaser" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Birds of a Feather
Kaye Park Hinckley
Wiseblood Books
PO Box 11612, Milwaukee, WI 53211-0612
9780692023587, $12.00, 238pp,

Synopsis: In this compendium of short stories, author Kaye Park Hinckley translates grace in a world on edge, sees a double beginning and ending in everything, literally everything, including the unspeakably awful. "Birds of a Feather" showcases ten short stories: Red Bird; Dragon; Shooting at Heaven's Gate; The Psalm of David Fowler; The Mercy Seat; Blue Bird of Happiness; Little Things, Big Things; Jimmy's Cat; Moon Dance; The Pleasure of Company.

Critique: A short story is a brief work of literature, usually written in narrative prose. Emerging from earlier oral storytelling traditions in the 17th century, the short story has grown to encompass a body of work so diverse as to defy easy characterization. At its most prototypical the short story features a small cast of named characters, and focuses on a self-contained incident with the intent of evoking a "single effect" or mood. In doing so, short stories make use of plot, resonance, and other dynamic components to a far greater degree than is typical of an anecdote, yet to a far lesser degree than a novel. While the short story is largely distinct from the novel, authors of both generally draw from a common pool of literary techniques. "Birds of a Feather" demonstrates and documents Kaye Park Hinckley as a master of the short story form. A very highly recommended and entertaining read, "Birds of a Feather" is especially recommended for community library collections.

Gods and Lesser Men
P. Alan Thompson
W & B Publishers
9001 Ridge Hill Street, Kernersville, NC 27285
9780615977676, $17.99, 300pp,

Synopsis: Harry Monmouth, is in trouble - big trouble. He's a nice young man whom no one - including Harry - takes very seriously. When his girlfriend, Alexis Bradford, announces his impending fatherhood, his marriage proposal is met with a lukewarm response, and the baby's future is in doubt. In his effort to win Alex over, he opens a door to the past that threatens to destroy him. He discovers the systematic misery imposed on New Hope's less fortunate citizens, and uncovers larceny of monumental proportions. At the same time, a botched abortion leads to trumped-up murder charges, a mystery that divides his little college town. Indifferent before, his personal circumstances compel him to join the fray, a decision with far-reaching consequences. Gods and Lesser Men is the tale of a man's journey from carefree days to extraordinary burdens. The things that have sustained him - family and place - have become problematic. Painful truths are told. The sins of the father - and the mother - are visited upon the child, and Harry's struggle to overcome them is a story as old as humanity.

Critique: The debut novel of an obviously gifted storyteller, "Gods and Lesser Men" by P. Alan Thomas is as deftly written and entertaining as it is original and thought-provoking. A riveting read from beginning to end, "Gods and Lesser Men" is highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library general fiction collections. It should be noted that "Gods and Lesser Men" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

The Road from Money
Sylvester Boyd Jr.
900 South Clark Street, Suite 1408, Chicago, IL 60605
9781478730309, $14.95, 208pp,

Synopsis: "The Road from Money: A Journey to Find Why?" takes the reader on a journey to the small town of Money, Mississippi; just after the turn of the 20th century. It is the story of Estella Reynolds, a young Negro girl, growing up in America's deep South. "The Road from Money: A Journey to Find Why?" is the story of her life as she faces racism, segregation, exploration, brutality and poverty. Nevertheless, she finds the joy of family life, battles to get a good education, finds her first love and above all tries to figure out why things are the way they are. This is a time after World War I and before the start of World War II. A time when automobiles were new and planes had just taken to the sky. "The Road from Money: A Journey to Find Why?" is set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the Great Dust Bowl, a flood, Prohibition; and a time when Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt were President. "The Road from Money: A Journey to Find Why?" also highlights the strengths of a people and many of America's weaknesses.

Critique: Although a work of fiction, it is a story that has deep factual roots in the African American experience. Superbly crafted from beginning to end, "The Road from Money: A Journey to Find Why?" is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is solidly entertaining throughout making it very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library general fiction collections.

Kate's Escape from The Billable Hour
Petula Parker
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
Smith Publicity
B00KO44KJO, $0.99, 192pp,

Synopsis: Kate Billings is a Red Bull-dependent, yoga-hating attorney at Krapp & Lipschitz, L.L.P., Arizona's largest and worst-dressed law firm. At first blush, Kate leads an enviable life. At only 26, she earns a six-figure salary, owns a quaint downtown bungalow, and has managed to shed the 80 pounds that have plagued her for most of her adulthood. A devastating performance review by firm partners Krapp, Butts, and Waddleberger, however, calls Kate's chosen career into question. Her confusion is compounded by a stranger's innocent inquiry: "Are you happy?" Finally, when Kate receives her annual bonus -- consisting of a smoked ham and skin concealer -- she cracks. Upon realizing that she has been passively allowing her life to unfold under the belief that at some point things would just click into being perfect, Kate ransacks the partners' offices, quits her job, and buys a one-way ticket to Barcelona, planning to stalk ("it's not 'stalking,' it's 'reconnaissance'") the Spanish exchange student she has been secretly in love with since high school.

Critique: Clever plotting, deftly crafted and imminently recognizable characters, combined with a genuine talent for storytelling, author Petula Parker's new novel, "Kate's Escape from The Billable Hour", is a thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end and highly recommended for personal reading lists.

City of Spies
John Cheney
Shurland Press
1765 North 2000 West, Provo, UT 84604
9780692211083, $12.95, 390pp,

Synopsis: Four years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germany was preparing for war. A series of exercises were conducted simulating an invasion of West Berlin. But what if one of these operations was no drill at all? In 1985, Border Troop officer Hans Brandt rises to the inner circle of the East German government, where leaders have begun to fear the country's inevitable collapse. Hans discovers Stasi colonel Karl Scharf's audacious plan to save the GDR - actually conquer West Berlin. Wanting to prevent a war, Hans moves to stop the invasion. But when Scharf uses a mole hunt to leverage his plan, Hans is drawn into a battle of espionage that will cost him more than he can know. Using actual secret East German invasion plans and real locations, "City of Spies" is a historical thriller that brings modern insight into a pivotal world era. Seen through the eyes of Hans Brandt, the struggle to peacefully end the Cold War presents a precarious balance of power, escalating tension between rival factions, and ultimately a race for personal survival. Like many world events that hinge on a few actions, "City of Spies" shows the peaceful revolution in Eastern Europe was anything but inevitable.

Critique: Although a work of fiction, John Cheney's "City of Spies" reads with an authenticity with respect to Cold War politics and the human condition that is usually the province of political science curriculums. Infused with a deftly plotted story of unexpected twists and dramatic turns, "City of Spies" is a non-stop thriller that is pure entertainment from beginning to end and will make a popular addition to community library collections and personal reading lists. It should be noted that "City of Spies" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Marcus Paul Cootsona
Pro Tennis Press
PO Box 1296, Menlo Park, CA 94026
9781496082404, $9.99, 246pp,

Synopsis: Slammin' takes place in a different 2011. Fifty-three year-old tennis pro and family man, Wally Wilson is happily teaching Silicon Valley's millionaires and billionaires on the double-wide estate of his temptress and benefactor, 17 year-old Ashley Margincall. But when Wally's serve speed spikes and unidentified government agents appear, he begins a pro tennis odyssey that might lead him to the U.S. Open or the twisted nexus of a Grand Slam conspiracy. Strangely blessed, but always behind the curve, Wally realizes he's been given all the power, but none of the control.

Critique: An exceptionally well crafted novel with a deftly woven plot that is a minor masterpiece of storytelling, "Slammin'" offers a consistently entertaining read that will hold one's attention from first page to last. Highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted that "Slammin'" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

The Disambiguation of Susan
Sarah Sarnoff
Saint Gaudens Press
PO Box 405, Solvang, CA 93464-0405
9780943039183, $25.99, 418pp,

Synopsis: "The Disambiguation of Susan" is a contemporary romance focused upon a young, wealthy Jewish woman finding her way as the world changes around her. Never before had Susan ever needed to consider the problems wealth can bring. Usually, her problem had been the opposite. Susan Fisher's life is in a turmoil and she needs to deal with ambiguities and indecision brought on by drastic changes in her life. She needs to figure out her place in a world with a previously unfamiliar Jewish heritage and a radical change in fortune. Susan's path to resolving these ambiguities and changes brings her romance, confusion and, ultimately, a new direction in life. Her parents, a professor and a high school teacher, gave her a well-rounded, but decidedly secular upbringing. She is beautiful, intelligent and hardworking, but when her parents pass away unexpectedly, Susan, a college sophomore at a small Christian college, finds herself thrust into life-changing situations and she must question her purpose in life, her values and her Jewish heritage. Brought to New York City by a cryptic phone call from an attorney for a deceased aunt, Susan is forced to come to terms with the ambiguities a dramatic change in station, locale and opportunity brings her. Susan's aunt has left her not only an inheritance that will certainly change her future, but also a taste of her lost Jewish heritage that her parents disdained. Along the way, Susan finds herself questioning those things she had always thought important, when she is uprooted and transplanted into a far-different world from her comfy, Midwestern, academic roots. Susan finds the biggest ambiguity she must face is in her own heart and sense of self.

Critique: Although a work of fiction, "The Disambiguation of Susan" is a fascinating character study that is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is wonderfully entertaining. A 'coming of age' saga that deals with a Judaic heritage in a secular world, "The Disambiguation of Susan" is a deftly woven chronicle that will prove to be a highly popular addition to both personal reading lists and community library Contemporary Fiction collections. Very highly recommended reading, it should be noted that "The Disambiguation of Susan" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

One Chance, One Moment
Judith Kohnen
Privately Published
c/o Smith Publicity
9780990367413, $14.95, 368pp,

Synopsis: Renowned singer/musician Garry Danzlo has decided to live a life of seclusion after a debilitating accident destroys his musical career. Guilt-ridden and stubborn, he wants no part of the holistic nurse his sister has hired to rehabilitate him. He's determined to get rid of her; she's determined to stay. Spunky, fun-loving Amanda Fields, widowed after a loveless marriage, is on a mission for love. More than anything in the world, she wants to adopt an eight-year-old, wheelchair-bound boy named Robbie. When her chance arrives that will provide her with sufficient funds for the adoption, there's nothing to stop her from accomplishing the temporary job in Colorado. But what she has to contend with is far more than just a difficult patient. Unexpected obstacles are suddenly out of her control. The least of her worries is falling for yet another man who doesn't love her back. "One Chance, One Moment" is a humorous, surprising and deeply emotional story of love found by two special people - love built on chances one must sometimes take, but sometimes give as well. Each moment becomes nourished by the faith of one woman, and eventually, by the dream of one man.

Critique: Author Judith Kohnen took as her literary inspiration of Barry Manilow's 70s hit song MANDY and in commemoration of its 40th anniversary, has created an engaging and thoroughly entertaining fictional account of the story behind the song. Deftly embedded in her storyline are a variety of themes ranging from how choices are influenced by intuition, the true depth of love, the power of forgiveness, the role of spirituality in human relationships, and seizing the opportunities that life affords us. A thoroughly entertaining and deftly written novel from first page to last, "Once Chance, One Moment" is highly recommended reading and would make an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted that "Once Chance, One Moment" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.95).

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

When the Past Came Calling
Larry S. Kaplan
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
Lissy Peace & Assocations
9781497478596, $11.99, 252pp,

Synopsis: Settling in for a routine day at the office in 1989, high school memories are the furthest thing from David Miller's mind. But when an unexpected phone call interrupts the personal injury lawyer's midafternoon slump, he is surprised to hear from Michael Eisenberg--a former debate partner who went on to become the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. But Michael isn't just calling to chat. He's working with the FBI on a high-stakes case: investigating the disappearance of a revolutionary government scientist--one whose bio-evolutionary research could turn Darwinism on its ear, and pose a threat to national security. The main suspect? Cult leader Philip Montgomery, who happens to have a strong connection to David's past. If David hopes to help crack the case, the attorney has to delve into a sea of old memories, revisiting people and places left behind long ago. One such person is former best friend Benny Friedman, who has clearly gone off the deep end. Obsessed with the JFK assassination, he insists he has evidence that Oswald wasn't acting alone. But as David's old memories continue to surface, a startling deception comes to light--uncovering the truth in a most unexpected way...

Critique: A deftly written novel that is as compelling as it is entertaining, "When the Past Came Calling" is a riveting read from beginning to end. Author Larry S. Kaplan has a genuine flair for writing a complex and high stakes suspense novel populated by memorable characters and engaging plot twists. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections, it should be noted that "When the Past Came Calling" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99). Also available and highly recommended is Kaplan's previous novel "A Colony of Eves" (9781460917732, $14.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 402pp).

Death and the Detective
Jess Faraday, editor
Elm Books
1175 Highway 130, Laramie, WY 82070
9780988611627, $14.95, 266pp,

Synopsis: "Death and the Detective" is comprised of eleven stories each of which feature an investigator and a death of some kind. But the fertile imaginations of our authors will take you on a wild ride from San Francisco to Massachusetts and back. We have a dead pig, dead lovers (straight and gay), a dead shoe salesman, suicide, lots of arson, fortuitous accidents, setups, and even a touch of romance. Our diverse detectives include a few PIs, some cops, some ex-cops, an insurance adjuster, ATF, a security guard, and a pair of Shadow Wolves-formidable Native American trackers who work with Homeland Security. We bring you double-crosses, revenge, things to prove, people just asking for it, and a couple of chances at redemption.

Critique: A second anthology compiled by Jess Faraday for Elm Books, "Death and the Detective" showcases the work of truly gifted authors, each of whom are masters of the mystery/suspense genre. Especially recommended for fans of deftly written and original short stories, "Death and the Detective" will prove to be popular additions to community library collections. It should be noted that like the earlier Jess Faraday collection ("Death on a Cold Night"), this latest anthology is available in a Kindle edition ($4.95) as well.

Death on a Cold Night
Jess Faraday, editor
Elm Books
1175 Highway 130, Laramie, WY 82070
9780988611610, $14.95, 232pp,

Synopsis: "Death on a Cold Night" is comprised of eight chilling winter tales, ranging from a cozy story of the theft of teapots to ripped-from-the-headlines crime stories. We have a slew of dead bodies, settings from a glamorous Hollywood movie set to the Wyoming wilderness, and even a vampire or two. Our heroes and heroines are as diverse as America--old, young, and from every background and walk of life. Also included are beautiful black and white illustrations from nationally known landscape and still life artist Virginia Cantarella.

Critique: The debut anthology from Elm Books, "Death on a Cold Night" is a solid entertainment showcasing the stories of eight decidedly gifted writers who are masters of the mystery/suspense genre. Very highly recommended and suitable for community library collections, it should be noted that "Death on a Cold Night" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.95).

Bits and Pieces
M.A.R. Unger
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781499710939, $14.95, 284pp,

Synopsis: Forensic artist Matti James seeks change when she moves to Henderson, Nevada. She adopts a dog that digs up human remains, joins a women's mystery club intent on solving cold cases, and learns her neighbors have ties to the Russian Mafia. Add two resident Inbetweeners who are not exactly alive and Matti's life becomes decidedly different. When her dog unearths a bullet-ridden skull, both the living and the dead want her stopped. As she begins forensic reconstruction, Matti discovers this was no ordinary Mob hit. Solving the murder becomes personal when she's put in the line of fire. Will police sergeant Luis Martinez and shadowy neighbor Joe Chauncey help or hurt her efforts? How far will Matti go to unmask the killer?

Critique: There are few things as entertaining as a deftly crafted murder mystery of the 'who done it' variety. Combined with an impressively written plot replete with unexpected twists and turns navigated by a memorable female detective, and you have "Bits and Pieces". Clearly M.A.R. Unger is a writer with a considerable talent for this genre. While "Bits and Pieces" is strongly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted that it is also available to the mystery fiction enthusiasts in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

The Whiskey Baron
Jon Sealy
Hub City Press
186 West Main Street Spartanburg SC 29306
9781891885747, $26.00, 250pp,

Synopsis: Late one night at the end of a scorching summer, a phone call rouses Sheriff Furman Chambers out of bed. Two men have been shot dead on Highway 9 in front of the Hillside Inn, a one-time boardinghouse that is now just a front for Larthan Tull's liquor business. When Sheriff Chambers arrives to investigate, witnesses say a man named Mary Jane Hopewell walked into the tavern, dragged two of Tull's runners into the street, and laid them out with a shotgun. Sheriff Chambers's investigation leads him into the Bell village, where Mary Jane's family lives a quiet, hardscrabble life of working in the cotton mill. While the weary sheriff digs into the mystery and confronts the county's underground liquor operation, the whiskey baron himself is looking for vengeance. Mary Jane has gotten in the way of his business, and you don't do that to Larthan Tull and get away with it.

Critique: A deftly woven and complex novel, the fact that "The Whiskey Baron" is author Jon Sealy's debut is all the more impressive. Populated with memorable characters embedded in plot twists and unexpected turns, "The Whiskey Baron" is a riveting read from beginning to end and a truly extraordinary first effort that will leave satisfied readers looking eagerly toward the next Jon Sealy novel. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted that "The Whiskey Baron" is also available in a paperback edition (9781938235139, $16.00, 230pp) and a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Blind Vengeance
Barry Hoffman
Crossroad Press
141 Brayden Drive, Hertford, NC 27944
9781934267424, $14.99, 312pp,

Synopsis: Teenager Renee LeShay has been kidnapped by Norman Flowers, an unhinged target of homicide detective Lamar Briggs; Flowers thinks he has abducted Briggs' daughter Alexis. Shara Farris, a bounty hunter and Renee's legal guardian, has to unmask and locate the abductor before he tires of torturing Renee and kills her. Renee, aware she is not the intended victim, assumes Alexis' identity and engages in a battle of wills with her kidnapper. Blind Vengeance is a taut tale of full of twists and turns, with Renee's sanity and life in the balance.

Critique: "Blind Vengeance" is the fifth title in author Barry Hoffman's 'Eyes' series and continues to demonstrate his talents as a master storyteller able to deftly weave tautly suspenseful twists and turns in a compelling thriller populated with expertly crafted characters. The result is a solid entertainment that holds the reader's rapt addition from beginning to end. Very highly recommended reading and a popular addition to any community library collection, it should be noted that "Blind Vengeance" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

The Devil Came To Abbeville
Marian Phair
Grosvenor House Publishing Limited
9781781486603, $16.00, 414pp,

Synopsis: Stabbed, and covered in blood, a young woman dies in the arms of Father O'Connor. Then, Sally Ferguson and her playmate, Liam Findley, go missing. When Liam's body is discovered on farmland, the police go looking for Percy Grimes. They find Percy's mutilated body, and a strange white rose. For DCI Fletcher and his team, this is the start in a series of murders. As the bodies pile up in the mortuary, he enlists the help of American, Scott Holden, a Criminal Profiler. Scott, knows the rose is the signature of a serial killer. Somewhere, out there, is a vigilante and he is hunting!

Critique: A masterpiece of a suspense thriller from beginning to end, "The Devil Came To Abbeville" showcases an impressive writing talent that was first debuted with author Marian Phair's first novel, "Shattered Lives" (9781908447913, PB $16.99, Kindle $7.99, 308pp). Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted that "The Devil Came To Abbeville" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).

Lola Smirnova
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
The Barrett Company
9781496031013, $9.99, 314pp,

Synopsis: In the corrupt economy of post-Soviet Ukraine opportunities are scarce. Young and eager sisters - Natalia, Lena and Julia - harbor dreams of a better life. Naive and tempted by the allure of 'quick' money, the girls set off on an adventure that changes their lives forever. Can they stay out of trouble enough to fulfill their ambitions? Can they hold on to their idealism in a world where depravity and danger are constant companions? How far are they willing to go to make a buck?

Critique: Although a work of fiction, "Twisted" reveals the contemporary sex trade as it currently exists in the troubled nation of Ukraine with uncanny and unsentimental accuracy. A gripping and mature story deftly woven by Lola Smirnova, "Twisted" is the kind of suspense novel that will linger in the mind and imagination long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. "Twisted" introduces an extraordinarily gifted author to an appreciative readership looking eagerly toward her next literary effort.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Taming the Diabetes Wave
Ilse O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE
Privately Published
9780985128920, $14.99, 52pp,

Synopsis: "Taming the Diabetes Wave" makes it possible for individuals to successfully manage their diabetes and enjoy a healthy life. The simple fact is that 99% of diabetes management is self-care. Only the person with diabetes can see the blood sugar surges as they occur in real time and quickly take corrective action. Only they can manage key environmental factors and make the lifestyle choices necessary for good control. Health care providers cannot do this for them. Unfortunately, in our present system patient education and training is minimal and the old model of doctor as decision-maker is still very much in place. By working smarter rather than harder good control can be achieved quickly with a minimum of testing. This book uses clear graphic illustrations to show the blood glucose fluctuations during the day and gives solutions for any problems that arise. It contains a unique form to collect all the needed information in one place to make finding solutions easier. It answers the common questions: What should my blood sugar be? What do all those test numbers mean? When and how often do I need to test? What should I do if the sugars are too high or too low? The Wave method won't be found anywhere else. The Wave method is unique to my presentation. Patients with diabetes are enabled to take control and prevent the complications which can accompany this serious but very manageable disease.

Critique: Simply stated, "Taming the Diabetes Wave" should be mandatory reading for anyone having diabetes. Straight forward and thoroughly 'reader friendly', this informative instruction manual should be a part of every medical school, medical clinic, and community library Health & Medicine reference collection.

The LGBT Shelf

Moon at Nine
Deborah Ellis
Pajama Press
112 Berkeley Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, M5A 2W7
9781927485576, $19.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. Although she goes to a school for gifted girls in Tehran, as the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father Farrin must keep a low profile. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother's Bring Back the Shah activities, her family could be thrown in jail or worse. The day she meets Sadira, Farrin's life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. It is against the law to be a homosexual in Iran; the punishment is death. Despite their efforts to keep their love secret, the girls are discovered and arrested. Separated from Sadira, Farrin can only pray as she awaits execution. Will her family find a way to save them both?

Critique: Although a deftly crafted work of fiction, "Moon At Nine" is based upon true events in Islamic countries where homosexuality is punishable by death. An extraordinary and original novel, "Moon At Nine" is recommended for young readers ages 13 and up and is appropriate for highschool and community library collections.

The Poetry Shelf

Reflections of Hostile Revelries
Jennifer C. Wolfe
131 Euclid Avenue, Kenmore, NY 14217
9781609641528, $16.00, 108pp,

Synopsis: Jennifer C. Wolfe's "Reflections of Hostile Revelries" is a compendium of politically oriented poetry focused on the hypocrisies and naivety, aspirations and personalities of the American political landscape. Deftly encapsulated into word fashioned pictures of life and politics both before and after the 2012 election of America's first African American president, as well as snapshot responses in verse to extraordinary political events ranging from the shooting of Travon Martin to the conflict raging in Syria, "Reflections of Hostile Revelries" is a truly seminal volume reflecting the politics of poetry -- and the poetry of politics.

Criteria: Jennifer C. Wolfe is an exceptionally talented wordsmith whose poetry lingers in the mind long after "Reflections of Hostile Revelries" has been set back on the shelf. 'Candy Slogans': Ah, that colorful Texas Govenor, Rick Perry: // He, who is so enamored of invoking his state's unique succession clause, / Threatening to secede from the Union, whenever he becomes outraged, / Or throws a childish political tantrum. // A prestigious candy company had a hit advertising slogan for two / Of their select candy bars, which i think summarizes Mr. perry quite well / "Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut" (Texas); "Sometimes You Don't" (Rest of the US).

Phillip Rodenbeck
Polymathy Press
2406 Linden Drive, Valparaiso, IN 46383
9780991660308, $12.00, 104pp,

Synopsis: "Redevolver", the first poetry book by Phillip Rodenbeck, posits our personal and universal histories as products of a cycle between frenzy, stillness, and absence. With a modern poetic voice that blends distinct imagery, musicality, and spiritual intensity, Rodenbeck explores moments of turmoil and their aftermath, be they as personal as divorce or global as the Arab Spring. "Redevolver" begins with poems of movement and furor, addressing such subjects as the Syrian conflict, divorce, childbirth, Russian oppression, stray dogs, dancing - things that stir. This turbulence is then allayed into poems of stillness wherein the effects of prior commotion are realized. In some poems, the preceding frenzy (such as dancing) has led to the calmness of pondering love. In other poems, frenzy (such as war) has led to a far darker, depressed quiet. However, these realizations fade in the final section of the book as stillness is followed by forgetting and absence - themes which prime the individual and the universal to pass back to frenzy, restarting the cycle.

Critique: A master wordsmith whose deftly crafted free verse style is memorably engaging, Phillip Rodenbeck's "Redevolver" is a seminal body of work that will leave the reader looking eagerly toward his next literary effort. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library poetry collections, it should be noted that a selection of Rodenbeck's poems from "Redevolver" may be heard as read by the author at:

The Travel Shelf

The Wales Coast Path
Christopher Goddard & Katharine Evans
St. David's Press
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9781902719344, $39.99, 208pp,

Synopsis: "The Wales Coast Path: A Practical Guide for Walkers" is the only walking guide that contains a full 896 mile route via 73 manageable walks of approximately 9 to 15 miles each. "The Wales Coast Path" provides easy-to-follow route descriptions and contains over 80 hand-drawn maps. "The Wales Coast Path" is packed with additional information on sites of historical, geological. and wildlife interest, and suggests alternative routes that enable short visits to additional key locations just off the official Coast Path. "The Wales Coast Path" enables walkers to maximize local amenities and services - public transport, car parking, and accommodation options, such as camp sites and B&Bs - and is an essential companion for both the serious long-distance walker and for day-trippers who wish to tackle the Path one stage at a time.

Critique: Nicely illustrated with trail maps and deftly organized into eight major areas (The North Wales Coast; The Isle of Anglessey; The Llyn Peninsula; The Meirionnydd Coast; The Ceredigion Coast; The Pembrokeshire Coast; The Carmarthenshire Coast & Gower; The South Wales Coast), "The Wales Coast Path: A Practical Guide for Walkers" is thoroughly 'user friendly' and very highly recommended to the attention of vacationers and visitors to the coast of Wales.

The Christian Studies Shelf

Back to Tonic
Gene Kiepura
Faith Books and More
9781939761187, $12.99, 246pp,

Synopsis: Members of a small Christian church gathered together to pray for their youth leader and four boys who were about to embark on a mission trip to Mexico. Seventeen days later, all five of them were dead. Life painfully changed after the accident. After the horrific experience of recovering the bodies and evading a greedy American Embassy in Mexico, I returned home to find little in the way of solace from the church family I was counting on. Instead, I was expected to be a strong example of Christian faith for everyone else. Attempting to conceal my emotional struggle would eventually cause me to question both my sanity and relationship with God. Being assured that the accident was all part of "His plan", my concept of God turned into one of a cold and callus monarch. This wasn't the God I had signed up for.

Critique: Intensely personal, absolutely candid, and as thoughtful and it is thought-provoking, "Back To Tonic" will prove to be a deeply engaging and insightful read for Christians regardless of their denominational affiliation. Exceptionally well written and dealing forthrightly with one of the most horrific events any parent (Christian or non-Christian) can experience -- the death of their child -- "Back To Tonic" is strongly recommended and informative reading, especially for anyone having suffered a similar trauma within their own family or their own congregation. It should be noted that "Back To Tonic" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The Buddhist Studies Shelf

Emaho Tibet!: Blessings from the Land of the Snows
Orange Palm and Magnificent Magus Publications
1206 Saint-Luc Boulevard., Suite 110
Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada, J2Y 1A5
9781928016007, $59.95, 272pp,

Synopsis: "Emaho Tibet!: Blessings from the Land of the Snows" is a reverberant homage to the country of Tibet which inhabits and inspires Simhananda. It is also a living testimony to the pilgrims who ambulate this holy land, a circumstantiation of their ardent faith, and of their desire to be free from the samsaric cycles and of the karma that perpetually proples and nourishes the Dharma Path of the earth's ever-recurrent planetary rounds. More importantly, "Emaho Tibet!: Blessings from the Land of the Snows" becomes for those who peruse it, a powerful guide for meditation, reflection and comprehension for the different stages of our evolution. Moreover, it shows the path towards the Realization of what we are called to become as beings who are Divinely human. Behind each of the author's visionary picture-words, is occulted a Truth which if understood, can reveal the path to follow in order to attain the Perfection of our Being, as well as the realization of a Divine humanity that seeks purely to express itself and to grow maturity within each one of us.

Critique: Thoroughly informed and informative, a delight to simply browse through, "Emaho Tibet!: Blessings from the Land of the Snows" is enhanced with the inclusion of 250 color photographic plates, making it an enduringly popular and very highly recommended addition to personal and community library Travel and Buddhist Studies collections.

The Self-Help Shelf

The Widower's Guide to a New Life
Joanna Romer
MSI Press, LLC
1760-F Airline Highway, #203, Hollister, CA 95023
9781933455488, $12.95, 156pp,

Synopsis: "The Widower's Guide to a New Life" shares the experiences of ten bereaved men as they cope with the trauma of losing a spouse. "The Widower's Guide to a New Life" will help new widowers meet such challenges as: how to find consolation through friends, work and prayer; how to start over in terms of new activities, dating and a social life; and how to know when and if a new love relationship is right for you. Guidelines are provided from each widower's personal experiences, making this book a compendium of useful suggestions for getting through this difficult period with knowledge and grace.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Widower's Guide to a New Life" will prove to be an invaluable source of practical information and directly applicable ideas for anyone having lost a spouse. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Widower's Guide to a New Life" is highly recommended for community library collection in order to make it known and available to as wide an audience as possible.

The Cookbook Shelf

Better Choices Fresh & Healthy Cuisine
Rosalie Hurd & Frank Hurd
Pacific Press Publishing
PO Box 5209, Grants Pass, OR 97527
Jenkins Group
9780986041303, $24.95, 174pp,

Synopsis: Eat your way to health with great-tasting recipes that are power packed with nutrition, using only the best ingredients that increase energy and enhance health. ""Better Choices Fresh & Healthy Cuisine takes you back to the Garden of Eden, and the Bible diet provided for humans as recorded in Genesis. Over 225 total vegetarian/vegan recipes from plant foods properly combined, include fresh fruits, whole grains, fresh vegetables, seeds, and nuts. (Seven chapters: Better Choices, Fruits & Beverages, Grains & Breads, Salads & Vegetables, Main Dishes, Desserts, Toppings & Misc.) "Better Choices Fresh & Healthy Cuisine" is bursting with color and beautiful photos on every page. A section with a complete Nutrition Analysis of each recipe is included.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout with color photography, this compendium of kitchen cook friendly, palate pleasing, and appetite satisfying vegetarian recipes are nicely organized. Informed and informative, there are superbly presented recipes for every dining occasion. "Better Choices Fresh & Healthy Cuisine" will quickly prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, family, and community library cookbook collections!

Global Bakery
Anna Weston
New Internationalist Publications Ltd.
c/o JKS Communications (publicity)
9781780261256 $25.00 pbk

Also available as an ebook, Global Bakery: Amazing Cakes from the World's Kitchens is a cookbook featuring sixty-four recipes for exotic and delicious cakes. Each recipe has been fully kitchen-tested; quite a few have vegan or wheat and gluten-free options in their content list and recipes. Superb color photography illustrates the user-friendly, step-by-step baking instructions. With mouth-watering creations such as Ginger Cake with Lemon Glace Icing, Almond Honey Cake, Marble Cake, Glazed Orange Coconut Cake, and much more, Global Bakery is a sweet-tooth's delight. Highly recommended, especially as a giftbook for baking connoisseurs!

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Spirit Talkers
William S. Lyon
Prayer Efficacy Publishing
PO Box 11275
Kansas City, MO 64119
9780984854608 $24.95

Spirit Talkers: North American Indian Medicine Powers is an extensive overview of American Indian medicine powers. Author William S. Lyon, who has sought to understand and learn more about American Indian shamanism throughout his life, postulates that the medical powers of American Indian shamans transcend superstition or the placebo effect, offering theories tied to quantum mechanics to explain their curative ability. An extensive bibliography and an index round out this comprehensive survey, especially recommended to anyone curious about the history and practical effectiveness of ancient healing arts.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Kraken Bake
Karen Dudley
c/o Turnstone Press
206-100 Arthur Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B 1H3
9780888014665 $16.95

The sequel to author Karen Dudley's first Epikurean Epic tale, "Food for the Gods", Kraken Bake is a fantastic twist on ancient Greek mythology. After the noble hero Perseus defeated the Kraken, whose job was it to clean up the remains of the monstrous sea beast? Why, the chefs of Athens! When the people begin to tire of kraken cakes, kraken kabobs, kraken fritters, and kraken stew, Athens announces the first "Bronze Chef" competition (of course, the secret ingredient is kraken). Chef Pelops wants to participate, but he once had the misfortune of offending Poseidon, and he can't cook kraken at all. Even worse, Pelops' nefarious rival is willing to resort to dirty tricks to win! Kraken Bake is a no-holds-barred cookery showdown, with tongue-in-cheek cultural twist, wry and dry to toasted perfection.

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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