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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 9 September 2019 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Jobs/Careers Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Biography Shelf Music Shelf
General Fiction Shelf Romantic Fiction Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Christian Studies Shelf Self-Help Shelf Poetry Shelf
Literary Studies Shelf World History Shelf Photography Shelf
Criminology Shelf    


Reviewer's Choice


Dear Mary
Sydney M. Williams
Bauhan Publishing LLC
www.bauhanpublishing.com
9780872332911, $24.00, PB, 256pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Sydney M. Williams, Jr., joined the American army in 1944 and served in the 10th Mountain Division in Italy until his release in 1945. All during that time he wrote letters home to his beloved wife, Mary. "Dear Mary: Letters Home from the 10th Mountain Division (1944 - 1945)" is collection that also includes correspondence with other family members and friends, and insightful commentary by his son, Sydney M. Williams, III.

Critique: An extraordinary and welcome contribution to the growing library of World War II biographies and histories, "Dear Mary: Letters Home from the 10th Mountain Division (1944 - 1945)" is an inherently interesting read from cover to cover and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library 20th Century Military History collections, as well as the personal reading lists of military history buffs.


The Jobs/Careers Shelf

Millennials' Guide to Work
Jennifer P. Wisdom
Winding Pathway Books
www.leadwithwisdom.com
9781733097703, $15.95, PB, 230pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: No in their 20s and 30s, Millennials are struggling with starting a first job, luanching a career, navigating new workplaces, and being successful at work. At the same time, they are, like the Babyboom Generation that preceded them, striving to identify who they are, what they want, and how to get it.

The "Millennials' Guide to Work" by clinical psychologist Jennifer P. Wisdom will helps Millennials to identify what is important to them, how to clarify their values, and how to navigate complex workplaces. This guide is specifically and particularly for those members of the Millennial generation who want to achieve and find success, satisfaction and respect in their professional lives.

The "Millennials' Guide to Work includes: Advice on overcoming 60 everyday challenges; Strategies for dealing with problematic colleagues; Tips for working with challenging bosses; and a practical guide to clarifying values and goals.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, deftly organized, and accessibly presented, the "Millennials' Guide to Work" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Jobs/Careers collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that the "Millennials' Guide to Work" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).


The Cookbook Shelf

The Maestro's Favourites
Marlin Wolfe
AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.authorhouse.com
9781546215271, $39.99, PB, 204pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In the words of culinary author Marlin Wolfe, "The Maestro's Favourites: A Symphony of Taste" is a cookbook that -- "has been in the making for some time. I have been cooking from a young age and have had things that turn out well and things that just turn out awesome. The objective of the book is to show anyone that has an interest in cooking and in being creative can do it as long as there is a desire to take on the challenge. I have a vast variety of recipes within the book, and some are easy and a little more challenging. All my life has been involved in music as a violinist and a conductor of symphony orchestras in which I have played and conducted all around the world. As part of a fundraising, I have done many five-course gourmet dinners for symphony orchestras, like Edmonton symphony, the Vancouver symphony orchestra, also the Vancouver Island symphony, just to mention a few. I have created over forty-five of those types of dinners. You will find ways also to create your own combinations to suit your own taste."

Critique: Offering thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes that range from Wolfes San Francisco Clams; Wolfe's New England Clam Chowder; Buttermilk Coleslaw; Asian-Flavored Short Ribs; and Moroccan meatballs with Tomato Sauce; to Chicken Liver Currie; Wolfe's Spaghetti with Vegetable Sauce; Ravioli with Ricotta and Spinach; Mushroom-Stuffed Potato Pancakes; and Baked Lasagne with Bolognese Meat Sauce. Of special note are the sections devoted to various Sauces & Dressings. A culinary delight to browse through and ideal for planning memorable menus with, and also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99), "The Maestro's Favorites" is unreservedly recommended for personal, family, and community library cookbook collections.

Creating the Sweet World of White House Desserts
Roland Mesnier & Mark Ramsdell
The White House Historical Association
www.whitehousehistory.org
9781931917902, $TBA, HC, 255pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Roland Mesnier is the White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier and Mark Ramsdell is his pastry assistant.

In "Creating the Sweet World of White House Desserts: A Pastry Chef's Secrets", Mesnier, who served five presidential families from 1979-2006, reveals the secrets of his pastry techniques and shares his celebrated recipes. Mesnier makes professional desserts possible for cooks of all abilities.

Mesnier and Ramsdell both share insights into the accomplishments of the White House Pastry Shop -- including steps for constructing the extravagant sweet displays that were often the centerpieces of White House events. Their notable masterpieces included a flock of blown sugar trumpet swans and a life-sized chocolate American eagle.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated throughout, and featuring succinct descriptions of the individual White House events in which the individual dishes were featured, the recipes comprising "Creating the Sweet World of White House Desserts" offer thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' step-by-step instructions for delectable dishes that range from a Tea Sorbet; a Maple Syrup Meringue, and a Grand Marnier Parfait; to Nougat Glace; Pulled-Sugar Baskets; and Lady Finger Biscuits. While unreservedly recommended for both personal and professional cookbook collections, this truly elegant culinary volume would well serve as a Memorial Fund Acquisition selection for community or academic library collections.

Editorial Note: Creating the Sweet World of White House Desserts will be available for purchase this fall at www.shop.whitehousehistory.org, and in the Association's retail stores: The White House History Shop and the White House Visitor Center.


The Health/Medicine Shelf

Bonjour, Breast Cancer
Princess Diane von Brainisfried
Harmaxiproductions, LLC
9781732658608, $19.95, PB, 250pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Can having breast cancer be turned into a positive experience? The answer is a resounding Yes! "Bonjour, Breast Cancer - I'm Still Smiling!: Wit, Wisdom, and Optimism for Beating the Breast Cancer Blues" shows you how. Written with a deliciously humorous tone, Diane Young Uniman writing as Princess Diane von Brainisfried shares a king's ransom of practical advice and wisdom to find positivity in the face of the challenges posed by breast cancer and everything that goes with it.

An essential guide to beating the breast cancer blues, "Bonjour, Breast Cancer" deftly combines von Brainisfried's own insights with research-based positive psychology strategies, along with wisdom from Socrates, Cherokee legends, and her own Jewish great-grandmother. You'll reclaim your happiness mojo as she shows you how to go from fear and despair to positivity and optimism.

From diagnosis to chemo, baldness, double mastectomy, radiation (and 3-D nipple tattoos) you will find encouragement and empowerment for your own journey. Some of the secrets revealed in "Bonjour, Breast Cancer" include: Creating blessings out of bad news without needing a magic wand; Comforting your family and other two-legged animals in your kingdom; Taming fear when it is acting like a monkey and going bananas; Finding the pluses popping up everywhere like mushrooms after a spring rain.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Bonjour, Breast Cancer - I'm Still Smiling!: Wit, Wisdom, and Optimism for Beating the Breast Cancer Blues" should be a part of every community library Health/Medicine collection in the country. This is especially recommended reading for anyone who is having to deal with breast cancer within themselves or a loved one.

The Stress Eating Solution
Laurel Mellin
EBT
9780986410772, $19.95, PB, 297pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "The Stress Eating Solution: A Proven, Neuroscience Method for Ending Overeating" by Laurel Mellin (who is the founder of emotional brain training (EBT) and an Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco) is specifically intended for readers who are tired of overeating, weight cycling, and feeling out of control of their food and want to enter a personal age of brain-based health!

"The Stress Eating Solution provides everything needed to appreciate that issues with food, mood, relationships, and body image are caused by a few faulty brain circuits. The solution is to learn easy, proven techniques to shut off these wires and the harmful chemical surges they cause, and activate healing wires chemicals that activate the drive to eat healthy and release extra weight. These techniques work rapidly (in one to four minutes) so the reader can feel the difference right away. Using them over time promotes lasting results.

Critique: As inspiring as it is 'real world practical' in application, "The Stress Eating Solution: A Proven, Neuroscience Method for Ending Overeating" is impressively 'user friendly in organization and presentation, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal and community library Health/Medicine collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Stress Eating Solution" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).


The Biography Shelf

Resist, Endure, Escape
Susan F. Darvas
Summit Crossroads Press
9780999156544, $17.00, PB, 234pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Born in Hungary in 1934, Susan F. Darvas grew up during WWII. After surviving the Holocaust she fled Hungary during the Revolution in 1956 to escape the communist dictatorship. She and her family established a new life in the US starting in 1958. She has two children, five grandchildren, and one great granddaughter. Susan has advanced degrees in literature, information science and clinical social work. For the last 35 years she has been working as a psychotherapist and executive coach in various settings, including the Department of Defense in addition to maintaining a private practice. She is a volunteer for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and other organizations.

Critique: Impressively informative and ultimately inspiring, "Resist, Endure, Escape: Growing Up in Nazi and Communist Hungary" is an inherently interesting and deftly presented memoir of an extraordinary life that is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections.

Expecting the Good
Brigitte Cutshall
Gemini Media, Inc.
https://brigittecutshall.com
9780978747541, $15.00, PB, 152pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Brigitte Cutshall is a Media Solutions Consultant and Health Advocate. She was raised in a military family and inspired to write about her stepfather, Jean-Luc Nash, who had an appreciation for life by seeing and experiencing its frailty.

Badass is a general term used to describe behavior that is fearless, authentic and compassionate. A badass does not give up. Badasses will always push themselves for the better, no matter how hard it gets.

"Expecting the Good: Inspiration from a Badass with a Big Heart" is Brigitte's tribute to Jean-Luc Nash who was a badass with a big heart. He was a West Point graduate, Special Forces Officer, Army Ranger, 82nd Airborne Commander, and Defense Attache.

What people like Jean-Luc Nash do is essential to protecting our country. This allows all Americans to create, write, pursue their own interests (whatever they are) and have the opportunity to make something of themselves.

Jean-Luc made a positive impact by being a great role model for our country, his community, and his family. He inspired many to improve themselves, not be afraid to try new things, explore, and have the courage to do what is right at any given moment.

Critique: Enhanced with personal photographs, "Expecting the Good: Inspiration from a Badass with a Big Heart" is an inherently fascinating and ultimately inspiring read. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, and also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99), "Expecting the Good" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Contemporary American Biography collections.

Permission to Fly
Layng Martine, Jr.
Independently Published
9781732011717, $27.99, HC, 286pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: His personal memoir, "Permission to Fly" by Layng Martine, Jr. tells the true story of boy born into a kind and happy family who grows to realize the executive world his father inhabits may not be his destiny.

Thanks to his remarkable mother, Layng is given "permission to fly" early on. Armed with optimism, curiosity, creativity, determination and a wry sense of humor, he begins his amazing journey of many painful-but-educational steps and missteps.

Essentially, "Permission to Fly" is a life story about love, raising kids, sticking to what matters and paying the price for doing that. It's about recovering from failure and heartbreak, maintaining friendships, and it's about how much help we all need to get anywhere good in the world.

Walking Layng's uncharted path beside him, the reader will encounter the highest degrees of love, risk, hilarity, tragedy, resiliency and success -- along with fabulously colorful characters and experiences that propelled Layng towards the freedom and fulfillment he craves.

Critique: Deftly written with a genuine flair for a narrative storytelling style that incorporates a sense of humanity laced through with humor and reflective insight, "Permission to Fly" is an ultimately inspiring account of a life lived through a series of memorable events and occasions. While very highly recommended and unreservedly endorsed for community library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Permission to Fly" is also available in a paperback edition (978-1732011700, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.49).

Nature Is Unlimited Broadcasting Station
Bertha Mkwelele & Edward Mkwelele
Tellwell Talent
https://tellwell.ca
www.neemaedwardmkwelelewellnessfoundation.org
9780228811176, $24.99, HC, 92pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Nature Is Unlimited Broadcasting Station: Flowers She Wore on Her Feet" is the personal story of Neema -- an extraordinary girl and young woman with a brilliant mind, a heart of gold, and who is gone too soon.

Neema was a priceless gift to us. Neema was an extraordinary young woman, with joy and wisdom, and remarkably profound and greater understanding about herself and others. She taught us everything worth knowing about life and love, everything about what it means to be a best friend. In the pages of her biography, Neema would have wanted the world to hear the voice of children and young people, in particularly girls and young women around the world, their walking sound when they walk wearing their beautiful flowers on their feet. Meaning that those girls and young women around the world have worked hard the same way Neema did, searching for their favorite flowers and they were able to see them and finally finding their ways to broadcast them, and therefore, finding their unique values.

This is what Neema would have wanted the world to hear from children and young people saying that we go out and we're asking for help and support, they will wear flowers on their feet because they worked hard to get to see them and therefore they can now see themselves, and therefore, the walk by itself is a voice and a cry for help and they are saying help us because we would like to contribute to the world and we're ready and we know what we love and what we want to do and what we're loving doing and we just want opportunities to let us equip with knowledge and skills then we will all be ready and set to contribute to the world we live in our own unique way happily.

Critique: An absorbing and profusely illustrated biography of an impressive and memorable young woman that is as thought-provoking as it is inspiring, "Nature Is Unlimited Broadcasting Station: Flowers She Wore on Her Feet" is an unreservedly recommended and wholeheartedly endorsed addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nature Is Unlimited Broadcasting Station: Flowers She Wore on Her Feet" is also available in a paperback edition (9780228811169, $21.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).


The Music Shelf

A Grand Madness, U2 Twenty Years After
Dianne Ebertt Beeaff
Hawkmoon Publications
www.debeeaff.wordpress.com
9780965618878, $24.95, PB, 415pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin, formed in 1976. The group consists of Bono (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), the Edge (lead guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums and percussion). Initially rooted in post-punk, U2's musical style has evolved throughout their career, yet has maintained an anthemic quality built on Bono's expressive vocals and the Edge's effects-based guitar textures. Their lyrics, often embellished with spiritual imagery, focus on personal and sociopolitical themes. Popular for their live performances, the group have staged several ambitious and elaborate tours over their career. (Wikipedia)

From airport terminals to street corners, Dianne Ebertt Beeaff's memoir, "A Grand Madness, U2 Twenty Years After" offers readers a tour-side glimpse of Ireland's iconic rock sensation, U2. Spanning nearly two decades and six tours. Beeaff's sharply detailed and lyrical memoir sources from her personal journals, enveloping her readers in the euphoria of fandom and the personal impact that U2's music has had on her life. Rife with adventure, "A Grand Madness, U2 Twenty Years After" is an inspirational depiction of one fan's journey on the road, brimming with insights into one of the most famous rock bands of our time,

Critique: The sequel to "A Grand Madness: Ten Years on the Road with U2", author and dedicated U2 fan Diane Ebertt Beeaff brings her experiences and the band's continued career fully up to date. Enhanced with numerous black-and-white photographs, "A Grand Madness, U2 Twenty Years After" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it a truly 'must read' book for the legions of U2 fans -- and is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Popular Music history collections.


The General Fiction Shelf

Waiting For Amy
Michael Small
Independently Published
9781916061507, $11.70, PB, 271pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Wade is a 69 year-old retired teacher who is desperately searching for meaning to the rest of his life as he sets off to walk across Spain on the famous Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

Wade has much to contemplate. He wants to rekindle his faith in God and come to terms with a dark secret he's held for nearly forty years. But neither are easy. His journey of self-discovery attracts yet more challenges.

His pilgrimage becomes filled with enigmatic characters, obsessions, temptations and weak decisions. And when he meets a mysterious old man, Diego, who delivers some cold, hard truths about his life, Wade remains in denial.

Vainly pursuing female company (for simple sex or a full-blown loving relationship) regardless of Diego's advice, hinders Wade's spiritual progress. But who cares when Angelina, a captivating young Swedish woman less than half his age stumbles into his life? Will Angelina reciprocate his love? Will Wade continue to repeat the habits that have hampered his life, personal growth and spiritual development? Will he ever make the breakthrough he needs to move forward with his life? Or will karma step in and open the floodgates for his past to finally catch up with him?

The reader will find out in this profound, memorable and psychologically stimulating novel which will capture the heart, soul and mind in equal measure.

Critique: An inherently engaging, solidly entertaining, and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine flair for a compelling narrative storytelling style, Michael Small's "Waiting For Amy" is all the more impressive when considering that it is his debut as a novelist. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Waiting For Amy" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.19).

No One's Home
D. M. Pulley
Thomas & Mercer
9781542041546, $15.95, PB, 397pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Margot and Myron Spielman move to a new town, looking for a fresh start and an escape from the long shadow of their past. But soon after they buy Rawlingswood, a foreclosed mansion rumored to be haunted, they realize they're in for more of the same -- or worse!

After a renovation fraught with injuries and setbacks, the Spielmans move in to the century-old house, and their problems quickly escalate. The home's beautiful facade begins to crumble around them when their teenage son uncovers disturbing details of Rawlingswood's history, which includes a history of murder, betrayal, and financial ruin.

The Spielmans' own shameful secrets and lies become harder to hide as someone or something inside the house watches their every move.

As tensions build between the family members, the home's dark history threatens to repeat itself. Margot and Myron must confront their own ghosts and Rawlingswood's buried past before the house becomes their undoing!

Critique: A compelling and deftly crafted novel of compulsive page turning suspense, "No One's Home" showcases author D. M. Pulley's extraordinary narrative storytelling skills and genuine flair for originality. The result is a novel that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "No One's Home" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781978669765, $14.99, CD).

Spinster Kang
Zoe S. Roy
Inanna Publications
https://www.inanna.ca
9781771336055, $22.95, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Thirty-two-year-old Kang is a new immigrant in Toronto. Having an older sister who was raped and suffers from the ensuing stigma in China, Kang is determined to remain a spinster and struggles with her fear and distrust of men. But Kang's story is not a hard luck story. She is an intelligent woman and a successful immigrant. Kang deals with the perplexities of a different culture by maintaining a sense of curiosity, an enjoyment of learning about the new culture, and by finding humour rather than the humiliation that so often characterizes descriptions of immigrant experience.

Kang rooms with Tania, a Russian immigrant, and learns that many years earlier, Tania was in love with a Chinese medical student at Moscow University who was abruptly returned to China for having had a relationship with her. Kang's own father once studied at that university but has never talked about it since he was forced to leave Moscow and then was branded a rightist during the Chinese Anti-Rightist Campaign. Since then her father has been dispatched to work and live in Kunming, a city far away from Beijing.

Could the paths of her father and Tania have ever crossed? Curious about her father's past, Kang decides to pay a visit to Moscow, accompanied by Brian, Tania's nephew, a charming engineer who wants to explore his Russian Jewish roots. Spending time with Brian helps Kang to see how much her sister's tragedy has shadowed her life. When Brian suddenly shows symptoms of schizophrenia, Kang must decide whether to throw her spinster's hat away or end her relationship with Brian.

Critique: An immediately absorbing read, "Spinster Kang" is an extraordinary novel by Zoe S. Roy and one that threads an inherently interesting and layered fictional account of immigrants in Canada with 'real world' issues of relevance to students of Asian & Asian American Studies and Women's Studies -- making it an unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.

The Wrath of God
Verne R. Albright
Hellgate Press
https://www.hellgatepress.com
9781555719296, $15.95, PB, 332pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Henning Dietzel's attempt to rebuild his businesses (which was destroyed by a massive tidal wave) is complicated by a desire to also enjoy a satisfying personal life. Quick to recognize an opportunity, he amasses an agricultural empire the size of a small country. But his fortunes rise and fall during three disastrous wars followed by struggles with an unscrupulous competitor, a crooked judge, and a slave trader.

All the while he doggedly courts Martine Prado, a feisty, beautiful, seemingly unattainable Peruvian aristocrat whose liberation is a century ahead of its time. Henning accepts her proposal of a mutually advantageous marriage, which combines their haciendas.

Rocky at first, the relationship improves until an astonishing, out-of-nowhere answer to Henning's prayers threatens to destroy it.

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently absorbing read from first page to last, "The Wrath of God" showcases author Verne r. Albright's genuine flair for originality and a distinctive narrative storytelling style. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Wrath of God" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Joe's Alamo: Unsung
Lewis E. Cook
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
www.iuniverse.com
9781532020728, $29.99, HC, 226pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Remember the Alamo! is a slogan known worldwide for courage in battle against overwhelming odds. In that historic stand less than two hundred volunteers fought against five thousand soldiers for thirteen days. According to a slave named Joe, who was the only male survivor, all races and religions fought and died there.

Lead by William Travis, Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett, the Alamo defenders bravely made the ultimate sacrifice while suffering ever darkening days. Joe himself was severely wounded during the massacre but allowed to live because he spoke Spanish and could translate the terrifying words of the army general who relentlessly attacked the Alamo.

General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna wanted the Alamo to become symbolic of hopelessness and certain death for anyone that opposed his reign of terror. That did not happen due to efforts of Susana Dickinson and Joe.

Critique: Although a work of historical fiction, "Joe's Alamo: Unsung" by Lewise E. Cook characters accurately reflect the real personalities of Alamo defenders as described in historical resources and references -- including recently discovered facts about William Travis, Joe, Susana Dickinson, Davy Crockett and John, who was pitifully listed among the dead only as a black boy. An inherently absorbing read from cover to cover, "Joe's Alamo: Unsung" is unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Joe's Alamo: Unsung" is also available in a paperback edition (9781532020704, $18.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.47).

Wonks
William Reese Hamilton
Eclectica Publishing International LLC
9780996883047, $12.95, PB, 268pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Set in the Philippines during World War II, "Wonks" is the story of Johnny Oldfield, a boy who tells what it was like to grow up in a Japanese prison camp, his pivotal teenage years being filled with danger and defeat, adventure and intrigue, cruelty and betrayal, starvation and death, survival and liberation.

Johnny calls himself a WONK (from the Chinese won gau, yellow dog) a mongrel running with a pack of rebellious kids and viewing his society from the ground up. Separated from his father by the Japanese invasion, he gets his life lessons from a diverse cast of characters: his mother Ruth, a nurse with a strong and independent spirit; Harry Barnes, a storyteller who arrives from China carrying the urn of a friend's ashes; Southy Jack, an ex-pro boxer who trains boys in the manly art; Polecat, a mestizo pal with an all-consuming hatred for the Japanese; the Colonel, a wise old plantation owner who gives advice on survival; Haverford, a disgruntled alcoholic from Manila's high society; and Abiko, the feared officer of the Japanese camp guard.

This dramatic story is played out in the heart of Manila, a city once called "the Pearl of the Orient," now being destroyed by massive bombing, strafing, artillery barrages and mortar attacks.

Critique: A vividly descriptive and inherently absorbing novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctively reader engaging narrative storytelling style, "Wonks" will prove to be a unique and enduringly appreciated addition to community library general fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wonks" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.95).

Ragtime Dudes in a Thin Place
Richard Gartee
Lake & Emerald Publications
http://www.lepublications.com/index.html
9780990676867, $15.95, PB, 358pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ragtime is new, Victorians are out, and free love is on the rise when New York dandies Bryce, Jack, and Morgan open an emporium in the nascent art colony of Taos, New Mexico, promising to bring metropolitan culture and the latest wonders from the St. Louis World's Fair. The problem -- none of them knows how to run a business.

Free love? That they understand. Soon, the handsome young New Yorkers meet freethinking women ready to test the mores of a new century. With too little capital, their venture struggles until a leading member of Taos society begins holding teas for her inner circle at their store. But just as the business starts to thrive, the ladies usurp the tea parties to hire a Protestant pastor and are sent a recently ordained Universalist minister.

Calamities pile up. The Universalist's sermons don't go over well in Catholic Taos and the ensuing religious conflict hurts the emporium's business. Meanwhile, the men lose a lucrative Gramophone deal, and while Morgan's trying to fix that, they get shaken down by a brothel owner. Then, Jack's landlady dies, leaving him responsible for her nearly grown daughters. Oh yeah, and Bryce quits to join a peyote cult.

Yet even as the partners fail at transforming Taos, Taos begins to transform them. And by the time the emporium goes belly up, they are ready to start their lives over again.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and absorbing read from cover to cover, "Ragtime Dudes in a Thin Place" showcases author Richard Gartee's originality as a novelist as his genuine flair for a thoroughly reader engaging narrative storytelling style. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ragtime Dudes in a Thin Place" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

So Long As We're Together
Glenda Burgess
Black Opal Books
https://blackopalbooks.com
9781644371350, $14.99, PB, 324pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Singing for a living, Marley and Andi are two little girls finding their way through a childhood of upheaval marked by their mother Donna's dark, unpredictable flights. Today, Marley writes the songs her twin, country diva Andi Stone, makes famous, and the girls' connection struggles to survive the cuts and devastations of fame. "You girls," laments their manager. "One of you marries indiscriminately, the other not at all."

When without warning Donna Stone takes her own life, alone at the family cabin, danger stalks Marley back to Lost Prince Lake, back into the loves and betrayals of the past. Hidden truths threaten to take the Stone sisters down, singly and together.

Critique: "So Long As We're Together" by Glenda Buress is a deftly crafted and powerfully intimate story of love, ambition, and survival that takes the reader into the lives of three memorable women. An inherently fascinating and absorbing read from cover to cover, "So Long As We're Together" showcases author Glenda Burgess' genuine flair for a distinctively reader engaging narrative storytelling style. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "So Long As We're Together" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

No Salvation
Jeffrey Hess
Down & Out Books
https://downandoutbooks.com
9781948235860, $18.95, PB, 310pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Inspired by actual events, "No Salvation" by Jeffrey Hess is the story of the USS Salvation as it sails for months on end in the South China Sea in the violent closing days of the Vietnam War. Exhaustion, drugs and discontent run rampant aboard ship and crew morale is at an all-time low. These conditions affect four thousand men being sequestered for months on end without port visits has everyone on edge.

The time is 1972, when inequality and racial tension permeated American ships fleet-wide. As a way to mitigate racial unrest, the ship's captain brings in Commander Robert Porter as his Executive Officer. Commander Porter isn't sure if he's been selected for the job because of his skills or for the color of his skin, but the black crew doesn't accept him.

Amid rampant drug use and various forms of sabotage, the biggest challenge to the ship's performance and the crew's safety is a series of violent attacks made by planes launching from the flight deck, but more perilous are the racial tensions boiling below. Porter is uniquely positioned to save them all, but can he? If so, at what cost?

Critique: Deftly combining elements of a mystery, a suspense thriller, and historical fiction, "No Salvation" is an inherently interesting and thoroughly reader absorbing novel by an author with a genuine knack for narrative storytelling. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library general fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "No Salvation" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Arrows of Fire
Marlen Suyapa Bodden
Roatan Hall Press
http://www.marlenbodden.com
9781732974708, $39.99, HC, 308pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: It is October 1519 and the Aztec empire of Mexico is on the edge of a disastrous collapse as Hernan Cortes leads his army of Spaniards and their native allies to attack and conquer Moctezoma's capital.

The Aztec emperor Moctezoma believes the only way to save his empire is to heed the traditional demands of the God of War and sacrifice a beautiful woman warrior named Flower in exchange for protection from the invaders.

But a different faction (known as the resistance) seek to overthrow Moctezoma and go to war against the invaders. The resistance has other plans for Flower -- if they can only help her escape before Moctezoma offers her as a sacrifice. Will Flower make it out in time to join the resistance? Or will Moctezoma carry out a centuries-old practice of human sacrifice?

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently absorbing novel by a writer who has a genuine flair for reader engaging narrative storytelling, "Arrows of Fire" by Marlen Suyapa Bodden is an exceptionally entertaining and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Arrows of Fire" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49).

Stealing the Scream
Theodore Carter
Run Amok Books
www.runamokbooks.com
9781732709775, $27.95, HC, 262pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Retired CEO-turned-painter Percival Davenport's criminality starts when, fueled by insecurity, he hires a whiskey-drinking thief to break into museums and hang his paintings. If Percival can pass off his art as museum-quality, he will know he's attained mastery. The "donations" attract the attention of Leonard, a Smithsonian guard and amateur sleuth.

As Leonard begins collecting the unwanted paintings and searching for the artist, Percival's studies intensify. He develops an obsession with Edvard Munch's The Scream and steals it. When Leonard and law enforcement agents come knocking at Percival's door, his Tell-Tale-Heart-like anxiety causes him to turn his mansion, and the famous painting, into a roiling inferno. This forces the police into creative means of art restoration.

Critique: In 2004, masked thieves stole Edvard Munch's The Scream from an Oslo museum. Norwegian police recovered the painting two years later but never explained how or where they'd found it. "Stealing the Scream" by Theodore Carter is 70,000-word literary-leaning, humor-laced, novel based on that actual crime that tells the story of what may have actually happened. Deftly scripted by an author who pays attention to historical detail and presents a plausible and thoroughly entertaining read with many an unexpected plot twist and turn, "Stealing the Scream" is unreservedly recommended, especially (even though a work of fiction) for the personal reading lists of dedicated true crime fans, as well as community library Contemporary Crime Fiction collections.

Wanders Far
David Fitz-Gerald
https://www.itsoag.com
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
www.outskirtspress.com
9781977211378, $18.95, PB, 198pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A young Native American boy, Wanders Far lived in dangerous times and was faced with one difficult challenge after another. He was a skinny, quiet boy who was raised on the banks of a tributary of New York State's Mohawk River, hundreds of years before colonists arrived. But one lifetime was not enough for Wanders Far's old soul. From a very young age, his wanderlust compelled him down one path after another. No village could contain him.

He was happy living a simple life in the physical world during challenging times. The spirit world had other plans. A wise, enigmatic shaman mentored Wanders Far and helped him cultivate the supernatural visions that haunted him. But his guide could only help him so far.

Wanders Far set out to become a runner, carrying important messages across the lands of his people and their enemies. He ended up fulfilling a much greater destiny than he ever imagined!

Critique: A deftly crafted and impressively original historical novel by David Fitz-Gerald, "Wanders Far-An Unlikely Hero's Journey" is the first and debut title in the author's 'Adirondack Spirit Series'. While unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wanders Far-An Unlikely Hero's Journey" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95).


The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Starfish: A Rock Star Romance
Lisa Becker
Independently Published
9781796666465, $14.99, PB, 359pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ambitious graduate Marin Collins accepts a four-month internship at a prestigious public relations firm to work on a tech account, but her plans are derailed when she's assigned to go on the road with touring rock band Kings Quarters, hailed by Rolling Stone as the next big thing.

Enter Brad Osterhauser, the reluctant rock star who would rather be coding computer games than penning Grammy-nominated songs.

Traveling by bus, city to city with a group of practical joking bandmates and a greedy manager, Marin and Brad forge a friendship and forbidden romance over a shared love of Seinfeld episodes, stolen moments and Red Vines. But when Marin's accused of betraying her company and the band, will Brad come to her defense or believe she was disloyal to him for the sake of her career?

Critique: A deftly crafted contemporary romance novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a narrative storytelling style that presents alternating perspectives of Marin and Brad, "Starfish" by Lisa Becker will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Starfish" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Other Things
Jonathan Dransfield
Unbound Digital
https://www.unbounddigital.net
9781912618866, $13.99, PB, 368pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: With the discovery of a fossil on Mars and the threat of an asteroid heading for Earth, a frustrated American President is forced to reconsider his legacy. He decides to do something big for humanity, and orders the first manned mission to Mars.

Surmounting seemingly impossible hurdles, the maverick scientist Ford Harris discovers how to make it happen. There is one crucial problem: the weight of any ordinary crew would be too great for the rocket to return home. And so Ford proposes a bold new idea -- replacing the adult crew with a group of gifted children.

Critique: "The Other Things" by Jonathan Dransfield is a deftly scripted and inherently engaging story that is enhanced for the reader's enjoyment with beautiful illustrations and informative scientific notes. Showcasing the author's genuine flair for originality and a distinctively unique narrative storytelling style, "The Other Things" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Science Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated SciFi fans that "The Other Things" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.43).

Strayed: A Shifted Series Novella
Kristalyn A. Vetovich
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
www.lulu.com
9781483498294, $15.00, PB, 80pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In the eternal battle between good and evil, humans don't stand a chance on their own. But for every living soul, there is a Firn: a spirit assigned to guide and defend humans from demonic beings like the Aropfain. Earning a place in the fight requires several lifetimes of service, experience, and sacrifice.

After her most recent life as a martyr in ancient Rome, Anaya is only one step from achieving that goal. If she succeeds, she might become the Firn with the most important mission: guiding the human who will save the world-or end it. But when Anaya is paired with the notoriously difficult Jordin, her chances of success dwindle.

Jordin isn't like other souls. He's strong, volatile, and a prime target for the Aropfain. It isn't long before he falls for an Aropfain ploy that could jeopardize his chances of becoming a Firn and endanger the entire world. Only Anaya, as his partner, can save him. Will she succeed, or will she fail and take humanity with her?

Critique: A deftly crafted novella showcasing author Kirstalyn A. Vetovich's impressive originality and impressively reader engaging, narrative driven storytelling style. A quick and inherently fascinating read, "Strayed" will prove to be an especially welcome addition to community library Fantasy Fiction collections, as well as the personal reading lists of any and all dedicated fantasy fans!

Mona Lisa on the Moon
George B.
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781480870635, $29.99, PB, 342pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Thirty-two thousand years ago, a gifted child is born into a world most would consider paradise. There has not been a war or hunger for some eight thousand years. The ozone layer is four times thicker than it will be later. Genetic abnormalities are nearly nonexistent and there are no diseases. As she matures, Mona Ann Lisa is just one of a highly advanced civilization on Earth and prepares to fulfill her destiny.

Unbeknownst to Mona, a change in the political and military leadership has been ongoing for decades. Now something new is afoot. After she eventually becomes the youngest captain of the planet's fleet of spaceships, her career blossoms as she faces challenges and threats to her civilization. Mona is the best chance the species has to survive.

While she accepts her many working titles, Mona knows that Levie, her sentient artificial intelligence entity, is the true brains of the operations. As a chain of events unfolds, Mona, Levie, and others must jump into action as the health and well-being of all sentient life precariously hangs in the balance.

Critique: An inherently interesting and deftly crafted science fiction novel that postulates an advanced civilization some thirty-two thousand years ago in which a child prodigy transforms into the captain of a fleet of spaceships and embarks on a journey to save humanity, "Mona Lisa on the Moon" is an extraordinary, unique, and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mona Lisa on the Moon" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.03).

Athena's Choice
Adam Boostrom
Independently Published
9781794205550, $7.99, PB, 276pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Athena Vosh lives just like any other teenager from the year 2099. She watches reality shows with her friends, eats well, and occasionally wonders to herself: what would life be like if men were still alive?

It has been almost 50 years since an experimental virus accidentally killed all the men on earth. However, a controversial project is currently underway to bring men back. There's just one catch. The project has been sabotaged.

When the police of 2099 are tasked with finding the saboteur, they receive a mysterious command to investigate the otherwise innocuous Athena Vosh. After it becomes clear that the young girl might know more than she lets on, Athena is brought in to participate in the official investigation.

Simultaneously, Athena begins to experience a series of cryptic dreams featuring a ruined library and an old book containing the saboteur's true identity. As the police close in on their prize, Athena finds herself on a journey of her own. Her clue-filled dreams and incorruptible spirit bring her face-to-face with a pair of forgotten truths about happiness and gender.

The world waits to see if men will return as Athena fights a separate battle, culminating in the choice that will define her and others' lives forever.

Critique: An inherently riveting read by an author with a unique, distinctive and genuine flair for narrative storytelling, "Athena's Choice" is an especially recommended addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated SciFi fans that "Athena's Choice" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

The Boy Who Dreamt the World
Jethro Punter
Independently Published
https://daycreamerchronciles.com
9781976960826, $7.32. PB, 173pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: There are two worlds that have always lived peacefully alongside each other, the world we know and Reverie, the Great Dream. Adam's life is turned upside down when he discovers that, as a Daydreamer, he can travel between the two and achieve impossible things.

You would think being able to control your dreams would be fun. But in a place where those dreams can take on a life of their own and nightmares stalk the streets, just making it through the night is hard enough.

Then there is the mystery surrounding the odd new girl in his class, detentions to avoid -- and the small matter of saving the world from destruction!

Critique: Showcasing a genuine flair for originality and a distinctively entertaining narrative storytelling style, author Jethro Punter's "The Boy Who Dreamt the World" is the first volume of 'The Daydreamer Chronicles" series and will leave the reader looking eagerly toward the next volume in this new and inherently fascinating fantasy series. While unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans that "The Boy Who Dreamt the World" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).


The Christian Studies Shelf

If the Shoe Fits
Vanderbilt Brabson III, author
Fredrick E. Babson Sr., author
Doretha Publishing
http://doretha-publishing.com/index.html
9780982842768, $13.99, PB, 182pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Around the world, eager listeners sit patiently at the feet of countless pastors, evangelists, Bible teachers, and parents expounding biblical doctrines and spiritual truths. Unfortunately for most of us, we forget a lot more than we retain. Few listeners, however, forget a good story.

"If the Shoe Fits: Spiritual Truths Illustrated in Great Stories" is all about learning valuable lessons through pictures painted by those who use modern-day parables in their teaching. Every lesson taught using this collection of narratives gives the reader invaluable spiritual insight for daily Christian living. "If the Shoe Fits" is an excellent resource for pastors, evangelists, Bible teachers, conference speakers, seminary students, parents, and anyone who desires to retain and/or share valuable, spiritual lessons packaged in a simple story.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "If the Shoe Fits: Spiritual Truths Illustrated in Great Stories" is an extraordinary anthology of stories that reflect, reveal, and encapsulate Christian values and life lessons. While very highly recommended for all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "If the Shoe Fits" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note; Vanderbilt Brabson III was born in Knoxville and graduated from the University of Tennessee. A conference speaker, Vanderbilt is one of the featured writers in Ordinary People Magazine. If the Shoe Fits is his third book.

Frederick E. Brabson Sr., a graduate of Johnson University Bible College, has more than thirty years of preaching, Bible teaching, and conference speaking experience. He has served as Senior Pastor of New Covenant Baptist Church for twenty-five years. He is also founder of Relevant Word Ministries, the television outreach ministry of his church.

Reborn Again
Christopher VanHall
Christopher Drury, Publisher
https://www.christophervanhall.net
9780578500799, $18.00, PB, 220pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In the pages of "Reborn Again: Crucifying Christendom & Resurrecting a Radical", Christopher VanHall address key and critical important questions that should concern every member of every Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations:

Those questions include: What happens when the most prominent examples of Christianity no longer resemble the teachings of Jesus? What does the Bible actually say about evolution, environmentalism, racism, sex, sexuality, feminism, gender identity, capitalism, warfare, inclusivity, and social justice? Has the church been hijacked by the same toxic principles it was originally meant to oppose? Is Christianity ultimately defined by an intellectual ascension of Jesus as Lord and Savior or is there something more? Should the Bible be an infallible authority in the scientific community? Can one be a progressive activist and a Christian? Is there a place for Christianity and the church in the 21st century?

Critique: As thoughtful and thought-provoking a read as it is inspired and inspiring, "Reborn Again: Crucifying Christendom & Resurrecting a Radical" is unreservedly recommended for both clergy and laity. While especially appropriate for church and seminary Contemporary Christianity collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for pastors, priests, seminary students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Reborn Again: Crucifying Christendom & Resurrecting a Radical" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

The Soul's Journey into Light: Through Revelation
K. E. Hansen
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.xlibris.com
9781984561459, $29.99, HC, 308pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "The Soul's Journey into Light: Through Revelation" by K. E. Hansen is groundbreaking study brings an inspiring, transformative, biblically based commentary on the phenomenon of Revelation that will insightfully assist Christian readers to reach their soul's destiny.

"The Soul's Journey Into Light" showcases profound spiritual truths, revealing an inner level of Revelation, that is a kind of divine blueprint for our lives to help use dismantle any barriers to fulfilling our life purpose and uncovering our true nature of love and light.

Each one of us is unique, as God's handiwork, and with a specific purpose to realize on this earth. Revelation helps us to overcome the obstacles we will inevitably encounter in life that get in the way of our soul's true destiny.

Critique: Deftly written, inspired reading, and offering life-changing, life-enhancing spiritual insights from cover to cover, "The Soul's Journey into Light: Through Revelation" is unreservedly recommended and wholeheartedly endorsed for all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Soul's Journey into Light: Through Revelation" is also available in a paperback edition (9781984561466, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).


The Self-Help Shelf

The Good Professional
Don Turner
www.DonaldTurner.org
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781480869677, $15.99, PB, 220pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When Friday afternoon comes, you're flying high, but reality sets in while you're watching television Sunday evening. Monday morning is coming, and you can't stop it.

When work is constantly buzzing in the back of your head, you know things are bad. You also know that you are not fully engaged in all the other aspects of your life. This is exactly what happens to millions of people every day. The good news is that you can fix this problem.

"The Good Professional: How to Take Control of Your Work Life, Get More Done, and Be Happier" by Don Turner provides his readers with all tools and techniques necessary to take control of their work life, to get more done, and to be happier as the learn how to: Fill gaps in your knowledge for getting things done; Get out of your own way mentally; Initiate the right conversations with the right people; Operate at a higher level individually and as an organization.

Critique: "The Good Professional: How to Take Control of Your Work Life, Get More Done, and Be Happier" does not include theory, academic models, research studies, and jargon, but it is packed from cover to cover with useful and 'real world' practical information that can be immediately applied for success at any in life or a career. While very highly recommended, especially for community, college, and university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists that "The Good Professional" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.15).

Editorial Note: Don Turner is a seasoned business leader and author. He has built, sold and shut down companies as a founder. He has also worked for and helped build several other companies. Some were great, and some were not. He has learned a great deal at all of them. Don loves to enable the success of others. One of his deepest and most fundamental beliefs is that people who are in control of what they do are more productive and happier people -- that happier people make better families, better companies and better communities. His interested readers can learn more about Don at his web site: www.DonaldTurner.org.

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

Synopsis: The primary reason that Neal Grace has written "Fresh Eyes Upon The World: Making Life A Spectacular Journey" is to offer important questions and answers relevant to almost all of us. The answers are his own, but he justifiably believes these answers embody a sense of wisdom and truth designed to encourage his readers to draw their own conclusions.

Everyone needs to get a clearer perspective of who they are. Everyone needs to assimilate new information that will broaden their understanding of themselves and the world they live in.

The answers offered in "Fresh Eyes Upon The World" are intended to inspire the reader to step bravely forward by following the passionate dreams of their soul. We have to have a purpose between our birth and our death. The world needs our contribution 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.

Critique: As inspired and inspiring a read as it is 'real world practical and insightful', "Fresh Eyes Upon The World" is impressively well written, exceptional in organization and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, making it unreservedly recommended and wholeheartedly endorsed as a life-changing, life-enhancing addition to personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.


The Poetry Shelf

Just Beyond Your Fingers
Brother Placidus Henry
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
www.lulu.com
9781483496399, $10.90, PB, 68pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: As a young adult, Brother Placidus Henry had several experiences that he interpreted as invitations to get close to God. But like the prodigal son, he developed a taste for the world, ignored the quiet calls of the Spirit, and became lost. Eventually he became a counselor, a profession that allowed him to work with lost people and find both himself and poetry.

"Just Beyond Your Fingers" presents a collection of his religious poetry highlighting the moments in life when we search for and meet the universal Spirit. Though Christian in orientation, it is open to all religious traditions and to all people who walk in peace.

Humanity is facing a chaotic period of radical change, cultural clashes, and religious confusion and conflict. These verses suggest moments of deep peace and clarity within a time of chaos and confusion, especially for modern pilgrims. This collection of poetry explores the search for the Spirit through the human life cycle, reflecting an aesthetic of emotion, clarity, and spontaneity.

Critique: A slender compendium of poetry that is both inspired and inspiring, "Just Beyond Your Fingers" is a choice pick for church libraries, and a thought-provoking invitation for readers of all faiths to contemplate matters of the spirit. "Just Beyond Your Fingers" is also unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library Contemporary American Poetry collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Paddle to Paddle
Lois Chapin
Nightingale Rose Publications
9781889755106, $10.00, PB, 152pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A therapist and writer in California, as well as a member of the Los Angeles Writers and Poets Collective, and whose work has been previously published in various literary magazines/journals, "Paddle to Paddle" is the first complete book of poetry by Lois Chapin in which is showcased her free verse addressing a variety of life's universal challenges including; addiction, social issues, child abuse, loss, single parenting, the caregiving of aging parents, relationships and outrigger canoe racing, and so much more.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought provoking, deftly crafted, and inherently compelling, the free verse poetry comprising Lois Chapin's "Paddle to Paddle" will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. An extraordinary literary talent whose work is unreservedly recommended, "Paddle to Paddle" is an especially endorsed addition to personal reading lists, as well as community, college, and university library Contemporary American Poetry collections.


The Literary Studies Shelf

Masterworks and Other Stories
Simon Jacobs
Instar Books
http://instarbooks.com
9781682199053, $20.00, PB, 208pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Simon Jacobs is the author of the novel Palaces (Two Dollar Radio), and of Saturn (Spork Press), a collection of David Bowie stories. "Masterworks and Other Stories" ss a new collection of short fiction by Jacobs about identity, undergrounds (symbolic and literal), art re-enactment, and unexamined possibilities. Each deftly crafted individual short story is a nicely polished literary gem with just a touch of an iconoclastic ambiance.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read, "Masterworks and Other Stories" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.

The Dead Still Here
Laura Valeri
Stephen F. Austin University Press
http://www.sfasu.edu/sfapress
9781622881802, $18.00, PB, 120pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Comprised of seven short stories by Laura Valeri, "The Dead Still Here" taps into such issues as friends-with-benefits typed relationships, vicious divorces and thievery, the loss of a child, the loss of a mother, and the Coast Guard and the Navy rescuing refugees from a bad storm at sea.

Gifted with an distinctively reader engaging narrative storytelling style, Valeri writes one single breathtaking sentence about sex, Dear John emails, and Christmas presents in "Liabilities of a Love Misguided" and vividly recreates that sharp sense of self-consciousness in "What They Know."

Along with characters that are irrevocably locked in their heads, Valeri includes a guide on how to take medication in "Prescription for Life," which subtly points to the other hallucinatory narratives. This collection is at once provocative and lucid, and it offers various angles of characters looking for a relationship to hold.

Critique: Showcasing seven exceptionally and extraordinarily well crafted literary gems, "The Dead Still Here" by Laura Valeri is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.


The World History Shelf

The Discovery of Troy and its Lost History
Bernard Jones
Trojan History Press
www.trojanhistory.com
9781916499218, $32.99, HC, 408pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The Trojan War was the greatest catastrophe of the ancient Hellenic world. We are told that it devastated Europe and Asia and plunged the known world into a Dark Age that lasted 500 years.

Thirty years of painstaking investigative research has finally resolved this 3,000-year-old mystery as author and historian Bernard Jones uncovered the evidence, piece by piece, and separating fact from fiction, and unlocking the secrets of the past. Unbelievably, Bernard's research showed that the Trojan War could not have taken place in the Aegean area, or even in the Mediterranean world. This evidence turns our accepted geography on its head and leads us on a fascinating journey of discovery back to the real world in which the Trojans lived. Here, we discover who the Greeks and the Trojans really were, and the parts they played in Homer's Bronze Age world.

Secret knowledge concealed in the "Iliad" reveals Homer's work to be a genuine historical record. Yet, only in the corrected Bronze Age environment can it be understood. Deciphering Homer's coded information becomes the key to finding the location of the Trojan War and the Bronze Age city of Troy itself. Lost histories also tell the whole story of the migrations that took place following the Trojan War and the nations that arose out of the ashes of Troy. The records of these nations independently verify the author's findings, and they overturn the theory of a 'Dark Age'.

Critique: An absolutely fascinating and iconoclastic read from beginning to end, "The Discovery of Troy and its Lost History" exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Impressively informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Discovery of Troy and its Lost History" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Ancient History collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Discovery of Troy and its Lost History" is also available in a paperback edition (9781916499201, $22.99).


The Photography Shelf

Harpswell: Sea and Land Through the Lens
Jerry Klepner & Bill Snellings
Fuze Publishing
https://fuzepublishing.com
9781733034494, $19.98, HC, 32pp.

https://fuzepublishing.com/product/harpswell-sea-and-land-through-the-lens/?v=7516fd43adaa

Synopsis: Harpswell's varied beauty is still present today and is fully captured the photographic images that comprise "Harpswell: Sea and Land Through the Lens", a pictorial journey that is divided into twelve different categories illustrating what makes Harpswell memorable.

"Lobstering and Fishing" highlights some of the largest local businesses. Typical Maine coast "Shacks and Sheds" reveal the small structures associated with these businesses."Boating" includes crafts for both business and pleasure; "The Sea" displays views of the water that surround the more than 200 "Islands of Harpswell"; the "Cribstone Bridge"photos express the uniqueness of this one-of-a-kind structure, held together only by gravity.

Included are pictorial examples of everyday life at different times of the year in "For All Seasons", and the recording of local special events under "Celebrations." Also included are examples of the more than fifteen "Trails and Preserves," exceptional "Historic Buildings," and many special "Points of Interest." And finally, in "Sun and Moon," the sunset pictures over water are made possible by Harpswell's north to south orientation, and the lovely twilight moonscapes by the lack of light pollution.

Critique: A delight to browse through and very highly recommended for personal and community library collections, "Harpswell: Sea and Land Through the Lens" would well serve as a template for similar photographic celebrations and studies of other American communities.


The Criminology Shelf

The Symbionese Liberation Army and Patricia Hearst, Queen of the Revolution
Gregory Cummings & Stephen Sayles
Great Oak Press
https://www.facebook.com/greatoakpress
9781942279242, $18.95, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Patricia Campbell Hearst (born February 20, 1954) is an American woman and a granddaughter of the American publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, who became internationally known for events following her 1974 kidnaping by a left-wing terrorist group, the Symbionese Liberation Army. Hearst was found 19 months after being abducted, by which time she was a fugitive wanted for serious crimes committed with members of the group. She was held in custody, and there was speculation before trial that her family's resources would enable her to avoid time in jail.

At her trial, the prosecution suggested that Hearst had joined the Symbionese Liberation Army of her own volition. However, Hearst testified that she had been raped and threatened with death while held captive. In 1976, she was convicted for the crime of bank robbery and sentenced to 35 years in prison, later reduced to 7 years. Her sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter, and she was later pardoned by President Bill Clinton. (Wikipedia)

The Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), as it existed originally, endured for a brief 192 days. It formed in the months leading up to November 1973 in Oakland, California. In concentrating their activities around the Berkeley area, the SLA had hoped to recapture the excitement and passion of the protest movements of the 1960s.

Upon being abducted, Patricia Hearst's actions and her transformation into Tania, the urban guerilla, left the country in shock. Unlike any group before or after, the SLA had unlimited access to the media. The world watched in horror and amazement as the SLA continued to wreak havoc and outmaneuver the FBI time and time again.

Critique: The collaborative work of historians and authors Gregory Cummings & Stephen Sayles, "The Symbionese Liberation Army and Patricia Hearst, Queen of the Revolution" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a list of figures, a cast of characters, a timeline, and informative introduction, twenty pages of notes, an eight page bibliography, and a 24 page index. Comprehensive, impressively documented, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Symbionese Liberation Army and Patricia Hearst, Queen of the Revolution" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library 20th Century American History collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Symbionese Liberation Army and Patricia Hearst, Queen of the Revolution" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Gregory Cumming obtained his B.A. (1986) in history at the University of LaVerne and M.A. (1988) and Ph.D. (2010) in history at the University of California, Riverside. In 1989, Dr. Cumming joined the staff of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California as an archivist. In 2003, Dr. Cumming served as the Director of Archives Programs at the Richard Nixon Library. In 2006, he re-joined the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as the Supervisory Archivist of the new federal Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum and currently serves as the Staff Historian. Dr. Cumming also serves as a Senior Adjunct Professor at the University of LaVerne where he has taught since 2005.

Stephen Sayles obtained his B.A. (1968) in history at Chico State College, M.A. (1973) in history with distinction at California State University, Chico and Ph.D. (1978) in history at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Sayles has served as Assistant Professor (1982), Associate Professor (1985), Professor of History (1989), Acting Chair, Division of Social Science (1986-1987) and Chair, Department of History and Political Science (1989-1999) at the University of La Verne.

From Miracle To Murder: Justice For Adam
Joyce A. Lefler
http://FryedMarbles.com
CreateSpace
9781719060493, $18.00, PB, 307pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "From Miracle to Murder: Justice for Adam" is a true crime memoir that took place in Phoenix, Arizona, 1983-2002 when Joyce Lefler was accused of murdering her own child.

Joyce was raised in a misogynistic religion and shunned by her family when her abusive husband abandoned her and their two children, Anne, nine, and Adam, six.

Adam was severely disabled. When Adam died, the babysitter claimed the boy was lifeless when Joyce dropped him off. The coroner said the timing of Adam's death placed him with Joyce. The children's father depicted Joyce as an abusive mother. How could Child Protective Services, the investigating officers, the district attorney, and a grand jury all be wrong? How could anyone believe Joyce didn't murder Adam? How could anyone believe she did?

Although it reads like a deftly crafted true crime murder expose, the characters in "From Miracle to Murder" are real people and this is an thoroughly documented account of what they did, what they said, and Joyce's relationship with them. The events are depicted as accurately as possible and are based on actual police reports, depositions, court records, a grand jury transcript, criminal trial transcripts, psychologist's written evaluations, eye witness accounts, journals, victim impact statements, various avenues of public media, Adam's autopsy, and the author's haunting memories, recalled to the best of the author's abilities. When Joyce refers to or quotes documents, real names of the real characters are used. Names are changed when needed to protect the innocent from the guilty.

Joyce invites the readers into her troubled life. She wants them to see what she saw, thought, heard, and felt at each stage of her journey through the legal system, and beyond. Underscoring the wisdom and legal standard of the presumption of innocent until proven guilty, readers will walk away from Miracle with a greater faith they can survive the impossible, forgive the unforgivable, learn how not to remain a victim, and how to create moments of clarity in the midst of chaos.

Critique: A simply riveting read from first page to last, this true life account is the stuff of a parental nightmare, but one in which true justice ultimately prevails against seemingly insurmountable odds. Certain to be an enduringly valued addition to community and academic library Contemporary True Crime & Criminology collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "From Miracle to Murder : Justice For Adam" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Joyce A Lefler is a bereavement counselor, a registered nurse, and a facilitator for the Arizona chapter of Parents of Murdered Children. Interested readers can connect with her on her website http://FryedMarbles.com, http://AsLongAsIBreathe.com, and on Facebook (Joyce A Lefler).


James A. Cox
Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
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