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Wisconsin Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 7 July 2019 Home | WBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Money/Finance Shelf Political Science Shelf Fiction Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Self-Help Shelf
Graphic Novel Shelf Music CD Shelf DVD Shelf
Biography Shelf Metaphysical Studies Shelf Photography Shelf
American History Shelf World History Shelf Christian Studies Shelf
Judaic Studies Shelf Buddhist Studies Shelf Education Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Crafts Shelf Psychology Shelf
Martial Arts Shelf Business Shelf Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Gardening Shelf Music Shelf Needlecraft Shelf
Woodworking Shelf Travel Shelf Fishing Shelf
Native American Studies Shelf Art Shelf Economic Studies Shelf
Agriculture Shelf Sports Shelf  


Reviewer's Choice


Introduction to Bookbinding & Custom Cases
Tom Hollander & Cindy Hollander
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
www.schifferbooks.com
9780764357350, $35.00, HC, 208pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The high quality of traditional bookbinding is as expensive as it is renowned among bibliophiles for excellence when well done -- and while apprenticeships are difficult to come by today, "Introduction to Bookbinding & Custom Cases: A Project Approach for Learning Traditional Methods" by Tom and Cindy Hollander is a step-by-step guide by two expert hand-binders and is the next best thing to attending a live class in book binding.

Teaching you valuable beginning and intermediate level skills, using their trademark hands-on approach, the Hollanders explain the basics of the craft, then guide you through five projects. Detailed instructions and photos help you to success.

With "Introduction to Bookbinding & Custom Cases" the aspiring bookbinder will be able to master the pamphlet book style, the flat-back book, the round-back book, and the construction of slipcases and clamshell boxes for decorative book protection.

Along with formulas to help you navigate making your own custom-size books, an extensive glossary of bookbinding terms and a list of resources offer ongoing support, "Introduction to Bookbinding & Custom Cases" includes a gallery of the authors' own handmade books and boxes that will provide inspiration to and for your own projects as a bookbinder and custom case maker.

Critique: A beautifully produced and illustrated step-by-step instruction guide and manual, "Introduction to Bookbinding & Custom Cases: A Project Approach for Learning Traditional Methods" is enhanced with the inclusion of a two page Appendix (Numerical Weight for Paper Conversions, Text Papers, Cover Papers, Approximate Conversions: Fractional to Decimal, Fractional to Metic), a six page Glossary, a two page listing of Book and Box Making Resources, and a one page Hollander's Quick Tips. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Introduction to Bookbinding & Custom Cases" is an essential addition to any aspiring book binder's instructional reference collection and is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections.

Ruffhouse
Chris Schwartz
Diversion Books
www.diversionbooks.com
9781635765991, $24.99, HC, 224pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: As a struggling musician trying to catch a break in 1980s Philadelphia, Chris Schwartz navigated the crime-infested, morally bankrupt music industry to found and build one of the most successful hip-hop record labels in the world. That label was Ruffhouse, which launched the careers of Nas, The Fugees, Cypress Hill, and others, dominating the charts and generating global revenues of over one billion dollars.

Schwartz and his partner, Joe Nicolo, built Ruffhouse from one desk and a phone to one of hip-hop's most revered record companies while simultaneously struggling with drug addiction and alcoholism.

A story of money, greed, envy, betrayal, violence, addiction, loss, and redemption, not to mention a whole lot of music, "Ruffhouse: From the Streets of Philly to the Top of the '90s Hip-Hop Charts" reveals the inside story of the record companies, recording studios, tour buses, private jets, mansions, radio stations, and concert halls at the height of hip-hop's 1990s heyday while also uncovering the darker side of the business, from police stations to rehab clinics, courtrooms to prisons.

Narrated in Schwartz's own candid, searing prose, Ruffhouse is a gripping portrayal of hip-hop culture at its tipping point, as it transitioned from urban curiosity to a global commercial platform.

Critique: Impressively candid and exceptionally informative, "Ruffhouse: From the Streets of Philly to the Top of the '90s Hip-Hop Charts" offers a unique insight into the music business and will prove to be of immediate and enduring interest that should make it a valued addition to both community and academic library 20th Century American Music collections and supplemental studies lists. For the personal reading lists of students, academia, and hip-hop music fans that "Ruffhouse" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781721374540, $34.99, CD).


The Writing/Publishing Shelf

How to Write, Illustrate, Publish & Sell Your Own Book On Amazon!
Heather Konet
CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781722489274, $15.99, PB, 71pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Specifically designed for young writers in grades 4-6, "How to Write, Illustrate, Publish & Sell Your Own Book On Amazon!" by Heather Konet is a straightforward instructional guide on how to write, illustrate and format files for publication.

Heather Konet is the author of the STEM themed children's book series Li'l Booger Buddies Inventors and a Mechanical Engineer by trade. In "How to Write, Illustrate, Publish & Sell Your Own Book On Amazon!" she shares lessons learned over years of learning the book self-publishing process and has compiled those lessons into a clear, concise guide for those interested in self-publishing their own stories.

Young readers and writers will learn the steps of publishing printed and eBook versions through the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Other self-publishing guides are wordy and confusing. But this particular guide provides concise instructions with clear computer screen shots to guide aspiring authors through exactly what they need to do.

Now boys and girls ages 9-11 can fulfill the dream of writing their own book and seeing it for sale on Amazon reaching potential readers around the world! It's time to finally turn that children's picture book, teaching guide, graphic novel, comic book, art book, cook book, instructional manual, etc into something real that can be appreciated by others and that will generate revenue for a self-published author.

Critique: Although specifically intended for young readers who might aspire to become self- published authors and use Amazon.com as a marketing tool, and now in a fully updated second edition, "How to Write, Illustrate, Publish & Sell Your Own Book On Amazon!" will prove to be of value to any and all aspiring self-published writers with respect to using Amazon.com. Of special note are the computer on-screen charts with clearly marked 'click' instructions. "How to Write, Illustrate, Publish & Sell Your Own Book On Amazon!" is unreservedly recommended for personal, elementary school, and community library 'how to' instructional self-publishing and book marketing reference collections. It should be noted that "How to Write, Illustrate, Publish & Sell Your Own Book On Amazon!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Set the Page on Fire
Steve O'Keefe
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
www.newworldlibrary.com
9781608686117, $15.95, PB, 168pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Successful writers write, rather than just think about writing, talk about writing, or plan what they'll write when they get the proverbial cabin in the woods. Yet even accomplished writers sometimes get "blocked," losing access to their in-the-zone writing mind.

In "Set the Page on Fire: Secrets of Successful Writers", Steve O'Keefe offers proven techniques and practices for jump-starting stalled ideas, honed during his many years of working in virtually every aspect of publishing. His innovative, often unconventional exercises will get aspiring but creatively blocked writers writing again and accessing their own unique voices.

Packed from cover to cover with a career's worth of writing and publishing savvy, as well as the advice of expert authors gleaned from hundreds of interviews, "Set the Page on Fire" is the kind of nuts-and-bolts coaching and encouragement invaluable to novice and veteran writers alike.

Critique: Every aspiring writer who has ended up staring at a blank page or screen and waiting vainly for inspiration to strike needs to obtain and give a very careful reading to Steve O'Keefe's 'real world practical' and effective 'things to do' "Set the Page on Fire: Secrets of Successful Writers". While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal and professional reading lists that "Set the Page on Fire" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.42).

Editorial Note: Steve O'Keefe is content director at Orobora, a firm that hires writers to produce expert content for publishers such as Random House, Pengiun, HarperCollins and John Wiley & Sons. Steve wrote the bestselling book "Publicity on the Internet" in 1996 and taught Internet Public Relations at Tulane University from 2000-2011. From 2004-2008, Steve ran the startup AuthorViews, criss-crossing North America interviewing authors about their books.

Crazy Screenwriting Secrets
Weiko Lin
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
www.mwp.com
9781615933013, $29.95, PB, 200pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Through a "Crazy" approach in writing the feature screenplay, the first half of "Crazy Screenwriting Secrets: How to Capture A Global Audience" by Weiko Lin guides the aspiring script writer in how to create and develop: Story Idea, Characters, One Page Step Outline, and the solid script.

In the second half, "Crazy Screenwriting Secrets" covers professional business side of the ever-changing industry by taking the aspiring screen writer through the work flow of Hollywood and explores how to work creatively with international countries like China in producing movies that resonate with a global audience.

Critique: Informative and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Crazy Screenwriting Secrets: How to Capture A Global Audience" is a critically important and 'real world practical' instruction manual and guide that will prove to be of enormous benefit for the novice screen writer -- and have a great deal of value for every the more experienced professional. Simply stated, "Crazy Screenwriting Secrets" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing collections.

Editorial Note: An Associate Professor at Emerson College, Weiko Line has written projects fo the Mark Gordon Company, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Don Mischer Productions, Wanda Pictures, Ivanhoe Pictures, Super Delux, and many other film making companies. His screen credits include 100 Days.


The Cookbook Shelf

The Big Bottom Biscuit
Michael Volpatt
Running Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
www.runningpress.com
9780762465309, $18.00, HC, 192pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "The Big Bottom Biscuit: Specialty Biscuits and Spreads from Sonoma's Big Bottom Market" by Michael Volpatt brings the experience of dining at the market to everyone who can't make it to Sonoma. In 2016, the Big Bottom Market biscuit mix and honey was heralded as one of Oprah's Favorite Things-- and with good reason! Volpatt's passion for this simple food showcases its versatility in easy to prepare, accessible recipes.

Volpatt's charming recipes for appetite satisfying, palate pleasing biscuits that range from the classic Egg in a Biscuit, to Sea Biscuit (with smoked salmon, crŠme fraiche, pickled onions, and capers), to sweet biscuits like Chocolate Bacon and Apple Pie.

"The Big Bottom Biscuit" cookbook also includes butters, jams, and spreads, as well as savory embellishments.

Critique: Original and thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Big Bottom Biscuit" will have a very special and lasting appeal to Californians, Southerners, Yankees, and anyone else who appreciates the culinary pleasure of a piping-hot biscuit! While unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, family, and community library cookbook collections, it should be noted that "The Big Bottom Biscuit" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

The Boat Cookbook
Fiona Sims
Adlard Coles
c/o Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781408192009, $19.99, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: For anyone with a tiny galley kitchen on their boat, there's good news: there need no longer be more bland leftovers aboard. Not with this newly revised and expanded second edition of Fiona Sims' "The Boat Cookbook: Real Food for Hungry Sailors"

This culinary compendium of delicious and easy recipes (all made with minimum fuss and maximum flavor), will allow you to spoil yourself in the harbor and keep things simple at sea -- not to mention rustle up a mean rum punch. With handy ideas on setting up the galley, a lazy guide to filleting mackerel and tips for hosting the perfect beach barbecue, this is the must-have guide for sailors and seaside-lovers alike.

"The Boat Cookbook" includes recipe contributions from top chefs (Chris Galvin, Angela Hartnett, Kevin Mangeolles, Ed Wilson and Judy Joo) and sailing legends (Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Mike Golding, Brian Thompson, Shirley Robertson and Dee Caffari). With a foreword by Chris Galvin, and accompanied throughout by wonderful photography and beautiful hand-drawn illustrations, "The Boat Cookbook will prove to be an invaluable addition to the food lover's kitchen or galley.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated and packed from cover to cover with thoroughly 'galley cook friendly' recipes for palate pleasing and appetite satisfying dishes, "The Boat Cookbook: Real Food for Hungry Sailors" truly lives up to its title and will prove to be a welcome and enduringly appreciated personal, family, and community library cookbook collections. It should be noted for the space limited ship's galley that "The Boat Cookbook" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Fiona Sims has written for The Times, The Sunday Times, Food & Travel, Delicious, Decanter, and more. This award-winning food and wine writer has interviewed many of the world's top chefs, including Alain Ducasse, Gordon Ramsay and Rene Redzepi, and accompanied Heston Blumenthal on his first trip to the legendary El Bulli. The idea for "The Boat Cookbook" came after much nagging from her sailing-mad Dad, who kept losing her scribbled-down recipes for on board cooking in his rather basic galley. Fiona and her husband Mark split their time between London and Yarmouth, and she sails regularly from the south coast with her Dad on his 29ft Westerly, always cooking on board!

Wholefood for Children
Jude Blereau
Murdoch Books
www.murdochbooks.co.uk
9781911632092, $27.99, PB, 336pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The underlying philosophy behind Jude Blereau's "Wholefood for Children: Nourishing Young Children with Whole and Organic Foods" is the importance of feeding young, growing children, whole and real food, preferably organic. Not only do children require fuel to play, they also require it to build every part of their body and future pathways, and to learn.

"Wholefood for Children" is comprised of in two major sections: A very insightful and informative introduction and a recipe section, which will cater for ages 6 months to 7 years, starting with introducing solid foods to babies. The recipes range from breakfasts through to lunch and dinners, as well as ultra-convenient portable snacks for lunch boxes.

Critique: An impressive compendium of thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes, of very special note is the section on raising a vegetarian child, a dairy free child, and a child whose diet must be wheat and/or gluten free. Enhanced further with the inclusion of a Glossary, a listing of Recommended Reading, and a seven page Index, "Wholefood for Children" is an inspiring culinary please to browse through and plan menus with. While unreservedly recommended as a core addition to family and community library cookbook collections, it should be noted that "Wholefood for Children" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Jude Blereau is a natural foods chef, author, food coach, cooking teacher and real food activist who has been involved with the organic and wholefoods industry for more than 18 years. In 1997, Jude co-founded The Earth Market, a much loved wholefood store and cafe in Perth, Western Australia. In 2001 she founded the Whole Food Cooking school and website (https://wholefoodcooking.com.au). Her focus is on helping people learn about good food (what it truly is, where to get it, how to use it) and to give them the tools and information they need to make healthy eating a part of their everyday lives. Jude has written five books with Murdoch, including "Wholefood From the Ground Up".


The Money/Finance Shelf

Wealth Made Easy
Dr. Greg Reid
BenBella Books
10300 N. Central Expressway, Ste 400, Dallas, TX 75204
www.benbellabooks.com
9781946885463, $19.95, HC, 200pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Long gone are the days when captains of industry like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie dominated the economic arena. Today, the world's richest individuals are a diverse group of idea-generators who maintain a lower profile, keeping their successes (and their strategies) hidden from the public eye.

But "Wealth Made Easy: Millionaires and Billionaires Help You Crack the Code to Getting Rich" by Dr. Greg Reid is that next best thing to being able to speed-dial these entrepreneurs, inventors, investors, and industry pioneers and personally ask each of them to tell you the one gold nugget that made them so wealthy?

That's what Greg Reid did, traveling around the globe to meet with many of the world's most elusive, under-the-radar billionaires to crack the code of prosperity. At long last, anyone who takes the time to read "Wealth Made Easy" will have access to the wisdom of the world's wealthiest people ranging from entertainment pioneers to real estate tycoons as they, one by one, reveal how they built their wealth, held onto it, and continue to thrive in an ever-changing economy.

Critique: A superbly organized and presented compendium of tips, tricks, strategies, tactics, and 'real world' stories, "Wealth Made Easy: Millionaires and Billionaires Help You Crack the Code to Getting Rich" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, community, corporate, college, and university library Contemporary Money/Finance instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Wealth Made Easy" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781543682274, $29.99, CD).


The Political Science Shelf

Give Them an Argument
Ben Burgis
O Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
www.johnhuntpublishing.com
9781789042108, $16.95, PB, 128pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Many serious leftists have learned to distrust talk of logic and logical fallacies, associated with right-wing "logicbros". This is a serious mistake. Unlike the neoliberal technocrats, who can point to social problems and tell people "trust us", the serious Left must learn how to argue and persuade.

Ben Burgis has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Miami. He is a science fiction writer whose work has appeared in publications such as Tor.com and in Prime Books. Burgis now teaches at Rutgers University, New Jersey.

In "Give Them an Argument: Logic for the Left", Burgis arms his reader with the essential knowledge of formal logic and informal fallacies that will be required for any political discussion in this polarized times.

Critique: Informative, thoughtful, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Give Them an Argument: Logic for the Left" is an exceptionally effective tutorial. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Political Science collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, political activists, politicians, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Give Them an Argument: Logic for the Left" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

A Crisis Wasted
Reed Hundt
Rosetta Books
https://www.rosettabooks.com
9781948122313, $27.50, HC, 400pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In "A Crisis Wasted: Barack Obama's Defining Decisions", Reed Hundt persuasively argues that Barack Obama determined the fate of his presidency before he took office. That his momentous decisions led to Donald Trump (which for Obama the worst person imaginable) taking his place eight years later.

"A Crisis Wasted" knowledgeably describes these decisions and adroitly discusses how the results could have been different. Based on dozens of interviews with actors in the Obama transition, as well as the author's personal observations, "A Crisis Wasted" provides unique commentary of those defining decisions of winter 2008 - 2009.

A decade later, the ramifications of the Great Recession and the role of government in addressing the crisis animate the ideological battle between progressivism and neoliberalism in the Democratic Party and the radical re-direction of the Republican Party. As many seek the presidency in the November 2020 election, all candidates and of course the eventual winner will face decisions that may be as critical and difficult as those confronted by Barack Obama. "A Crisis Wasted" aims to provide the guidance of history.

Critique: An impressive compendium of basic background information, learned and seasoned argument deftly presented throughout, "A Crisis Wasted: Barack Obama's Defining Decisions" is one of those unusual historical studies that has a direct relevance to the political science of today. Simply stated, "A Crisis Wasted" should be on the reading lists of every one seeking office (or helping someone seek office) in the Congress and in the Administration as the new presidency cycle of 2020 is underway and being actively contested. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Political Science collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists of students, academicians, political activists, politicians, and non- specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "A Crisis Wasted" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781721358571, $29.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Reed E. Hundt was a member of the transition teams for the Clinton and Obama presidencies. He was the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in 1993-97. He has taught at Yale College, Law School and School of Management, practiced law in California and Washington, D.C., started for-profit and non-profit firms, served as a board member for numerous technology and communications firms, and is the author of "You Say You Want a Revolution" and "In China's Shadow".


The Fiction Shelf

Deep Past
Eugene Linden
RosettaBooks
https://www.rosettabooks.com
9781948122375, $25.99, HC, 336pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A routine dig in Kazakhstan takes a radical turn for thirty-two-year-old anthropologist Claire Knowland when a stranger turns up at the site with a bizarre find from a remote section of the desolate Kazakh Steppe. Her initial skepticism of this mysterious discovery gives way to a realization that the find will shake the very foundations of our understanding of evolution and intelligence.

Corrupt politics of Kazakhstan force Claire to take reckless chances with the discovery. Among the allies she gathers in her fight to save herself and bring the discovery to light is Sergei Anachev, a brilliant but enigmatic Russian geologist who becomes her unlikely protector even as he deals with his own unknown crisis.

Ultimately, Claire finds herself fighting not just for the discovery and her academic reputation, but for her very life as great power conflict engulfs the unstable region and an unscrupulous oligarch attempts to take advantage of the chaos.

Critique: A deftly blended plotline the encompasses both fact and fiction into a simply riveting thriller of a novel, Eugene Linden's "Deep Past" is a simply riveting and unfailingly entertaining read with more plot twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster. While unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Deep Past" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781982633714, $29.95, MP3 CD).

Editorial Note: Eugene Linden is an award-winning journalist and author on science, nature, and the environment. His debut novel, Deep Past, draws on his long career in nonfiction as the author of ten books, including his celebrated works on animal intelligence and climate change: Apes, Men, and Language; the New York Times Notable Book Silent Partners; and the bestselling Parrot's Lament. His book Winds of Change, which explored the connection between climate change and the rise and fall of civilizations, was awarded the Grantham Prize Special Award of Merit. For many years, Linden wrote about nature and global environmental issues for Time where he garnered several awards, including the American Geophysical Union's Walter Sullivan Award. He has also contributed to the New York Times, Foreign Affairs, and National Geographic, among many other publications.

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes
Ruth Hogan
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
www.crookedlanebooks.com
9781643852096, $26.99, HC, 320pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, Masha's life was forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds comfort in her faithful canine companion Haizum, and peace in the quiet lanes of her town's swimming pool. Almost without her realizing it, her life has shuddered to a halt.

It's only when Masha begins an unlikely friendship with the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice and a penchant for saying just what she means, that a new world of possibilities opens up: new friendships, new opportunities, and even a chance for new love. For the first time in years, Masha has the chance to start living again.

But just as Masha dares to imagine the future, her past comes roaring back...

Critique: A fully engaging and impressively crafted novel populated by memorably eccentric characters, "The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes" is an extraordinary and inherently entertaining read from cover to cover. While especially recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.69).

Reluctant Belle
Beth White
Revell
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
www.revellbooks.com
9780800736217, $29.99, HC, 368pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: With the Civil War over, Mississippi Belle Joelle Daughtry wants to establish a school to teach freed slaves. But she might have to form an alliance with her childhood nemesis and reveal her deepest secret to make changes in her world and her heart.

Critique: An impressively scripted and thoroughly entertaining novel by an author with a genuine gift for reader engaging narrative storytelling, "Reluctant Belle" is a riveting read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reluctant Belle" is also available in a paperback edition (9780800726904, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Tenth Muse
Catherine Chung
Ecco
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
www.eccobooks.com
9780062574060, $26.99, HC, 304pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: From childhood, Katherine knows she is different, and that her parents are not who they seem to be. But in becoming a mathematician, she must face the most human of problems -- who is she? What is the cost of love, and what is the cost of ambition?

On her quest to conquer the Riemann Hypothesis, the greatest unsolved mathematical problem of her time, she turns to a theorem with a mysterious history that holds both the lock and key to her identity, and to secrets long buried during World War II in Germany. Forced to confront some of the most consequential events of the twentieth century and rethink everything she knows of herself, she strives to take her place in the world of higher mathematics and finds kinship in the stories of the women who came before her -- their love of the language of numbers connecting them across generations.

Critique: An inherently engaging, page-turner of a novel by an author with a flair for a distinctive and entertaining storytelling style, "The Tenth Muse" by Catherine Chung is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Tenth Muse" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

All Manner of Things
Susie Finkbeiner
Revell
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
www.revellbooks.com
9780800736347, $29.99, HC, 450pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: After Annie Jacobson's older brother is deployed to Vietnam during the war, tragedy at home brings their estranged father home without welcome. As tensions heighten, Annie and her family must find a way to move forward as they try to hold both hope and grief in the same hand.

Critique: An inherently riveting read, "All Manner of Things" clearly showcases author Susie Finkbeiner's natural gift as a novelist for narrative driven storytelling and who is able to make her characters come alive in the mind's eye of her readers. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "All Manner of Things" is also available in a paperback edition (9780800735692, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.44).

Finding Mrs. Ford
Deborah Goodrich Royce
Post Hill Press
https://posthillpress.com
9781642931723, $27.00, HC, 320pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Mrs. Ford leads a privileged life. From her Blenheim spaniels to her cottage on the coast of Watch Hill, Rhode Island, she carefully curates her world. Hair in place, house in place, life in place, Susan Ford keeps it under control.

Early one morning in the summer of 2014, the past pays a call to collect. The FBI arrives to question her about a man from Iraq (a Chaldean Christian from Mosul) where ISIS has just seized control. Sammy Fakhouri, they say, is his name and they have taken him into custody, picked up on his way to her house.

Back in the summer of 1979, on the outskirts of a declining Detroit, college coed Susan meets charismatic and reckless Annie. They are an unlikely pair of friends but they each see something in the other - something they'd like to possess. Studious Susan is a moth to the flame that is Annie. Yet, it is dazzling Annie who senses that Susan will be the one who makes it out of Detroit.

Together, the girls navigate the minefields of a down-market disco where they work their summer jobs. It's a world filled with pretty girls and powerful men, some of whom (like Sammy Fakhouri) happen to be Iraqi Chaldeans.

What happened in that summer of 1979 when Susan and Annie met? Why is Sammy looking for Susan all these years later? And why is Mrs. Ford lying?

Critique: An impressively original, immediately engaging and thoroughly entertaining novel by an author with a distinctive narrative storytelling style, "Finding Mrs. Ford" by Deborah Goodrich Royce is unequivocally and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Finding Mrs. Ford" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781094008752, $39.95, CD).

The Ghost Manuscript
Kris Frieswick
Post Hill Press
https://posthillpress.com
www.dreamscapeab.com/audiobooks
9781642930245, $28.00, HC, 432pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Rare book authenticator Carys Jones wanted nothing more than to be left alone to pursue her obsession with ancient manuscripts. But when her biggest client is committed to an asylum, he gives Carys an offer she cannot refuse. In exchange for his entire library of priceless, Dark Age manuscripts, Carys must track the clues hidden in a previously unknown journal, clues that lead to a tomb that could rewrite the history of Western civilization.

But there are people who would do anything to stop Carys from finding what she seeks - for reasons both noble and evil. The hunt takes Carys to places she never thought she'd go, physically and emotionally; first to Wales, her estranged father's homeland, then to bed with Dafydd, a mysterious Welshman who agrees to help her with the search, and finally, deep inside her own psyche, when the monk who wrote the journal 1,500 years ago appears and assists her in her search.

Critique: A true page-turner of an impressively entertaining novel, "The Ghost Manuscript" by Kris Frieswick showcases an author with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctive narrative storytelling style. A riveting read with more twists and turns than a Disney Land roller coaster will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Ghost Manuscript" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781974952991, $29.99, CD).

The Medallion
Cathy Gohlke
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
www.tyndale.com
9781496429667, $24.99, HC, 432pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen -- Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city's library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter's life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war (if any of them survive) is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland's darkest days and brightest heroes, "The Medallion" paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently riveting read from cover to cover, Cathy Gohlke's "The Medallion" is one of those extraordinary novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself is finished and set back upon the shelf. While especially recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Medallion" is also available in a paperback edition (9781496429674, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

An Improbable Pairing
Gary Dickson
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
www.greenleafbookgroup.com
9781626345799, $16.95, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In September of 1963, Scott Stoddard, an American graduate student, is traveling to Switzerland, when he meets the Countess de Rovere, a French divorcee; he is smitten, and she is intrigued. What begins as a little coquetry soon becomes a serious love affair, much to the consternation of the Countess's ex-husband and mother, not to mention the Countess's friends of European high society. A meeting of equals poses problems enough, but what about one between two people who seem to have so many differences? And when a man of traditional attitudes couples with an independent and self-confident woman, something's got to give. It won't be the countess. As their liaison transcends an affair that cannot be dismissed, they all agree that something must be done.

Critique: An historical romance by an author who is master of the genre, Gary Dickson's "An Improbable Pairing" is a deftly crafted and unfailingly entertaining novel that is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "An Improbable Pairing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.55).

The Gillespie County Fair
Marc Hess
http://marc-hess.com
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
www.greenleafbookgroup.com
9781626346048, $14.95, PB, 216pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: As rampant land development and tourist money begin to transform the old German farming community of Fredericksburg, two intermarried pioneer families lock in a life-and-death struggle over the sale of their homestead. Their vicious feud in an otherwise harmonious and bucolic community leads to the demise of two pioneer families and culminates in the triumph of one hard-headed, young girl.

The story of a family that inevitably destroys itself, "The Gillespie County Fair" delves into the clash of new wealth and ingrained poverty as rural Texas grapples with a changing world.

Critique: A deftly written novel based on the theme of the lethal consequences of gentrification in a rural Texas community, "The Gillespie County Fair" is an extraordinary read and one that is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Gillespie County Fair" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Yours
Lila Jeanne Elliott Sybesma
Indiana History Center
450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
www.indianahistory.org
9780871954312, $9.95, PB, 321pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Yours: The Civil War, a Love Triangle, and the Steamboat Sultana" is an historical fiction novel by Lila Sybesma that is told in two voices: Sarah and Joseph.

Sarah Sutton and brothers Gabe and Joseph Elliott grew up together in 1860s rural Indianapolis. As teenagers, the brothers vie for Sarah's attention, but their attempts are disrupted when they both enlist in the Union army. Sarah also joins the war effort when she follows her father, a surgeon, to tend wounded soldiers in a regimental hospital.

At the close of the war, the childhood friends unite on the Sultana, a steamboat returning thousands of Union soldiers home from the South. Tragedy strikes when the boilers explode, and the fiery vessel sinks in the Mississippi River. Will the three survive?

Critique: An original and deftly crafted work of fiction, "Yours: The Civil War, a Love Triangle, and the Steamboat Sultana" showcases the author's genuine flair for a thoroughly reader engaging narrative storytelling style. An inherently interesting novel from first page to last, "Yours" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.

A Silken Thread
Kim Vogel Sawyer
WaterBrook Press
c/o WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
10807 New Allegiance Drive Suite 500, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
http://waterbrookmultnomah.com
9780735290129, $14.95, PB, 352pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Laurel Millard, youngest of seven children, is expected to stay home and "take care of Mama" by her older siblings, but Laurel has dreams of starting her own family. Operating a silk loom at the Atlanta Exposition will give her the chance to capture the heart of a man wealthy enough to take care of Laurel and any children she might bear, as well as her mother.

Langdon Rochester's parents have given him an ultimatum: settle down with a wife or lose his family inheritance. At the Exposition, Langdon meets Laurel. Marrying her would satisfy his parents's command, she would look lovely on his arm for social events, and in her besotted state, he believes she would overlook him continuing pursuing rowdy adventures with his unmarried buddies. Langdon decides to woo Laurel.

Willie Sharp is not well-off and must take on an extra job at the Atlanta Exposition as a security guard. When mischief-makers cause trouble in the Women's Building, Willie is put in charge of keeping the building secure. He enjoys visiting with Laurel, who seems like the little sister he never had, but his feelings for Laurel change to something much deeper. Can Willie convince Laurel that he can give her better life--even with so little to offer?

Critique: A true love triangle romance novel, "A Silken Thread" by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a riveting good read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Romance Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Silken Thread" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

The Welsh Fasting Girl
Varley O'Connor
Bellevue Literary Press
c/o NYU School of Medicine
550 First Ave., OBV A612, New York, NY 10016
www.blpress.org
9781942658627, $16.99, PB, 352pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Sarah Jacob was the most famous of the Victorian era 'fasting girls', who claimed to miraculously survive without food, serving as flashpoints between struggling religious, scientific, and political factions.

"The Welsh Fasting Girl" is a novel based on Sarah's life and premature death from what may be the first documented case of anorexia.

This is also the story of an American journalist who, recovering from her husband's death in the Civil War, leaves her home and children behind to travel to Wales, where she investigates Sarah's bizarre case by becoming the young girl's friend and confidante.

Unable to prevent the girl's tragic decline while doctors, nurses, and a local priest keep watch, the journalist documents the curious family dynamic, the trial that convicted Sarah's parents, and an era's hysterical need to both believe and destroy Sarah's seemingly miraculous power.

Critique: An inherently riveting read that is at once intense, dark, and utterly compelling, "The Welsh Fasting Girl" is one of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself is finished and set back upon the shelf. Varley O'Connor's "The Welsh Fasting Girl" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Welsh Fasting Girl" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.01).

The King's Mercy
Lori Benton
WaterBrook Press
c/o WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
10807 New Allegiance Drive Suite 500, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
http://waterbrookmultnomah.com
9781601429964, $15.99, PB, 400pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When captured rebel Scotsman Alex MacKinnon is granted the king's mercy in the form of exile to the Colony of North Carolina where he is indentured to Englishman Edmund Carey as a blacksmith. Against his will Alex is drawn into the struggles of Carey's slaves -- and those of his stepdaughter, Joanna Carey.

A mistress with a servant's heart, Joanna is expected to wed her father's overseer, Phineas Reeves, but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith. As their unlikely relationship deepens, successive tragedies strike the Careys. When blame falls unfairly upon Alex he flees to the distant mountains where he encounters Reverend Pauling, itinerant preacher and friend of the Careys, now a prisoner of the Cherokees.

Haunted by his abandoning of Joanna, Alex tries to settle into life with the Cherokees, until circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom and he's faced with the choice that's long hounded him: continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, whose freedom in Christ no man can steal. But the price of such mercy is total surrender, and perhaps Alex's very life.

Critique: A deftly written and epic historical romance novel, "The King's Mercy" by Lori Benton is another extraordinary novel by a master of the genre. A genuinely riveting read with more plot twists and turns than a Disney Land roller coaster, "The King's Mercy" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Historical Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The King's Mercy" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99). Librarians should also note that "The King's Mercy" is available in a large print edition (Center Point Pub., 978-1643582917, $35.49, Library Binding, 500pp).

If I Had Two Lives
Abbigail N. Rosewood
Europa Editions
214 West 29th Street, Suite 1003, New York, N.Y. 10001
www.europaeditions.com
9781609455217, $18.00, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: As a child, isolated from the world in a secretive military encampment with her distant mother, a young woman turns for affection to a sympathetic soldier and to the only other girl in the camp, forming two friendships that will shape the rest of her life.

As a young adult in New York, cut off from her native country and haunted by the scars of her youth, she is still in search of a home. She falls in love with a married woman who is the image of her childhood friend, and follows strangers because they remind her of her soldier. When tragedy arises, she must return to Vietnam to confront the memories of her youth - and recover her identity.

An inspiring meditation on love, loss, and the presence of a past that never dies, "If I Had Two Lives" is a deftly scripted novel by Abbigail N. Rosewood that deftly explores the ancient question: do we value the people in our lives because of who they are, or because of what we need them to be?

Critique: An author who can evoke powerful emotional responses in her readers seemingly at will, Abbigail Rosewood's "If I Had Two Lives" is one of those rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself is finished and set back upon the shelf. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "If I Had Two Lives" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.49).

Crashing the A-List
Summer Heacock
Mira Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
www.harpercollins.com
9780778369288, $15.99, PB, 400pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: After four months of unemployment, former book editor Clara Montgomery is officially stuck -- stuck sleeping on her little brother's ugly couch in Queens, stuck scrolling through job listings in search of a new editorial position. And just desperate enough to take on a temporary gig clearing out abandoned storage units. If nothing else, she's determined to keep her rapidly dwindling savings account intact.

Unfortunately, she is in no way prepared for stumbling upon dead snakes or dealing with glass jars that she's convinced are full of pickled eyeballs. And why does everything seem to smell like beets?

Then Clara comes across a unit that was once owned by an escort service and finds the brothel "resume" of a younger Caspian Tiddleswich, an astonishingly famous British actor. She has no intention of cashing in on her discovery, but her awkward attempts to reassure Caspian that his secret is safe go awry. Now Caspian is convinced that Clara is a blackmailer, the tabloids have her pegged as Caspian's newest girlfriend -- and Clara begins to find the A-lister's charms more irresistible than she expected!

Critique: A riveting great read by an author with a genuine flair for deftly crafted and fully entertaining storytelling, Summer Heacock's "Crashing the A-List" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to all community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Crashing the A-List" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Morning Side of the Hill
Ezra E. Fitz
2Leaf Press
PO Box 4378, Grand Central Station, New York , NY, 10163-4378
www.2leafpress.org
9781940939261, $16.99, PB, 162pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ezra E. Fitz' debut as novelist, "The Morning Side of the Hill" is story of Willie and Mo, the two insecure and incomplete men. It is a novella told in two parallel stories in the format of alternating chapters that subtly illuminate one another. Set in Harlem and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, the twin tales gather like a storm to an exhilarating ferocity, culminating in a violent flood of passions that none of the characters can control, and which threatens to drown them all. Faulkner fans may think they know what the end holds for these characters. The climatic finale of "The Morning Side of the Hill" exposes an unexpected coincidence and a uniquely reader engaging finish.

Critique: Clearly, "The Morning Side of the Hill" reveals author Ezra E. Fitz's genuine flair for originality and impressively imaginative storytelling skills. A thoroughly reader engaging read from first page to last, "The Morning Side of the Hill" is an especially recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Morning Side of the Hill" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.37).

Unblinking
Lisa Lenzo
Wayne State University Press
4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
http://wsupress.wayne.edu
9780814346716, $18.99, PB, 191pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In "Unblinking", short story writer Lisa Lenzo's angels, lovers, and children are back -- older, sometimes wiser, and shedding new light. All ten stories comprising "Unblinking" take place in or circle back to Detroit and portray both the beauty and grit of the city and its inhabitants.

In "Up in the Air," a blues musician cherishes his memory of falling from a tree ("the utter sweetness of falling, of floating, almost still") even though his downward plunge has left him seriously disabled. The narrator of "In the White Man's House," recalls a high school basketball game, torn by racial division, and the distress of his teenaged friend who strove to be "blacker." In "Losing It," a disgruntled angel tries to help a nurse control his outbursts of comic and fruitless anger. And in "Marching," an old white man, who now has great difficulty walking, remembers marching fifty miles with Martin Luther King Jr. Despite the hardships they experience, the characters in the collection find pleasure and solace in what this lovely planet has to offer.

By turns playful and grave, told with humor and candor, these down-to-earth and heavenly stories will both surprise with fresh insight and remind the reader of what they already know. "Unblinking" is a short story collection for any lover of contemporary fiction looking for that strong pulse of feeling.

Critique: Lisa Lenzo is the author of "Within the Lighted City, which was chosen by Ann Beattie for the 1997 John Simmons Short Fiction Award, as well as the 2015 Michigan Notable Book Award winner "Strange Love" (Wayne State University Press). Lenzo's other awards include a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, a Hemingway Days Festival Award, and First Prize for Fiction in the 2017 Literature and Medicine Writing Contest. Her stories and essays have appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Sacred Ground: Stories about Home, Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes, and on NPR. A deftly skilled master of the short story format, Lisa Lenzo's "Unblinking" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Unblinking" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

All City
Alex Difrancesco
Seven Stories Press
140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013
www.sevenstories.com
9781609809393, $17.95, PB, 272pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In a near-future New York City ravaged by climate change and economic inequality, a superstorm hits, leaving behind only those who had nowhere else to go and no way to get out. Among those who remain are 24-year-old Makayla, who works in the city's most ubiquitous convenience store chain, and Jesse, an 18-year-old, genderqueer anarchist living in an abandoned IRT station in the Bronx. In the aftermath of the storm, Jesse joins Makayla's group of remainders in an abandoned luxury condo building, carving out a small sanctuary in the midst of a destroyed city.

Meanwhile, mysterious, colorful murals begin to appear throughout NYC, bringing hope to the forsaken and left-behind. But the storm's castaways aren't the only ones who find beauty in the art: the media, having long abandoned the supposedly-hopeless metropolis, "discovers" the emergence of the murals. When one appears on Makayla and Jesse's repurposed luxury condo, it is only a matter of time before the landlord class comes back to claim the city for themselves.

Critique: A unique and original dystopian novel by a master of the genre, Alex Difrancesco's "All City" is a simply riveting read from cover to cover. While certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "All City" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Bluff
Michael Kardos
The Mysterious Press
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
154 West 14th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10011
www.groveatlantic.com
9780802128041, $25.00, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: At twenty-seven, magician Natalie Webb is already a has-been. A card-trick prodigy, she took first place at the World of Magic competition at eighteen and has never again reached such heights. Shunned by the magic world after a disastrous liaison with an older magician, she now lives alone in a New Jersey apartment with her pigeons and a pile of overdue bills. In a desperate ploy for extra cash, she follows up on an old offer to write for a glossy magazine and pitches the editor a seductive topic: the art of cheating at cards.

But when Natalie meets the perfect subject for her piece (a poker cheat who dazzles at sleight of hand) what begins as a journalistic gamble soon becomes a test of everything she thinks she knows about her talent, and herself. Natalie soon finds herself facing a dangerous proposition that could radically alter her fortune -- to help pull off a $1.5 million magic trick that, if done successfully, no one will ever suspect happened!

Critique: Providing the reader with a kind of literary magic, "Bluff" by Michael Kardos is a deftly scripted roller coaster of a read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for community library Contemporary Suspense/Thriller Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bluff" is also available in a paperback edition (9780802129659, $16.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.60).

Focus Lost
Doug Cooper
Rare Bird Books
453 S. Spring Street, Suite 302, Los Angels, CA 90013
www.rarebirdbooks.com
9781947856899, $18.00, PB, 280pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The line between passion and obsession runs through us all. Levi Combs never planned to rocket to stardom. Eva Florez knew he would the moment she saw him. Gabe Adams didn't want anything to do with celebrities. But after Gabe's sister sells his photos of Levi with a young starlet to a tabloid website, their lives become intertwined forever, bound by rage and retribution.

Critique: An original and narrative driven novel that showcases the author's genuine talents as a storyteller captures his reader's dedicated attention from first page to last, Doug Cooper's "Focus Lost" is a complex tale of 'temptation, indulgence, and revenge' that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Focus Lost" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.45).


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Quiche and the Dead
Kirsten Weiss
Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
www.kensingtonbooks.com
9781496708960, $7.99, PB, 313pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Owning her own business seemed like pie in the sky to Valentine Harris when she moved to the coastal California town of San Nicholas, expecting to start a new life with her fiance. Five months (and one broken engagement) later, at least her dream of opening a pie shop has become a reality. But when one of her regulars keels over at the counter while eating a quiche, Val feels like she's living a nightmare.

After the police determine the customer was poisoned, business at Pie Town drops faster than a fallen crust. Convinced they're both suspects, Val's flaky, seventy-something pie crust maker Charlene drags her boss into some amateur sleuthing. At first Val dismisses Charlene's half-baked hypotheses, but before long the ladies uncover some shady dealings hidden in fog-bound San Nicholas. Now Val must expose the truth -- before a crummy killer tries to shut her pie hole.

Critique: Another simply riveting and entertaining read from beginning to end by a master of the genre, Kirsten Weiss' "The Quiche and the Dead" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to any and all community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all Kirsten Weiss fans that "The Quiche and the Dead" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Tantor Audio, 9781977367402, $24.99, CD).

Off the Grid
Robert McCaw
Oceanview Publishing
1620 Main Street, Suite 11, Sarasota, FL 34236
www.oceanviewpub.com
9781608093618, $26.95, HC, 304pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A scrap of cloth fluttering in the wind leads Hilo police Chief Detective Koa Kane to the tortured remains of an unfortunate soul left to burn in the path of an advancing lava flow. For Koa, it's the second gruesome homicide of the day, and he soon discovers the murders are linked. These grisly crimes on Hawai'i's Big Island could rewrite history -- or cost Chief Detective Koa Kane his career.

The dead, a reclusive couple living off the grid, turn out to be mysterious fugitives. The CIA, the Chinese government, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, attempt to thwart Koa's investigation and obscure the victims' true identities. Undeterred by mounting political pressure, Koa pursues the truth only to find himself drawn into a web of international intrigue.

While Koa investigates, the Big Island scrambles to prepare for the biggest and most explosive political rally in its history. Despite police resources stretched to the breaking point, Koa uncovers a government conspiracy so shocking its exposure topples senior officials far beyond Hawai'i's shores.

Critique: Another carefully crafted gem of a mystery from the author of "Death of a Messenger", novelist Robert McCaw's "Off the Grid" is a riveting read by a master of the genre and unreservedly recommended for all community library Mystery/Suspense/Thriller collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Off the Grid" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.95).

More News Tomorrow
Susan Richards Shreve
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
www.wwnorton.com
9780393292947, $25.95, HC, 208pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: On the morning of her seventieth birthday, Georgianna Grove receives an unexpected letter that calls her back to Missing Lake, Wisconsin, where her mother was murdered sixty-six years earlier. Georgie's father had confessed to the murder the next morning and was carted off to a state penitentiary.

Haunted by the night that took both her parents away and determined to unearth the truth, Georgie takes her reluctant family on what will become a dangerous canoe trip up the swollen.

Critique: An impressively crafted novel that offers a deftly woven narrative and a cast of memorable characters, "More News Tomorrow" by Susan Richard Shreve is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "More News Tomorrow" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.64) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (HighBridge Audio, 9781684419999, $29.99, CD).

A Crafter Hooks a Killer
Holy Quinn
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
www.crookedlanebooks.com
9781643850122, $26.99, HC, 328pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Samantha "Sammy" Kane is settling into her new life in idyllic Heartsford, Wisconsin, running her late friend Kate Allen's craft shop, Community Craft when one early June day, bestselling crochet author Jane Johnson visits Heartsford.

Captivated by Community Craft, Jane devotes a chapter in her new book, Behind the Seams, to the store. Sammy is honored, though satisfaction quickly turns to shock when she finds Jane strangled to death -- her cold hands clutching a copy of her most recently published book, with the words "THE END" raggedly scratched into the cover.

Not only must Sammy now contend with the author's inauspicious demise, she has to untie some knotty details from her own past. It turns out Kate's death was not what it seemed, and instead somehow hooked to Jane Johnson's demise. Handsome Detective Liam Nash is on the "skein", more than happy to see the shop owner again, if less than enamored by her sleuthing interventions. But this was Sammy's best friend -- she has to know.

Fortunately, as a child, Sammy formed the S.H.E. detective team with her cousin, Heidi, and her sister, Ellie. Having already reconstituted their partnership, the S.H.E. team searches for a pattern behind the latest death.

Critique: The second title in author Holly Quinn's 'A handcrafted Mystery' series, "A Crafter Hooks a Killer" is a superbly crafted 'whodunnit' style mystery that will hold the reader's rapt attention from cover to cover. With more plot twists and turns than a Disney Land roller coaster, "A Crafter Hooks a Killer" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of anyone that enjoys an original mystery by an expert in the genre that "A Crafter Hooks a Killer" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781974976126, $29.99, CD).

Sweet Tea and Secrets
Joy Avon
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
www.crookedlanebooks.com
9781643850238, $26.99, HC, 281pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Last Christmas, Callie Aspen left her tour guide job and settled in Heart's Harbor, Maine. Now, she helps out at Book Tea, her great aunt's vintage tearoom, where each treat has a bookish clue. Though she's excited to start her new life, Callie worries she may regret having burned her bridges behind her. Fortunately, she finds immediate distraction in the preparations for a spectacular Fourth of July tea party, which will recreate key moments from the town's rich history.

Intrigued to learn that 1980s TV star Monica Walker was last seen in Heart's Harbor before she vanished (allegedly to elope) Callie probes the townsfolk for information. She's stunned when several locals share contradictory stories about the last day before Monica's disappearance. Did she intend to leave her hit TV series? Was she being stalked by her ex? And why is the newspaper editor who investigated the story at the time so anxious about the cold case heating up?

When one of the talkative townspeople turns up dead, Callie aims to catch the killer. But it's no picnic: Deputy Falk doesn't want her meddling, and the locals suddenly know more about the past than they'd been at liberty to admit. If Callie and the Book Tea crew can't crack the case, they'll have to pay a very steep price!

Critique: Another deftly crafted 'Tea and Read Mystery' by Joy Avon, "Sweet Tea and Secrets" is an inherently riveting 'whodunnit' by an accomplished master of the genre. While "Sweet Tea and Secrets" is unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for all community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that it is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscae Media, 9781974976881, $19.99, CD).

The Right Sort of Man
Allison Montclair
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.minotaurbooks.com
9781250178367, $26.99, HC, 336pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In a London slowly recovering from World War II, two very different women join forces to launch a business venture in the heart of Mayfair -- The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Miss Iris Sparks, quick-witted and impulsive, and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, practical and widowed with a young son, are determined to achieve some independence and do some good in a rapidly changing world.

But the promising start to their marriage bureau is threatened when their newest client, Tillie La Salle, is found murdered and the man arrested for the crime is the prospective husband they matched her with. While the police are convinced they have their man, Miss Sparks and Mrs. Bainbridge are not. To clear his name (and to rescue their fledgling operation's reputation) Sparks and Bainbridge decide to investigate on their own, using the skills and contacts they've each acquired through life and their individual adventures during the recent war.

Little do they know that this will put their very lives at risk.

Critique: A deftly scripted and original 'whodunnit' style novel of mystery and suspense, "The Right Sort of Man" neatly showcases author Allison Montclair's particularly distinctive narrative storytelling style. A true 'page turner' of a read from beginning to end, "The Right Sort of Man" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "The Right Sort of Man" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781982636494, $34.95, CD).

A Shot of Murder
J. A. Kazimer
Midnight Ink
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125-2989
www.midnightinkbooks.com
9780738760070, $15.99, PB, 312pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ten years after leaving the small town of Gett, Florida, for Hollywood stardom, Charlotte "Charms" Lucky, who has never quite lived up to her surname, returns home to run the Lucky Whiskey distillery while her grandfather recovers from a heart attack.

Making whiskey is harder than Charlotte imagined, especially with longtime rivals and resentful townsfolk interfering at every turn. She'll need more than a lucky charm to keep the family afloat, after she discovers her former high school boyfriend's pickled corpse in a Lucky Whiskey cask, and her grandfather is arrested for the murder.

Charlotte has one shot to clear his name and save the family business, and that is to find the real killer among a town full of suspects.

Critique: An entertaining and riveting read with more plot twists than a bakery full of pretzels, "A Shot of Murder" showcases author J. A. Kazimer's complete mastery of the genre. While A Shot of Murder" is unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "A Shot of Murder" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.44).

Chai Another Day
Leslie Budewitz
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
www.prometheusbooks.com
9781633885363, $15.95, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder. Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.

Critique: Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to all community library Mystery/Suspense collections, "Chai Another Day" is a superbly crafted suspense thriller of a mystery read from beginning to end. It should be noted for the personal reading lists that "Chai Another Day" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Tantor Audio, 9781515937135, $29.95, CD).

Grab a Snake by the Tail
Leonardo Padura
Bitter Lemon Press
www.bitterlemonpress.com
9781912242177, $14.95, PB, 284pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Mario Conde investigates a murder in the Barrio Chino, the rundown Chinatown of Havana. Not his usual beat, but when Conde was asked to take the case by his colleague, the sultry, perfectly proportioned Lieutenant Patricia Chion, a frequent object of his nightly fantasies, he couldn't resist.

The case proves to be unusual. Pedro Cuang, a lonely old man, is found hanging naked from a beam in the ceiling of his dingy room. One of his fingers has been amputated and a drawing of two arrows was engraved with a knife on his chest. Was this a ritual Santeria killing or a just a sordid settling of accounts in a world of drug trafficking that began to infiltrate Cuban society in the 1980s?

Soon Conde discovers unexpected connections, secret businesses and a history of misfortune, uprooting and loneliness that affected many immigrant families from China. As ever with a writer like Leondardo Padura, "Grab a Snake by the Tail" is soaked in atmosphere: the drinking of rum in deliciously smoke-filled bars, the friendships, the food and beautiful women.

Critique: Another riveting read from the pen of a true master of the mystery genre, "Grab a Snake by the Tail" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated suspense thriller fans that "Grab a Snake by the Tail" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.59).

Here Today, Gone Tamale
Rebecca Adler
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.penguin.com
9780425275917, $7.99, PB, 304pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: After losing her newspaper job in Austin and having her former fiance unfriend her on Facebook, Josie Callahan scoops up her Chihuahua, Lenny, and slinks back to Broken Boot, Texas. Maybe working as head waitress at Milagro - her aunt and uncle's Tex-Mex restaurant - isn't exactly living the dream, but it is a fresh start.

And business is booming as tourists pour into Broken Boot for its famous Wild West Festival. But when a local jewelry designer is found strangled outside Milagro after a tamale-making party, Josie's reporter instincts kick in. As suspects pile up and alibis crack faster than taco shells, Josie needs to wrap up this case tighter than her tia's tortillas - before another victim calls for the check...

Critique: Debuting her new 'Taste of Texas' mystery series by Rebecca Adler, "Here Today, Gone Tamale" is wonderfully entertaining and deftly crafted page turner of a 'whodunnit' read by a master of the genre. While very highly recommended for both the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs and community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted that "Here Today, Gone Tamale" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

The Fragility of Bodies
Sergio Olguin
Bitter Lemon Press
www.bitterlemonpress.com
9781912242191, $14.95, PB, 348pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When she hears about the suicide of a Buenos Aires train driver who has left a note confessing to four mortal 'accidents' on the train tracks, journalist Veronica Rosenthal decides to investigate.

For the police the case is closed (suicide is suicide), for Veronica it is the beginning of a journey that takes her into an unfamiliar world of grinding poverty, crime-infested neighborhoods, and train drivers on commuter lines haunted by the memory of bodies hit at speed by their locomotives in the middle of the night.

Aided by a train driver with whom she has a tumultuous and reckless affair, a junkie in rehab and two street kids willing to risk everything for a can of Coke, she uncovers a group of men involved in betting on working-class youngsters convinced to play Russian roulette by standing in front of fast-coming trains.

Critique: A deftly scripted and page-turner of a read from beginning to end, "The Fragility of Bodies" is an original and extraordinary novel by an author who exhibits a distinctively reader engaging narrative storytelling style. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Fragility of Bodies" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.95).

A Nearly Normal Family
M. T. Edvardsson
Celadon Books
120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271
www.celadonbooks.com
9781250204431, $26.99, HC, 400pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella's father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defense attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, "A Nearly Normal Family" asks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

Critique: A deftly crafted suspense thriller by a master of the genre, "A Nearly Normal Family" by M. T. Edvardsson takes the reader on a roller coaster of a ride with its surprising plot twists and unexpected turns ultimately leading to a climax that will not soon be forgotten. A genuine page turner of a read from cover to cover, "A Nearly Normal Family" is unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Nearly Normal Family" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Macmillan Audio, 9781250221247, $39.99, CD).

Come and Get Me
August Norman
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
www.crookedlanebooks.com
9781683319757, $26.99, HC, 336pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When award-winning journalist Caitlin Bergman is invited back to campus to receive an honorary degree, she finds an opportunity for a well-earned victory lap -- and a chance to face the trauma that almost destroyed her as an undergrad. But her lap becomes an all-out race when a student begs her to probe an unsolved campus disappearance: Angela Chapman went out one Friday night and never came back.

To find the missing woman, Caitlin must join forces with a local police detective and the department that botched her own case so long ago. But while Caitlin follows the clues behind Angela's disappearance, someone else is following her!

Unearthing secrets hidden beneath an idyllic Midwestern college town, Caitlin must expose what really happened to Angela -- before she herself becomes the newest addition to a twisted collection.

Critique: Author August Norman's latest Caitlin Bergman novel, "Come and Get Me" is another of his deftly crafted suspense thrillers with more unexpected twists and turns than a carnival roller coaster ride. While very highly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Come and Get Me" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

The Mermaid's Scream
Kate Ellis
Thorpe / Charnwood Large Print
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
www.ulverscroftusa.com
9781444838336, $35.50, HC, Large Print, 384pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Why did Wynn Staniland, a legend in the literary world, suddenly become a recluse in the 1980s? Most assumed he stopped writing because of his wife's bizarre suicide; a death that mirrored a murder case from the nineteenth century. And now a promising young author called Zac Wilkinson is working on Staniland's biography and hopes to reveal the true story to a waiting world - while keeping his own troubled past hidden from public view.

But when Wilkinson is found brutally murdered, DI Wesley Peterson finds links to the unexplained poisoning of a middle-aged couple at a local caravan park - and Wynn Staniland appears to be the connection!

Critique: An inherently engaging and superbly crafted mystery by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctive narrative storytelling style, this large print edition of "The Mermaid's Scream" by Kate Ellis is especially recommended for both the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs and community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

The Hard Stuff
David Gordon
The Mysterious Press
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
154 West 14th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10011
www.groveatlantic.com
9780802129567, $26.00, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ex-black-ops-specialist-turned-strip-club-bouncer Joe Brody has a new qualification to add to his resume: an alliance of New York City's mob bosses has deemed him its "sheriff." In the straight world, when you "see something" you "say something" to the law. In the bent world, they call Joe.

Still reeling from a particularly difficult operation, and having plummeted back into the drug and alcohol addiction that got him kicked out of the military as a result, Joe has just managed to detox at the clinic of a Chinese herbalist when the mob bosses phone: they need Joe to help them swindle a group of opioid dealers (of all things). But these are no typical drug-ferrying gangsters.

Little Maria, the head of the Dominican mob, has discovered that her new heroin suppliers belong to an al Qaeda splinter group, and that they're planning to use their drug funds to back their terrorist agenda. With Joe in command, the mob coalition must pull off an intricate heist that will begin in Manhattan's diamond district. At stake is not only their business, but the state of the world.

Critique: With an ingenious plot that could easily be pulled from tomorrow's headlines, "The Hard Stuff" is an inherently riveting read from first page to last. With more twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster ride, "The Hard Stuff" is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary Suspense/Thriller collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that David Gordon's "The Hard Stuff" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.24).

One Little Secret
Cate Holahan
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
www.crookedlanebooks.com
9781683319726, $26.99, HC, 320pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The glass beach house was supposed to be the getaway that Susan needed. Eager to help her transplanted family set down roots in their new town (and desperate for some kid-free conversation) she invites her new neighbors to join in on a week-long sublet with her and her workaholic husband.

Over the course of the first evening, liquor loosens inhibitions and lips. The three couples begin picking up on the others' marital tensions and work frustrations, as well as revealing their own. But someone says too much. And the next morning one of the women is discovered dead on the private beach.

Town detective Gabby Watkins must figure out who permanently silenced the deceased. As she investigates, she learns that everyone in the glass house was hiding something that could tie them to the murder, and that the biggest secrets of all are often in plain sight for anyone willing to look.

Critique: "One Little Secret" is a perfect example of the locked room mystery genre and features an unforgettable cast of characters. Clearly, author Cate Holahan is a master of this particular form and format, making "One Little Secret" a truly and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of especially dedicated mystery buffs that "One Little Secret" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Carolina Connection
Lee Mims
Black Opal Books
PO Box 504, Parkdale, OR 97041
https://blackopalbooks.com
9781644370797, $14.29, PB, 316pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Boo Overton is known as an oddball, a real loner in the town of Smithfield, North Carolina. They say she obsesses over germs, never uses makeup, and thinks an old John Deere cap is enough to tame her unruly curls. The locals hardly ever saw her in town until her husband was killed in a work accident and overnight she became a young widow in need of an income.

She boldly decides to risk the little capital she has left to turn his farm into a grass-fed beef operation -- never mind that she doesn't know beans about cattle. Her plan to hire a well-known Argentinian horse trainer to handle the cow horses she has yet to buy takes a dark turn when he's found dead at the prosperous Lost Acres Farm.

Undeterred, she forges on, finding an unexpected friend in Detective Felix Truly, an Iraq veteran with demons of his own. He's moved back to his hometown to investigate a string of murders that may be related to gangs, and a strange tattoo. He warns Boo to stay out of amateur sleuthing, but Boo is stubbornly determined to right wrongs and get over her fears. Their paths keep crossing as each uncovers the separate, often grisly components of what will become the Carolina Connection.

Critique: A deftly crafted novel by an author whose distinctive and original storytelling style engages the reader's fully entertained attention from first page to last, "The Carolina Connection" by Lee Mims is unreservedly and especially recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated suspense/thriller mystery fans that "The Carolina Connection" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

The Dead Girl in 2A
Carter Wilson
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
www.poisonedpenpress.com
9781492686033, $15.99, PB, 416pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Jack Buchanan knows the woman sitting next to him on his business flight to Denver - - he just can't figure out how he knows her. Clara Stowe isn't in Jake's line of work and didn't go to college with him. They have nearly nothing in common apart from a deep and shared certainty that they've met before.

As their airplane conversation deepens, both struggle to figure out what circumstances could have possibly brought them together. Then, in a revelation that sends Jake reeling, Clara admits she's traveling to the Colorado mountains to kill herself, and she disappears into the crowded airport immediately after landing.

"The Dead Girl in 2A" is the story of what happens to Jake and Clara after they get off that plane, and the manipulative figure who has brought them together decades after they first met.

Critique: A deftly scripted psychological thriller of a novel, "The Dead Girl in 2A" showcases author Carter Wilson's distinctive narrative storytelling style and expertise. An original and intensely riveting read from cover to cover, "The Dead Girl in 2A" is unreservedly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for suspense/thriller fans that "The Dead Girl in 2A" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.44).

Charity's Burden
Edith Maxwell
Midnight Ink
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125-2989
www.midnightinkbooks.com
9780738756431, $15.99, PB, 288pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The winter of 1889 is harsh in Amesbury, Massachusetts, but it doesn't stop Quaker midwife Rose Carroll from making the rounds to her pregnant and postpartum mothers. But when Charity Skells dies from an apparent early miscarriage, Rose wonders about the symptoms that don't match the stated cause of death.

She learns that Charity's husband may be up to no good with a young woman whose mother appears to offer prohibited medical procedures. A disgraced physician in town does the same, while Charity's cousin seems to have a nefarious agenda of his own. With several suspects emerging, each with their own possible motives, Rose and police detective Kevin Donovan race against time to solve the case before another innocent life is lost.

Critique: Another deftly penned and riveting mystery by a master of the genre, "Charity's Burden" is the fourth title in author Edith Maxwell's simply outstanding 'A Quaker Midwife Mystery' series. While "Charity's Burden" is certain to be an immediately popular and appreciated addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs and Edith Maxwell fans that it is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.16). Librarians will also want to note that there is also a hardcover large print edition of "Charity's Burden" available as well (Thorndike Press, 9781432862725, $30.99, 386pp).

Peach Clobbered
Anna Gerard
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
www.crookedlanebooks.com
9781643850061, $26.99, HC, 313pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Nina Fleet's life ought to be as sweet as a Georgia peach. Awarded a tidy sum in her divorce, Nina retired at 41 to a historic Queen Anne house in quaint Cymbeline, GA. But Nina's barely settled into her new B&B-to-be when a penguin shows up on her porch. Or, at least, a man wearing a penguin suit.

Harry Westcott is making ends meet as an ice cream shop's mascot and has a letter from his great-aunt, pledging to leave him the house. Too bad that's not what her will says. Meanwhile, the Sisters of Perpetual Poverty have lost their lease. Real estate developer Gregory Bainbridge intends to turn the convent into a golfing community, so Cymbeline's mayor persuades Nina to take in the elderly nuns. And then Nina finds the "penguin" again, this time lying in an alley with a kitchen knife in his chest.

A peek under the beak tells Nina it's not Harry inside the costume, but Bainbridge. What was he doing in Harry's penguin suit? Was the developer really the intended victim, or did the culprit mean to kill Harry? Whoever is out to stop Harry from contesting the sale of his great-aunt's house may also be after Nina, so she teams up with him to cage the killer before someone clips her wings in Peach Clobbered.

Critique: A superbly crafted and wonderfully entertaining mystery that is a truly compulsive page-turner of a read from cover to cover, "Peach Clobbered" by Anna Gerard is unreserved recommended for both dedicated mystery buffs and community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted that "Peach Clobbered" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (9781974975945, Dreamscape Media, $29.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Anna Gerard is an experienced author who specializes in cozy mysteries with a southern twist. A Native Texan, she received a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. The president of the Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America, she enjoys reading, landscaping, and selling vintage goods on Etsy. She currently resides in the boonies of Florida.

Blindsided: A Mystery
Kate Watterson
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
www.crookedlanebooks.com
9781683317623, $26.99, HC, 279pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A decade after Cadence Lawrence accused the perpetrator in the brutal murder of her high school friend, she's finally put the nightmare to rest. But the ghosts of her past won't rest, and an unexpected encounter with the killer reawakens demons she thought were long dead. Gripped by paranoia, Cadence fears she's being stalked, and suspects that the murderer has invaded the sanctity of her home. Could her chance encounter have rekindled the savage rage that claimed the life of her friend and now threatens Cadence herself?

Half-crazed with fear, Cadence takes flight, but instead of finding sanctuary, she runs headlong into one of the worst snowstorms to blast northern Wisconsin in years. Stranded, freezing, and alone, Cadence confronts her worst nightmare -- until deliverance comes in the form of a stranger who rescues her and offers shelter from the blinding storm. But something is not altogether right with her savior, and Cadence is faced with another impossible dilemma. Should she trust this enigmatic stranger, or once again flee for her life? In the midst of an unrelenting storm, the walls are closing in on Cadence.

Critique: An inherently fascinating suspense thriller of a read from beginning to end, "Blindsided" showcases author Kate Watterson's truly impressive, reader engaging, narrative storytelling talents. While especially recommended for community library Contemporary Suspense/Thiller collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Blindsided" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781974976003, $29.99, CD).

The Execution of Justice
Friedrich Durrenmatt, author
John E. Woods, translator
Pushkin Vertigo
c/o Pushkin Press
www.pushkinpress.com
9781782273875, $14.95, PB, 224pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A respected professor is dead - shot in a crowded Zurich restaurant, in front of dozens of witnesses. The murderer calmly turned himself in to the police. So why has he now hired a lawyer to clear his name? And why has he chosen the drink-soaked, disreputable attorney named Spat to defend him?

As he investigates, Spat finds himself obsessed, drawn ever deeper into a case of baffling complexity until he reaches a deadly conclusion: justice can be restored only by a crime.

Critique: A dark, wicked satire on the legal system and a disturbing, if ambivalent, allegory on guilt, justice, violence and morality, "The Execution of Justice" is an inherently riveting, complexly scripted, neo-noir classic by Friedrich Durrenmatt. Translated into English for an American readership by John E. Woods, "The Execution of Justice" is unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction shelves. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Execution of Justice" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Friedrich Durrenmatt (1921-1990) was a Swiss author and dramatist, most famous for his plays The Visit and The Physicists, which earned him a reputation as one of the greatest playwrights in the German language. "The Execution of Justice" is just one of a number of his highly regarded crime novels.

Booking the Crook
Laurie Cass
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
www.penguin.com
9780440000983, $7.99, PB, 352pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Minnie Hamilton and her rescue cat, Eddie, cruise around lovely Chilson, Michigan delivering happiness and good reads in their bookmobile. But the feisty librarian is worried that the bookmobile's future could be uncertain when a new library board chair arrives and doesn't seem too friendly to her pet project. Still, she has to put her personal worries aside when she and Eddie are out on their regular route and one of their favorite customers doesn't turn up to collect her books. Minnie, at Eddie's prodding, checks on the woman and finds her lying dead in her snow-covered driveway. Now it's up to Minnie and her friends (feline and otherwise) to find the perpetrator and give them their due.

Critique: Another delightfully entertaining mystery from the mind and imagination of novelist Laurie Cass, "Book the Crook" is certain to be an immediately popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the legions of Laurie Cass fans that "Booking the Crook" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Tantor Audio, 9781515943211, $29.99, CD).

Buried
Ellison Cooper
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
www.minotaurbooks.com
9781250173867, $26.99, HC, 368pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Senior Special Agent Sayer Altair studies the minds of psychopaths. But even she didn't expect to uncover a killer within the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Rooting him out and exposing internal corruption got her a bullet wound and six months of desk duty. Now, she's finally back in the field, called in when an off-duty FBI agent and his cadaver dog fall into a sinkhole filled with human bones.

Found deep in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, the skeletal remains date back almost two decades, the same time a beloved local teen disappeared. The cold case quickly heats up when Sayer's team finds two fresh corpses among the bones. When a gruesome clue ties these new bodies to a woman recently kidnapped along with her young daughter, Sayer has to uncover the connection between the old bones and the new bodies before the mother and child become the next victims.

But the killer is one step ahead, attacking her team and sabotaging their efforts. With Sayer's investigation compromised and unsure of who to trust, she receives unwanted help from Subject 037, one of the anonymous psychopaths she is currently studying. She has the chilling realization that he's someone powerful in Washington D.C. -- and he is not about to let a mundane serial killer jeopardize his own ominous agenda for Sayer!

Critique: Ellison Cooper has a Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA, with a background in archaeology, cultural neuroscience, ancient religion, colonialism, and human rights. She has conducted fieldwork in Central America, West Africa, Micronesia, and Western Europe. She has worked as a murder investigator in Washington DC, and is a certified K9 Search and Rescue Federal Disaster Worker. All of these elements of her experience and background have infused her writing with an authenticity that results in being able to deftly craft an inherently riveting thriller of a read from first page to last. While unreservedly recommended for community library Suspense/Thriller collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Buried" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Macmillan Audio, 9781250224026, $44.99, CD).

Go, Lovely Rose / The Evil Wish
Jean Potts
Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
www.starkhousepress.com
9781944520656, $19.95, PB, 304pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Jean Catherine Potts (November 17, 1910 - November 10, 1999) was an American award winning mystery novelist. Now Stark House Press has reissued under one cover two of her mystery novels -- Go, Lovely Rose & The Evil Wish.

"Go Lovely Rose" Mrs. Henshaw is found at the bottom of the cellar stairs with her neck broken. Everyone assumes she has fallen. But when Rose's sister appears on the scene, she immediately begins to cry murder. And she's right! Young Hartley is the obvious suspect. Mrs. Henshaw had been his and his sister Rachel's housekeeper for many years, and there was no love lost between any of them. In fact, no one in town really liked Rose Henshaw. Her ex-husband, Francie, certainly knew how evil she could be -- she ruined his life. The rest of them were simply afraid of her: young Dr. Craig, the newcomer in town; and Bix, Hartley's teenage girlfriend; her father, Hugh Bovard, editor of the local paper; and his shattered wife, Althea, still mourning the loss of her son. They all hated Rose Henshaw for one reason or another -- but who hated her enough to push her down the stairs?

"The Evil Wish is the story of Marcia and Lucy who ever since they were little girls, would hide in the basement of their brownstone and listen in on their father's conversations. But now they are in their 30s, still living with their domineering father, and one day they eavesdrop on a very portentous revelation. Their widowed father intends to marry his secretary, give her all his money, and let her kick his daughters out of their house. In their anger and outrage, Marcia and Lucy hatch a plot to murder him. When their father and his secretary are involved in a fatal car crash, their plans prove unnecessary. But what are they to do with their murder scheme and the residual guilt -- particularly when the aborted plot develops a life of its own?

Critique: The perfect introduction for a new generation of dedicated mystery buffs to an author who was a master of the genre, "Go, Lovely Rose / The Evil Wish" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Go, Lovely Rose / The Evil Wish" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

A Cat to Kill For
G. W. Miller
Veloce Publishing Ltd.
www.veloce.co.uk
9781787114098, $12.99, PB, 176pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Gavin Campbell runs a small and struggling classic car dealership in the historic village of Watkins Glen, New York. When Gavin goes to look at an old Jaguar for a client he senses that there's something unusual about the car. He also senses that there's something very unusual about the client's sister, Emily, who has come along with him.

After bringing the car back to his workshop for restoration Gavin learns that the owner has died in an apparent accident, but has reason to be suspicious about the death, particularly as a mysterious stranger seems desperate to buy the car. Emily also has reason to believe that her brother was murdered, and the two join forces to investigate.

Quirky romance develops as Gavin and Emily, who is affected by Asperger syndrome, infiltrate a car club and play a dangerous game of cat and mouse amid its snobbish and potentially murderous members!

Critique: Exhibiting a genuine flair for originality, G. W. Miller's "A Cat to Kill For" is a riveting blend of mystery, suspense, adventure, eccentric characters, and romantic comedy. Deftly scripted by a writer with an impressively reader engaging narrative storytelling style, "A Cat to Kill For" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "A Cat to Kill For" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Virus Bomb
D. Greg Scott
Morgan James Publishing
11815 Fountain Way, Suite 300, Newport News, VA 23606-4448
www.morganjamespublishing.com
9781642791648, $17.95, PB, 272pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Jerry Barkley never worked for the government. An IT contractor from Minnesota, he knows nothing about International espionage. But now he's on the front lines of the largest cyber-attack in history and nobody believes his warnings when Jerry discovers the attackers are gathering data to plan a series of bombings and a biological attack. To make things worse, the FBI suspects he's the attacker!

Critique: The author of "Virus Bomb", Greg Scott is a veteran of the tumultuous IT industry who started Scott Consulting and Infrasupport Corporation with a laser focus on infrastructure and security. He currently works for an enterprise software company and holds several IT industry certifications, including CISSP number 358671. This professional background gives his novel a particularly realistic feel as a backdrop to a genuine suspense thriller of a read from first page to last. While especially recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Virus Bomb" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Death by the Bay
Patricia Skalka
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
www.uwpress.wisc.edu
9780299323103, $24.95, HC, 208pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: On a chilly Monday in late spring, Sheriff Dave Cubiak is at the Green Arbor Lodge for lunch when a scream from a nearby medical conference disrupts the scene. Leaping into action, he finds the ninety-three-year-old director of the prestigious Institute for Progressive Medicine collapsed on the floor, dead of a suspected heart attack.

As Cubiak interrogates the witnesses, he's struck by the inconsistencies in their stories. Some evade questions while others offer contradictory statements. Then suddenly another scream pierces the air again!

Past and present merge as long-buried secrets rise to the surface. The resourceful sheriff must rely on his skills and wits, along with the advice and memories of friends and family, to uncover the dark truth behind the Institute for Progressive Medicine.

Critique: President of the Chicagoland chapter of Sisters in Crime and dividing her time between Chicago and Door County, Wisconsin, author Patricia Skalka is an impressively accomplished master of the mystery genre (Death Stalks Door County, Death at Gills Rock, Death in Cold Water, and Death Rides the Ferry) and in her latest novel, "Death by the Bay" she once again fully captures the reader's dedicated attention in a complex mystery with more twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster. While certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of the legions of Patricia Skalka fans that "Death by the Bay" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Edge
Tim Lebbon
Titan Books
https://titanbooks.com
9781785650321, $14.95, PB, 336pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: There exists a secret and highly illegal trade in mythological creatures and their artifacts. Certain individuals pay fortunes for a sliver of a satyr's hoof, a gryphon's claw, a basilisk's scale, or an angel's wing. Embroiled in the hidden world of the Relics, creatures known as the Kin, Angela Gough is now on the run in the United States.

Forty years ago the town of Longford was the site of a deadly disease outbreak that wiped out the entire population. The infection was contained, the town isolated, and the valley in which it sits flooded and turned into a reservoir. The truth (that the outbreak was intentional, and not every resident of Longford died) disappeared beneath the waves.

Now the town is revealed again. The Kin have an interest in the ruins, and soon the fairy Grace and the Nephilim leader Mallian are also drawn to them. The infection has risen from beneath silent waters, and this forgotten town becomes the focus of the looming battle between humankind and the Kin.

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently riveting action/adventure fantasy novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and reader engaging narrative storytelling, Tim Lebbon's final volume in his Relics trilogy and would be an unreservedly popular addition to community library collections, "The Edge" is a thoroughly entertaining read from cover to cover and very highly recommended to the attention of all dedicated fantasy adventure fans.

Black Harvest
M. C. Planck
Pyr
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
www.prometheusbooks.com
9781633885585, $18.00, PB, 352pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Be careful what you wish for. Christopher finds himself on a throne, squeezing taxes, and guarding against incipient rebellions. This is a far cry from his democratic socialist revolution. But the danger is not limited to self-betrayal. He has seen the face of his true enemy, and it is a face of nightmare. Immortals and nigh-immortals have plans for him, plots that span a hundred thousand years, and traps of unimaginable deviousness. Against all this, what can one reluctant ruler do? The answer, of course: build a bigger bomb.

Critique: Book 5 in science fiction author M. C. Planck's World of Prime series, "Black Harvest is the final chapter in the saga of Christopher Sinclair, mechanical engineer turned priest of war. A deftly written and riveting conclusion to an outstanding and original science fiction saga, "Black Harvest" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal and community library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "Black Harvest" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

House of Rose
T. K. Thorne
Camel Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
www.camelpress.com
9781603817585, $16.95, PB, 224pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Rookie patrol officer Rose Brighton chases a suspect down an alley. Without warning, her vision wavers, and the lone suspect appears to divide into two men -- the real suspect, frozen in time, and a shadow version with a gun. Confused by what she's just seen, but with no time to second guess it's meaning, Rose shoots the real suspect in the back.

Forced to lie to detectives, she risks her job and her life to discover the shocking truth of who she really is -- a witch of an ancient House, the prey of one powerful enemy, and the pawn of another.

Critique: A deftly crafted and riveting read by an author with an impressively deft ability to hold the reader's rapt attention with her original fantasy novel "House of Rose", readers new to her will look eagerly forward to the next title in her new Magic City Stories series. While very highly recommended for personal and community library Contemporary Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted that "House of Rose" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.95).

The Window and the Mirror
Henry Thomas
Rare Bird Books
453 S. Spring Street, Suite 302, Los Angels, CA 90013
www.rarebirdbooks.com
9781644280102, $27.00, HC, 320pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A captured soldier must escort a mysterious girl to a distant city to broker peace between two peoples poised on the brink of war. Left to die in a deep chasm, his commander stumbles on to a dark and powerful secret: how to harness the energy of men's souls and bend them to his will. Is this the secret that Goblinkind has been hiding from the race of men? That all the shiny trinkets of the fabled Goblincrafters are powered by the trapped souls of humans? For Mage Imperator Rhael Lord Uhlmet, the lure of such power is irresistible, even if he must start a war to attain it!

Critique: "The Window and the Mirror" is the first volume of author Henry Thomas' new fantasy series, 'Oesteria and the War of Goblinkind' and showcases his genuine flair for originality and his impressive literary talents for a distinctive reader engaging narrative storytelling style. A wonderfully entertaining read with more unexpected twists and turns than a Disney Land roller coaster, "The Window and the Mirror" is an especially recommended addition to community library collections. It must be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated fantasy fans that "The Window and the Mirror" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).


The Self-Help Shelf

The Coffee Bean
Jon Gordon & Damon West
Wiley
c/o Wiley Professional Trade Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
www.wiley.com
9781119430278, $17.00, HC, 112pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Life is often difficult. It can be harsh, stressful, and feel like a pot of boiling hot water. The environments we find ourselves in can change, weaken, or harden us, and test who we truly are. We can be like the carrot that weakens in the pot or like the egg that hardens. Or, we can be like the coffee bean and discover the power inside us to transform our environment.

The collaborative work of Jon Gordon and Damon West, "The Coffee Bean: A Simple Lesson to Create Positive Change" is an inspiring tale that follows Abe, a young man filled with stress and fear as he faces challenges and pressure at school and home. One day after class, his teacher shares with him the life-changing lesson of the coffee bean, and this powerful message changes the way he thinks, acts, and sees the world. Abe discovers that instead of letting his environment change him for the worse, he can transform any environment he is in for the better. Equipped with this transformational truth, Abe embarks on an inspirational journey to live his life like the coffee bean. Wherever his life takes him, from school, to the military, to the business world, Abe demonstrates how this simple lesson can unleash the unstoppable power within you.

Critique: Taking a unique approach, "The Coffee Bean: A Simple Lesson to Create Positive Change" is a informative, inspiring, and entertaining read from first page to last. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Coffee Bean" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Coffee Bean" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.00).


The Graphic Novel Shelf

Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother
Max Allan Collins & Terry Beatty
Titan Comics
https://www.titan-comics.com
9781787730519 $24.99 pbk / $16.26 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: From the minds of author Max Allan Collins and artist Terry Beatty, comes the first collection of 5 classic Ms Tree stories. Join Michael Tree, the 6ft, 9mm carrying private detective on her thrilling adventures. No case is too small, no violence too extreme, just as long as it gets the job done.

Critique: Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother is a full-color, graphic novel compilation of crime stories featuring the tough, smart, gun-toting female detective Michael Tree (don't call her Michelle). Originally published in the 1980's, Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother is a saga rife with treachery, violence, and intrigue; Michael Tree herself is a strong-willed, no-nonsense private eye, determined to bring her husband's killers to justice. The stories are also noteworthy for daring address real-life issues such as homophobia, abortion, and mental health. Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother is a "must-read" for mystery graphic novel connoisseurs, highly recommended.

Bloodborne: A Song of Crows
Ales Kot, author
Piotr Kowalski, artist
Titan Comics
https://www.titan-comics.com
9781787730144 $16.99 pbk / $11.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: Discover the twisted story of Eileen the Crow in the continuing comic series spinning out of Fromsoftware/Hidetaka Miyazaki's critically-acclaimed Bloodborne videogame!

The City of Yharnam is buried in snow.

Eileen the Crow buries the Hunters. But one eludes her. Poisoned and overcome with beastly senses, he prowls Yharnam causing misery and havoc. Meanwhile the bodies mount, reality shakes, and strange things are amiss in Byrgenwerth. On the hunt for the Hunter, Eileen struggles with her own sanity and the disturbing change that a glimpse beyond reality brings.

Blood and death pervade Yharnam and those who travel in its wake. Follow the quest of Eileen as she looks to uncover the truth of the city, and her most inner turmoil.

Critique: Collecting issues #9-12 of the "Bloodborne" comic book, Bloodborne: A Song of Crows is a full-color graphic novel based on the dark fantasy video game Bloodborne. The story offers a glimpse into the grim past of Eileen the Crow, the "Hunter of Hunters", one who is tasked with executing Hunters who have gone mad from the curse of the Old Blood. One corrupted Hunter eludes Eileen, and as she searches for her quarry, her own sanity is in danger of fraying apart! As violent and merciless as the game it's based on, Bloodborne: A Song of Crows is highly recommended to both video game and horror connoisseurs.

Tank Girl Action Alley
Alan Martin, author
Brett Parson, illustrator
Titan Comics
https://titan-comics.com
9781785864810, $16.99, PB, 112pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Tank Girl and the Gang are gearing up for a road trip vacation when Tank Girl gets some bad news. She has to go and visit her ailing (adoptive) mother before it's too late! Meanwhile Booga has taken in a stray kangaroo - a proper one. It can't talk or anything.

The journey to Tank Girl's mom was never going to be straightforward and the Gang find themselves faced with the prospect of having to pass through Action Alley where wild mutated creatures, and dark, evil forces lurk that are all too human.

Critique: A classic Tank Girl adventure complete with gunplay, diabolical bad guys, misunderstood villains, and more surprising plot twists than a Disney Land roller coaster, "Tank Girl: Action Alley" is a 'must' for the legions of dedicated Tank Girl fans. While very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Tank Girl: Action Alley" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.01).

Robotech Volume 5: Showdown
Simon Furman, author
Hendry Prasetya, artist
Titan Comics
https://www.titan-comics.com
9781787730267 $16.99 amazon.com

Synopsis: The hit comic series based on the world-famous, fan favorite animated epic continues with this fifth volume, featuring an all-new twist on the classic transforming-jetfighters-versus-giant-aliens adventure! The war between the humans and the giant Zentraedi aliens continues - and the aliens and humans discover traitors amongst their ranks...

Collecting issues 17 to 20 of Titan Comics' smash hit series. The Zentraedi/human war continues - it's all-out war and the fate of Earth hangs in the balance. Plus with the 'Event Horizon' event looming, secrets are revealed which will change everything you know about the Robotech universe...

Critique: Robotech Volume 5: Showdown collects issues 17-20 of the "Robotech" comic series into graphic novel format. This Robotech series adapts the classic anime space opera with full- color, Western-style art, offering fans of the show a new way to experience the saga of space war, intrigue, love, and betrayal. In Volume 5, both the humans and the gigantic Zentraedi aliens find traitors among their ranks, and the "Event Horizon" event draws ever closer. Highly recommended, especially to military sci-fi connoisseurs!

The Night
Phillippe Druillet, author/illustrator
Titan Comics
https://titan-comics.com
9781785866661, $24.99, HC, 72pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Philippe Druillet is a comics artist and writer, known for his innovative approach to visual design. In the US, he's best known for his graphic adaptation of Michael Moorcock's hit fantasy series, Elric, the Return to Melnibone, and his work for Heavy Metal, such as City of Flowers.

In 1975 Philippe lost his wife Nicole to cancer. He exorcized the demons her death left behind in his graphic novel "The Night", which is a nihilistic story about the inevitable ending that none of us can avoid. Set in a desolate, post-apocalyptic world, "The Night" follows gangs of dope-addicted bikers on a collision course for a bloody battle for the ultimate "shoot". Desperate, dark, explosive, and violent -- "The Night" is a baroque classic from the master of the genre himself.

Critique: A compendium of superbly crafted and distinctively complex images punctuated by a kind of brutal and futuristic slang expressions, "The Night" is one of those amazing and unique stories that will be read again and again and again. In a large coffee-table type format, this Titan Comics edition of "The Night" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle/comiXology, $16.26).

Buck Danny: Flight of the Spectre
Frederic Zumbiehl, author
Gil Formosa, illustrator
Cinebook Ltd.
www.cinebook.com
c/o National Book Network (dist.)
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
www.nbnbooks.com
9781849184366, $11.95, PB, 48pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When a Japanese patrol plane is shot down by a mysterious aggressor, the international community immediately suspects the Chinese because the attack took place off the Japanese Senkaku Islands, which China also claims as their own. The incident is extremely serious and could lead to all-out war, and the Pentagon sends the carrier USS Ronald Reagan, with Buck on board, to investigate the attack and attempt to defuse the situation before it gets out of control. The ninth volume in the Buck Danny graphic novel series by the team of author Frederic Zumbiehl and illustrator Gil Formosa, "Buck Danny: Flight of the Spectre" is another fully entertaining action/adventure story. Of special note is the use of military slang and nomenclatures embedded in the dialog, every one of which is defined in asterisked footnotes.

Critique: While very highly recommended for both personal and community library graphic novel collections, it should be noted that "Buck Danny: Flight of the Spectre" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Mermaid Project: Episode 2
Leo, author
Fred Simon, illustrator
Corine Jamar, contributor
Cinebook Ltd.
www.cinebook.com
c/o National Book Network (dist.)
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
www.nbnbooks.com
9781849184038, $11.95, PB, 48pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The second volume in a graphic novelized dystopian near future where America has become a third world nation, French detective Romane is cooperating with American authorities with an investigation into a corporation that involved with illegal genetic manipulations and experimentations involving intelligent dolphins and human subjects.

Critique: A superbly illustrated and original science fiction story, "Mermaid Project: Episode 2" is a fully satisfying read and will leave its fans looking eagerly toward Episode 3! While highly recommended for community library graphic novel collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mermaid Project: Episode 2" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Brazilian artist Leois best known for his science-fiction, multi-series saga The Worlds of Aldebaran. He also created Canadian Mountie Trentas well as Kenyaand its second season Namibia, all three with Rodolphe. Belgian author Corine Jamarhas written children's books, novels, and several BDs such as Les Filles d'Aphrodite. Fred Simon is a long time comics fan and professional artist; among his series are adaptations of Jack London's Call of the Wildand Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

We Are Here Forever
Michelle Gish
Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106
www.quirkbooks.com
9781683691204 $14.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: It's the most adorable apocalypse ever! The human race has vanished replaced by innocent, playful, creatures called the Puramus. In this hilarious and epic graphic novel, short interlocking stories follow the purple pals as they explore their new home, form a mini-monarchy, and develop a modern society on par with 21st-century humans. A final act pulls us across time and space in the search for clues to the origins of the Puramus. Along the way, humor and intrigue abound: Can King defend his village when nobody understands what war is? Will Jingle work up the nerve to read her poetry at open mic night? Will Puffpuff ever stop floating?

Based on the Tumblr comic, We Are Here Forever is for fans of post-apocalyptic sci fi blended with dry humor and undeniable adorableness. Colorful and cartoony art will have you rooting for these cute critters through their absurd adventures...but are they really as harmless as they seem?

Critique: We Are Here Forever is a full-color graphic novel about a mysterious, purple race called the Puramus, who live on a world devoid of humans. The innocent Puramus love to play, learn, and discover - but could they have a dark side? We Are Here Forever is a shockingly wry and delightful post-apocalyptic adventure, highly recommended especially for connoisseurs of weird and wonderful stories.

The Road to Xibalba
Joaquin Gil
Kino.digital
9780578487557, $20.00, PB, 109pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The gates of a Hell that men called Xibalba lie open and the Gatekeepers are old and weakened by treason. So a call goes out to the world: Everyone who dares is called to compete against the cruel riddles posed by the Six Houses of Xibalba and vie to become the next Gatekeepers. But the price for failure is death.

"The Road to Xibalba" is the story of that competition.

Critique: Written and illustrated by a unique and imaginative author, "The Road to Xibalba" by Joaquin kGil is a thoroughly entertaining and original fantasy action/adventure graphic novel adventure in the Steampunk tradition -- and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections.


The Music CD Shelf

Mackland Ave
Mike Woodlark
Privately Published
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3 amazon.com

Mackland Ave is an original album crafted in nostalgic tribute to music artist Mike Woodlark's former Mackland Avenue home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he lived for more than a decade. Mackland Ave showcases Woodlark's talent with the piano, electronic keyboards, and synthesizers; five of the twelve songs also have him play the acoustic guitar and sing. Three special guests (one each on piano, cello, and fiddle) contribute to three of the songs as well, creating a rich medley. Mackland Ave includes songs with a variety of tempos, from the fast- paced intensity of the title track to more wistful songs that evoke yearning memories. Creatively beautiful from beginning to end, Mackland Ave is highly recommended. The tracks are "Listening to the Pines", "A Sight for Sound", "Dark Locomotive", "An Elephant's Soul", "Legends of the Southwest", "Hey Vincent", "Rainshine", "Graceful Grim", "Dreamories", "Home Cooked Dinner", "Mackland Ave", and "Hey Vincent (original)".

Let Go
Christoph Berghorn
christoph-berghorn.com
Capitol Sound Records
$TBA / $9.49 MP3 amazon.com

Let Go is a new age album by German pianist, synthesist, composer, and arranger Christoph Berghorn. The twenty-two original songs of Let Go feature compositions involving Berghorn on the piano and synthesizer as well as real musicians on cello, saxophone, trumpet, and flugelhorn. Additional arranged sounds of guitar, oboe, flute, harp, violin, viola, drums, and more enrich the multi-layered soundscape. Vivid and varied, Let Go is a joy to experience, and also makes an excellent gift for music connoisseurs. Highly recommended! The tracks are "Let Go", "Piano Reflections 1", "Cellody For Annika", "Piano Reflections 2", "Looking Back", "Once Upon A Time", "Egyptina", "Going On", "Once Again", "Wind", "Tre di sax", "Illusion", "Total Slow Down", "From the Heart", "Softly Swaying Away", "Like A Dream", "Elegy", "Closed Eyes", "Field of Sunflowers", "Melancholia Waltz", "Between Three Worlds", and "Ocean Dream".


The DVD Shelf

Poldark: The Complete Collection
Acorn Media
c/o RLJ Entertainment
www.us.RLJEntertainment.com
$79.99 www.acornonline.com

Poldark: The Complete Collection is the DVD release of the Emmy and BAFTA-nominated miniseries, based on the cherished novels by Winston Graham. The saga follows 18th century English army officer Ross Poldark (played with aplomb by Robin Ellis), who returns to a homecoming as perilous as any war. His family believes that he perished in battle; his father has passed on in his absence; the woman he loves has become engaged to his cousin; and a ruthless businessman schemes to cast his family into financial ruin. First shown on PBS in May of 1977, Poldark was one of the ten most popular "Masterpiece Theatre" shows (as measured in a 2007 PBS poll). Now this classic is available to the public as an 8-disc DVD set, showcasing all 29 episodes plus bonus material. Poldark: The Complete Collection is a treasure for personal and public library collections, highly recommended. 8 DVDs, 1500 min. plus bonus, SDH subtitles.


The Biography Shelf

Riding the Elephant
Craig Ferguson
Blue Rider Press
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
www.us.penguingroup.com
9780525533917 $27.00 hc / $13.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: Craig Ferguson has defied the odds his entire life. He has failed when he should have succeeded and succeeded when he should have failed. The fact that he is neither dead nor in a locked facility (at the time of printing) is something of a miracle in itself. In Craig's candid and revealing memoir, readers will get a look into the mind and recollections of the unique and twisted Scottish American who became a national hero for pioneering the world's first TV robot skeleton sidekick and reviving two dudes in a horse suit dancing as a form of entertainment.

In Riding the Elephant, there are some stories that are too graphic for television, too politically incorrect for social media, or too meditative for a stand-up comedy performance. Craig discusses his deep love for his native Scotland, examines his profound psychic change brought on by fatherhood, and looks at aging and mortality with a perspective that he was incapable of as a younger man. Each story is strung together in a colorful tapestry that ultimately reveals a complicated man who has learned to process - and even enjoy - the unusual trajectory of his life.

Critique: Riding the Elephant: A Memoir of Altercations, Humiliations, Hallucinations & Observations is a memoir-anthology of essays by actor, comedian, and former host of "The Late, Late Show" Craig Ferguson. Candid, wry, and told with Ferguson's natural flair for witty insight, Riding the Elephant ranges in tone from laugh-out-loud funny to thoughtful and enlightening. Here are true tales of the mortal peril of sharing an overloaded boat with an alcoholic on his first day sober; an astonishingly memorable trip to Sri Lanka; the extraordinary transformations that fatherhood brings to a man's outlook; and much more. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Riding the Elephant is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

The Desk on the Sea
Jonathan Johnson
Wayne State University Press
4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
http://wsupress.wayne.edu
9780814346655, $18.95, PB, 225pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: As his memoir, "The Desk on the Sea" begins four years after American poet Jonathan Johnson spread his mother's ashes in her beloved Lake Superior and moved with his wife and young daughter into a seventeenth-century cottage on Scotland's North Sea.

On an idyllic, desolate coast and in the wild Highlands, Johnson began his search for a way to live through ongoing grief and to take in the wonder of each new day. Through years of extraordinary suffering by way of multiple ailments, Johnson's mother, Sheila, endured an astounding number of amputations -- a toe, the end of a finger, a foot, whole fingers, the other foot. What she lost in her physical being, she gained in her kindness and generosity. By the time she was told that the only way she could survive a little longer was the amputation of both hands, she was capable of giving those who loved her and herself a beautiful death instead.

Inspired by her example of grace and awareness, Johnson and his family gave themselves one year on the coast of Scotland to live by Shelia's great, guiding principle: We don't get the days back.

They wandered trails along windswept shores and past the stone ruins left by people who'd come and gone before. They played as characters from the Harry Potter novels on deserted beaches. From their cottage, they watched an island lighthouse, counting the seconds between flashes to know exactly when to say "goodnight" so the lighthouse would answer with a wink.

"The Desk on the Sea" is a chronicle of progress toward one man's new life goal -- to be a father, husband, and poet worthy of his mother's legacy. Sustained by an unwavering belief that words can help us fully occupy our lives, and that imagination and empathy can transform suffering into what John Keats called "soul-making," Johnson offers readers a raw look at love and loss.

Critique: An erudite, compelling, and intensely personal account, "The Desk On The Sea" is one of those personal stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is completed and set back upon the shelf. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Desk On The Sea" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Sense of Occasion
Harold Prince
Applause Books
c/o Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group
19 West 21st Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10010
www.applausebooks.com
9781540046888, $19.95, PB, 376pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Sense of Occasion" is a fast-moving, candid, conversational, and entertaining memoir by Harold Prince, who as an honored director/producer and a significant presence in the history of the American theater, looks back over his seventy-year (and counting!) career.

In 1974, Prince released his first book, "Contradictions: Notes on Twenty-Six Years in the Theatre". Although "Contradictions" has since attained cult status among producers, directors, and actors alike, Prince, in hindsight, believes he wasn't ready to publish such a tome at that point in his career (in fact, doing so was an act of "insane arrogance"). Although he doesn't regret that effort, he is at last prepared to conclude it, to "see where I was right in my assessments and where I was wrong." In "Sense of Occasion", Prince returns to this seminal text, invigorating it with fresh insights cultivated through four decades of additional practice.

"Sense of Occasion" gives an insider's recollection of the making of such landmark musicals as West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Evita, and Phantom of the Opera, with Prince's perceptive comments about his mentor George Abbott and his many celebrated collaborators, including Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Stephen Sondheim, John Kander, Boris Aronson, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Angela Lansbury, Zero Mostel, Carol Burnett, and Joel Grey.

As well as detailing his titanic successes that changed the form and content of the American musical theater, Prince evenhandedly reflects on the shows that didn't work, most memorably and painfully Merrily We Roll Along. Throughout, he offers insights into the way business is conducted on Broadway, drawing sharp contrasts between past and present. This thoughtful, complete account of one of the most legendary and long-lived careers in theater history, written by the man who lived it, is an essential work of personal and professional recollection.

Critique: An absolutely 'must read' memoir for anyone connected to the American theatre, "Sense of Occasion" is an extraordinarily and candidly informative account of the life and work of Harold Prince. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library American Theatrical History and American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sense of Occasion" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.28).

Reckless Steps toward Sanity
Judith Sara Gelt
University of New Mexico Press
MSC05 3185, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87131-0001
www.unmpress.com
9780826360632, $19.95, PB, 280pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Residing in Denver, Colorado, Judith Sara Gelt is a retired middle school teacher and a former lecturer in educational psychology and philosophy. Her work has appeared in various publications, including the Denver Post, the Nashville Review, and Iron Horse Literary Review.

At sixteen Judith Sara Gelt finally rebelled after spending years watching her warm, Jewish home in Denver disintegrate. It's 1968 and bipolar disorder has been ravaging her mother and has sent her father, a powerful attorney, into a spiteful tailspin. To escape Gelt makes one perilous choice after another, and these decisions carry her, unprepared and alone, into a world that is sometimes cruel and often dangerous. After returning to Denver she works to understand her parents and her past, and she is surprised to discover her own strengths.

Throughout her memoir, "Reckless Steps toward Sanity", Gelt reflects upon how risk taking has shaped her relationships with and her attitudes toward men and sex, her daughter, Judaism, and her own eventual diagnosis of major depressive disorder.

Critique: An inherently interesting, exceptionally well written and impressively candid memoir, "Reckless Steps toward Sanity" by Judith Sara Gelt is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reckless Steps toward Sanity" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Sharp End of Life
Dierdre Wolownick
Mountaineers Books
1001 SW Klickitat Way, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98134-1161
www.mountaineersbooks.org
9781680512427, $24.95, HC, 256pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: At the age of 66, Dierdre Wolownick became the oldest woman to climb El Capitan in Yosemite -- and in her memoir, "The Sharp End of Life: A Mother's Story", she shares her intimate journey, revealing how her climbing achievement reflects a broader story of courage and persistence.

Dierdre grew up under the watchful eyes of a domineering mother and realized early on that her parents' plans for her future weren't what she wanted for herself. Later, what seemed like a storybook romance brought escape, with new experiences and eye-opening travel, but she quickly discovered that her husband was not the happy-go-lucky man he had first appeared. Adapting as best she could, Dierdre juggled work and raising two young children, encouraging them to be fearlessly confident. She noted with delight how her "little lady" Stasia took it upon herself to look out for her baby brother, and watched in amazement as little Alex started climbing practically before he could crawl.

After years of struggle in her marriage and her ultimate divorce, Dierdre found inspiration in her now-adult children's passions, as well as new depths within herself. At Stasia's urging, she took up running at age 54 and soon completed several marathons. Then at age 58, Alex led her on her first rock climbs. A world of friendship and support suddenly opened up to her within the climbing "tribe", culminating in her record-setting ascent of El Cap with her son.

From confused young wife and busy but lonely mother to confident middle-aged athlete, Dierdre brings the reader along as she finds new strength, happiness, and community in the outdoors--and a life of learning, acceptance, and spirit.

Critique: A inherently fascinating life story that is at once instructional and inspirational, "The Sharp End of Life: A Mother's Story" is especially recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Sharp End of Life: A Mother's Story" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.83) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781982697655, $34.95, CD).


The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

The Book of Blessings and Rituals
Athena Perrakis
Fair Winds Press
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
www.quartous.com
9781592338771, $19.99, HC, 144pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Drawing from different world traditions, in "The Book of Blessings and Rituals: Magical Invocations for Healing, Setting Energy, and Creating Sacred Space", leading metaphysical teacher Athena Perrakis presents blessings to cover a wide array of occasions and intentions, including holidays and sacred days, love, healing, protection, prosperity and success, lunar blessings and rituals, and manifestation.

Organized by month, you'll be able to celebrate the sacred all year long. Included are DIY projects and rituals will help you perform each blessing. You'll learn how to construct medicine bundles and altars, which crystals to use to amplify the rituals or clear energy, and how to smudge for clearing and protection.

In addition, with "The Book of Blessings and rituals" you will learn how to use the power of invocations and blessings to set the energy of your home or event and to assist in amplifying goals and intentions -- as well as deepening your experience of the sacred, find inspiration, and heal with this non-denominational guide to blessings and rituals.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated, "The Book of Blessings and Rituals: Magical Invocations for Healing, Setting Energy, and Creating Sacred Space" is chronologically organized on a monthly basies and presented January through December, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections.

Editorial Note: Dr. Athena Perrakis is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sage Goddess, the world's largest source of sacred tools and metaphysical education. Each week, Sage Goddess reaches almost two million people across the globe, on every continent and in more than 60 countries. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in educational leadership, and has 15 years of experience as a professor, corporate trainer and consultant, and educator. Athena has traveled the globe and worked with CEOs and senior executives from the Fortune 50 companies. But her metaphysical experience, in which her current work is largely rooted, spans more than 30 years. During that time, she has become an expert in gemology, astrology, Tarot, aromatherapy, Reiki, and herbal medicine.

Our Cosmic Ancestry in the Stars
Chandra Wickramasinghe, et al.
Bear & Company
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
www.innertraditions.com
9781591433286, $14.00, PB, 144pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Mainstream consensus is that life arose on Earth spontaneously out of "primordial soup." Yet this theory, as well as the Darwinian "survival of the fittest" concept as it relates to major steps in evolution, has no scientific basis or proof. Where, then, did life come from? As "Our Cosmic Ancestry in the Stars: The Panspermia Revolution and the Origins of Humanity" shows with conclusive scientific evidence, life came from space -- a concept known as "panspermia". We humans, and all other life on Earth, evolved over millennia in response to viruses that arrived via comets, and we continue to do so.

Exploring the philosophical, psychological, cultural, and environmental ramifications of the acceptance of panspermia, "Our Cosmic Ancestry in the Stars" show how the shift will be on par with the Copernican Revolution -- when it was finally accepted that the Earth was not the center of the Universe.

Explaining the origins of the panspermia theory in the work of the late Sir Fred Hoyle, "Our Cosmic Ancestry in the Stars" reveal the vast body of evidence that has accumulated over the past 4 decades in favor of the cosmic origins of life, including viral inserts found in DNA that have shaped our human genome over millions of years. This collaborative study reveals how the tiniest of viruses, microscopic animals (tardigrades), and even seeds have been found to be natural cosmonauts. "Our Cosmic Ancestry in the Stars" also shows how space-borne viruses play a crucial role in the positive evolution of life and that our entire existence on this planet is contingent on the continuing ingress of cosmic viruses.

Revealing how panspermia offers answers to some of humanity's longstanding questions about the origins of life, "Our Cosmic Ancestry in the Stars" also discusses the impact this shift in understanding will have on our relationship with the Earth and on culture, history, and religion. And perhaps the most dramatic ramification of all is that acceptance of panspermia means acceptance that Earth is not unique -- that other life-filled planets exist and intelligent life is common in the Universe. Not only did we come from space, but we are not alone.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and iconoclastic study of the first order, "Our Cosmic Ancestry in the Stars: The Panspermia Revolution and the Origins of Humanity" is a unique and highly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library Metaphysical Science 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 "Our Cosmic Ancestry in the Stars" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Residing in Cardiff, Wales, Chandra Wickramasinghe is the director of the Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham. A professor of applied mathematics and astronomy, he is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Astrobiology and Outreach and coauthor of Cosmic Womb.

Also residing in Cardiff, Wales, Kamala Wickramasinghe, MA, is a freelance writer and editor with a master's degree in English from the University of Cambridge. The managing editor of the Institute for the Study of Panspermia and Astroeconomics (ISPA).

Living in Japan, Gensuke Tokoro is an honorary professor at Ruhuna University, president and CEO of Kyoto Biopharma, Inc., and executive director of ISPA.

Edgar Cayce on Angels and the Angelic Forces
Kevin J. Todeschi
ARE Press
www.AREPress.com
9780876049730, $15.95, PB, 128pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In hundreds of readings given over a period of decades, famed psychic Edgar Cayce repeatedly confirmed the existence of guardian angels, archangels, spirit guides and divine messengers?.

Cayce address a number of thematically relevant questions including: Are these emissaries of light spiritual beings that come directly from God?; Are they somehow responsible for bringing us information and guidance?; What role do they play in our lives, and how can we enhance that role?

Cayce's readings not only provide insights into biblical accounts of angels that have been forgotten by history, but he goes on to describe how, in the face of the Oneness of God, the nature of "fallen angels" might be very different than we have ever supposed. On more than twenty occasions, two specific angels also spoke through Edgar Cayce in an effort to bring information from the world of spirit into the material realm. And what may be most amazing, Cayce taught that we as individuals can most effectively open ourselves up to the assistance of the angelic realms by simply seeking our own personal spiritual growth.

Critique: This angelic wisdom developed by Edgar Cayce is shared alongside real-life angelic testimonies in "Edgar Cayce on Angels and the Angelic Forces", the latest metaphysical study of the man and his work by Kevin Todeschi who has spent many years in the study and service of this remarkable man. While unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections in general, and Angels/Spirits supplemental reading lists in particular, it should be noted that "Edgar Cayce on Angels and the Angelic Forces" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Kevin J. Todeschi is the Executive Director and CEO of Edgar Cayce's Association for Research & Enlightenment (A.R.E.) and Atlantic University (AU). As both student and teacher of the Cayce material for 35 years, he has lectured on six continents in front of thousands of individuals and is the author of more than 25 books, including the best-selling Edgar Cayce on the Akashic Records (9780876044018), Edgar Cayce on Vibrations (9780876045671), and Edgar Cayce on Auras & Colors (9780876046128).


The Photography Shelf

William Klein: Celebration
William Klein, photographer
La Fabrica
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
www.artbook.com
9788417048792, $39.95, HC, 128pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Born in New York in 1928, William Klein studied painting and worked briefly as Fernand Leger's assistant in Paris, but never received formal training in photography. His fashion work has been featured prominently in Vogue magazine, and has also been the subject of several iconic photo books, including Life Is Good and Good for You in New York (1957) and Tokyo (1964). In the 1980s, he turned to film projects and has produced many memorable documentary and feature films, such as Muhammed Ali, the Greatest (1969). Klein currently lives and works in Paris, France. His works are held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.

"William Klein: Celebration" is essentially a compendium of images showcasing 90 years of William Klein's favorite photographic work -- those that he considers to be the very best he has made over the course of his long career.

An homage to the medium of photography itself, "William Klein: Celebration" provides a visually striking tour of his most emblematic works, traversing New York, Rome, Moscow, Madrid and Paris, in powerful black and white or striking color.

"William Klein: Celebration" also includes a text by Klein in which he reflects upon the photographic art and explains what prompted him to make this director's cut, this exceptionally personal selection.

A small-format but high-voltage volume, in page after page "William Klein: Celebration" makes it clear why Klein's achievement is one of the summits of contemporary photography.

Critique: An impressively selected, organized and presented compendium of memorable photograph images by a true master of the visual media, "William Klein: Celebration" should be considered as an essential and core addition to any serious personal, professional, community, or academic library Contemporary American Photography collection.

Letizia Battaglia
Letizia Battaglia, photographer
Francesca Alfano Miglietti, editor
Marsilio Editori
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
www.artbook.com
9788831744331, $45.00, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Over 300 newly published works by Letizia Battaglia (who is one of Italy's most celebrated photographers), are collected in "Letizia Battaglia: Photography as a Life Choice", a major new survey spanning the entirety of her 30-year photographic career.

In photographs and contact prints from Battaglia's own archive, "Letizia Battaglia: Photography as a Life Choice" offers a comprehensive review of her work's civically engaged model for photography, typified by her iconic depictions of political protests and Mafia killings in her native Palermo in Sicily, taken while Battaglia was employed as photography director at the leftist daily newspaper L'Ora.

Including portraits of subjects such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, the mob boss Leoluca Bagarella and the Sicilian politician Piersanti Mattarella (assassinated by the Mafia), the photographs in this collection showcase Battaglia's attention to the most decisive events in Italy, both political and cultural, along with non-newsworthy records of the daily lives of people in Palermo.

Critique: A simply fascinating volume of journalistic photography, "Letizia Battaglia: Photography as a Life Choice" impressively showcases Battaglia's genuine flair for capturing the emotional content of her photographed images. A pure and thoughtful pleasure to browse through, "Letizia Battaglia: Photography as a Life Choice" is a singularly extraordinary and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary Photography collections.

Jan Welters: Profile
Jan Welters
Damiani
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
www.artbook.com
9788862086394, $60.00, HC, 160pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Profile" is a highly personal selection of California-based Dutch photographer Jan Welters' photographic work from the early '90s to 2018. Welters has worked with some of the most well-respected fashion labels and magazines in the world, including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Elle and Marie Claire , as well as for the designers Balenciage, Jil Sander and Dior, among others.

Welters' models are raw, sometimes unconventional beauties quite often with very little hairstyling and makeup. Whether depicting an androgynous girl with a cowboy hat, a model smoking a cigarette on a beach, a movie star or a picture of his wife or children, Welters' pictures are captivating in their simplicity. His approach to his craft remains independent of trends.

Critique: Beautifully showcasing an impressive body of work, this Damiani edition of "Jan Welters: Profile" is an extraordinary, coffee table format volume that is a true pleasure to browse through and offers template quality examples for aspiring photographers -- especially in the world of fashion. Simply stated, "Jan Welters: Profile" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary Photography collections.


The American History Shelf

Germans in Illinois
Miranda E. Wilkerson & Heather Richmond
Southern Illinois University Press
1915 University Press Drive, SIUC Mail Code 6806, Carbondale, IL 62901
www.siupress.com
9780809337217, $24.50, PB, 234pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Examining the primary reasons that Germans came to Illinois and describing how they adapted to life and distinguished themselves through a variety of occupations and community roles., "Germans in Illinois" is an engagingly informative history of one of the largest ethnic groups in Illinois as it explores the influence and experiences of German immigrants and their descendants from their arrival in the middle of the nineteenth century to their heritage identity today.

The promise of cheap land and fertile soil in rural areas and emerging industries in cities attracted three major waves of German-speaking immigrants to Illinois in search of freedom and economic opportunities. Before long the state was dotted with German churches, schools, cultural institutions, and place names. German churches served not only as meeting places but also as a means of keeping language and culture alive. Names of Illinois cities and towns of German origin include New Baden, Darmstadt, Bismarck, and Hamburg. In Chicago, many streets, parks, and buildings bear German names, including Altgeld Street, Germania Place, Humboldt Park, and Goethe Elementary School. Some of the most lively and ubiquitous organizations, such as S„ngerbunde, or singer societies, and the Turnverein, or Turner Society, also preserved a bit of the Fatherland.

Exploring the complex and ever-evolving German American identity in the growing diversity of Illinois's linguistic and ethnic landscape, "examine the primary reasons that Germans came to Illinois and describe how they adapted to life and distinguished themselves through a variety of occupations and community roles." contextualizes their experiences and corrects widely held assumptions about assimilation and cultural identity. Federal census data, photographs, lively biographical sketches, and newly created maps bring the complex story of German immigration to life.

The generously illustrated volume also features detailed notes, suggestions for further reading, and an annotated list of books, journal articles, and other sources of information.

Critique: The collaborative work of Miranda E. Wilkerson (who is an Associate Professor of Language and Communication Studies at Columbia College in Missouri) and Heather Richmond (who is a certified archivist with the State Historical Society of Missouri), "Germans in Illinois" is an impressive work of original and meticulous scholarship throughout. While especially recommended for both community and academic library American History collections in general, and Illinois History supplemental studies lists in particular, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Germans in Illinois" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $24.50).


The World History Shelf

The Vikings: From Odin to Christ
Martyn Whittock & Hannah Whittock
Lion Hudson
www.lionhudson.com
9780745980201, $19.95, HC, 258pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The popular image of the Vikings is of tall red-headed men, raping and pillaging their way around the coast of Europe, stopping only to ransack monasteries and burn longships. But the violent Vikings of the 8th century became the pious Christians of the 11th century, who gave gold crosses to Christian churches and in whose areas of rule pagan idols were destroyed and churches were built. "The Vikings: From Odin to Christ" reveals how this radical transformation happened -- and why? What difference it made to Viking culture, to those around them, and their ultimate legacy that still has relevance today.

Critique: "The Vikings: From Odin to Christ" is a detailed examination of a key period of gradual transition in Viking history that deftly explores all the major areas of principle Viking settlements. Especially written so to provide an accessible and engaging overview for the non- specialist general reader, "The Vikings: From Odin to Christ" is an inherently fascinating and impressively informative history that is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Viking History collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students, academia, and anyone with an interest in Viking history and culture that "The Vikings: From Odin to Christ" is also available in a paperback edition (9780745980188, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Hannah Whittock has an Master's Degree in Philosophy from Cambridge in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic studies. She has co-written three books on Viking and Anglo-Saxon history and has written journal articles on Anglo-Saxon frontiers and coinage produced during the Viking Wars. She reads Old English and Old Norse. She co-wrote The Vikings with Martyn Whittock.


The Christian Studies Shelf

Between Us Guys
Joel Fitzpatrick
New Growth Press
1301 Carolina Street, #L101, Greensboro, NC 27401
www.newgrowthpress.com
9781948130325, $17.99, PB, 128pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Between Us Guys: Life-Changing Conversations for Dads and Sons " by Joel Fitzpatrick is an easy-to-use, life-changing book for fathers and sons that gives readers the tools to have important conversations with boys about life, faith, and being a man.

With a conversational and captivating tone, fathers and other caregivers are guided into having gospel-focused conversations with boys ages 6 to 10 about a wide range of topics from social justice and friendships to money, anger, and what it means to be a man.

Dads are given an incredible opportunity to be one of the primary influences in their children's lives for the gospel. By inviting conversations in every arena of life, fathers pass down the message of Christ to the next generation. As a youth and family pastor and father to a young boy who's entered into many of these conversations, Joel Fitzpatrick knows it's important not to shy away from difficult subjects.

But he also knows dads and other caregivers need help in how to have intentional conversations with boys about God, themselves, and what difference knowing the gospel makes to their everyday life. Fitzpatrick invites fathers to share with their sons how the gospel shapes all aspects of life, including how they treat women, people from other ethnic groups, and much more. Specific, practical help is given to dads through suggested activities, Gods Word, and insightful questions.

In a world where television, the internet, social media, and gaming culture have taken away from quality time spent between fathers and sons, "Between Us Guys" urges readers to lean in to important conversations with the grace and knowledge of Christ.

Critique: A welcome contribution and ideal for the fragmented times we live in, "Between Us Guys: Life-Changing Conversations for Dads and Sons" is an extraordinary and welcome addition to personal parenting from a Christian perspective. Very highly recommended to all fathers and sons who are members of the Christian community, "Between Us Guys" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Editorial Note: Joel Fitzpatrick has served as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America with a focus on youth and family. He received his MDiv from Westminster Seminary California. Joel lives in Southern California with his wife of nearly twenty years and their two children. He is the coauthor of "Mom, Dad . . . What's Sex?" and contributed chapters to "The Sinner and Saints Devotional: 60 days in the Psalms".

The New Testament: A 21st Century Translation
Michael Straus, translator
Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401-2960
http://wipfandstock.com
9781532648762, $36.00, PB, 586pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Michael Straus holds degrees in classical languages, law, and theology. He has previously published translations from Greek and Spanish.

In this newly translated work, "The New Testament: A 21st Century Translation", Michael's goal was to bring some fresh turns of phrase to the Gospels, histories, letters, and revelatory texts already familiar to English readers and listeners, not least because they are the source of sayings and stories embedded in our language by virtue of the long dominance of the King James Version of the Bible.

Although the Hebrew and Greek materials used for that version had their flaws, the quality of the English can hardly be improved upon. Some later translations relying on better materials have improved the accuracy of the text, but rarely the rhythm and force of the style. Michael's aim is therefore not to supplant other translations so much as to shed light on obscure passages; capture aspects of the man Jesus' personality as presented distinctively in the Gospels; convey in relatively plain language Christian doctrine and experience as related in Acts and the Epistles; and reflect the atemporal nature of the Book of Revelation.

With the publication of "The New Testament: A 21st Century Translation", Michael has generally aimed for fluid, contemporary language -- avoiding the overly literal, freely adopting the colloquial, and taking grammatical license where the writer employed imagery not subject to standard linguistic limitations. The result is is a user-friendly translation that is at once enjoyable, novelistic, and at times poetic.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, thoughtful and thought-provoking, and highly recommended for personal, community, seminary, college, and university library collections, "The New Testament: A 21st Century Translation" is unreservedly recommended to all members of the Christian community, both clergy and layman, and would be an ideal selection for New Testament study groups.

All for Her
Father Patrick Petyon, C.S.C.
Ave Maria Press
PO Box 428, Notre Dame, IN 46556
www.avemariapress.com
9781594718854, $20.00, PB, 384pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: On December 18, 2017, Pope Francis declared that Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., lived a life of heroic virtue and gave him the title "venerable," marking another step closer to sainthood for the "Rosary Priest". "All for Her" is a new edition of Peyton's autobiography and tells the story of his life and dedication to the Blessed Mother as he discerned his vocation, overcame the obstacles of advanced tuberculosis and lack of education, and became a priest who eventually preached to more than 28 million people worldwide, worked with Hollywood stars, and founded Family Rosary and Family Theater Productions.

Meet one of the newest candidates for sainthood: Father Peyton was a priest who was formed by his own family's Rosary devotion (and his formation as a Holy Cross priest) to promote peace and unity across the globe through family prayer.

In "All for Her" Father Peyton describes his travels to America, hoping to become a millionaire and instead finding work as a janitor in the Scranton cathedral, where he realized the call to the priesthood. In 1929, Peyton entered the seminary, but after years of study and training he was diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis. Conventional treatments at the time were not working. He prayed to the Virgin Mary and his health quickly began to improve. In gratitude he committed his vocation to promote devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Rosary.

Father Peyton immediately began advocating for the practice of family Rosary devotion. He embraced the new media as a means to reach people across the globe, and developed radio and television programs that spread a message of prayer and family unity. He founded Family Theater Productions in 1947. Performers in his productions included such stars of Hollywood's golden age as Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Gregory Peck, and Lucille Ball.

Father Peyton also preached to millions in person, organizing two hundred-sixty Rosary Crusades across the globe. These large rallies included worship, prayer, and benediction. Peyton continued to be active until the 1990s and died in 1992. In 1997, the cause for his canonization was opened.

Critique: Essential and inspiring reading for all members of the Roman Catholic community, "All for Her: The Autobiography of Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C." is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, seminary, and academic library collections. It should be noted that this edition of "All for Her" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.78).

Interpreting the Gospels and Acts
David Turner, author
John Harvey, editor
Kregel Publications
2450 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
www.kregel.com
9780825427602, $36.99, PB, 368pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Interpreting the Gospels and Acts: An Exegetical Handbook" is the final volume of the Handbooks for New Testament Exegesis series from Kregel Publications. With it, David Turner provides a comprehensive guide for interpreting and conveying the lives of Jesus and his early followers.

Key background information such as literary genres, historical setting, and theological themes lay the groundwork for properly reading this five books series. This is followed by practical guidance on textual issues and original-language exegesis passages from the Gospels and Acts. In the final chapter of "Interpreting the Gospels and Acts: An Exegetical Handbook" Turner offers an extensive bibliography of books and digital resources useful for instructors, students, and church leaders alike.

Critique: An essential resource for anyone teaching and preaching these foundational books, Interpreting the Gospels and Acts: An Exegetical Handbook" is exceptionally well organized and presented, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition (along with the previous volumes of this outstanding series) to personal, community, seminary, college, and university library New Testament Studies collections.

Editorial Note: David L. Turner is a is a graduate of Cedarville University, Grace Theological Seminary, and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati. He also studied at Ohio University and Jerusalem University College in Israel. David has served on the faculties of Baptist Bible College (PA), Grace Theological Seminary, and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He has also taught as an adjunct professor at Moody Theological Seminary (Michigan) and Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and has served as a doctoral dissertation examiner at twelve schools. An ordained Baptist minister, David has served as a pastor and an interim pastor at four churches. He currently teaches regularly at Chapel Pointe in Hudsonvile MI. David blogs on biblical, theological, and current issues at www.drdavidlturner.com.

Come and See
Brendan Freeman, OCSO
Cistercian Publications
c/o The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
www.CistercianPublications.org
978087970229, $24.95, PB, 202pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Come and See: The Monastic Way for Today" by Brendan Freeman is look inside the mind of a monk. The vision of monastic life proposed here is not new; it is a vision going back to the Desert Fathers of the fourth century. And yet, it is new because it is rooted in a place in the soul that never grows old.

Come and see where I live, Jesus said to the disciples who were following him. He could just as well have said, come and see where you live; where your real life is being lived. Monastic spirituality is not some esoteric or Gnostic way of perceiving reality or understanding life. It is a treasure hidden in the field of your own heart; it is a universal spirituality that is the common inheritance of every human being; it is a search for God. From the atheist to the saint there is in the heart of all creatures a desire for ultimate meaning, a desire for God. In this sense everyone has the heart of a monk.

"Come and See" showcases the great themes of monastic life: silence, solitude, community life, prayer. "Come and See also reveals a sub-theme running through ancient monasticism that conceives of the monastery as a hospital 'a place for healing the soul, the spirit, the heart. The place of the heart is highlighted in these conferences and homilies as an ancient theme so relevant to the modern person.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Come and See: The Monastic Way for Today" is as informative as it is inspiring. While very highly recommended for community, seminary, college, and academic library Christian Spirituality collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Come and See" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.69).

Editorial Note: Abbot Brendan Freeman entered the New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, Iowa, in 1958 at the age of twenty. He received a masters degree in liturgical studies from The Catholic University of America in 1973. Fr. Brendan was elected abbot of his community in 1984 and has served in that position ever since.

Truth Plus Love
Matt Brown
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E. Grand Rapids, MI 49530
www.zondervan.com
9780310355243, $17.99, PB, 208pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In today's turbulent times, the stakes are high and the need is great for Christians to represent Jesus to a watching world. And today, we have more influence than ever before -- for better and for worse. We are among the first generations to have access to a global megaphone through social media. But it's not enough to speak truth louder to a noisy culture. To counter the reputation Christians have earned, our love must be just as loud.

"Truth Plus Love: The Jesus Way to Influence" invites Christians to rediscover the biblical framework for engaging culture as ambassadors of Christ. Through biblical insight, cultural analysis, and practical principles, evangelist Matt Brown outlines how to champion truth without compromise, how to love unconditionally, and ultimately, how to step into this great adventure of representing God to the world. It's hard, it's messy, and it's the unfinished project of a lifetime, yet here we find our great adventure: representing God to a watching world.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Truth Plus Love: The Jesus Way to Influence" is an extraordinary, articulate, and motivating read that is unreservedly recommended to the attention of all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations. While very highly recommended for church, seminary, and community library Christian Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Truth Plus Love: The Jesus Way to Influence" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781721347971, $22.99, MP3 CD).

Unwavering
Margo Fiesler
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
www.westbowpress.com
9781973635789, $33.95, HC, 230pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Margo Fieseler is the founder and teacher of Margo Fieseler Ministries, a non-profit organization providing leadership and teaching to hundreds of women in Southern Wisconsin. A wife and mother of two daughters and many collies, she spent twenty years in the professional world and five years in radio before launching her ministry with a passion to have people come to know Jesus.

Though hundreds of women gather weekly to hear Margo Fieseler teach them how to love and live God's Word, the details of her life before Christ are largely unknown. Most people see the compelling Christian teacher running a non-profit that opens the door for people to know Jesus personally, passionately, powerfully, and pre-eminently. But, there she had a life before Jesus.

"Unwavering: Learning to Do the Next Right Thing in Your Walk With God" is Margo's life-story devotional revealing how salvation radically changed one woman's life, healed a marriage and family, and restored a soul as only God can do. In addition to an authentic and vulnerable narrative, readers will be able to study the Bible's application in their own life through devotions and journaling. They will discover the key to walking victoriously, rather than in woundedness.

Critique: As fascinating a personal life story as it is inspired and inspiring, "Unwavering: Learning to Do the Next Right Thing in Your Walk With God" is unreservedly recommended reading for all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Unwavering" is also available in a paperback edition (9781973635796, $17.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.03).

Praying Our Way Toward Wholeness
Tracy O'Sullivan, O.CARM.
Twenty-Third Publications
1 Montauk Avenue, #200, New London, CT 06320
www.23rdpublications.com
9782896885893, $16.95, PB, 104pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Praying Our Way Toward Wholeness" by Fr. Tracy O'Sullivan (an inner-citypastor for almost forty years) offers a pastoral approach to prayer in the traditional three stages of spiritual growth. Its target population is both pastors and parishioners and formation programs for both clergy and laity.

"Praying Our Way Toward Wholeness" is a practical guide to appreciating, understanding and teaching prayer. The parish should offer a pastoral approach that calls both pastors and parishioners to holiness. "Praying Our Way into Life" offers a sensible program to facilitate that spiritual growth at the parish and provides an enduringly relevant statement on the role of spirituality and prayer in the parish.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Praying Our Way Toward Wholeness" will prove to be of particular and enduring value for all those within the Catholic community who are charged with the spiritual well being of their parishioners -- and is especially recommended for seminary Pray & Spirituality reference collections and supplemental studies lists.

Faith Is for Weak People
Ray Comfort
Baker Books
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
www.bakerpublishinggroup.com
9780801093982, $14.99, PB, 224pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Every day that we as Christians interact with the world, we are in a battle. At stake is the eternal destiny of the souls of our friends, family members, and coworkers. It is a battle we wage not only in prayer but also in words. When we are faced with objections to the faith we profess, are we ready to respond?

Apologist and evangelist Ray Comfort has spent his entire career answering objections to the faith, and he wants you to be equipped to do the same. That is why he has written "Faith Is for Weak People: Responding to the Top 20 Objections to the Gospel", a practical book in which he shows you how to answer 20 objections to Christianity, including questions such as: What physical proof is there that God even exists?; Why does a "loving" God threaten eternal torture for not believing in him?; If there's an all-powerful God, why is the world so out of control?

Critique: A vital and useful training guide for answering common questions in defense of belief in God in general, and Christianity in particular, "Faith Is for Weak People: Responding to the Top 20 Objections to the Gospel" is a very highly recommended instructional guide and reference the is particularly commended to the attention of anyone seeking to bring people 'from darkness into light'. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Faith Is for Weak People" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.78).

When Church Conflict Happens
Michael Hare
Moody Publishers
820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
www.moodypublishers.com
9780802418371, $15.99, PB, 256pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Human nature being what it is, every church will experience conflict at some point. But it doesn't have to destroy the individual Christian or damage the Christian community. In fact, conflict can be an incredible opportunity, if you know how to seize it. Unfortunately, very few churches use the opportunity well, but with Michael Hare's "When Church Conflict Happens: A Proven Process for Resolving Unhealthy Disagreements and Embracing Healthy Ones", any Christian church can.

"When Church Conflict Happens" shows: How to recognize healthy and unhealthy conflicts; What the five levels of conflict are and why they matter; How to design an action plan that will succeed; How to prevent unhealthy conflict before it begins. With copious case studies and practical tools, the reader will find that it is surprisingly manageable to develop these new skills and that anyone can learn to lead confidently in the face of conflict and invest in their church's future today.

Of special note are the Additional Resources in the back that include: A conflict management Style Survey; Conflict Assessment Tools; Interview Questions for Assessing Conflict -- and more!

Critique: Insightfully practical, exceptionally well organized and presented, the perfect 'how to' instruction guide and manual for resolving conflicts of any kind within the compass of the Christian community, and also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.19), "When Church Conflict Happens: A Proven Process for Resolving Unhealthy Disagreements and Embracing Healthy Ones" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, pastoral, seminary, and church library collections.

Editorial Note: Dr. S. Michael Hare never imagined a life looking for conflicts to resolve. Becoming a Christian at 19, he went to Bible college simply desiring to find out how to better serve God. However, following that path has led to over two decades of serving in the role of senior pastor in church turnaround ministries, 15 years of working as a church conflict consultant, and recently completing a PhD in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Dr. Hare also serves as a senior staff chaplain and ombudsman for Compassion with its nearly 4,000 employees ministering in 26 third world countries. He has served as an adjunct instructor in several universities and is currently teaching mediation courses in a doctoral program in Denver.


The Judaic Studies Shelf

Mensch-Marks
Joshua Hammerman
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
www.hcibooks.com
9780757321771, $14.95, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Mensch-Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi Wisdom for Untethered Times" is Rabbi Joshua Hammerman personal memoir told as a sacred story, as how-to book, as a series of personal vignettes in dialogue with one another over the span of decades, resonating with eternal ideas that span centuries.

"Mensch-Marks" traces Rabbi Hammerman's own personal growth while providing a road map for people of all backgrounds seeking a life of moral vision. The wisdom is shared not from a pulpit on high, but rather from an unfolding story of a fellow traveler, one who has stumbled, failed, and persevered, struggling with the questions large and small. Through it all, Rabbi Hammerman has tried to live with dignity and grace, what he calls the "nobility of normalcy."

The central message of Rabbi Hammerman's "Mensch-Marks" is that we can turn things around, one mensch at a time!

Critique: Inherently interesting and ultimately inspiring, "Mensch-Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi Wisdom for Untethered Times" is an extraordinary and potentially life enhancing read that is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, as well as Judaic Studies supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mensch-Marks" is also available in a digital book format (eTextbook, $10.99).

Editorial Note: A celebrated rabbi and award-winning journalist and blogger, Joshua Hammerman, has served Temple Beth El in Stamford, Connecticut, for over three decades. His essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Times of Israel, The New York Jewish Week and many other places. Rabbi Hammerman was a winner of the Simon Rockower Award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism, for columns on the Bernard Madoff case. In 2018, he received an award from the Religion News Association for excellence in commentary. Rabbi Hammerman received ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary after getting an MA in journalism from NYU and a BA, magna cum laude, from Brown University.


The Buddhist Studies Shelf

Just Enough
Gesshin Claire Greenwood
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
www.newworldlibrary.com
9781608685820, $17.95, PB, 232pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When she was fresh out of college, Gesshin Claire Greenwood found her way to a Buddhist monastery in Japan and was ordained as a Buddhist nun. Zen appealed to Greenwood because of its all-encompassing approach to life and how to live it, its willingness to face life's big questions, and its radically simple yet profound emphasis on presence, reality, the now.

At the monastery, she also discovered an affinity for working in the kitchen, especially the practice of creating delicious, satisfying meals using whatever was at hand -- even when what was at hand was bamboo. Based on the philosophy of oryoki, or "just enough", her account in "Just Enough: Vegan Recipes and Stories from Japan's Buddhist Temples" combines stories with recipes. From perfect rice, potatoes, and broths to hearty stews, colorful stir-fries, hot and cold noodles, and delicate sorbet, Greenwood shows food to be a direct, daily way to understand Zen practice.

With eloquent prose, she takes readers into monasteries and markets, messy kitchens and predawn meditation rooms, and offers food for thought that nourishes and delights body, mind, and spirit.

Critique: A deftly written, inherently fascinating, occasionally thought-provoking, and candidly personal account, "Just Enough: Vegan Recipes and Stories from Japan's Buddhist Temples" is an original, extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Buddhist Studies collections and supplemental reading lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Just Enough" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.55).


The Education Shelf

Race Dialogues
Donna Rich Kaplowitz, Shayla Reese Griffin, Sheri Seyka
Teachers College Press
1234 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027
www.tcpress.com
9780807761755, $96.00, HC, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: From living rooms to barrooms to television shows, it is quite common to have any attempts at racial discourse in the United States devolve into shouting matches, silence, or violence, all of which are mirrored in today's classrooms.

"Race Dialogues: A Facilitator's Guide to Tackling the Elephant in the Classroom" will help individuals develop the skills needed to facilitate difficult dialogues across race in high school and college classrooms, in teacher professional learning communities, and beyond.

The authors, Donna Rich Kaplowitz, Shayla Reese Griffin, Sheri Seyka, effectively collaborate to codify best practices in race dialogue facilitation by drawing on decades of research and examples from their own practices. They share their mistakes and hard-earned lessons to help readers avoid common pitfalls. Through their concrete lesson plans and hands-on material, both experienced and novice facilitators can immediately use this inclusive and wide-ranging curriculum in a variety of classrooms, work spaces, and organizations with diverse participants.

"Race Dialogues" provides: Specific instruction on how to facilitate dialogues in a way that promotes deep understanding, empathy, and collaboration across different racial identities; Comprehensive plans for sequenced and sustained dialogue sessions for a variety of audiences: Methods for administrators, teachers, community leaders, and facilitators to approach resistant communities.

Critique: Exceptionally impressive with respect to organization and presentation, "Race Dialogues: A Facilitator's Guide to Tackling the Elephant in the Classroom" is an extraordinary, timely, and unreservedly recommended addition to school district, college, and university library Teacher Education instructional reference collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of student teachers, classroom teachers, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Race Dialogues" is also available in a paperback edition (9780807761304, $31.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $30.35).

Editorial Note: Donna Rich Kaplowitz is an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education at the College of Education, Michigan State University. Shayla Reese Griffin is the equity, diversity, and school culture consultant for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District in Michigan. Sheri Seyka is a public education teacher in East Lansing Michigan with 22 years of teaching experience.

Mindful Classrooms
James Butler, M.Ed
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
www.freespirit.com
9781631983696, $32.99, PB, 194pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Teaching students how to focus and self-regulate at a young age can provide them with skills that will help throughout their schooling and adult lives. Like anyone, they need easy-to remember tools and strategies to calm their minds and focus on the moment.

"Mindful Classrooms: Daily 5-Minute Practices to Support Social-Emotional Learning" is interactive, research based curriculum helps pre-K and elementary teachers integrate simple, ready-to use stretching, breathing, and reflective exercises as well as other mindfulness practices into their daily routines.

Of special note is that "Mindful Classrooms(TM): Daily 5-Minute Practices to Support Social-Emotional Learning" also includes digital content with reproducible handouts from its pages.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Mindful Classrooms: Daily 5-Minute Practices to Support Social-Emotional Learning" is a unique and especially recommended addition to school district, college, and university library Teacher Education instructional reference collections and supplemental studies lists.

Editorial Note: James Buter is the SEL (social-emotional learning) mindfulness specialist for the Austin Independent School District (AISD) where he works with teachers, staff, administrators, parents, and students. James helped implement a mindfulness curriculum in all 130 AISD campuses.

Back in School
A. Fiona Pearson
Rutgers University Press
106 Somerset St., 3rd Floor, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
http://rutgerspress.rutgers.edu
9781978801882, $99.95, HC, 198pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Fifty years ago, students who were parents were a rarity in college classrooms, but by the beginning of the twenty-first century, over a quarter of all undergraduate students were parents.

In "Back in School: How Student Parents Are Transforming College and Family", A. Fiona Pearson (Professor of Sociology, Central Connecticut State University - New Britain) explores how these student parents navigate cultural norms and institutional resources, forging pathways as they journey to become better parents and successful students.

"Back in School" definitively examines how policy makers, professors, college administrators, counselors, and social workers provide or deny access to child care, tutoring, financial aid, or other campus- or community-based resources. Professor Pearson further explores how social norms and governmental and organizational policies influence access to these resources and student parents' experiences on campus and at home.

Critique: A meticulously researched, deftly written, accessibly organized and presented work of exceptional scholarship and relevancy, "Back in School: How Student Parents Are Transforming College and Family" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of an Appendix (List of Student Parent Participants and Sample Demographics), eight pages of Notes, a twelve pages listing of References, and a three page Index. While unreservedly recommended as a core addition to college and university library Contemporary American Education collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for education students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Back in School: How Student Parents Are Transforming College and Family" is also available in a paperback edition (9781978801875, $28.95).

Making Every Geography Lesson Count
Mark Enser
Crown House Publishing
81 Brook Hills Circle, White Plains, NY 10605
www.crownhousepublishing.com
9781785833397, $18.95, PB, 152pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Mark Enser has been teaching geography for over a decade and is currently a head of department at Heathfield Community College. He contributes articles to TES and to the Guardian Teacher Network and often speaks at education conferences. Mark also writes a blog called Teaching It Real and tweets @EnserMark.

In "Making Every Geography Lesson Count: Six Principles To Support Great Geography Teaching" Enser effectively maps out the key elements of effective geography teaching and shows classroom teachers how to develop their students conceptual and contextual understanding of the subject over time.

What sets geography apart from other subjects is the value placed on seeing the connections between the different parts of its broad curriculum, on building links between different topics, and on thinking like a geographer. Writing in the practical, engaging style of the award-winning "Making Every Lesson Count", Enser has set out to help his fellow practitioners maximize this value by combining the time-honored wisdom of excellent geography teachers with the most useful evidence from cognitive science.

"Making Every Geography Lesson Count" is underpinned by six pedagogical principles challenge, explanation, modeling, practice, feedback and questioning that will enable classroom teachers to ensure that students leave their lessons with an improved knowledge of the world, a better understanding of how it works and the geographical skills to support their learning.

Each individual chapter looks at one of the six principles and begins with twin scenarios which illustrate some of the real challenges faced in geography classrooms. Mark then delves into a discussion on the underpinning theory and offers a range of practical, gimmick-free strategies designed to help teachers overcome these obstacles. Furthermore, each chapter also ends with a case study from a fellow geography teacher who has successfully employed the principle in their own classroom.

Critique: An ideal curriculum guide for classroom teachers working with students ages 11-18, "Making Every Geography Lesson Count" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation. While unreservedly recommended for school district, college, and university library Teacher Education collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for all middle school through highschool geography teachers that "Making Every Geography Lesson Count" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Health/Medicine Shelf

You Are What You Eat
Sally F. Jackson, RN, CLNC, CPT, Pt. Adv.
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
www.westbowpress.com
9781973633877 $34.95 pbk / $18.95 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: Through your parent's influence, you learned the importance of eating balanced meals and drinking plenty of water. But classes on basic body function in relation to food never existed, so you grasped little about your body functions in relation to true nutrition. In this self-teaching book you will learn the basics of body function in relation to food. And what your body can and can't do with the foods you eat - all using basic and easy-to-implement concepts.

You will understand exactly how your body works and how to make dietary changes to improve your overall health and prevent or eliminate a variety of diseases. Nutrition is not calorie counting, chemical reactions, or metabolism, but is proper and effective body function as a result of what you eat.

Proactive Health Education has based this self-teaching book on research gathered from independent scientists and respected researchers from around the world. You are the sum of everything you eat, including food, water and exercise. Your body knows exactly what it needs, learn how to listen, and obtain a happier, longer, healthier life.

Critique: You Are What You Eat: Human Body Function in Relation To Food is a no-nonsense health and nutrition guide written to be thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds. Author Sally Jackson (whose credentials include being a registered nurse, a certified legal nurse consultant, and more) discusses the basic principles biochemistry and cellular metabolism in plain terms; nutritional deficiencies that can cause problems; why genetically modified organisms as food could potentially bring ruin to the humans who eat them; and much more. You Are What You Eat is an excellent supplementary health resource, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that You Are What You Eat is also available in a Kindle edition ($18.95).

A Pearl in the Brain
H. Bruce Rinker
Koehler Books
210 - 60th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
www.koehlerbooks.com
9781633938038, $24.95, HC, 202pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: As a scientist and man of faith, Bruce Rinker agonized over his nightmarish diagnosis of a terminal brain tumor. Glioblastoma is the deadliest brain cancer, a death sentence. Faced with likely extinction, Bruce began an uncertain pilgrimage without any helpful guide except for spotty medical articles, heady conversations with specialists, and rampant misinformation.

Based on his extensive research and personal experience, Rinker wrote "A Pearl in the Brain: The Cancer Journey of a Scientist in his Search for the Seat of the Soul" to address this dearth of detail about a killer disease with rising incidence. Rinker tells his personal story with light humor, hope-filled wonderment, and soul-driven resolve despite the odds of survival. He playfully combines science, spirituality, a Southern upbringing, and world travels as he scales this mountain of challenge.

Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "A Pearl in the Brain: The Cancer Journey of a Scientist in his Search for the Seat of the Soul" will prove to be especially relevant to healthcare practitioners, academics and scientists, theologians, cancer survivors, and non-specialist general readers concerned about how lifestyle and environment shape our health and spiritual well-being. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Health/Medicine collections in general, and Cancer supplemental studies in particular, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Pearl in the Brain" is also available in a paperback edition (9781633938014, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Natural Compresses and Poultices
Christopher Vasey, N.D.
Healing Arts Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
www.innertraditions.com
9781620557372, $14.99, PB, 144pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Knowledgeably compiled and deftly written by Christopher Vasey, "Natural Compresses and Poultices: Safe and Simple Folk Medicine Treatments for 70 Common Conditions" is an accessibly written, step-by-step, naturopathic guide to using the hands-on natural healing method of compresses and poultices. "Natural Compresses and Poultices"
articulately explains how to use compresses and poultices for 70 common ailments and chronic conditions, such as migraine, asthma, acne, sinusitis, earache, arthritis, sprains, hives, shingles, anxiety, insomnia, mastitis, muscle pains, bronchitis, and more

Also features are details regarding what type of compress or poultice to use for each ailment, whether to use it hot or cold, where on the body to apply it, and for how long. Readers can informatively explores the physiological reasons these simple remedies are so effective and how they work not only for acute ailments and illness but also for chronic conditions.

Critique: Deftly organized around the differing parts of the body and a section on 'General Disorders' (Fever, Insomnia, Anxiety, Nervous Tension), "Natural Compresses and Poultices: Safe and Simple Folk Medicine Treatments for 70 Common Conditions" also includes the two page index -- Directory of Compresses and Poultices. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Natural Compresses and Poultices" is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly useful and popular addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Health/Medicine collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of anyone with a specific interest in folk medicine that "Natural Compresses and Poultices" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Living near Montreux, Switzerland, Christopher Vasey is a naturopath specializing in detoxification and rejuvenation. He is the author of several books, including The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health, Liver Detox, and Natural Remedies for Inflammation.


The Crafts Shelf

Basketry Basics
B. J. Crawford
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
www.schifferbooks.com
9780764357459, $22.99, PB, 96pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: BJ Crawford has taught basketmaking at state conferences, festivals, schools, and universities throughout the US. She has written over fifty basket patterns and is the cofounder of the craft resource store Earth Guild in Asheville, North Carolina. In "Basketry Basics" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to present an easy, accessible, and fun approach to basketmaking offers instructions for 18 beautiful and useful baskets.

Beginning with simple basket designs and progressing to more-advanced techniques, you build new skills with each project. Follow along from one to the next, or jump ahead to the more advanced baskets to expand your intermediate skills.

The practical projects include a market basket, square-to-round storage basket, spiral twill basket, catch-all bathroom basket, cat-head bowl, and many others. Instructions for adding embellishments, color, and shaping are included to help new basketmakers turn a project into a personal treasure. A chart for designing your own market baskets in six different sizes is invaluable, and photos of work by today's top basketmakers serve as inspiration.

Critique: A thoroughly 'user friendly', profusely illustrated, DIY instruction guide guide for anyone interested in learning to make handbuilt baskets, "Basketry Basics" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal and community library collections.


The Psychology Shelf

Untamed
Suzana E. Flores
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
https://mcfarlandbooks.com
9781476674421, $29.95, PB, 205pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The character variously known as Wolverine, Logan, and Weapon X is Marvel Comic's savage, brooding antihero that is, in his own words, the best at what he does -- killing with gratuitous precision. Paradoxically violent yet humane, the beer-swilling, cigar-smoking mutant with retractable claws and a powerful self-healing ability is universally misjudged in the Marvel Universe yet esteemed by fans worldwide.

In "Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel's Wolverine", licensed clinical psychologist, TEDx and keynote speaker, media commentator, comic book fans and author Suzana E. Flores deftly explores Wolverine's development from bit character to modern legend over more than four decades, with a focus on his enduring appeal as an allegory for resilience through torment.

Critique: Impressively informative and the result of meticulous and exhaustive research, "Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel's Wolverine" is an absolute 'must read' for the legions of X-Men fans and would well serve as a template for similar studies of other Marvel comics heros and villains. While very strongly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Popular Culture & Literary Studies collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated Wolverine fans that "Untamed" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).


The Martial Arts Shelf

Defense with a Knife
Florian Lahner
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
www.schifferbooks.com
9780764356773, $24.99, PB, 208pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Defense with a Knife: Techniques, Training, Tactics" by Florian Lahner extensively covers the use of a knife in self-defense. The technique and tactics described in this instruction manual involve using the knife in such a way as to disable the attacker by creating only minor injuries, if possible.

The basic concepts laid out in "Defense with a Knife" can also be used with other weapons or bare hands. Far away from Hollywood cliches and martial arts myths, Florian Lahner teaches realistic concepts for defense that are simple, effective, and actually usable. His system is suited for ordinary persons as well as professionals.

In "Defense with a Knife", the most-important techniques are described and shown in a manner that also makes it eminently suitable as a training manual. Aware of the social responsibility of using knives and weapons, Lahner also addresses the psychological and moral aspects of self-defense.

Critique: Profusely and effectively illustrated throughout, "Defense with a Knife: Techniques, Training, Tactics" is an ideal and effective instruction manual and guide that is impressively comprehensive and 'user friendly' in organization and presentation. "Defense with a Knife" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Martial Arts instructional reference collections.


The Business Shelf

The Business of Innovating Online
Kathryn E. Linder, editor
Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
www.styluspub.com
9781620368435, $35.00, PB, 156pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Knowledgeably compiled and deftly edited by Kathryn E. Linder, "The Business of Innovating Online: Practical Tips and Advice From Industry Leaders" responds to a critical need for concrete narratives of innovation success that can serve as a foundation for administrators and leaders who are in need of practical guidance as they scale and grow their online learning organizations.

Through specific examples and practical suggestions from experienced e-learning leaders, readers will be introduced to concrete strategies for how to create a climate of creativity and innovation that can lead to more successful and scalable online programs and initiatives. "The Business of Innovating Online" demystifies the relationship between business, creativity, and innovation by describing the logistics required to create an agile online education enterprise.

"The Business of Innovating Online covers: Defining innovation and creativity for online education and e-learning; Knowing when and how to innovate; Creating a culture of innovation; Effectively leading innovation; Collaborative innovation; Making innovation stick and transitioning innovative strategies into day-to-day practice; Assuring quality in the midst of innovation; Staffing structures/administrative stability to support creativity and innovation.

The Business of Innovating Online provides both novice and experienced online education administrators with a comprehensive overview of a range of online innovations, how they came to be created, the components that led to their success, and concrete steps that they can take to create a more innovative culture for their own e-learning organization.

Critique: Impressively informative, instructive, organized and presented, "The Business of Innovating Online: Practical Tips and Advice From Industry Leaders" is an unreservedly recommended addition to community, corporate, and academic library Business Management collections and MBA supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for MBA students, entrepreneurs, business managers, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject the "The Business of Innovating Online" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $27.99).

Editorial Note: Nina Huntemann is Senior Director of Academics and Research at edX, an online learning platform founded by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has over 15 years of college-level teaching, program administration, and faculty development experience. Prior to joining edX, she was an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at Suffolk University. Professor Huntemann received her Ph.D. in communication from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Uniquely You
Ron Kitchens
Baker Books
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
www.bakerpublishinggroup.com
9780801093746, $22.99, HC, 224pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: For young professionals and entrepreneurs, there is no shortage of gurus, processes, and quick-fix formulas to chase in the quest to grow their business, lead their team, and find personal fulfillment. In fact, there are so many out there that it's exhausting. Wouldn't it be better to realize that the leadership lessons we need to learn are not out there somewhere, but in here, in our own lives? That instead of becoming a knock-off of someone else, we can be uniquely ourselves?

That's exactly what Ron Kitchens learned, and it's what he wants to share with today's emerging leaders in "Uniquely You: Transform Your Organization by Becoming the Leader Only You Can Be".

Sharing his own journey of discovering what his life was trying to teach him through both trials and triumphs, Kitchens equips readers to mine their own stories for the relationships and life lessons that have made them into the unique individuals they are today. He then shows readers how to leverage those unique experiences into their own personal leadership style that is authentic, one-of-a-kind, and effective in building businesses and leading teams.

Critique: A deftly written and impressively thoughtful blending of self-help and organizational management commentary, advice, insights, and technique tips, "Uniquely You: Transform Your Organization by Becoming the Leader Only You Can Be" is very highly recommended for personal, community, corporate, and academic library Leadership & Corporate Culture collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted that "Uniquely You: Transform Your Organization by Becoming the Leader Only You Can Be" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.54) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Oasis Audio, 9781640911901, $24.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Ron Kitchens is the senior partner and chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First, an economic consulting firm, which has grown compounded revenue at 20% annually during his 14 years as chief executive officer. In addition, Ron leads Consultant Connect and is the publisher of 269 MAGAZINE, a board member of Impact Athletic, the past chair of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and a Trustee of Western Michigan University. Ron and his teams have been extensively featured in over 100 national and international media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, CBS, NBC, Fox, USA Today, Forbes, Fortune, The Economist and National Public Radio. In 2018, Southwest Michigan First has been recognized by Best and Brightest Companies to Work For and Outside Magazine as the best place to work in America. Ron blogs and podcasts at www.ronkitchens.com and can be found on Twitter @ronkitchens.

101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees
Paul Falcone
www.PaulFalconeHR.com
Amacom Books
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
www.amacombooks.org
9781400212019, $24.99, PB, 384pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Inappropriate workplace conduct, lateness, sexually offensive behavior, productivity and communication issues are just a few of the uncomfortable topics bosses and supervisors must sometimes discuss with their employees. Now in a fully updated second edition, "101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees" by Paul Falcone offers realistic sample dialogues managers can use to facilitate clear, direct interactions with their employees, helping to sidestep potential awkwardness and meet issues head-on.

This practical, solution-oriented instructional guide and manual walks company bosses, administrators, and supervisors through some of the most common(as well as the most serious) employee problems they are likely to encounter. While covering everything from substandard performance reviews to progressive disciplinary warnings and termination meetings, the second edition of this bestselling resource offers readers twenty new scenarios covering current hot-button issues like FMLA abuse and ADA accommodations, wage and hour challenges, team turnarounds, and compensation conflicts.

Critique: "101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees" is handy and 'real world practical' guide that will help even the most novice of business and corporate managers to treat their employees with dignity and respect. "101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees" focusing not just on what to say but also on how to say it. An impressive compilation of proven techniques to protect themselves and their organizations, "101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees" will enable both inexperienced and seasoned managers to get the very best from their workforce. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of MBA students, academia, shop stewards, supervisors, managers, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Paul Falcone is a human resources executive in Los Angeles and has held senior level positions with nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, and City of Hope. He has extensive experience in entertainment, healthcare, biotech, and financial services, including in international, nonprofit, and union environments. He maintains an informative web site at www.PaulFalconeHR.com


The Pets/Wildlife Shelf

Empowerment Training for Your Power Dog
Dawn Antoniak-Mitchell
Dogwise Publishing
403 South Mission Street, Wenatchee WA 98801
www.dogwise.com
9781617812323, $19.95, PB, 216pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Dawn Antoniak-Mitchell is a lawyer-turned-professional-dog-trainer with a passion for helping dog owners see the world from a more canine point of view. She helps her clients understand and appreciate their dogs as amazing members of a species that started sharing their lives with humans thousands of years ago. The physical traits and instincts that make every dog breed unique influence how those dogs behave and often present training challenges.

In "Empowerment Training for Your Power Dog: Unleash the Positive Potential in Bully and Mastiff Breeds, Pit Bulls, and Other Strong Dogs", Dawn turns to the subject of managing and training what she labels "Power Dogs". This grouping includes dozens of breeds who were originally bred to hunt game or to protect people and their property, many of whom were also employed as fighting dogs.

These are physically strong dogs relative to their size, usually with a mix of ancient Mastiff and Bulldog ancestry, and some have more recently been bred to Terriers as well. These dogs tend to be protective, tenacious, and often exhibit aggression toward other dogs, but at the same time are playful, energetic and smart.

The secrets to successful Power Dog ownership are: First you need to know your individual dog's traits and drives and then adopt a proactive management program to avoid situations where problems may arise. Second is to adopt training techniques which allow your dog to be rewarded consistently for behavior you want to reinforce and remove rewards from behaviors you want to discourage. These two strategies will help you empower your dog to make the right decisions and make him a well trained companion dog!

Critique: Expertly written, accessibly organized and impressively presented, "Empowerment Training for Your Power Dog: Unleash the Positive Potential in Bully and Mastiff Breeds, Pit Bulls, and Other Strong Dogs" is an ideal instruction manual for anyone whose canine companion is one of the breeds of dog originally meant for protection and if untrained could create a hazard to other humans or canines. While highly recommended for personal and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists of dog owners and professional dog trainers that "Empowerment Training for Your Power Dog" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.95).


The Gardening Shelf

The Kew Gardener's Guide to Growing House Plants
Kay Maguire
White Lion Publishing
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
www.quartoknows.com
9780711240001, $16.00, HC, 144pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "The Kew Gardener's Guide to Growing House Plants" by Kay Maguire is a beautifully illustrated gardening instructional reference book that combines exquisite botanical illustrations with practical indoor projects.

Aspiring gardeners will discover over 70 life-changing plants and are given access to 12 home-transforming projects. Each individual project is described and illustrated with step-by-step photographs.

Starting from the premise that we want to show how to grow the right plant in the right place, "The Kew Gardener's Guide to Growing House Plants" demonstrate the benefits of all common house plants and how to care and curate them in the home. Includes cacti, succulents, bromeliads including air plants, foliage house plants, flowering house plants, house plants for scent and air freshening.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, "The Kew Gardener's Guide to Growing House Plants" will prove to be as popular as it practical -- and an enduringly appreciated addition to personal, professional, and community library Gardening collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Kew Gardener's Guide to Growing House Plants" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.57).

The Kew Gardener's Guide to Growing Herbs
Holly Farrell
White Lion Publishing
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
www.quartoknows.com
9780711239364, $16.00, HC, 144pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The herbs in showcases in "The Kew Gardener's Guide to Growing Herbs" by Holly Farrell provide flavors and scents unlike any other. These culinary herbs are a living trove of fresh flavors for any cook, with an almost alchemical power to transform the simplest dish.

Herbs can be used as seeds, flowers, or leaves; cooked and eaten themselves or used to infuse a dish or drink. They are popping up in artisan gin, ice cubes and cocktail syrups; in foraged dishes and kitchen gardens of the best restaurants as chefs realize that often the only way to capture that elusive flavour is to have home-grown, freshly harvested herbs on their doorstep.

With "The Kew Gardener's Guide to Growing Herbs" these intense flavours can now be a reality for gardeners and food enthusiasts with any size of garden, from an acre to a window box.

Underpinned by the authority of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the expertise of Holly Farrell herself, "The Kew Gardener's Guide to Growing Herbs" combines practical elements with inspiration and beauty. Readers will find out how to grow herbs in all situations, how to plant, propagate and harvest, then the 80 most exciting herbs are identified, illustrated and their uses explained.

"The Kew Gardener's Guide to Growing Herbs" is accompanied by Jason Ingram's specially commissioned photography for 12 projects which show how to develop a herb garden at the next level and use herbs in the most interesting ways from planting a herb roof to making herbal oils.

Critique: An impressively presented source of detailed instruction and encouraging inspiration, "The Kew Gardener's Guide to Growing Herbs" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library Gardening and Culinary collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Kew Gardener's Guide to Growing Herbs" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.57).


The Music Shelf

Smoky, Sweaty, Rowdy, and Loud
Mike Olszewski & Janice Olszewski
Gray & Company, Publishers
www.grayco.com
9781598511048, $15.95, PB, 208pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In "Smoky, Sweaty, Rowdy, and Loud: Tales of Cleveland's Legendary Rock & Roll Landmarks", Mike and Janice Olszewski takes their readers backstage at Cleveland's legendary rock and roll landmarks as club owners, talent bookers, performers, promoters, and concert goers share stories from the 1950s through 1990s about: Where it all began: the Cleveland Arena, site of the first-ever rock concert, anywhere; The hugely influential Agora, where Springsteen and so many other acts burst onto the scene; The Coliseum at Richfield, erected in the middle of nowhere just in time for the arrival of arena rock; and monster concerts at Cleveland Municipal Stadium including the epic, multi-year World Series of Rock.

Also covered are: the groundbreaking R&B clubs Gleason's and Leo's Casino; the staid, classical Public Auditorium, where the Beatles incited a riot and Led Zeppelin grabbed a teenage audience volunteer to fill in on bass; Musicarnival, the circular big-top tent that alternated summer-stock with hard-rock (to the dismay of suburban neighbors); Bars and clubs like the Euclid Tavern, Variety Theater, and Empire Concert Club that rocked the '80s and '90s with punk, thrash, electronica -- whatever it took; The renowned Swingos' celebrity hotel on Euclid Avenue, where bands remembered checking in and checking out -- but nothing in-between!; as well as other classic venues well worth remembering.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and impressively informative read, "Smoky, Sweaty, Rowdy, and Loud: Tales of Cleveland's Legendary Rock & Roll Landmarks" is an especially and unreservedly recommended read for the babyboomer generation of music fans and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library 20thy Century American Music History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.


The Needlecraft Shelf

Crochet for Girls
Zess
Stackpole Books
5067 Ritter Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6921
www.stackpolebooks.com
9780811736510, $24.95, PB, 128pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: With "Crochet for Girls: 23 Dresses, Sweaters, and Accessories" even the most novice of needlecrafters can now dress their favorite girls sizes four to ten in adorable crochet sweaters, dresses, skirts, hats, purses, and more.

From an elegant white pullover with a ruffle to a pretty pink sweater with fringe and a cardigan in chevrons, these designs include that extra something that makes them special. The pretty pink cape is perfect for a cool spring or fall day, and leg warmers and a teddy bear bag will add pizzaz to any outfit.

Crochet works up quickly, so these pieces can be make right away. A crochet stitch tutorial section is included for a refresher if needed, and all stitches are explained clearly and charted as well as written out.

Critique: An ideal 'how to' and profusely illustrated step-by-step instructional guide, "Crochet for Girls: 23 Dresses, Sweaters, and Accessories" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal and community library Needlecraft collections in general, and crocheting DIY supplemental reading lists in particular.

Super-Quick Colorful Quilts
Rosemary Wilkinson
CompanionHouse Books
c/o Fox Chapel Publishing Company
1970 Broad Street N., East Petersburg, PA 17520
www.FoxChapelPublishing.com
9781620083383, $24.99, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by rosemary Wilkinson and now brought back into print after more than a decade in a paperback edition, "Super-Quick Colorful Quilts: 35 Vibrant Designs for Fast Quilts" showcases twenty gorgeous patchwork quilts in a collection that is specifically designed for beginners and any quilter whose time is limited.

Using just three shapes, "Super-Quick Colorful Quilts" showcases an amazing variety of designs made all the more exciting by a clever choice of fabrics in three groups of colorways. These shapes are cut quickly using the rotary cutter rather than with a template, and they are machine stitched together with chain-piecing wherever possible.

The quilt "sandwich" (of backing fabric, batting and the pieced top) is held together with machine quilting, big stitch hand quilting or with simple ties and buttons. Two methods are used for the binding -- one using four strips applied separately to the four sides, producing abutted corners, and the other, slightly more complicated, using a continuous binding, mitered at the corners.

Simple applique is introduced using a heart template and a technique called slashing. Chenille is used as an alternative to piecing to produce a highly textured surface for a really cuddly quilt.

Critique: Comprised of 20 quick step-by-step quilt patterns in a kaleidoscope of colors that are great for beginners and perfect for quilters in a hurry, "Super Quick Colorful Quilts" is unreservedly recommended for personal and community library Needlecraft collections in general, and quilt making instructional reference in particular..


The Woodworking Shelf

Woodworking with Power Tools
Editors of Fine Woodworking
The Taunton Press
63 South Main Street, Newtown, CT 06470
www.taunton.com
9781641550109, $24.95, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The debate over the merits of power tools vs. hand tools has raged for years, but the bottom line is that you need both to be a successful woodworker. Machinery provides efficiency for labor-intensive tasks such as sawing and planing, whereas hand tools are used to create fine details that machines can't duplicate. Power tools don't replace hand tools, they complement them.

In "Woodworking with Power Tools: Tools, Techniques & Projects", expert craftsmen and craftswomen explain how they choose, maintain, and use every kind of power tool, from tablesaws to plunge routers, bandsaws to bench planers. There's advice on tool maintenance, techniques for getting the most from your tools, and projects made using power tools. With clear photographs drawings, and step-by-step instructions, Woodworking with Power Tools will be an essential resource for anyone who works wood.

"Woodworking with Power Tools" will enable aspiring woodworkers will to: Tune up a tablesaw; Choose bandsaw blades for resawing; Get started with a plunge router; Install dust collection in a small shop; Cut easy angled tenons; Get better cuts with a planer; Build a perfect picture frame, an elegant bookcase, and a pedestal dining table.

Critique: A profusely illustrated, step-by-step 'how to instruction manual, "Woodworking with Power Tools: Tools, Techniques & Projects" is a comprehensive, thoroughly 'user friendly', and highly recommended addition to any personal, professional, community, or school woodshop collection.

Woodburning Realistic Animals
Minisa Robinson
Fox Chapel Publishing Company
1970 Broad Street N., East Petersburg, PA 17520
www.FoxChapelPublishing.com
9781565239852, $19.99, PB, 136pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Woodburning Realistic Animals: 12 Step-by-Step Pyrography Projects of Birds, Pets, and Wildlife" by woodburning artist Minisa Robinson challenges aspiring and even seasoned woodburning artists to rethink the possibilities of woodburning with her techniques for creating highly realistic art.

Pyrographers who love animals and portraits will find 12 step-by-step projects here for North American and African wildlife, including a bobcat, zebra, moose, hummingbird, lion, and more. From big cats and bunnies to owls and elk, each individual project includes hand-drawn patterns, photo references, and step-by-step instructions.

Minisa covers all the woodburning basics, from supplies and surface preparation to protecting and sealing your finished piece -- plus temperature control, carbon cleanup, shading, black backgrounds, and that ever-frustrating "stop spot." A gorgeous gallery of finished work is included, to help inspire creativity!

"Woodburning Realistic Animals" amply provides essential skill-building tutorials for creating realistic eyes, short fur, long fur, manes, and whiskers. Tips and advice on working with photos, turning photos into patterns, and transferring photos to wood are also included. "Woodburning Realistic Animals" also features discussions on pens and nibs, hints for woodburning feathers and noses, and step-by-step suggestions for how to add beautiful splashes of color to a woodburning work with everything from colored pencils to alcohol inks.

Critique: The perfect gift for any aspiring pyrographer who loves animals and wants to create better portraits, "Woodburning Realistic Animals" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular and appreciated addition to personal, professional, and community library Woodworking and Arts & Crafts illustrated instructional reference collections.

Yearn To Burn
Simon Easton
Fox Chapel Publishing Company
1970 Broad Street N., East Petersburg, PA 17520
www.FoxChapelPublishing.com
9781565239869, $19.99, PB, 168pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Yearn to Burn: A Pyrography Master Class: 18 Creative Woodburning Projects with Step-by-Step Instructions" by Simon Easton is essentially a woodburning art masterclass under one cover and featuring 18 themed projects that will build artistic woodburning skills while creating household items, gifts, home decor and more.

Featuring step-by-step photographs and clear instructions, "Yearn to Burn"provides aspiring woodburning artists with clear instructions and step-by-step photographs for DIY project that fit a wide variety of occasions and decors. By following the impressively illustrated and thoroughly 'user friendly' instructions, even the most novice of woodburning artist can create beautiful and memorable items like Christmas tree decorations, mirrored box frames, a child's wood pencil case, a hanging leather, and more.

Critique: The sequel to Simon Easton's groundbreaking "Learn to Burn: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Started in Pyrography" (9781565237285, $16.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle), "Yearn to Burn: A Pyrography Master Class" is unreservedly recommended for personal and community library Woodworking and Arts/Crafts instructional reference collections.


The Travel Shelf

A Manga Lover's Tokyo Travel Guide
Evangeline Neo
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
www.tuttlepublishing.com
9784805315477, $14.99, PB, 128pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "A Manga Lover's Tokyo Travel Guide: My Favorite Things to See and Do In Japan" is an utterly charming and effective Tokyo travel guide created by manga artist and author Evangeline Neo bringing you to all the otaku sights this city has to offer. "A Manga Lover's Tokyo Travel Guide" shows you where to shop for manga memorabilia in Akihabara and Nakano, takes you on a tour of famous anime and manga museums like Studio Ghibli and Sanrio Puroland, and shares Evangeline Neo's experiences at a cosplay studio, a maid and butler cafe, and a manga drawing class.

In addition to manga and anime-related adventures, Eva brings her readers to all the must-see Tokyo sites as well, ranging from Asakusa's Sensoji Temple to Tokyo Tower and the Meiji Shrine. She also introduces travelers to sushi train restaurants, hot spring baths and a kimono makeover session -- even a day trip to Mt. Fuji! Along the way, she shows you all her favorite places to shop and eat, and gives advice on what to pack, what to buy, how to get around, and even how to speak a few words of survival Japanese.

This manga guide to Tokyo is depicted in charming and humorous drawings and stories, which are as enjoyable for armchair travelers as they are practically useful for visitors to the city. Readers will step into the world of modern Japanese culture through this amusing and unique guide to one of the world's top cities.

Critique: A wonderfully entertaining and practical tour guide for visitors to Tokyo, "A Manga Lover's Tokyo Travel Guide" will prove to be of special interest to personal, community, and academic library Contemporary Japanese Popular Culture and Japanese Travel Guide collections. It should be noted that "A Manga Lover's Tokyo Travel Guide" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.87).


The Fishing Shelf

Tying & Fishing Tailwater Flies
Pat Dorsey
Stackpole Books
5067 Ritter Road, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6921
www.stackpolebooks.com
9780811707220, $39.95, HC, 208pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Tying & Fishing Tailwater Flies" is a thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide to creating new flies and old standbys from Pat Dorsey who is one of Umpqua Feather Merchant's top-selling fly designers. Featuring 500 step-by-step photos for 24 proven patterns for the most demanding trout, these patterns are for fishing streams across the country, not just tailwaters. Included are nymphs, emergers, and dry flies that imitate mayflies, midges, stoneflies, and caddis
Detailed information on how to fish the patterns is enhanced with the inclusion of over 30 rigging illustrations from artist Dave Hall.

Critique: The ideal 'how to' manual for anglers wanting to create their own (and effective) flies, "Tying & Fishing Tailwater Flies: 500 Step-by-Step Photos for 24 Proven Patterns" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and community library collections. It should be noted that "Tying & Fishing Tailwater Flies" is also available in a paperback edition (9780811737180, $29.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.36).


The Native American Studies Shelf

Spirit of the Indian Warrior
Michael Oren Fitzgerald & Joseph A. Fitzgerald, editors
World Wisdom
1501 East Hillside Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401
www.worldwisdom.com
9781936597628, $14.95, PB, 120pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Michael and Joseph Fitzgerald, "Spirit of the Indian Warrior" is comprised of the thoughts of some of history's greatest warriors and tribal leaders. Profusely illustrated with historical photographs and paintings, "Spirit of the Indian Warrior" offers an intimate window into the cultural values of courage, loyalty, and generosity.

When the first Europeans landed in North America, its native peoples faced a challenge unlike any before. Many warriors and chiefs vowed, like Tecumseh, "to resist as long as I live and breathe". Some eventually accepted treaties of peace, but they soon found, like Chief Joseph, that these were worth little: "What treaty that the whites have kept has the red man broken? Not one. What treaty that the whites ever made with us red men have they kept? Not one."

Hope for the future, however, remains strong among their proud descendants. And the words of the Indian warrior live on and inspire the people of America's First Nations, as well as people across the world.

Critique: An absolutely essential and critically important little volume that deftly showcases Native American wisdom and experience, "Spirit of the Indian Warrior" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Native American Studies collections and supplemental curriculum lists.


The Art Shelf

The Little Book of Drawing Dragons
Walter Foster Publishing
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
www.quartoknows.com
9781633228061 $14.99 amazon.com

Synopsis: Featuring drawing lessons, step-by-step projects, and open practice pages, The Little Book of Drawing Dragons & Fantasy Characters teaches beginning artists how to draw dragons, fairies, mythological beasts, and more.

Step-by-step projects, creative exercises, interactive prompts, and helpful tips and techniques bring this popular drawing subject to life and invite creativity and personalization. Drawing techniques, such as value, shading, and creating texture and perspective, are included to help artists of all skill levels learn to draw accurately. Learn to draw fur, scales, wings, tails, and how to put them all together to create your own unique fantasy characters and artwork. More than 15 projects are included.

In the popular, established The Little Book of... series from Walter Foster Publishing, artists and art hobbyists alike delight in learning a variety of fun, approachable, relevant, and interesting art topics in a portable format boasting a fresh, contemporary, and interactive design. Open practice pages, creative exercises, and art prompts encourage interactivity for immediate results while teaching beginners the fundamentals of the featured medium in a fun, engaging way.

Critique: The Little Book of Drawing Dragons: More than 50 Tips and Techniques for Drawing Fantastical Fairies, Dragons, Mythological Beasts, and More lives up to its title with instructions, methodical examples, guidelines, and blank "practice pages" that the reader can use to hone their artistic skills. A wonderful supplementary resource for budding artists of all ages and backgrounds, The Little Book of Drawing Dragons also makes an excellent gift!

Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs
William C. Agee, et al.
Merrell Publishers
8755 Lookout Mountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046
www.merrellpublishers.com
9781858946733, $60.00, HC, 160pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Early in his career, Ralston Crawford (1906 - 1978) earned acclaimed for his Precisionist paintings of architectural subjects associated with a forward-looking, industrialized America, most famously his Overseas Highway of 1939. But Crawford was a multifaceted artist with an adventurous spirit and a curiosity for the world beyond the United States, one whose work in various media and painting styles continued to evolve throughout his life, with his later, more abstract painting having a remarkable emotional dimension.

"Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs", a new volume of his work that was published to accompany an exhibition at the Vilcek Foundation in New York focuses on two series of works - 'Torn Signs' and 'Semana Santa' - that Crawford developed mostly over the course of the last 20 or so years of his life (although his first 'Torn Signs' photographs date from the late 1930s, thus making this Crawford's most enduring theme or motif).

Rick Kinsel, President of the Vilcek Foundation, begins by considering how and why his travels to Europe, especially to Andalusia in Spain, were so inspiring to Crawford. Semana Santa, or Holy Week, the last week of Lent, is observed in Seville with public processions of penitential confraternities through the streets. Witnessing this event proved to be a moving experience for Crawford, and he revisited the subject of the penitents, with their distinctive conical hats, multiple times across a number of years.

The art historian William C. Agee provides a biographical essay on Crawford's peripatetic life, examining in particular the relation between the 'Torn Signs' and 'Semana Santa' bodies of work and the artist's later decades, after the Second World War, when Crawford was interested less in the life-affirming view of modernity associated with Precisionism, and more in giving expression to disillusion and decay. Crawford's son John writes about the complex interrelationship of the two series, with emphasis on the way in which Crawford's photography relates to his painting and printmaking. Individual works in both series are then explored in depth in the main part of the book by Emily Schuchardt Navratil, Curator of the Vilcek Foundation.

Reproductions of the pages of sketchbooks from 1971 (the year he was diagnosed with leukaemia) illuminate Crawford's approach to remembering colour through writing and his incredible visual memory; here, drawings of torn signs, Semana Santa and the streets of Seville are interspersed with the artist's thoughts on colour, the connection between drawing and writing, and his own life and death.

Critique: Exceptionally informative and profusely illustrated, "Ralston Crawford: Torn Signs" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library 20th Century American Art History collections in general, and Ralston Crawford supplemental studies lists in particular.


The Economic Studies Shelf

The Future of China's Bond Market
Alfred Schipke, Markus Rodlauer, Zhang Longmei, editors
International Monetary Fund
700 19th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20431
9781484372142, $40.00, PB, 416pp, www.imf.org

Synopsis: China's bond market is destined to play an increasingly important role at home and abroad. The inclusion of its bonds in global indexes will be a positive milestone for its financial market integration. For policymakers and investors alike, this calls for a good understanding of the bond market structure, its unique characteristics, and areas for reform.

The contributors to "The Future of China's Bond Market" comprehensively analyzes segments of China's bond market, from sovereign and credit bonds to the rapidly growing local government bond market. It also covers bond futures, green bonds, and asset-backed securities. Academics, Chinese officials, researchers from the private sector and IMF staff combines rigorous analysis with institutional details to provide a detailed picture of China's bond market.

Removing obstacles and opening the market to foreign investors, harmonizing regulation, strengthening financial sector stability, and improving market liquidity will go a long way to improving market efficiency and contributing to the economy's overall productivity and growth. Equally important will be the implementation of supporting reforms, such as removing implicit guarantees, strengthening monetary frameworks, and improving communication. "The Future of China's Bond Market" covers these issues, as well as China's offshore market, which has played a major role in onshore market development.

Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Alfred Schipke, Markus Rodlauer, Zhang Longmei, "The Future of China's Bond Market " is essential and instructive reading for anyone considering investing in China's bond market or is required to understand China's financial integration within the global economy. While unreservedly recommended for corporate, governmental, community, college, and university library Contemporary International Economics collections in general, and the Chinese Bond Market in particular, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of investors, economics students, corporate executives, academia, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Future of China's Bond Market" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.00).

Editorial Note: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization of 185 Member Countries. It was established to promote international monetary cooperation, exchange stability, and orderly exchange arrangements; to foster economic growth and high levels of employment; and to provide temporary financial assistance to countries in order to help ease balance of payments adjustments.


The Agriculture Shelf

Sensing the Perfect Tomato
Denise Wilson
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
www.crcpress.com
9780367086763, $69.95, HC, 182pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The use of the tomato in some way, shape, or form, in almost every ethnic cuisine around the world has resulted in a universal culinary popularity of the tomato that in turn has led to its proliferation in fields and farms around the world.

While some may still argue whether the tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, few would argue that tomato crops are highly lucrative, attractive to farmers in both developing and developed countries and on large and small farms alike. In fact, for those crops with significant global volume and market share, tomatoes are the highest valued among those crops that lack an affiliation to mind-altering drugs.

But, the tomato can be a persnickety critter. The tomato doesn't like it too hot, too chilly, too wet, too dry, or too fertile. Many don't ripen at the same time. Most are easily bruised. And, the selective breeding that has yielded a larger, more attractive, and deep red tomato has also mercilessly drained much of the taste and flavor from a once sweet and delectable fruit.

Enter the world of sensors and modern sensing technology. The Internet of Things (IOT), when using well chosen, well networked, and well aggregated sensors, has shown tremendous potential to support precision agriculture, providing a more detailed picture of crops than was previously possible using conventional crop monitoring techniques. But, the stringent resources and tight profit margins that are a fact of life among many tomato growing operations, large and small, mean that sensor technologies must be chosen and used carefully.

There is no doubt that each sensor must earn its keep in producing the perfect tomato. With that in mind, "Sensing The Perfect Tomato" explores key opportunities to marry the potential of sensors that are networked within the IOT to the needs of tomato production in ways that are economically fruitful, technologically robust, and sustainable overall.

Critique: Impressively comprehensive, exceptionally informative, expertly written, organized and presented, "Sensing The Perfect Tomato" by Denise Wilson (Adjunct Professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington - Seattle) is highly and unreservedly recommended for corporate, college, and university library Agricultural Science collections in general, and Tomato Grower's supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of agricultural students, tomato farmers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Sensing The Perfect Tomato" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $55.96 Buy / $18.95 Rent).


The Sports Shelf

Minnesota's 50 Greatest Baseball Players
Jonathan W. Sweet
Brick Pickle Media
www.BrickPickleMedia.com
9781095694350 $14.99 pbk / $5.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: Who are the greatest baseball players in Minnesota history? A look at 50 of the stars who have played for baseball teams in the North Star state, from the Minnesota Twins to the Minneapolis Millers, the St. Paul Saints to the St. Cloud Rox, and everywhere in between.

Critique: Minnesota's 50 Greatest Baseball Players lives up to its title with a tour de force of the lives of Minnesota baseball stars throughout history. Here are the true life stories of Hall of Famers, star players from the Negro League, and many more legendary individuals. Aptly researched and enhanced with a bibliography, Minnesota's 50 Greatest Baseball Players is a gem for baseball fans, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Minnesota's 50 Greatest Baseball Players is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).


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


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