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Library Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 6 June 2023 Home | LBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Economic Studies Shelf Business Shelf
Education Shelf Cookbook Shelf Biography Shelf
American History Shelf World History Shelf Civil War Shelf
Military Shelf General Fiction Shelf Historical Fiction Shelf
Literary Fiction Shelf Romantic Fiction Shelf Western Fiction Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Literary Studies Shelf
Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf Audiobook Shelf Library CD Shelf
Library DVD Shelf Philosophy Shelf Library Science Shelf
Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf Psychology Shelf Architecture Shelf
Music Shelf Sports Shelf Photography Shelf
Criminology Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Small Firms and U.S. Technology Policy
Albert N. Link, author
Martijn van Hasselt, author
Edward Elgar Publishing
9781802205589, $105.00, HC, 156pp

Synopsis: While much has been written about the U.S. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program from both an institutional and a policy perspective, there remains a conspicuous void of general information about firms and research projects that are funded through the program. Providing a multi-dimensional picture of such firms and their projects, this incisive book is designed to help the reader understand in more depth the social benefits associated with the SBIR program.

With the publication of "Small Firms and U.S. Technology Policy: Social Benefits of the U.S. Small Business Innovation Research Program", academics and co-authors Albert N. Link and Martijn van Hasselt discuss the U.S. SBIR program from an institutional, empirical, and policy perspective, examining the policy transfer of the program to other countries, the transfer of technical knowledge through patents and scientific publications, and the technology transfer of commercialised research outputs. Exploring new program and project relationships, "Small Firms and U.S. Technology Policy" could well serve as a springboard for future in-depth analyses about the SBIR program and its impact on economic and social matters.

Forward-thinking in approach, "Small Firms and U.S. Technology Policy" provides a useful roadmap for future academic and policy research into the SBIR program, making it a valuable read for scholars and students of business and management studies. U.S. and international policymakers and business owners will also benefit from its discerning look into the SBIR program.

Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of numerous figures, tables, a listing of abbreviations, a six page bibliography of References, and a five page Index, "Small Firms and U.S. Technology Policy" is a seminal work of meticulously researched study and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, corporate, governmental, and academic library Contemporary Economics and Private/Public Business Research collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Albert N. Link is the Virginia Batte Phillips Distinguished Professor, Department of Economics.

Editorial Note #2: Martijn van Hasselt is an Associate Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, US.

The Economic Studies Shelf

Reinventing the Supply Chain
Jack Buffington
Georgetown University Press
9781647122997, $29.95, HC, 216pp

Synopsis: When the COVID-19 pandemic led to a global economic "shutdown" in March 2020, our supply chains began to fail, and out-of-stocks and delivery delays became the new norm. Contrary to public perception, the pandemic strain did not break the current system of supply chains; it merely exposed weaknesses and fault lines that were decades in the making, and which were already acutely felt in deindustrialized cities and depopulated rural towns throughout the United States.

With the publication of "Reinventing the Supply Chain: A 21st-Century Covenant with America", Jack Buffington explores the historical role of supply chains in the global economy, outlines where the system went wrong and what needs to be done to fix it, and demonstrates how a retooled supply chain can lead to the revitalization of American communities. Buffington then proposes a transformation of the global supply chain system into a community-based value chain, led by the communities themselves and driven by digital platforms for raising capital and blockchain technology.

Critique: With Buffington's proposals of new and effective solutions to supply chain problems that have been decades in the making, "Reinventing the Supply Chain: A 21st-Century Covenant with America" offers a clear roadmap to a more durable and efficient system. Critically essential reading, "Reinventing the Supply Chain" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, and academic library Globalization and Business Management collections. It should be noted for MBA students, academia, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, economists, government policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Reinventing the Supply Chain" is also available in a paperback edition (9783319368047, $54.99) and in digital book format (Kindle, $22.49).

Editorial Note: Jack Buffington ( is the director of supply chain and sustainability at First Key Consulting and professor and academic director of the supply chain management program at the University of Denver. He is the also author of several previously published books, including "The Recycling Myth and Peak Plastic".

The Business Shelf

A Marketer's Guide to Digital Advertising
Shailin Dhar, author
Scott Thomson, author
Kogan Page Inc.
9781398609693, $126.00, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: With contradictory rules surrounding data privacy, measurement constraints, changes to supply chains and other complexities often too difficult to approach, the world of marketing is more complex than ever before. With the publication of "A Marketer's Guide to Digital Advertising: Transparency, Metrics and Money", co-authors Shailin Dhar and Scott Thomson will help marketers navigate the complicated world of digital advertising by diving into the metrics, money and technology fueling the marketing industry.

In "A Marketer's Guide to Digital Advertising", digital advertising consultants Shailin Dhar and Scott Thomson collaborate to outline the forces shaping the current digital landscape and the common responses from advertisers trying to design their digital strategy. Walking readers through the common missteps made within digital advertising, they provide useful insight into measurement and thoughtful alternatives to practices often found lower on a company's priorities list.

"A Marketer's Guide to Digital Advertising" offers ways to minimize waste and improve outcomes for brands and their business partners. It also illuminates the gap between in-house marketing teams, agency professionals and tech partners whilst helping readers make sense of the way money flows through the global ad industry.

Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of an eight page Glossary, a listing of the authors and their credentials, and a ten page Index, "A Marketer's Guide to Digital Advertising: Transparency, Metrics and Money" is an ideal textbook on the subject of digital marketing and a well advised addition to personal, professional, community, corporate, and academic library Direct Marketing and Web Marketing instructional reference collections. It should be noted for MBA students, academia, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "A Marketer's Guide to Digital Advertising: Transparency, Metrics and Money" is also available in a paperback edition (9781398609662, $39.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $37.99).

Editorial Note #1: Shailin Dhar ( is the founding partner of Method Media Intelligence (MMI), a measurement consultancy and technology provider. A board member for the Programmatic & Data Center at IAB, he previously served as Chief Strategist for Adsiduous Media, Director of Business Development at Darcher Media and Business Development and Operations Manager at DOL Marketing. Dhar is a media, web-technology and ad-technology expert who is focused on helping companies confirm digital ad efficacy, secure validity, evaluate viewability and support brand safety. He is based in New York City, NY.

Editorial Note #2: Scott Thomson ( is a partner at Method Media Intelligence (MMI), a measurement consultancy and technology provider. After working with a Ministry of Defence contractor in the UK, helping design user-friendly control systems, he has spent over two and a half decades with companies like Publicis, Nielsen, Media Audits, Naked Communications and Dentsu. He helps brands devise, design and measure successful marketing strategies, and he has helped numerous global brands take on the challenges currently plaguing the advertising industry today. He is based in London, UK.

Strategy in the Digital Age: Mastering Digital Transformation
Michael Lenox
Stanford Business Books
c/o Stanford University Press
9781503635197, $26.00, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: In today's business environment, digital transformation is much more than building a digital infrastructure to gather and process data. It's about understanding how digital technologies enable the creation of innovative services and products. It is also about identifying new competitive positions and business models and thinking critically about how to both create and capture value.

With the publication of "Strategy in the Digital Age: Mastering Digital Transformation", by strategy expert Michael Lenox directly engages these concerns and provides a comprehensive roadmap for planning a successful digital strategy and executing a digital transformation in organizations.

Covering major topics such as big tech, data analytics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cryptocurrency, autonomy, cybersecurity, data privacy, and antitrust, "Strategy in the Digital Age" outlines a set of novel, original frameworks to help those undertaking digital transformation at their organization devise their strategy. Readers will also come away with a greater understanding of how to navigate the human dimension of digital transformation and tackle the numerous social and policy challenges raised by digital technology.

With insights from major companies such as Spotify, Facebook, and Uber, Lenox delivers a compelling volume that offers both a foundational understanding of this dynamic environment and an action plan for those seeking a path to digital strategy implementation for their organization.

Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a number of figures, a ten page Glossary, twelve pages of Notes, and a ten page Index, "Strategy in the Digital Age: Mastering Digital Transformation" will have a special value for anyone with an interest in the evolving impact on corporate and business competition and management in the Digital Age of automation and robotics. While also available for personal reading lists of MBA students, academia, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.99), "Strategy in the Digital Age: Mastering Digital Transformation" is unreservedly recommended as a core addition to community, corporate, and academic library Contemporary Business Management collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Michael Lenox ( is the Tayloe Murphy Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. He is the coauthor of The Decarbonization Imperative: Transforming the Global Economy by 2050 (Stanford, 2021) and Can Business Save the Earth: Innovating Our Way to Sustainability (Stanford, 2018).

The Education Shelf

The Way to Inclusion
Julie Causton, et al.
9781416631804, $30.95, PB, 137pp

Synopsis: The research is clear: Including students with disabilities in general education classrooms is the most effective way for all students (able and disabled) to learn.

With the publication of "The Way to Inclusion: How Leaders Create Schools Where Every Student Belongs " by the team of educators and inclusion experts Julie Causton, Kate MacLeod, Kristie Pretti-Frontczak, Jenna Mancini Rufo, and Paul Gordon is an invaluable guide for for those charged with the responsibility of educator leadership..

A compendium of research, resources, and seasoned advice, "The Way to Inclusion" takes the reader, step-by-step, through the inclusivity change process, from envisioning a path to reimagining the roles of existing staff and everything in between. "The Way to Inclusion" also outlines seven clearly defined milestones tied to an Action Plan that will help the reader to stay the course with so vital an initiative.

In addition to milestones and leadership questions, "The Way to Inclusion" offers: Instructions for conducting an equity review of your system with a focus on special education; Guidance for creating and analyzing service-delivery maps, including before-and-after examples from systems that have successfully shifted to greater inclusivity; Classroom observation and staff survey tools; First-person accounts from educators who have undergone the change process; Best practices for developing an inclusivity-focused vision statement; Downloadable forms and templates to help you move forward with implementation.

Critique: Segregating students with disabilities from the rest of the student body is simply not necessary. A strongly recommended and core addition to personal, professional, school district, college, and university library Special Education Integration collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, "The Way to Inclusion: How Leaders Create Schools Where Every Student Belongs" is an exceptionally 'user friendly' and indispensable guide for making certain that all students in a school system will not only learn but also thrive in the least restrictive environment possible.

Editorial Note #1: Dr. Jenna Mancini Rufo is an experienced public-school leader turned inclusive education consultant. She is the founder and owner of empowerED School Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in equity and inclusion. Having served as an assistant superintendent, director of special education, state policy specialist, special education teacher, and inclusion facilitator, Jenna has practical experience in leading systems change for inclusion. She has shared her knowledge at numerous events, including The Atlantic's Education Summit, and recently launched a blog and video series. Jenna was inspired to enter the field of education by her sister, Nina, who has multiple disabilities. She views education as her calling and is passionate about providing high-quality programs for all students.

Editorial Note #2: Dr. Paul Gordon has spent much of his education career working for the Adams 12 Five Star School District outside Denver, Colorado, where he served as a classroom teacher, a middle school principal, the director of professional development, and the chief academic officer. During the last 10 years, Paul has served as the superintendent of three school districts. Early in his career, he worked with students with significant reading challenges, which forged his path toward creating inclusive environments for each student and understanding the impact this has on the overall system. As a practitioner, Paul continues to learn from students, teachers, parents, and others working in inclusive classrooms about the challenges and the incredible opportunities that inclusion offers each student.

The Handbook of Racial Equity in Early Childhood Education
Jen Neitzel, author
Ebonyse Mead, author
Brookes Publishing Company
9781681257204, $39.95, PB, 200pp

Synopsis: The goal of every early educator is to prepare all students for school success -- but for young Black children, entrenched biases and racial inequities have created an achievement gap that must be closed. Now with the publication of "The Handbook of Racial Equity in Early Childhood Education", educators can transform their practices and work for systemic change with the help of a visionary guidebook presenting a comprehensive roadmap to promoting racial equity in early childhood education.

The only handbook of its kind that takes a rigorous, in depth look at the historical roots of racial bias, "The Handbook of Racial Equity in Early Childhood Education" goes beyond band aid approaches to equity and prioritizes real transformation and healing: of adults, communities, programs, systems, and children. Grounded in research but focused on action, this empowering guide offers both deep foundational knowledge and practical classroom strategies that promote better outcomes for Black children and families.

Of special note are the contributions from voices of experience (influential scholars, teachers, and parents) offering authentic perspectives on the impact of racism and the importance of anti racist practices.

Critique: Timely given the present attempts in many parts of the country to eliminate information about Black American History, Personalities, Historical and Current Racism from elementary school curriculums, "The Handbook of Racial Equity in Early Childhood Education" must be recognized as essential reading for classroom educators, school administrators, and schoolboard/governmental policymakers working toward equity and justice. Simply stated, "The Handbook of Racial Equity in Early Childhood Education" will materially help early childhood professionals to fight back and dismantle racially based inequitable systems and ensure high quality learning experiences for every child regarding their racial identity and the genuine history of African-Americans. While an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to school district, college, and university library Early Childhood Education collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Handbook of Racial Equity in Early Childhood Education" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.99.

That Behaviour Book
Stephen Baker
Crown House Publishing
9781785836688, $28.95, PB, 160pp

Synopsis: What kind of teacher are you? What values, beliefs and principles do successful teachers have and how do they sustain these in the face of challenging pupil behaviour?

In this timely book, Stephen Baker contends that rigid punishment systems weaponize young people's defiance against them and that punishment doesn't work. He believes that teachers need to take responsibility for behaviour and to lead it, not just 'manage' it, that we need to love the kids (even if we don't like them), that children are people, that we are an event in their lives, and that teaching is a relationship-based activity.

With each chapter followed by engaging 'takeaway tasks', That Behaviour Book will allow teachers to rapidly improve both their practice and their relationships with pupils and classes. The book looks at the values that will sustain you as a teacher, how routines will help you teach better and what 'positive expectations' really mean, making child-centred relational practice easy to apply in the classroom. Teachers will have a more realistic appreciation of their own situation and of the context in which they teach. In short, this book will help teachers learn how to get the very best out of their pupils.

"That Behaviour Book" is an essential guide for both the beginner and the more experienced classroom teacher. Its unique tone makes it an indispensable companion for the busy teacher, providing a sense of connection, challenge and reassurance all at once. Stephen Baker's anecdotes, drawn from his years as a pupil, teacher and trainer pack an emotional punch and are often hilarious.

Critique: Expertly written and presented by educator and consultant Stephen Baker, "That Behaviour Book: The simple truth about teaching children" is essential and instructive reading for every classroom teacher. Providing a wealth of engaging, illustrative, and unique mix of anecdotes, practical strategies and moral imperatives for successful and child-centered behavior management in an education setting, "That Behaviour Book" is a solid and recommended pick for personal, professional, school district, and academic library Educational Instruction and Child Management collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that it is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $22.75).

Editorial Note: Stephen Baker ( spent 17 years in teaching, before working with local authorities and for the National Strategies as a regional adviser in Yorkshire and the Humber. He is now a behavior consultant and trainer, passionate about helping teachers to succeed.

The Cookbook Shelf

The Vegan Bridge
Romain Avril, chef/author
Richelle Tablang, chef/author
Whitecap Books
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside
9781770503595, $34.95, PB, 240pp

Synopsis: For the meat-eater looking to incorporate vegetarian options into their repertoire; for the novice chef trying to develop new techniques; for the home cook who wants to dazzle with recipes that are bold, flavourful, and totally unique - French-trained chefs Romain Avril and Richelle Tablang have collaborated with the publication of "The Vegan Bridge: Adding Plant-Based Flair to the Carnivore's Kitchen"

Comprised of recipes ranging from simple snacks and sides that add a vegan twist to a flexible meal, to showstopping vegan mains that will captivate vegetarians and omnivores alike, chefs and co-authors Romain and Richelle demonstrate how incorporating vegan meals into everyday life can be done easily, without sacrificing taste or presentation

Everyday staples like Vegetable Chips, Garlic Roasted Chickpeas, and an array of dips, smoothies, and salads provide the perfect entry-point for cooks of all skill levels, while impressive entrees like Chive Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms Florentine, Deep-Fried Tomatillo Tacos, and Cauliflower Tikka Masala bridge the gap between a garden-variety meal and plant-based perfection

Including over 100 recipes in all, along with menu plans, pantry and kitchen tips, and unique insights from two accomplished chefs, "The Vegan Bridge: Adding Plant-Based Flair to the Carnivore's Kitchen" is an essential (and transitional) guide to integrating vegan cooking into family meals

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout with full color, full page photography, "The Vegan Bridge: Adding Plant-Based Flair to the Carnivore's Kitchen" is a very special coffee-table style paperback (8.5 x 1 x 11 inches, 1.98 pounds) that will grace any personal, professional, or community library cookbook collection -- and will be especially appreciated by anyone wanting to sample what vegan dishes can do for their palate pleasing, appetite satisfying offerings that will have appeal for even the most carnivore of friends and family members.

Editorial Note #1: Romain Avril is a French-trained chef, born in Paris, who is known for his creative and ambitious cooking Since moving to Toronto in 2010, he has worked as Executive Chef at the renowned La Societe Bistro, and has participated in the opening of such institutions as Levelle, Goldie Bar, and Neruda He operates his own organization, Romain Avril Inc, which offers a multitude of culinary services, and maintains a YouTube channel providing tips and recipes, while making occasional appearances on the Food Network

Editorial Note #2: Richelle Tablang was born and raised in Toronto to a family of Filipino immigrants who always emphasized the value of food and its origins After studying baking and pastry arts in Toronto, Richelle fell in love with French pastry, eventually moving to France to further her education. She studied at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Superieure de Patisserie (founded by two-time Meilleur Ouvrier de France winner Yves Thuries and multiple Michelin star-holder Alain Ducasse) and worked as a pastry commis in the South of France Richelle returned to Toronto fuelled by an adoration for modern French pastry and a desire to mingle her knowledge of French techniques with Asian ingredients from her family's background

Pulp: A Practical Guide to Cooking with Fruit
Abra Bernes
Chronicle Books
9781797207148, $35.00, HC, 432pp

Synopsis: "Pulp: A Practical Guide to Cooking with Fruit" is a volume of recipes that focuses on all the ways fruit can enhance simple, delicious mains -- for example, by elevating roasted vegetables, garnishing soup, or adding perfume to a roasted pork or brisket. Principally,"Pulp" is about regularly incorporating fruit to add variety and seasonality to main dishes.

Home cooks and bakers alike will appreciate the alternately sweet and savory recipes such as Roast Chicken over Blueberries, Cornbread + Lemon; Melon, Cucumber + Chickpea Salad; and Rum-Plum Clafoutis. "Pulp" also features helpful reference material, a Baker's Toolkit, and more than 100 atmospheric photos, delivered with the can-do attitude and accessibility of the Midwestern United States.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized, illustrated and presented, and also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.43), "Pulp: A Practical Guide to Cooking with Fruit" is a large format volume (7.35 x 1.65 x 9.75 inches, 2 pounds) featuring more than 215 sweet and savory recipes and variations, making it a unique and core addition that is especially recommended for personal, family, professional, and community library Specialty Cookbook Collections.

Editorial Note: Abra Bernes ( is a Michigan chef, author, and former farmer. Through every recipe written and meal served, she aims to tighten the connection between eaters and growers. She believes we can invest in a stronger, more equitable food system for everyone, from producers to grocers to consumers. She is the author of "Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables" (a 2020 Michigan Notable Book winner and James Beard Award nominee) and "Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes". Her dinners at Granor Farm in Three Oaks, Michigan, made her a James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Chef: Great Lakes.

The Biography Shelf

Rear Admiral Schley
Robert A. Jones
Texas A&M University Press
9781648431234, $80.00, HC, 344pp

Synopsis: The career of Rear Admiral Winfield Scott Schley (9 October 1839 - 2 October 1911), as it unfolded on land and sea, offers a compelling account of a pivotal time in the history of the US Navy and maritime warfare. Remembered chiefly for his role in the in Spanish-American War, Schley led the US Navy to victory at the Battle of Santiago, was promoted to rear admiral, then found himself accused of timidity and cowardliness in battle and subject to a controversial Court of Inquiry. The dispute and its resolution, known as the Sampson-Schley Controversy, continue to impact the navy to this day.

Schley graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1860 and advanced quickly through the ranks. After fighting in the Civil War, sailing the seven seas, and visiting many foreign countries, he played a vital part in the formation of the "New Steel Navy" as the fleet converted from the era of sail to steam.

With the publication of "Rear Admiral Schley: An Extraordinary Life at Sea and on Shore", biographer Robert A. Jones tells a stirring tale of a remarkable commander whose cool-headed courage under fire and in hand-to-hand combat made him a highly respected leader whom men would follow willingly. His skills and proven leadership led to his being asked to conduct diplomatic missions in several countries, to supervise ship construction, to direct two lighthouse districts, to intervene in a civil war in Chile, and to lead the famous mission to rescue the Greely Arctic expedition.

Critique: Serving as the ideal template for similar studies of previously lesser-known military leaders who helped to shape the US Navy into what it is today, "Rear Admiral Schley: An Extraordinary Life at Sea and on Shore" is a seminal, meticulously researched, comprehensive, and impressively presented biography that rescues from an undeserved obscurity a significant figure in the 19th Century history of the US Navy. Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of four Appendices, sixteen pages of Notes, a ten page Bibliography, and a fifteen page Index, "Rear Admiral Schley: An Extraordinary Life at Sea and on Shore" is unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library American Military History/Biography collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Robert A. Jones (1941-2022) retired as a lead software engineer from the US Naval Sea Systems Command. He is also the author of "Confederate Corsair, The Life of Lt. Charles W. "Savez" Read".

Charlotte Cushman: A Biography and Performance History
Arthur W. Bloom
McFarland & Company
9781476690872, $49.95, PB, 309pp

Synopsis: Charlotte Cushman (July 23, 1816 - February 18, 1876) was one of the great actors of 19th century American theatre. She was a lesbian who kept her identity hidden by focusing her career on male characters (Romeo, Claude Melnotte, Wolsey), and also on strong and passionate women (Lady Macbeth, Bianca in Fazio, and Queen Katherine in Henry VIII).

With the publication of "Charlotte Cushman: A Biography and Performance History", Professor Arthur W. Bloom provides an authoritative record of Cushman's life and performances, showing how her complex gender identity illuminates and is illuminated by 19th century theatre critical views.

With respect to the organization and presentation of "Charlotte Cushman: A Biography and Performance History", Part One is a biography; Part Two is a performance history listing all of Cushman's known performances, often with a description of her role and critical commentary.

Critique: Of particular appeal to readers with an interest in 19th Century American Theatre and the life/accomplishments of a 19th Century lesbian actress and theatrical performer, "Charlotte Cushman: A Biography and Performance History" is informatively enhanced with the inclusion of a six page Bibliography, sixteen pages of Notes, and a twelve page Index. An exceptional example of biographical and meticulous research, "Charlotte Cushman: A Biography and Performance History" is a welcome and unreservedly recommended contribution to personal, professional, academic, college, and university library LBTGQ Biography and 19th Century American Theatrical History collections, as well as supplemental Women's Studies curriculum lists.

Editorial Note: The late Arthur W. Bloom was a retired professor of theatre and administrator at several public and private American universities. He is the author of biographies of Joseph Jefferson, Edwin Booth, and Edwin Forrest. There is a collection of his papers on the Dartmouth Library website at

A Life Cut Short at the Little Big Horn
Todd E. Harburn
University of Oklahoma Press
9780806191584, $34.95, HC, 260pp

Synopsis: Of the three physicians at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Doctor George Edwin Lord (1846-76) was the lone commissioned medical officer, an assistant surgeon with the United States Army's 7th Cavalry -- one more soldier caught up in the U.S. government's efforts to fulfill what many people believed was the young country's "Manifest Destiny".

"A Life Cut Short at the Little Big Horn: U.S. Army Surgeon George E. Lord" by Todd E. Harburn tells Lord's life story for the first time. Notable for its unique angle on what become known as 'Custer's Last Stand' and for its depiction of frontier-era medicine, this historical biography is above all a compelling portrait of the making of an army medical professional in mid-nineteenth-century America.

Drawing on newly discovered documents, biographer Harburn describes Lord's education and training at Bowdoin College in Maine and the Chicago Medical College, detailing what the study of medicine entailed at the time for "a young man of promise... held in universal esteem." Lord's time as a contract physician with the army took him in 1874 to the U.S. Northern Boundary Survey. From there Harburn recounts how, after a failed romance and the rigors of the U.S. Army Medical Board examination, the young doctor proceeded to his first (and only) appointment as a post surgeon, at Fort Buford in Dakota Territory.

What followed, of course, was Lord's service, and his death, in the Little Big Horn campaign, which this biography shows us for the first time from the unique perspective of the surgeon.

A portrait of a singular figure in the milieu of the American military's nineteenth-century medical elite, "A Life Cut Short at the Little Big Horn" offers a unique perspective on a familiar incident in 19th Century U.S. military history, and a reminder of the humanity lost in a battle that resonates to this day.

Critique: Informative enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of numerous illustrations, sixty pages of Notes, a sixteen page Bibliography, and a nine page Index, "A Life Cut Short at the Little Big Horn: U.S. Army Surgeon George E. Lord" is a seminal and original work of meticulous and detailed scholarship. An inherently interesting, well organized/presented, and a unique contribution to personal, professional, community, college, and university library 19th Century military/medical biography collections, it should also be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, historians, and those with an interest in the Battle of Little Big Horn, that "A Life Cut Short at the Little Big Horn: U.S. Army Surgeon George E. Lord" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.95).

The American History Shelf

Our Flag Was Still There
Tom McMillan
Knox Press
c/o Permuted Press
9781637587331, $30.00, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Francis Scott Key saw the original Star-Spangled Banner flying over Baltimore's Fort McHenry on September 14, 1814, following a twenty-five-hour bombardment by the British Navy, inspiring him to write the words to our national anthem. Torn and tattered over the years, reduced in size to appease souvenir-hunters, stuffed away in a New York City vault for the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the flag's mere existence after two hundred years is an improbable story of dedication, perseverance, patriotism, angst, inner-family squabbles, and, yes, more than a little luck.

For this unlikely feat, we have the Armistead family to thank -- led by Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead, commander of Fort McHenry, who took it home after the battle in clear defiance of U.S. Army regulations. It is only because of that quiet indiscretion that the flag survives to this day. Armistead's descendants kept and protected their family heirloom for ninety years. The flag's first photo was not taken until 1873, almost sixty years after Key saw it waving, and most Americans did not even know of its existence until Armistead's grandson loaned it to the Smithsonian in 1907.

With the publication of "Our Flag Was Still There: The Star Spangled Banner that Survived the British and 200 Years - And the Armistead Family Who Saved It", Tom McMillan tells a story as no one has before. Digging deep into the archives of Fort McHenry and the Smithsonian, accessing never-before-published letters and documents, and presenting rare photos from the private collections of Armistead descendants and other sources, McMillan follows the flag on an often-perilous journey through three centuries. "Our Flag Was Still There" provides new insight into an intriguing period of U.S. history, offering a "story behind the story" account of one of the country's most treasured relics.

Critique: The story of one of America's most iconic symbols, "Our Flag Was Still There: The Star Spangled Banner that Survived the British and 200 Years - And the Armistead Family Who Saved It" will hold a very special interest for readers concerned with the American Revolution and our founding history. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library American History collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Our Flag Was Still There: The Star Spangled Banner that Survived the British and 200 Years - And the Armistead Family Who Saved It" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212341844, $31.95, CD).

Editorial Note: Tom McMillan ( is a lifelong student of history, and has served on the board of trustees of Pittsburgh's Heinz History Center, the board of directors of the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, and the marketing committee of the Gettysburg Foundation. He has written three previous books, including Flight 93: The Story, The Aftermath, and the Legacy of American Courage on 9/11. McMillan recently retired after a forty-three-year career in sports communications, which included twenty-five years as VP/Communications for the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins. He has a journalism degree from Point Park University.

The World History Shelf

Postcards from Congo: A Graphic History
Edmund Trueman, author/illustrator
Arsenal Pulp Press
9781551528953, $19.95, PB, 176pp

Synopsis: The Democratic Republic of Congo is the second-largest country in Africa by area. It has had a fractured and bloody history, variously undone by decades of colonialism, civil war, corruption, and totalitarian rule. The country has played a crucial role in the economic growth of the Global North, but in doing so, has suffered immensely. So many seminal advances in technology were possible only through the extraction of materials from Congo ranging from rubber to copper to uranium to coltan. In each case, the Congolese people paid a great price exacerbated by the weight of colonial exploitation and dictatorial rule.

"Postcards from Congo: A Graphic History" is comprehensive graphic style history in which author and illustrator Edmund Trueman explores the fractious story of Congo. Through deft illustrations and storytelling, Congo's history (not widely known to Western readers) comes vividly alive. We see how Congolese musicians have spread their language across Africa by creating some of the most popular music on the continent, and how Congolese women have spent decades sidestepping sexist legislation to become leaders in local business.

From resistance against colonialism to the fight for independence and the self-determination to make a life in an almost stateless place, "Postcards from Congo: A Graphic History" depicts how the Congolese people have resisted and survived in order to take control of their lives and the country they call home.

Critique: Informative enhanced for the reader with the Inclusion of a Foreword by historian Didier Gondola, Professor of African History at Johns Hopkins University, "Postcards from Congo: A Graphic History" is a fascinating, informative, and thought-provoking approach to history that takes a kind of graphic novel approach to telling a non-fiction history. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Postcards from Congo: A Graphic History" will hold interest for readers wanting to know more about central African history in general, and the Republic of Congo in particular. In a format that could well serve as a template for similar histories of other African nations, "Postcards from Congo: A Graphic History" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library African History collections.

Editorial Note #1: Edmund Trueman ( has been creating and self-publishing underground comics for the last decade. He has written from his own experience about topics ranging from the refugee crisis to the squatting movement. Postcards from Congo is his first long-form graphic non-fiction work, and his first work dealing with African history.

Editorial Note #2: Didier Gondola ( is Professor of African History at Johns Hopkins University. He has a PhD in African History from the Universite Paris 7 in 1993. His publications include numerous articles and chapters on popular cultures (music, fashion, gambling, and memory), gender and postcolonial issues in Central Africa and the African diaspora in France. His most recent book is Tropical Cowboys: Youth Gangs, Violence, and Masculinities in Colonial Kinshasa (Indiana University Press).

Travellers of the World Revolution
Brigitte Studer
9781839768019, $39.95, HC, 496pp

Synopsis: The Communist International was the first organised attempt to bring about worldwide revolution and left a lasting mark on 20th-century history. With the publication of "Travellers of the World Revolution: A Global History of the Communist International", Professor Brigitte Studer offers a new and fascinating account of this transnational organization which was founded in 1919 by Lenin and Trotsky and dissolved by Stalin in 1943 -- and telling that story through the eyes of the activists who became its "professional revolutionaries."

Professor Studer follows such figures as Willi Munzenberg, Mikhail Borodin, M.N. Roy and Evelyn Trent, Tina Modotti, Agnes Smedley and many others less well-known as they are despatched to the successive political hotspots of the 1920s and '30s, from revolutionary Berlin to Baku, from Shanghai to Spain, from Nazi Germany to Stalin's Moscow.

"Travellers of the World Revolution" traces their journeys from revolutionary hope to accommodation, defeat or death, looking at questions of motivation and commitment, agency and negotiation, of life and love, conflict and frustration. In doing so, it reveals a forgotten Comintern, the expression of a multi-dimensional revolutionary moment, which attracted not only working-class but feminist, anti-racist, anti-colonial and anti-imperialist activists, highlighting the role of women in the Comintern and the centrality of anti-colonialism to the Communist project.

This outstanding study finally concludes with a reflection on the ultimate demise of a historically unique undertaking.

Critique: An exceptionally well researched, impressively written, deftly organized, accessibly presented, and comprehensive political history, "Travellers of the World Revolution: A Global History of the Communist International" is a seminal work of meticulous scholarship, making it a critically important and unreservedly recommended contribution to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Political Science/History collections. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the 20th Century history of Communism and Socialism, that "Travellers of the World Revolution" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Brigitte Studer ( is a historian and professor emerita of contemporary history at the University of Bern. A specialist in gender history and social and political history, she has written extensively on political activism, international Communism and Stalinism, citizenship, welfare and employment protection as well as on female suffrage and women's movements. Her books have been published in English, German, French, Italian, Russian and Turkish. She has taught at the Universities of Geneva and Zurich and at Washington University (St. Louis, USA). She has also been a visiting professor at the EHESS in Paris and at the University of Strathclyde, and senior visiting fellow at the University of Vienna and at the University of London's Institute of Historical Research.

The Civil War Shelf

"If We Are Striking for Pennsylvania"
Scott L. Mingues Sr., author
Eric J. Wittenberg, author
Savas Beatie
9781611216110, $34.95, HC, 456pp

Synopsis: Award-winning co-authors Scott L. Mingus Sr. and Eric J. Wittenberg are back with the second and final installment of "If We Are Striking for Pennsylvania". Volume 2 is " The Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac March to Gettysburg, June 22-30, 1863". A compelling study that is the first to fully integrate the military, political, social, economic, and civilian perspectives with rank-and-file accounts from the soldiers of both armies during the inexorably march north toward their mutual destinies at Gettysburg. Gen. Robert E. Lee's bold movement north, which began on June 3, shifted the war out of the central counties of the Old Dominion into the Shenandoah Valley, across the Potomac, and beyond.

The first volume "If We Are Striking for Pennsylvania": The Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac March to Gettysburg - Volume 1: June 3-21, 1863" carried the armies through the defining mounted clash at the battle of Brandy Station, after which Lee pushed the head of his army into the Shenandoah Valley and achieved the magnificent victory at Second Winchester on his way to the Potomac. Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, who was caught flat-footed by the move, used his cavalry to probe the mountain gaps, triggering a series of consequential mounted actions.

The second volume "If We Are Striking for Pennsylvania": The Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac March to Gettysburg. Volume 2: June 22-30, 1863" completes the march to Gettysburg and details the actions and whereabouts of each component of the armies up to the eve of the fighting. The large-scale maneuvering in late June prompted General Hooker to move his Army of the Potomac north after his opponent and eventually above the Potomac, where he is removed from command and replaced by V Corps commander George G. Meade. Jeb Stuart begins his controversial and consequential ride that strips away the eyes and ears of the Virginia army. Throughout northern Virginia, central Maryland, and south-central Pennsylvania, civilians, politicians, and soldiers alike struggle with the reality of a mobile campaign and the
massive logistical needs of the armies.

Mingus and Wittenberg mined hundreds of primary accounts, newspapers, and other sources to describe the passage of the long martial columns, the thunderous galloping of hooves, and the looting, fighting, suffering, and dying. As careful readers will quickly discern, other studies of the runup to Gettysburg gloss over most of this material. It is simply impossible to fully grasp and understand the campaign without a firm appreciation of what the armies and the civilians did during the days leading up to the fateful meeting at the small crossroads town in Adams County, Pennsylvania.

Critique: A powerful, informative, and effectively presented two-volume saga is a truly seminal and ground-breaking study. With the publication of "If We Are Striking for Pennsylvania": The Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac March to Gettysburg. Volume 2: June 22-30, 1863", no personal, professional, community, or academic library American Civil War History collection can be considered up-to-date without the inclusion of both volumes 1 & 2 of "If We Are Striking for Pennsylvania. It should be noted that this outstanding study is also available for students, academia, and American Civil War buffs in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.95).

Editorial Note #1: Scott L. Mingus Sr. ( is the award-winning author of more than a dozen Civil War books, including Unceasing Fury: Texans at the Battle of Chickamauga, September 18-20, 1863 (2022). Scott maintains a blog on the Civil War history of York County (

Editorial Note #2: Eric J. Wittenberg ( is an Ohio attorney, an accomplished Civil War cavalry historian, and an award-winning author. He has penned more than a dozen books, including Gettysburg's Forgotten Cavalry Actions, which won the 1998 Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award, and The Devil's to Pay: John Buford at Gettysburg, which won the Gettysburg Civil War Roundtable's 2015 Book Award.

John Brown's Raid
Jon-Erik M. Gilor, author
Kevin R. Pawlak, author
Savas Beatie
9781611215977, $16.95, PB, 192pp

Synopsis: It is not commonly known that the first shot of the American Civil War was not fired on April 12, 1861, in Charleston, South Carolina, but instead came on October 16, 1859, at Harpers Ferry, Virginia -- or so it was claimed former slave turned abolitionist Frederick Douglass. That shot went across the country like a meteor in the dark.

John Brown, the infamous fighter on the Kansas plains and detester of slavery, led a band of nineteen men on a desperate nighttime raid that targeted the Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. There, they planned to begin a war to end slavery in the United States. But after 36 tumultuous hours, John Brown's Raid failed, and Brown himself became a prisoner of the state of Virginia.

Brown's subsequent trial further divided north and south on the issue of slavery as Brown justified his violent actions to a national audience forced to choose sides. Ultimately, Southerners cheered Brown's death at the gallows while Northerners observed it with reverence. The nation's dividing line had been drawn.

Herman Melville and Walt Whitman extolled Brown as a "meteor" of the war. Roughly one year after Brown and his men attacked slavery in Virginia, the nation split apart, fueled by Brown's fiery actions.

"John Brown's Raid: Harpers Ferry and the Coming of the Civil War, October 16-18, 1859" by co-authors and Civil War historians Jon-Erik Gilor and Kevin Pawlak tells the story of the first shots that led to disunion. Profusely enhanced with with maps and images, "John Brown's Raid" includes a driving and walking tour of sites related to Brown's Raid so visitors today can follow the path of America's meteor.

Critique: A part of the Savas Beatie 'Emerging Civil War Series', and exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "John Brown's Raid: Harpers Ferry and the Coming of the Civil War, October 16-18, 1859" will prove a welcome and enduringly appreciated addition to the ever expanding library of American Civil War histories. While available for reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99), "John Brown's Raid" is a fundamentally recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library American Civil War collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Jon-Erik M. Gilot ( has worked more than fifteen years in the field of public history. In addition to his work as a business archivist and records manager, he also serves as curator at the Captain Thomas Espy Grand Army of the Republic Post in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, and is active in numerous historical organizations.

Editorial Note #2: Kevin Pawlak ( is the Director of Education for the Mosby Heritage Area Association and works as a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Antietam National Battlefield. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association and the Save Historic Antietam Foundation. Kevin also serves on the advisory board at Shenandoah University's McCormick Civil War Institute and Shepherd University's George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War. The History Press published his first book, Shepherdstown in the Civil War: One Vast Confederate Hospital, in 2015.

Sand, Science, and the Civil War
Scott Hippensteel
University of Georgia Press
9780820363523, $114.95, HC, 360pp

Synopsis: The influence of sedimentary geology on the strategy, combat, and tactics of the American Civil War is a subject that has been completely neglected by military historians. Sedimentary geology influenced everything from the nature of the landscape (flat vs. rolling terrain) to the effectiveness of the weapons (a single grain of sand can render a rifle musket as useless as a club).

With the publication of "Sand, Science, and the Civil War: Sedimentary Geology and Combat", Professor Scott Hippensteel investigates and presents the role of sedimentary geology on the campaigns and battles of the Civil War on multiple scales, with a special emphasis on the fighting along the coastlines.

At the start of the Civil War the massive brick citadels guarding key coastal harbors and shipyards were thought to be invincible to artillery attack. The Union bombardment of Savannah's key defensive fortification, Fort Pulaski, demonstrated the vulnerability of this type of fortress to the new rifled artillery available to the Union as Fort Pulaski surrendered within a day.

When the Union later tried to capture the temporary sand fortifications of Battery Wagner (protecting Charleston) and Fort Fisher (protecting Wilmington) they employed similar tactics but with disastrous results. The value of sand in defensive positions vastly minimized the Federal advantage in artillery, making these coastal military strong points especially costly to capture.

Through this geologically centered historic lens, Professor Hippensteel explores the way sediments and sedimentary rocks influenced the fighting in all theaters of war and how geologic resources were exploited by both sides during the five years of conflict.

Critique: A seminal, unique, impressively organized, and ground-breaking (no pun intended!) study that is informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of 'A Note about Units of Measurement', forty pages of Notes, and an eight page Index, "Sand, Science, and the Civil War: Sedimentary Geology and Combat" is a singular and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library American Civil War histories and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academic, Civil War buffs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Sand, Science, and the Civil War: Sedimentary Geology and Combat" is also available in a paperback edition (9780820363530, $44.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $33.99).

Editorial Note: Scott Hippensteel ( is an associate professor of earth sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is also the author of Rocks and Rifles: The Influence of Geology on Combat and Tactics during the American Civil War.

Editorial Note: Todd E. Harburn ( is an independent scholar, an orthopedic surgeon, and a doctor of sports medicine. He is also the co-author of "A Most Troublesome Situation: The British Military and the Pontiac Indian Uprising of 1763-1764".

The Military Shelf

Operation Rype
Frode Lindgjerdet
Casemate Publishers
9781636241340, $37.95, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: To prevent German occupying forces in Norway from reinforcing their defenses during the final months of World War II, the Office of Strategic Services launched Operation Rype, with the mission of sabotaging the Nordland Railway in Mid-Norway. Rype was led by Major William E. Colby, later director of the CIA.

After several delays, the Norwegian Special Operations Group (NORSO) dropped over the Sn†sa mountains on the night of March 24. Out of eight B-24s, only three dropped on target. One dropped in Sweden, the remaining four returned to Britain. Two of the B-24s crashed, killing all but one of their crews. Reinforcement and resupply of the unit failed due to extreme Arctic conditions.

Relying heavily on help from the Norwegian resistance, NORSO managed to sever the railway at two points. On both occasions, they withdrew with the Germans hot on their tail. On May 2, a German patrol blundered into their camp, resulting in the killing of all of the Germans and one wounded Norwegian resistance fighter. Whether the Germans were killed in the ensuing firefight, or were executed later, has been hotly debated ever since.

After the war ended, NORSO was allowed down from the mountains, but were sent on bogus missions by the British commanders in Trondheim. They eventually managed to get recognition for their contribution to victory.

"Operation Rype: A WWII OSS Railway Sabotage Mission in Norway" by Frode Lindgjerdet is a new history of the operation is based on German, Norwegian, American and Swedish sources. It examines how the outcome of the operation was affected by the limitations of equipment in sub-Arctic conditions, and British-American rivalry and cooperation throughout the operation.

Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a sixteen page set of Bibliographies, a two page Glossary, a two page Bibliography, eighteen pages of Endnotes, and a three page Index, "Operation Rype: A WWII OSS Railway Sabotage Mission in Norway" is an exceptionally interesting and thoroughly documented action that is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library World War II European/Norwegian battlefield histories. It should be noted for students, academia, and military history buffs that "Operation Rype: A WWII OSS Railway Sabotage Mission in Norway" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.95).

Editorial Note: Frode Lindgjerdet works for Norwegian Armed Forces Museums, he is also a lecturer and author. He is an SSGT with the Norwegian Home Guard.

First Fights in Fallujah
Lieutenant Colonel David E. Kelly, USMC (Ret.)
Casemate Publishers
9781636243184, $37.95, HC, 344pp

Synopsis: In March 2004, the unprovoked ambush killing and desecration of the bodies of American civilian security contractors in Fallujah, Iraq, caused the National Command Authorities in Washington, DC. to demand that the newly arrived Marine Expeditionary Force there take action against the perpetrators and other insurgent forces. Planned Stability and Support Operations were cast aside as insurgent fighters dared the Marines to enter Fallujah.

Marine infantrymen, tankers, helicopter crews, and amphibious vehicle drivers all pitched into high-intensity battles and firefights during the first fights of Fallujah in April 2004. Across the board cooperation and innovation marked these fighting Marines in combined arms fights that no one expected. Marines fought in the streets, conducted house-to-house searches, cleared buildings of enemy, and used tank main guns in direct support of urban environment operations.

Helicopter crews supported operations on the ground with rockets and machine-gun fire, and Amtrac Marines transported forces to face enemy RPG and machine-gun fire. Marines from infantry squad members to a battalion commander were interviewed by Marine Corps field historians within days or weeks of the events at nearby combat outposts and camps.

With the publication of "First Fights in Fallujah: Marines During Operation Vigilant Resolve, in Iraq, April 2004", David Kelly deftly combines these interview notes and the words of the men themselves to create a unique narrative of Marines in this combat. Casualties only stiffened the will of the Marines to crush the enemy.

A late April political plan called for the withdrawal of Marine forces from the city, and Marines at every level, though frustrated, understood the need to allow this attempted solution to play itself out.

Critique: Featuring the inclusion of a section of full color photos, an eighteen page Glossary, a two page listing of Sources and Further Reading, and a six page Index, "First Fights in Fallujah: Marines During Operation Vigilant Resolve, in Iraq, April 2004" is an inherently fascinating and detailed account of a major military operation, the first in what would become one of America's longest lasting wars. While also available for the personal reading list of dedicated military history buffs in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99), "First Fights in Fallujah: Marines During Operation Vigilant Resolve, in Iraq, April 2004" is a superbly crafted history that is highly recommended as a core addition to community and academic library 21st Century American Military history collections.

Editorial Note: Lieutenant Colonel David E. Kelly received his commission in 1971, and served as an infantry officer with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 4th Marines with an Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) off the coast of Vietnam in 1972-73. Prior to retirement from the Reserves in 1999 he was Operations Officer for the Marine Field History Detachment. He volunteered to return to active duty to deploy to Iraq in 2004 as senior Field Historian in order to conduct interviews with Marines and Navy personnel at all levels in Iraq. He is now a retired high school teacher. (

Courage Under Fire
Ed Sherwood, LTC, US Army (Ret.)
Casemate Publishers
9781612009643, $34.95, HC, 360pp

Synopsis: "Courage Under Fire: The 101st Airborne's Hidden Battle at Tam Ky" by retired Lieutenant Colonel Ed Sherwood is the first history to be published about Operation Lamar Plain. After 50 years and until now, the story of the renowned 101st Airborne's major offensive near Tam Ky, South Vietnam had remained largely unknown.

Fighting at Tam Ky by the 1st Brigade began 15 May 1969 while the 101st's 3rd Brigade battled on Hamburger Hill. The political consequences of Hamburger Hill's high casualties caused Lamar Plain and its high casualties to remain classified and undisclosed. Decades later, the fighting at Tam Ky is mostly forgotten except by those who fought there.

Sherwood's superb research of now declassified records uncovers how such a large battle could remain hidden and undisclosed. But that is not the heart of his story. His focus is on the courage and commitment of the young infantry soldiers who fought. Many were sons of WWII and Korean War veterans. They had a legacy to uphold -- to honor their families, the 101st Airborne, and their nation. Most of all in the crux of battle, they would not let their fellow soldiers down.

In "Courage Under Fire", Sherwood uses actual battle records and eyewitness accounts to follow "Never Quit" Delta Company and its sister companies through 28 days of continuous combat at Tam Ky. Delta Company's young infantry soldiers live up to their motto despite increasing casualties, a tough enemy, harsh battlefield conditions, and loss of leaders.

For all who fought at Tam Ky, their bravery and devotion to duty in an increasingly unpopular war is worthy to be remembered. With veterans of Tam Ky now growing older and fewer in number, it is past time to tell their story.

Critique: Rescuing a major military action in the Vietnam War from an undeserved obscurity, "Courage Under Fire: The 101st Airborne's Hidden Battle at Tam Ky" is a carefully crafted Vietnam combat history that deserves as wide a readership as possible. While readily available for the personal reading lists of military buffs and these Vietnam War veterans (and their families) in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), in a paperback edition (9781636243054, $24.95), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Tantor Audio, 9798212079488, $41.99, CD), "Courage Under Fire: The 101st Airborne's Hidden Battle at Tam Ky" is an essential and core addition to community, college, and university library Vietnam War Biography/History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Ed Sherwood ( led an infantry platoon at Tam Ky in Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry, fighting with the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division He was wounded in action on June 2, 1969. After Vietnam, he continued serving as an infantry officer with multiple assignments in the 3rd Armored Division in Germany, the US Army Infantry School, and the 197th Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, GA. Ed retired from active duty as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1988.

Siege Warfare During the Hundred Years War
Peter Hoskins
Pen & Sword Books
c/o Casemate (US distribution)
9781399074766, $34.95, PB, 252pp

Synopsis: A great many histories of the Hundred Years War have been written, including accounts of all the famous battles, but until the publication of "Siege Warfare During the Hundred Years War: Once More Unto the Breach" by historian and author Peter Hoskins none of the other studies have concentrated on the sieges that played a decisive role in the protracted struggle between England and France.

Edward III's capture of Calais in 1347 was of crucial importance for the English, and the failure of the English siege of Orleans in 1429 was a turning point for the French after the disaster of Agincourt. Throughout the war, sieges were a major weapon in the strategic armories of both sides, and Peter Hoskins's perceptive and graphic study is a fascinating analysis of them.

"Siege Warfare During the Hundred Years War: Once More Unto the Breach" describes the difficulties faced by besieger and besieged, examines the logistics and resource implications of sieges, and provides a comparative assessment of siege warfare alongside set-piece battles and the English strategy of chevauchees. Key sieges are reconstructed in vivid detail, other sieges are summarized, and the book is fully illustrated with photographs and plans.

Critique: Originally published in hardcover by Pen & Sword Books in 2018, "Siege Warfare During the Hundred Years War: Once More Unto the Breach" is now available in a trade paperback format and includes maps, plans, a number of plates, two appendices ('Summary of Outcomes of Seiges' & 'Duration of Seiges'), five pages of Notes, a three page Bibliography, and an eight page Index. Seminal work of meticulous research, "Siege Warfare During the Hundred Years War: Once More Unto the Breach" is highly recommended for community and academic library English/French military history collections, and is available in a digital book format Kindle, $20.61) for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the Hundred Years War between England and France

Editorial Note: Peter Hoskins ( is a former RAF pilot who writes, lectures and gives battlefield tours. His highly praised previous books In the Steps of the Black Prince: The Road to Poitiers, 1355-1356, Agincourt 1415 and Crecy 1346 have established his reputation as an authority on the Hundred Years War.

Bronze Age Military Equipment
Dan Howard
Pen & Sword Books
c/o Casemate (US distribution)
9781399023375, $29.95, PB, 184pp

Synopsis: "Bronze Age Military Equipment" by historian and author Dan Howard offers an informative and fascinating discussion of the development of the military equipment of the earliest organized armies of the Bronze Age. Howard accurately describes the development of weapons, armor and chariots, how they were made and their tactical use in battle.

Spanning from the introduction of massed infantry by the Sumerians (c. 26th century BC) through to the collapse of the chariot civilizations (c. 12th century BC), this is the period of the epic struggles described in the Old Testament and Homer's Iliad, the clashes of mighty empires like those of the Babylonians, Egyptians and Hittites.

In "Bronze Age Military Equipment", Howard draws on the latest research and archaeology, as well as his own experiences of using and making replica weapons and armor, to challenge established views and bring fresh insights to this fascinating period of military history.

The main regions of discussion are the Aegean, the Near East and the Middle East but some reference is also made to other relevant cultures such as the Aryan Indians and the Shang Chinese.

Critique: Originally published in hardcover by Pen & Sword Books in 2014, this new trade paperback edition of "Bronze Age Military Equipment" features a number of illustrations and plates, as well as four appendices (Homeric Shield; Homeric Armour; Warriors of the Bronze Age; Typology of Bronze Age Swords), twelve pages of Notes, a two page Bibliography, and a three page Index. An exceptional work of historical research, "Bronze Age Military Equipment" is a seminal contribution recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Bronze Age Weapons Technology and Warfare History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and military history buffs that "Bronze Age Military Equipment" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, 11.99) as well.

Editorial Note: Dan Howard ( is an historical author who offers great insight into the Bronze Age, the battles the fought and the weapons they fought them with.

The Battle of Plassey 1757
Stuart Reid
Frontline Books
c/o Pen & Sword Books
9781399020879, $29.95, PB, 280pp

Synopsis: In the 18th Century, Britain was rapidly emerging as the most powerful European nation, a position France had long believed to be her own. Yet with France still commanding the largest continental army, Britain saw its best opportunities for expansion lay in the East. Yet, as Britain's influence increased through its official trading arm, the East India Company, the ruler of Bengal, Nawab Siraj-ud-daulah, sought to drive the British out of the sub-continent and turned to France for help.

The ensuing conflict saw intimate campaigns fought by captains and occasionally colonels and by small companies rather than big battalions. They were campaigns fought by individuals rather than anonymous masses; some were heroes, some were cowards and most of them were rogues on the make. The story is not only about Robert Clive, a clerk from Shropshire who became to all intents and purposes an emperor, but also about Eyre Coote an Irishman who fought with everyone he met, about Alexander Grant a Jacobite who first escaped from Culloden and then, Flashman-like was literally the last man into the last boat to escape Calcutta and the infamous Black Hole.

The fighting culminated in Robert Clive's astonishing victory at Plassey where just 3,000 British and sepoy troops defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah's Franco-Bengali army of 18,000 in the space of only forty minutes. The victory at Plassey in 1757 established Britain as the dominant force in India, the whole of which gradually come under British control and became the most prized possession in its empire. Few battles in history have ever had such profound consequences.

Critique: Originally published by Pen & Sword Books in hardcover (2017), a new trade paperback edition of "The Battle of Plassey 1757: The Victory That Won an Empire" by author and historian Stuart Reide is now available for a new generation of readers with an interest in 18th Century British Military History. Organized and presented in six informative chapters, "The Battle of Plassey 1757: The Victory That Won an Empire" also features twelve Appendices, thirty pages of Notes, a one page Bibliography, and a three page Index. While with the highest recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library British Military History collections, it should b noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Battle of Plassey 1757: The Victory That Won an Empire" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $22.47).

Editorial Note: Stuart Reid ( is a prolific and well-known writer on a wide range of military subjects, and he is an expert on the military history of Scotland. His pioneering study Like Hungry Wolves remains unchallenged as the best narrative account of Culloden. His other books include: The Campaigns of Montrose, All the King's Armies: A Military History of The English Civil War, Wolfe: The Life and Career of General James Wolfe, Wellington's Highland Warriors: From the Black Watch Mutiny to the Battle of Waterloo.

The Devils Will Get No Rest
James B. Conroy
Simon and Schuster
Blackstone Audiobooks
9781982168681, $34.00, HC, 432pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan That Won the War", author James B. Conroy provides a character-driven account of the Casablanca Conference of January 1943, an Anglo-American clash over military strategy that produced a winning plan when World War II could have gone either way. Churchill called it the most important Allied conclave of the war. Until now, this has never been explored in a full-length, dedicated study for the non-specialist general reader.

In a secret, no-holds-barred, ten-day debate in a Moroccan warzone, protected by British marines and elite American troops, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton Jr., Sir Alan Brooke, Lord Louis Mountbatten, Sir Harold Alexander, and their military peers questioned each other's competence, doubted each other's vision, and argued their way through choices that could win or lose the war.

In the pages of "The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan That Won the War", the reader is treated to a master class in strategy by the legendary statesmen, generals, and admirals who overcame their differences, transformed their alliance from a necessity to a bond, forged a war-winning plan, and glimpsed the postwar world.

Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of forty-two pages of Notes, a twelve page Bibliography of Works Frequently Cited, a two page listing of Photo Credits, and a fifteen page Glossary, "The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan That Won the War" will have a special value to readers with an interest the military history of World War II. While an unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library World War II Histories & Biography collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan That Won the War" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781797157535, $44.99, CD).

Editorial Note: James B. Conroy ( is an award-winning author of narrative history. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and the Georgetown University Law Center, Conroy has been a trial lawyer in Boston for 37 years, having first worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. as a House and Senate press secretary, speechwriter, and chief of staff and served for six years in the United States Navy reserve as a Navy photographer and journalist in antisubmarine aviation units.

The High Ground: Leading in Peace and War
R. D. Hooker Jr.
Casemate Publishers
9781636242934, $24.95, PB, 192pp

Synopsis: "The High Ground: Leading in Peace and War" by R. D. Hooker Jr. draws on the author's personal experiences as a combat leader to illustrate examples of successful and inspiring leadership in military organizations at all levels. Many of the essays comprising "The High Ground" focus on specific military personalities that portray effective leader behaviors in both peacetime and combat settings from the tactical to the strategic. Other essays describe key leadership characteristics and attributes of successful leaders, from small-unit level to the Pentagon.

"The High Ground" provides specific and compelling leadership advice and suggestions to new soldiers, new lieutenants, staff officers and commanders. Hooker served more than thirty years in the post-Vietnam Army, rising from private to colonel and serving in the invasion of Grenada and in Somalia, the US response to the Rwandan genocide, in Bosnia and Kosovo, in peacekeeping operations in the Sinai, and in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. He commanded a paratrooper company, battalion and brigade and served in the continental US, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Southwest Asia.

"The High Ground" cogently describes his observations and interactions with military leaders at all levels, in battle and in garrison, to describe and portray military leader development and leader excellence in all its many and varied dimensions. Gripping and fast-paced, these leadership vignettes will carry the reader from peacetime into battle with the American Soldier.

Critique: Informative, thoughtful, inspiring and of special relevance to readers with an interest in American military biographies and histories, "The High Ground: Leading in Peace and War" is inherently interesting and exceptionally well written, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library American Military History/Biography collections. It should be noted that "The High Ground" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49) as well.

Editorial Note: Richard D. Hooker Jr ( is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council and a Senior Researcher with the University of Oxford's Changing Character of War Program. A career Army officer, his military service included combat tours in Grenada, Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, including command of a parachute brigade in Baghdad. His military service also included tours in the offices of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff of the Army. A veteran of three tours with the National Security Council, he holds a doctorate in international relations from the University of Virginia and previously served as Assistant Professor at West Point, as the Army Chair at the National War College and as Dean of the NATO Defense College in Rome.

Washington's Marines
Jason Q. Bohm
Savas Beatie
9781611216264, $34.95, HC, 360pp

Synopsis: The fighting prowess of United States Marines is second to none, but few know of the Corps' humble beginnings and what it achieved during the early years of the American Revolution. Jason Bohm rectifies this oversight with the publication of "Washington's Marines: The Origins of the Corps and the American Revolution, 1775-1777".

The story of the U.S. Marine Corps begins with the oppressive days that drove America into a conflict for which it was ill-prepared, when thirteen independent colonies commenced a war against the world's most powerful military with nothing more than local militias, privateers, and other ad hoc units. The Continental Congress rushed to form an army and placed George Washington in command, but soon realized that, to win its freedom, America would need men who could fight on the sea and on land. Enter the Marines. Bohm artfully tells the story of the creation of the Continental Marines and the men who led them during the parallel paths followed by the Army and Marines in the opening years of the war and through the early successes and failures at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, Canada, Boston, Charleston, and more.

As General Washington struggled to preserve his command after defeats in New York and New Jersey in 1776, the nascent U.S. Navy and Marines deployed the first American fleet, conducted their first amphibious operation, and waged a war on the rivers and seas to block British reinforcements and capture critically needed supplies. Desperate times forced Congress to detach the Continental Marines from the Navy to join the embattled army as Washington sought an "important stroke" to defeat his adversary.

Washington's Marines joined their fellow soldiers in a protracted land campaign that culminated in turning-point victories at Trenton, Assunpink Creek, and Princeton. This chapter of the Continental Marines ends in Morristown, New Jersey, when Washington granted Henry Knox's request to leverage the Marines' expertise with naval guns to fill the depleted ranks of the army's artillery during the "Forage War."

Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of several Maps, a number of Illustrations, two Appendices, a twenty page Bibliography, and a sixteen page Index, "Washington's Marines: The Origins of the Corps and the American Revolution, 1775-1777" is an impressively informated and comprehensive history covering the men, strategy, performance, and personalities of the Marine Corps' formative early years into a single compelling and memorable account. Author John Bohm's sweeping prose relies heavily on primary research and his own extensive military knowledge. Highly recommended as one of the finest military histories of its kind, "Washington's Marines" is an important and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Colonial Military History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and military history buffs that "Washington's Marines" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.95).

Editorial Note: Major General Jason Q. Bohm ( is a Marine with more than 30 years of service. An infantryman by trade, he has commanded at every level from platoon commander to commanding general in peacetime and war. Bohm also served in several key staff positions, including as a strategic planner with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director of the Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School, House Director, Marine Corps Office of Legislative Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, and Chief of Staff of U.S. Naval Striking and Support Forces, NATO. Jason has written several articles for the Marine Corps Gazette and won various writing awards from the Marine Corps Association. He is also the author of From the Cold War to ISIL: One Marine's Journey (Naval Institute Press, 2019).

The General Fiction Shelf

Into the Desert
Xuemo, author
Howard Goldblatt, translator
Sylvia Li-Chun Lin, translator
Long River Press
c/o China Books & Periodicals, Inc.
9781592652549, $18.95, PB, 274pp

Synopsis: "Into the Desert" is the story of two women in Western China in the 1990s, and takes place on the edge of the Gobi Desert, near the site of the ancient Silk Road. Bound together by both poverty and tradition, they embark upon a perilous journey to change their lives.

With the publication of "Into the Desert" by Long River Press, acclaimed Chinese author Xuemo has recreated a bygone village in Gansu province in Western China, a place where camels are as common as automobiles and potatoes replace rice. With his discerning eye for desert landscape, a fine ear for colorful local expressions, and an acute sensitivity to the inner world of his characters, the reader is led on a fantastic journey where hope and tragedy go hand in hand, and where centuries of tradition both suppress and compel the forces of change.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read from first page to last, and ably translated from the Chinese in English by the team of Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin (whose previous work includes numerous works of fiction by popular Chinese writers), "Into the Desert" is certain to ignite interest in Xuemo's other works in the English language and is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library International Literary Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: XueMo, ( formerly known as Chen Kaihong, is a renowned cultural scholar and a leading contemporary Chinese writer, He is also the founder of BeiJingRuXue MediaCo.,Ltd, Dean of The Guangzhou Research Institute for Xiangba Culture, and Humanities Tutor at Fudan University.

Black Girls Must Have It All
Jayne Allen
Harper Perennial
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
Blackstone Audiobooks
9780063296640, $30.00, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: After a whirlwind year, Tabitha Walker's carefully organized plan to achieve the life she wanted (perfect job, dream husband, and stylish home) has gone off the rails. Her checklist now consists of diapers changed (infinite), showers taken (zero), tears cried (buckets), and hours of sleep (what's that?).

Don't get her wrong, Tabby loves her new bundle of joy and motherhood is perhaps the only thing that's consistent for her these days. When the news station announces that they will be hiring outside competitors for the new anchor position, Tabby throws herself into her work. But it's not just maintaining her position as the station's weekend anchor that has her worried. All of her relationships seem to be shifting out of their regular orbits!

Best friend Alexis can't manage to strike the right balance in her "refurbished" marriage with Rob, and Laila's gone from being a consistent ride-or-die to a newly minted entrepreneur trying to raise capital for her growing business. And when Marc presents her with an ultimatum about their relationship, coupled with an extended "visit" from his mother, Tabby is forced to take stock of her life and make a new plan for the future.

Consumed by work, motherhood, and love, Tabby finds herself isolated from her friends and family just when she needs them most. But help is always there when you ask for it, and Tabby's village will once again rally around her as she comes to terms with her new life and faces her biggest challenge yet -- choosing herself.

Critique: A deftly crafted novel by author Jayne Allen, "Black Girls Must Have It All" will hold a very special appeal to readers with an interest in African-American Fiction, Women's Domestic Life Fiction, and Domestic Fiction. Entertaining, original, compelling, and memorable, "Black Girls Muse Have It All" is a highly recommended pick for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections and is also readily available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9780063137943, $18.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212214230, $41.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Jayne Allen is the pen name of Jaunique Sealey (, a graduate of Duke University and Harvard Law School. An avid traveler, she speaks three languages and has visited five continents. Drawing from her unique experiences as an attorney and entrepreneur, she crafts transcultural stories that touch upon contemporary women's issues such as workplace and career dynamics, race, fertility, modern relationships and mental health awareness. Her writing echoes her desire to bring both multiculturalism and multidimensionality to a rich and colorful cast of characters inspired by the magic uncovered in everyday life.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

Basque Poppies: Survival Under the Swastika
Francine Kosla
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9798887290201, $19.00, PB, 234pp

Synopsis: Joseph Vienney, his wife and teenaged daughters were patiently resigned to wait out the German occupation until conscience, opportunity and the enemy arrived at their door. Shackled by the Nazis living under his own roof, Joseph engineered one of the most ingenious missions of WW II. But unless he could flawlessly choreograph events, the reprisals against the Basque population could only result in its genocide.

Critique: Although a work of fiction, "Basque Poppies: Survival Under the Swastika" by Francine Kosla is based on the true accounts of a French Basque family during World War II. Enhanced for the reader with a section of black/white photos, "Basque Poppies" is a simply riveting read from cover to cover and, given today's resurgence of neo-Nazi and ethnic driven genocides, is a novel that holds lessons of the past that must not be forgotten least they drown the world in war once again. Of special value to readers with an interest in World War II Histories & Biographies, "Basque Poppies: Survival Under the Swastika" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community/academic library Historical Fiction collections.

The Old Lion
Jeff Shaara
St. Martin's Press
9781250279941, $30.00, HC, 480pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Old Lion: A Novel of Theodore Roosevelt" author Jeff Shaara accomplishes what only the finest historical fiction can do -- he brings to life Theodore Roosevelt who was one of the most consequential figures in U.S. history and peels back the many-layered history of the man, and the country he personified.

From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, from the waning days of the rugged frontier of a young country to the emergence of a modern, industrial nation exerting its power on the world stage, Theodore Roosevelt embodied both the myth and reality of the country he loved and led.

From his upbringing in the rarefied air of New York society of the late 19th century to his time in rough-and-tumble world of the Badlands in the Dakotas, from his rise from political obscurity to Assistant Secretary of the Navy, from national hero as the leader of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War to his accidental rise to the Presidency itself, Roosevelt embodied the complex, often contradictory, image of America itself.

In gripping prose, Shaara tells the story of the man who both defined and created the modern United States.

Critique: Although a work of biographical fiction, Jeff Shaara's "The Old Lion: A Novel of Theodore Roosevelt" stays true to the non-fiction elements of the life, problems, and achievements of Theodore Roosevelt. The result is a riveting and memorable read and one that is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Biographical/Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Old Lion: A Novel of Theodore Roosevelt" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Jeff Shaara ( is the author of seventeen novels, including Rise to Rebellion and The Rising Tide, as well as Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure - two novels that complete his father's Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, The Killer Angels.

Through Bitter Seas
Phillip Parotti
Casemate Publishers
9781636243085, $24.95, PB, 286pp

Synopsis: Assigned to U.S. Navy Rescue Tug, the ATR-3X, not long after the German surrender in North Africa, Ensign Hal Goff and four other officers must support the Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy, shepherding navy ships to and from the bitter fighting. With the Allied advance finally stopped cold along the Winter Line beneath Monte Cassino, Hal and his ship become part of the grueling invasion of Anzio and the seemingly endless stalemate across Anzio's bloody beaches.

Critique: With an impressive and genuine flair for a distinctive and narrative driven storytelling style, Phillip Parotti's new novel, "Through Bitter Seas" will provide his readers with deftly crafted and gripping World War II naval action thriller set in the Mediterranean Sea. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49), "Through Bitter Seas" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for community library World War II historical fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Phillip Parotti ( grew up in Silver City, New Mexico, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1963, and served four years at sea on destroyers, both in the Pacific and the Atlantic, before exchanging his regular commission for a commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve. In addition to a number of short stories, essays, and poems, Parotti has published three well received novels about The Trojan War.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

The Ice Harp
Norman Lock
Bellevue Literary Press
9781954276178, $17.99, PB, 240pp

Synopsis: In 1879, toward the end of his life, Ralph Waldo Emerson, known throughout as the Sage of Concord, has lost his words. Beset by aphasia and grief, Ralph Waldo Emerson is scarcely recognizable as America's foremost essayist and orator.

To the dismay of his wife, he frequently entertains the specters of his fellow transcendentalists, including Whitman, Thoreau, John Muir, and Margaret Fuller, and frets about the future of humankind and the natural world. Does the present displace the past? Do ideas always precede actions? What responsibility does each of us bear for the downtrodden, the preservation of liberty, and the Earth itself?

These metaphysical concerns become concrete when Emerson meets a Black soldier accused of killing a white man who abused him. The soldier's presence demands a response from Emerson, an action outside the parlors of philosophy and beyond the realm where language and logic hold sway.

"The Ice Harp", the tenth stand-alone book in The American Novels series by author Norman Lock is a poignant portrayal of a literary luminary coming to terms with the loss of memory, the cost of inaction, and the end of life.

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently fascinating fictional biography featuring American literary legend Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Ice Harp" is a memorable read and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for readers with an interest in an intriguing and philosophical work that is as intellectually entertaining as it is memorably thought provoking, "The Ice Harp" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.09).

Editorial Note: Norman Lock ( is the author of novels, short fiction, and poetry, as well as stage and radio plays. He has won The Dactyl Foundation Literary Fiction Award, The Paris Review Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, and has been longlisted twice for the Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates Prize. He has also received writing fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Second Star
Phillippe Delerm, author
Jody Gladding, translator
Archipelago Books
9781953861542, $18.00, PB, 164pp

Synopsis: Ably and expertly translated into English for an American readership by Jody Gladding, "Second Star: And Other Reasons for Lingering" by French author Philippe Delerm is an impressive anthology of fourteen succinct short stories offering literary snapshots.

Whether biting into a bitter turnip or savoring a summer evening in June, Philip Delerm's literary snapshots transport us to simple, often overlooked sensations and pleasures, and, pausing, expand a moment or emotion outwards in concentric circles.

These evocative literary vignettes invite us to linger, to "savor the few moments of silence" -- as if each bite of a ripe watermelon, each exhaled breath on a bitterly cold day, each cloudy evening on the beach, were our last.

Critique: A master of the short story format, Philip Delerm pursued literary studies at Nanterre before becoming a teacher himself. In 1975 he taught French Literature at the Marie Curie College (Secondary School) in Bernay. Ironically, the first manuscripts which Delerm submitted for publication from 1976 were refused by publishers. But eventually with success as an author, Delerm ended his teaching career in 2007 in order to concentrate on his writing full-time. With the publication of an English edition of "Second Star: And Other Reasons for Lingering" from Archipelago Books, this literary short story collection is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. An inspiring series of lyrical meditations on life's smallest moments, from peeling a clementine, drinking a cold mojito, to washing your window, it should be noted that "Second Star" is also available for students, academia, and the general public in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note #1: Philippe Delerm ( was born in 1950 in a suburb of Paris. Delerm writes fiction, essays, and children's books. His collection of essays La Premiere gorgee de biere et autres plaisirs minuscules sold more than one million copies in France and became a #1 bestseller. Delerm has published eleven books, including "Autumn" which won the Prix Alain-Fournier in 1990.

Editorial Note #2: Jody Gladding ( has translated the works of Elizabeth Deshays, Herve This, and Jean Giono, among others. She has written several books of poetry, including the spiders my arms (2018). Gladding has been honored with a Whiting Writers' Award, an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Centre National du Livre de France Translation grant and a French-American Foundation Translation Award, along with a MacDowell Colony fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford, and a residency at The Frost Place.

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

A Stranger Comes
Ewan Smith
Linford Romance Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print, Inc.
9781444851052, $24.50, PB, Large Print, 252pp

Synopsis: Velma is a lively young widow who runs a thriving inn in the bustling port of Evenmouth. Her reputation as a hostess is unrivaled, and even Lady Osanna and Lord Durwin at the castle often seek her help when putting on their banquets. Now, she watches with interest as a curious ship from distant parts comes in with the tide. She will soon find that there is something oddly familiar about the intriguing stranger who arrives with it!

Critique: As a novelist, Ewan Smith is exceptionally adept at crafting memorable characters and a fully engaging romance plot laced throughout with unexpected twists and turns. This large print paperback edition of "A Stranger Comes" from the Linford Romance Library is a solid and recommended pick for both the personal reading lists of dedicated romance fans and community library Historical Romance collections.

Editorial Note: Ewan Smith ( has worked as a journalist, house-husband, child-minder, teaching assistant and primary school teacher. In 2016, he retired to the seaside in North Wales where he and his wife, Anna, are currently living the dream. He writes poetry, short stories and pocket novels for women's magazines and is keenly learning Welsh. He won the poetry prize for Welsh learners at the National Eisteddfod.

Beth And The Captain's Ghost
Victoria Garland
Linford Romance Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print, Inc.
9781444851076, $24.50, PB, Large Print, 312pp

Synopsis: After the sudden death of her lacklustre husband, Beth is desperate to get away from his overbearing sisters. Clifftop Cottage seems to be the perfect escape -- until she discovers its resident ghost, Captain Daniels! But the Captain takes a shine to Beth and her two children, and is happy for them to stay. In fact, he helps her get her life together again - not to mention giving a spiritual helping hand to Beth's fledgling romance with his grandson Mike.

Critique: With a very special appeal to fans of romance and the supernatural, "Beth And The Captain's Ghost" is an original, deftly crafted, and wonderfully entertaining story by novelist Victoria Garland. This large print paperback edition from Linford Romance Library is especially commended for inclusion into community library Romance Fiction collections and personal reading lists.

Editorial Note: Victoria Garland ( is a romantic novelist who lives and works in Dorset, England. She is the author of Briefs (a collection of quirky short stories) and is currently working on A Month of Secrets, a full length novel which she is writing for RoNA's New Writers' Scheme. She also writes children's stories under her maiden name - Paula Haughey.

The Boyfriend Candidate
Ashley Winstead
Graydon House
9781525804960, $18.99, PB, 384pp

Synopsis: As a shy school librarian, Alexis Stone is comfortable keeping out of the spotlight. But when she's dumped for being too meek (in bed!) she decides she needs to change. And what better way to kick-start her new more adventurous life than with her first one-night stand?

Enter Logan, the gorgeous, foul-mouthed stranger she meets at a hotel bar. Audacious and filterless, Logan is Alexis's opposite -- and boy, do opposites attract! Just as she's about to fulfill her hookup wish, the hotel catches fire in a freak lightning storm. In their rush to escape, Logan is discovered carrying her into the street, where people are waiting with cameras. Cameras Logan promptly (and shockingly!) flees.

Alexis is bewildered until suddenly pictures of her and Logan escaping the fire are all over the internet. Turns out Logan is none other than Logan Arthur, the hotshot candidate challenging the Texas governor's seat. The salacious scandal is poised to sink his career (and jeopardize Alexis's job) until a solution is proposed: he and Alexis could pretend to be in a relationship until election day... in two months. What could possibly go wrong?

Critique: The stuff of which Hallmark Channel Rom-Com movies are made, "The Boyfriend Candidate" by Ashley Winstead is an original and fun read from cover to cover. While unreservedly recommended and popular pick for community library Contemporary Romance collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of fans with an interest in romantic comedies that "The Boy Friend Candidate" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212658386, $41.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Ashley Winstead ( is an academic turned novelist with a Ph.D. in contemporary American literature.

The Western Fiction Shelf

Aces Wild
E. Jefferson Clay
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print, Inc.
9781444850123, $24.50, PB, Large Print, 239pp

Synopsis: They were an odd pair, the one-time Union captain and the former Confederate sergeant. They'd fought each other during the Battle of Pea Ridge -- and then ended up fighting shoulder to shoulder when a common enemy showed his face. Bo Rangle, leader of the guerilla force known as Rangle's Raiders, took advantage of the slaughter to steal what the two opposing forces had been fighting for - two hundred thousand dollars' worth of Confederate gold. Hank Brazos and Duke Benedict never forgot that day, or each other. And when, by chance, their trails crossed again after the War, they decided to team up, find Rangle and reclaim that gold for themselves. And while they were at it, they swore to get revenge for all of their comrades who'd died that day back in 1862.

Critique: E. Jefferson Clay's western novel "Aces Wild", begins the story for fans of our two unlikely (and reluctant) heroes as once again they are involved in gunplay aplenty as they return to their quest for that treasure of Confederate gold" continued in "A Badge for Brazos" . A fun, action packed, and simply riveting read from cover to cover, this large print paperback edition of "Ace Wild" from the Linford Western Library collection is especially and unreservedly recommended reading for all dedicated western novel fans and community library Western Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: E. Jefferson Clay ( is one of the many pseudonyms for Australian author, comic book writer and illustrator Paul Wheelahan.

Escape from the Casa Grande
P. J. Gallagher
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print, Inc.
9781444850154, $24.50, PB, Large Print, 222pp

Synopsis: Josh Martin has headed West seeking adventure. He finds it -- and also finds a life and death situation, becoming marooned in a lonely desolate valley with no hope of remaining alive unless he can employ the few skills that he possesses. To add to his problems, he also has to care for Ellie, a girl who is the sole survivor of an Apache raid.

Critique: A riveting survival story set in the Old West, "Escape from the Casa Grande" showcases the narrative driven storytelling talents of western novelist P. J. Gallaher. Originally published as A Black Horse Western in 2020, this new large print paperback edition of "Escape from the Casa Grande" is fully recommended for both community library Western Fiction collections and the personal reading lists of dedicated western novel fans.

Editorial Note: P. J. Gallagher served in the British Army. He has written and had published close to 20 articles for The Journal of the Royal Artillery, competed for the past 20 years in Cowboy Action Shooting, and is a collector of antique firearms. There is an extensive listing of his books at:

Paul Bedford
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print, Inc.
9781444850116, $24.50, PB, Large Print, 233pp

Synopsis: When Martha Pootes watched the three Union soldiers approach her parent's farm in Kentucky, she had no inkling of the stark horror they would bring. Raped and left for dead, the young woman manages to impart a very sketchy description of her attackers before breathing her last. Returning to General Grant's Army Of The Tennessee, the men believe that they are in the clear. Unfortunately for them, Martha's uncle just happens to be a Deputy United States Marshal. Knowing only that one of the rapists has a powder burn under his right eye, the marshal joins Grant's forces. But being part of an invading army means that he is not only in mortal danger from the fugitives. There is also the very real risk that in pursuing them, Pootes could be shot by the Confederates defending Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. And that's only the start of it all!

Critique: A classic revenge quest western set against the background of the American Civil War, "Shiloh" by novelist Paul Bedford is an inherently fascinating and carefully crafted, compulsive page-turner of a read from beginning to end. Originally published as A Black Horse Western, this new large print paperback edition from the Linford Western Library series is unreservedly recommended for personal and community library Western Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Paul Bedford ( has a strong interest in the history of the American frontier and specifically strives to make his western novels as factually accurate and realistic as possible.

Enemies of Medicine Feather
Will DuRey
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print, Inc.
9781444850142, $24.50, PB, Large Print, 221pp

Synopsis: A renowned hunter, tracker and guide, few white men know the land west of the Missouri like Weston Gray. The Arapaho and Lakota Sioux people with whom he's lived from time to time call him Medicine Feather and he's acted as interpreter and spokesman for them to avert trouble with the military and at treaty meetings with Washington delegates. Among the people he calls 'friend' are army officers and tribal chieftains who, in order to maintain peace, listen to his advice. But the discovery of gold in the Black Hills has changed the mood on both sides and now, in the summer of 1876, Wes no longer knows if he has any friends along the frontier. He does know that he has enemies.

Critique: With a very special appeal to western fans with an interest in the impact that gold fever had on White and Indian relations, "Enemies of Medicine Feather" by Will DuRey is an original, deftly crafted, action packed read from first page to last. With painstaking attention to getting historical details correct, "Enemies of Medicine Feather" will prove a welcome addition to personal reading lists and community library Western Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Will DuRey ( is a life-long student of the history and legends of the Old West. He has been writing western fiction for more than a decade and lives in Northumberland, UK.

The Valerons - Honor Bound
Terrell L. Bowers
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print, Inc.
9781444850192, $24.50, PB, Large Print, 258pp

Synopsis: Nothing grabs a man's total attention like being shot at! Jared Valeron learns that an unknown gunman has tarnished the family reputation by killing a man while impersonating his cousin Wyatt. In trying to track down the culprit, Jared is drawn into an odd mystery at a gold-mining town. Solving the riddle of the killer's target requires discovering a motive for the murder. When his investigative efforts propel him deep into a hole, only his cousins can help dig him out. Before the folly ends, guns will be drawn and bullets will fly. Family honor sometimes comes at a high price!

Critique: Another terrific Valeron western novel from the pen of Terrell L. Bowers, "The Valerons - Honor Bound" deftly combines all the western elements with a puzzle mystery to solve -- if Jared Valeron can stay alive long enough! Highly recommended to the personal reading lists of the legions of Terrell Bowers fans, "The Valerons - Honor Bound" is highly recommended for all community library Western Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: A lengthy listing of available novels by western author Terrell L. Bowers can be found at:

Adam Brady
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print, Inc.
9781444850178, $24.50, PB, Large Print, 216pp

Synopsis: Judge Cowper of Shimmer Creek hires Buck Halliday to take care of a problem. Jason Henley has taken over the town lock, stock and barrel, and now expects every other businessman to pay him protection money. Halliday might have dealt out death before, but he isn't a killer for hire. Still, maybe he can convince Henley that it might be better for his health if he makes dust and heads for someplace else. Trouble is, Henley has more lives than a cat. And to get to him, a feller first has to go through his pet gunman, the notorious Rafe Murchison. It appears to Halliday that he really is going to earn his money on this job...

Critique: A riveting read that launched a popular series of westerns by novelist Adam Brady featuring Buck Halliday, this large print paperback edition of "Halliday" from the Linford Western Library collection will leave enthusiastic readers and community librarians looking up the other novels comprising the 'Halliday' series!

Editorial Note: There is a substantial listing of Adam Brady westerns available at:

Philip McCormac
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print, Inc.
9781444850161, $24.50, PB, Large Print, 300pp

Synopsis: Blain Larkin and his brother Moylan run afoul of Verne Lecroy, son of a powerful banker. When Lecroy kills Moylan in a gunfight, Blain tries to avenge his brother's death, but only manages to wound Lecroy. When youngster is sentenced to hang for attempted murder, Blain goes on the run, and joins an outlaw gang led by Robert Sturdy. Though he's resigned to leading the life of an owlhoot, when he meets Robert's sister, the delightful Emelie, he resolves to lead a better life. But meanwhile, he must battle to survive!

Critique: A fun and riveting read from cover to cover, "Outlaw" by novelist Philip McCormac is a non-stop, action packed western of the first order and this large print paperback edition from the Linford Western Library series is certain to be a welcome addition to the personal reading lists of western buffs and a singularly popular pick for community library Western Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Philip McCormac is the author of sixteen Black Horse Westerns, ten as P.McCormac and six using various pseudonyms. He has also published crime thrillers, historical thrillers, supernatural thrillers as well as short stories in various genres. Philip was born in Northern Ireland. (

Rod Wilson's Challenge
Terry Murphy
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print, Inc.
9781444850185, $24.50, PB, Large Print, 252pp

Synopsis: The arrival of Rod Wilson in the New Mexico town of Cabbana, a place of lawlessness, is welcomed by most but greeted with hostility by a few. Along with two fellow lawmen from his past, Wilson sets about bringing order to the place. With the added complication of two women vying for his attention, he has to deal with the constant threat of being killed by outlaws employed by a businessman who wants rid of him, leading to a confrontation with a man he knows to be a fast gun. Only then will Wilson learn whether or not he can be quickest on the draw.

Critique: With the publication of "Rod Wilson's Challenge", novelist Terry Murphy showcases his considerable storytelling talents with a story that has everything a dedicated western fan could want -- a just cause and life-or-death gunplay with the outcome hanging in the balance. This large print paperback edition of "Rod Wilson's Challenge" is a riveting read and highly commended for both personal reading lists and community library Western Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: A complete listing of available large print paperback westerns can be found at:

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Covert in Cairo
Kelly Oliver
Boldwood Books
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print, Inc.
9781804831717, $41.00, PB, Large Print, 426pp

Synopsis: Cairo. December 1917 -- Following a tip-off from notorious spy Fredrick Fredricks, Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane of British Intelligence find themselves in the hustle and bustle of Egypt. But ancient mummies aren't the only bodies buried in the tombs of Cairo.

When a young French archeologist is found dead in a tomb in the desert with his head bashed in, and an undercover British agent goes missing, the threat moves closer to home.

As they dig deeper, soon Fiona and Kitty uncover a treasure trove of suspects, including competing excavators, jealous husbands, secret lovers, and belligerent spies! Fiona wonders if the notorious Fredrick Fredricks could be behind the murders? Or is the plot even more sinister?

One thing is clear -- If Fiona and Kitty can't catch the killer, they might end up sharing a sarcophagus with Nefertiti!

Critique: Also available as a complete and unabridged audio book (9781804831656, $97.95), and enthusiastically recommended for community library collections, "Covert in Cairo" by novelist Kelly Oliver is another original and deftly crafted 'Fiona Figg & Kitty Lane Mystery' and a fun read for dedicated cozy mystery fans from first page to last!

Editorial Note: Kelly Oliver ( contemporary Jessica James Mysteries have won the IPPY Award for BEST Mystery, The Silver Falchion Award for BEST Suspense, the Mischief and Mayhem Award for BEST Mystery, the E-Lit Award for BEST Suspense, and the New York Book Award for BEST Crime Novel. Her cozy historical mystery series, The Fiona Figg Mysteries are set in WW1 and follow plucky file clerk turned spy Fiona Figg from London to Paris, Vienna, New York and Cairo. The first, Betrayal at Ravenswick, won a Reader's Choice Award for Historical Mystery. The second, High Treason at the Grand Hotel, was chosen by Mystery Tribune Magazine as one of the most anticipated mysteries of January 2021. Other books in the series include Covert in Cairo and Mayhem in the Mountains. Kelly is also the author of The Pet Detective Middle Grade Mysteries, including Cub Reporter, Treasure Hunter, and Geocacher. The Pet Detective Mysteries have won a Reader's Choice Award for Children's Mystery, been a finalist for a Silver Falchion Award for Children's Mystery, and won a New York Book Award for BEST Children's Book.

Below the Line: A Hollywood Crime Novel
Lowell Cauffiel
Arcade Publishing
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
9781956763485, $29.99, HC, 312pp

Synopsis: Former Detroit homicide detective Edwin Blake broke into show business as a script consultant on cop movies. Now living in Los Angeles five years later, Blake is suffering from clinical depression, is no longer in demand in film and TV - and money is short. But things look up when Blake gets a call from wealthy, oddball producer, Jason "JP" Perry, telling him he wants to hire him for a future cable TV series. But there's a catch. First he wants Blake to locate the missing ex-wife of a "friend of a friend" from Chicago. Blake will be working for free on a promise - a typical Hollywood hustle. But Blake's not the only one on the case. Hired gun Warren Poole has also been contracted to find the woman.

When a corrupt Hollywood producer, an ex-cop with a conscience, and a career criminal without one all have the same quarry, trouble is bound to ensue. And it does, with remarkably satisfying results, thanks to Blake's girlfriend, Carla, a former roller derby queen who has turned more than her own life around.

Critique: Filled with rich characters both easy to love and hate, "Below The Line" skewers Hollywood in a deliciously fresh way. With his expert eye for true crime detail and his prowess at executing elaborate plot, Cauffiel gives us a thrilling ride on the dark side of Hollywood that lingers long after the credits roll. "Below The Line" is a hard-boiled private eye murder mystery fully in the Sam Spade, Mickey Spillane, John D. McDonald tradition. Very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated crime novel fans that "Below The Line" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note: Lowell Cauffiel ( is the author of nine books and an award-winning veteran investigative reporter. Cauffiel's three crime novels have explored diverse characters and settings that range from a Detroit shakedown crew in Marker to the glitzy, corrupt underworld of the National Football League in Toss, which he co- authored with former Superbowl quarterback Boomer Esiason. His five nonfiction crime books have covered a monstrous, homicidal patriarch in the New York Times best-selling House of Secrets; a pair of female serial killers in Forever and Five Days, and a calculating criminal justice instructor who tried to design the perfect crime with the murder of his TV anchorwoman wife in Eye of the Beholder. Cauffiel's first true crime book, Masquerade, the story of a Grosse Pointe psychologist's deadly double life, was a national best seller.

The Last Drop of Hemlock
Katharine Schellman
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
9781250831842, $28.00, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Life as a working-class girl in Prohibition-era New York isn't safe or easy. But Vivian Kelly has a new job at the Nightingale, an underground speakeasy where the jazz is hot and the employees look out for each other in a world that doesn't care about them. Things are finally looking up for her and her sister Florence -- until the night Vivian learns that her friend Bea's uncle, a bouncer at the Nightingale, has died.

His death is ruled a suicide, but Bea isn't so convinced. She knew her uncle was keeping a secret: a payoff from a mob boss that was going to take him out of the tenements and into a better life. Now, the money is missing.

Though her better judgment tells her to stay out of it, Vivian agrees to help Bea find the truth about her uncle's death. But they uncover more than they expected when rumors surface of a mysterious letter writer, blackmailing Vivian's poorest neighbors for their most valuable possessions, threatening poison if they don't comply.

Death is always a heartbeat away in Jazz Age New York, where mob bosses rule the back alleys and cops take bootleggers' hush money. But whoever is targeting Vivian's poor and unprotected neighbors is playing a different game. With the Nightingale's dangerously lovely owner, Honor, worried for her employees' safety and Bea determined to discover who is responsible for her uncle's death, Vivian once again finds herself digging through a dead man's past in hopes of stopping a killer.

Critique: A cozy mystery involving an amateur female sleuth and set in the violence of the Roaring Twenties, "The Last Drop of Hemlock" by author/storyteller Katharine Schellman is an impressively riveting and non-stop fun read from first page to last. With more plot twists and turns than a Disneyland roller coaster, "The Last Drop of Hemlock" is especially and unreservedly recommended as a popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of those with an interest in historical mysteries and plucky if imperiled amateur female murder mystery solvers that "The Last Drop of Hemlock" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666634211, $22.99, CD) deftly narrated by Sara Young.

Editorial Note: Katharine Schellman ( is a former actor and one-time political consultant who currently lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia. She is also the author of Last Call at the Nightingale.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Immortal Detective
D. B. Woodling
CamCat Books
9780744308013, $26.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Celeste Crenshaw has survived her parents' grisly murders, grueling and gender-biased police training, a battle with rogue vampires, and even her own death. While immortality might seem a dream come true, can she accept the strings attached?

Celeste spends the start of her immortal life being mentored by the Elders of the Hollow Earth. They release her once they feel certain Celeste has honed her supernatural powers. But little do they know, Celeste isn't wholly committed to granting eternal life to those deserving.

Upon a return home to her immortal lover, and the Kansas City Detective Squad, she battles mortal foes, not so unlike the demonic undead. And when a fellow detective falls victim to a murderous gang member, Celeste faces a gut-wrenching decision and the possible wrath of the Elders.

Critique: A new, original, fresh, fascinating and fun take on the Vampire genre, "The Immortal Detective" by D. B. Woodling is a 'must read' pick for the legions of vampire fiction fans and an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Fantasy Fiction collections. Exceptionally well written, (and leaving readers with an interest in vampire mysteries and paranormal urban fantasies looking eagerly toward the next installment from the mind and imagination of D. B. Woodling) it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Immortal Detective" is also available in a paperback edition (9780744308037, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: D. B. Woodling ( is the author of two historical fiction novels: "Shannon's Revenge: Broken Promises" and "Retribution: A Lover's Tale"), and The Detective Mike Malone series.

The Meister of Decimen City
Brenna Raney
CamCat Books
9780744307702, $27.99, HC, 416pp

Synopsis: Supergenius and quasi-villain Rex normally can't go a week without accidentally endangering Decimen City with her Mad Scientist shenanigans. It's been two weeks since her genetically engineered dinosaurs rampaged through town (a good streak for her) but the peace is broken when actual villain Last Dance sets his sights on Decimen. And he wants Rex's help.

Before Rex can say "I didn't do it", superheroes who have dragged her to jail on her worst days are crowding her lab to conscript her into quasi-herodom.

Rex would rather stay out of it and deal with the dinosaurs that keep calling her Mom, but she can't ignore that she was somewhat responsible for Last Dance's villainy. She'd kept a very disorganized lab. And he was such a nosy brother. She failed to help him back then, but maybe if she stops him now (and keeps the heroes fooled) she can finally set things right!

Critique: Original, fun, and with a special appeal for anyone who has ever sided with the Mad Scientist in a superhero movie, "The Meister of Decimen City" by novelist Brenna Raney is a welcome and mandatory addition to highschool and community library Science Fiction collections for supervillain and superhero fans of all ages. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Meister of Decimen City" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.49) and in a paperback edition (9780744307726, $21.99).

Editorial Note: Brenna Raney ( began her writing career with Amelia Bedelia fan-fiction on hand-stapled printer paper. Her early original work was entrusted to gel pens and floppy disks, then ballpoint pens and flash drives, and briefly, receipt paper from her first job. In her Academic Period, she produced dry and esoteric works for which she was awarded a master's degree. She has also dabbled in visual media, and her minimalist comic, Ice Cream Money from Grandma, hangs proudly on her grandmother's refrigerator. She resides in Texas, where she bakes bread, kills plants, and teaches anthropology.

The Literary Studies Shelf

Poets of the Round Table
Jidi Majia, author
Huang Shaozheng, translator/editor
Regent Press
9781587906503, $36.00, HC, 280pp

Synopsis: "Poets of the Round Table: Jidi Majia in Conversations with Sixteen World Poets on Poetics, Poetry and Eco-Writing" is collection of interviews, spanning eight years, and consists of dialogues with 16 world poets, revealing Jidi Majia as an internationalist, well steeped in the played-out values of the Enlightenment civilization of the West, its latest strands of eco-enterprise, land ethics and cultural diversity, modernist poetics and post-contructionist rhetorics.

In "Poets of the Round Table" we are shown, for the first time, that much of Jidi Majia's theme, thinking and inspiration is drawn from Hispanic, Russian, Eastern European and African literary heritages (in order of importance and weight to his poetic oeuvre). The questions and answers, taken together, form a truthful profile of the heart and soul of China's most celebrated ethnic poet who has achieved world renown through his quasi-epic writings (running to 200-400 lines) like "I, The Snow Leopard" (2010), "The Great River" (2014), "To Mayakovsky" (2015), "The Belated Dirge" (2016), "The Split Planet" (2021), "The Promised Land" (2022), etc. in recent years.

The international poets who have been interviewed here are: Simon J. Otiz (USA); Yevgeny Yevtushenko (Russia); Peter Racz (Hungary); Graham Mort (England); Adonis (Syria); Tomas Venclova (Lithuania); Chehem Watta (Djibuti); Zdravka Evtimova (Bulgaria); Mark Tredinnick (Australia); Philippe Tancelin (France); Yvon Le Men (France); Cassian Maria Spiridon (Romania); Guido Oldani (Italy); Ataol Behramglu (Turkey); Eduardo Espina (Uruguay); Freddy Nanez (Venezuela).

These are veritably 16 exceptional excerpts of literary history. 16 exceptional poets, recalcitrant, dismissive, depressed about the status quo, in a spirit of mutually affirming comradeship, unveil their intriguing life experience, dubious opinions, political fury, eco-fervor--montages that constitute an engaging record of modern poetry, furnishing a valuable look into the minds and work of a wide spectrum of great writers and poets (Non-western sources in particular) on earth.

Critique: A seminal, ground-breaking, informative, well organized and presented study, "Poets of the Round Table: Jidi Majia in Conversations with Sixteen World Poets on Poetics, Poetry and Eco-Writing" is ably translated into English for an American readership by Huang Shaozheng and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, college, and university library Literary Studies collections in general, and supplemental Contemporary Chinese Poetry curriculum lists in particular.

Editorial Note: Jidi Majia (, is one of the most eminent poets and the sole cultural activist initiating several cultural events in China today. He was born into a great family of Yi nobility in the Daliangshan Highland, west of Sichuan Province. With a four-year formal schooling in Chinese language and world literatures, he graduated from Southwest Nationalities University. At the age of 24, he was the recipient of the highest state honors, much coveted by any would-be literary aspirants. Instant formal recognition has ensued. Sustainable quality output, with over 80 publications of poetry and prose, translated into over 40 languages, home and abroad, distinguishes him as a cultural icon across the Yi community (and indeed, the whole ethnic community) as well as one of the leading poetic voices of international status in contemporary Chinese poetic writing.

The Comix/Graphic Novel Shelf

The Lost Journals of Phineas Finke
Stephen Barnwell, author/illustrator
Joan Barnwell, editor
Antarctica Arts
9781733964982, $29.95, HC, 130pp

Synopsis: In 1906, photographer Phineas Finke discovered a new emulsion for his glass plates. It was sensitive to a very special frequency of light that allowed him to see into another dimension.

At first, he was excited and fascinated by the intriguing images and bizarre creatures that his New Emulsion captured. Soon, however, enthusiasm turned to terror, as horrific beings from another dimension began to infest the countryside, the nearby town of Arkham, and finally his own home.

What unspeakable horrors might still be surrounding us at all times, unseen and invisible?

Critique: With the publication of "The Lost Journals of Phineas Finke" will be able to join Phineas Finke on his journey into madness in a Victorian Gothic tale worthy of H. P. Lovecraft.
A unique and chillingly illustrated graphic novel by author/illustrator Stephen Barnwell, and deftly edited by Joan Barnwell, "The Lost Journals of Phineas Finke" features 92 soul-chilling images -- purportedly the actual wet plate photographs made in 1906 by Phineas Finke with his New Emulsion. Macabre, original, and entertaining, "The Lost Journals of Phineas Finke" is highly recommended for the personal reading lists and community library graphic novel collections for ages 14-18 and older.

Editorial Note: Stephen Barnwell ( is a professional artist, working in printmaking, illustration, and book design. His prints have been exhibited internationally in museums including the Palais de Tokyo Contemporary Art Museum in Paris, the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art in California, the Altmarkisches Museum in Stendal, Germany, and the Lahti Art Museum in Lahti, Finland.

Sons of Ashgard: Ill Met in Elmgard
Chad Corrie, et al.
Dark Horse Comics
10956 SE Main Street, Milwaukie, OR 97222
9781506733616, $19.99, PB, 152pp

Synopsis: With bloody hands and sorrowful heart / I set my sails and soon depart. / For a brighter day my soul does long. / A place to hope where I can belong.

Erick Redfur seeks a new life. Exiled from his homeland he craves a fresh start, but has yet to find it. Hopeful of a better fate in Elmgard he soon finds himself embroiled in a series of troubling events that quickly escalate into a near kingdom-wide war.

Yet even as he attempts a remedy through fast thinking and the aid of some new companions, he risks jeopardizing his chance for a more peaceful future. But in so doing he'll find his redemption along with new hope for the days ahead.

Critique: "Sons of Ashgard: Ill Met in Elmgard" by the team of author Chad Corrie, line artist Matt Wendt, colorist Hi-Fi, and with lettering by Taylor Esposito, is an original and compellingly impressive graphic novel that is a fully entertaining blend of action, adventure, comedy, and heart. It is an anthropomorphic saga that follows a group of adventurous squirrels across a Norse-flavored landscape finding commonality in a bond birthed through mutual struggle and discovery. Each story is stand-alone incident that also ties into a larger narrative woven between each tale. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "Sons of Ashgard: Ill Met in Elmgard" is unreservedly recommended for personal and community library Graphic Novel collections.

Editorial Note: Chad Corrie ( has written comics, graphic novels, prose fiction of varying lengths, and an assortment of other odds and ends. He's been an editor and writer for an online magazine, owned his own publishing company; worked as a bookseller and magazine/book merchandiser.

New Realities: The Comics of Dash Shaw
Greg Hunter
Uncivilized Books
9781941250471, $22.99, PB, 112pp

Synopsis: Dash Shaw is one of the most restless cartoonists of recent decades, constantly evolving in how he approaches the comics page. In the years since his breakthrough graphic novel Bottomless Belly Button, he has continued to create acclaimed, idiosyncratic comics, varying his uses of line and color as well as shifting from domestic realism to sci-fi farce to historical fiction.

But some concerns in Shaw's work remain constant. His characters live within their own personal realities, often failing to connect or even communicate. Comics as different as the dystopian spectacle BodyWorld and the geek-culture comedy Cosplayers become sites of clashes between incompatible mindsets -- with Shaw adapting his cartooning to capture new varieties of confusion, alienation, and more.

With the publication of "New Realities: The Comics of Dash Shaw" critic Greg Hunter (The Comics Journal) follows the through-line across this adventurous body of work.

Critique: A 'must read' study for the legions of Dash Shaw fans, "New Realities: The Comics of Dash Shaw" is an impressive presentation of the graphic novel style artwork of this unique and iconoclastic artist. "New Realities: The Comics of Dash Shaw" is an especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Comics/Graphic Novels literary criticism collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Literary critic Greg Hunter has a web page on The Comics Journal website at

Destroyer Duck: Graphite Edition
Steve Gerber, author
Jack Kirby, illustrator
John Morrow, editor
TwoMorrows Publishing
10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614
9781605491172, $31.95, HC, 128pp

Synopsis: In the 1980s, writer Steve Gerber was embroiled in a lawsuit against Marvel Comics over ownership of his creation Howard The Duck. To raise funds for legal fees, Gerber asked Jack Kirby to contribute to a benefit comic titled Destroyer Duck. Without hesitation, Kirby (who was in his own dispute with Marvel at the time) donated his services for the first issue, and the duo took aim at their former employer in an outrageous five-issue run.

With biting satire and guns blazing, Duke "Destroyer" Duck battled the thinly veiled Godcorp (whose infamous credo was "Grab it all! Own it all! Drain it all!"), its evil leader Ned Packer and the (literally) spineless Booster Cogburn, Medea (a parody of Daredevil's Elektra), and more!

Now, all five Gerber/Kirby issues are collected in "Destroyer Duck: Graphite Edition" but relettered and reproduced from JACK'S unbridled, uninked pencil art! Also included are select examples of Alfredo Alcala's unique inking style over Kirby on the original issues, Gerber's script pages, an historical Introduction by Mark Evanier (co-editor of the original 1980s issues), and an Afterword by Buzz Dixon (who continued the series after Gerber)!

Dedicated comic history fans will discover all the hidden jabs they might have missed when Destroyer Duck was first published, and experience page after page of Kirby's raw pencil art!

Critique: Informative enhanced with an Introduction by Mark Evanier, an Afterword by Buzz Dixon, deftly edited by John Morrow, and expertly reproducing a truly fascinating bit of 'protest' comic book art history, "Destroyer Duck: Graphite Edition" will be of immense interest to fans of comic book legends Steve Gerber and Jack Kirby. This informative and fun hardcover edition is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library Supherhero comics/graphic novel collections.

Editorial Note #1: Steve Gerber (September 20, 1947[1] - February 10, 2008) was an American comic book writer and creator of the satiric Marvel Comics character Howard the Duck. Other works include Man-Thing, Omega the Unknown, Marvel Spotlight: "Son of Satan", The Defenders, Marvel Presents: "Guardians of the Galaxy", Daredevil and Foolkiller. Gerber ( was posthumously inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2010.

Editorial Note #2: Jack Kirby (August 28, 1917 - February 6, 1994) was an American comic book artist, writer and editor, widely regarded as one of the medium's major innovators and one of its most prolific and influential creators. In 1940, he and writer-editor Joe Simon created the highly successful superhero character Captain America for Timely Comics, predecessor of Marvel Comics. During the 1940s. (

Editorial Note #3: John Morrow ( is a publisher of magazines about comic books (TwoMorrows Publishing) founded in 1994.

The Audiobook Shelf

Visionary: The Mysterious Origins of Human Consciousness
Graham Hancock, author/narrator
Brilliance Audio
9781713631828, $29.99, MP3-CD (21 Hours 41 Minutes)

Synopsis: Less than 50,000 years ago mankind had no art, no religion, no sophisticated symbolism, no innovative thinking. Then, in a dramatic and electrifying change, described by scientists as "the greatest riddle in human history" -- all the skills and qualities that we value most highly in ourselves appeared already fully formed, as though bestowed on us by hidden powers. Humankind discovered the pathway to the gods.

In "Visionary:, Graham Hancock sets out to investigate this mysterious "before-and-after moment" and to discover the truth about the influences that gave birth to modern human mind. His quest takes him on a journey of adventure and detection from the stunningly beautiful painted caves of prehistoric France, Spain, and Italy to remote rock shelters in the mountains of South Africa, where he finds a treasure trove of extraordinary Stone Age art.

Hancock uncovers clues that lead him to travel to the depths of the Amazon rainforest to drink the powerful plant hallucinogen ayahuasca with Indian shamans, whose paintings contain images of "supernatural beings" identical to the animal-human hybrids depicted in prehistoric caves and rock shelters. Hallucinogens such as mescaline also produce visionary encounters with exactly the same beings. Scientists at the cutting edge of consciousness research have begun to consider the possibility that such hallucinations may be real perceptions of other "dimensions."

Could the "supernaturals" first depicted in the painted caves and rock shelters be the ancient teachers of mankind? Could it be that human evolution is not just the "blind," "meaningless" process that Darwin identified, but something more purposive and intelligent, something that we have barely even begun to understand?

Critique: Previously published as "Supernatural" (2015), this new definitive edition of Visionary" includes a new Introduction by Graham Hancock as well as restored chapters that were omitted from the original paperback release. This complete and unabridged audio book from Brilliance Audio is deftly narrated by Hancock and will have a very special appeal to students and non-specialist general readers who are interest in anthropology, prehistory, and human evolution. It is an unreservedly recommended pick for personal, community, college, and university library audio book collections.

Editorial Note: Graham Hancock ( is a British writer who promotes theories involving many ancient civilizations and lost lands. Hancock speculates that an advanced ice age civilization was destroyed in a cataclysm, but that its survivors passed on their knowledge to hunter-gatherers, giving rise to the earliest known civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Mesoamerica.

Scarlet Carnation
Laila Brahim, author
Bahni Turpin, narrator
Brilliance Audio
9781713651802, $14.99, MP3-CD (10 Hours 56 Minutes)

Synopsis: It's 1915. May and Naomi are extended family, their grandmothers' lives inseparably entwined on a Virginia plantation in the volatile time leading up to the Civil War. For both women, the twentieth century promises social transformation and equal opportunity.

May, a young white woman, is on the brink of achieving the independent life she's dreamed of since childhood. Naomi, a nurse, mother, and leader of the NAACP, has fulfilled her own dearest desire: buying a home for her family. But they both are about to learn that dreams can be destroyed in an instant. May's future is upended, and she is forced to rely once again on her mother. Meanwhile, the white-majority neighborhood into which Naomi has moved is organizing against her while her sons are away fighting for their country.

In the tumult of a changing nation, these two women (whose grandmothers survived the Civil War) support each other's quest for liberation and dignity. Both find the strength to confront injustice and the faith to thrive on their chosen paths.

Critique: Set in an early twentieth-century America roiling with racial injustice, class divides, and WWI, two women fight for their dreams in author Laila Brahim's novel "Scarlet Carnation". Impressively performed by the truly exceptional and award-winning story telling skills of narrator Bahni Turpin, This complete and unabridged edition from Brilliance Audio is a perfect pick for personal and community library audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Laila Ibrahim ( is also the author of Golden Poppies, Paper Wife, Mustard Seed, and Yellow Crocus. She spent much of her career as a preschool director, a birth doula, and a religious educator. That work, coupled with her education in developmental psychology and attachment theory, provided ample fodder for her novels.

Editorial Note #2: Bahni Turpin ( is an American audiobook narrator and stage and screen actor based out of Los Angeles. She has won 9 Audie Awards, including Audiobook of the Year for Children of Blood and Bone; 14 Earphone Awards; and 2 Odyssey Awards. Turpin has also earned a place on AudioFile magazine's list of Golden Voice Narrators, and in 2016, she was named Audible's Narrator of the Year. In 2018, Audible inducted her into the Narrator Hall of Fame.

A Piece of Heaven
Barbara O'Neal, author
Raquel Beattie, narrator
Brilliance Audio
9781713645672, $14.99, MP3-CD (14 Hours 8 Minutes)

Synopsis: In the sun-baked hills of New Mexico, Luna McGraw has lived a lifetime of regrets, struggling to conquer the demons that destroyed her marriage and caused her to lose custody of her beloved daughter. But as Luna fights to rebuild a relationship with the troubled teenager, she remains haunted by images of her own childhood and the father she barely knew.

Strong and resilient as the houses he builds, Thomas Coyote comes into Luna's life one extraordinary night when his grandmother nearly dies while conjuring a fiery brew of spiritual enchantment. Luna does not need a man (especially one with a needy ex-wife) to complicate her fragile dreams of the future.

Yet their attraction pushes them both beyond reason into a place where there is only possibility. It will take more than passion to recover the tattered pieces of Luna's soul, more than time to forgive the sins of an offending husband, and more than promises to mend the broken heart of a child.

Critique: An original and deftly crafted story by Barbara O'Neal, "Piece of Heaven" is an irresistible novel full of colorful characters and lush settings of the American Southwest laid out in a brilliant tapestry of romance and magical realism. A complete and unabridged audio book edition from Brilliance Audio, "Piece of Heaven" is brilliantly narrated by Rawuel Beattle and is recommended as a favorite pick for both personal and community library audio book collections.

Editorial Note #1: Barbara O'Neal ( is the author of more than a dozen award-winning, bestselling novels, including "When We Believed in Mermaids".

Editorial Note #2: Raquel Beattie (, who also narrates as Allie Lake. speaks conversational Spanish and French. She can do a range of voices and select accents, including American Southern and Mexican. She has narrated over 85 books from her home studio..

No Rings Attached
Rachel Lacey, author
Zara Hampton-Brown, narrator
Brilliance Audio
9781713652014, $14.99, MP3-CD (8 Hours 51 Minutes)

Synopsis: Lia Harris is tired of being the odd one out. She's never quite fit in with her uptight family, and now that her roommates have all found love, she's starting to feel like a third wheel in her own apartment. Fed up with her mother's constant meddling in her love life, Lia drops hints about a girlfriend she doesn't have. But with her brother's London nuptials approaching, she needs to find a date to save face. Lia turns to her best friend, Rosie, for help, and Rosie delivers -- with the fun, gorgeous Grace Poston.

Grace loves to have a good time, hiding her insecurities behind a sunny smile. Her recent move to London has provided her with a much-needed fresh start. Grace isn't looking for love, and she hates weddings, having weathered more than her fair share of heartache. Friendships are different, though, so for Rosie's sake, she reluctantly agrees to pose as Lia's adoring girlfriend for the wedding festivities.

Both Grace and Lia are prepared for an awkward weekend, complete with prying family members and a guest room with only one bed. As it turns out, they get along well -- spectacularly, in fact. Before they know it, the chemistry they're faking feels all too real. But is their wedding weekend a fleeting performance or the rehearsal for a love that's meant to last?

Critique: "No Rings Attached" by author Rachel Lacey comes the second installment in her Ms. Right series. An original lesbian romance about a reluctant bookseller finding love in unexpected places, Deftly narrated by Zara Hampton-Brown, "No Rings Attached" will have a special attraction for those in the LGBTQ community and this complete and unabridged audio book edition from Brilliance Audio is especially commended for personal and community library collections.

Editorial Note: Rachel Lacey ( is an award-winning contemporary romance author who can be followed on Twitter @rachelslacey; and on FaceBook at She has a newsletter for news and giveaways at:

Editorial Note #2: Zara Hampton-Brown is a London based narrator who lives and breathes all things romance. She is consistently in the Bestseller lists on Audible, and enjoys nothing more than breathing life into a love story.

Everything Must Go
Camille Pagan, author
Ready by Amy McFadden and Laural Merlington
Brilliance Audio
9781713656005, $24.99, MP3-CD (9 Hours 4 Minutes)

Synopsis: Laine Francis believes there's a place for everything -- and New York (where her family lives), isn't her place. But no sooner does the professional organizer's marriage begin to unravel than her sisters drop another bomb on her -- their mother, Sally, may have dementia, and they need Laine to come home.

Laine agrees to briefly return to Brooklyn. After all, bringing order to chaos is what she does best. To Laine's relief, Sally seems no more absentminded than usual. So Laine vows to help her mother maintain her independence, then hightail it back to Michigan.

Except Laine's plans go awry when she runs into her former best friend, Ben, and realizes she finally has a chance to repair their fractured relationship. Then she discovers that memory loss isn't the only thing Sally's been hiding, forcing Laine to decide whether to reveal a devastating truth to her sisters -- and whether to follow her heart when it means breaking her mother's.

Critique: Brought vividly to life in a true 'theatre of the mind' experience by the narrative talents of Amy McFadden and Laural Merlington, "Everything Must Go" is author Camille Pagan's warm, wry, and original novel about secrets, second chances, and the unbreakable bonds between mothers, daughters, and sisters. Highly recommended for both personal and community library audio book collections "Everything Muse Go" is a flawlessly produce, complete and unabridged audio book from Brilliance Audio.

Editorial Note #1: Camille Pagan ( is the author of eight novels, including Don't Make Me Turn This Life Around, This Won't End Well, I'm Fine and Neither Are You, Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties, and Life and Other Near-Death Experiences, which has been optioned for film. Her work has also been published in the New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; Real Simple; Time; and many others.

Editorial Note #2: Amy McFadden ( Has been doing voice-over work for the last 10 years for commercials and industrial films ranging from FORD (Fusion), to The Great American Cookie Company.

Editorial Note #3: Laural Merlington ( has recorded well over one hundred audiobooks, and is the recipient of several AudioFile Earphones Awards. An Audie Award nominee, and has also directed over one hundred audiobooks. She has performed and directed for thirty years in theaters throughout the country. In addition to her extensive theater and voice-over work, Laural teaches college in her home state of Michigan.

Cleopatra's Dagger
Carole Lawrence, author
Kate Rudd, narrator
Brilliance Audio
9781713646778, $14.99, MP3-CD (10 Hours 12 Minutes)

Synopsis: New York, 1880. Elizabeth van den Broek is the only female reporter at the Herald, the city's most popular newspaper. Then she and her bohemian friend Carlotta Ackerman find a woman's body wrapped like a mummy in a freshly dug hole in Central Park -- the intended site of an obelisk called Cleopatra's Needle. The macabre discovery takes Elizabeth away from the society pages to follow an investigation into New York City's darkest shadows.

When more bodies turn up, each tied to Egyptian lore, Elizabeth is onto a headline-making scoop more sinister than she could have imagined. Her reporting has readers spellbound, and each new clue implicates New York's richest and most powerful citizens. And a serial killer is watching every headline.

Now a madman with an indecipherable motive is coming after Elizabeth and everyone she loves. She wants a good story? She may have to die to get it.

Critique: The riveting story of a female journalist in nineteenth-century New York who must match wits with a serial killer, "Cleopatra's Dagger" by Carole Lawrence is a vivid murder mystery thriller that is superbly performed by the narrative skills of vocal actor and storyteller Kate Rudd. This complete and unabridged audio book from Brilliance Audio is a fine and recommended pick for community library audio book collections and the personal lists of fans historical mysteries featuring a female sleuth trying to catch a killer in spite of the misogyny that surrounds her in latter decades of the 19th Century.

Editorial Note #1: Carole Lawrence ( is an award-winning novelist, poet, composer, and playwright. Among her published works are eleven novels, six novellas, and dozens of short stories, articles, and poems, many of which appear in translation internationally. She is a two-time Pushcart Poetry Prize nominee and winner of the Euphoria Poetry Prize, the Eve of St. Agnes Poetry Award, the Maxim Mazumdar playwriting prize, the Jerry Jazz Musician award for short fiction, and the Chronogram Literary Fiction Award. She also writes under the names C. E. Lawrence and Carole Bugge

Editorial Note #2: Kate Rudd ( is the winner of 2013 Audie and Odyssey Awards for narration of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, and has been performing audiobooks for nearly a decade. A ten time Audiofile Magazine Earphones Award recipient, Kate's performances have garnered inclusion in Audiofile's Best Audiobooks of the Year 2012/2017/2018 and Best Voices of the Year 2012. She has narrated more than 450 titles across a variety of genres. She Kate here can be followed on: Twitter @katerudd

The Library CD Shelf

Mystic Voyager
Peter Sterling
Harp Magic Music

Mystic Voyager is a beautiful new age album by world-class harpist and composer Peter Sterling, accompanied by Richard Hardy on flutes and soprano sax, Seay on vocals, Grammy-winning pianist Darlene Koldenhoven, Grammy-nominated Renaissance flute player David Young, and guitarist Steve Oliver. Extraordinary, mind-expanding, and unforgettable, Mystic Voyage is an utterly rapturous soundscape, worthy of the highest recommendation for new age connoisseurs. The tracks are Invocation, Nightwind, Cosmic Lover, Across The Great Divide, Bahia Del Sol, The Long Cold Winter, Light Of Your Love, Angels Ascending, and Wings of Light.

Fire & Rain
Tim Ray Trio
Whaling City Sound
c/o Naxos (dist.)
$TBA CD / $8.99 MP3

Fire & Rain is a jazz piano album by the Tim Ray Trio, which consists of Tim Ray on piano and keyboards, John Lockwood on acoustic and electric bass, and Mark Walker on drums and percussion. The trio combine their talents to perform selected songs by standout music artists, as well as three original pieces and a collective improv track. Vibrant, flowing, and unforgettable, Fire & Rain is a treasure for jazz connoisseurs and public library music collections. The tracks are Bye-Ya, Stolen Moments, NO Worries, The Meeting: The Jbug and the Kman, Mojave, Theodore the Thumper, Fire and Rain, Lawns, Moon in the Sea, Improv #1 (for Chick), Nighttime, The Windup, and Fire and Rain (radio edit).

I Thought About You
Jan Cronin
$TBA CD / $9.49 MP3

Jan Cronin beautifully sings selections from The Great American Songbook in her album I Thought About You, with support from Andy Reiss on guitar and Jim Ferguson on bass. Jan Cronin's heartfelt compassion and decades of experience shine through her extraordinary vocals, in this treasure for connoisseurs of world-class singing. Highly recommended! The tracks are S'wonderful, The Shadow of Your Smile, The Night We Called It a Day, I Thought About You, The Scent of Breakfast and You, My Foolish Heart, Peel Me A Grape, Cry Me A River, Lullaby of Birdland, and Some Other Time.

The Library DVD Shelf

Hope Lives in Hohenwald
Vision Video
P.O. Box 540, Worcester, PA 19490
$14.99 DVD

Synopsis: When people in a rural middle Tennessee community decided "enough is enough" as drugs and alcohol took a heavy toll, they united with the determination that "Hope Lives in Hohenwald."

Tired of family and friends dying and lives shattered from the effects of drugs and alcohol, pastors and ministries from Hohenwald and Lewis County churches came together as partners with local law enforcement. They prayed. They were unified. They held a rally in fall 2021, walking through downtown Hohenwald. It has led to extraordinary changes.

This is the miracle story of how a community of believers stepped up to fight and is winning the war on drugs and drawing many to Jesus Christ!

Critique: Hope Lives in Hohenwald is the profound true story of a rural community in Tennessee and their efforts to heal lives shattered by drugs and alcohol. Pastors and ministries from Hohenwald and Lewis County churches worked with law enforcement, prayed, and held a rally in fall 2021. Hope Lives in Hohenwald is an inspirational story about faith, trust, love, and a community's impassioned efforts to change for the better. Highly recommended! The DVD has both 91-minute and 28-minute versions, and optional English subtitles.

The Philosophy Shelf

Befuddled: The Lives & Legends of Ancient Philosophers
David Birch
Iff Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing
9781789048261, $19.95, PB, 168pp

Synopsis: A book for aspiring philosophers of all ages, with the publication of "Befuddled: The Lives & Legends of Ancient Philosophers", David Birch takes the read on a journey back in time to explore the lives, legends and ideas of ancient philosophers.

Theories on the origin of the universe, the nature of the mind, and a great deal more are presented alongside bizarre stories of mad emperors and talking skulls. Featuring an array of iconic figures, including Socrates, Pythagoras and the Buddha, "Befuddled" superbly illustrates how lives devoted to confusion and wonder not only give rise to fascinating ideas about reality, they also brim with wild moments and remarkable tales.

As an author David Birch invites you to add your own life to the collection. With questions and activities designed to start you on your own extraordinary explorations, "Befuddled" will help you discover your own powers of thought while you experience for yourself the freaky thrills of befuddlement.

Critique: Fun, informative, exceptional, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Befuddled: The Lives & Legends of Ancient Philosophers" is a splendid introduction to philosophy and the philosophers of old. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Befuddled" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99) and is a welcome and recommended addition to personal, professional, highschool, community, and academic library History of Philosophy collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: David G.W. Birch ( is a director of Consult Hyperion, an IT management consultancy that specializes in electronic transactions. Dave is a member of the editorial board of the E-Finance & Payments Law and Policy Journal, a columnist for SPEED and well known for his blogs on digital money and digital identity. He is a media commentator on electronic business issues (having appeared on BBC television and radio, Sky and other channels around the world).

The Library Science Shelf

From Cataloguing to Metadata Creation
Mauro Guerrini
Facet Publishing
9781783306282, $40.00, PB, 154pp

Synopsis: Cataloging has always produced a catalog, while the creation of metadata has produced the metadata of given resources. However, in this digital age, the two are more connected than ever. A catalog is made up of metadata that can be searched, identified, structured, and selected. This then means the metadata creation process is adopted as a part of cataloguing.

With the publication of "From Cataloguing to Metadata Creation: A Cultural and Methodological Introduction" Library Science Professor Mauro Guerrini's has written a cultural and methodological introduction to the evolution of cataloging towards metadata creation process in the digital era. It is a journey through the founding principles and the objectives of the "information organization" service that libraries offer.

"From Cataloguing to Metadata Creation" outlines the new library context, highlighting continuities and innovations compared to traditional cataloging and intends to trace the path from traditional cataloging to the new metadata creation process.

Critique: Informatively enhanced for librarians and library students with a listing of Acronyms, a number of Figures, an Afterword by Geovanni Bergamin, four pages of Endnotes, a fourteen page Bibliography, and a nine page Index, "From Cataloguing to Metadata Creation: A Cultural and Methodological Introduction" must be considered a core and critically essential addition to professional, community, college, and university Library Science collections and an ideal textbook for librarian in-service training curriculums.

Editorial Note: Mauro Guerrini ( is Professor of Library Science, Cataloging, Metadata and Classification, and Dean of the Master on Cataloging in Archives, Library Science and Codicology at the University of Florence, Italy. He obtained the Diploma of Librarianship and the Diploma in the Conservation of Manuscripts at the School for Archivists and Librarians at the University of Rome La Sapienza, and later gained the Archivist's Certificate from the State Archive in Florence. Mauro is author of numerous publications on cataloguing, ethics, open access and the history of librarians, in particular Antonio Panizzi. He is member of the editorial board of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, AIB Studi, Biblioteche Oggi, and other journals, and Chair of the series Libraries and Librarians (Florence University Press); he is also Founder and Editor in Chief of Italian Journal of Library and Information Science.

Integrated Library Planning
Myka Kennedy Stephens
ACRL Books
c/o American Library Association
9780838939376, $62.00, PB, 160pp

Synopsis: Many library project plans, from small projects to institution-wide strategic planning committees, follow a linear trajectory: create the plan, implement the plan, then review the outcome. While this can be effective, it can also sometimes leads to disregarding new information that emerges while executing the plan, making the outcome less effective. Planning processes can also feel forced and predetermined if stakeholder feedback is not seriously considered. When this happens too many times, people stop offering their honest opinions and new ideas because they have learned that the planners do not really want to hear them.

In a concise seven chapters offering illustrations, charts, sample outlines, and many tools and resources, "Integrated Library Planning:: A New Model for Strategic and Dynamic Planning, Management, and Assessment" by librarian Myka Kennedy Stephens offers a different kind of approach to planning that is both strategic and dynamic. It is fueled by open communication, honest assessment, and astute observation. Voices at the table, near the table, and far from the table are heard and considered. Its perpetual rhythm gives space to consider new information when it emerges and freedom to make changes at a time that makes sense instead of when it is most convenient or expected.

The era of fixed-length strategic plans is coming to an end. As five-year strategic plans have already given way to three-year strategic plans, and now we find ourselves needing to plan and function when nothing is certain beyond the present moment. The components of this model might look deceptively similar to the strategic planning practices used in libraries and organizations for decades; however, when implemented as a whole, with a monthly review cycle on a rolling planning horizon and space for regular analysis of information needs and behavior, it has the potential to shatter any previous notions of planning that serve only to satisfy administrators.

Most importantly, "Integrated Library Planning" can help libraries and librarians to effectively navigate and become agents of change.

Critique: Exceptional, comprehensive, data driven, impressive, informative, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Integrated Library Planning:: A New Model for Strategic and Dynamic Planning, Management, and Assessment" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended Library Science acquisition for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections, as well as being an ideal textbook for in-service librarian training programs, and college/university library science curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Myka Kennedy Stephens ( is Seminary Librarian and Associate Professor of Theological Bibliography at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She provides oversight for theological library collections and services for Lancaster Theological Seminary and Moravian Theological Seminary, located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Myka is also Founder and CEO of Fosgail, providing executive coaching and consulting services to professionals in libraries and related fields. She is fascinated by theories of human information behavior and their practical applications for library leadership and administration. She is also a strong advocate for open-source software for libraries and writes and presents widely on these topics.

The Theatre/Cinema/TV Shelf

Lady Director: Adventures in Hollywood, Television and Beyond
Joyce Chopra
City Lights Publishers
9780872868687, $17.95, PB, 232pp

Synopsis: Joyce Chopra came of age in the 1950s, prior to the dawn of feminism, and long before the #MeToo movement. As a young woman, it seemed impossible that she might one day realize her dream of becoming a film director -- she couldn't name a single woman in that role. But with her desire fueled by a stay in Paris during the heady beginnings of the French New Wave, she was determined to find a way.

Chopra got her start making documentary films with the legendary D.A. Pennebaker. From her ground-breaking autobiographical short, "Joyce at 34" (which was acquired for NY MoMA'S permanent collection), to her rousingly successful first feature, Smooth Talk (winner of the Best Director and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1985), to a series of increasingly cruel moves by Hollywood producers unwilling to accept a woman in the director's role, Chopra's career trajectory was never easy or straightforward.

"Lady Director: Adventures in Hollywood, Television and Beyond" is engaging, candid memoir, in which Chopra describes how she learned to navigate the deeply embedded sexism of the film industry, helping to pave the way for a generation of women filmmakers who would come after her. She shares stories of her bruising encounters with Harvey Weinstein and Sydney Pollack, her experience directing Diane Keaton, Treat Williams, and a host of other actors, as well as her deep friendships with Gene Wilder, Arthur Miller, and Laura Dern.

Along with the successes and failures of her career, "Lady Director" provides an intimate view of a woman's struggle to balance the responsibilities and rewards of motherhood and marriage with a steadfast commitment to personal creative achievement. During a career spanning six decades, Joyce Chopra has worked through monumental shifts in her craft and in the culture at large, and the span of her life story offers a view into the implacable momentum of the push for all womens' liberation.

Critique: Simply stated, no personal, professional, community, college, or university film school's Cinematic History collection can be considered complete or comprehensive without including "Lady Director: Adventures in Hollywood, Television and Beyond" by Joyce Chopra. Enhanced for the reader with the inclusions of a section of black/white historical photographs, "Lady Director" is as fascinating a read as it is informative. It should be noted for film history students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Lady Director" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Joyce Chopra ( has produced and directed a wide range of award-winning films, ranging from Smooth Talk, winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Dramatic Feature at the Sundance Film Festival, to the A&E thriller The Lady in Question with Gene Wilder. She has received American Film Festival Blue Ribbon and Cine Golden Eagle Awards for her numerous documentaries, including That Our Children Will Not Die, about primary health care in Nigeria, and the autobiographical Joyce at 34, which is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Goin' Crazy with Sam Peckinpah and All Our Friends
Max Evans, author
Robert Nott, author
University of Nevada Press
9780826365026, $19.95, PB, 304pp

Synopsis: Almost as famous for the legendary excesses of his personal life as for his films, Sam Peckinpah (1925-1984) cemented his reputation as one of the great American directors with movies such as The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

Max Evans, one of Peckinpah's best friends, experienced the director's mercurial character and personal demons firsthand. In this enthralling memoir we follow Evans and Peckinpah through conversations in bars, family gatherings, binges on drugs and alcohol, struggles with film producers and executives, and Peckinpah's abusive behavior -- sometimes directed at Evans himself.

Evans's stories comprising "Goin' Crazy with Sam Peckinpah and All Our Friends" (most of which previously unpublished) provide a uniquely intimate look at Peckinpah, their famous friends (including Lee Marvin, Brian Keith, Joel McCrea, and James Coburn), and the business of Hollywood in the 1960s and 1970s.

Critique: Original published in hardcover in 2014, this newly published paperback edition of "Goin' Crazy with Sam Peckinpah and All Our Friends" from the University of Nevada Press will be of special appeal to academia and non- specialist general readers with an interest in American Cinematic History in general, and the movie director Sam Peckinpah in particular. While highly recommended for both community and academic library American Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Goin' Crazy with Sam Peckinpah and All Our Friends" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Max Evans ( was the author of over thirty works of fiction and nonfiction. He was the recipient of the Spur, Wrangler, and Owen Wister awards, and he was the subject of the biography Ol' Max Evans: The First Thousand Years and a documentary film of the same title. Evans made his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for over fifty years.

Editorial Note #2: Robert Nott has been a reporter for the Santa Fe New Mexican for more than fifteen years. Among his previous books are The Films of Randolph Scott and He Ran All the Way: The Life of John Garfield.

The Psychology Shelf

The Anxiety Audit
Lynn Lyons, LICSW
Health Communications, Inc.
9780757324253, $16.95, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: Ask people to describe anxiety and they will start with the familiar physical symptoms: racing heart, sweaty palms, difficulty breathing. Anxiety, they might add, is "freaking out", a panic attack, or a frightening loss of control. But anxiety isn't always what we think it is, especially now.

Anxiety has become the new normal, constant and simmering, disguising itself in patterns and responses we don't even recognize as anxiety. These patterns include: Ruminating and worrying (and mistaking it for problem solving); Going global, or seeing the world through an overwhelming, all-or-nothing lens; Isolating and disconnecting, all too common in our "new normal"; Creating chaos and "busy-ness", for example, over-scheduling and multitasking; Embracing your irritability; Confusing self-medication with self-care.

"The Anxiety Audit: Seven Sneaky Ways Anxiety Takes Hold and How to Escape Them" is a practical and effective guide for us all. It's a kind of 'how-to' manual with no overly scientific or diagnostic language -- just real talk and time-tested tactics from a respected therapist. It is a relatable and practical guide to untangling yourself from the grips of worry and fear.

Using stories, real-world examples, and helpful dialogues to retrain the way you think and react, trusted anxiety expert Lynn Lyons helps you recognize the sneaky ways these anxious patterns and cycles of worry take hold in your life. By making small and consistent adjustments, you can reverse their negative impacts and move forward with renewed clarity and confidence.

Critique: An informative, thought-provoking, and ultimately inspiring read, "The Anxiety Audit: Seven Sneaky Ways Anxiety Takes Hold and How to Escape Them" will have a very special appeal and value for non-specialist general readers with an interest in dealing with obsessive/compulsive behavior, anxieties and phobias, and all manner of anxiety disorders. While readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99), "The Anxiety Audit: Seven Sneaky Ways Anxiety Takes Hold and How to Escape Them" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary Psychology and Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.

Editorial Note: Lynn Lyons ( is psychotherapist in Concord, New Hampshire. She has been in practice for 30 years specializing in the treatment of anxiety in adults and children. She travels internationally as a speaker and trainer on the subject of anxiety, its role in families, and the need for a preventative approach at home and in schools. With a special interest in breaking the generational cycle of worry in families, she authored several books and articles on anxiety, including with co-author Reid Wilson Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous & Independent Children, and the companion book for kids, Playing with Anxiety: Casey's Guide for Teens and Kids.

The Architecture Shelf

A. A. Fischer's St. Louis Streetscapes
Nancy Moore Hamilton
Missouri Historical Society Press
PO Box 775460, St. Louis, MO 63177
9798985571622, $50.00, HC, 496pp

Synopsis: Though few people in contemporary St. Louis likely know his name, it is indisputable that builder A. A. Fischer left an indelible mark on the city's residential architecture. Between 1894 and 1929, Fischer was responsible for the construction of more than three hundred houses and apartment buildings in St. Louis and nearby University City, Missouri. His trademark was the broken frieze, whose wreaths and swags descend into the spaces between the upper-story windows, rather than extending straight across the fa‡ade below the cornice, as is traditional. Today, you can still see homes and commercial buildings across the St. Louis area bearing Fischer's trademark.

With the publication of "A. A. Fischer's St. Louis Streetscapes", Nancy Moore Hamilton has provided the first biography of this unsung urban builder. Hamilton delves into Fischer's life and work, exploring not only his prolific construction career but also his other related business ventures, dabbling in speculation, buying and selling real estate, and producing architectural plans. Featuring more than four hundred images and a full-color fold-out map showing all of Fischer's homes, "Nancy Moore Hamilton" is sure to bring attention to a builder who quietly shaped a midwestern metropolis.

Critique: A seminal work of simply outstanding research and meticulous scholarship, "A. A. Fischer's St. Louis Streetscapes" rescures from an undeserved obscurity an ground-breaking late 19th Century and early 20th Century American architect. The informative and exceptionally well organized and presented large format volume is a substantial, singular, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library American Architecture and American Biography collections.

Editorial Note: Nancy Moore Hamilton is a longtime resident of Kalamazoo, Michigan, whose writing has appeared in The Society of Architectural Historians - Missouri Valley Chapter newsletter. (

The Music Shelf

Extreme Music
Michael Tau
Feral House
9781627311243, $29.95, PB, 480pp

Synopsis: Michael Tau had spent years obsessed by the extremes of musical expression. "Extreme Music: Silence to Noise and Everything In Between" is the culmination of decades of research into the sounds (and silences) that comprise the outer limits and conceptual expressions that stretch the definition of music.

Tau defines and categorizes these recorded sounds into sections that allow fans and newcomers to explore the fascinating world of musicians who defy convention. He explores a wide range of extremes including volume, speed, and vulgarity to packaging, recording methods, unplayable media, outdated technologies, and digital pioneers. He asks and answers the questions: Are all sounds music? Is silence music? Is a plate of rotting food once cataloged, packaged and sold by a distributor qualify as music?

"Extreme Music" includes over 100 interviews with makers and musicians as Tau uses his background in psychiatry to help readers understand what motivates people to create and listen to non-mainstream music. As a fan of multiple avant-garde musical genres, Tau uncovers the pleasures (and sometimes pain and frustration) found at the outre fringes of music.

Critique: Unique, informative, insightful, comprehensive, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Extreme Music: Silence to Noise and Everything In Between" by Michael Tau is an impressive and unreservedly recommended Music Recording & Appreciation guide for curious seekers, die-hard fans, and cultural investigators. Of special note are its features of images and curated links to samples of music. While a core and valued pick for professional, community, and academic library Music History/Technology collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of music students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Extreme Music" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.72) and would well serve for supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Michael Tau ( was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. As a teenager, he was introduced to bizarre and adventurous music via the after-hours CBC radio program, Brave New Waves, which he recorded onto cassette to listen to the next day. In university, he attended noise shows in lofts in Montreal's quasi-industrial districts, to the detriment of his hearing. He has since written for numerous underground music publications and has authored several music zines.

The Sports Shelf

Play Pickleball
Sydney Steinaker
Rock Point
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9781631069406, $16.99, HC, 160pp

Synopsis: Pickleball is an indoor or outdoor racket/paddle sport where two players (singles), or four players (doubles), hit a perforated hollow plastic ball over a 36-inch-high (0.91 m) net using solid-faced paddles. Opponents on either side of the net hit the ball back and forth until one side commits a rule infraction. Pickleball was invented in 1965 as a children's backyard game on Bainbridge Island, Washington, United States. In 2022, pickleball was adopted as the official state sport of Washington and is currently the fastest growing sport in America.

Now with the publication of "Play Pickleball: From the Local Court to the Pro Circuit, An Insider's Guide to Everyone's Favorite Sport" by Sydney Steinaker, you can learn the ins and outs of the sport that is taking the world by storm.

Pickleball insider Sydney Steinaker travels all over the country playing the sport, and in this guide, in her instructional guide she takes you on a journey through the pickle-dome, from the amateur scene and casual play, to leagues and pro-level tournaments.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'player friendly' in organization and presentation, "Play Pickleball: From the Local Court to the Pro Circuit, An Insider's Guide to Everyone's Favorite Sport" is a handsomely designed 'how-to' guide for beginner as well as experienced players, and covers: The different types of paddles and equipment; The rules of play; Pickle terminology and etiquette; Game strategies and techniques; Advice from some of the biggest pros on the scene -- and so much more! While highly recommended as a core addition to family, school, community, and academic library Contemporary Sports/Athletics collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of aspiring and practicing Pickleball players that "Play Pickelball" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Sydney Steinaker is an amateur pickleball player and content creator. She began playing pickleball in October 2020 as a beginner and quickly became determined to become the best player she could be. Follow her pickleball adventures as an amateur in one the fastest growing sports in world on TikTok and Instagram @sydneysteinaker. She has a YouTube website at

The Photography Shelf

A Face in Time: Egypt Photo Studios, 1865-1939
Sherif Boraie, editor
c/o American University in Cairo Press
9789775864321, $120.00, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: From the invention of the camera, photographers, like painters, have sought to portray other people, and the early studio photographs, with their highly stylized props, poses, and costumes, provide today's readership with a beguiling window onto the prevailing fashions, tastes, and attitudes of their time.

The portraits in comprising "A Face in Time: Egypt Photo Studios, 1865-1939" are Egyptian studio photos ranging from the mid-nineteenth century to the opening of Second World War, represent/illustrate their popularity and art of photography which was then driven by the burgeoning presence of photo studios across the country.

In their rich variety, these photographic images offer vivid evidence of the democratization of the photograph as access to this new technology spread from members of Egypt's royalty to an ever-wider circle of subjects. But, more than that, they freeze time, by capturing human subjects that are no longer there.

These photographic portraits compiled in "A Face in Time: Egypt Photo Studios, 1865-1939", and the studios that created them, evoke haunting fragments of a vanished past and invite us to endless speculation and contemplation. In the age of the selfie, their power to speak to us from the mists of time cannot be overstated.

Critique: In a large hardcover, coffee-table style format (13 x 0.5 x 12 inches, 4.98 pounds), "A Face in Time: Egypt Photo Studios, 1865-1939" features more than 200 visually stunning, informatively captioned, full page images, drawn from the work of 81 Egyptian photographic studios. A seminal body of work, "A Face in Time: Egypt Photo Studios, 1865-1939" is highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library History of Photography collections, and will be of particular and special interest to readers with respect to Egyptian History and Portraiture Photography,

Editorial Note: Sherif Boraie is an editor and publisher based in Cairo. He founded his imprint, Zeitouna, in 1988, under which he has published forty highly illustrated books on Egyptian history, from the pharaohs to modern times.

The Criminology Shelf

Hall of Mirrors, second edition
C. Arthur Ellis, Jr.
Gadfly Publishing
9780982094082, $53.71, PB, 206pp

Synopsis: Ruby McCollum was a wealthy African-American woman who shot and killed her white physician and state senator elect lover, Dr. C. LeRoy Adams in 1952.

This full color and updated second edition of "Hall of Mirrors : Confirmation and Presentist Biases in Continuing Accounts of the Ruby McCollum Story" is the most thoroughly researched work on the Ruby McCollum story published since the work of William B. Huie.

Written by C. Arthur Ellis Jr. (the author who first published the annotated transcript of the murder trial), "Hall of Mirrors" explores recent attempts to revise Ruby McCollum's story to suit the motives of various authors, academics and film producers. "Hall of Mirrors" avoids the confirmation and presentist biases found in other works and presents this inherently fascinating story within its proper historical context.

"Hall of Mirrors" contains the full text of Ruby McCollum's letters from prison, and from the Florida State Mental Hospital, which are highly revealing of her personality. It also publishes, for the first time, the letters of Adams's nurse, Edith Park, who exposes Live Oak's dirty little secrets within the medical community.

A "must read" selection for readers who are seriously interested in the facts of the case, be forewarned that this new second edition of "Hall of Mirrors" is certain to offend those who steadfastly deny Ruby McCollum's guilt and her role in the affair with Adams.

Critique: A model study of criminology, this newly expanded and updated second edition of "Hall of Mirrors : Confirmation and Presentist Biases in Continuing Accounts of the Ruby McCollum Story" by C. Arthur Ellis Jr. is meticulously researched, impressively detailed, exceptionally well written, deftly organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly in presentation. Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a four page Preface, a two page Afterword, three Appendices ('Edith Park Notes and Letters'; 'Letters Written by Ruby McCollum; Deed Transferring House from Hopps to McCollum), and a six page Index. Especially and unreservedly recommended for professional, community, college, and university library Criminology and True Crime collections, this paperback coffee-table style (6 x 0.49 x 9 inches, 13.8 ounces) volume is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: As a first effort to explore the story of Ruby McCollum, Dr. C. Arthur Ellis discovered that the trial transcript was no longer in the Suwannee County courthouse and that portions of the microfilm record at the State of Florida archive were missing. After years of research, he managed to compile a close facsimile of the transcript from two different sources, annotated the transcript, and published several works on the Ruby McCollum story. He then donated a copy of his version of the transcript to the Florida Collection at the University of Florida where it is archived in the Smathers Library.

His ten-year research effort of restoring the trial transcript also involved reviewing hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, interviewing many of the characters in the story, recording his own memories, including drawing a floor plan of Adams' office where the murder took place. He also commissioned over 50 oil paintings of the places and characters central to the Ruby McCollum story to preserve the "look" of this historical event for future generations. Finally, he documented information contributed by his father who worked with Dr. Adams at the Suwannee County hospital.

For his work on Ruby McCollum, Dr. Ellis was a featured guest speaker at Miami Book Fair International, and was invited to speak on the Ruby McCollum story by LA Theatre Works on the anniversary of William Huie's investigative work on the same case. He has also been a featured guest speaker on the Ruby McCollum story at the Florida Historical Society and the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society.

In 2014, Dr. Ellis worked with Ms. Ramona Ramdeen to complete a feature documentary on the Ruby McCollum story, entitled, CURTAIN OF SECRECY. In this film Dr. Ellis is joined by his wife, who offers her analysis of the characters of the story from her point of view as a forensic psychologist.

Also, in the fall of 2014, Drs. Ellis appeared on A Crime to Remember in the season episode, The Shot Doctor, featuring the Ruby McCollum story.

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

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