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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 23, Number 4 April 2024 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Able Greenspan's Bookshelf Diane Donovan's Bookshelf Gary Roen's Bookshelf
Helen Dumont's Bookshelf John Taylor's Bookshelf Mary Cowper's Bookshelf
Micah Andrew's Bookshelf Michael Dunford's Bookshelf Paul Vogel's Bookshelf
S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf Suzie Housley's Bookshelf  

Able Greenspan's Bookshelf

Identity Designed: The Process: Research, Strategy, Design, Implementation
David Airey
Rockport Publishing
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780760384060, $45.00, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: "Identity Designed: The Process: Research, Strategy, Design, Implementation" is a comprehensive and insightful study in which entrepreneurial graphic designer David Airey guides the reader through the four fundamental stages of the design process: research, strategy, design, and implementation. Written for a diverse audience, from design students to professionals in a range of roles, his unique insights and practical advice will help you succeed in crafting and managing impactful visual identities.

Drawing upon his expertise and extensive knowledge of the design profession, Airey not only shares lessons learned from projects he's worked on throughout his successful career, he also features compelling case studies from top-level design studios such as Frost*collective, Pentagram, Bond, Bielke & Yang, Manual, DutchScot, and many more. These case studies serve as illuminating examples, showcasing the application of effective identity design principles in everyday contexts.

With its practical approach and thought-provoking analysis, "Identity Designed: The Process: Research, Strategy, Design, Implementation" equips its readers with the essential knowledge and tools needed to develop enduring, distinctive identities. By emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between creativity and strategic thinking, "Identity Designed: The Process: Research, Strategy, Design, Implementation" guides you through the process of designing identities that resonate, that convey a persuasive brand narrative, and that ultimately improve how businesses function.

Whether a student or a teacher looking for an updated reference, professional designers wanting to grow and refine their skills, a design enthusiast seeking inspiration, a marketing expert needing to improve company communications, or business owners aiming to enhance their brand's visual presence, "Identity Designed: The Process: Research, Strategy, Design, Implementation" will prove to be an invaluable resource for making intentional creative choices to positively shape and transform the visual world.

Critique: While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $23.99), this large format (8.75 x 0.85 x 10.25 inches, 2.5 pounds) hardcover edition of "Identity Designed: The Process: Research, Strategy, Design, Implementation" from the University of Kentucky Press is a high value and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Business Marketing Reserch and Branding/Logo collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: David Airey ( is an entrepreneurial graphic designer from Northern Ireland. He writes three of the most popular graphic design blogs on the Internet:,, and David's blogs have attracted hundreds of thousands of loyal fans who read and are inspired by his writing every day. David is the author of Identity Designed, Identity Designed: The Process, Logo Design Love, and Work for Money, Design for Love.

Law and the Living Colorado River
Robert W. Adler
The University of Utah Press
9781647691486, $7.95, PB, 26pp

Synopsis: Robert W. Adler delivered a lecture on March 17, 2022, at the 27th annual symposium of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment, jointly sponsored by the Wallace Stegner Center and the Water & Tribes Initiative | Colorado River Basin.

That lecture was "Law and the Living Colorado River" and in it Professor Adler asserts that the so-called Law of the River (the vast assemblage of interstate compacts, international treaties, federal and state statutes, regulations, contracts, and other legal documents governing use and management of the Colorado River) ignores the needs of the river as a nested system of aquatic and aquatic-dependent ecosystems.

Although society now recognizes and appreciates the natural values of the Colorado River, the Law of the River remains fixed in service of human economies like irrigation and hydropower.

Professor Adler contends that the law must respond to changing values that prioritize natural systems alongside human ones. He proposes acknowledging the legal rights of the river itself, following the recent movement to recognize rights of nature in other ecosystems around the world.

Recognizing that U.S. law has significant barriers to that proposal, however, Professor Adler borrows from aspects of international water law to propose as a shorter-term strategy amendments to the Colorado River Compact that would enhance protection of the river's environmental needs and values.

Critique: Now published in a 26 page pamphlet format, "Law and the Living Colorado River" is a critically important contribution to environmental studies in general, and Colorado River issues in particular. "Law and the Living Colorado River" is highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university collections, as well as essential reading for anyone with an interest in environmentalism, nature conservation, and administrative law.

Editorial Note: Robert W. Adler is dean emeritus and distinguished professor emeritus of law at the University of Utah, S. J. Quinney College of Law. His books include Water Law: Concepts and Insights; Modern Water Law: Private Property, Public Rights, and Environmental Protections; Restoring Colorado River Ecosystems: A Troubled Sense of Immensity; and Environmental Law: A Conceptual and Pragmatic Approach.

Able Greenspan

Diane Donovan's Bookshelf

Tales of Whiskey Tango from Misery Towers
James Aylott
Beautiful Arch
9798987681213, $29.99 Hardcover/$6.99 ebook

Tales of Whiskey Tango from Misery Towers is a novel about working and living in downtown St. Louis . It opens in 2019 with a candid assessment of the city's blistering atmosphere:

"Nick Pipeman was far from poetic but always thought fellow Missourian T.S. Eliot should have known better: August, not April, is the "cruellest month." In the city of St. Louis, mid August, with its sweltering heat and stifling humidity, is the cruelest part of that cruelest month."

Forty-something Nick, the protagonist who observes these mean and sultry streets, is literally standing on the cusp of suicide, on a bridge, as he contemplates the chain of events and turmoil that brought him to this point.

His dreadful history and situations are nothing in contrast to Colton Chesterfield III's awakening in a locked coffin. And yet, the scenario is eminently escapable because, as Colton well knows from his job, these cheap Chinese coffins collapse easily. Indeed, his real dilemma is quite unexpected (and also displays the wry sense of humor James Aylott excels in demonstrating throughout the story):

"He was trapped in a coffin alive and was about to shit himself in a tight and confined space the mother lode of ca-ca. Now, for a man who had spent a lifetime charming his way out of sticky situations, this was a daring concern like no other he had faced. All Colton could hope for was that this coffin was about to be rolled into a crematorium, or buried. At least that would be a relatively quick and painless end to what he deemed a glorious, triumphant life. The alternative of being trapped in a coffin and slowly being suffocated to death by one's own shit was a nightmare..."

And then there is Bruce Springsteen doppelganger Mike Love, who stands at a fork in his blossoming love life. Even at the ripe age of eighty-something, some things never change.

'Devilish humidity" permeates Mike, Nick, and Colton's sordid lives, which offer contrasts in experience, perspective, and St. Louis influences, culture, and angst. Readers move through the city's milieu through the eyes of characters that contemplate different ways of winning back love and their lives.

From those who would profit from St. Louis's changing countenance to individuals who seek love, redemption, and meaning from life, Aylott creates a gripping juxtaposition of personalities that each struggle to survive and achieve in St. Louis's milieu:

"We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us," said Daris Ballic, repeating a Winston Churchill quote as he strolled onto the rooftop of Missouri Towers . Daris looked over at the algae-infested pool and couldn't wait until he owned the entire building. He had so many plans. The city in the distance sounded scary and dangerous. A storm was approaching from Illinois . He had decided to watch it come in from the viewing deck."

Atmospheric and firmly rooted in a sense of place and purpose, Tales of Whiskey Tango from Misery Towers captures the heart and soul of St. Louis . It's a story highly recommended for libraries and readers interested in tracing the heartbeats of the city through the working-class individuals who navigate its promise and pain.

R.J. Eastwood
Indies United Publishing House
9781644566855, $13.95 Hardcover/$9.95 Paperback/$2.99 eBook

Megastar is the story of a rise to musical fame and the impact it holds on those around the star.

As the story opens, thirty-seven-year-old Addison Stone is wheelchair-bound and looking far more frail than his age. He's the first to admit that his life has been a rollicking, wild ride to this point - and that perhaps its looming terminus too early is actually fitting:

"It's been a hell of a ride, I'll tell you, bumps and all, and there were plenty of those. When I'm gone, the name Addison Stone will be lost to history, and no one will remember how big a star I was."

As the story traverses his memories and past, charting his evolution towards megastar status and its impact, readers receive a powerful tale of a teen raised by an unstable mother, who nonetheless reaches the pinnacle of success at an early age.

His extraordinary singing voice has led to overcoming many early obstacles, but ironically, it has also created distance from the woman he loves, lost to stardom and addiction which forces him to adopt an unrelenting pace to success.

How love is heavily impacted by Addison 's rise to success and the possibilities held by life's further progression, highs, and lows is explored by R. J. Eastwood in a saga that charts the emotional and business sides of his rise to stardom:

"Following the Hollywood Bowl, Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco and the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver are ready to commit. By the time you play Denver, we'll have the rest of the tour firmed up. Think of it, Addison ; fresh out of the gate, you're already in high demand."

As events move towards Addison 's 20th birthday, neighbor and close family friend, Ben Dickey is all that stands between Addison and his unstable mother, Lacy. Readers receive a multifaceted story of the price of fame and the effort to move beyond an addictive parent and away from predictable downfalls introduced by both stardom and life.

The juxtaposition of comfort and challenge that success brings with it will give readers much pause for thought as the tale evolves.

Especially notable is the story's ability to blend realistic dialogue and character insights into the story of how pasts are either set aside or influence future decision-making.

Libraries and readers seeking novels steeped in reflective accounts of changing love and ambition will find Megastar thought-provoking and worthy of book club debate and discussion as its hero attempts to move from tragedy to uplifting new possibilities in both life and love.

Elly Robin: Bird in a Gilded Cage
P.D. Quaver
Independently Published
9798526346214, $14.00 Paperback/$2.99 eBook

Although Elly Robin: Bird in a Gilded Cage represents the fifth volume in Elly's adventures, newcomers will find it a fine stand-alone story. It comes steeped in the atmosphere of Chicago 's gilded age and is flavored with issues of wealth, social privilege, genius, and plots that revolve around ideals and growth.

Teen Elly's opportunity to study piano with a famous Italian virtuoso brings her into the patronage of the LaSalle family when its matriarch becomes captivated by Elly's piano skills. There, Elly discovers that the family's wealth actually rests on employing immigrants to bolster their riches, building their privilege on the backs of the improvised.

She also befriends daughter Willy, whose countenance is described in the provocative, intriguing manner that is one of P.D. Quaver's signature methods of building atmosphere through solid, thought-provoking descriptions:

In Willy's weak, pointed chin and high broad forehead the feminine ideal of a "heart-shaped" face had been taken to literal extremes; combined with her mother's large brown eyes (and the way she was nervously chewing on her cheek) she seemed vaguely insect-like.

Whether Quaver is describing matters of the heart, physical appearances, scenarios of confrontation and discovery, or Elly's deeper probe into family secrets, these lively descriptions build tension in a satisfying, revealing manner. These enhance Elly's basic personality, which rests on a combination of genius, curiosity, and intelligence:

"Much tragedy" was the very phrase Otto had used when he spoke about the family to her. She had been so sure he must have been referring to Ethelea's death. What further secret tragedies haunted this family? She too was "vexed with curiosity."

Elly is introduced to new friends who are fascinated by her background and familiarity with poverty and unions. They view her much like a neglected heroine of fiction. The makings of a socialist builds from Willy's rebellion, the circle of friends fascinated by Elly's familiarity with a very different world than theirs, and the rising tides of social revolution which buffet their lives.

Quaver injects a humorous tone into many of these encounters between social strata. These neatly contrast with the very serious milieu of revolution and social struggle which emerge from the uncommon marriage between Elly and Willy's worlds.

Often, such contrasts are stark. One example occurs when Elly attends the Chicago premier of D.W. Griffith's ambitious film "The Birth of a Nation." This still enormously controversial film portrays Southern white womanhood menaced by trickery and blacks, in which the woman is rescued by Aryans who parade and celebrate their birthrights in a final victory scene while Elly flashes back to her own experiences:

Cheers from the audience - even as Elly's mind was flooded with terrible images of the gentle colored boy who had been lynched before her eyes for the crime of falling in love with her...

These undercurrents of Chicago 's social and political scene simmer against Elly's piano achievements in a city besieged by the specter of world war and the rise of laborers and poor folk. Quaver brings these times to life through the eyes of a young girl forced to contrast her experiences of the past with her new privileged world, finding the latter unexpectedly lacking in ethical and moral foundations.

From plots and plans for escape to the girls' contrast in backgrounds and futures, Bird in a Gilded Cage actually reveals two girls enslaved by social expectation, talent, and the tides of the times.

The story also adds cameo appearances by Jack London, Gloria Swanson, and other famous personalities who add their perspectives and influences into the tangled web of growth and realizations that move Elly between two very different worlds.

As a privileged girl turns against her social standing and becomes radicalized, and another outside of that world comes to intimately understand its underlying struggles and influences, readers receive a fine story. It embraces rising anarchy, the costs of opulence and wealth, and the intersection of social awareness and privilege which clash over Elly and Willy's growing special interests and friendship.

Willy's growth and revelations about her family's involvements are even more shocking than Elly's trajectory as Willy confronts her family over the truth of their choices and terrible impacts:'re insulated from the terrible things you do by your minions! So you can concentrate on counting your precious money...

Quaver's ability to contrast the gilded cage of opportunity and privilege from two very different girls' perspectives creates a powerful novel that both stands alone and nicely supplements Elly Robin's prior exploits.

Though intended for an adult audience, its allure to young adult readers of historical fiction and to classrooms seeking discussion materials about the times and their social issues should not be overlooked.

Elly's coming-of-age brings with it many accompanying conundrums over loyalty, values, and social inequities which will prove of widespread interest.

Paired with black and white illustrations by the author, Bird in a Gilded Cage is a compelling pick highly recommended for libraries and book club discussion groups interested in a novel steeped in the theater of intrigue, social revolution, and growth.

The Power of Peasants: Economics and Politics of Farming in Medieval Germany
Robert Dees
Commons Press
9781737481058, $35.00

The Power of Peasants: Economics and Politics of Farming in Medieval Germany is a two-volume history set that adopts a unique approach to medieval historical record. It provides a review of civilization's events through the perspective of farmers, from the initial building of civilization in Northern Europe to its continuing challenges via feudal systems and farmer struggles.

The rise and fall of Rome, the rebuilding of the Church during Charlemagne's times, and the agricultural revolutions which have (until now) been relatively understated (in comparison to the industrial revolutions that advanced cultivation and civilization-building tools) are all covered in exquisite detail.

While this level of inspection may challenge readers seeking a simple overview of the times, it will delight those who look for well-researched intricacy and detail in their historical references:

"One historian described the early scratch plow as nothing more than "an enlarged digging-stick dragged by a pair of oxen." This is true, but it was also the most important scientific invention ever, as it was "the first application of non-human power to agriculture." 84 Its use increased productivity and made possible humans' transition from barbarism to civilization. Originally carved from a single piece of wood, it tore open the soil; broke it up into a texture suited to promoting new plant growth; allowed for better water retention, irrigation, and aeration; and helped kill weeds. Wooden plowshares, of course, broke and wore out quickly. During the 500s BCE the iron plowshare appeared in Italy, but one survey found an almost total absence of iron plowshares there during the Roman Period, in contrast to an abundance in northern border regions and in barbarian territory."

The heavy presence of footnoted references assures that these relationships between prior scholarship and the reassessments Robert Dees makes here about relationships between farmers, economics, and political and social transformations of the times are well supported by supplemental, authoritative reading material. This means that scholars can easily move from Dees 's contention to source materials that support his reinterpretations and contentions.

From the rise of peasant wealth in the late 1400s after some 150 years of poverty and its social and political impact to changing labor forces, laws, methods, and perceptions, Dees creates a powerful survey that does far more than recap common knowledge.

In his carefully researched study and associations between impacts and outcomes, Dees provides a focus which may at first seem narrower than more general overviews of civilization's rises and falls, but ultimately proves an invaluable microscopic consideration of how farmer, laborer, and peasant groups each contributed to the outcomes and efforts of humanity to reach new heights.

The second volume moves beyond feudal society, profiling changes in England, Holland, and beyond which move from a thirty-year war to the rise of populations and accompanying struggles with famine and disease.

From collapses and reformations to ongoing peasant and farmer roles and influences in the reshaping of societies, Dees crafts an examination that, at its heart, reshapes many common perceptions of these times and their influencing factors.

Brief introductory histories of circumstances that led to these major changes assure that readers holding minimal background of the times (but much interest in their outcomes and events) will not be lost, as the stories unfold.

Cross-country contrasts provide intriguing reflections on not only what happened, but why:

"Again in contrast to Germany, in the Netherlands the growing wealth of the general population drove up the price of livestock products more quickly than that of grain, so farmers had an incentive to specialize in more profitable dairy products. In some areas, the number of cattle per farm increased 50 percent between 1570 and 1680, while it fell in Germany."

Dees considers the shifting control over the means of production, its economic and power portents, influences on prosperity and the eventual translation from Europe to the Americas, and how agricultural and farmer influences and freedoms fostered many of these movements and growth processes. History readers and general-interest audiences with an affinity for the past will find many new ideas here. These will test traditional presentations and challenge shallower reviews of the times.

Libraries and readers seeking in-depth, authoritative, well-researched considerations of labor, power plays and transfers, and the basic elements and influences of farmers and peasants on the key events that moved civilization forward and prompted its growth and expansion will find The Power of Peasants: Economics and Politics of Farming in Medieval Germany surprisingly accessible, delightfully enlightening reading.

The often-startling, eye-opening, thought-provoking contentions are exceptional and hard-hitting:

"In northern Europe, free barbarians developed a more productive agriculture, with which they produced more food, more farmers, more warriors, until they overran the empire. The early medieval period was a brawl over whether slavery would survive. The farmers half-won, abolishing slavery, but were held in serfdom."

The Power of Peasants: Economics and Politics of Farming in Medieval Germany is very highly recommended; ideally to a much wider audience than its scholarship, size, and subject would seem to indicate.

The book may at first appear weighty and daunting, both in its size and subject matter. However, $35 for a 2-volume set that offers almost two thousand pages of detail is a bargain. Book clubs and classrooms that hold a special interest in either medieval history or early labor issues and peasant populations will find The Power of Peasants: Economics and Politics of Farming in Medieval Germany creates plenty of insights and opportunity for lively contemporary discourses about historic events, peasant perspectives and influences, and the ultimate growth of civilization through their efforts.

The Malthus Fraud
Robert Dees
Commons Press
9781737481096, $15.00

The Malthus Fraud provides history students and readers with a specific, narrow, and important focus on Thomas Malthus and the authoritative perspective presented in his Essay on the Principle of Population, which set the standards for conversations about overpopulation, social crisis management, and the rise and fall of early civilizations from the Roman Empire and the Hundred Years War (both of which have long been analyzed with bows to "Malthusian mechanisms").

But, what if this authoritative approach and perspective were wrong?

Robert Dees provides a damning, eye-opening argument in The Malthus Fraud, which should engage and challenge history students already well versed in Malthus's traditional thinking. He pinpoints both the value and the fallacies of this analytical paradigm:

"Putting aside his ludicrous claims that Rome suffered from overpopulation and that its farmers did themselves in, he did put his finger on the key issue: finding a scapegoat to exonerate the political leaders from guilt for the misery they cause is the whole point of the Malthus fraud."

Malthus argued against capitalistic greed as a source of social ailments and failures, instead placing the onus on the working class's proclivity to 'overpopulate'.

Dees returns the discussion to a critique of not just Malthus, but the foundations of arguments which shaped discussions and perceptions of the times for centuries of history scholars. He presents important questions and answers not only about the origins and inspirations of Malthus's perspective, but its impact on historical interpretation processes:

" did this devout worshipper of the status quo and its ruling elite explain the ongoing misery in England, which, by definition, was the best of all possible worlds?"

Through this analysis, the roots of dogma and misguided interpretations and perspectives are revealed in a manner that offers many insights for classrooms interested in not just historical analysis and Malthus, but the underlying belief systems that dictate its process:
"...his core argument - that a revolution in social relations could have no effect on these "laws" of nature and of God - was dead wrong. The attempt to salvage Malthus conceals the fact that the technological revolution of the 1800s was the result of prior revolutions in social and property relations. Social revolutions and the resulting technological advances made all the difference, disproving all of Malthus's dogma."

The result is of critical importance to historians, scholars, and student debate groups who already hold familiarity with Malthus and the long-term impact of his approach.

Libraries and readers seeking books that explore the foundations of religious and political dogma to consider their lasting influence on social issues and historical approaches will find The Malthus Fraud thought-provoking, astute, and certainly controversial in its contentions - perfect fodder for classroom and history buff discussion groups.

Those Absent on the Great Hungarian Plain
Jill Culiner
Claret Press
9781910461723, $17.99 Paperback/$5.99 eBook

Those Absent on the Great Hungarian Plain comes from photographer and author Jill Culiner, who spent six years chronicling the changes and events affecting a small Hungarian village. To her mind, it served as a microcosm example for events taking place in the rest of the country. Her blend of memoir and history captures the nuances of a country in flux, illustrating how old and new countries blended throughout her life in a thread of connection that pulled her back to Hungary to not just document, but live in its milieu.

Her blend of black and white photos and powerful observations brings Hungary and its Jewish enclaves to life:

"In a weedy field in Kunhegyes, I found an abandoned synagogue. Heavy beams propped up an outside wall; wooden doors sagged open; rows of benches waited for long-dead worshippers. Dating from the 1880s, it was beautifully decorated with painted lions, flowers and scenes of a fanciful Promised Land. The building could still be saved, I thought. Its beauty could be easily revived. Perhaps there were no longer Jews here."

As Culiner searches out and exposes remnants of the past, she also reveals Hungary 's ironic clashes between Jews and other elements of society. Scholars will appreciate the heavily footnoted references, which do not detract an iota from the lively experiences she documents:

"In 1867, full emancipation was granted, and this could result in amusing situations:

In an assembly of voters gathered for communal elections, a pastor proposed admitting Jews to the voting area. A tailor... with the intention of ending the discussion underway, gave his vote, and justified it in this way: 'We don't need the Jews.'

A Jew amongst those in the assembly, looked at the tailor with a tragicomic air, then announced that this enemy of his religion was wearing, at this very moment, the pair of pants that he, the Jew, had brought to him for repairs. 'And this man,' he cried, 'who is wearing my trousers, claims one doesn't need the Jews!'"

Culiner's search for Jewish history and experience results in both personal and historical revelations that even lay readers with little prior familiarity or interest in Hungarian history will find absolutely compelling.

The allure lies in Culiner's descriptive language, in the 'you are here' travelogue feel of adventure that marks her journey, and in special reflections that aren't easy to find elsewhere, about Jewish and Hungarian history alike.

Supported by extensive historical notes and references, accented by thought-provoking black and white photos, and supercharged with a personal sense of discovery, Those Absent on the Great Hungarian Plain may sound like a specialty acquisition for history libraries, but holds the uncommon ability to reach into a much wider audience.

It is highly recommended for book club discussion, collections strong in Jewish or Hungarian history, and general-interest readers seeking an informative, lively blend of memoir and cultural expose.

See Me
Rhoda Berlin
Independently Published
9798989893805, $14.99 Paperback/$5.99 eBook

See Me opens with an article describing the death of a Seattle musician, then moves to the first-person confession of a therapist who faces a lawsuit and more:

"I only go downtown when it's unavoidable. Being sued is one of those occasions. Since the day I got served I can't eat, can't sleep, can't think straight. But I'm proud to say my clients haven't seen me squirm. That's the advantage of being a marriage and family therapist; it's all about the other people in the room."

Jackie Kessler is a therapist who specializes in an unusual clientele often ignored by others in her profession. As the child of Korean refugee immigrants, she has made a name and place for herself providing services to minorities. Young musician Amy was one of her clients, after she attempted suicide. A connection was formed between them during the course of treatment. Now Amy, not yet thirty, is dead after a successful suicide, and Jackie is shocked.

She's even more shocked when Jackie's family sues her for malpractice, forcing her to assume an investigative role that places her on the side of family and friends who become convinced that Amy's death was not actually a suicide, but murder.

Rhoda Berlin's own background as a family therapist lends authenticity and logical processes to a murder inquiry which feels more realistic than most. This special brand of expertise follows her character as Jackie traverses many possibilities, circumstances of prejudice and discovery, and challenges that tend to lead her far from her practice's areas of expertise and into the murky waters of a whodunit.

The links between Amy and Jackie come to light as Jackie is forced to examine her own choices of the past and their present-day impact:

"I blame war. Trauma. Poverty. Of course culture and my parents' personalities were factors too, but I can't help wondering what life would have - what my parents could have been like if they'd grown up in peace, without fear. Healthy, with enough to eat. Would they have met and married? Would my brother and I even have been born?" I shrug. "That's what Amy and I had in common. She asked the same questions about her own history."

Immigrant and minority experience come to life in a story that probes family history and memories, collective experience, and choices and consequences as Jackie interviews her own mother in an effort to better understand her roots in Amy's parallel world:

"Mom, did you want to come to the US ?"

"Want to come, had to come. No difference. That doesn't mean I wanted leave Korea ."

From pity and wealth to the impact of history and family ties, Jackie's journey takes on many unexpected twists and turns as she navigates new truths and realizations not only about Amy's situation, but her own.

Replete with many factors which place it more than a notch above the usual murder mystery (and thus defies this pat categorization with a sense of complexity that most genre reads don't hold), See Me is a novel highly suggested for libraries seeking a book club recommendation that blends all kind of insights (from therapeutic and professional to revelations about immigrants, family ties, and cultural impact) into its vivid progression of events.

A Love to Die For
Joseph Seechack
Koehler Books
9798888241981, $23.95 Hardcover/$16.95 Paperback/$7.49 eBook

Ron and Grace have a deep, ongoing love in their marriage in A Love to Die For. Predictably, all that changes suddenly, one day, when Grace is left alone in her grief upon learning that her beloved husband Ron, is dead, with no chance to say goodbye.

The experience, routines, and thoughts about love, loss, and grief may trigger some readers struggling with their own sudden loss of love, while others might anticipate that the story will prove too familiar, resting on the themes of many novels which have explored loss and grief.

While one may say the plot sounds familiar, the proof of an exceptional work lies in how its author spins the story and describes characters and emotions. It takes some unexpected turns in following Grace and her surviving family's catastrophic experiences.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Grace cultivates and hones a revised sense of purpose that honors both her love and herself as she is forced to move on without Ron:

"I wondered how I could ever repay such a great act of love. What can I do to honor and carry on all that great love he showed me?"

When Grace reconnects with Ron in a surprise move to regain her lost love, she learns an invaluable lesson: " doesn't end; it transcends."

Her revised purpose in life, her attempts to honor Ron and his achievements in a different way, and her newfound challenges in handling both gossipy community members and something as simple as preparing breakfast will resonate with anyone who has suffered the loss of a partner.

The result is a moving journey that captures loss and grief, but moves beyond them to a focus on the transformative nature of re-creating a new life in a way that both honors memory and the past, yet moves on into a vastly revised future.

Libraries will want to add A Love to Die For to their collections, and should make a point of recommending it not just to patrons and book clubs, but especially to psychology and healing groups tackling loss, grief, and reinvention. Its powerful, realistic, compelling portrait of a timeless love is exceptionally well written and thought-provoking.

The Optical Lasso: Beware Of Neptune 's Dark Side
Marc Corwin
The Moving Words, LLC
9798854628563, $19.99 Hardcover/$18.99 Paperback/$2.99 eBook

The second edition of The Optical Lasso: Beware of Neptune's Dark Side gives space opera readers a run for their money in a galaxy-wide sprint set in 2140 CE that combines the hard science of a planet that regularly reverses its rotation and vanishes, with a military battle that involves Earth and spacers in a riveting clash of people and ideals.

To define Marc Corwin's story as that of a traditional space opera alone would do it a disservice. Subtle nuances of challenge and change run deeper than a surface-level action piece. Nuances range from a female leader who defies her own perfection as she faces off with a male counterpart who has proven himself unreliable and unpredictable, to a planet which holds the same properties - the promise of immense, untapped, yet unreliable power.

Space opera usually is questionable in its science and often overly melodramatic in its action, but Corwin's story resides in the outer limits of new possibilities, whether he's presenting a woman whose quandary is whether or not to trust and throw her cards in with a male counterpart, or an evolving relationship that mirrors the same questions about Earth's alliances and survival.

Action-packed descriptions embracing science and military strategy alike will delight readers seeking a fast pace in their sci-fi reading:

"Okay, people. Stay sharp. On my command, kill all backup systems except for life support. The ship will throw off an electronic signature of being mortally wounded. With the Indiana 's power shut down, we'll piggyback off their high intensity tractor beam, which will sling us back toward the beam's source. It should be quite the ride."

It is quite the ride, as Corwin leads readers into realms of possibility that include psychological entanglements, attacks, murderous actions, and danger that comes not just from the elusive, mysterious planet Vixus, but from within ranks and individuals.

The result is a compelling saga that romps through universes and psyches with equal force, leading a host of characters through nefarious intentions and puzzling physical realms of possibility. These are inhabited by spies, devil's disciples, and the secret of an optical lasso which "must stay hidden, or all will be lost."

Libraries strong in action-packed sci-fi favored with a high-octane dose of engrossing scientific possibilities will find The Optical Lasso a winner that ends with an unexpected rise from the ashes of possibility and a "to be continued" conclusion that leaves the door wide open for the next book.

The End of Nobility
Michael Green Jr.
9798986254708, $9.99 Paperback/$7.99 eBook

You would think that in a world where everyone has food, shelter, and access to magic, there would be a concurrent end to conflict. Not so, as The End of Nobility points out. Twins Dre and Alaan live in fear - and that's not the only thing eroding their wellbeing and lives.

The story opens with a prologue that portends a birth that will be accompanied by both magic and machines, giving rise to new possibilities.

As the tale unfolds to reveal how these special twins come to be hunted by assassins, facing some of the most dangerous challenges to their young lives, readers receive an engrossing story that features aspects of military sci-fi, but with a political overlay and foray into magical influences that expands the focus on strategy and survival into one of vivid encounters with unexpected forces that simmer beneath the surface of their eyes and lives:

"When he turned back around to face her, the creature reappeared. Dre zipped his eyes over to catch it, but each time it disappeared before he could focus on it. With his eyes steadily on her, the monster slid more and more into view until it was right beside her. It was a large humanoid beast covered with long red and white hair that covered its body like a robe. Its hands were curled into thick fists that were as big as its head. It stood at the same height as her. Every time his eyes left the woman's eyes, the monster disappeared instantly. It was too quick. It wasn't an illusion. Dre had never seen foreign magic before, but this had to be it."

Michael Green Jr. employs vivid descriptions to supercharge his story with thoroughly engrossing forays into the spirit realm, counter-intuitive approaches to magic, and lessons that stem from a closer examination of rules, methodologies, and disparate forms of magical memory.

Embedded into the action are thought-provoking reflections on what it means to be a twin in this world, both connected and yet struggling to find individual purpose and meaning beyond that connection:

"'There it is. Even in your jokes. You have this image in your mind of who we should be together and then you divide up the pieces between us. I'm not who you think I should be. I want to be Alaan, not one half of the Poli Twins.'

'In our day-to-day life, we can be whoever we want to be, but in the ring, when handling fans, when navigating this ridiculous predicament we are in, we have to move together. If there is any space between us, people will dig in their greedy fingers and rips us apart. Everyone wants a piece, you know that. If we give them a chance, they will take it,' Dre said."

As memories of different realms are breached and new possibilities of becoming Nobles are posed, The End of Nobility represents not just an end, but a new beginning.

Libraries and readers of fantasy that blends dramatic, high-octane action and adventure with a story of discovery and expanding understanding of the universe itself will find The End of Nobility riveting, unpredictable, and nearly impossible to put down. It's an exceptional standout in a sea of staid fantasy plots and personalities that shines with original, engrossing scenarios as healing leads to rebirth and new possibilities certain to be explored in additional books.

The Lasso Unravels: When All Hell Breaks Loose
Marc Corwin
The Moving Words, LLC
9798872592631, $24.99 Hardcover/$18.99 Paperback/$2.99 eBook/$0.00 Kindle unlimited

The Lasso Unravels: When All Hell Breaks Loose is best enjoyed by prior readers of The Optical Lasso. This audience will find the ongoing action, fantasy science, and trademark fast pace of the space opera genre is both engrossing and easy to absorb in this follow-up story, which continues where the prior book left off.

Here, humanity has barely survived the attack by unknown forces, and has largely fled underground in a last-ditch effort to survive. Corps fighter Lieutenant Janet "Cat" Miles is sent to Earth to assess the situation; but when she discovers that she inadvertently carries with her inner demons, her ability to act and to return home are both compromised. If only she had her male counterpart, Supreme Commander Jason Cody, by her side to support her!

As if the situation weren't already dire, the universe itself is unraveling, with galaxies falling silent against an unknown threat that is on target for reaching Earth.

How can Cat locate her missing commander and his optical lasso, which is the only thing that stands between total destruction and survival?

Marc Corwin creates another thoroughly engrossing story marked by a satisfying blend of fantasy science and high-octane action. The story brings to life the quandaries and strengths of a female commander forced to operate outside her comfort zone to achieve different goals.

Embedded with demons, devils, and mercurial alliances, The Lasso Unravels is replete with the kind of unpredictability and original plot progression that keeps readers immersed in worlds that are extraordinary and powerfully contrasted with the objectives and perceptions of humans:

" keep matters interesting, Satan redirected the cosmic wake of the Royale's demise right at the wary Phoenix . Reflexively looking skyward, Cat's empowered vision allowed her to see the black plume of smoke from the old warhorse's final moments. Sensing her presence, a slew of dancing devils formed a message of warning in the hexagon's protective cloud cover: "We are coming for your soul."

From different leaders, sexual conquests, and combatants that push the boundaries of science to achieve their goals to threads of humor which wind through the story to temper action with wry, ironic insights, Corwin has created another story that excels in a satisfying blend of action, science, and changing scenarios.

Libraries strong in space opera that seek original, action-packed writing flavored with the twists and turns of survival attempts that operate on Earthly and universe-changing realms will welcome The Lasso Unravels as a spirited, unique collection addition that nicely compliments The Optical Lasso and, once again, leaves the outcome wide open for more books.

Resentment and Remembrance
Richard D Ross
Steel Door Publishing
9781739015428, Price: Free

Resentment and Remembrance is a novella embracing themes of resentment and love when the paths of two disparate characters cross and clash.

Ted Bolton is an old man with a wicked sense of wry humor. The starkness of his vision as he confronts old age, alienation, and end-of-life challenges is portrayed with a razor-sharp edge of irony and inspection that will attract readers with deliberately candid presentations:
"Ted huffed and pulled the bed sheets further up to his chest. It wasn't fair. He'd struggled all his life. He knew what it was like to be hungry and poor. Dammit, he'd even fought a war for these kids who didn't appreciate what it was like. These damn young people with their cell phones, computers, earrings, tattoos all over their bodies and stupid girly fashions. Mass marketing victims, that's what they were! Where was the respect? Had it all vanished into thin air? It seemed anyone elderly or in authority was a fair target for abuse and that even included teachers, police, and health care workers. He coughed, wheezed loudly, and dozed off into another world."

As Ted dozes through memories that lead him to review his life, a chance encounter with a member of the younger generation tackles the bitterness and reflective angst that seem to permeate these final days of his life, injecting them with a sense of love he'd long felt was absent.

As readers learn of the reasons for Ted's 'monumental struggles with living' and absorb the healing lessons of a love which emerges from a completely unexpected place at the end of life, a winning story emerges which is touching, compelling, realistic, and holds many thought-provoking lessons about life connections and disparate personalities.

Libraries and readers seeking high-impact novellas which grasp attention and move mind and heart will find Resentment and Remembrance a satisfying contrast in life perspectives. It will resonate with readers interested in understanding pathways to more meaningful, purposeful living and life influences.

I Never Said I Love You
Sarah Magee
Independently Published
9798989126613, $18.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paperback/$9.99 eBook

In a different world, Liss Larkin and Nao Kao Inthavong would never have met. Her Midwestern American roots are in direct contrast to Nao Kao's background as a survivor of war in Asia . However, in I Never Said I Love You, the two meet in graduate school to begin a lesson in love that tests not only the boundaries of cultural connections, but the ways in which these initial attractions shatter.

Liss leaves Nao Kao unexpectedly and without explanation. Twenty years later, fate again brings them together - this time, in a way which offers opportunity not just for looking backwards to choices, influences, and decisions that changed each of their lives; but looking ahead to new possibilities.

Either way, Sarah Magee excels in creating characters and connections that embrace cultural and psychological differences. Liss and Nao Kao learn more about themselves and each other as they move from friends to something more (and, something more elusive).

Where does their final destination lie? As Liss journeys to Laos and enters Nao Kao's world, the questions which drive her life and motivate her to opt for outcomes that perhaps do not lie in her best interest are revisited in a new light.

Magee creates a progressive series of events that are alluring from the first time Liss meets Nao Kao:

"I had spent my life being packed around the world on my parents' various sabbaticals, befriending locals in all the far-flung corners of the world, but even to my globally-attuned ears, the name was unusual. I turned to look. Like me, he was younger than most of the other students in the class. Pan-Asian, relatively non-descript, save for wearing blue jeans and long sleeves despite the mercury hovering around ninety degrees. Kind eyes behind thick glasses. Thin. No, more like wiry. Or scrappy. Unsmiling, but then the international students often were. Flashing the pearly whites at every opportunity is a decidedly American trait."

She then embeds her story in the winds of change buffeting their world, from post-9/11 to the international news and forces that exact a toll on each of them. It's a pleasure to see these atmospheric signs of the times overlay the relationship component under examination, which lends a realistic and fuller-bodied feel to events that evolve both internally and externally.

This approach elevates the story on several levels, injecting social, political, and cultural contrasts and observations to augment the romance with a bigger picture viewpoint.

Hindsight and time coalesce in a manner that brings this story to life in ways readers won't see coming as both characters evolve and walk on disparate, unexpected paths in their lives:

"Then and now I was forced to consider the possibility, though, that Nao Kao really was just a player, completely lost, all alone in a foreign country by himself, no worries about being caught. I thought it would be a one-night stand. Later I assumed it was a fling. Only much later did I consider the ephemeral nature of the line between a fling and an actual "thing." Blurry or bright, lines exist, and they matter. I cannot say what he thought, on which side of the line Nao Kao may have stood, and I cannot remember anymore what I thought, but I do know what I heard and I do know what I said - and what I didn't. I never said I love you. Neither did he."

More so than most stories of romance or cross-cultural enlightenment, I Never Said I Love You holds vivid and unexpected insights about friendships, connections, and life events which drive people either together or apart.

Libraries seeking novels that extend their attraction and power to more than just interpersonal revelations will find I Never Said I Love You a compelling story. It deserves recommendation to book clubs and patrons interested in debating and thinking about the impact of travel, revelations, and deals with the devil in a story that churns out delightfully complex and thought-provoking details that readers won't see coming.

A Cure for Spring Fever
Barbara Robinson
The Wild Rose Press Inc.
c/o BJR Books
9781509254996, $2.99 eBook

A Cure for Spring Fever is part of the Jelly Beans and Spring Things series, and presents a paranormal romance novella that is perfect for quick reading and engrossing entertainment value.

The story opens with Stan's confrontation with a mischievous band of mjolkhares (clawed bunny-like creatures who enjoy wrecking mayhem on pantries). Cute as they may be, their destructive actions require swift action that Stan specializes in delivering, in his role as gamekeeper.

Unfortunately, in this case, he has failed. However, in a wry twist of events, his failure opens the door to new possibilities he never saw coming.

Barbara Robinson injects a wry sense of humor into her story which will keep readers laughing:

"Magic weakening?" asked the actor in the infomercial. "Struggling with staying power?" he queried, eyebrow arched. "Then you need our special blend of herbs and supplements. For just three easy payments of less than twenty dollars each, you'll get a three-month supply that's guaranteed to put the wood back in your wand...".

Is Stan losing his magical mojo? It would seem so, as unicorns lay waste to the town square because his wards proved too weak to contain them properly and flying monkeys invade the West End School playground under his watch.

As woodland nymph Lynnette finds her own set course shaken in different ways, both by her own failures and her attraction to Stan, a magical tale evolves which leads them to confront the truth: magic is not only working upon them, but through them.

Robinson depicts a whimsical world buffeted by magical entities and the emergence of wisdom, connection, and change. Her ability to create an appealing, light-hearted romp through this world as two seemingly-disparate characters find their hearts and minds challenged by changed worldviews makes for a light-hearted, appealing story.

In a sea of tales powered by angst and folly, A Cure for Spring Fever is a standout for packing the most fun and action in the novella's succinct format.

Libraries and readers seeking a lively plot that defies pat categorization and appeals on the basis of fantasy, paranormal events, and romance will find A Cure for Spring Fever just the ticket for a rainy day and the desire for a warm story powered by heartfelt encounters and enthusiasm ... with a few wayward unicorns added to the magical mix.

Wolf of the Aegean
Daniel McKenzie
Atmosphere Press
9798891321588, $20.00 Paperback/$29.99 Hardcover/$9.99 eBook

Wolf of the Aegean is the first book in the historical fiction series Seafourthe Saga. It will especially appeal to readers of swashbuckling nautical adventures, who will find the story of a privateer and his crew who rebel against the might of the Ottoman Empire (and, later, other empires) to be compellingly action-packed.

Daniel McKenzie introduces his yarn by employing the first person to bring the story to life, injecting a 'you are here' feel to the ship's management and crew from the story's opening salvo of reflective experiences:

"Spill the wind, foreyards brace abox flat aback! Heave-to, we slide slow into Sidon, boys!" David l'Helm, premiere Privateer Pilot on the Ocean's verge, shouted to the crew of La Vengeance de La Prostituee to slow the ship.

"Lower away longboat!" l'Helm ordered, and turning to the Captain said, "Coast is clear. Anchor in the Catshead; we have fallen off the wind coming about ghosting, sir."

A Sailing Saga thus begins that will capture "...our almost mythic history roving upon the Eighth Sea " in the wake of the Thirty Years War, which comes to live under McKenzie's guidance. Readers needs no prior familiarity with prior events find this story satisfyingly compelling and immediately accessible - even to those who may harbor little prior familiarity with the times and their history.

Another compelling feature prominent in this historical novel is a view of history which may challenge the reader's knowledge of the events of the times and how they are interpreted today:

"History is replete with deluded self-important men who coveted such as the Lionheart. These greedy spawn of hell are perfect prey. They cannot conceive of failure in their insanity of racial superiority, strength, and especially, immortality to vanquish and rob the heathen rabble. Regardless of their ini-tial victories, they will fall. Especially when coming to steal in someone else's backyard."

A third device employed to make the history and events standouts is an attention to vivid language that not only depicts, but flavors the circumstances with an immediacy and color too many historical novels omit. This succeeds in capturing the politics, racism, religion, and sentiments of the times in a realistic, thought-provoking manner.

"A Moslem ship was of no matter to the Captain; the Wolf Pack plundered for no God except the one named Gold and for no nation except the Vengeance, with the added luxury of Pilot David l'Helm to get them the hell out of Egypt."

From adventures on the high seas to the defiance of traditional thinking and living, the adventures in Wolf of the Aegean are simply riveting, making the book very highly recommended not just for historical novel enthusiasts, but for libraries interested in nautical adventures that come steeped in a revised sense of history and purpose. It will prove perfect for patron and book club discussions.

Through Her Lens
Melissa Clark Bacon
Atmosphere Press
9798891321182, $18.99 Paperback/$9.99 eBook

Through Her Lens takes place during World War II. It paints a powerful portrait of a young woman who finds her life and perceptions changed by war's haunting overlay of transformation.

Millicent Trayford is involved in a dangerous job. She works for British intelligence to hunt down the Nazi V1 and V2 bombs. Her endeavors initially seem to fall far from her previous life's passion (photography), but she was prompted to employ her cameras for intelligence work when the bombs hit too close to home.

As much as she struggles with a mission that could determine the course of the war and the fate of Britain, she also fields romance that comes from two directions: her fiancee, and the advances of a Royal Air Force pilot who challenges her sense of duty and commitment.

Millie's work in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force leads her into strange circumstances and unfamiliar territory as she finds herself in the throes of a countdown towards D-Day (which each chapter heading emphasizes).

Melissa Clark Bacon combines a passion for cameras and photography with the changing viewpoints of a woman who looks into and beyond the lens of possibility to chart a different course for her life than she'd ever envisioned.

As her images uncover facts that had previously been well hidden, Millie discovers a different purpose for her passion and new avenues of self-realization. Each lend to both intelligence discoveries and revised understandings about her own heart and passions.

The catastrophes of bombings and war come to life as vividly as Millie's revolutionary images of her revised world and place in it. This brings both history and personal experience to life in a rich dovetailing of experience that will attract fans of women's stories and World War II history alike.

Libraries and readers seeking depictions of World War II from the lens of women who participate in the war effort in different ways will find Through Her Lens an engaging story of transformation. It taps history to power a woman's changing position and outlook on life as Millie hones in on her future:

"The War Office will never give me credentials as a photographer to go to France after the invasion, so I want you to invent a way for me to go. I'll do whatever you ask as long as I am allowed to take my cameras. After that, I will find a way to show the world my work, the work of these extraordinary women."

The Adventures of the Flash Gang, Episode 2: Treasonous Tycoon
M.M. Downing and S.J. Waugh
Fitzroy Books
c/o Regal House Publishing
9781646034031, $12.95 Paperback/$8.49 eBook

The Adventures of the Flash Gang, Episode 2: Treasonous Tycoon gives preteen adventure story readers a run for their money, as a gang of "streeters" who have been in hiding since their thievery escapades finds themselves forced from their refuge when Pittsburgh floods.

Pearl, Lewis, Duck, and Mac present young readers with streetwise savvy and high-octane action from the start, redefining the word 'stealing' ('pinching' in street lingo) as they struggle to survive the Depression.

In this story, they are facing not just challenges to their way of life, but the nefarious efforts of an ongoing adversary, a steel tycoon, to stop them.

M.M. Downing and S.J. Waugh's attention to dialogue and descriptions that supercharge the action with realistic and vivid imagery is the first strength to note about this story:

"Can ya believe that guy?" hooted PB. "He goes and burns down a church - St. Patty's, no less! - and gets a slap on the wrist. Streeters loot one measly train car an' we get shoveled off quicker 'n you can say Mayor McNair! Sheesh." PB tapped the newspaper he was holding with a grimy finger, pointing to the headline and the arsonist's photo below it: a fat-faced man with a gold tooth and a nasty leer. That leer still gave Lewis nightmares."

Themes of friendship, survival, cooperation, and clashes between streetwise kids and equally savvy adults reinforce the notion that support systems and connections can come from vastly different scenarios and activities.

Children who choose Treasonous Tycoon, whether they are prior fans of the first book or newcomers to the gang's activities, will find the action juxtaposes nicely with issues that range from supporting each another to helping others (both human and non-human) who also struggle for survival:

Pearl had left the road and was skittering down a short bank and across a web of train tracks toward the river's edge where, far beneath the bridge, Herr's Island sat like a dark smudge in the raging river. A small rail bridge spanned the short distance to the island. Pearl headed straight for it.


"I'm saving the pigs!" she called back.

"We don't have time for this!"

"There is always time for a good deed."

Despite their efforts, is the Flash Gang becoming extinct?

Kids that choose this story for its adventure will be equally attracted to its ability to inject bigger-picture themes and considerations into the suspense and intrigue, making it a top recommendation for libraries seeking stories that will grab young reader attention, but pose deeper insights about friendship, survival, and support systems.

The Sacred Passage
Mwana wa Musikavanhu
Atmosphere Press
9798891320901, $18.99 Paperback/$9.99 eBook

The Sacred Passage: Life And Times Of A Sadistic Gentleman depicts the politics and processes of the rule of President Runo, whose wide-ranging sadistic and egotistical nature translates to a presidency which not only ruins the nation, but challenges individuals, families, and social structures.

Sound familiar? The allegory comes to life in a novel which probes the dangerous intersection of politics and ambition, and the outcomes which can be expected when the two collide with presidential power and edicts that belay the foundations of freedom.

Mwana wa Musikavanhu creates a mythical man and a sense of place and purpose which holds the all too familiar feel of modern America, even though the characters and setting are not of this country:

"His greatest quality, however, was patience. He could wear out all his enemies by playing for time and utilising over-ambitious individuals to play his game.

"Imagine how they feel. You begged to join their move-ment after trekking through the length and breadth of this nation. Now they have to bow to you, a late entrant of the movement."

"It happens when one hesitates to grab opportunities. Politics is a game of chance and keeping the mind and eyes wide open. If you blink, you lose," Runobvepi proudly declared.

"Don't you feel threatened by how much you have betrayed them?"

"Betrayal?" He laughed sarcastically. "The games have not even begun, my dear."

The African nation confronts world leaders, bullies, terrorism, and the fruits of a leadership which intersects with other special interests worldwide to create a perfect storm of conflict between social, political, and judicial checks and balances. Readers gain vivid insights into the dangers and deceptions that sadistic leaders can inject into the ideal of world order and growth.

Of special note is the manner in which Musikavanhu mirrors current events, pinpointing not only sources of discord, but the ultimate goals and results of such a dangerous personality and game:

"Calls for early elections to remove Runo and appoint a more competent individual were initiated. Runo never listened. He blamed everything on the Poodle and unwarranted sanctions for promoting a regime change agenda. While the explanation was genuine, he had done nothing on his part to improve the governance framework or the economic policy framework. He wanted total control and centralised authority that all institutions had to rely on his call. Devolution and autonomy of decision-making were not welcome because his looting scams were going to be affected."

The result is a frightening, thought-provoking read not just for its allegorical power, but for its bigger-picture insights on how individual ego and objectives can dovetail with political processes in a deadly manner that affects not just one nation, but the entire world order.

Libraries and readers seeking a novel that is astute in its observations, eye-opening in its connections between political power and psychological makeup, and revealing in its progressive history will appreciate the force and thought-provoking moments in The Sacred Passage, which is filled with lively fodder suitable for book club discussion.

It is especially highly recommended for libraries collecting solid African literature and novels rich in social and political insights about a world in which myth, ambition, and madness coalesce.

Daughter of Snow and Secrets
Kerry Chaput
Black Rose Writing
9781685133900, $21.95 Paperback/$5.95 eBook

Daughter of Snow and Secrets combines action, romance, and Renaissance history and culture in a way that piques reader interest. It opens in 1681 France, where Isabelle is charged with leaving the safety of her Geneva home to rescue Protestants being persecuted by the king. Isabelle's reflections on life purpose and death introduce the story with a thought-provoking reflection:

"I've started thinking about death. My death, to be specific. The years I spent with the Huron in Canada taught me to listen to my wandering thoughts that warn of danger. If my old friend Naira were here, I'd ask her if she's seen the moment I die, and if it's possible to have power in your last moments. But Naira isn't here, and I have a job to do."

As she faces savage Dragoon soldiers and her daughter Elizabeth, whose courage and carelessness drive them into danger, Isabelle finds her rescue attempts and purpose expanding rapidly to embrace impossible efforts as she struggles to keep her wayward daughter safe while attempting to rescue every Protestant in France .

Impossible goals, these. But Isabelle is gifted with the ability to achieve seemingly impossible goals, the proactive force and behavior of a hero that can confront danger while protecting family and allies, and the courage to tackle the results of her daughter's solo rescue attempt when it goes dangerously awry.

Romance tempers Isabelle's challenges and confrontations, offering heady glimpses of love and lust that evolve concurrently with new realizations about family, faith, and political turmoil:

"It's easy to have faith when you've glimpsed your own death. There is no changing the outcome."

Lace love and action with a healthy dose of historical references that excel in detail and depth, cemented by emotional attachments and the madness of efforts that carry characters into new realms ("They might very well both be mad, but their music is beautiful enough to take my breath away. I stop at the landing for a moment to let her voice drift me to another place where I'm not in a fight for my life. Where heartbreaking music is enough to suspend time."), and it's evident that the sense of purpose, place, and people is nicely presented in a gripping, realistic plot replete with atmospheric touches.

Libraries and readers seeking historical fiction that simmers with action, relationship quandaries, and bigger-picture political struggles will welcome the depth and digressions that make Daughter of Snow and Secrets satisfyingly intense, often unpredictable, and thoroughly engrossing. The book concludes a trilogy, but stands nicely alone, and so is highly recommended for prior fans and newcomers alike.

A Simple Foundation
Larry Heitz
102nd Place, LLC
9781950943289, $25.97 Hardcover/$13.99 Paperback/$5.99 eBook

A Simple Foundation appears in an updated second edition to provide a biblical foundation of inquiry on the subject of faith and its incarnation in everyday life.

It provides a Scripture-based foundation that strives to simplify the connections between Christian believers, streamlining the process of understanding the basic tenets of Jesus and his teachings. Thus, the belief and words become more accessible (and more applicable) to a wider variety of believers, no matter that they may come from disparate walks of life and experience.

Readers may not expect examples of this process to arrive in such diverse forms as those from the business world, but one way in which Larry Heitz builds and solidifies his foundation is through constructing pathways to understanding that link real-world experiences with higher-level spiritual insights.

This approach successfully delves into such diverse (yet related) topics as gratitude, the gift of faith and how it is exercised in minute and ultimate cases, how misfortune can lead to positive change and results, and more.

Each example is cemented by a blend of Scripture references and thought-provoking insights which readers will find thoroughly engrossing.

The result indeed builds a foundation for better understanding, group discourse, individual contemplation, and a uniting of faiths under what at first may seem an umbrella of disparate situations.

Christian readers and libraries will find this approach powerfully enlightening, and a perfect choice for discussion groups interested in incarnations of faith in everyday life and how unified approaches to belief may be cultivated and encouraged.

Final Video Game
Craig Speakes
Final Video Game
9781399977708, $11.99 Paperback/$3.99 eBook

In Final Video Game, thirteen-year-old Oliver faces multiple challenges: a new life with his mother after his father vanishes; a move to a new town and school; and a new friendship with classmate Logan, who is addicted to video games.

Oliver willingly enters into his milieu, only to find it offers further new challenges he is ill equipped to handle, as the popular new video game series unexpectedly leads its users to fall into comas.

That's because the AI controlling the game has gone rogue, causing the virtual world to become a dangerous harbinger of humanity's extinction - unless Oliver can stop it. But, what chance does a preteen new gamer have over a savvy AI?

As it turns out, who better to defeat an AI at its own game than a determined band of game-savvy kids who recognize the challenge, motivations, and underlying forces dictating its moves?

Craig Speakes embeds his story with attractive technology references, equally compelling psychological patterns of defense and offense among a group of intrepid young people, and the allure of a gamer's world and talents. These facets keep the action fast-paced and the story line unpredictably engrossing.

As Oliver confronts the cyberattacks, he comes to realize that his own choices and actions will affect not just the world to come, but his own family and friends.

The interplay between simulations and real people, and the ways in which they interact, connect, and disconnect, provides young readers with a gripping saga that is powered as much by interpersonal relationships as by gaming strategy.

The fire, characters, and action of the story lends to its top recommendation to libraries catering to young video gamers who might normally eschew the printed word - were it not for the vivid confrontations and action-packed scenes that provide a lure in Final Video Game.

Friendly Foxes
Jesse Bettio
Independently Published
9798871558744, $31.15 Paperback/$7.77 eBook

Friendly Foxes is a picture book about divorce that will appeal to parents and adults looking to open a positive dialogue with the very young.

It portrays a fox family facing a "kind divorce," showing kids how a family can adapt and maintain love while still moving apart.

The kindness isn't just evident in the parents, here. It's in Jesse Bettio's choice of words in describing the circumstances surrounding the separation (the parents have been good adventure partners, but now it's time for them to embark on separate adventures).

Lovely watercolor illustrations of the foxes add color and attraction to the tale, which explains different living scenarios the kids might face, such as Mommy or Daddy fox nesting with the kids at different times, or the kids visiting a parent's new abode.

The story's ability to creatively, kindly, and realistically explain a divorce and its various options and impact on the family will allow adults to explain very difficult circumstances to a very young child.

There are many other children's books about divorce, but few that narrow the focus to a 'kind divorce' or the circumstances that a youngster needs to understand. Use of the fox family over human characters assures that the messages are delivered in an attractive, gentle manner kids will find accessible rather than frightening.

This is why Friendly Foxes is highly recommended not just for libraries, but parents interested in a colorful, positive, simple approach to the topic that will spark conversation and acceptance in young listeners.

Tap Dancing on Everest
Mimi Zieman, MD
Falcon Guides
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
9781493078431, $22.95 Paper/$16.49 eBook

Tap Dancing on Everest: A Young Doctor's Unlikely Adventure is a study in adventure, joy, and survival. It portrays the experiences of a young medical student and dancer who breaks out of her comfort zones to join a daring expedition to chart a new route on the East Face of Mt. Everest - something that hadn't been done before.

Readers of travel and mountain climbing memoirs will find Zieman's approach enlightening and vivid as she grapples with reasons why to undertake not only an arduous and potentially life-threatening journey but also studying about high altitude medicine on top of her routine medical school courses:

"Dosing is best when started prior to reaching altitude, but it can be used upon development of symptoms of AMS. After writing down additional advice about acclimatization such as drinking a lot of water and avoiding alcohol, I filed the library books back on the shelves. My first lesson on doctoring on Everest: completed."

This juxtaposition of family background, physician training and applications to wilderness endeavors, and the excitement of an extreme and extraordinary journey lends Tap Dancing on Everest a sense of accomplishment and adventure rarely found in the usual memoir or physician account.

The intersection of all three themes affords readers a unique, thoroughly engrossing story that delves into physical and mental challenges alike, bringing Zieman's story to life in what, for many, will prove the next best thing to being on the mountain:

"I trudged from tent to tent in my double boots, getting wetter and wetter. I never thought of our Bronx hospitals as luxurious, but a ceiling over my head would have felt deluxe. Despite the poor conditions, I felt full of purpose: a doctor in the mountains, just as I'd imagined. So far, I could handle everything."

Will Zieman's strengths be enough in the face of Everest's special and grueling challenges?

Libraries and readers who choose Tap Dancing on Everest will find out - and will also discover a special sense of joy, accomplishment, and growth in Zieman's experiences. This translates nicely to a thoroughly engrossing adventure that will prove hard to put down, whether the audience is composed of physicians, would-be mountain climbers, or armchair adventurers looking for a 'you are here' feel of excitement.

The Contentment Dividend
Michael Goddart
Clear Path Press
9781960090423, $27.95 Hardcover/$18.95 Paperback/$9.99 eBook

The Contentment Dividend: Meditations for Realizing Your True Self is a study in how contemplation can connect to and reflect new discoveries. It goes a step further than typical 'how to' self-help guides to create important links between the contemplation and discovery processes.

Michael Goddart's focus is on building contentment from this type of meditative effort. His discussions range from tips on building authenticity and tackling misconceptions of wakefulness to not just understanding, but tapping into the inherent skill sets that contribute to a better life:

"You are a teachable dweller. Right now, you are dwelling in the physical living under a shroud of unknowing. But you possess all the knowing within you. What's critical is that you have the innate sense of knowing to teach yourself how to live experience after experience in the way that serves you best."

Readers who already believe in karmic just desserts will find especially engrossing the connections between destiny, attitude, and past lives:

"Much of our destiny is a struggle, a slog. We get ourselves further karmically hamstrung with heedless mean words, insistent desires, greedy actions, being responsible for death after death of innocent lambs, chickens, and salmon. The killing goes on; you rack up more debts. Each of us goes through our destiny, creating destinies to come, and we can use experiences as opportunities to evolve spiritually, or they can bind us to more indebtedness."

More so than most spiritual and self-help guides, Goddart uncovers the circumstances, instances, and the nuggets of wisdom that appear in daily life to offer new opportunities to those who would take time to stop and smell the revised roses of life.

Libraries and readers interested in books centered on growth and empowerment, which are as powerful in group discussion circles as in individual pursuit, will find The Contentment Dividend an uplifting, fine discussion of the opportunities present in daily living for those who would contemplate the deeper roots and meaning of contentment.

A Whale of a Murder
Valerie Taylor
Aspetuck Publishing
9798986599526, $17.95 Paperback/$4.99 eBook

A Whale of a Murder is a cozy mystery that opens with the specter of fifty-year-old Venus Bixby's fall at the Sofia Silva Whaling Museum . This is actually only one tumultuous event that happens at the museum that day, changing the course of Venus's life as the unexpected death of Margaret "Maggie" McGee, manager of the museum's gift shop, draws her into a homicide - and a conundrum.

Readers interested in a cozy mystery whose first-person narrator adds passion and intrigue to the events impacting Chatam Crossing will find A Whale of a Murder replete with nautical and small town influences.

In a small town where the main topic of controversy is that of a new stop light's placement, murder is not only unexpected, but shocking.

The introduction of intrigue, which takes the form of a journalistic article reveal by Investigative Reporter Daniel DaRosa, nicely compliments the second chapter, where Venus's first-person observations kick in for a one-two punch of attraction.

Background humor adds to the problem-solving observations and clues to spark enlightening dialogues among Venus's circle:

"I prefer to think of a triangle as providing balance, harmony, and stability." Sherrie reiterated by pointing to each of us. "And I'm feeling each of those in this room right now." She let out a sigh, as if she was satisfied with her performance. Oh, geez. Any minute now, Sherrie would have us singing 'Kumbaya, My Lord.' Here I thought I was the Song and Dance Lady."

Readers seeking the allure of a cozy mystery teeming with small-town associations and politics, a savvy female who falls into an uncommon whale of a mystery investigation, and a supporting cast of characters that swirl around her to add further psychological entanglements and intrigue to the story, will relish A Whale of a Murder.

The intrigue is enhanced by more 'accident/murders' and questions which arise to link past to present events as Venus and others find their lives, purposes, and talents put to the dual test of time and tragedy.

Valerie Taylor is especially adept at drawing together the emotional relationships between characters as mystery and murders test their resolve and abilities:

"Carole squeezed my arm as she pulled me in for a sympathetic hug. 'What do you really know about him? Just because he's filled a hole in your heart - '
'Only partially filled,' I said as I separated myself from Carole..."

These emotional overlays reinforce the 'cozy' connections in the story, while adding attraction value to a tale replete with satisfying twists and turns.

Libraries and readers seeking a mystery steeped in whaling history, small-town relationships and atmosphere, and a sense of intrigue that draws Venus and her associates to connect new dots in their lives will find A Whale of a Murder lives up to its title, promise, and attraction. It's a story that's truly hard to predict or put down.

Pharo and the Murder at Smoke Lake
Steve Skurka
Atmosphere Press
9798891321557, $18.99 PB, $8.99 Kindle

Pharo and the Murder at Smoke Lake introduces a Canadian murder that challenges Pharo's investigative skills. This time, events emerge from a resort snafu in which Pharo is called upon to employ her own skills while tapping those of her husband attorney and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself.

This is no simple whodunit. Sealed letters, political clashes in Serbia and elsewhere, and a backdrop of special interests keep Pharo on her toes and her various assistants equally challenged as the drowning tragedy unfolds, embracing all participants in a quest for what turns out to be a double killer.

Steve Skurka weaves the atmospheres of place and time so subtly into the action that the story sparkles with social, historical, and cultural influences. These give events a decided edge of reality as they unfold:

"Sipping his drink, Willie hatched his story. "Sir Arthur and I discussed Italy as a proper venue to film The Sign of Four, and your film studio seemed perfectly suited. We're thinking about the right casting for the film. What would you think of the actor you engaged in your film at the Roman Colosseum, Rudolph Mulino?"

The intrigue that follows is thus an intrinsic part of the efforts of Pharo and The Sherlock Holmes Club to address and inject trickery, analysis, and insights into deepening plots that are challenging as wily characters test the mettles of amateur and seasoned detectives alike.

Skurka's multifaceted story moves through not just Pharo's observations and efforts, but a strong cast of characters that swirl around her. These will keep readers on their toes as they enjoy the twists and turns of discovery that hone good detectives from impossible circumstances.

Libraries familiar with Pharo from previous adventures will find Pharo and the Murder at Smoke Lake an attraction for prior enthusiasts and newcomers alike, who will find her journeys and those of her fellow detectives on the case to be fraught with action, intrigue, puzzles, and surprises.

A Coincidental Life
Ron Kemper
Atmosphere Press
9798891321335, $17.99 PB, $7.99 Kindle

Billy Feeney and Stevie Alpert were once friends, in Brooklyn . Fate and serendipity bring them back together in San Francisco, a world and a coast away, in A Coincidental Life, reconnecting the friends under vastly revised times and place. Their chance encounter in the fall of 1966 brings with it new opportunities and revised relationships as Billy and Stevie explore what it means and takes to be a man, whether in the Marines, on the streets of the city, or in their renewed association with one another.

As Billy faces prison and Stevie continues his life journey, the two explore California culture, contrast it with their years in New York, and evolve a sense of what it takes to remain connected to self. New opportunities force each to step into different roles; there to struggle with ongoing issues of control and opportunity.

The result is a moving saga that marries old and new souls, injects reflections into Jewish culture and 1960s counterculture worlds, and creates an interplay between characters who confront themselves and one another with new perceptions.

Interwoven with their stories are reflections on contemporary American policies, politics, and social issues such as ' America, Once Beautiful?' and 'Old Age Truisms', which create memorable juxtapositions of subject and character and lend added value to Billy and Stevie's odyssey.

The result is a journey through American change and two lives affected by friendship, adversity, social transformation, and cultural influences. It will delight libraries and readers seeking thought-provoking food for thought wound into a story of discovery and connection.

Book clubs looking for debate or discussion material that arrives steeped in not only 1960s, but modern reflections on American perception and influence as seen through the eyes and hearts of friends who reconnect under new circumstances, will find plenty of discussions evolving from A Coincidental Life, which takes the coincidence of new possibilities and injects them with the edge of reflection and issues of control and empowerment.

Charm City Crab Puff
Pamela Kyel
The Wild Rose Press
9781509253340, $17.99 PB, 280pp

Charm City Crab Puff profiles Special Agent Laci Duvall's engaging world and engrossing mystery as she faces a former beau, a dead ex-husband, and the mystery of a murder that re-entangles them both in intrigue and struggles over past and present-day affairs.

Pamela Kyel sweetens her story with a dose of affection and humor. These enhance Laci's personality and character as events unfold between and around them:

"You could just ring the doorbell, but you choose to knock and ring the doorbell. You don't have to do both," I said. My grin stretched from one side of my face to the other. I don't know why this struck me as funny; it just did. Maybe it was nerves, but whatever it was, I let out a snort, and Desio swung his head to look at me. Which made it even funnier, so I snorted again. All the while he didn't even crack a smile."

Candid observations about situations, other people, and ironic twists that come from these reflections subtly pepper the tale with realistic insights. These grow characters and plot without the reader fully realizing what makes the story feel so full-bodied and well-developed:
"Once the garage-like door was rolled up, it was plain to see she was in a hurry when she dropped everything off. There was no organization anywhere, which says a lot coming from

Forced to work together to solve one problem while fielding unresolved problems from their shared past, Laci and Desio pursue answers that give rise to more questions and deeper concerns. A cast of characters swirls around them to add their own conundrums and observations into the mystery.

Kyel excels in a sweet sense of productive action and confrontational exercises, exploring proactive thinking that draws the main characters closer even as they chafe against some of the situations that test their relationship.

These devices contribute to a thoroughly engrossing story that offers many twists and turns as the characters move through their conjoined lives to once again make a mark on their worlds and each other.

Libraries and readers seeking cozy mysteries that resonate with dual charm and soul-on-fire encounters will welcome the emotional undercurrents that drive Charm City Crab Puff to be an exceptionally engrossing read.

The Sisters of Blue Mountain Beach
Karen Chapman Lloyd
Rebelle Press
9798877426535, $9.99 eBook

The Sisters of Blue Mountain Beach tells of a devastating hurricane which makes landfall on the beaches of the Emerald Coast, seemingly singling out one house for total destruction, where resident Mrs. Gilpin and her sisters go missing.

The similarities and differences between the closely connected women are revealed in the first chapter, which focuses on their similarities, many differences, and the financial and emotional strings that connect them - until a revelation at chapter's end adds a different twist to the story:

"They fight. They makeup. They are family. They love one another unconditionally, even as they'd like to kill each other, they would first kill for. The important thing to know is that they always came in August. Only August. The important thing to know is that they were not sisters at all."

Each woman faces life challenges in a different manner, confronting revised expectations and new promises in an enlightening manner that will give book club discussion groups much material for debate:

"There is no party, but Cilla has decided that she will dress for chemo. Perhaps it will make the difference, treating it like a life sentence, instead of a march to death row. Cilla is going to buy something that doesn't look good on her that she loves anyway. Something too expensive that Arden doesn't pay for. Something too young for her old body."

As each woman decides how she will revise and live her life, readers receive close inspections of the choice and options life brings, with opportunity to consider disparate reactions to them result in changed relationships both within their group and outside of it:

"Could she stay? Could she just leave the house and the life or lack thereof in Arkansas and stay here and soak away her sadness and the cancer cells and let them float out to sea. Could osmosis be the cure for cancer yet to be discovered? Could she stay and live? Or would she die a romantic, cinematic death while Arden and Worth tried to embalm her."

Motivations for living count down as the hurricane nears, juxtaposing both internal and external threats as the women revise their life goals, perceptions, and connections to each another.

From keeping score and looking for elusive love to grasping the final elements of what makes life worth living, Cilla and her companions face cancer, healing opportunities, and hurricanes with equal strength.

Subplots of divorce, conspiracy, drugs, and death add full-bodied flavor and shifting life experiences to the story, lending it a realistic, compelling countenance.

That's why libraries, readers, and book club groups alike, especially those interested in womens' fiction that portrays changes affecting women's lives and relationships, will find The Sisters of Blue Mountain Beach thoroughly compelling and hard to put down. It's packed with incremental philosophical and psychological insights that provide much food for thought.

Body Merchants
Elaine Bossik
Portable Shopper, LLC
9780984241958, $16.95 Paperback; $9.95 eBook

Body Merchants is a novel that delivers with the look and feel of a mystery, but holds bigger-picture thinking. It injects medical and ethical issues into reporter Ellie Andrews's investigation of a star athlete's sudden death after a kidney transplant. When she discovers that he's not the only transplant recipient in the hospital to experience devastating aftereffects, she embarks on an investigation, resulting in a cascade of events that strike increasingly close to home.

Readers of medical thrillers and novels which excel not just in mysteries, but in ethical and moral conundrums which immerse readers in questions of intention and outcome will find the satisfying twists and turns Ellie experiences here to be thoroughly engrossing. They come supercharged with personal relationships that lead readers to care about Ellie's family, professional challenges, and the revelations which drive the plot.

Elaine Bossik crafts an engrossing tale that operates as realistically in the courtroom as it does in the hospital. Ellie embarks on a journey that eventually brings her full circle to confront the forces that created a profitable scheme, then required dead bodies to make it come alive.

As clues lead to discoveries, Ellie not only uncovers new possibilities, but is forced to examine her own motivations for pursuing a good story at all costs ... even her own life and those of loved ones around her, who also may not be all that they seem.

These kinds of questions lie at the heart of this superior medical thriller, moving the story beyond a whodunit and into the arena of personal moral and ethical conundrums.

Ellie isn't the only one whose life and objectives are under the gun. Those around her also face their special brand of hell as a result of both her probe and their involvements:

"Nick Labelle, who had permission to visit him in a few weeks. This gave Matt a sense of purpose, a reason to wake up every morning and live through the day. It became his raison d'etre - his reason to be."

The result is a well-written, thoroughly engrossing blend of thriller, mystery, psychological and ethical examination, and court case. Body Merchants will satisfy a wide range of audiences, from libraries seeking thought-provoking novels that bring medical and criminal interests to life to individuals looking for depth in their entertainment reading.

War of the Orders
R.D. Crist
ShoRic Publishing
9780999882276, $4.99 Kindle

War of the Orders is the third book in the Scarlet Reign series, and embraces magic, mystery and mayhem as thoroughly as its predecessors. A prologue recaps the environment and action, providing newcomers with both a satisfyingly alluring reference to scenes and a compelling reason to keep on reading as the spiritual Realm of Scarlet embraces the lives of three women determined to become powerful Hags in exchange for their souls.

This then segues to the first chapter, in which night terrors from scary stories prompt a dialogue among kids about missing children who disappear in the darkness. Added impact emerges when further legends and possibilities are revealed.

The second chapter brings Natalie and Toddi to the Order of the Sisterhood, where Natalie confronts her role in the always-present wars that challenge her friends and family. Determined to make her own mark on the world, Natalie chooses to walk a different path than what has been ordained for her. She finds herself secretly challenging the legality of war altogether, while juggling two relationships which pose threat and healing to her life.

As the world of the Order of Sisterhood evolves, with magic and mystery at its helm, readers will find the combination of genres and experiences to be multifaceted and thoroughly engrossing.

Natalie's mandate to remain true to herself while reconsidering her future, her powers, and her ability to change will resonate with readers who enjoy stories of proactive, self-empowered women. Those who look for magical overlays juxtaposed with the realities of wartime challenge will find its backdrop realistically alluring even as War of the Orders comes steeped in an original form of fantasy.

From the strengths of illusion and the price of truth to threats to children and family, War of the Orders weaves together a disparate series of events to create a powerful result.

Libraries and readers seeking the promise of magic, the allure of relationship transformations, the ethical and moral implications of ongoing war, and a young woman who fights on more than one front will find War of the Orders a strong read. It's especially effective when chosen as a follow-up to the two prior books in the series, Malice of the Dark Witch and Call for Independence; each of which follow Natalie through life-and-death scenarios and beyond.

Freedom: The Case for Open Borders
Joss Sheldon
Rebel Books
9798869084538, $22.49, Hardcover
9798874488048, $14.49, Paperback
B0CSX554Y4, $5.99 Kindle / $21.49 Large Print

Freedom: The Case for Open Borders is an examination of freedom, mobility, and emigrant value. It's a thought-provoking, inviting consideration of why the concept of open borders is more sustainable and positive than that of constructing walls to keep people out.

It's more than time for open borders, Joss Sheldon maintains. But his book is more than a clarion call for expansion - it's a review of historical precedent, facts surrounding migrant contributions and routines, and the kinds of movements and choices that have both led to freedom and concurrently restricted growth opportunities.

Sheldon embarks on a world-wide journey, examining nations, cultures, and civilizations as waves of nomads, migrants, and immigrants changed the face of not only societies, but histories ... and, often for the better.

He paints a strong portrait of possibilities that, in some cases, embrace ideals that would seem unattainable and unsustainable. In fact, they largely rest upon the attitudes and choices of those who would restrict not only immigration, but the new possibilities outsiders could introduce to improve social structures and life:

" have a problem with the so-called "Economic migrants"? Well, there's an answer to that as well: Abolish poverty! Wipe away third-world debt, pay reparations for the crimes of empire, abolish patents on medication, redistribute land and wealth, invest in health and education, and increase the social and physical infrastructure of the developing world. There'd be far less poverty, and far fewer migrants. We could drastically reduce immigration, without closing our borders or impinging upon personal freedoms. But it'd require a whole lot of political will - reaching out to help our neighbours, rather than to stop them."

The result is an exploration of historic trends, facts, ideals, and methods of reintroducing the value of foreigners onto American soil.

As Sheldon points out, America 's woes do not stem from invasion from without, but poor choices from within:

"...let's focus on the real villains: It's not the foreigners, "Coming for your jobs". It's the greedy bosses, who are sending your jobs overseas. And it's the duplicitous politicians, who scapegoat immigrants for "Stealing jobs", when they're doing nothing of the kind."

The result may be a hard-hitting and perhaps overly idealistic, at times, but it's a powerful discussion that deserves a place not only in classrooms considering history and social issues, but in reading groups where debates may swirl around America 's makeup, immigrant influence, and future.

Libraries that include Freedom: The Case for Open Borders in their collections should profile it prominently as a source of mindful, well-researched considerations of alternative options and concepts surrounding walls, borders, and ultimate immigrant value; past, present, and future.

A Brief History of England: 4000 BCE - Yesterday
Robert Dees
Commons Press
9781737481072, $15.00, PB, 98pp

The booklet A Brief History of England is an excerpt from The Power of Peasants: Economics and Politics of Farming in Medieval Germany (also by Robert Dees), and synthesizes the information provided in the far more extensive volume to a degree that general-interest readers can readily access its value.

This 98-page booklet is essentially a reprint of Chapter 12 in The Power of Peasants, with minor editing. In a nutshell, it serves as an outstanding introduction to the weightier book, as well as a stand-alone history that shows that England's very different development was the result of the farmers there winning some rights, in stark contrast to what happened in Germany after the peasants were defeated in the Peasant War.

The booklet's lively reinterpretation of historical events will prove exciting and pointed to readers considering Europe 's foundation of economics, farming, and cultural shifts. On the English Civil War of the 1640s:

"Once the fight started in the streets, everyone else had to pick a side. This radical action by the "meaner sort" frightened the king's supporters into organizing a military response, which in turn forced the more moderate opposition in parliament into taking the lead of the popular forces, both in self-defense against the king and to regain control over the people. Two opposing armies formed."

Extensive footnoted references in the Endnotes section and a supporting set of sources, paired with an index, reinforces the stand-alone nature of this important introduction.

A Brief History of England is highly recommended for students of economics and European history who hold special and particular interest in agricultural developments and the political impact of farmer uprisings.

The Maslow Conspiracy
Lou Earle
PHiR Publishing
9798988565147, $20.99 Paperback/$7.49 eBook

Mac Sisco and his Team Apogee face a post-pandemic world in the concluding volume of a thriller trilogy which began with Apogee and introduced a global threat which tested his team's makeup, objectives, and strengths.

Over a year has passed since the Typhoon Affair. COVID-19, in 2023, has wreaked havoc on physical and psychological levels; not the least of which are political impacts that draw Mac and his team deeper into situations of intrigue, global unrest, and forces that would exploit these circumstances.

Once again, concepts of good and evil are tested as Mac finds himself in a whirlwind of adversity and enemies that seek even more complex methods of controlling humanity. But this time, there are indicators that resolution is on the horizon ... if Mac and his team can draw together to confront internal and external forces working against them.

Fragile relationships, confrontations with the Faction, Mac's struggles while embedded in impossible situations away from his support group, and cryptic messages from Jasmine Snow that lead him through the streets of Rome to confront a CIA agent who is directed to arrest Mac for murder and treason adds tension and twists to the story as Mac is forced to confront scenarios in which he may prove to be the bad guy in the story.

Mac's advice to adversity is simple: "Keep the faith boys," Mac offered. "You never know what the future will bring." But sometimes faith is nearly impossible to maintain without a little creative cooking which, luckily, Mac enjoys in abundance.

Lou Earle cultivates a similar set of attributes for The Maslow Conspiracy as in the prior Team Apogee adventures. High-octane action, twists of plot that test characters and lead to questions about what situations they're actually tackling and how they are resolving them, and the intersection of personalities who concurrently address their own ideals, successes, and failures makes for heady thriller reading.

Setting this final book apart from its predecessors is more of a focus on what resolution looks like and translates to, and how hope and ultimately redemption emerge from conflict to give many of the characters newfound ideals for their future, as well as the future of freedom and the world.

Snow's character provides an especially satisfying, proactive female contrast to Mac's leadership which will delight readers seeking equal prowess in male and female problem-solving efforts.

"The truth will set you free." But, in this case, freedom comes with a promise and a price tag.

While The Maslow Conspiracy can be read as a stand-alone thriller, ideally it will be chosen by prior fans who will find especially satisfying the roundups of personalities and purposes which lead in different directions than the previous encounters.

These strengths are why The Maslow Conspiracy is highly recommended for libraries and all readers, particularly those immersed in the previous books, who will especially appreciate both the continuity of characters and the fresh dilemmas which arise here, to lead them into revised directions with startling new conclusions about salvation and redemption which adds value to this book and the series as a whole.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

Gary Roen's Bookshelf

It Could Be Worse
Dara Levan
Regalo Press
c/o Simon & Schuster (distribution)
9798888454190, $17.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

At first glance, "It Could Be Worse" appears to be a soothing beach read novel. Let me be the first to say, "It Could Be Worse" is a very deep character driven story, a page turner to the very end. Allegra Gill has at first a comfortable life, a husband who adores her, two wonderful children, a brother she thinks the world of, two parents she loves her own way, and a successful therapy practice. But as "It Could Be Worse unfolds Allegra's world begins to come apart when she has a miscarriage, that launches a whole series of events, where she even questions things about herself, to also learns items about her parents, she never knew, and for the first time see how shallow they really are. "It Could Be Worse" is also about making unpopular choices in life to protect a person's family. Though its possibly geared as a women's novel, men should read "It Could Be Worse" to better understand some of the complicated issues females deal with every day. "It Could Be Worse" is a first-class debut into the realm of fiction by a very talented writer.

On The Rocks
Maria C. Palmer and Ruthie Robbins
9798888240298, $30.95 HC / $7.49 Kindle

"On The Rocks" is an American story of a man's rise to open and run one of the most successful restaurants in the country and his downfall that is a lesson of who you can trust and who you can't. Joseph Costanzo was like many of us, hard working at the Postal Department with Donna his wife and two daughters Maria and Kelly. Joseph a very creative individual tried to help make the Postal Department better by suggestions to deaf ears of management. He knew there was more in life and jumped on an opportunity that presented itself, to buy a restaurant to make it his own. Risky though it was, Joe took the plunge to rename the establishment The Primadonna that became world-famous, in honor of his soulmate Donna. At first it was slow, but Joe had faith, to do so many creative things. Determined to have a review by the number one critic, in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, he persevered until a four out of five forks, appraisal was written, that turned the corner. Along the way Joe also made some bad decisions, that ended up toppling his whole world. Written in the first person this is Joe telling the good and bad that is a rapid read of a man who refused to give up no matter what was thrown at him. "On The Rocks" is a fantastic story that all Americans should read of one mans rise and fall that we can all learn from

Classic TV Icons Action & Drama
Edward Gross
Bear Manor Media
9798887712680, $32.00 pbk / $8.00 Kindle

"Classic TV Icons Action & Drama is a great look back at so many great shows and the actors who played in them. Some of the performers are Bill Bixby who was in My Favorite Martian, The Courtship of Eddies Father, The Incredible Hulk, Richard Boone, Medic, Have Gun Will Travel, The Richard Boone Show, Jack Webb, Dragnet, his productions of Adam 12, Emergency, David Janssen, The Fugitive, Harry O, Mike Connors Tightrope, Mannix, are just a few of the actors and shows. For the stars Gross tells about the movies all players have been in. "Classic TV Icons Action & Drama" is a well-researched for fans of the programs detailed to add viewing pleasure of the players and shows.

Pictures Of Time
David Alexander
Silver Street Media
9781542212786, $70.00 HC / No Kindle

"A picture is worth a thousand words" is a shining example with the photography of David Alexander. His work has been seen on album covers for the Blues Brothers, The Eagles, and many other performers in rock country and other music genres. Now he expands his creations to this artistic masterpiece in so many ways, that is his debut into the publishing realm. "Pictures Of Time" speaks volumes to anyone who sees the individual photos on each page. "Pictures Of Time" is an exquisite coffee table collection, anyone would be thrilled to display in their home.

Game of Teams: Discover How to Become a Collaborative Leader
Winsor Jenkins
Independently Published
9780979572425, $14.99 pbk / $4.99 Kindle

A lot of times an author can be involved in the title of the book which can be a good thing or bad. "Game of Teams" suffers because it is too much like the George R. R Martin classic "Game of Thrones" Furthermore in an author's note thee is the statement "Game of Teams" is a quick read. Instead it is a very slow progression that moves at a snails pace because of the way it is written. Almost every time someone speaks there is a he said or she said. The author uses so many times in paragraphs the same word when others could be used to move the work along, Here is one example, "In order for you and your team to effectively collaborate... you'll need to apply all of the operating principles in the operating platform that mirror a successful soccer team's actions and collaborative behaviors on the field." This is just one portion of a paragraph where the author uses team, teams, collaborate, collaborative, operating principles, operating platform. Sadly so many sentences throughout the work continue with the same word when the writer should have used a thesaurus. "Game of Teams" is also repetitive of its message of working together where a book from many years ago "The Greatest Salesman in the World" by Og Mandino was fun reading that had many different principles to follow in life and business that was excellently written as well as fun reading. "Game of Teams" could have been a much better book if it had been better written.

The Boy Who Said Wow
Todd Boss, author
Rashin Kheiriyeh, illustrator
Beach Lane Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781534499713, $18.99 HC / $10.99 Kindle

"The Boy Who Said Wow" really happened to a small boy when he experience the symphony for the first time. Ronan is a little boy who is always quiet not every saying anything at all. Out of the clear blue to declare to Ronan and his parents that he should take Ronan to a concert. So they go where at the performance Ronan speaks his appreciation. "The Boy Who Said Wow" is a beautifully told story that is enjoyable for all ages.

Gabi Snyder, author
Samatha Cotterill, illustrator
A Paula Wiseman Book
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781665905404, $19.99 HC / $10.99 Kindle

"Look" celebrates the world in a most unique way for all of us. A young boy goes on a journey to see so many different aspects of the planet, many of us take for granted. He is also aware of various shapes and sizes of everything he views. There are a lot of great messages to kids that all of us should utilize like enjoy earth and preserve it for others.

Hooray for She, He, Ze, and They!
Lindz Amer, author
Kip Alizadeh, illustrator
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
9781665931144, $18.99 HC / $10.99 Kindle

So long ago, schools were able to teach, so much more than they do today. "Hooray for She, He, Ze, and They!" is for those people who do not know, the proper use of pronouns to be grammatically correct, Speaking to kids in language they understand, the author and artist make it fun to learn, by telling them things that are cool so children can relate. "Hooray for She, He, Ze, and They" is a book many sportscasters, journalists, and other adults could brush up on proper times to say these words and in their writing. Hopefully the author and artist will introduce another title on the usages of verbs for kids and adults to be reminded of how to speak and write them

My Angel Book
Mary Brotherton
bUneke Publishing
9798986914619, $15.00 pbk No Kindle

"My Angel Book" is another expose, of angels from the point of view for children, to acquire knowledge of these fascinating beings, who help us in many ways through life. There are many places to find angels and through artwork and prose Brotherton takes readers on an interesting journey on how and where to find them. Purchase your ticket of "My Angel Book" to enjoy the excursion of where to locate these individuals so many believe, are only, works of fiction.

Teddy's New Home
Nicole Schell, author
Julia Moroko, illustrator
Independently Published
9798880161461, $14.99 pbk / $0.99 Kindle

Often authors are asked, "Where does the story come from?" There are many reasons, including helping the writer through a bad situation, as is the case of "Teddy's New Home." Teddy is a puppy of a family of canines who is adopted after his siblings find their own homes. He accepts the nice lady and man who feel the same about him. In his own words Teddy tells the many exciting things that unfold for him and his new family in a charming way. You do not need to be a dog owner, to enjoy "Teddy's New Home."

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Helen Dumont's Bookshelf

Speaking of Rape: The Limits of Language in Sexual Violations
Danielle Tumminio Hansen
Fortress Press
9798889831327, $34.00, HC, 286pp

Synopsis: Survivors of rape and sexual assault need speech to recover -- to tell the story of their harm, to rebuild their sense of self and their place in the world. But the words available to them often fail to describe their experience of the violation, which isolates and silences them, enables future perpetration by the rapist, and allows a rape and sexual assault to remain unacknowledged.

With the publication of "Speaking of Rape: The Limits of Language in Sexual Violations", Professor Tumminio Hansen steps into this space of the seemingly unspeakable and responds to the linguistic crisis by offering fresh ways of speaking and listening that reframe how we can describe, discuss, and address rape.

Deftly weaving first-person narrative with the wisdom of psychologists, philosophers, theologians, and restorative justice experts, "Speaking of Rape: The Limits of Language in Sexual Violations" revolutionizes our ways of understanding the scope and nature of sexual violations in order to revolutionize how we respond to them.

Critique: Enhanced for the reader's benefit with the inclusion of an informative Introduction and Conclusion, a four page listing of Acknowledgments, forty-eight pages of Notes, a fourteen page Bibliography, and a four page Index, "Speaking of Rape: The Limits of Language in Sexual Violations" by Professor Danielle Tumminio Hansen will prove to be of particular relevance and value to readers with an interest in the sociology of sex abuse, gender/sexuality in religious studies, and the impact of sexual assault on community social services. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Speaking of Rape" is timely, relevant, and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Gender Studies and Sexual Assault Recover collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. Deserving of as wide a readership as possible, it should be noted for professional and non-professional readers concerned with this subject that "Speaking of Rape" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $23.99).

Editorial Note: Danielle Tumminio Hansen is a professor of spiritual care at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. She is a prominent researcher on the intersection of trauma, theology, and contemporary life, and is the author of multiple books, including Speaking of Rape and Conceiving Family. (

The End of Love: Racism, Sexism, and the Death of Romance
Sabrina Strings
Beacon Press
9780807008621, $28.95, HC, 264pp

Synopsis: More men than ever are refusing loving partnerships and commitment, and instead seeking out "situationships". When these men attempt to articulate what they are looking for in a steady partner, they will often rely on superficial norms of attractiveness rooted in whiteness and anti-Blackness.

With the publication of "The End of Love: Racism, Sexism, and the Death of Romance" and connecting the past to the present, sociologist Sabrina Strings argues that following the Civil Rights movement and the integration of women during the Second Wave Feminist movement, men aimed to hold on to their power by withholding love and commitment, a basic tenet of white supremacy and male domination, that served to manipulate all women. From pornography to hip hop, women (especially Black and "insufficiently white" women) were presented as gold diggers, props for masturbation, and side-pieces.

Using historical research, personal stories, and critical analysis, Professor Strings argues that the result is fuccboism, the latest incarnation of toxic masculinity. This work shows that men are not innately "toxic." Nor do they hate love, commitment, or sex. Instead, men across race have been working a new code to effectively deny loving partnerships to women who are not pliant, slim, and white as a new mode of male domination.

Critique: A seminal and ground breaking study, "The End of Love: Racism, Sexism, and the Death of Romance" provides readers with an interest in the medical psychology of sexuality and gender based sexuality counseling. Unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Gender Studies collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for students, academia, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The End of Love: Racism, Sexism, and the Death of Romance" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

Editorial Note: Sabrina Strings ( is Professor and North Hall Chair of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her book, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia, won the 2020 Body and Embodiment Best Publication Award given by the American Sociological Association and was a Honorable Mention in the 2020 Sociology of Sex and Gender Distinguished Book Award, given by the American Sociological Association. She can be followed on Twitter (@SaStrings).

We Refuse to Be Silent: Women's Voices on Justice for Black Men
Angela P. Dodson, editor
Broadleaf Books
9781506491110, $29.99, HC, 350pp

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Angela P. Dodson, "We Refuse to Be Silent: Women's Voices on Justice for Black Men" is powerful and needed collection whose contributors are thirty-five accomplished women writers on the topic of violence and injustice against Black men.

These women writers are journalists, authors, scholars, ministers, psychologists, counselors, and other experts. They are also wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, aunties, and friends. Each lends her voice to shine a new light on the injustices and dangers Black men face daily, and how women feel about the vulnerability of our sons, husbands, brothers, fathers, uncles, friends, and other males we care about as they navigate a world that often stereotypes and targets them.

An effective catalyst for a national conversation, this collection offers historical context that is often missing from public discussions and media coverage, while demonstrating an ongoing pattern of demonizing Black men that is rooted deep in the history of our nation. The essays in this book engage with the emotional toll anti-Black violence takes on women in particular and cast a vision for future activism.

Critique: Timely and relevant, informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, the essays and articles comprising "We Refuse to Be Silent: Women's Voices on Justice for Black Men" are deftly organized into eight major sections: Troubled Minds--Fearing and Being Feared; Special Circumstances; The Black Bogeyman: Media and Stereotypes; Close Encounters: Stops, Arrests, and Death; The Talk: Training Our Sons; Educating Our Sons; Race, Privilege and Justice; Healing and Moving Forward. A seminal work that is unreservedly recommended for professional, community, and college/university library African-American Studies collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "We Refuse to Be Silent: Women's Voices on Justice for Black Men" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Angela P. Dodson holds an MA in journalism and public affairs from American University and is a former senior editor for the New York Times and a former executive editor of Black Issues Book Review. She has written and edited for outlets like Essence, Heart & Soul, the Washington Star, and the Louisville Courier-Journal. She is the author of Remember the Ladies: Celebrating Those Who Fought for Freedom at the Ballot Box and the founder of Editors on Call, LLC. (

Let Your Light So Shine: A Prayer Coloring Book
Samantha Snyder
aka Associates
9798989035700, $9.95, PB, 106pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Let Your Light So Shine: A Prayer Coloring Book", Samantha Snyder shares 50 doodle art images of inspiring prayers, proverbs, and quotes from around the world for all ages to color. The prayers, proverbs, and quotes from famous authors include St. Augustine, Mahatma Gandhi, Kahlil Gibran, Mother Teresa.

"Let Your Light So Shine" also includes: The Lord's Prayer, Apache Prayer, Irish Blessing, The Serenity Prayer, and St. Francis Prayer of Peace. Each doodle art image has been carefully selected to provide plenty of enjoyment, inspiration, and relaxation.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, as well as Ideal for a serene meditation-like activity, the "Let Your Light So Shine: A Prayer Coloring Book" is especially and unreservedly recommended for all members of the Christian community (children and adults alike) regardless of their denominational affiliations.

Helen Dumont

John Taylor's Bookshelf

Relationship Equity: Your Cornerstone Investment to Great Gains in Business and Life
Richard Walker
Forbes Books
9781955884396, $29.99, HC, 200pp

Synopsis: As the CEO of a prominent IT consulting firm, York Solutions, Richard Walker has applied the principle of what he terms 'Relationship Equity' to achieve impressive success in building the tech talent pool and helping professionals develop their careers.

Walker describes 'Relationship Equity' as the good faith you can build by investing in relationships faithfully and steadily, with no expectation of reaping a return.

With the publication of, "Relationship Equity: Your Cornerstone Investment to Great Gains in Business and Life", Walker takes his readers on a journey of discovery, examining a principle with the power to revolutionize both business and personal lives.

He explains that the relationships we forge with others are of supreme importance -- and when you get those right, the rest will follow.

'Relationship Equity' has many nuances, and Walker explores them all in "Relationship Equity" as he shares the story of how he developed the philosophy. He escorts his readers back to the small-town world of his youth in northern England, then onward to his corporate life at the helm of a thriving American tech company.

Walker teaches us what he and his company are doing today to pay forward the many acts of kindness that have come his way through the years. Richard Walker has made it his business to change lives for the better, and his business reflects that.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and impressively informative read that is both inspired and inspiring, "Relationship Equity: Your Cornerstone Investment to Great Gains in Business and Life" by Richard Walker will prove to be of immense value to readers with an interest in the role communication and social skills play with respect to interpersonal relations and professional success. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, and college/university library Business Management collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for MBA students, academia, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Relationship Equity: Your Cornerstone Investment to Great Gains in Business and Life" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Richard Walker ( is the Chief Executive Officer of York Solutions, an IT consulting firm based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota, with locations in Westchester, Illinois, and Nashville, Tennessee. A graduate of the Leeds Beckett University in England, Walker co-founded the company in 1998. York Solutions is devoted to helping clients achieve their business and technology goals by building long-term, trusting relationships with them, not simply transactions. Walker has been front and center in growing those relationships, as well as launching the company's Think IT and Link to Leadership programs to help IT professionals develop their careers. He has led York's innovative Barriers to Entry training program, dedicated to enlarging the IT talent pool and helping brilliant men and women discover a life-changing new career path.

Dead of Night
Simon Scarrow
9781496745644, $28.00, HC, 384pp

Synopsis: Germany, 1940. The world is holding its breath and desperately hopes for peace as the Nazi Party's grip on Germany tightens. Reasons to fear the dark are growing.

On a night in Berlin, during the most bitter winter in memory, SS doctor Manfred Schmesler is found in his study, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The hurried and official version of the Reich is suicide.

Schmesler's widow doesn't believe it. At the risk of running afoul of the Gestapo, neither does Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke. The warnings to drop the investigation only compel Schenke to dig deeper. Then Schenke learns of the suspicious death of a child in a remote clinic outside Potsdam.

At first, the cases seem unconnected, but soon chilling links emerge that point to a terrifying secret. Schenke isn't the only one in jeopardy. So is everyone within his circle, including Schmesler's widow, who has a secret of her own.

Under a pitiless regime, how deep into hell are they willing to go to find the truth? And what will it take to make it out alive?

Critique: A unique setting with unusual and memorable characters, "Dead Of Night" is a simply fascinating read from start to finish. Of particular interest to fans of murder mysteries set in the World War II era of Nazi Germany, in his deftly scripted novel author Simon Scarrow reveals a genuine flair for a distinctive and narrative driven storytelling style, a penchant for unexpected plot twists, and the inclusion of historically accurate background details. While especially and unreservedly recommend as an enduringly popular pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dead of Night" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.28).

Editorial Note: Simon Scarrow ( has pursued his great love of history as a teacher before becoming a full-time writer. His Roman soldier heroes Cato and Macro made their debut in 2000 in "Under the Eagle", and have subsequently appeared in his Eagles of the Empire series, including "Centurion", "Invictus", and "Day of the Caesars". He is also the author of a quartet of novels about the lives of the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte, a contemporary thriller co-written with Lee Francis, and the novels "Arena" and "Invader" with T. J. Andrews.

John Taylor

Mary Cowper's Bookshelf

Over the Influence
Kara Alaimo
Alcove Press
9781639106684, $29.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Over the Influence: Why Social Media is Toxic for Women and Girls - And How We Can Take it Back", communication professor and CNN Opinion contributor Kara Alaimo reveals how social media is affecting every aspect of the lives of women and girls from our relationships and our parenting to our physical and mental well-being.

"Over the Influence" is about what it means to live in the world social media has wrought -- whether you're constantly connected or have deleted your accounts forever. Professor Alaimo shows why you're likely to get fewer followers if you're a woman. She explains how fake news is crafted to prey on women's vulnerabilities. She reveals why so much of the content we find in our feeds is specifically designed to hold us back. And she explains how social media has made the offline world an uglier place for women.

But we can change this. Professor Alaimo offers up brilliant advice for how to get over the influence -- how to handle our daughters' use of social media, use dating apps to find the partners we are looking for, using social networks to bolster our careers, and protect ourselves from sextortionists, catfishers, and trolls. She also explains what we need to demand from lawmakers and tech companies.

"Over the Influence" calls on women to recognize and call out the subtle (and not-so-subtle) sexism and misogyny we find online, reject misinformation that is targeted to us because of our gender, and use our platforms to empower ourselves and other women.

Critique: Timely, insightfully informative, effective and inspiring, "Over the Influence: Why Social Media is Toxic for Women and Girls - And How We Can Take it Back" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Social Media and Communications/Social Skills collections, and supplemental Women's Studies curriculum lists. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, it should be noted that "Over the Influence" is also available in a digital book formt (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Kara Alaimo ( is a communication professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She writes frequently for CNN Opinion about the social impact of social media and issues affecting women. A former communicator at the United Nations and in the Obama administration, she lives in New Jersey with her family. She can also be followed at @karaalaimo

Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self-Portraits
Frances Borzello
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
9780500294024, $29.95, PB, 272pp

Synopsis: For centuries, women's self-portraiture was a highly overlooked art history genre. Beginning with the self-portraits of nuns in medieval illuminated manuscripts, "Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self-Portraits" by Frances Borzello finally gives this richly diverse range of artists and portraits, spanning centuries, the critical analysis they deserve.

In sixteenth-century Italy, Sofonisba Anguissola paints one of the longest series of self-portraits, from adolescence to old age. In seventeenth century Holland, Judith Leyster shows herself at the easel as a relaxed, self-assured professional. In the eighteenth century, from Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun to Angelica Kauffman, artists express both passion for their craft and the idea of femininity.

The nineteenth century sees the art schools open their doors to women, as well as a new and resonant self-confidence for a host of talented female artists, such as Berthe Morisot. The modern period demolishes taboos: Alice Neel painting herself nude at eighty years old, Frida Kahlo rendering physical pain on the canvas, Cindy Sherman exploring identity, and Marlene Dumas dispensing with all boundaries.

Critique: Inherently fascinating, exhaustively researched, impressively informative, remarkably comprehensive, "Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self-Portraits" was original published in hardcover (2016). Now this first and original chronicle of female self-portraiture through the centuries by art historian Frances Borzello is available in a paperback edition from Thames & Hudson. Enhanced for the reader's benefit with some 200 color illustrations "Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self-Portraits" is unreservedly recommended as a core addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Art History and Women's Art History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Frances Borzello ( is an art historian and the author of several books, including "The Naked Nude" and "At Home: The Domestic Interior in Art". She lives in England.

Under Mountain Shadows
William D. Frank
McFarland & Company
9781476693927, $49.95, PB, 241pp

Synopsis: From her world-famous dude ranch in Washington state's Yakima County, Kay Kershaw exerted tremendous influence on conservation efforts in the Pacific Northwest and, tangentially, on LGBTQ+ rights in the United States.

After gaining local renown in sports and aviation, she established the ranch at Goose Prairie with her first partner, Pat Kane -- a fraught undertaking in a region closely associated with the John Birch Society. Operating under the guise of two "spinsters", Kershaw and her later life-partner Isabelle Lynn guarded their privacy closely, but local encroachment by the U.S. Forest Service and the timber industry forced them into the public arena as environmentalists.

In partnership with Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Kershaw and Lynn spearheaded a decades-long campaign to save the ancient forests and ecosystem of Washington's Cascade Range. In the process, Kay and Isabelle's devoted relationship proved a marked contrast to Justice Douglas' own turbulent love life, perhaps affecting his perception of the law and his precedent-setting judicial opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which provided the basis for major LGBTQ+ Supreme Court decisions in the twenty-first century -- as well as Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and impressively informative personal and political biography, "Under Mountain Shadows: Kay Kershaw, Lesbian Eco-Warrior of the Pacific Northwest" is an exceptional study by William D. Frank and one that will be of particular appreciation for readers with an interest in LGBTQ+ biographies/memoirs as well as environmental/environmentalist studies. Also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $29.99), "Under Mountain Shadows" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community and college/university library collections.

Editorial Note: William D. Frank is the author of two international award-winning books on Russian and Soviet sports history. His articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, The Journal of Sport History, Ski History Magazine, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, and Finland's Sport History Yearbook, Suomen Urheiluhistoriallisen Seuran Vuosikirja.

Roots and Wings: Virginia Tanner's Dance Life and Legacy
Mary-Elizabeth Manley, author
Mary Ann Lee, contributor
Robert Bruce Bennett, contributor
The University of Utah Press
9781647690298, $55.00, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: Virginia Tanner (April 25, 1915 - May 20, 1979) was an American dance instructor and founder of the University of Utah Children's Dance Theatre. Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, she began her formal dance training at the University of Utah. She studied with Doris Humphrey in New York City before returning to Salt Lake City in the early 1940s to establish her school for creative dance for children. (Wikipedia)

With the publication of "Roots and Wings: Virginia Tanner's Dance Life and Legacy", Mary-Elizabeth Manley (with contributions by Mary Ann Lee and Robert Bruce Bennett) recounts Virginia Tanner's remarkable career as a dancer, artist, and educator. From her early experiences assisting at Evelyn Davis's dance school in Washington, DC, to the creation of the Tanner Dance Program at the University of Utah, her influence on the field was pervasive. She channeled children's energy, sharpened their senses, and encouraged youthful, authentic dance expression.

Manley's extensive archival research and personal interviews depict Virginia Tanner as an innovative dance artist and ambitious leader in the field of modern dance. While exploring Tanner's story, "Roots and Wings" also emphasizes the value of unique instructional methodologies for teaching dance to young children and the vital role the arts play in children's lives. Tanner's work endures, continuing to echo with sensitivity and spirit in young dancers throughout the United States and abroad.

Critique: This large format (7 x 0.9 x 9 inches, 1.88 pounds) hardcover edition of "Roots and Wings: Virginia Tanner's Dance Life and Legacy" from the University of Utah Press is informative enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of an Introduction (A Gift of Dance Freely Given), an eight page Bibliography, twenty-eight pages of Notes, and a seven page Index. Fascinating, informative, and of particular appeal to readers with an interest in classical dancing and dancer biographies, "Roots and Wings" is unreservedly recommended as a significant addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library 20th Century American Biography collections.

Editorial Note #1: Mary-Elizabeth Manley is professor emerita and senior scholar in York University's Department of Dance. Selected research appears in the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD), Dance Education Around the World and in Dance and the Child: International (daCi) conference proceedings. She was the chief editor for daCi's First 30 Years: Rich Returns and directed ArtStart, an innovative children's community dance and arts program at York University.

Editorial Note #2: Robert Bruce Bennett (1915-2006) was the husband of Virginia Tanner and the business manager of the Virginia Tanner Creative Dance Program and the Children's Dance Theatre.

Editorial Note #3: Mary Ann Lee is director of the University of Utah Tanner Dance Program and Children's Dance Theatre and adjunct associate professor of modern dance in the School of Dance at the University of Utah. She has published articles and a book on dance pedagogy for young dancers.

Mary Cowper

Micah Andrew's Bookshelf

El Mar Caribe: The American Mediterranean
Victoria I. Lyall
Denver Art Museum
9781945483141, $29.95, PB, 196pp

Synopsis: The Caribbean Sea provided key navigation routes between the Greater and Lesser Antilles and the civilizations of the Americas. Alexander von Humboldt referred to it as the Mediterranean of the New World.

It also served as the first point of entry for Europeans exploring the region. Landing in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, Columbus claimed these lands for Spain. The Caribbean archipelago became the epicenter of Spanish power. But it was also the point of origin of smallpox and other maladies that decimated Indigenous communities across the islands, precipitating the myth that no Indigenous cultures survived the European arrival.

Compiled and edited by Victoria I. Lyall (Frederick and Jan Mayer Curator of Art of the Ancient Americas at the Denver Art Museum) the papers comprising "El Mar Caribe: The American Mediterranean" and presented in this symposium volume provide new ways of understanding the circulation of ideas and materials among communities bordering the Caribbean Sea prior to the arrival of Europeans and suggest their lasting legacies.

Drawing on archaeological evidence, colonial documents, and other sources, Erin Stone, William Keegan, and Lawrence Waldron bring attention to under-explored regions and links between communities.

Reniel Rodriguez Ramos and Thomas A. Wake explore the connections between societies, closely considering the trade of objects as a vehicle of interaction.

Looking to the future of archaeology, both Emma Slayton and Heather McKillop assess the applications of technology to augment archaeology regarding exchange patterns and transportation along waterways.

Alexander Geurds and Rosemary Joyce consider the theoretical approaches to Caribbean archaeology and call for future research to reexamine how the Caribbean world is perceived.

Critique: This large format (8.43 x 0.79 x 10.94 inches, 2.05 pounds) paperback edition of "El Mar Caribe: The American Mediterranean" from the Denver Art Museum is beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout with full color photograph images. Exceptionally informative, well organized and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, "El Mar Caribe: The American Mediterranean" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections, and will prove of immense and special value to readers with an interest in the history of the Bahamas, Carribbean and West Indies, as well as Native American cultural history and the impact of European colonization.

Editorial Note #1: Erin Stone reconstructs the relationship between the Greater and Lesser Antilles prior to and just after contact in relation to the Spanish justifications for Indigenous slavery in this region.

Editorial Note #2: William Keegan provides a new perspective on the Lucayan society on the Bahama archipelago, a unique cultural expression that has been largely neglected by Caribbean archaeology.

Editorial Note #3: Reniel Rodriguez Ramos closely examines the complex connections between societies throughout the Caribbean, using quotidian items as a vehicle of interaction.

Editorial Note #4: Lawrence Waldron considers the motivations of the cultural persistence and longevity of certain regional traditions and motifs of the Saladoid and the Taino, who are separated by two millennia.

Editorial Note #5: Thomas A. Wake reviews archaeological evidence of trade and exchange between the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and Panama and the far reaches of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

Your Forgotten Sons
Anne Montgomery
Next Chapter
9784824190239, $17.99, PB, 232pp

Synopsis: Bud Richardville is inducted into the Army as the United States prepares to enter World War II in 1943.

A chance comment has Bud assigned to the Graves Registration Service, where his unit is tasked with locating, identifying, and burying the dead. Bud ships out, leaving behind his new wife, Lorraine: a mysterious woman who has stolen his heart but whose shadowy past leaves many unanswered questions.

When Bud and his men hit the beach at Normandy, they are immediately thrust into the horrors of what working in a graves unit entails. Bud is beaten down by the gruesome demands of his job and losses in his personal life, but then he meets Eva, an optimistic soul who despite the war can see a positive future. Will Eva's love be enough to save him?

Critique: Although a defty crafted work of original fiction, "Your Forgotten Sons" by Anne Montgomery is inspired by a true story. An original and inherently interesting read from start to finish, "Your Forgotten Sons" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly appreciated pick for community library collections, it should be noted that it is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99) for the personal reading lists of those with an interest in World War II historical fiction.

Micah Andrew

Michael Dunford's Bookshelf

Reiner Lomb
Independently Published
9798445169307, $14.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle, 259pp

Synopsis: Leadership expert, activist, and executive coach, Reiner Lomb, knows that to address the many issues of our time we need to come together and collaborate. Yet we are divided - not by a wall made of bricks but one made of emotions, and this prevents us from working together.

With the publication of "ASPIRE: Seven Essential Emotions for Leading Positive Change, No Matter Where You Are", Lomb deftly weaves together leadership lessons learned from living through the reunification of East and West Germany, as well as building multiple businesses, to demystify the process for creating a vision of an aspirational new future.

A servant leader, driven by a desire to facilitate sustainable change and show others how to do the same, Lomb artfully shows readers how to use the power of emotions to influence people to change their behavior and make that vision a reality.

"ASPIRE" is the answer for anyone who has ever asked the questions, "What are the most essential leadership competencies to create the change I aspire to, and how can I learn them without spending too much time?"

Whether you are in a formal leadership role or are a rising leader, entrepreneur, or changemaker driven by a desire to use your voice to create change, in this book you will discover how to positively influence key stakeholders, build trust, lead with optimism, ride the waves of negative emotions, mobilize people to take action, and choose resiliency in the face of setbacks.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "ASPIRE: Seven Essential Emotions for Leading Positive Change, No Matter Where You Are" is both thoughtful and thought provoking. Of special and particular interest to anyone concerned with corporate mentoring and coaching, as well as business/entrepreneurial leadership, "ASPIRE" should be considered as essential reading. While also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "ASPIRE" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, and college/university library Business Management collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Reiner Lomb is the founder of BoomerangCoach, an executive coaching firm specializing in leadership and career development, innovation, and transformational change. Reiner's mission is to mobilize and develop leaders to create a more sustainable and positive future for all. As an executive coach, he works with leaders and changemakers in a wide range of organizations, from start-ups and multinational companies to non-profits and local communities - all who aspire to create transformational change.

Enemies Among Us
Jeffrey S. Stephens
Post Hill Press
9798888452998, $30.00, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Nick Reagan and his team of talented CIA operatives have managed to prevent three horrific attacks planned by the ruthless terrorist known worldwide as The Handler. Cunning and resourceful, The Handler has eluded capture, and now Reagan is determined to track him down.

As he assembles clues to the possible whereabouts of his prey, Reagan's superiors in the CIA inexplicably order him to stand down. Accustomed to flouting authority, Reagan ignores the directive while seeking to identify the source of this obstruction. As he probes, it becomes increasingly evident that the evil he faces is corruption from within.

His suspicions growing, Reagan expands his efforts beyond the dangerous hunt for The Handler to an active investigation of both his own government and those who possess the real influence in Washington. Collectively, these are the most formidable adversaries Reagan has ever faced: the rich and powerful who control our energy resources, including oil and lithium; Big Pharma; the media; and the funding of politicians for their personal beliefs and gains.

Charting an unfamiliar course amidst the pervasive treachery and deadly secrets inside the nation's capital, Reagan is not sure who he can trust as he works to expose the worst of America's elite -- those who believe in a New World Order.

Violent confrontations intensify with each new act of treason he unearths, leaving Reagan to rely on his patriotic instincts as he and his team risk their lives to bring down these traitors and restore safety and freedom.

Critique: A riveting novel for our times, "Enemies Among Us" by Jeffrey S. Stephens is a compulsive page-turner of a read and will prove to be of special and particular interest to fans of espionage, terrorism, and suspense thrillers novels. Original, deftly crafted, and with more unexpected plot twists and turns than an Oklahoma tornado, "Enemies Among Us" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Suspense Thriller collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Enemies Among Us" is currently also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99) from

Editorial Note: Jeffrey S. Stephens ( is the author of the Jordan Sandor thrillers, Targets of Deception, Targets of Opportunity, Targets of Revenge and Rogue Mission; the Anthony Walker murder mystery Crimes and Passion; the Pencraft First Place Award winning novel, Fool's Errand; and the first Nicholas Reagan thriller, The Handler.

Michael Dunford

Paul Vogel's Bookshelf

Words With My Father: A Bipolar Journey Through Turbulent Times
Lowell Klessig, author/illustrator
Lukas Klessig, author
Susan Hoberg, illustrator
Medley Park Press
9780960118908, $24.95, HC, 264pp

Synopsis: The dramatic story of a pioneering man, his mercurial mind, and a society in
limbo, "Words With My Father: A Bipolar Journey Through Turbulent Times" is a deceased father and alive son who discuss the development of the father's bipolar condition during the turmoil of the 1960s and explore the insights into better mental health that readers (like you) can absorb from his intense odyssey.

Critique: Providing a an inherently fascinating description of a young man's mental illness and how it manifested into a dramatic and often dangerous existence through the turbulence of the Civil Rights, Peace and Conservation movements, "Words With My Father: A Bipolar Journey Through Turbulent Times" will prove to be of immense value to readers with an interest in Bipolar Disorder and Mental Illness. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented by the team of co-authors Lowell and Lukas Klessig, and illustrator Susan Hoberg, "Words With My Father" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Psychology/Psychiatry collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Words With My Father" is also available in a paperback edition (9780960118915, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note #1: "Words With My Father: A Bipolar Journey Through Turbulent Times" is best read progressively from front to back. This way the latter chapters, postlude and photographs will have more meaning for the reader.

Editorial Note #2: Lowell Klessig directly participated in the Civil Rights and Peace Movements. In addition, he became a celebrated conservation leader and environmental advocate in Wisconsin, the nation and around the world. Lowell won the Wisconsin Idea Award and UW-Extension's Teacher of the Year Award, among many other recognitions. His research and work served as the basis for several conservation laws. Lowell passed away in 2014 after a year-long battle with CJD -- a rare neurodegenerative disease.

Editorial Note #3: Lukas Klessig lives at the family ranch in Wisconsin, managing the care of forests, fields, gardens and buildings. He also looks after his Mom, monitors the family's investments and, occasionally, tries to be creative. Lukas is a proponent of mental health advocacy, animal welfare, outdoor living and physical activity.

The Gas and Flame Men
Jim Leeke
Potomac Books
c/o University of Nebraska Press
9781640126053 $32.95 hc / $32.95 ebook

Synopsis: When the United States officially entered World War I in 1917, it was woefully underprepared for chemical warfare, in which the British, French, and Germans had been engaged since 1915. In response, the U.S. Army created an entirely new branch: the Chemical Warfare Service. The army turned to trained chemists and engineers to lead the charge - and called on an array of others, including baseball players, to fill out the ranks.

The Gas and Flame Men is the first full account of Major League ballplayers who served in the Chemical Warfare Service during World War I. Four players, two club executives, and a manager served in the small and hastily formed branch, six of them as gas officers. Remarkably, five of the seven - Christy Mathewson, Branch Rickey, Ty Cobb, George Sisler, and Eppa "Jeptha" Rixey - are now enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. The son of a sixth Hall of Famer, player and manager Ned Hanlon, was a young officer killed in action in France with the First Gas Regiment. Prominent chemical soldiers also included veteran Major League catcher and future manager George "Gabby" Street and Boston Braves president and former Harvard football coach Percy D. Haughton.

Critique: The Gas and Flame Men: Baseball and the Chemical Warfare Service during World War I is an extraordinary chronicle of both military history and baseball history. The Gas and Flame Men tells of the four Major League baseball players, two club executives, and a manager who filled out the ranks of a new U.S. Army branch, created during World War I to deal with chemical weapons. Extensively researched, yet thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds, The Gas and Flame Men includes vintage black-and-white photographs, notes, a bibliography, and an index. The Gas and Flame Men is a choice pick for baseball enthusiasts, as well as public and college library history collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Gas and Flame Men is also available as an ebook ($32.95).

Paul T. Vogel

S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf

Lost Creed: (Book 4, Ryder Creed K-9 Mysteries)
Alex Kava
Prairie Wind Publishing
9780997389784 $12.99
B079VRZKFM ebook $0.00 US, 312 pages

Lost Creed is a well-paced novel. The storytelling is detailed with well-fleshed out characters -- including the dogs. The mystery is interesting with a nice collection of bad and good guys. The only drawback to the tale is that it doesn't stand out from the many other books in this genre niche.

Ryder Creed is a retired marine who now takes in discarded and abandoned dogs which he then trains as scent dogs. He and his dogs are called in by the authorities and private individuals to search for missing people and contraband.

Creed's friend, FBI Agent Maggie O'Dell, calls him when information about Ryder's missing sister, Brodie, is found during a human trafficking arrest. Sixteen years ago Brodie Creed disappeared at an interstate rest stop. Creed immediately travels across country to the investigation site with his best scent dog. The investigation uncovers links with a long running pedophile ring that stretches across the middle of the country. The pedophile ring has existed for so many years because it is well run and is willing to kill when needed.

Lost Creed is a recommended read for mystery and animal lovers. The well rounded narration and character development is a delight. Those readers who are looking for the more intense action common with many contemporary stories will find the book a little tame.

One Last Step (Book 1, Tara Mills Mysteries)
Sarah Sutton
Self Published
B081X7F3S9 ebook $0.00 US, 254 pages

One Last Step is a blend of cozy and police procedural. The murder mystery is solid and the characters are well developed but internal self-doubts of the heroine push the narration a bit off.

For FBI Agent Tara Mills first significant case, she is partnered with a skilled seasoned partner. The interactions between the two investigators are part of the story.

Hikers along the Appalachian Trail are disappearing and killed. The serial killer is leaving riddles near the abduction sites. Tara has to navigate her own dark past and her lack of experience to follow the clues to the killer. The investigative politics between the local police and the FBI headquarters add another whole dimension to the problem complicating the work. The serial killer is skilled in hiding making the search dangerous for everyone involved.

One Last Step is an easy recommendation for the mystery reader. It is a complex enough mystery with detailed characters. It doesn't stand out in this genre niche but it does make an inexpensive weekend escape.

S.A. Gorden
Senior Reviewer

Suzie Housley's Bookshelf

Intelligent Investing: The #1 Wealth Building Strategy
John J. Cousins
Independently Published
9798391784050, $17.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 194 pages

Synopsis: Welcome to the world of intelligent investing, where financial success is within reach! Dive into the insightful pages of Intelligent Investing: The #1 Wealth Building Strategy by John Cousins - an investor, tech founder, and renowned author.

Unlike generic Get Rich Quick schemes, this book provides a comprehensive roadmap to understanding the stock market and equips you with the knowledge and strategies to make informed financial decisions.

Embrace a systematic approach that stands the test of time, focusing on intelligent, consistent choices over sudden windfalls. Discover the secrets of the stock market, from decoding financial statements to mastering asset valuation and trading strategies.

Get ready to unlock the full potential of your money and embark on a journey towards financial prosperity!

Critique: Intelligent Investing is a book that demands attention with its powerful insights and strategies for financial success. This book is your key to unlocking the secrets of intelligent investing and paving your way towards a prosperous future. Explore the wealth of knowledge it offers and embark on a journey towards financial freedom.

John J. Cousins is a true wizard in the world of finance. With his wealth of experience and expertise, he has crafted a formula that will guide you towards achieving your financial goals. Join as we unlock the secrets to a prosperous future and embark on a journey to financial freedom, with John J. Cousins leading the way.

Journey of Awakening and Higher Consciousness
Jane Kim Yu
Absolute Author Publishing House
9781649539298, $18.99, Hardback, 233pp
9781649539113, $9.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, $18.99

Synopsis: Are you ready to embark on a transformative journey like never before? Join a universal quest to uncover the profound truth that lies within every one of us - the power of love.

Prepare to be spellbound by an extraordinary experience that will leave you speechless, igniting a deep longing to discover your inner fire, the same flame that burns brightly within every soul.

Journey of Awakening and Higher Consciousness is not just a book, it's a masterpiece that combines eloquent writing, creative expression, and a thorough analysis of our divine humanity. Immerse yourself in this unforgettable adventure that will reignite your passion and purpose, bringing a new light into your life.

Critique: At the core of our beings lies the potential for profound transformation and enlightenment. The Journey of Awakening and Higher Consciousness offers a path toward unlocking this potential, allowing love to flow into your life and acceptance to permeate your world. Through dedicated practice and self-discovery, you can elevate your consciousness and embrace a more fulfilling existence.

Jane Kim Yu deserves commendation for writing such a life-changing book. Her captivating book has the power to stir the depths of your soul. Yu's thought-provoking writing style will take you on a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. Join in exploring the profound wisdom and beauty that her book offers.

Little Ships
Sandra Scofield
Wellstone Press
9781930835313, $17.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 368 pages

Synopsis: In a poignant and touching story, follow the journey of adolescent sisters, Juni and Tilde Becker, as they navigate through the sudden loss of their mother and the challenges that follow.

Their grandmothers step in with unwavering love and determination, but soon realize that facing adolescence and family struggles is no easy feat. The family faces grief, guilt, and growing pains, testing their bonds and discovering alternative paths.

We witness resilience, self-discovery, and the power of making do in adversity. Join this captivating journey where the young find hope for the future and the old discover unexpected adventures awaiting them.

Critique: Little Ships centers on two sisters navigating the complexities of loss and family. When tragedy strikes and their mother passes away, these brave girls find themselves adrift in a sea of emotions. However, with the unwavering support of their grandmother, they discover a beacon of hope that guides them toward healing and renewal.

Sandra Scofield is an exceptional author. In her emotional story of love and loss, Scofield takes us on a journey of resilience and hope as her characters navigate the complexities of moving forward after heartbreak. Join in exploring this touching narrative that will surely tug at your heartstrings and inspire you to embrace the power of healing and growth.

The Anatomy of Loneliness: How to Find Your Way Back To Connection
Teal Swan
Watkins Publishing
9781786781680, $17.95, PB, 256pp
9781682011508, $10.99 Kindle
9798200404872, $24.04 Audio CD (Tantor Audio)

Synopsis: Step into the realm of understanding loneliness as modern spiritual leader Teal Swan takes you on a journey through the intricacies of the human experience in her comprehensive work, The Anatomy of Loneliness: How to Find Your Way Back To Connection. The book will rejuvenate the spirit as you reveal that you are not alone in the world.

Teal delves deep into the three pillars of loneliness: separation, shame, and fear. By introducing her revolutionary Connection Process, she brings hope to those who want to escape feelings of isolation.

Join Teal on this transformative exploration and discover a path to reconnecting with yourself and the world. Say goodbye to loneliness and hello to a life filled with connection and joy!

Critique: The Anatomy of Loneliness is a thought-provoking book that serves as a guiding light, offering a blueprint for overcoming loneliness and rediscovering the beauty of love, acceptance, and meaningful connections.

Teal Swan has crafted a remarkable book that promises to be a beacon of light for those navigating through loneliness. Through profound insights and practical strategies, this book will empower you to understand the depths of loneliness and emerge into a place of deep connection. Get ready to unlock a new chapter in your life and embrace the power of genuine connection.

Moonstreak and the Magical Museum
Tricia Wagner
Lyridae Books
9781961921245, $27.85, HB, 97 pages
9781961921252, $21.99, PB, 97 pages

Synopsis: Welcome to the whimsical world of Moonstreak, the groundhog who finds himself torn between his cozy den and his love for planes soaring high in the sapphire sky. Living at the Midway Village Museum in Rockford, Illinois, gives him the opportunity to be closer to his dream.

Moonstreak's journey takes a magical turn as he delves into the mysteries of the museum, propelled by his profound fascination with a glorious plane hidden within its walls. As Moonstreak navigates through enchanting treasures and magical spells, he must uncover the secrets of Midway Village to find his true identity and forge unexpected alliances to guide him back to his home under the brilliant sky.

Join in discovering the heartwarming adventure of Moonstreak as he embarks on a quest of self-discovery and friendship amidst the allure of Midway Village Museum.

Critique: Moonstreak and the Magical Museum is filled with magic, wonder, and delightful surprises as readers explore the depths of this captivating story. Get ready to be transported to a realm where imagination knows no bounds and where every page invites you to embark on an unforgettable adventure.

Tricia Wagner is a true gem in the world of literature and artistry. Her unique blend of writing and artistic prowess is genuinely mesmerizing. The cover of your book is not just stunning, but an actual work of art that captivates the soul. Her ability to merge these talents seamlessly creates a combination that amazes the reader and is unparalleled and winning. Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world, Tricia Wagner.

Editorial Review: Suggested audience ages baby - 12 years

Welcome to My Garden
Brian Murray
Sackets Harbor Press
9780998381657, $14.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, $24.95 HB, 182 pages

Synopsis: In the garden of life, amidst the mistakes and hardships, lies the fertile ground for growth and wisdom to blossom. Join author and entrepreneur Brian Murray on a journey of enlightenment and empowerment in "Welcome to My Garden: A Father's Gift of Reflections, Life Lessons, and Advice".

Through heartfelt letters penned initially for his children, Murray shares profound insights on health, mindfulness, gratitude, and empathy. Let his words be the seeds that nurture your garden of wisdom, providing guidance and solace as you navigate life's ups and downs.

Embrace the stories and takeaways within this book as your inspirational guide to cultivating a flourishing garden of wisdom.

Critique: Step into a world where seeds of love and wisdom were sown by a devoted father, nurturing a book that transcends boundaries and touches souls globally. Welcome to My Garden started as a heartfelt gift to his children, but its roots have spread far and wide, blossoming into a self-help beacon with a profound message.

Step into the world of Brian Murray, a devoted father, and talented author. He will take you on a captivating journey that is overflowing with helpful advice and guidance. He will capture your heart when he unravels the story behind this irresistible book filled with love and inspiration. Get ready to be enchanted by the words of a true storyteller.

Editorial Review: Brian Murray is an entrepreneur, business executive, and award-winning author. He is the founder of Washington Street Properties and cofounder of Open Door Capital.

Northwest Poems
CE Rivers
Independently Published
9781962874540, $14.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, $17.99 HB, 141 pages

Synopsis: Step into a world of poetic wonder with Northwest Poems - a diverse collection that promises to take you through six captivating chapters. Like traveling through different countries, each chapter offers a unique experience that will leave you spellbound. From animals with a voice of authority to tales of love lost and the essence of poetry itself, there's no room for boredom here.

Chapter two delves into city life, comparing the Seattle skyscrapers to the tower of Babylon and exploring profound decisions. Chapter three invites you to read or sing along to secular psalms that harmonize beautifully with instrumental music. In chapter four, explore the realms of death with a mix of respect, humor, and danger, where even devils have their say. Chapter five boldly tackles the theme of war, examining it from various perspectives - individual, social, and natural. Northwest Poems is not just a book; it's an adventure waiting to be embraced!

Critique: Attention to all poetry lovers and travelers! Get ready to embark on a unique poetic journey with Northwest Poems. Immerse yourself in a world where verse meets adventure, where every line paints a picture of our wonderful world. Whether you're a seasoned explorer or a dreamer at heart, these poems will transport you to new heights of creativity and inspiration.

CE River's poems beautifully showcase his heart and soul as an author. Each poem is a testament to his skill and creativity, inviting readers into a world of profound beauty and emotion. Dive into the enchanting world of CE Rivers' poetry and experience the magic of his words firsthand; it will be an experience that you will soon want to forget!

A Lady
Hannah Honegger
Quill & Flame
9781957899541, $24.99, HB, 284pp
9781957899534, $18.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle,
9781957899527, $4.99, Kindle

Synopsis: Step into the thrilling world of Mary Andre, a woman caught amid the American Revolution's chaos. Join Mary as her journey forces her to make heart-wrenching decisions and daring choices that will shape history.

Standing at the crossroads of loyalty and love, Mary must navigate the treacherous waters of espionage and betrayal. Will she risk it all to join George Washington's covert ring of spies, or will she choose a different path that could alter the fate of nations?

Dive into this captivating tale of sacrifice, courage, and passion as Mary's fate unfolds.

Critique: A Lady is a captivating story that is set against the backdrop of the American Revolution. This book explores the complexities of romance and adventure and provides a glimpse into how a nation's destiny is shaped.

Hannah Honegger, as a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), I commend you on this captivating literary work, which delves into the essence of what our organization stands for and celebrates.

This book embraces the spirit of DAR by offering a fascinating narrative set in a time of bravery, love, and revolution. This enchanting tale promises to ignite the imagination and kindle the flames of patriotism within the heart. I highly recommend this book to all DAR members worldwide. It captures the true symbolism of the American Revolution.

Conscious Change
Jean Kantambu Latting, author
V. Jean Ramsey, author
Stephanie Foy, author
Amy Foy Hageman, author
She Writes Press
9781647427085, $17.95 PB, 305pp
9781647427092, $8.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Are you ready to navigate the complexities of multicultural and diverse environments with confidence and grace? Look no further than the Conscious Change framework!

Dive into a collection of transformative stories in which nineteen authors share how they conquered emotionally draining challenges using Conscious Change principles. Learn how to survive and thrive in potentially polarizing situations, emerging as a more decisive leader who can embrace equity and inclusion.

These engaging case studies offer a roadmap for developing the essential skills needed in today's multicultural organizations, where diversity, inclusion, and fairness are paramount. Join this enlightening journey towards building stronger relationships and creating positive change in work and community settings.

"Conscious Change: How to Navigate Differences and Foster Inclusion in Everyday Relationships" is a book that arrives at a crucial moment in our nation's history, offering invaluable insights on how we can bridge the divide and foster unity. Through poignant stories and honest reflections, this book delves into the lives of individuals, navigating differences and conflicts, highlighting the transformative power of personal growth and resilience.

Jean Latting and Jean Ramsey ingeniously curated a remarkable collection of insights from a wide variety of talented authors who have generously shared their wisdom on navigating the challenges and obstacles of our world.

Each author has poured their heart and soul into offering profound perspectives and personal experiences, providing invaluable guidance on surviving and thriving in adversity. Each of their stories will have you stop and reflect on their powerful words, allowing you to see the world with fresh eyes.

Join this enlightening journey to uncover the secrets to resilience and empowerment in a world that can be tough to conquer. This book will provide you with the strength, determination, and motivation to allow you to want to improve the culture in which we live.

Slacksville's Worst Superheros: Tales from Slacksville
K. Peach
Strange Goose
9781963288001, $7.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 111 pages, Ages 5-11

Synopsis: Amid chaos and confusion in Slacksville, Officer John Cop finds himself in a predicament as he tries to apprehend the elusive culprit Peep and his gang of criminals. What starts as a plea for help from the villagers quickly spirals into a comical series of events when a TV reporter inadvertently calls upon self-proclaimed superheroes to save the day. From the overconfident Samsonman to the unconventional Cowman and the efficient The Mom, a motley crew of amateur heroes emerges, much to Officer Cop's chagrin.

As the situation escalates, Officer Cop realizes the need for a coordinated effort to tackle the crime plaguing Slacksville. With patience wearing thin, he devises a plan to harness the unique talents of these misfit superheroes and channel them toward a common goal. By fostering teamwork and providing an opportunity for a young, true superhero to shine, Officer Cop aims to set a trap that will finally bring peace and order back to the town. Stay tuned for the unfolding saga of unlikely heroes banding together for the greater good in Slacksville.

Critique: Slacksville's Worst Superheros is a delightful tale that will captivate both young and adult readers alike. This book offers a fresh look on superheroes, it features, high action drama, humor, and a cast of unforgettable charters featured in a truly engaging way.

K. Peach's newest literary gem is a testament to her unparalleled writing prowess. Prepare to be enchanted as you delve into the pages of this captivating book, that introduces vibrant characters and a gripping storyline await. From the first sentence to the final chapter, be prepared to be spellbound by the magic of K. Peach's storytelling.

How to Surf The Waves: A Sensory and Emotional Regulation Curriculum
Tracey DeMaria, OTD, OTR/L
Autism Moving Forward
9798218386313, $27.99, PB, 186 pages

Synopsis: Dive into a transformative journey with How to Surf the Waves: A Sensory and Emotional Regulation Curriculum. This revolutionary program is not just another set of rules and guidelines, but a beacon of empowerment for children and the adults who guide them.

By significantly altering from labeling behavior to fostering growth, this curriculum recognizes every child's innate resilience and adaptability. Through the surfing metaphor, participants will embark on a voyage of self-discovery, learning to embrace the ebbs and flows of emotions as natural phenomena.

The curriculum provides evidence-based tools and strategies to help children skillfully navigate the unpredictable waters of life, leading to enhanced personal fulfillment and success. Join us in equipping the next generation with the essential skills to conquer challenges and thrive!

Review: How to Surf The Waves - A Sensory and Emotional Regulation Curriculum offers an innovative curriculum that aims to transform how children with nervous system issues handle their emotions and sensory experiences. Focusing on surfing as a metaphor for navigating life's challenges, this program offers practical tools and strategies to help children regulate their emotions and thrive.

Tracey DeMaria's dedication, expertise, and heartfelt passion shine through every page. This book offers invaluable insights and guidance. It's a testament to Tracey's commitment to helping others, and I am confident that it will positively affect countless lives. Get ready to be inspired and empowered by the wisdom shared in this remarkable work.

Editorial Note: Tracey DeMaria, OTD, OTR, is an accomplished author and occupational therapist with a lifelong dedication to promoting sensory and emotional regulation. Her professional journey began in 1992 at Colorado State University, where she studied occupational therapy. Tracey's passion for helping children and adults play, grow, and flourish led her to work in various clinic and farm-based occupational therapy settings, where she discovered the transformative power of music, animals, and the earth.

Sister Lumberjack
Candace Simar
North Star Press of St. Cloud
9781682011508, $22.00, PB, 448 pages

Synopsis: Step into the captivating world, Nels Jensen, who finds himself entangled in a web of deceit and injustice. Swindled out of his hard-earned pay, he embarks on a journey to the logging camps of Northern Minnesota, only to face the harsh reality of being blocked at reputable operations. Despite his innocence, proving it seems like an impossible challenge.

Meanwhile, Widow Solveig Rognaldson grapples with her own set of challenges. Left alone with a heavy heart and a looming mortgage, she must save her beloved Foxhome farm before it slips through her fingers. With her son starting a new chapter in his life, she gathers her courage to face the unknown, determined to secure a future for herself and her home.

Amidst the turmoil, Sister Magdalena, a spirited nun with a penchant for bending the rules, embarks on a dangerous mission to sell hospital tickets to lumberjacks in the unforgiving forests of Minnesota. Known as Sister Lumberjack among the rugged workers, she braves the harsh winter landscapes and treacherous paths to ensure the well-being of those in need.

As their paths converge at Starkweather, a tale of resilience, redemption, and the enduring human spirit unfolds. Join this remarkable journey filled with courage, determination, and the unbreakable bonds that tie these three lives together in the face of adversity.

Review: Sister Lumberjack centers on a resilient heroine who takes center stage, ready to conquer any challenge in her path. This enthralling tale delves into the lives of engaging characters whose destinies intertwine in unexpected ways, weaving a narrative that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Candace Simar is a brilliant author who has written a captivating tale that beautifully portrays the hardships of life and the unwavering strength of will and determination to overcome all obstacles. Join these delightful characters on an unforgettable journey of resilience and triumph. This story will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Editorial Note: Candace Simar is a SPUR Award-Winning Author.

Becoming American: A Political Memoir, second edition
Cary D. Lowe
Black Rose Writing
9781684334629, $15.95 PB, $0.99 Kindle, 304 pages

Synopsis: Dive into the remarkable journey chronicled in Becoming American. From the haunting memories of post-war Europe to rubbing shoulders with political giants like Robert Kennedy and George McGovern, this tale is a rollercoaster of emotions.

Picture the author's quest to find his great-grandparents' graves in a hidden Prague cemetery, the heart-pounding encounter with Russian soldiers, and the eye-opening experience of witnessing Jim Crow racism in the American South. Feel the pride of becoming an American citizen in his teens, the nerve-wracking citizenship challenges at the border, and the deep-rooted fear during the Watts riots.

Experience the thrill of climbing the ladder to leadership positions in influential organizations and the satisfaction of contributing to the American dream as a real estate lawyer. Becoming American is not just a story; it's a testament to resilience, perseverance, and positing success against all odds.

Critique: Becoming American is a captivating journey through the heart of America, where every page unfolds a new perspective and a fresh insight. Experience the highs and lows, the triumphs and tribulations, as the author navigates the path to leaving a lasting impact on the world.

Step into the extraordinary world of Becoming American by the remarkable author Cary D. Lowe. This captivating book is a treasure trove of resilience, hope, and the unwavering pursuit of dreams. Through its compelling narrative, you will embark on a journey celebrating the indomitable human spirit and the boundless power of perseverance. Take advantage of this transformative experience. - immerse yourself in the pages of Becoming American and let the adventure of a lifetime unfold before your eyes!

Editorial Review: Winner of the 2020 Indie Reader Discovery Award for Politics/Current Events.

Journey of Souls
Rebecca Warner
Independently Published
9798876266125, $17.99 PB, $.99 Kindle, 504 pages

Synopsis: In a spellbinding twist of fate, the Lady of Mirefoix finds herself entangled in a web of murder, magic, and medieval mayhem! When her long-lost husband returns from the Crusades, she dives headfirst into a mystical mishap that brings forth souls from distant lands and different centuries.

As war looms on the horizon, these summoned souls embark on their quests, leaving the Lady to grapple with her sins and the sinister invaders. Join this enchanting journey through 13th-century Occitanie, where redemption hangs in the balance and multicultural magic reigns supreme!

Critique: Step into the remarkable world of Journey of Souls, where the resilient spirit of a determined woman shines through every page. This book is a journey filled with twists, turns, and triumphs as she conquers life's obstacles. Get ready to be inspired, moved, and uplifted as you dive into this captivating tale of strength and resilience.

Rebecca Warner is a brilliant historical author who has showcased her exceptional talent in her latest book. Prepare for a riveting journey through history as Warner's words weave a tapestry of intrigue and fascination. Dive into the pages of this compelling book and get ready to be transported to another era where history comes alive in the most enthralling way possible.

It Was Her New York: True Stories & Snapshots
C.O. Moed
Rootstock Publishing
9781578691654, $36.00, PB, 184 pp
9781578691661, $9.99, Kindle

Synopsis: Explore the intimate and powerful world of It Was Her New York, a mesmerizing tale woven by author Moed, as she navigates a mother's poignant journey through dementia amidst the vibrant streets of the Lower East Side.

Through an interesting fusion of personal essays and vivid photographs, Moed invites you to walk alongside and see the world with a new light, reflecting on the transformations of a neighborhood and a cherished family member.

This touching memoir sheds light on the complexities of aging parents and delves into profound themes of urban evolution, unearthing buried affections and embracing the nuances of sexuality.

Join us on this emotional and enlightening journey through the heart of New York City. See it through the eyes as one family faces its greatest challenge.

Critique: Get ready to have your emotions twisted and turned as you dive into the intricate web of life, love, and loss within the bustling metropolis. It Was Her New York is not just a tale - it's a heart-penetrating experience that will leave you speechless and craving for more.

C.O. Moed opens up about life with a mother who has dementia. This book unravels the touching anecdotes and cherished moments that have shaped a family bond. Get your tissues ready for a rollercoaster of emotions and a truckload of love! This book is one that is assured of touching your heart.

Spirit Guides on Speed Dial: A Pragmatic Approach to Getting What You Want
Jules Apollo
Utopian Forest
9798989159901, $19.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 210pp

Synopsis: Do you need help to connect with your spiritual guides? Fear not, for they are already by your side, ready to provide comfort, clarity, and guidance on manifesting the life of your dreams. This comprehensive guidebook debunks common misconceptions about working with guides and offers a straightforward approach to tapping into their wisdom.

From understanding the subtle ways guidance manifests to establishing a practice that fosters trust in your intuition, this book equips you with simple scripts, proven techniques, and insights from Jules' spirit guides. Discover the different guides supporting you, learn how to interpret their help, and navigate challenging times with their help.

Whether seeking answers, pursuing dreams, or chasing goals, let your guides illuminate the path to success and fulfillment. Embrace this opportunity to unlock the power of your guides and transform your life today!

Critique: Dive into the enlightening world of Spirit Guides on Speed Dial! This exceptional book is a treasure trove of knowledge and guidance, ensuring never-dull moments in your quest for enlightenment. Let the wisdom within be your compass in navigating life's journey!

Step into the spellbinding world of literary genius Jules Apollo! Witness the magic woven through words in a book that captivates hearts and minds. Each page is a journey, each sentence a masterpiece.

Enter the depths of imagination and let the words of Jules Apollo ignite your passion for storytelling. This book is not just a read; it's an experience, a treasure trove of emotions waiting to be explored. Join the ranks of those whom the pen of a true wordsmith has enchanted.

180 Days
Alfredo Botello
Koehler Books
9798888241837, $27.95 HB, $19.95 PB, $7.99 Kindle, 356pp

Synopsis: What happens when an architect's foundation of love starts to crumble? In this riveting tale of love, betrayal, and redemption, join Tomas and Naomi as they navigate the rocky road to rebuilding their relationship.

With only 180 days on the clock, can Tomas prove he's the blueprint for Naomi's happiness? Twists, turns, and heart fill this story, from architectural wonders to punk-rock stars. Will they demolish their past mistakes to construct a brighter future, or will their love story collapse like a poorly built structure? Find out on this captivating journey of love under construction!

Critique: Get ready for a riveting journey with 180 Days! 180 Days capture the readers' attention with its captivating storyline that promises to stand the test of time. It promises an emotional rollercoaster ride as one couple navigates the rocky path of possible divorce.

Step into the world of Alfredo Botello's debut masterpiece, where the ink on the pages weaves a tapestry of emotions and struggles. Through his brilliant storytelling, Botello brings to life a relatable narrative that will tug at your heartstrings and have you rooting for the protagonists as they navigate the complexities of rebuilding their fractured relationship. Get ready to be swept away on a journey of love, loss, and redemption.

Soccer Grannies: The South African Woman Who Inspire the World
Jean Duffy
Rowman & Littlefield
9781538170175, $34.00 (Hardback), 264 pp
9781538170182, $32.00 (Kindle)

Synopsis: Step into the extraordinary world of the Soccer Grannies, a heartwarming tale that transcends borders and generations. In a small village in rural South Africa, Mama Beka's vision of empowering older women through soccer blossomed into a movement that touched the hearts of many.

Through the lens of author Jean Duffy, we witness the resilience and passion of these women as they navigate societal norms and conquer obstacles to pursue their love for the beautiful game.

Embark on a journey filled with inspiration, friendship, and the universal language of sports as we celebrate the indomitable spirit of the Soccer Grannies.

Critique: In Soccer Grannies, these women have scored more than just goals on the pitch - they have scored victories over adversity off the field. Through the toughest of times, from apartheid to the heartbreak of AIDS and other life-changing obstacles, through it all, they have shown unwavering strength.

Together, they form a formidable team, not just in soccer but in life. They prove through their tales that the unifying force of sports can overcome any challenge with determination and unity.

Jean Duffy possesses the unwavering talent that allows her words to weave magic as her story comes alive! Get ready to be captivated by the depth and meaning on every page of this extraordinary book. Join us in unraveling the brilliance of an author who dares to push boundaries and redefine storytelling. Get this gem today and embark on a journey that will touch your heart!

Editorial Note: The author is donating all book proceeds to Beka and the Soccer Grannies.

The Celdan Heresies:The Reaching Man Series, Book One
Megan Carnes
Family of Light Books
c/o MilSpeak Foundation, Inc.
9798988120308, $18.95, (Paperback), 384 pp
9798988120315, $9.49 (Kindle)

Synopsis: In a world where darkness reigns, one young girl's defiance sparks a rebellion that will change everything. Meet Gaelle, a courageous soul who dares to challenge the oppressive Imperial Law by refusing to harm a horse.

Little does she know that this simple act will set off a chain of events that will rock the foundations of their society. Join Gaelle and her aunt Jillian on a journey of bravery, sacrifice, and hope as they stand against a dark, militarized church and discover a religion rooted in light.

Critique: The Celdan Heresies is the first installment of The Reaching Man Series will take you on an epic adventure filled with magic, intrigue, and the power of rebellion.

In Megan Carnes' first literary masterpiece, you will enter a world where a girl wrestles with societal expectations and strives to seek justice for her father's untimely demise.

Prepare to be enthralled as you follow this interesting narrative filled with intrigue, emotion, and resilience. Experience the power of storytelling at its finest with Megan Carnes' enchanting new book.

Suzie Housley, Senior Reviewer

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

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