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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 11, Number 5 May 2011 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf
Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf Clark's Bookshelf
Crocco's Bookshelf Daniel's Bookshelf Deb's Bookshelf
Edward's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf
Gorden's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf Henry's Bookshelf
Joanne's Bookshelf Karyn's Bookshelf Katherine's Bookshelf
Keira's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Molly's Bookshelf Peggy's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf
Riva's Bookshelf Sandra's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf
Theodore's Bookshelf Valentina's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail
Caitlin Kelly
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781591843801, $25.95,

Dr. Alma H. Bond

Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail, written by Caitlin Kelly, and published by the Penguin Group, is a magnetic book. I wanted to read it straight through, and was irritable when called away to such mundane tasks as eating or sleeping. The author, a successful journalist for the New York Daily News, suddenly was fired only two weeks after her byline had appeared on the front page. After a year of unemployment, in which she sent out forty-eight resumes and received no answers, she found herself strapped for cash with no reliable means of support. She applied for and was given a job as a retail sales associate at the Mall with The North Face, an outdoor product company specializing in outerwear and equipment such as backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags. From a highly paid professional, she became one of the worker bees of merchandising, whose descriptions of her experiences at the store will change your view of American retail forever.

The book is a recollection of the time Kelly worked at the store, where she took copious notes, with additional research and reporting after she gave formal notice of two weeks and quit the job. It is interesting that none of her coworkers, all of whose names are changed, knew she was writing the book, or they may have been less frank in speaking their minds.

The book proper begins with a few questions directed at the reader. "Who is that (sales) person standing across from you.....What if it were you standing behind that counter, wearing that plastic badge, your sweaty feet aching, desperate for a pee or a cold drink, counting the minutes until your break? (If you even get one" p. 1). Implied, of course, is that you never gave that salesperson a thought. Believe me, that will change, after reading Malled. "Now," she writes, "when I saw an associate, of any age, race, or gender, I no longer saw 'them." I saw "us" (p. 36).

Kelly's writing career in journalism had gone well in staff magazine positions, on newspaper jobs, or working free lance, from the day she was graduated from college. A journalist was all she had ever wanted to be. But in the fall of 2007, frightened by the sharp drop in journalism jobs, and knowing that after landing in a hospital from overwork, she needed a job with steady income and less stress. So at the age of fifty she joined fourteen other full-and-part time coworkers twenty to thirty years younger than she was, most of whom had chin studs and were multi-tatooed, in selling nylon and fleece jackets, shoes, sleeping bags, backpacks, thick ski gloves, cotton caps and T-shirts, to students and teachers, housewives, athletes and psychologists, physicians and stock brokers.

The job demanded new and unfamiliar ways of thinking. Since she had never worked in retail before, Caitlin felt as disoriented in her first days at work at The North Face as Alice had when she fell through the looking glass into Wonderland. Nor had Caitlin ever worked so hard for so little money, where the median retail wage is $8.92 an hour, not enough to buy a decent lunch, on the rare occasions when there was time to eat it. Handling rough fabrics all day made her fingers bleed. Her feet ached all the time, and kept her awake at night. She was used to being in control of her own time. No more. "Just going to the toilet, having the chance to sit for a few moments in privacy and silence, quickly became a welcome treat" (p. 37). "One fake smile, an unanswered question, an overeager upsell - and pop!, you've lost it for good" (p. 47). She found the relentless scrutiny of every aspect of the job exhausting. Her demeanor, facial expression, her clothing, hair and make-up, her perfume and accessories, and responses to even the stupidest of questions were all recorded by many cameras and subject to formal review and a permanent record of written criticism. She had taken a giant step backward, a slide down the socioeconomiic ladder into the working class, after decades of an upward climb in a profession she loved. Despite the fact that within a few weeks of starting at The North Face, she had become the top-selling part-timer at the store, she learned that in the great American race to keep shoppers spending money, associates typically receive little or no respect from their bosses, the shoppers, or the store owners who profit most from the back-breaking labor and skills of their hirelings.

Unlike most associates, the majority of whom quit within ninety days of being hired, the author stayed at The North Face for two years and three months. At first she liked the job very much, enjoying the set routine which helped to organize her day and week, the comfortable, nice-looking, company-suppled uniform complete with sneakers, and a break from her many years of work as a writer. Showing up at the workplace where she would meet affluent shoppers gave her a good excuse to dress up a bit and put on make-up, earrings, and perfume, instead of working at home in sweat pants and bedroom slippers. She liked learning new skills, the diversity of her coworkers, practically all of whom were of different nationalities from her Caucasian writing colleagues, the constant variety of customers, and her skill at selling the merchandise. She enjoyed meeting students of all ages and backgrounds, and trading stories with them about her own travels. She loved being an au thority about what the store had to offer, and knowing without any doubt that she had been helpful. To her surprise, she sometimes found selling T-shirts more enjoyable than writing for national publications. At The North Face, she often gained emotional satisfaction that her family and more cerebral work didn't give. She liked finding each night in the software systems that tracked the associate's every move exactly what she had accomplished on that shift, and seeing in black and white the progress she was making. "Retail was a rough little world," she writes. "But to me and some of my coworkers, it offered a clean, well-lit cocoon" (p. 139.)

It took several years for Caitlin's early enthusiasm to wane. Sooner or later, all the associates quit. They are not expected to stay. Why should management strive to keep the weary veterans, Caitlin asks (p. 175), when a whole fresh crop is always available? By the time Caitlin quit, she felt completely burned out, finding the pay much too low for the hard work she put in, the clients too spoiled and demanding when they weren't being downright nasty, and the work (including cleaning the toilets) repetitious and boring. There was no place in the job for her individuality or creativity. She received no recognition from her bosses or the corporate world for the wonderful sales work she had done, which helped make her store one of the most financially rewarding in the chain. As one of numerous anonymous cogs in the retail wheel, it was humiliating to realize that, hard as she had worked, her services would not even be missed. As she left the store for the last time, Caitl in pulled off her plastic name tag and dumped it in the trash can. No one asked for it back.

If there is any shortcoming in the book, it is the occasional grammatical error found in it, (i.e. "The conversation between the three," p. 61, or "she graduated from college") which is strange for a journalist. In spite of this very minor failing, Caitlin Kelly in Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail has written a fascinating, insightful book, which will change forever the way American shoppers regard the person behind the merchandise. The book is on a par with Barbara Ehrenreich's best selling Nickeled and Dimed, which also examined an author's tour in low-on-the totem-pole retail jobs. Anyone who enjoys a good read and a totally absorbing story, and wants to learn about the lives of the third of Americans hitherto hidden in the shadows, will enjoy Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail.

A World I Never Made
The Story Plant
The Aronica-Miller Publishing Project, LLC
PO Box 4331, Standford CT 06907
9780981956855, $7.99,


Pat Nolan, an American man, is summoned to Paris to claim the body of his daughter Megan, who has committed suicide. The body, however, is not Megan's and it becomes instantly clear to Pat that Megan staged this, that she is in serious trouble, and that she is calling to him for help.

This sends Pat on an adventure that stretches across France and into the Czech Republic and that makes him the target of both the French police and a band of international terrorists. Joining Pat on his search is Catherine Laurence, a beautiful but tormented Paris detective who sees in Pat something she never thought she'd find--genuine passion and desperate need. As they look for Megan, they come closer to each other's souls and discover love when both had long given up on it.

Megan, a freelance journalist, is in Morocco to do research when she meets Abdel Lahani, a Saudi businessman. They begin a torrid affair, a game Megan has played often and well in her adult life. But what she discovers about Lahani puts her in the center of a different kind of game, one with rules she can barely comprehend. Because of her relationship with Lahani, Megan has made some considerable enemies. And she has put the lives of many--maybe even millions--at risk.

My favorite kind of book, one that grabs you from page one and takes you on a wild ride that doesn't let go until the last word. It is timely, a could have been "ripped from the headlines" story.

What a way to reconnect with a daughter you had been virtually estranged from for years. A true testament of a parent's love and drama that shows that we would go to the ends of the earth for our children.

I can't believe this is the author's debut novel. The book is written brilliantly, well researched, with a fully developed plot and characters that draw us into their lives through their pain, struggles, conflicts and love. It is a riveting thriller that you will find impossible to put down. I look forward to Mr. LePore's other works. He has set the bar high with this debut but I think we will be enjoying his work for years to come.

The Truth About Leads
Dan McDade
9780983026709 $14.95

Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer

When the founder of the one of the most well-known business-to-business (B2B) telemarketing firms in the country writes a book about lead generation, you have to wonder if he is really going to share secrets or use the book as a plug for his company. "The Truth About Leads" by new author Dan McDade does a bit of both.

"The Truth About Leads" explains to its readers why marketing teams' efforts usually fail when it comes to providing so-called leads to their sales teams. (They don't qualify the leads, and they focus on keeping costs down.) The book also reveals the gap between marketing and sales and suggests ways on how to better align the two departments.

McDade is at his best when he gives readers lots of food for thought on topics such as why long-term leads are actually better than short-term leads, why prospects stick with the status quo instead of buying, and why sales people only follow up on less than 30% of the leads provided to them. He even goes beyond lead generation and shares ideas for how outside sales teams and managers can improve their efforts in deploying sales people, monitoring their efforts, and coaching them.

Does the book share little-known secrets? It does if you're new to lead generation. You will absolutely learn the truth about topics such as the problem with brokered marketing lists, why a multi-marketing approach to lead generation works well, and even how specifically to organize a nurturing campaign by time frame and touches. All good stuff.

While the book has its merits, there are a few issues. Since lead generation and B2B telemarketing have been around for years now, this book feels like it's about 10 years late. The author tells readers that outsourcing lead generation to a firm like his is the most logical choice for fixing the problem but he neglects to mention training a company's current staff as an option as well. Also, there simply isn't enough tactical information to share with readers like in books by leaders in the industry such as Anthony Parinello or Jill Konrath. It would have worthwhile to read sample value propositions, sample e-mails, and sample direct mail pieces for example. And finally, at just over 100 pages, the author should have expanded on his thoughts on many of the topics addressed in this book. Perhaps he could have shared more ideas regarding why companies have such overdependence on marketing automation and why that differs from what companies like his does. Or maybe he could have shared his theories on using social media for lead generation and why that does or doesn't work.

All in all, "The Truth About Leads" is a pretty good book that will make a good introduction to lead generation and how to fill the gap between sales and marketing. Those who already understand the business may crave for a bit more.


Whispers from the Ashes
Patricia Hester
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9780984561605, $15.99,

Enrico Antiporda

I love stories that take me to unfamiliar time and settings. Whispers from the Ashes by Patricia Hester is one of them. The story takes place in a Pennsylvania coal mining region of Despair in the 1950s, a time when the township is suffering from severe economic hardship and being encroached upon by the polluting coal industry.

The story is told from the eyes of Molly Branigan, a young girl brimming with love for her family and an intense curiosity about her family's troubled past. The narrative is poetic, the twelve-year-old heroine endearing, the circumstances of the family's hardship reminiscent of Grisham's A Painted House. The strong bond between Molly and her alcoholic father is not only touching, but true to life. What differentiates this from books of similar topic is that the father is not portrayed as the stereotypical alcoholic and violently abusive man, but rather a loving one weak in character, victimized by his addiction to booze, yet trying hard to provide for his family. The mother is portrayed as a strong woman who stands behind her husband and makes tough decisions during extreme family tragedies. This is the type of story you think about for a long time, something that makes you feel lucky in comparison to the life of this brave young girl. This is a young adult novel with adult themes, making for a perfect crossover to the adult literary category.

Russell Bittner
Amazon Kindle Edition
P. O. Box 671, Soda Springs, CA 95728
9780979608070, $0.99,

Farida Samerkhanova

I always feel a certain degree of fear and secret loathing when I start to read a work of fiction that makes claims on my attention of greater than fifty pages. The book I recently had in front of me was of over seven hundred. What made me do it? I must confess: it might've been the title - at least to some extent. It's both beautiful and intelligent - and provoked my curiosity.

After I'd read a few dozen pages, I could say with absolute certainty that I liked the novel. The start was quick; the digression, unexpected; the continuation, intriguing. I felt myself becoming more and more absorbed into the imaginative "texture" of the text itself. No matter what the author apparently chooses to write about, his pen is as deft as the paintbrush of Maarten van Heemskerck. By the way, the author of the novel, Russell Bittner, is alive and well in the United States - and his is a name, I believe, worth remembering. He's one of us; however, his understanding of what people call "life" is much deeper - you'll just have to believe me.

As regards the title of the book - Trompe-l'oeil - it does not apply to the manner in which the author has depicted certain places and objects, but rather to something else. Let's deal firstly with the former. I like how Russell portrays cities in his novel. Regardless of where he sets the scene - whether in Leningrad, Paris or Manhattan - his locations are detailed in such a way as to allow the reader easy access to both place and time. Geography plays a significant role in the narrative: if at the beginning of the novel, the reader wonders whether any of these locations (or other, even more exotic locations) really matters, that same reader is thoroughly convinced by the end of the novel that none of Russell's story could've happened any other way - so entangled are the principal characters with the locations in which they operate.

I like Russell's style. He knows how to put words together and make prose sound like poetry, yet without sounding forcibly "poetic." His metaphors are all fresh and original, not cliched. The author describes incredible sex with economy and grace, while demonstrating a skilful understanding of the subtle line between what is potentially beautiful between two human beings and what is simply crude - which is no mean accomplishment! The way he skilfully works foreign speech into the canvass of his novel is marvellous. Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Russian and German - even Latin - lines of dialogue (all of which are carefully and artfully paraphrased in English) create a certain atmosphere, lend extra charm, and help to make the reading experience a pleasurable one. This novel is, indeed, well crafted - every sentence of it!

As one whose native language is Russian, I admire the skill of his quite original translation of Yesenin's poem. I know it was hard work. Some Russian words and expressions are untranslatable due to their very specific nature. Russell managed to do the impossible. His translation absolutely conveys the great poet's message and spirit. It actually represents a separate independent piece of poetry - and as such, is both remarkable and wonderful.

I'll risk saying that this story is unique. There's so much pain and wisdom in it. (Have you noticed that I've placed 'pain' before 'wisdom?') What's the novel about? I cannot tell. It's about everything: love; life; war; crime and punishment; pain; the generation gap; professional relationships; career issues; sex; money; history; and many, many other things. A totally unexpected bonus theme occurs in Trompe-l'oeil, by the way. Allow me simply to call it "the lichen theme." This theme of lichens is so important to the narrative that if I now address the issue of character development, I'd have to mention it right alongside that of Daneka and Kit. Actually, to my mind, the title of the novel applies to the particular serenity conjured up by the author's singular elegy to lichens. The theme is so very powerful, so very unlike anything else I know of in literature, that it puts the novel into a category sui generis.

I am categorically naming Russell a Master and declare his novel, Trompe-l'oeil, to be a significant contribution to modern American literature - maybe more significant even than Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises was back in the mid-twenties of the last century.

I could easily write a longer essay about the talented Mr. Bittner's novel, but I'll cut it off here with an urgent appeal to you to read it for yourself and make your own assessment. Oh, and one last thing: if my name were Joe Wright, I'd be screening this novel for sure!

The Emerald Atlas
John Stephens
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375868702, $17.99,

Linda Bentzen

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens is a lot of fun, has some scary parts, shows the love of family, and has lots of interesting creatures. The book is well written and the language is just right for the nine-to-twelve tween set. The characters are fully developed and you can just picture how they look in your head. In most chapters, more than one event takes place so there is a lot of action and the reader can keep up with what's happening to the many characters of the story. It is entertaining with various characters' interactions. There are parts that are alarming and make the three children fear for their lives as well as others' lives. Among other things, you will find kids, parents, magic, dwarves, wizards, wolves, a maze, a vault, and most importantly a magic book. Three children are taken from their parents. After some time in several orphanages, they are sent by train and boat to their final orphanage. While exploring the huge old house, they discover an item that transports them to the beginning of their adventures.

There were a few times when it isn't clear who the countess is, since she is referred to by different words. Also, it wasn't always clear whether a part was set in the future or the past.

Those who enjoy the Harry Potter books, will enjoy this book as well. It will be hard to wait for the next book of the trilogy. Although I am nowhere near being a tween, I did enjoy the story; and I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

Storms of My Grandchildren
James Hansen
Bloomsbury USA
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y 10010
9781608192007, $16.00,

Lois Wells Santalo

By coincidence, this book came into my hands the day after 44 people died in tornadic storms in the U.S. Motivated to sit down and read through it at once, I anticipated dramatic descriptions of super-storms and hyper-canes - and in fact they are there, but only in the last chapter. Most of the book deals with politics and the near-impossibility of navigating the Washington milieu to convince politicians that the threats are immediate and changes must be made at once. We are rapidly approaching the tipping point where we will lose our options and disaster will become inevitable - in fact, more rapidly than author James Hansen knew when writing in 2009. Right now, we have had, according to newscasters, more tornadoes in three days than is usual for the entire month of April.

As "the Paul Revere of global climate change," to quote the book's cover, physicist James Hansen explains the relationship of global warming to increasing storms: The warmer the water, the quicker the evaporation, leading to ever-greater water vapor and clouds in the upper atmosphere. This means storms will get worse as the planet warms, as inevitably it will, from lower albedo as the ice melts and from an increase in carbon dioxide and methane now being released from melting permafrost.

Super-storms and flooding will make agriculture much less feasible, and this is not the only thing we have to look forward to. Melting ice caps will inundate coastal cities, along with most of the state of Florida and low-lying countries like Holland and Bangladesh. Much farm land will simply be gone; our ability to feed people will be greatly lessened. Starvation will be endemic. As greenhouse gases increase, oxygen levels are lowered, and breathing problems and diseases like asthma will become more widespread.

Hansen is not the only one crying wolf and being ignored. I've heard these warnings before, on the Science Channel and the History Channel. I've often wondered why the newscasters so seldom talk about them. Sometimes it seems downright freaky, listening to a newscaster drone on for several minutes about the local pre-game tailgate parties while saying nothing whatever about melting ice caps. Does no one care? The newscasters - and the Washington lobbyists and the government officials and all the other foot-draggers - will also have to live in that Venus Syndrome world. So why are the scientists being muzzled when they try to warn of it? Why are they dismissed as alarmists?

Mainly, it seems, because politics works by means of gentle nudges, pushing the coal mining companies and other polluters to do a little better, and a few years later, a little better still. According to Hansen, what's needed is not gentle nudges but an instant change in policy, leaving the fossil fuels in the ground and switching at once to other energy sources. And this has so far proved not to be politically workable.

Hansen urges a second look at nuclear energy, claiming that fourth generation nuclear plants have now been made safe. Unfortunately, the world had a scare only a month or so ago about nuclear plants, and this event will hardly make people receptive to the suggestion. And wind and solar are not yet ready for mass production. All in all, we still, as when Al Gore was writing, face an inconvenient truth in the matter of global warming, with no easy answers. But it is surely the most important topic for anyone with children and grandchildren. With no land to grow crops and less oxygen in the air, we will not be worrying much in the future about tailgate parties nor even ball games.

This book is not a fun read but it contains information everyone needs to know, and on the whole is written in layman terms. It is highly recommended.

Dorothea in the Mirror
Lois Wells Santalo
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47406
9781440190919, $16.95,

Melanie Thompson

Dorothea in the Mirror is a murder mystery but not a conventional one. Simultaneously with the murder investigation we are given the story of a marriage. Jill and Zoltan Szekely, though still in love, are breaking up because of serious lifestyle differences. The two story lines alternate throughout the book, with the wife's tale told in first person and the detective's in third person.

The Szekelys are by no means your average family. With a mother and son who have been concert pianists in Europe, and an inventor father, they have fled Hitler and the Nazis but are still suffering from the trauma of growing anti-Semitism, still fearful of letting it be known that they are Jewish. When pianist son Zoltan is suspected of murdering his former mistress, Dorothea, the scenario seems utterly improbable while the evidence seems incontrovertible.

This is an extremely well crafted novel with multiple layers and perspectives. We have the tale from Jill's eyes of her struggle to aid her accused husband, resulting in her growing tendency to identify with the murdered Dorothea. We also see the murder from the perspective of the police detective on the case, Detective Cody. With estranged wife Jill insisting that Zoltan could not possibly be guilty, and detective Cody equally convinced he has to be, both parties search for the missing piece of the puzzle that can prove their point, and in the process we are given a multi-faceted portrait of all the characters. Jill, who calls herself the smiling wallflower, learns that she must develop more assertiveness. Cody, reading and commenting on the dead Dorothea's diary and interviewing suspects, has his own take on their characters, seeing them in a very different light from that perceived by their friends and associates. Through his eyes we become acquainted with the victim, Dorothea, as well as other possible suspects like Dorothea's pawing stepdad. Put together, the two approaches give us a well rounded portrait of an unusual family and an intermarriage that has occurred as a result of earlier trauma and without the participants being truly at peace with the idea.

Jill's story is the struggle of a woman trying to come to terms with a less than perfect marriage while restoring her husband to his musical life. Cody's is the more conventional tale of a police investigation. The two story lines work together, and they are both needed to tell this powerful tale of love and death.

Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil
Jerome Charyn
Yale University Press
Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520-9040
9780300123289, $24.00,

Nicole Langan, Reviewer

Joe DiMaggio as an autistic ballplayer is an interesting concept. Jerome Charyn explores this theory in Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil. As an incredibly gifted athlete, the renowned New York Yankee excelled at hitting a curve ball out of the park or catching a long fly in centerfield. But away from the game, he lived a secluded life surrounded by a few, select people that he barely even talked to. His social skills were so poor that he had trouble reading his own name off a cue card.

Yet how did such an awkward, insecure man marry Marilyn Monroe? Charyn feels that the relationship was created as the ultimate public relations move. A nude calendar of Marilyn had surfaced and she wanted to rehabilitate her image by staging DiMaggio as her real life leading man. No one was viewed as more stable or reliable than The Yankee Clipper. What she never expected was that he would literally become obsessed with her.

The book is not a straight biography. Charyn inserts his own opinions and at times writes in the first person. At under 150 pages of text, it is not an overwhelming read. Instead it is a unique look at a man whose iconic status is tempered by very human flaws. His unbreakable concentration on the ballfield left him mentally drained and physically exhausted. This intensely driven quest for perfection was unendurable, yet it was a pattern he followed throughout his life. His sense of discipline was unmatched, but it lacked the heart and emotion that would allow others to connect with him. By keeping himself aloof and distant, Charyn describes DiMaggio as being above the world around him and not part of it.

A poignant passage revolves around DiMaggio's most legendary achievement - his 56 game hitting streak in 1941. Charyn gives a rich, textured account transporting the reader back to that moment in time. Europe is in the midst of World War II, and the United States is on the brink. Americans are nervous, scared and uncertain. DiMaggio was their national distraction. Would he get a hit? Would he keep the streak alive? His heroics on the field provided Americans with a sense of hope during a dark hour.

For a man who didn't even talk much to his own teammates, life after baseball became an odyssey of extreme loneliness for DiMaggio. He was like an ex-president - a once powerful man now removed from his lofty position. He was aimless and adrift. He did the autograph circuit until he dropped making millions, yet receiving little personal satisfaction. He died basically alone in a hospital room reportedly saying his last words to a nurse who was attending him. It was a sad and pathetic end for a life so revered.

While short in length, the book is chock full of details and interesting tidbits. Subjects range from Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle to Paul Simon and Frank Sinatra. Charyn expertly and proficiently covers the major areas of DiMaggio's life in a succinct manner. Told chronologically, it reads more like a page-turning, in-depth magazine profile than a droll, just-the-facts reference book.

Charyn looks at the big picture. He encourages the reader to remember DiMaggio for his dogged determination and his strict adherence to duty. He provided inspiration to his team on the field playing through injury and illness. He brutally forced his mind to focus so he would never be seen making a mistake. He gave it his all - every time. While he couldn't obtain the perfection he so strived for, he never gave up on the two things that mattered the most to him - baseball and Marilyn Monroe.

Overall, Charyn is able to provide the language DiMaggio lacked in describing his life.

It Could Happen Again
Sonia Rumzi
Heart Press
1001 Bridgeway, #161, Sausalito, CA 94965
9781937079055, $0.99,

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

This novelette looks at the world of domestic violence. It is not a pretty picture.

Set in present-day Boston, Truvi and her four boys are living with Jake, her boyfriend (two of the children are his). Noor, her friend and co-worker, is the recipient of several frantic, late night phone calls from Truvi saying that Jake is drunk (again), he has grabbed her by the throat, and pushed her against the wall, etc. Noor lets Truvi and her children live with her for a while. After some time, Truvi tells Noor that they are going back to Jake. Crying on the phone, Jake has promised to do better in the future. Noor tells Truvi that there will be no more rushing over to her place. If she wants to leave Jake, Noor will help her any way she can, but Truvi has to make the first move.

As the months go on, Truvi's normally vivacious personality disappears. She barely says two sentences to Noor in weeks, she brings her lunch, so she can stay at her desk, and not have to talk to Noor, and she starts wearing scarves and turtlenecks to work (to hide the neck bruises). One day, Truvi announces to Noor that she has found an apartment, away from Jake. Noor helps them move in; there are now five boys (the latest child is Jake's). Things are relatively stable, for a while.

Jake continues to demand his visitation rights, and the courts continue to agree with them. Bringing the boys over for one such court-mandated visit, Jake walks out of his condo, carrying a shotgun. He makes it clear to Truvi that he intends to use it. Demanding that Truvi open the car doors (everyone is still inside the car), Jake seems surprised when the police come and arrest him. Searching his condo, the police find a pigsty, a large arsenal of weapons and lots of Nazi paraphernalia. The police criticize Truvi for sending the children into such an atmosphere; she tells them, in no uncertain terms, that she had no choice. Now that Jake is in custody, is Truvi's nightmare over? Is this one of those stories that will end only when someone is dead?

This is very unpleasant, but very good, reading. The author does a really good job at putting a human face on a subject like domestic violence. It is very much recommended.

The Secret Knowledge of Water
Craig Childs
Back Bay Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316610698, $14.99,

Rebecca Guevara, Reviewer

Craig Childs belongs to a group I call The Extreme Intrepids, people who take themselves into unexplored wilds and live to tell and write about it. A confirmed desert rat, he is also part poet, nature hermit, scientific recorder, physical endurance fiend and sensualist. He is a spliced combination of bits of Annie Dillard, Thoreau, Sir Edmund Hillary and Charles Darwin.

I'm enough of a southwest U.S. native to feel comfortable alone on a plateau with no one around for miles. I seek total absence of sound in nature and I love the stark beauty, the brutality and frailness of desert, so I had a cursory background to enjoy this book. Someone who has never visited the area may find the descriptions as remote as I do the Congo.

The opening chapters are as shy and unobtrusive as the hidden desert water pockets he finds. Ever so slowly he maps and records what seems as innocent and endemic to the desert as a city child's plastic backyard wading pool. It wasn't until over halfway through the book I realized how skillfully I had been led down and up his canyons and across his deserts in an ever growing crescendo of danger and mystic wonder. His understanding and awe of water in the southwestern U.S. becomes an intellectual mystery without human beings.

Neither gifted with nor having acquired much scientific knowledge or appreciation, I wondered not too far into the book if I would continue enjoying it to the end. If human storyline and plot action is preferred, Childs will feel slow and perhaps pointless. If discovery of the earth and sprinkled cosmic thoughts on how the universe works is of interest, you'll wish you could spend time, albeit perhaps only a long weekend, on his arduous walking trips.

I learned words like anhydrobiosis (fun to say and means "dehydrated life--life shrunk down to its most primary aspects.") and sere, a useful desert word meaning dried and withered. I read about the intention of water, its desire and visited sources I knew nothing about. Childs is a "desert whisperer" who, in the tradition of the greatest naturalist/journalist style, took me closer to the mysteries I had perhaps walked past without noticing.

Bethany's Bookshelf

Rules of the Game for Life, College, High School
Harvey J. Coleman
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781452020747, $28.00,

Life has rules, and playing the game well is understanding those rules. "Rules of the Game for Life, College, & High School" is an advisory of life from Harvey J. Coleman who offers suggestions for getting through higher education better than how you entered it. With practical advice about dealing with the realities of school and the job market, "Rules of the Game for Life, College, and High School" is a read that shouldn't be overlooked for anyone who is planning the rest of their life.

Sandy Powers
1775 Belvidere Road, Englewood, FL 34223
9781456729561, $21.95,

With nothing going right in early life, the forecast for something good makes everything seem impossible. "Passage" tells the story of Grace, whose life wants to give her everything but that. But when love appears, there may be hope yet, but not without a lot more misery on top of it all. With plenty of mystery, adventure, and most importantly hope with a backdrop of World War II, "Passage" takes much from the author's own struggles and makes for quite the riveting read, highly recommended.

Jason Akley
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432733308, $23.95,

A brush with death makes you look to your past and your future. "Lazarus" is a novel from Jason Akley as he presents a story of a family coping with Hurricane Katrina and the interactions of generations and their affects on one another. Following Lazarus and his family, Akley tells a unique story of finding some semblance of truth in life's many twists and turns. "Lazarus" is an excellent pick and very highly recommended reading.

Wendy's Wisdom
Sherry Skramstad
Tate Publishing
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781615666126, $14.99,

Downs Syndrome is simply another barrier to success, and was nearly a death sentence as recent as fifty years ago. "Wendy's Wisdom: The Challenges & Accomplishments of a Woman with Down Syndrome" is written by special education teacher Sherry Skramstad as she remembers her sister Wendy, who faced Down syndrome from being born in the 1940s. Telling the story of what those with Down syndrome go through and what they can accomplish, "Wendy's Wisdom" is a devoted study, highly recommended.

The Genius Gene
Howard Birnberg
Book Guild
c/o Promotion in Motion
9780615422718, $34.95

As science takes control of our genetics, what lies for the next step of humanity's evolution. "The Genius Gene" looks at this very real possibility through the scope of science fiction, and the fear that the next evolution will lead to homo sapiens' eradication in favor of something faster, stronger, smarter. "The Genius Gene" asks these questions with a riveting novel, serving as the first entry into the Catherine Fox Trilogy, and makes for a very highly recommended read.

Oh, Beautiful
John Paul Godges
c/o Promotion in Motion
9781451508017, $19.99

From many places comes family, and from family, people go many places. "Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century" tells the story of one such family, as John Paul Godges tells a tale of the American melting pot, starting with Italian and Polish immigrants and how from all that their family went in many directions, speaking the many types of people and beliefs that make up the modern American landscape. A dose of true Americana, "Oh, Beautiful" is a wise read and a solid addition to any American Studies or memoir collection.

The Gospel According to Lilith
Lonnie Hicks
Create Space
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9780984348633, $14.95,

The fall of an angel does not stop them from being an angel. "The Gospel According to Lilith" is a novel spun in heaven, telling the story of God and his wife, Lilith, who was taken from him by Lucifer. Spinning this betrayal into the reason behind Genesis and the salvation of mankind, "The Gospel According to Lilith" is a fun and entertaining work of historical fiction, highly recommended.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Twilight Ashes
Auler Ivis
1663 Libery Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450245494, $25.95,

As civilizations collapse, the next evolution of humanity is preparing to take its place as the rulers of the planet. "Twilight Ashes" is a novel set in a far flung future as an Ice Age claims the Earth six hundred thousand years after the present. As Jebden Gale faces his contacts with the Gods he despises, he finds his contact may be the only thing to stop humanity from being wiped out by the next evolution, set on ending the primitive past of humanity. "Twilight Ashes" is an exciting work of fantasy and science fiction, the first of the series by Auler Ivis.

A Glimpse Into the Inner Workings of My God
Michael L. Watson
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432766788, $23.95,

God is not something simply broken down to a simple science. "A Glimpse Into the Inner Workings of My God: What Organized Religions Don't Know About Your God" discusses the nature of God and the methods behind his apparent madness. Designed to help readers understand God, and understand him and his love in today's world which seems to me more absent of his grace than ever, "A Glimpse Into the Inner Workings of God" is worth considering for those seeking to understand God for their own lives.

The Pathology of My Life
Stuart C. Lauchlan
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South New York, NY 10016
9780533163311, $11.95,

Medicine is a different animal than it was fifty years ago. "The Pathology of My Life" is a memoir from Stuart C. Lauchlan, a man who came of age just as the biggest conflict of the twentieth century was coming to a close. Speaking of a post war Europe and the development of medicine over the past half of century, his story is one of development and change, and makes "The Pathology of My Life" a read worth considering.

Elements of Wellness
George Hazlehurst
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163748, $14.95,

Health and well being is more than a binary thing. "Elements of Wellness: An Inquiry Into Primal Cause" is a discussion of health and our primal nature to destroy disease. Dr. George Hazlehurst offers the idea that to defeat diseases of the mind, body, and soul, it requires a societal effort and to try things that may not work for the greater good. With some good ideas, "Elements of Wellness" offers much philosophy in health, recommended reading.

Overcoming ADHD without Medication
Association for Youth Children and Natural Psychology
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781449902872, $18.99,

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder almost comes at an epidemic level. "Overcoming ADHD without Medication" is a guide for parents who want to pursue treating this condition for their children without resorting to drugs such as Ritalin, which carry some side effects. With a lot of thought and understanding of concern, "Overcoming ADHD without Medication" is an excellent read that should very much be considered by concerned parents.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

The Beatles Discography
Stephen E. Donnelly
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432769246, $69.95,

The Beatles are likely the most influential music group of all time, and their extensive work is a big aspect of that. "The Beatles Discography Volume One - The 60s" traces the heyday of the band, tracking all of their releases throughout the decade including their international releases and solo work. Each entry has a full track listing and full color front/back cover artwork. For anyone looking for a comprehensive Beatles resource, "The Beatles Discography Volume One - The 60s" is a strongly recommended pick that shouldn't be overlooked.

The Great Leap-Fraud
A. J. Deus
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450280563, $43.95,

Ignorance is the greatest threat to the world today. "The Great Leap-Fraud: Social Economics of Religious Terrorism" is the first volume of a series from A. J. Deus, as he discusses how ignorance allows extremism and terrorism to flourish throughout the world's many faiths. Stating that the use of faith for evil goals is done by all three of the Abrahamic faiths and the power of culture, he provides a diagnosis that doesn't lay the blame on a single faith, yet instead all of the above. "The Great Leap-Fraud" is a worthy consideration for any student of religion.

The Deceiver
Clay Powell
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163366, $12.95,

The evil of Satan lies in deception. "The Deceiver: The Deception of the Mind and the War for Man's Soul" is a spiritual discussion of Satan and how he enters our lives, as author Clay Powell quotes how Satan infiltrates our lives, allures us with success only to leave us with nothing. "The Deceiver" is a spiritual read that should be considered by any who fear Satan will enter or has entered their lives.

Treasures of the Soul
Tommie Walker
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533159680, $12.95,

Our soul pushes us through the harshness of life which is remarkable in itself. "Treasures of the Soul: Inspirational Reflections and Words of Wisdom" is a devotional guide from Reverend Tommie Walker who grants a fine dose of knowledge and life to grant readers a thoughtful unique understanding of life and everything around it. Drawing heavily on faith and scripture, "Treasures of the Soul" is an uplifting pick for anyone who searches for happiness through faith and spirit.

What Was God Doing Before He Made Man?
Marion Tripp
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163434, $10.95,

God is eternal, man is not. "What Was God Doing Before He Made Man?" is a book of faith looking at the mystery of the Almighty, about his role in the universe before he brought man to the party. Asking this question, Reverend Marion Tripp digs through scripture to present his theories about God's place without man, and what it means in the greater picture. "What Was God Doing Before He Made Man?" is an intriguing and thought-provoking read, very much recommended.

Old Daisy & Young Jack Living Together
Lee Weir Carlson
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South New York, NY 10016
9780533163304, $10.95,

Companionship and comradeship are not entirely human things. "Old Daisy & Young Jack Living Together" is the reflections of Lee Carlson and his wife Gail and their young and old dogs, Daisy and Jack. Sharing their story of how the two dogs formed their relationship in a touching story of friendship and much more, "Old Daisy & Young Jack Living Together" is an enticing read for any canine lover, recommended.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

A. A. Farr
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440166075, $19.95,

When you find you have powers, you have to use them well or find your problems much more than you can handle. "Koschei: The End of a New Beginning" follows Alex Campbell as he comes into young adulthood and finds the burden of power placed upon him. For good or evil, his problems only seem to be exacerbated and made worst. With his friends by his side, "Koschei" is an exciting read of young adult fantasy, very highly recommended.

Race War
La-Temus Marshall
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432767204, $11.95,

The cultural melting pot is what makes America what it is. "Race War: America's Worst Nightmare" draws a story into a near future world where the poor conditions of the world divide America sharply and a state separated on race would be America's future. But such a solution soon benefits no one in La-Temus Marshall's racial commentary through fiction. "Race War" is a thoughtful read with plenty to absorb, highly recommended.

The Serpentine Curve
Charles Domina
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162178, $14.95,

Even when trying to decipher the mysteries of our existence, mundane things like love leave us with more questions than answers. "The Serpentine Curve" follows Dr. Joanna Russo as she copes with the study of genetic memory as she deals with the challenges of her everyday life. When ethics places her against shady science, Russo finds herself in a race to keep knowledge out of the hands who would do evil with it. "The Serpentine Curve" is an exciting read of science fiction and romance, highly recommended.

Caught in the Winds
L. D. Wenzel
Privately Published
9781453647875, $16.75

Knowing where you are spiritually is a truly wonderful feeling. "Caught in the Winds" follows Morrie Schiller as he tries to come to terms with himself and his pursuits. As love fails, he finds that the love he seeks may be in faith, as a new individual enters his life and challenges him philosophically and spiritually. A thoughtful read of Christianity and coming of age, "Caught in the Winds" is a fine read and solidly recommended.

Homosexuality in the Orthodox Church
Justin R. Cannon, editor
Privately Published
9781456416874, $12.00,

The debate of homosexuality is well known for protestant and Catholic Christians, but what of the other major sect, the Orthodox? "Homosexuality in the Orthodox Church" discusses this issue from an Orthodox perspective, and offers many intriguing points of discussion, seeking to find what should be the belief on those Orthodox Christians who happen to be homosexual. From bishops, scripture, and more, "Homosexuality in the Orthodox Church" is a fascinating study of the controversial topic from one of the oldest Churches in the faith.

Marten Weber
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456497170, $16.69

In the parallels of homosexuality and heterosexuality, sometimes your dreams are unobtainable. "Shayno" tells the story of a mid life crisis of a gay silicon valley man who finds the man of his dreams, only problem is that he's straight. Even with friendship, problems arise, as Marten Weber creates a riveting story about the dilemma of the gay/straight relationship. "Shayno" is an excellent pick for those looking for a fine read of gay fiction.

The Call
Derald Hamilton
D. Hamilton Books
9780984619207, $9.95,

What brings one to answer the word of God? "The Call" is a story of the supernatural and what draws people to it. Following young Ishmael O'Donnell as he looks for a bit of purity in his life which wants nothing to do with him. With a bit of humor, Derald Hamilton gives readers a look at the both sad, humorous and depressing that comes with pursuing faith, and makes "The Call" a read that is very much worth considering.

Michael J. Carson

Clark's Bookshelf

Suffer the Children
Marilyn Wedge
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393337921, $26.95,

"Suffer the Children: The Case against Labeling and Medicating And an Effective Alternative" by Marilyn Wedge can be considered a guidebook for those families who are facing the difficult task of raising children while they are facing daunting hardships in their lives. Many families are suffering with loss of jobs and the attendant economic hardships these cause. Is it any wonder that many children are acting out with their fears of what will become of them and their parents?

Financial worries permeate many families and this causes conflict between mothers and fathers. Having no place to take their bickering they do it at home. Conflict between parents does not necessarily mean they will divorce, but what it does mean is that they will try to find solutions which will work for them. Younger children do not understand that during these trying times mom and dad still love each other. They also love others in the family.

Marilyn Wedge has a PhD from the University of Chicago. She is a family therapist in private practice in California. "Suffer the Children" peeks into what she does for families by helping them solve their problems without medicating their children. Many school authorities, doctors, and other professionals mean well when they prescribe medication and diagnose what appear to be symptoms of ailments which can be treated by pills. What Dr. Wedge advocates is coordinating family treatment by solving the underlying problems within the family.

She accomplishes her amazing results by meeting with the parents, children, and other siblings by getting to the root cause of the problem which affects them. In one case the father had broken his arm. The child had thought the father would never go to work again and would be without his job forever. Dr. Wedge analyzed the situation and advised the parents to not just explain it was temporary, but to do affirmative things which would give the child a feeling of comfort and thusly a better understanding of the situation. Adults realize when one parent is incapacitated with a cast that this is temporary, however, when children are at a young age it is very hard for them to grasp. However,

A technique employed by Dr. Wedge is a worry book. At the first meeting with the child she will introduce a spiral notebook and give directions which encourage the children to write down those things which come up between sessions which cause concern. She will then go over these problems and find out how her therapy is working. Dr. Wedge realizes success when the child stops writing in the book because things which were bad at the start have changed.

"Suffer the Children" is a book for professionals to examine their practices in a different light. Medication in the right framework is definitely an asset, but many of the concerns can be resolved by therapy. School grades can and do improve. Conflicting relationships with other children dissipate and become wholesome. Dr. Wedge advocates that parents can also benefit by reading this book which can enlighten and provide a path to a more meaningful atmosphere.

This book is highly recommended.

The President's Vampire
Christopher Farnsworth
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399157394, $24.95,

Christopher Farnsworth wrote "Blood Oath" a vampire story which has been widely accepted as an adult thriller. Now, he follows up with a masterful tale of that same character, Nathaniel Cade, a vampire who has been around for over 140 years protecting presidents! His sidekick, if you can call him that, is Zach Barrows. Zach's official capacity is that of human handler of the vampire who is sworn to obey the orders of the President of the United States.

The original novel "Blood Oath" set the stage for all the acts that follow in this book, but Farnsworth's newest thriller swiftly brings you up-to-date with regard to the background and how a vampire came to do the bidding of the president. In a special safe in the oval office the bullet upon which the vampire had sworn his allegiance bound him to follow instructions for finding and eliminating terrifying threats to America's security.

Cade is not the usual vampire who drinks, human blood, but had been able to survive with a special formulation of animal blood giving him his powers. These powers include super speed, strength, and keen perceptive hearing. All of these elements are indispensable as he fights evil in the name of the president. He is able to leap the length of three football fields and land on his feet without a single sound!

A fast-paced book keeps the reader quickly turning pages to see what comes next. Some novels move into the action after a lot of preliminaries, "The President's Vampire" is not one of those. Action-packed pages take the reader to acrobatic heights as Cade destroys enemies in every chapter. His fighting skills are superb and deadly as he performs many times without guns or weapons of any kind, just his bare hands! His greatest asset is his extraordinary speed.

He does wound and often we wonder if he is going to survive his injuries, but his vampire body heals itself quickly. Stabbing or shooting wounds quickly close so that he is able to perform his duties once again.

Cade's assignments take him to various countries around the globe as he sets out upon his missions. One scenario has him dropping from high altitude to land on an aircraft carrier which has been overrun by monsters! He sails to earth at 400 mph, opens his chute, and sallies forth to slaughter his evil foes.

The only concern about this book is that the choice of some of the language is such that it is definitely for adults. The words used are rough, but there are only a few spots where they come into play for emphasis making certain situations more real. However, if they were toned down in subsequent books, the audience might even be larger since the teenage crowds who have displayed a love for vampire tales can be safely exposed to Nathaniel Cade and his vampire friends without concern.

A startling conclusion takes place in Iowa and most certainly leaves the door open for more new tales that will revolve around Nathaniel Cade, Zach Barrows, and whoever is the President of the United States.

This book is highly recommended for a mature audience who enjoy supernatural tales.

Clark Isaacs

Crocco's Bookshelf

1923: A Memoir
Harry Leslie Smith
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
1450254136, $21.95,

The author, Harry Smith, describes his birth as coming into the world with no fanfare, no glad-handing in February 1923. He was born into poverty, abuse, and alcoholism during the Great Depression in England. The matriarch in the family, Lillian, had abandoned Harry's father, Albert, to put food on the table. She fled numerous places called home, and accepted another man only to feed her kids. Lillian was hardly the loving mother; however, Harry did love her as he did his father. But not for Harry's sister, Mary, he never would have survived. She provided the emotional and physical stability for Harry even though she was only three years older.

Harry discovered a library where books offered him much solace in his chaotic life. He read and dreamed of escaping the place he called home. He took a bicycle ride to York and after observing a beautiful medieval cathedral he experienced an epiphany; he would someday escape from King Cross, Halifax, and Yorkshire. There was another world out there and Harry would find it.

Harry did see more of the world, but not always in a good way. He joined the Royal Air Force during WWII. He experienced the horrors of war that every man and woman in the service should never have to experience.

Harry tells his stories of home and war like a good novel. He describes his family and war buddies as if we were family and kin.

There are many books written about WWII and The Great Depression, however written in a memoir creates a different read. If not for the true to life language of Harry's experiences, this story could be on school book shelves for students studying history.

I am hoping for a sequel as the ending leaves the reader intrigued. Glad you survived, Harry, to write this memoir. Hope to read more about you and Elfriede.

The Final Summit
Andy Andrews
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
078523120X, $19.99,

David Ponder has been chosen to lead The Final Summit for three reasons; he is the only Traveler currently alive, he has been judged to be effective in using wisdom he gathered as a Traveler, and he is the only Traveler to represent the common man. And so the story begins . . .

David has lost his way and forgot all he learned when he was a Traveler in time. The archangel, Gabriel, is God's servant, and is told to have David rediscover the path he has abandoned. It isn't only David who lost his way; however, all of humanity needs redirection.

Previous Time Travelers; Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, King David, and Joan of Arc, just to name a few, add to the discussion and help David answer this question: What does humanity need to do, individually and collectively, to restore itself to the pathway toward successful civilization?

The discussion leading to the answer is absolute genius in writing. It is impossible to put the book down until the problem is solved. Andy Andrews integrates the perfect amount of humor to keep his readers entertained. For example: Abraham Lincoln is reminiscing a time when he had dinner at the table where the discussion was held. He tells everyone the table was handmade, saying, "Of course, you know, the Boss's Son is a carpenter."

I recommend The Final Summit for readers of all ages. It was enjoyable and inspirational. A bonus is the historical figures dialogue where history comes alive.

Mary Crocco

Daniel's Bookshelf

The Bone Yard
Jefferson Bass
William Morrow
c/o Harper Collins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061806780, $24.99,

I have been selecting Jefferson Bass 'Body Farm' novels from their very first book Carved in Bone. I hope to finish all of them, as my extensive reading time permits. I usually get copies from the local bookstore, or any available source to make this great read connection. I enjoy the field of forensic science, and this adds additional understanding of these crime solving knowledge.

Angie St. Claire a forensic analyst from the Florida Department of Law Enfoncement visits Dr. Bill Brockton at the Body Farm where he does human-decomposition research at the University of Tennessee. She asks to help prove that her sister's death was not a suicide, but in fact a murder. Brockton's trip to consult on this assistance takes him to a course of discovery of two adolecent skulls ravaged by time and animals.This takes place in the location among the pine and live oaks Florida's panhandle. They prove upon discovery of his team, that the skulls were actually murdered with lethal fractures to them. The end results sends Dr. Brockton, Angie St. Claire, and Special Agent Stu Vickery on a search for the long-lost victims. The quest leads them to the ruins of the North Florida Boys' Reformatory, a nortorious juvenile dentention facility that met a fiery end more than fourty-years ago.

John Lescroart
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780525951766, $26.95,

I have been enjoyed reading my wife's favorite author John Lescroart, and I pick up a copy of his latest novel Damage. My wife places a higher priority time to read his novels. Damage exceeded expectations and further increased my desire to labelling him as one of the 'best authors'.

The Curtlees' are a powerful family in San Francisco, and these unscrupulous billionaires will do anything to protect themselves. This includes their convicted son from doing any additional long-term prison time. Ro Curtlee was convicted of rape and murder a decade ago. The fallout for those who put him there was swift and uncompromising. The jury foreman was fired from his job, and blacklisted in his industry. The lead prosecutor was pushed off the fast track, her dreams of becoming district attorney thwarted. The head homicide detective Abe Glitsky was reassigned to the police department's payroll office. All three eventually went ahead to rebuild their lives.

That case dredged back the bad past, when Ro Curtlee's lawyers won him a retrial, and he was so easily released from prison. The nightmare began all over as within twenty-four hours as a fire destroyed the star witness and her home from the first trial. Her abused remains were discovered in the house. A second fire claimed a participant in the case. Abe Glitsky believes Ro is involved, and he is out for the revenge to stay out of prison. The problem is that there is no real evidence to point this to a judge or the media, who are seemingly in Ro's corner. Abe has to work hard with his team to do their best to make sure Ro's potential attack doesn't put his own family in the cross-hairs like all those who step in the path of Ro and the Curtlees.

John Lescroart has several main series threading back and forth and sometimes he puts the characters together like Jeffery Deaver. Dismas Hardy and Abe Glitsky both have separate series with each of them appearing briefly in some novels. Earlier Lescroart wrote Sunburn, and the Auguste Lopa series. In total he has written 22 novels including Damage into the count. All of the ones I have read, and I will hope to catch up with as many as I can. I think he has done a great job with this latest one in his pursuit of justice theme. I plan to keep searching for more of his novels immensely enjoying his legal thrillers.

Daniel Allen

Deb's Bookshelf

The Pawnbroker
Glenn Stuart
Black Leaf Publishing
9781907407321, $12.99,

Imagine. You and your friend are riding your bikes and come upon a dilapidated old mansion. Naturally, you and he go into the old house to explore. Suddenly, you can't find your friend. When you come out, you start having weird dreams about two boys in another time. This is what happens to Jamie after leaving that old house. Why did Jamie start having these dreams and where did his friend go?

Night after night, Jamie has these dreams but they aren't always the same dream. They've always been about the two boys being told to steal from innocent people but now its worse. Now, Jamie witnesses a murder. What do these dreams mean and why is he having them?

Jamie and another friend, Sarah, visit the library to investigate. By reading old newspapers, going through city directories and indexes they find that all Jamie's dreams actually happened. The jewels that Jamie dreamt that Bert found in the mansion about are real. Even the murder really happened!

In this paranormal story about traveling through time in dreams, Jamie is terrified. The evil Pawnbroker crosses time and will stop at nothing to get the jewels for himself. Even if it means murdering more people!

Will Jamie be able to solve this paranormal mystery? Can he escape The Pawnbroker?

Ferry Tales
Brendan Gisby
Black Leaf Publishing
9781907407123 $10.99

Brendan Gisby has done it again! In this touching memoir, we're transported back to 1950/60's Scotland where the author grew up and are given a glimpse of his childhood.

I highly recommend this collection of short stories for anyone who enjoys travelling back to a simpler time. Both adults and young adults will like this humorous, sometimes sad but very relatable memoir.

In this collection of short stories, we meet his family and his friends and know everybody. If we don't know them personally, we're close to people very much like them. We suffer the hardships he and his family (and so many other families at the time) had to endure. We go on childhood adventures with him. We work alongside Mr. Gisby and his father. We even take his Dad's place at work at one point in the book.

While this reviewer was reading Ferry Tales, she couldn't help but think things like: "You'd think he's talking about my sister." Or, "I had a friend just like that." There were several times throughout the book when I'd think, "I used to do things like that!" What is best about this book is that you don't have to be from Scotland to relate to these stories or the cast of characters. Ferry Tales shows you throughout the book that people are the same the world over. Like Mr. Gisby's other books, the characters and places are painted so realistically that we can reach out and touch them.

If you would like to learn more about Mr. Gisby and his works just visit his website at: He also has two Facebook pages! Just sign in at and search for either Brendan Gisby, Scottish Author or Brendan Gisby.

Ferry Tales by Brendan Gisby is available in both paperback and Kindle formats. You can purchase Ferry Tales in several places. It can be found at (US), (UK), (CA). While you're at Amazon, why don't you pick it up to download for your Kindle? Ferry Tales can also be found for sale at

Deb Hockenberry

Edward's Bookshelf

Amanda Hocking
B003VD1GBA $8.99 (Paperback), $0.99 (Kindle)

If I didn't feel duty bound to review self-published gothic works, especially when they become incredibly popular, I probably wouldn't have reviewed this book. If I'd known when I started reading this book that by the time I finished it the author, Amanda Hocking, would go on to sign with St. Martin's Press for a $2 million four-book deal, and the film rights to her Trylle Trilogy (of which "Switched" is the first book) was going to be sold to Media Rights Capital, I definitely would not have reviewed it, because I want to spend my time on more under-represented yet higher quality works.

"Switched" (Amanda Hocking via Kindle Books, July 2010) is a Cinderella tale for the 21st century. It's a juvenile story about a teenage girl, Wendy, who happens to be a troll (They look just like everyone else, apparently.). Wendy was switched at birth in the hospital by the Trylles (Trylle being the collective term for trolls.) so she could grow up in a rich family and later be tracked down and taken back to the Trylle community where her inheritance would ultimately go to the Kingdom of Trylle, known as Forening. Only Wendy isn't any ordinary troll. Sure, she has psychic gifts just like all trolls, but in Forening she's also a princess, and her real mother, of course, is the queen of Forening.

I would like to say there's something to this story, but there really isn't. Wendy predictably develops a crush on her sexy captor (a troll tracker named Finn), and she goes through the pains of learning to be a princess after he takes her from her human family to her biological family in Forening. There she is lavished with attention, prestige, wealth, and admiration and is even the subject of a botched kidnapping by the troll enemies of Forening during a grand ball held in her honor. Yet in spite of all that, she decides she doesn't want to be a princess. She doesn't like the way her queen-mom does business, and she misses her human family, which consists of her brother, aunt, and the boy she was changed with at birth whom she finds in Forening.

Unfortunately, her changeling mother isn't in the picture anymore because she took a butcher's knife to Wendy when she was a little girl, knowing full well that Wendy wasn't her real daughter, or even a human being for that matter. She refused to accept that she had given birth to Wendy, and though her changeling mother was right all along, she was put in a mental institution nonetheless. If the story's starting to sound familiar, it should.

The rip offs in this plot from modern movies like "Twilight," "The Princess Diaries," and "The Changeling" (staring Angelina Jolie) make for a very unoriginal work that even on its own is downright boring to read. At best it's an escapist fantasy piece for young girls with low self-esteem. And perhaps that's its charm, because there's no denying that Amanda Hocking's books, and this trilogy in particular, have sold very well. She's become a multi-millionaire from them.

But I have to say "Switched" does nothing to advance the cause of modern gothic literature. Even the uncommon use of trolls that look just like humans comes off as a desperate, somewhat silly attempt to avoid using all the other over-farmed mythical creatures, such as vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches, etc., that have already been cashed in on by other authors.

As well, the reading grade level of the writing is very low, and this will do nothing to improve the minds of the young girls who read this book. But Hocking has made a pile of cash in no time at all self-publishing it, and for some authors that's what writing is all about. Perhaps I'm no one to judge.

Nevertheless, I'm giving this book my lowest rating, one ghost, not because the writing is bad or the formatting is bad, because that isn't the case. In fact, during the first half of the book I found Hocking to be somewhat witty and pithy, and I liked the way the queen of trolls really acts like a troll by being curmudgeonly, stealing money, and running scams on humans with changelings. What warrants such a low rating is that the book harms the genre in terms of respect. If it were the opposite, if it were original and moved gothic literature forward, I'd give it my highest rating. But in the end, it's just another fat-dripping burger added to an already bloated menu of McGothic tripe available to readers who don't know any better than to consume it.

Darker than Night
Brandon Massey
Dark Corner Publishing
B004TSOT8S, $4.99,

"Darker than Night: A Collection of Horror and Suspense Short Stories" by Brandon Massey (Dark Corner Publishing, March 24, 2011) contains some of the best gothic short stories I've read in a long time. They're every bit as original as the stories by Stephen King in his collections, "Night Shift," "Skeleton Crew," or "Just After Sunset," but Massey's stories come with a mocha flavor.

Brian Massey, now living and writing from Atlanta, Georgia, is one of only a few African Americans working in the horror genre, and the tales he spins in "Darker than Night" feature African American characters. But none of the stories excludes anyone of any race from reading and enjoying them, because he draws his stories out of the events that happen in everyone's everyday life. Okay, maybe not the vampire and werewolf stories - those don't happen in anyone's life, but Massey certainly makes you believe they could.

Unfortunately, I can't go into each story in this review, but four of my favorites include "The Sting," a story about a pompous lawyer who meets his match at a Mississippi backwoods family reunion. I guarantee you'll remember this story every time you see an old witch hanging around--or for that matter a bee buzzing around your backyard.

In "Granddad's Garage," we find only those who can appreciate history without having to plunder every bit of it for cash end up being blessed with an incredibly long life. In this superbly written story we encounter a man sorting through the garage of his recently deceased grandfather who really was older than the hills.

Then there is "The Last Train Home," this is one of the suspense stories, and it will keep you creeped out on the edge of your seat from the first meeting of Tanya and Jamal until the deadly last. Anyone who's ever overlooked a character flaw for the sake of a pretty face will want to read this one and learn its lesson.

Finally, "The Monster" will make you long for such a beast under your bed. A monster to one little boy may well be an angel to another. Who says evil has to be all bad? The dark humorous disgust and nail-biting suspense in this story mix with a great results. I think you'll find you really can't stop reading this one once you start. Thank God it's short!

Brandon Massey is the author of "The Other Brother," "Vicious," "Don't Ever Tell," "Cornered," and his latest novel, "Covenant." I haven't read those novels yet, but based on my introduction to his work through "Darker than Night," my guess is that those would be a great read, too.

Nevertheless, you'll want a copy of "Darker than Night" on your Kindle for those times when only a great short story will do. I'm glad I got mine. If this book were available in hardcover, I'd buy it again.

Edward Gordon

Gary's Bookshelf

Keith Richards
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780316036177, $27.95

I did not know too much of the behind the scenes of the Rolling Stones group until I read this book. It is amazing that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have for so long produced excellent rock n roll hits, and they are not really close friends. Richards depicts Jagger as a control freak and very competitive on who's songs get on an album. I was amazed how candid Richards is about his constant drug use. Richards has also had an amazing life of situations that could have killed him. All I can say is someone is really looking out for this guy.

Batman Murder at Wayne Manor
Duane Swierczynski, author
David Lapham, illustrator
Quirk Books
215 Church Street Philadelphia PA 19106
9781594742378, $24.95,

This is another tale of Batman that has different clues throughout the book to help readers solve the crime that takes place in the story. The novel moves at a very fast pace to its final revealing ending. I had a lot of fun trying to solve the case.

Cross Fire
James Patterson
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780316036177, $27.95,

As Alex Cross plans to get married, he puts his plans on hold when he is called into a case. Also some past enemies return to taunt him and he has a fight with an FBI agent on whose jurisdiction the case falls under. As always, the pace is rapid with interesting characters and many conflicts for Cross to resolve. Patterson is at the top of the list of thriller writers.

Rockhound Science Mysteries 10th Anniversary Collection
Mark H. Newhouse
9781456499426, $9.99,

For the first time books 1, 2, and 3 of the series are together in one collection. The nine stories are mysteries for kids that are designed to have them think and find the clues of the story that lead detective Rockhound to solve the case. The tales are enjoyable reading for adults as well, who can also take the tests to see if they can find the clues as. I would love to see more tales of detective Rockhound.

Dead Air
Mary Kennedy
Obsidian Mystery
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451228772, $6.99,

This is the first of a series of novels about talk show host Maggie Walsh. She is a psychologist who begins a radio program on a South Florida radio station. She works also with the police department to solve cases that happen to people she becomes involved with. The story is a light hearted mystery that moves along at a steady pace with lots of interesting characters.

The Amazing Captain Tag Book # 3
Art & Story by Don and Lisa Eppersom II
Legacy Publishing Services Inc
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park, Florida 32789
9781934449875, $12.95,

This is the third installment of the delightful series of Captain Tag. Like the other two books, it is a fun read that has an amusing lead character who gets into all kinds of situations

The Midnight Room
Ed Gorman
Leisure Books
c/o Dorchester Publishing
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843961089, $7.99,

Gorman is back with a terrific thriller that moves along to its final pages with great writing and fully developed characters. Gorman is one of the best writers around today

Heat Wave
Richard Castle
Hyperion Books
77 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023
9781401310400, $7.99

This is the first of a series of novels about the hit TV series. The novel races along the same way as the show, and is a very enjoyable fast paced fun mystery.

The Tickle Tree
L. W. Lewis
Red Pumpkin Press
306 Carrera Dr. Lady Lake, Florida 32159
9780971157231 15.95

These are funny poems written for and about kids and their everyday lives. The writing is so good that not only children should read and enjoy them. Adults can have a great time too, laughing out loud at the entertaining perceptions the author has.

Poop Butt Booger & Snot Poem Jokes You Will Like a Lot
L. W. Lewis
Red Pumpkin Press
306 Carrera Dr. Lady Lake, Florida 32159
9780971157231 15.95

I have to admit I was not too enthusiastic about the title but inside like her "Tickle Tree" collection there are some wonderful poems for people of all ages to enjoy about a lot of simple subjects and yes, there are some that apply to the title so if the reader wants to pass on those that's perfectly ok.

Gary Roen

Gloria's Bookshelf

An Uninvited Ghost
E.J. Copperman
Berkley Prime Crime
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425240588 $7.99

Alison Kerby returns in the second in the new series by E.J. Copperman. Alison, a single mother of a precocious ten-year-old daughter, after her divorce from "The Swine" returned to the town where she grew up, Harbor Haven on the Jersey Shore, purchased a house over a century old, and hopes to live out her dream of running a guest house. Those plans changed somewhat after Alison discovered that the previous owner of the house, "Maxie," is still there - sort of. Actually, it's Maxie's ghost who is still there, as well as that of a young detective named Paul, who had been hired shortly before death threats had been carried out against her, with both of them becoming murder victims. Alison, her mother and daughter seem to be the only ones who can see them. But on the positive side, word has gotten around, and the 'haunted guesthouse' is now being booked by a tour agent for senior citizens interested in what is billed as a "unique experience," promising two-a-day appearances by the ghostly inhabitants. Maxie and Paul have no problem with that, especially as they are apparently incapable of leaving the house.

The group of seniors is an interesting one, including as it does a lust-filled couple who hardly ever leave their room, and two gentlemen enamored of young women and cold beer [one of whom has excellent taste in reading material]. Several more characters are added to the mix: The cast and crew of a 'reality' tv show, "Down the Shore," with everything that implies, who take up residence during the filming, and a blind ghost who hires Maxie [with her newly attained private investigator's license] to find out if he unintentionally injured [killed?] an elderly woman in a seaside mansion [also seemingly haunted], as he suspected he had. The woman is found unharmed, but is not so lucky after she bonds with Alison and visits her that night, when she is apparently killed right before the eyes of Alison and nearly the entire roster of guests [human and otherwise], one of whom it would seem must be the murderer.

My delight in meeting Alison et al again completely overcame my normal reluctance to read anything dealing with the paranormal. The novel is funny and charming, with a mystery which has a satisfying resolution, and an engaging protagonist who is not easily daunted. [I overcame the temptation to make a rather obvious pun, also with great reluctance.]

Highly recommended.

Fifth Victim
Zoe Sharp
Allison & Busby
c/o International Publishers Marketing
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
9780749009328 19.99 BPS

[This title is presently only available in/through the UK/Canada, not yet available in the US]

Charlie Fox [nee Charlotte Foxcroft] is a "take no prisoners" kinda gal. Now nearing thirty, she takes on a new assignment for her company, Armstrong-Meyer, a "close-protection" [read "bodyguard"] organization: to protect a young woman from kidnapping. The preemptive action by the girl's mother is due to the fact that three of her friends have been kidnapped, a fourth is abducted in the early pages of the book, and the fear is that she will become the titular fifth victim. The families of all those involved are for the most part obscenely wealthy, with the requisite enormous homes [or, more accurately, estates] outside Southampton, up towards the eastern end of Long Island, multiple sports cars, private jets, yachts, etc.; the payment of ransom has not always ensured the safe return of the victim.

Charlie needs the distraction of this assignment, inasmuch her lover and 'soulmate,' Sean Meyer, lies in a coma, his prognosis uncertain, following the events that ended the last book in the series, "Fourth Day," a near-fatal shooting three months prior

The author's background - thoroughly familiar with rifles and for that matter every type of gun imaginable, equally at home flying a helicopter and light aircraft as on the back of a horse and piloting a yacht - uniquely qualifies her to create a protagonist capable of getting into, and out of, one very challenging situation after another, and providing the reader with an exciting, eminently readable thriller along the way. The tension of the situation confronting Charlie in this entry, with Sean's life, or death, an uncertain constant, only adds to the suspense inherent in this well-written novel.


The Silenced
Brett Battles
Dell Books
c/o The Random HousePublishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780440245674, $4.99,

Jonathan Quinn makes a welcome return in this, the fourth book in this terrific series. Quinn is a freelancer known as a 'cleaner' whose job is to discreetly clean up crime scenes and the occasional body after the always possible bloodshed. He is known to have an ethical streak. On the other hand, we are told "It wasn't Quinn's job to stand in judgment. He was only there to make the condemned disappear. It wasn't that he was amoral, but he'd learned over the years that it was often hard to tell where the line between right and wrong was drawn, and sometimes there didn't seem to be a line at all."

As always, the story is an international one, with settings as varied as New Jersey, Los Angeles, Maine, and London. Working with him, as usual, is Nate, with whom he has an apprentice/mentor relationship, and his lover, Orlando, a beautiful Asian woman, about whom the author says: "Orlando was not the name she'd been born with. Like most in the secret world, she'd taken on a new identity, burying who she had been." That is no less true for Quinn, whose real identity, heretofore undisclosed, becomes a focal point, as both his actual name and those of his family members becoming known to the wrong people, to disastrous effect.

Quinn has been given multiple albeit similar tasks from a single client. When Quinn et al arrive at the first location where the object of his ministrations awaits, he finds that he is not the only one on the scene; so also at the next location. Is there more than one opposing team? Then, oddly, he is asked to remove a body from a wall in a London building. The odd thing about it is that the body was hidden in that wall over two decades earlier. There is suspense aplenty, and twists and turns as Quinn tries to determine who exactly is friend and who foe. One lesson is certain, however, as the author says: "For the right amount of cash, some people will give anything away."

Highly recommended.

Passions of the Dead
L.J. Sellers
Spellbinder Press
P.O. Box 23134, Eugene, OR 97402
9780979518287, $13.99,

In her latest book in the Detective Jackson series, L.J. Sellers goes beyond the headlines about the economic crisis by showing the human side of that equation, and the myriad unexpected and unforeseeable ripple effects and the desperation stemming from the "downturn" [read "collapse"] of the economy. In this particular case in point, the effects upon the town of Eugene, Oregon and its environs include job layoffs and a dearth of alternative ways of making a living and paying the rent, even to the extent of coming layoffs in the Eugene Police Dept., where Wade Jackson is told that two detectives, one from vice and one from his unit, Violent Crimes, will be cut before the week ends.

In the midst of that personal concern, the squad is called out to investigate what appears to be a home invasion which has left three family members dead and one seriously wounded. Were the family members just random targets? Or is something more personal at play here? Can it possibly be an escalation of a recent spate of carjackings in the area?

The author has again raised contemporary issues in a suspenseful tale of families and their complexities, examining the ramifications of a world struggling with financial uncertainty. She cunningly places flashback scenes going back a couple of months, strategically placed along the way of the present-day narrative, gradually bringing the reader up to speed to the date of the attacks. Another winner from L.J. Sellers, and recommended.

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

The Hadrian Memorandum
Allan Folsom
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765361332, $9.99,

The Hadrian Memorandum is an action/adventure suspense novel with a near impossible hero. The actual events in the book are closer to reality than fantasy so it is more grounded than many stories of this type. At 635 pages, it is longer and more wordy than your typical action tale. Because it takes the middle ground in this genre, it should appeal to a wider audience than other stories in this market.

Nicholas Martin is a landscape architect in England. His original identity was a police detective in the US. Before this story, he became friends with the current President of the US in a situation that required that he leave his old life and take on a new identity and profession. The President has received information through a world renowned German writer about a problem in Africa. The German writer's brother is a priest in the country and has information about civil fighting and the possible involvement of a multi-million dollar US oil company and very possibly others in the government. The President needs someone outside of normal government channels to investigate the claims and talk to the priest. He calls on his old friend Nicholas Martin.

Martin embarks on a dangerous odyssey when after his arrival in the African country a civil war breaks out and the priest is murdered. He runs into the jungle and barely escapes the killers only to be marked as someone who might know where the priest hid his proof of what was happening to the people in his country. He has to fight, scheme and finesse his way from the war torn country and across Europe collecting the bits of proof the priest and German writer have left behind. On his trail is a team of killers with the backing of a million dollar oil company and the covert help of the CIA. Behind Martin is a path littered with bodies stretching across two continents as the killers attempt to hide what he uncovers from the world.

The Hadrian Memorandum is a fun relaxing action/adventure. It has enough strengths that you won't be disappointed reading it. Its weaknesses can be found in its epilogue where Folsom takes fifteen pages for a two page wrap-up. Many readers, when they finish Hadrian, will probably search the used bookshelves to find the two previous tales with this set of characters. The storytelling is enjoyable enough to look for more.

The Mathematical Mechanic
Mark Levi
Princeton University Press
41 William Street, Princeton, NJ 08540
9780691140209, $19.95,

The Mathematical Mechanic tries to fill a niche that has been neglected in contemporary education. In the past, mechanics or physics was part of mathematics. Over the centuries, mathematics has become a theoretical science with just a passing nod to its mechanical past. In old writings from Galileo to Archimedes, you will find mathematics sprinkled with, and frequently built with, mechanical processes. Levi has taken numerous mathematical concepts and used physics or mechanics to prove them.

The book claims that a minimum of actual math is needed to understand and work through its pages. This is both a fact and a lie. You really don't need a large background of math for the proofs but the layout and logic is not enough for the average reader. The reader has to build in their mind ideal machines and physics structures using very simple and minimal line drawings that are explained with a sparse sprinkling of mathematical sentences using terms and short cuts most familiar to trained mathematicians. To be for the general public, the text needs some graphic art to help the reader visualize the different devices and methods used in the text followed by a more comprehensive explanation that eases the reader through the steps need for the proofs using everyday language. As it now stands, the text would be best used by teachers as a supplement for themselves or for any classes that they might be currently teaching.

The fascinating fact that is brought out again and again in the book is that, although it might take pages of thought to set up the mechanical device to prove a single mathematical concept, once that work is done the proof is frequently just a single line. So many math concepts, such as the Pythagorean Theorem, are simply mathematical reflections of the many aspects of the physical universe around us.

The Mathematical Mechanic is a great supplement for a math teacher, engineer or physicist for their classes and is even a good adjunct for their own personal knowledge. It just doesn't hold up for the general educated reader which it is being marketed to.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Harwood's Bookshelf

Adventures in Freedom
Kaz Dziamka
POB 80212, Albuquerque, NM 87198-0212
9781450753005, $16.00

I found as much in Kaz Dziamka's book with which I could agree as disagree. That surprised me. For the last two years of his tenure as editor of American Rationalist, when he started including essays he had written himself in every issue, his contributions struck me as ranging from having no relevance to the subjects for which the magazine was designed, to indefensible nonsense. In contrast, much of Adventures in Freedom makes sense.

For example (p. 39), "It would be difficult to find more uneducated, more uninformed, and more superstitious people anywhere in Western democracies." The statistics with which he backs up that assertion - 25 percent of Americans continue to believe that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks; 18 percent think the sun revolves around the earth; and about 45 million Americans cannot read - are frightening. And I have many times expressed views identical with his conclusion (p. 40), that, "I cannot contain the rage that is again exploding within me, a rage against our insane, boring educational system that kills intellectual freedom and all creativity so that the masses can be made... to study trash and waste time." Dziamka bases his findings on American education, whereas mine are based on the Canadian system; but they are mirror images of the same babysitting institutions, designed and operated by and for unteachables, in which teaching has been illegal since World War Two. As he states (p. 45), "one should not assume that even English teachers and writers of English composition books actually know what they are teaching and talking about." But he expresses views on the teaching of grammar with which I will only say I disagree.

Dziamka's comments on America's politics also parallel my own. In a paper written in 2005, he noted (p. 85) that, "The prospect of having to live another four years in Bush's regime was unbearably nauseating.... The re-election of Bush could not possibly be happening. I kept asking obsessively: how could this evil moron have been returned to power after all the sickening crimes he had committed? Only cowardly stooges, enslaved by their political overlords, can be so subhuman in their civic responsibility as to elect such a pathetic, worthless idiot as its president." Since Bush won a majority of the popular vote in 2004, Dziamka does not bother mentioning that Bush was never legally elected as president. His appointment by five Republican judges in 2000 was an act of unmitigated treason; and only vote-rigging in Ohio in 2004 gave him a majority of Electoral College votes.

On the role of the Bush Taliban in maximizing ignorance (p. 53): "Another three years of the fundamentalist rule by the Christian Ayatollah Ashcroft and I, too, may believe that Jesus is King, that the earth is flat, and that the universe was created by God 6000 years ago." Is anyone unaware that the Tanakh (in 11 places), the Bible (14 places), and the Koran (at least 5 places) unambiguously affirm that the earth is flat?

And he makes an obvious point that, while the difference between a Democrat and a Republican has increased exponentially since the book's chapters were written, and Democrats are even more assuredly the lesser evil, the difference is less real than imagined (p. 87). "Don't tell me that I have choices: Huckabee, Obama, Clinton, Edwards.... They are all Christers, they all believe in Christ, 'God's son' - and this means they are all stupid.... If you do believe that 'Christ is your savior' then you are as intellectually sophisticated as a four-year-old child who believes in Santa Claus." Given the quantity and quality of falsifying evidence that is no further away from anyone in the Western world than the nearest university library, Christers, along with Muhammadans and Mosesites, are indeed intellectually challenged.

By changing a dependent phrase in the Second Amendment into an adverbial clause of reason, Dziamka does not make the meaning any clearer to persons who have the functional intelligence to understand what the Amendment meant to its composers. But he makes it impossible for even the Neanderthal Rednecks Association to go on pretending that it does not mean what it clearly does mean (p. 50): "Because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of the state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." In other words (p. 51), "It means that, yes, you are allowed to keep and bear arms but only if you are the member of a well-regulated militia."

In his "Interview with an American Terrorist" (pp. 79-82), Dziamka quotes passages written 150 years ago and presents them as answers to questions he composed retroactively. He does not identify the "terrorist" as Henry David Thoreau, but does reveal that his identity can be ascertained by googling any passage from the alleged interview. The problem is that nowhere in Thoreau's quoted words is there any statement that a modern reader could mistake for something spoken by the likes of Timothy McVeigh.

Dziamka's review of "A Silly Story about Stupid Sex" (pp. 110-111) rightly criticizes the story's glorification of unsafe, unhygienic, unwashed copulation. But he reveals his own godphuqing (the source of all sexual superstitions, even among nontheists), when he writes, "The message of the story is unabashed, in-your-face advocacy of sexual passion whether it be adultery, fornication, or any spontaneous instinct-driven copulation." He is clearly unaware that the original and therefore real meanings of "adultery" and "fornication" are very different from the way brainwashed generations now use the words. Adultery was invented as a fraudulent-impregnation taboo, not a nonconsequential recreation taboo. Fornication meant copulation dedicated to the wrong deity. And copulation is not a human instinct. It is behavior that must be learned.

Dziamka has beliefs about pre-Columbian native Americans that suggest a one-sided view of history analogous to a student in a class I was simultaneously taking, who wrote an essay on White/Native history based solely on Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee, ignoring the other side of the coin - and there is another side. He writes (p. 1), that "nothing whatsoever in the present American political system or anywhere else on the planet - can compare with the kind of individual freedom enjoyed by the members of the Iroquois Confederacy or, for that matter, by the members of countless other Native American Nations." American history is not my field, so I will not say that he is wrong. But since his views diametrically oppose the professor of the only American history course I ever took (because it was available at a convenient time), I will say only that I am not prepared to take his word on the issue.

Dziamka thinks that only a pacifist can be a true secular humanist. In defence of such a dogma, he states (p. 97), "I use 'pacifism' in the sense of 'the belief that international disputes can be settled by arbitration rather than war.'" I have nothing against that kind of pacifism. Of course war is an absolute last resort. But the moderate, reasonable view stated in this book does not echo the position he took in American Rationalist. He published, with no disclaimer, an essay by a rabid, intractable, dogmatic pacifist who denounced all war, including the wars of self-defence that Dziamka here endorses ("Defensive war, yes"). But his reaction to a letter objecting to that essay indicated that it totally represented his own views. Has he since changed his perspective? His listing the pacifist as a "contributing editor" of one issue of AR, and de-listing him from the following issue, is consistent with such a possibility. But equally likely is that he does not grasp that he is trying to argue simultaneously for "A" and "not-A".

He declares, "Secular humanists ... must be unanimous in their unqualified rejection and revulsion of pre-emptive war and all the violence and 'collateral damage' it involves." He asks (p. 99), "What is wrong with 'peace' and 'pacifism'?" as if they were the same thing. And he argues (p. 100) that, "Secular humanism is more than pacifism, but without being grounded in pacifism, such humanism is not worth a single editorial in Free Inquiry or elsewhere." Reminder: a pacifist is a person who rejects all war, including defensive war. Even Neville Chamberlain was not a pacifist. And because of his eye-of-the-beholder interpretation of Christopher Hitchens' refusal to bend over and be rectum-rammed by the likes of Osama bin Laden, and Hitchens' willingness to resort to whatever amount of force might be necessary in order to defend himself and others against an aggressor, Dziamka takes it upon himself to assert that Hitchens is not a humanist. Sure. And Mel Gibson asserts that the pope is not a Catholic.

Adventures in Freedom is self-published. That is neither rare nor reprehensible. More books are self-published through Print on Demand publishers such as Xlibris, Authorhouse, and Createspace, than by traditional publishers who stand to lose enormous amounts when they print thousands of copies of a book by, for example, Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter, that will be returned unsold. Self-publishing through POD companies can cost as little as $300. What surprises me is that Dziamka ignored the POD publishers and had his book privately printed, at a cost that I would guess to have been at least ten times higher. Perhaps if the first printing sells out, he will go POD on the next edition. But judging by his last page, that is not likely to happen. He indicates that he is contemplating giving up on civilization and retiring to a backwoods shack in Canada's untenanted woodlands. Good luck with that.

The Unbelievers
S. T. Joshi
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst NY 14228-2119
9781616142360, $19.00,

In the introduction to "The Unbelievers: The Evolution of Modern Atheism", S. T. Joshi singles out (p. 15) Dinesh D'Sousa as the epitome of "a right-wing political commentator who is so out of his depth in matters of philosophy and science that he presents a better case against religious belief than any atheist could." A better example of a poseur who did the same thing would have been Alister McGrath, whose status as a former Oxford don would refute any pretence that Joshi was setting up a straw man. Fortunately, by ignoring McGrath at this point, Joshi enabled himself to give McGrath the full treatment in his chapter about Richard Dawkins.

Before considering the meat of Joshi's book, let me get a couple of minor quibbles out of the way. He mentions (p. 9) "the main monotheistic religions - Christianity, Judaism, and Islam." I have never heard anyone describe the religion of ancient Greece as a monotheism. But the Greek religion had a paramount god named Zeus, who outranked all minor deities. In what way does that differ from modern religions, in which a paramount god outranks a host of second-ranking gods called angels and devils and third-ranking gods called saints, all of which conform to the definition of a god by being immortal and having the capacity to respond to flattery and bribes? As for a religion headed by Big Daddy, Junior and the Spook being monotheistic, anyone who believes that should have his kindergarten graduation revoked. (I do not suggest that Joshi believes it. No doubt he is simply trying to be politically correct.) And he refers (p. 10) to "the Islamic belief that their scripture was somehow dictated by God." Again he is succumbing to political correctness, going along with the pretence that "God", "Yahweh" and "Allah" are interchangeable names for the same deity. Only Christians are taught to accept such an equation. All but the most Westernized Moslems reject it. And he consistently refers to Paul of Tarsus as "St. Paul," as if the virtual deification of a dead man by a pope had objective validity. And after pointing out that religion's sacred writings unequivocally endorse the legitimacy and morality of slavery, he then quotes (p. 244) from a translation that falsifies "slaves" into "servants." Is he unfamiliar with The Protestant Bible Correctly Translated (World Audience, 2010) which, among other corrections of passages intentionally falsified in religion-authorized bibles to further the pretence that biblical authors believed what modern religions teach, calls a slave a slave?

Joshi offers an explanation for not discussing the writings of Robert Ingersoll, Camus and Sartre (p. 16). But he makes no mention, even in passing, of Victor Stenger. But of the Big Five misnamed "new atheists," only Stenger offered a logical, reasoned proof that "God", defined as having mutually exclusive properties, cannot and therefore does not exist.

So much for the down side. The rest of The Unbelievers identifies some of the authors responsible for the current situation, which is (p. 14), "Atheism has won. The intellectual classes are, if not explicitly atheistic, certainly nonreligious and in many cases antireligious." That is reality. And if Karen Armstrong (p. 15) can delude herself that her doubletalk supports rather than helps refute The Case for God, she is further evidence that authors of books endorsing the god hypothesis are not sparking on all neurons.

Thomas Henry Huxley was as much as anybody an originator of the skeptical evaluation of religion that led to the practise achieving mainstream status when expanded by Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, Hitchens, and Stenger. He coined the term, "agnosticism," a defensible position at a time when the falseness of religion was thought to be unprovable, but indefensible now that religion has been disproven. According to Joshi (p. 19), Huxley "rapidly embraced the theory of evolution and used it as a springboard for the establishment of a purely secular worldview.... Huxley, indeed, can be said to have been instrumental in the transition of English science from an aristocracy of class to an aristocracy of intellect."

I had never heard of Leslie Stephen (father of Virginia Woolf). If I saw that as a reason why Joshi should have ignored him, I would be sufficiently prudent not to say so.

John Stuart Mill's (p. 55) "early advocacy of equal rights for women, including woman suffrage, helped lay the groundwork that ultimately led to the overthrow of legal, social, and political barriers for women in both England and the United States." He "helped establish the intellectual cogency of such issues as the free discussion of religion, the separation of church and state, and the development of a secular ethic."

Friedrich Nietzsche is best known for his creation of the Ubermensch concept, and his declaration that "God is dead." Joshi argues that Ubermensch should be translated as "overman" rather than "superman," and elaborates (p. 80) that, "his superman concept emphatically applies to individuals and not races." In explaining his opposition to "faith," Nietzsche wrote (p. 89) that, "Faith after all, nowadays means not wanting to know what is true; as a result, to become a believer is merely to turn oneself into the adherent of a quasi-political party - and 'the party man necessarily becomes a liar.'"

The chapters on Mark Twain, H. L. Mencken, and H. P. Lovecraft simply reiterate points Joshi made in his books about them, What is Man? and Other Irreverent Essays by Mark Twain; H. L. Mencken on Religion; and several about Lovecraft.

Clarence Darrow is probably best know today as the real person on whom Spencer Tracy's character in the movie, Inherit the Wind, was based. He so demolished William Jennings Bryan's defence of Tennessee's anti-evolution law, that he is widely believed to have been the proximate cause of Bryan's breakdown and speedy death. Yet he failed to convince a creationist jury that Scopes should be acquitted, and to this day hardcore creationists refuse to concede that Darwin's theory of evolution is as fully proven as Newton's theory of gravity. Go figure.

Bertrand Russell was successfully prevented from teaching at the City College of New York in 1940-41 by a claque of preachers because, according to Joshi (p. 256), "the opposition to him stemmed not so much from his atheism but rather from what was perceived to be his advocacy of free love and other sexual irregularities." Whether Russell advocated unsafe practices in a pre-pill, pre-penicillin society, Joshi does not make clear. What is clear is that nothing has changed. "Free love," meaning indulgence in safe, responsible, consensual, considerate, nonconsequential recreation without a permit from a sky pilot, continues to be denigrated as a violation of morality even by nontheists who do not grasp that the only sane definition of morality is "the conscious avoidance of all behavior that unnecessarily hurts a nonconsenting victim."

Russell rebutted the argument (p. 161) that, "a belief in God is helpful to one's psychological well-being." He reasoned that, "So far as this is true, it is a coward's argument. Nobody but a coward would consciously live in a fool's paradise." He was right in thinking that only a coward would need the mind-deadening opiate of an afterlife belief to overcome his terror of death and get him through the day without having to be institutionalized and diapered. But he seems to have underestimated the number (an estimated 25%) of godworshippers who are incurable precisely because they are moral cowards. And he drew attention (p. 158) to the absurdity of a god that possessed powers it never used: "Do you think that, if you were granted omnipotence and omniscience and millions of years to perfect your world, you could produce nothing better than the Ku Klux Klan or the Fascists?"

"Madalyn Murray O'Hair ... has always been a bit of an embarrassment to the atheist community." Unfortunately Joshi's opinion on that point (p. 167) is correct. O'Hair "boasted that she was both the 'most hated woman in America' (probably true) and the leading atheist in the nation (a dubious assertion) [who] caused many to believe that she may have hurt the atheist cause more than she helped it. I think, however, that an impartial assessment will conclude that on balance her life and work were substantially more beneficial than otherwise to the cause of both religious freedom and the propagation of atheism."

For all of her negative qualities, including her vicious intolerance of any member of her organization who dared to disagree with her, a quality that contributed to her eventual murder, O'Hair was the prime mover in the lawsuit that convinced the Supreme Court to declare prayer in public schools unconstitutional. Joshi concludes (p. 179) that, "In spite of fleeting attempts to reinstate prayer in schools, it can be safely assumed that this battle has now been decisively won. It remains O'Hair's most notable legacy, and it is one of which any of us would be proud."

Gore Vidal wrote essays criticizing religion in general and Christianity in particular. But the main basis for his inclusion on Joshi's book is his novels. For example (p. 184), in Messiah, "Vidal is therefore likening St. Paul to a Madison Avenue con artist who spread the word for purely self-serving reasons." Also (p. 186), "As for St. Paul, he 'outdid all the quacks and cheats that ever existed anywhere.'" But Paul was not Messiah's only target: "Vidal has also written a remarkably prescient fable about the rapidity with which religious fanaticism can overcome a nation and a world that consists of largely uneducated and easily indoctrinated individuals. His prophecy would, in a sense, come true a quarter of a century later with the rise of the religious right."

A character in Vidal's novel, Julian (p. 185) stated that, "The malice of a true Christian attempting to destroy an opponent is something unique in the world. No other religion ever considered it necessary to destroy others because they did not share the same beliefs.... No evil ever entered the world quite so vividly or on such a scale as Christianity did." A generation later Vidal might have been obliged to recognize that the same is true of Islam. But that does not make his evaluation of Christianity any less valid.

Joshi summarizes (p. 193), "Precisely because Vidal has chosen to express his views in novels rather than essays or treatises, his influence may well be more enduring than that of even the most accessible philosopher." I get the impression that Joshi does not share Mark Twain's astute definition of a philosopher as a blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat that it not there. If there is a difference between a philosopher and a science fiction author, it must be a very subtle difference.

"Richard Dawkins ... is perhaps the leading contemporary advocate for atheism in the world today.... Aside from Thomas Henry Huxley, he is the one figure discussed in this book who has been a practicing scientist for decades and who has made lasting contributions to his chosen field." (p. 195) While books have been written to rebut Harris and Hitchens, only books attempting to rebut Dawkins have excreted arguments that prove the insanity of the god delusion even more effectively than did Dawkins himself.

And that brings us to Alister McGrath, author of The Dawkins Delusion. As Joshi tells it (p. 212), "The overall effect of McGrath's little book ... is distressingly similar to a little boy kicking the shins of a hulking football player and thinking that he has thereby defeated his opponent. If this is the best that Dawkins's opponents can do, then he has very little to worry about." He goes on (p. 214) to criticize "McGrath's intellectual desperation." My own review of McGrath's books was less flattering. Joshi also quotes (p. 199) the evolutionary throwback, Ann Coulter: "I defy any of my co-religionists to tell me they do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell." That statement may be the definitive confession of the difference between the godphuqt and the sane.

Joshi cites some of Dawkins's most telling observations (p. 196-7): "Dawkins maintains - and proves with overwhelming arguments in his book - that natural selection is the only theory that fully accounts for the appearance of design in creatures, but he specifies that natural selection has no overriding 'purpose' ... so that it is 'a blind watchmaker.' ... Those mutations that are evolutionarily beneficial contribute to the survival of those that have them." And (p. 204) he quotes Dawkins's argument that, "If someone credits something to God, generally what it means is that they haven't a clue, or they're attributing it to an unreachable, unknowable sky-fairy."

Joshi disagrees with Dawkins on some points on which I lack the expertise to determine who is right. But he also disagrees on points on which I side with Joshi. For example, in disputing Dawkins's explanation for the origin of a concept espoused by all religions, Joshi hypothesizes (p. 206) that, "The existence of an immortal soul separate from the body in all likelihood derived from witnessing the figures of dead people in dreams." Also (p. 207), "Dawkins maintains that there may be some 'universal moral grammar' that drives most of us to have relatively similar moral outlooks regardless of what religion we believe in, if any.... This conclusion is, frankly, unsound." I agree that, while Dawkins may have thought he was conforming to Occam's razor, he was not.

I also agree that (p. 206-7), "he places a misguided emphasis on what he terms memes.... The meme concept seems unwieldy and even misleading.... I suggest that Dawkins drop the notion of memes entirely: it is simply not a useful or convincing tool to explain what he wishes to explain." And I could have written the following (pp. 215-6) myself: "Whatever the possible shortcomings of The God Delusion, it remains one of the soundest and most competent expositions of the 'case for atheism' ever written."

Joshi writes (p. 231), "I do not wish to be too hard on Sam Harris. His books are written with a passion and perspicacity that are admirable and worth emulation." Yet his chapter on Harris reads like something a tenured professor might have written about an undergraduate essay. As for his contention (p. 220) that, "If Harris were less of a scientist and more of a literary critic, he might not have succumbed so readily to the intentional fallacy," I can only say: Duh?

Harris is quoted (p. 220) as writing that, "men like bin Laden actually believe what they say they believe. They believe the literal truth of the Koran." Joshi's comment is, "Well, maybe not." While it is true that no one can know what someone else is thinking, the comment strikes me as a petty quibble. He continues (p. 225), "He apparently has no option but to conclude that such people are, essentially, insane." But he acknowledges (p. 223) that, "Harris does present a compelling case that the Koran is in itself a bloody text - that it frequently, even unremittingly, advocates violence toward 'infidels' and 'unbelievers.' ... 'Slay them wherever you find them.'" He does recognize (p. 218) that, "Harris is to be praised for looking unflinchingly at the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and stating that religion, and not merely sociopolitical advantage, must be a root cause and perhaps the sole cause behind them."

One of Joshi's criticisms of Harris (p. 226) I totally endorse. "Harris seems to think there is some 'credible evidence' for the notion of reincarnation." I can only recommend that Harris start reading Skeptical Inquirer. And I am in complete agreement that (p. 233), "The days of our religious identities are clearly numbered. Whether the days of civilization itself are numbered would seem to depend, rather too much, on how soon we realize this." Religion is in the process of turning planet earth into the former habitat of a sentient species. Either humankind must exterminate religion, or religion will exterminate humankind. Either way, there is not going to be a single godworshipper left on earth by the year 2250.

The first five pages of Joshi's chapter on Christopher Hitchens are a ringing endorsement of the accuracy and validity of Hitchens's annihilation of the lying, swindling, self-righteous, self-serving, hypocritical, anti-human humbug, "Mother" Teresa, whose crimes included maintaining bank accounts, including one in Utah containing $50 million, gathering interest for the Catholic Church, while the persons for whose benefit the money was donated were allowed to die. And despite Hitchens's exposure of this unspeakable woman's true status, the worldwide media continue to treat her as a plaster saint whom they dare not criticize for fear of the power of the Vatican crime syndicate.

Joshi says of Hitchens (p. 239) that, "his book is of a substantially different character from either Harris's or Dawkins's.... his extraordinary gift for mellifluous and, on occasion, mordant prose make his book by far the most enjoyable work of these three bestselling treatises." I'll pass on the ill-advised use of the word "gift," thereby implying a gift-giver, a belief Joshi assuredly does not hold. He continues (p. 244), "Hitchens is, indeed, strongest when dealing with the political and social ramifications of religion - points on which Dawkins and Sam Harris are not at their best." And he states (p. 241) that, "in several tart chapters dissecting, in succession, the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Koran, he lays bare the manifest intellectual and moral deficiencies of these texts."

After citing the violence triggered among Moslems by Satanic Verses and some Danish cartoons, Joshi reports the public statements by top-ranking spokesmen for the Church of England, the RC church, and Sephardic Judaism - in favor of the terrorists and against free speech. He notes (p. 243), that, "When push comes to shove, religions stick together against perceived 'blasphemers.' One wonders if Christians were looking a bit wistfully at the continuing political power of Islam - a power they can only dream about, now that religion has been defanged in the West and thrown out of the seats of power."

Joshi is clearly on the side of sanity. "Hitchens is right to express horror and dismay at what ensured: People were killed by Muslims because of a cartoon. If anything indicates the madness and paranoia that religion can foster, this must surely be it."

In summary (p. 246), "Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens all cover substantially different territory in their three bestselling books, but as a triumvirate, they have presented some of the most compelling arguments against religion that we are likely to see.... supporters of religion have been left with little ground to stand on." Let me repeat my disappointment at his choice of a triumvirate, instead of a quartet (I also would have excluded Daniel Dennett) that includes Victor Stenger. But he is probably right in fearing that (p. 247), "I rather doubt ... whether even such works as The God Delusion have converted, or will convert, any significant number of the populace who are devout, or even those who are fence-sitters; such individuals tend not to read books that might threaten the stability of their belief structure." At this point he might well have mentioned the refusal of Galileo's Inquisitors to look through his telescope, in case they also saw Jupiter's moons and started wondering if earth was indeed just a planet rather than the center around which the universe revolved, as their bibles depicted it. As for the triumvirate's failure to cure incurables, any other outcome would have been highly unlikely. What the Big Five have succeeded in doing is convincing a large proportion of America's 100 million non-theists to come out of the closet. And as Joshi observes, that is no mean achievement, since, "we are no longer afraid to speak our minds."

Sources of the Jesus Tradition
R. Joseph Hoffmann, ed.
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst NY 14228-2119
978616141899, $20.00,

Joseph Hoffmann's Preface to "Sources of the Jesus Tradition: Separating History from Myth" is a dogmatic putdown of the majority of biblical scholars guilty of disagreeing with his own certainty that there was no historical Jesus onto whose biography the Christian fairy tales were posthumously grafted. He describes attempts to sift through the evidence for a kernel of history as the "Platonic Fallacy," and writes of the 150 Fellows who launched such a systematic search in 1985 (p. 12), "The so-called Jesus Seminar of the last century was perhaps the last gasp of the Platonic Fallacy in action. Formed to 'get at' the authentic sayings of Jesus, it suffered from the conventional hammer and chisel approach to the source that has characterized every similar venture since the nineteenth century, missing only the idealistic and theological motives for sweeping up afterward." In other words, he agrees that the Jesus Seminar was not designed to reach predetermined conclusions. But that Seminar Fellows such as Robert Price, John Dominic Crossan, and Burton Mack did reach conclusions that differ from his own is proof to Hoffmann that they must all be incompetent, raising the question: Why did he quote Crossan (and not to refute him), if the man lacks credibility? (p. 48)

The first chapter after the Preface is by Dennis Macdonald, a professor of religion. In the light of my own research into the same subject, my explanation for why I have never heard of him is, "Just lucky, I guess." I strongly suspect that Hoffmann placed a rambling, barely coherent essay by a writer who does believe there was a historical Jesus between two of his own chapters to make the point, " Is this drivel the best that supporters of the 'real person' hypothesis can come up with?" His failure to invite me to include my essay, "Was Jesus a real person?" (Humani, since renamed Humanism Ireland, Jan. 2005) became much more understandable once I recognized that a balanced collection of all of the arguments was not the kind of book he had in mind.

In the chapter, "Jesus and the Brothers," Hoffmann makes many statements with which I disagree. Since I can offer no compelling evidence that I am right and he is wrong, I concede that most of the disagreements constitute a legitimate difference of opinion. But I will say that Hoffmann's acceptance of the authenticity of the "secret gospel of Mark" can only be based on an unawareness that the alleged fragment has been definitively exposed as a product of Morton Smith's imagination. And I have to wonder why a scholar who is adamant that there was never a historical Jesus would write (p. 47) that, "The best way to see Jesus is still, in my opinion, as an end-time preacher with resemblances if not connections to other world-denying apocalyptic sects." That is an opinion with which I do agree.

Justin Meggitt, author of the forthcoming (Dec. 2011), The Madness of King Jesus, writes (p. 80), "I would like to conclude by noting that I do believe that it is historically probable that some material within canonical and noncanonical sources might well bear some relation to the sayings and parables taught by a first-century Jew.... it is likely that this figure met his death on a Roman cross." The 26 pages that precede that conclusion are best described as doubletalk that has no purpose but demonstrating, "Look how clever I am." Again, I suggest that the inanity of a pro-historical-Jesus author was deliberately included for the purpose of denigrating all scholars who reach conclusions the editor does not share.

Meggitt is followed by a chapter by Richard Carrier, whom I have previously described as a fatuous putz with delusions of infallibility. His arguments for a purely mythical Jesus are designed ad hoc to support his conclusion (p. 83) that, "There are no reliable criteria for separating authentic from inauthentic Jesus tradition." Except of cause the criteria he uses to reach his conclusions.

Next comes a chapter by Robert Price, a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar that Hoffmann dismisses as searchers for something that does not exist. Price, whose early books endorsed the "no such person" hypothesis but has since backed away from that conclusion, here discusses only peripheral issues and offers no persuasive arguments for a historical Jesus. Perhaps that is why Hoffmann chose to include him.

Bruce Chilton's chapter analyzes Jesus' disruption of a temple sacrifice, an event that obviously could not have happened if the person who did it never existed. He starts by saying (p. 118), "It is easy enough to imagine Jesus the rabbi or Jesus the revolutionary. But how can we do justice to both aspects and discover Jesus, the revolutionary rabbi of the first century?" His attempt to answer that consists of 13 pages of "freethink," not in the sense that gave rise to the term, Freethinker, but rather in the sense of an undisciplined exercise of the imagination analogous to coming up with a convoluted, metaphysical explanation for L. Ron Hubbard's decision to invent a new religion, ignoring Hubbard's own acknowledgment, "That's where the money is." Chilton does not completely ignore reality, and does recognize (p. 129) that, "the act was seen as a declaration of war." Jesus' interference in a sacrifice on behalf of the emperor Tiberius was indeed a unilateral declaration of independence, as Martin Larson made crystal clear in The Essene-Christian Faith. Chilton should read it.

David Trobisch offers an analysis of accounts of Jesus' ancestry that differ from the majority of nontheist scholars to such an extent that either they must all be incompetent or he is. For example, he parrots the mistranslation, "Jesus of Nazareth," and declares (p. 137) that the description of Jesus as a Nazoraios "suggests beyond a reasonable doubt that the term is used to designate a 'Nazarene,' a citizen of Nazareth." Really? The most highly regarded Greek scholars are unanimous that Nazoraios denotes a member of the Nazirite (or Nazarene) sect, and cannot possibly be derived from the geographic term, nazareth, which in any case means "dispersion." There was no village named Nazareth until long after Jesus' death. He translates (p. 138) John 1:46 as, "What good can come from Nazareth?" The Protestant Bible Correctly Translated renders the same verse, "Can anything righteous be from the dispersion?" As for Trobisch's assertion (p. 134) that the only reference in Mark to Jesus' Davidic ancestry is in a fable about a blind beggar, I can only conclude that he has never read the passage (Mark 12:37) in which Jesus unequivocally acknowledged that he was not Davidic, and argued that Mashyah could not be David's descendant.

In Frank Zindler's "Prolegomenon to a Science of Christian Origins," he writes (p. 140), "The sociology of religion is also a developed science, and many insights into the nature of religiosity have been attained in psychology and psychiatry." Since I regard sociology as a discipline invented to provide gainful employment to gammas and deltas incapable of learning how to do history, psychology as a field of research that has yet to reach any useful conclusions, and psychiatry as a confidence swindle that passes off the same kind of sympathetic listening practised by bartenders and taxi drivers as a branch of medicine, I am prepared to believe that he is simply trying to be politically correct. Fortunately, the meat of Zindler's chapter is based on the legitimate sciences in which he does have expertise.

Zindler proposes establishing a comprehensive data base that lists and indexes all documents, arguments and evidence necessary to turn the study of religion into as effective a science as anthropology and history. It is doubtful that this will ever be accomplished. But as Kelly Bundy said when told of Al Bundy's suggestion before her birth that someone should invent a way to change channels on the TV without having to get up off the couch, it is still a good idea.

Zindler spells out the evidence for the nonexistence of the miracle-working Jesus of the Christian gospels. But he sets up a straw man when he demands proof of the existence of "Jesus of Nazareth." There was no more a Jesus of Nazareth than there was a George Washington of Lowest Slobovia. He asks 22 questions (pp. 146-7) that need to be answered by apologists for the Jesus who on a daily basis did seven impossible things before breakfast. But only a tiny number of those questions have any relevance to scholars who argue for the existence of a Jesus whose only memorable act was getting himself executed for starting a ten minute war of independence, and whose name would not have survived if Paul of Tarsus had not capriciously chosen him, from the dozen or so recently crucified messiahs, to be the posthumous figurehead of a gentile religion that Jesus the Jew would have repudiated as infidel superstition if he had not been totally, permanently, irreversibly dead when it was invented. Since I answered those questions in the article mentioned above, I will not repeat my arguments here.

Zindler offers (p. 154), "my own astral theory for the origin of Christianity - a theory hinging upon the precessional movement of the vernal equinox from Aries into Pisces," and raises five objections that must be met in order for his theory to be scientifically viable. I am not certain that he is being totally facetious. Ninety percent of modern Christianity is indeed plagiarized from older religions centered on astronomical observations. But that does not rule out the historicity of the figurehead Paul transformed from a historical nobody into a somebody.

Whether Robert Eisenman's 14 pages of gobbledygook were written to create the impression that, since it is incomprehensible, it must be profound, or because he seriously believed he had something to say, I find myself unable to discern. The expression "waste of a good tree" comes to mind.

Joseph Hoffmann states (p. 171), "It seems self-evident to many people that it is 'important' for there to have been a historical Jesus, and yet the reasons for his importance are not altogether clear from the sources available to reconstruct his life and thought." He notes (pp. 171-2) that most pagan critics of the early church, "assumed that Jesus was a man of no significance to whom the unoriginal fables of Hellenistic mythology had been selectively attached." Ronald Lindsay asks (p. 190), "If 98 percent of the assertions about Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew are not accurate, is a statement to that effect substantively different in meaning than a statement that Jesus never existed?" Since Christianity is a mishmash of pagan mythology that would be equally fictional and antihuman with or without a historical Jesus, I do not consider the issue of his historicity any more important than whether Agamemnon was left-handed. But it is an open question that, as a historian, I need to try to answer, and if there is a 20 to 49 percent probability that my answer is wrong, that does not justify not trying to answer the question at all.

Gerd Ludemann (p. 197), asks, "Can Paul, whose seven genuine letters are likely the oldest Christian documents, serve as a reliable witness to the historical Jesus?" After 17 pages of discussion of the letters, his answer (p. 212) is that, "In short, Paul cannot be considered a reliable witness to either the teachings, the life, or the historical existence of Jesus." I am not aware of any scholar who argues for a historical Jesus who has cited Paul's letters in support of such a conclusion. Ludemann answers a question nobody has asked.

Sources' final author is J. Harold Ellens, a self-confessed (p. 6) "licensed psychologist, retired professor of philosophy and psychology, Presbyterian pastor, and theologian" - in other words, a professional parasite and godworshipper who takes his values from an imaginary Sky Fuhrer whose own official biography reveals him to be the most sadistic, evil, mass-murdering psychopath in all fiction.. Who but a dogmatic apologist would write (p. 215) that, "If we take an atheistic assumption, that faith position will determine what we see in our research." Newsflash: atheism is not a "faith position," another name for a religion. When I began researching religion as an undergraduate, I was not a nontheist. It was what I learned that forced me to recognize that what I believed was a 2,000-year-old collection of fairy tales. And who but an incurable would cling to the belief that a bible stating in 14 places that the earth is flat, and that Jesus was born during the lifetime of king Herod (Matthew 2:1) but not conceived until the time of Quirinius's census ten years after Herod's death (Luke 2:2-5), is nonfiction?

It is no wonder that Ellens devotes most of his mental gymnastics to a discussion of the "son of man" concept and, despite acknowledging (p. 255) that it is a translation of Ben Adam, shuts out the reality that it meant nothing more than "descendant of Adam," that is, a human - although when Jesus so described himself, it was partly because he dared not call himself Ben David and partly because he saw himself as a Second Adam, destined to rectify the screw-up of the first Adam.

Ellens cites (p. 213) Albert Schweitzer's concern "about the question of whether Jesus was delusional." He agrees that, "Schweitzer, and most biblical scholars, thought that this [delusion] sounded a lot like psychosis. They were correct, of course." However he separates what he sees as the "real" Jesus from the delusional Jesus (p. 217): "As noted already, the Jesus with whom we have to deal on the pages of the New Testament is only a literary character in a story, not a person we can identify in history. Jesus as we know him is a character in a story narrated in the Gospels four decades after his death." In other words, all of the testimony about Jesus in the Christian bible is fiction, but that does not make the bible unreliable as the basis for a Jesus-centered religion. Anyone who can believe that is best described as a Manchurian Candidate.

In a final summarizing chapter, Hoffmann writes (p. 262), "My argument here is that it is impossible to discuss the historicity of Jesus simply on the basis of the individual sources available in the church's selection of books ... and equally difficult to advance the argument much further on the basis of ... sources that did not make the final cut. I am certainly not saying that research into the sayings of Jesus and attempts to construct a prototype Gospel are useless. But the endeavor is bound to be incomplete unless the theological motives for defending a fully historical Jesus are brought into the picture." Whether I see that as offensive depends on what Hoffmann meant by "a fully historical Jesus." I have no theological motive for concluding that there was an insignificant preacher named Jesus whom Paul posthumously transformed into a superstar. But attributing such motives to pseudo-scholars who attempt to "prove" that a historical Jesus did the things the gospels say he did is fully justified. And Hoffmann is very right when he states (p. 258) that, "The Jesus of Mark is not the Jesus of the Fourth Gospel." The Jesus of Mark was Yahweh's anointed human king. The Jesus of the fourth gospel was a fully-fledged god, although not yet part of a trinity that was only interpolated into the Christian Testament long after the canon was closed.

The contributors to Sources of the Jesus Tradition express contradictory conclusions on whether there was a historical person at the core of the myths. Some even skirt the question altogether, and ramble on about peripheral issues. Hoffmann believes there was not a historical Jesus. But if Jesus Prime, who had no more resemblance to the Jesus of the gospels than America's first president had to the little boy who chopped down a cherry tree, was as imaginary as Adam and Eve, or an amalgam of two or three vaguely remembered figureheads of the same name, like Abraham, why did six centuries of Christian apologists accept as legitimate Josephus's description of their hero as a bald, hunchbacked dwarf? Why did the anonymous author of Luke, who used Josephus as a source, show Jesus' detractors challenging him, "Healer, cure yourself"? Why would the creators of an imaginary superhero show him starting a war of independence - and losing? I have not encountered a single proponent of a purely mythical Jesus who has even attempted to explain such negative anecdotes, let alone done so successfully.

I am perhaps being unduly skeptical in viewing Dr Hoffmann as trying to present a one-sided view of the evidence and attempting to make his disputants look foolish. In all fairness, he did include a representative number of essays by scholars who reject the "mythical Jesus" hypothesis. And while he may have included some of whom he could covertly imply, "Consider the source," the same cannot be said of all of the chapters opposing his thesis. The result is a book of which the strongest criticism I can offer is that much of it reads like something written by authors who were paid by the word. I cannot recommend it; but neither am I prepared to advise readers not to waste their time.

William Harwood

Henry's Bookshelf

Bayonets of the World: The Complete Edition
Paul Kiesling
S. I. Publications BV
Oosterbeek, The Netherlands
c/o Casemate Publishers
908 Darby Road, Havertown, PA19083
9789070987053, $99.95,

From Afghanistan through Uruguay followed by the last category "Unknown," bayonets of countries in all parts of the world are alphabetically catalogued with detailed drawings and knowledgeable annotations. The 45 countries covered are world or regional powers. Many of the regional powers are one-time colonies of European countries obtaining small arms with respective bayonets from these. Many smaller, less developed African, Asian, and Central American countries are not included for lack of a modernized military force or in some cases, use of arms supplied by other nations which were not identified with the country.

This encyclopedic reference on this category of the collecting categories of edged weapons and militaria brings together with changes Kiesling's classic and still top reference published in four volumes between 1972 and 1976. This new edition has added drawings and information. The more relevant and convenient alphabetical listing by countries is another difference from the original format of listing by bayonets' length. Bayonets are matched with countries according to end user, not country of manufacture. Thus a European-manufactured bayonet used by a South American country is categorized with the latter.

Original and new drawings by Misjo Osting are more informative and useful as visual references than photographs would be. For with drawings, details of the bayonets are clear (which is what is most important for collectors); and smaller, even more detailed drawings are near the respective part of a bayonet so the detail's location and a bayonet's proportions overall look are kept together.

Details of drawings include scabbard (when applicable), markings, and clasp for fixing to a weapon. Annotations are in the categories weapon (the bayonet is designed for), blade (type, e. g., double-edged), hilt, scabbard (when applicable), remarks (historical appearance, manufacturer, etc.), and lastly dimensions. The number of bayonets for any country correspond to the length of its history, stature as a military power, and size and diversity of its armed forces. Thus bayonets of the United States, United Kingdom, China, and Russia cover many pages, while bayonets of Uruguay and Israel are few. Bayonets of a country are covered from its beginnings to about the 1950s as applicable.

With its additions and improved format, this new work of Kiesling's replaces the former, four-volume work as the fundamental reference in this area for collectors, dealers, curators, and historians.

Turning Pages: Editorial Design for Print and Media
Robert Klanten et al.
Gestalten, Berlin
9783899553147, $78.00,

The nine chapter titles of the Content indicate the scope of the material as well as the shift in the regard of these with many contemporary popular and trade publications: Editorial Concept, Idea; Object; Structure; Navigation; Typography; Layout, Grid; Cover; Visual Language; The Next Chapter. Although some such as Editorial Concept, Typography, and Layout are traditional terms, the text and visual material of the respective chapters present the latest concepts and practices in these areas. Other terms such as Navigation and Visual Language are ones from computer use, especially website considerations and design, which are influencing periodicals newspapers, and books. "From the positioning of pull quotes to the different styles of page numbering, from the artful use of psychological techniques to lead the reader's eye into the story, to the ever-improving art of typography..." from Andrew Losowsky's "Introduction" specifies some of the details being affected by the ideas, concepts, and techniques in the chapters.

While innovative and experimental design practices are being freely used by print publications, this is to enhance for the reader and to distinguish for reasons of market identity and competition what are meant to be basically print publications. As Losowsky also writes, "To argue that print will be entirely replaced by technology is to repeat a huge misunderstanding of one of the more fundamental aspects of printing. Because a book, a newspaper, a magazine are themselves pieces of technology, honed by centuries of skill and imagination." Professionals in the publishing field are instinctively aware of this, and implement the latest practices to make text more appealing and possibly more informative in subtle or implicit ways, not to overshadow or replace it.

The references and knowledge base for any publishing professional's tasks cannot help but be increased with this work. For students and beginners in the field, the organization and content are like a course in the latest practices, with the last chapter--"The Next Chapter"--by far the longest a signpost to coming practices and novel types of publications. For example, Pulp is a new type of travel guide which features a crime novel with actual locations followed by promotions of these. This idea thus brings together the popular literature field of crime fiction with information for tourists adding an extra dimension to each of the elements. A multi-language fashion magazine, publications showcasing new artistic talent, and self-published works are among other types to be found in this chapter.

Although "Turning Pages" is about ninety percent visual, its text should not be overlooked. More than simply captions for the visual material, related text notes what to look for in the visual material and often explains its purpose and source. Apart from annotation-like text, there are also interspersed editorial commentary and quotes by designers, typographers, and other professionals whose work is displayed. In short, the text is instructive.

The relevance and even value of this book for getting abreast of the state-of-the-art work being done in the publishing field mostly in Europe and to a lesser-extent the United States cannot be overstated. Professionals and talented students and newcomers in the field would be missing something by not going through this work with keen attention.

Istanbul Fashion: A City and Its Fashion Makers
Petra Hesse and Patricia Brattig
Arnoldsche Art Publishers, Germany
9783897903395, $85.00,

Although not an exhibition catalog, this "Istanbul Fashion" accompanies an exhibition of the latest Istanbul fashions in the German city of Cologne. Cologne has a tie to Istanbul for its large Turkish population; and the commerce and urban life of the two cities has been influenced by their location of major waterways. Both cities readily and continually blend past and present.

"Fashion" is used in the wider sense of not only clothing fashion, but also fashion as general culture, or lifestyle of Istanbul. Sections preceding the glamourous, full-page photographs of clothing by 11 leading Istanbul fashion designers--10 women and one man--are travelogue-like essays with photographs. The essays bring out Istanbul's material culture. And sixteen front and back endpages of color photographs capture this material culture flourishing alongside the presence of ancient buildings and mosques.

In passing, one of the essays notes the city's "Western-inspired" designs. As in this age of globalization Western design has come to be labeled the "International style," as the photographs show, Istanbul's can now be called this too. A few of the designs are markedly Middle East, and these mostly with regard to jewelry. For the most, the Middle East origins if present at all are so blended into the International style as to become effaced. The models do not look Middle Eastern; and nearly all of the backgrounds are unidentifiable as Istanbul locations. Many are geometric patterns or natural settings. One sees that rather than Istanbul fashion making its mark as distinct, the city's fashion creations and aspirations place it along with London, Paris, and New York as a center for the latest fashions. This position is supported by the city's favorable location as a commercial hub and its urbane population.

Among the designers are Arzu Kaprol, Ozlem Suer, Selim Baklaci (the lone male), and Natice Gokce. The names will not be recognized by most Western readers. But the point of the volume, as was the Cologne exhibition, is to introduce these Istanbul fashion designers to a wider audience. Not only does the clothing designs, but the style of fashion photography also evidences the strong Western influence, in this case in marketing, physical qualities of the models, artistic or exotic settings, and often seductive gazes or poses. Although coming within the broad International style now seen in all major cities of the world, the Istanbul fashion of each of the designers has an individual style--highly formal, casual, businesslike, provocative, etc.

While placing Istanbul fashion in the context of contemporary world culture and as a part of the material culture of a prosperous, multifarious city, "Istanbul Fashion" accomplishes its main aim of showcasing the exciting, imaginative wear of the city's leading fashion designers who are taking a place on the world stage.

Power Dressing
Robb Young
Merrell Publishers
38 High Avenue, 4th floor
Nyack, New York 10960
9781858945156, $29.95,

Fittingly, a full-page photograph of Jackie Kennedy faces the Foreword. For Jackie is widely recognized as the first woman in the spotlight of politics and public affairs to draw attention to what she wore with related interest in what bearing this had on the image of JFK and his administration. As Golbin writes in her brief Foreword, "Strong, clear, and striking, Jacqueline Kennedy's political wardrobe was similar to a theatre costume, conveying specific character traits with one sole objective: to promote the values of her husband's political platform. By embracing the power of the image and adapting her attire accordingly, she set new standards and became an ambassador for the modern power dresser."

The role of clothing of a prominent woman in not only creating an image, but in communicating values and ideas has gone far beyond Jackie Kennedy's presence in the 1960s. Many women have since become leaders of nations or had top political positions, and others have had prominent, leading roles in other areas of public affairs. Author Robb Young decodes the clothing style and its details of color, accessories, etc., of Margaret Thatcher, Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, and many other notable women. Short essays on "Power Pearls," "Sari Politics," and similar categories of wear point out the significance of these. Young's broad, global reach includes dress of women from African, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries that is not so familiar to many readers.

Abundantly illustrated with color photos on glossy pages, "Power Dressing: First Ladies, Women Politicians & Fashion" is not only entertaining and informative as popular journalism, but also delves into how clothing of prominent and influential women offers clues to what is going on around the world. As Young notes in his Preface, the book is timely because "the ongoing struggle for women's equality in the political arena is at a very exciting point [and] clothes and grooming can act as a revealing mirror to much bigger issues and reflect the wearer's evolving identity."

Henry Berry

Joanne's Bookshelf

David Wiedemer
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
c/o Wiley Professional Trade Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
9780470481561, $27.95,

Tax increases of 30-70% on total income?[217] Forty to sixty percent unemployed?[217] Social unrest, but not chaos?[218] A silver lining?[222] David Wiedemer, Ph. D., Univ. of Wisconsin, author of America's Bubble Economy, writes in "Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown" about six bubbles in the economy that are collapsing. It may be chaotic for a while, and the silver lining of the post-dollar-bubble collapse will "...force us to confront ...fundamental problems and make changes to our government and society to improve productivity."[222]

His six bubbles are: Real Estate Bubble, Stock Market, Private Debt, Discretionary Spending, Dollar, and Government Debt.[25-55] Yet to come are the Dollar collapse and Government Debt collapse when no one will want our dollars and we can no longer borrow. It will not be like 1929 as we are wealthier, have more safety nets, and extended families will rely on employed relatives and friends, but increased public distress will occur.[214]

Wiedemer postulates the last two bubble quakes will require government to "cut, cut, cut spending and live on its income."[209] Horrendous inflation, curtailed pensions, defense cuts, Social Security means testing, Medicare reimbursement reductions, interest payment eliminations, agriculture and commerce cuts, increased user fees, and eliminated subsidies will ensue.[211] Investment recommendations are also included.

He concludes with seven needed reforms to solve long-term economic problems: (1) Political, (2) Productivity, (3) Bubble Prevention, (4) Financial, (5) Economic, (6) Capital Creation, and (7) Targeted Stimulation.[256-258] Not included is the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (7/2010), nor the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (12/2010) or the GAO Report to Congress (3/1/2011), the latter two which could generate serious reforms.

He predicts an international currency, the IMU, pronounced "eye-mu," an international monetary unit, because of financial globalism. This will start with the dollar, yen, and euro, and eventually include other currencies.[166] Perhaps Wiedemer also read G. Edward Griffin's The Creature from Jekyll Island (2005) about the Federal Reserve, which mentions a world-wide "bancor," coined by John Maynard Keynes in 1944.[544]

A bibliography, index, and a detailed website are also provided. It is sobering, comprehensive, and quite readable.

Courage to Stand
Tim Pawlenty
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414345727, $26.99,

One of the top five most highly taxed states in the country? [9] Spending increases averaging 21% every 2 years? [135] Endless government growth a form of tyranny? [136] Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who joins other Republicans writing books these days, chronicles his Minnesota experiences in Courage to Stand.

Much is about his growing up in South St. Paul, the Armour and Swift stockyards, his humble roots, his religious faith, and messages for individuals, states, and the nation.

During hard times in South St. Paul, the Cold War and nuclear fears piqued his interest in public policy, and, still a teenager, he subscribed to U. S. News and Report to sate his curiosity. A poignant story portends his lifelong can-do ethic. To supplement their meager income, his father accepted a side job recycling used stockyard meat hooks. It was a sickening task yanking meathooks from bins and rehanging for powerwashing and reuse. They were covered with rotting fat and sinew, covered with flies, and the stench unbearable. He "tossed his cookies" and hoped his father would let him leave. His father, equally abhorred, just looked at him steadily and said quietly, "We have to do this," an attitude which has guided Pawlenty through life's challenges. [44-45]

Besides campaigning, he has grappled with a $4.6 billion deficit [6], high taxes, educational reform, health care, Minneapolis bridge collapse, sex offenders, and National Guard deployments. Accused of heartlessness and neglect, he seemed constantly embattled.

Overcoming undeserved attacks, his accomplishments include: improved National Guard and military support, decreased spending to sustainable levels, Minnesota out of the top 10 in taxation, education reforms that are nation-leading, market based health care reform, and even free trade.[295-6] He concludes that Americans can fix things [298] and that "...the price of freedom tomorrow is the courage to stand today." [280] Some chapter titles are confusing and there is no index, but it is an interesting autobiography that showcases his indomitable nature.

Joanne Conrad

Karyn's Bookshelf

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.
Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780618440447, $19.00,

Award-winning nonfiction author Susan Campbell Bartoletti stretches beyond the juggernaut that is historical Ku Klux Klan violence, offering young readers something even more important: a meticulously researched explanation of social and political causes of the group's rise. Bartoletti gets to the violence - there's no way to write about the Klan and not mention lynchings, whippings and nighttime raids. But there's also deep discussion about the ruined post-war southern economy, and the fury and fear of southerners who worried that former slaves were poised to climb the social ladder, voting, worshiping and educating themselves to dominance. With their plantations in smoldering ruins, their Confederate money worthless and no more slave labor, wealthy plantation owners had no means to resume their livelihoods. Working class whites, meanwhile, feared that former slaves would take their jobs. The nation was grieving their dead. And there was deep division in Washington, as Democrats and Republicans fought over how best to proceed with the reconstruction. Amid all this, in 1866 in Tennessee, a group of young men began meeting in the evenings for no particular reason but to pass the time. Soon, they hit on the idea of riding through the countryside dressed as the ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers. They quickly discovered that many people, particularly superstitious blacks, were afraid of them. And the Klan's power was born. Bartoletti includes a rich collection of photos and illustrations, perhaps the most haunting one being a portrait of an icy-eyed Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general purported to have led the group in its early years. The book is impressively, densely sourced yet written in a style that even young teens can easily follow. And Bartoletti firmly makes the point at the closure that the Klan isn't just history, that it still exists today. Important, accessible writing as Bartoletti continues to cement her place among today's best tellers of history for kids.

Bless This Mouse
Lois Lowry, author
Eric Rohmann, illustrator
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547390093, $15.99,

Clever, communal church mice adapt to whatever sanctuary life throws at them. They subsist on cookie crumbs and discarded youth group pizza crusts, dodge exterminators and hunker down on the day of the annual blessing of the animals service. Lowry crafts a sweet tale of Saint Bartholemew's subcongreation of mice who have inhabited the walls for generations. There's a definite social order, from leaders like Hildegarde to a dippy young mother who keeps having litters in inappropriate places like the sexton's closet, where they could be discovered. Lowry is great with small details, but especially with the geography of a church building. Regular church-goers, who are most familiar with such spaces, may smile the most as the rodents scurry from the narthex to the chancel, belfry and sacristy, steadfastly avoiding the mouse-adverse ladies of the alter guild. Not as brainy or sharp-edged as some other classic children's mouse stories, just gentle drama and loads of giggles, perfect for elementary readers.

Cannons at Dawn
Kristiana Gregory
Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
9780545280884, $12.99,

Abigail Jane Stewart, introduced in Gregory's "The Winter of Red Snow," returns in "Cannons at Dawn: The Second Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 1779", a coming of age tale that carries her from tween to young wife amid the continuing Revolutionary War. Gregory, author of many other middle-grade books with a longtime niche in historical fiction, beautifully succeeds at telling a compelling, historically rich tale at an accessible reading level. The story is also perfectly appropriate, touching at but never overreaching into battle and adult subject matter. Abby's adolescence unfolds in succinct diary entries, following her from age 12 to 15 (January 1779 to the war's conclusion in October of 1781) as she, her mother and siblings follow her father's brigade that is serving in General George Washington's Continental Army. The harsh reality of life in a Revolutionary War encampment -- hunger and cold, disease and death -- mingles with the inspiration stories of familial love and community. As Abby and her family follow the soldiers they become friends with other wives and children, in one poignant case protecting a runaway slave. And tween readers will thrill to the romance, as a young soldier ultimately captures Abby's heart. A great novelistic entre into American history, that might just spur young readers to pick up a non-fiction account of the nation's dawning. Or, at least, to pay more attention in history class.

The Lemonade Crime
Jacqueline Davies
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547279671, $15.99,

Four years after the release of "The Lemonade War," Davies finally continues the tale of Evan and Jessie Treski. "The Lemonade Crime," picks up just one week after the first book left off. It's the first week of school and the siblings are struggling with both being in fourth grade, after Jessie skipped the third-grade. And they're still steaming over the disappearance of $208 that they raised selling lemonade, that they suspect classmate Scott Spencer stole. Ultimately, they gather their classmates for an after school "trial" to determine whether Scott is guilty. Davies masterfully places Evan, Jessie and their friends in situations of meaning to elementary readers. Important plot threads play out in the lunchroom and on the playground and basketball court, and the big question is whether Scott used the stolen money to buy a trendy new video game system. There's plenty of humor, as well as some poignancy and a good, light introduction to the legal system. But mostly, it's kids being kids at an age when everything from their time to their decision making is becoming their own, with adults still guiding but beginning to step back from direct involvement. With unending potential tween material it would be fun to see the series keep going, carrying Evan and Jessie toward middle school.

Go! Go! Bobo Colors
Simon Basher, author & illustrator
175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010
97807534649390, $6.99,

Well-known among elementary readers for his quirky, illustrated primers on academic subjects from language arts to math to science, Simon Basher heads to the toddler zone with the first in a series of chunky board books. While his books for elementary kids tackle things like the periodic table, geometry and punctuation, the younger set is challenged with age-appropriate lessons on colors. Once again, Basher takes a quirky hand. Bobo, an big-headed line drawing of a character with no discernable ethnicity, reminiscent of Harold in Crockett Johnson's classic "Purple Crayon" books, sort of bounces from page to page, sometimes floating upright, sometimes suspended upside down. His paintbrush goes with him, tipped with a new color at each page turn. He lands in a bucket of blue water and high up in a green-leafed tree. The colors are bright, the illustrations are familiar objects, from yellow ducks to red fire engines. Children will be intrigued by the band-aid on BoBo's head, wondering which bounce caused the boo-boo. Basher simultaneously released a second book in the series, about shapes; the rest of the series is expected soon on opposites and time. "Go! Go! BoBo Shapes" similarly offers lots of bright color and familiar objects, from round oranges to triangle-topped sailboats to (in an interesting modern moment) rectangle flat screen televisions. Bright, bold, fun.

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow?
Susan A. Shea, author
Tom Slaughter, illustrator
Blue Apple Books
515 Valley St., Maplewood, NJ 07040
9781609050627, $16.99,

In her debut picture book, former teacher Susan Shea blends lessons in language and poetic rhyme with the simple science of live vs. inanimate objects. "If a kid grows and becomes a goat, can a sweater grow and become a coat," children are, for instance, asked. Each query gets a double page spread, with the two halves of the riddle facing. Adding interest is a flap to be lifted, that initially hides the final rhyming punch word. And Shea sticks to simple, familiar subject matter, from cats and hats to owls and towels, pigs and rigs. Slaughter makes bold use of primary colors, with lots of red, yellow, green and blue punctuated, as well, by black silhouettes and shadows and other dark elements. Fun to read aloud and to look at, a great combination of alluring art and child-friendly verse.

Karyn L. Saemann

Katherine's Bookshelf

A Simpler Time
Laura Eckroat
Tate Publishing
127 E Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781615668311, $8.99,

"She thought no one would care about her summer of just hanging around the house. How could she create a creative journal or interesting story?"

A. J. begins a summer that she thinks will be boring and no way to have adventures like her friends who were all going to exciting places for their vacation. But her Mother has other ideas. She plans some simple activities that makes A. J.'s summer more than just hanging around the house and more fun than she could have imagined. The simple things they do give them something to enjoy together and gives A. J. an opportunity to learn about nature in an exciting and fascinating manner.

Laura Eckroat, author of The Life of Bud, has written another book that children will love. Her story makes us want to go out with our children and look for four leaf clovers and find some lightening bugs to show us the way to A Simpler Time. She shows us, in a wonderfully charming way, that the adventures in the back yard can be more fulfilling than any vacation away from home and that modern technology is not the only way to spend time.

Insights on the Exodus, King David, and Jesus
100 Enterprise Way Ste A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781453663097, $12.99,

Insights on the Exodus, King David, and Jesus presents an understanding of the correlation among Christianity, Egyptian theology, Islam and Mormonism with a little different perspective, in many cases, than the traditional viewpoint. Steefen has done extensive research and writes his opinion of what he has gleaned about this trend of religious thinking. Although his ideas might not be in line with your personal beliefs, it is a book that will make you think and possibly change some of those beliefs.

In his Introduction, the author says:

"Ancient Egypt contributes to the historical narrative and the historical accuracy of the Bible and all sacred scripture stemming from Abraham. It contributes to our understanding of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It affects our notions of "God", "Saviour" and "the Afterlife" - and Ancient Egypt often makes a museum visit satisfying."

This summarizes his book perfectly.

This book is a great resource for students and scholars who are interested in the history and ideas of the subject matter. It is a book that employs some of the latest discoveries, such as the Rosetta Stone, as well as time-honored sources, such the Bible and the Koran, to support his conclusions.

The venues for this book are museums, college and university classrooms and libraries at those same institutions. The students of Christianity, Egyptian theology, Islam and Mormonism will enjoy reading about the similarities and differences.

The author is a scholar who did much of his research with onsite visits to museums and libraries to see firsthand where his research was leading him. The exhibits he visited gave him many of the insights he reports about in his book.

There is a good bibliography and a short index of his work included.

Roxann A Lady in a Chair
Rita Dear
Eutopian Destiny
PO Box 116424, Carrollton, TX 75011
9781935015635, $15.00

Rita Dear has written a book that is both entertaining and educational. Roxann; A Lady in a Chair is the story of a teenager who is confined to a wheelchair and moves to a new town. She knows what it will mean to make the kids and teachers in her new school accept her, since this is not the first move she has made. As she 'educates' the teachers and students, she also helps another girl who is in a wheelchair.

This is a good book for teens who don't understand the challenges of someone who has a physical handicap. They will get a fairly good look into the minds of two different girls and how each handles their handicap, both physically and mentally. The change in the lives of the students and teachers is nicely defined.

This being said, I would like to have seen the characters explored a little more, especially the process by which the students and teachers reached new conclusions about the handicapped. Maybe a little bit more misunderstanding on the part of the boyfriend and what his thought processes were as he came to like her.

Expanding this book into a trilogy by covering the college years and maybe the career and marriage of several of the people, handicapped and 'normal' is a possibility. Of course these are only suggestions and I believe that Rita's fertile mind can find several ways of expanding the lives of Roxann and her friends and family.

A Smart Ass Guide to Breast Cancer
Rita Dear
Eutopian Destiny
PO Box 116424, Carrollton, TX 75011
9781935015376, $5.00

"A Smart Ass Guide to Breast Cancer: One Woman's Journey " is more of a pamphlet than a book, but the information it contains makes it tantamount to an educational book with wit and wisdom.

When Rita Dear found she had breast cancer, she began a healthy, humorous journey to wellness. She outlines the things she did on her journey and gives good, sound advice about how to use knowledge and humor to conquer fears.

"When I got the results of my biopsy, I called my contact at the cancer center and said, "Tina, I have two hot knockers. What do we do next?""

Rita did not know that Tina had her on a speaker phone and her new Oncologist was listening to their conversation. That started her relationship with him that Rita describes as putting her life (literally) in his hands.

On her journey, she invented some aids to her recovery. For example, she went home with drains that hampered her movements, so she figured out a way to get them out of her way by constructing a makeshift apron to hold them. She designed another aid to protect her sensitive incisions when she was driving.

Rita started selling her inventions when she discovered that both men and women could use the devices while they recover from a variety of surgical procedures.

This little book holds some wonderful advice told with just the right amount of humor that all breast cancer patients can enjoy while they use it as a reference book for their own personal journey.

This book is a must read for anyone whose life has been touched by cancer.

Katherine Boyer

Keira's Bookshelf

The Professor and the Madman
Simon Winchester
Harper Perennial
10 E 53rd St, New York, NY 10022
9780060839789, $13.99,

On January 1, 1928, The New York Times declared on its front page that "with the inclusion of the Old Kentish word zyxt. One of the great romances of English literature" the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was finished. Twelve weighty volumes; 414,825 words; 1,827,306 quotations; 227,779,589 characters; 178 miles of paper; 71 years--such was the enormity of the task painstakingly accomplished by the underpaid and overworked lexicographers of the Scriptorium at Oxford University. Along with exemplary volunteer contributors from around the world, such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Frederick Furnivall, and Fitzedward Hall, the lexicographers combed nearly 800 years of English literature to give the OED its impressive depth and breadth. Even today, the OED remains an unrivaled monument to the history, beauty and complexity of the English language.

Set against the backdrop of linguistic history and scholarship is the story two men: both tall, thin, and bald; both with hooded blue eyes; both with an air of avuncular kindliness; both with white, long beards, thick moustaches and sideburns. One was Sir James Murray, the formidable editor of the OED for forty years, and the other was Dr. W.C. Minor, the most prolific contributor to the OED of shades of meanings of words and supporting quotations, an American, a civil war surgeon and an inmate of a mental asylum.

"The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" describes the stories of the childhood and early adulthood lives of both men, while also detailing the influential people and events that led up to their working together on the OED. That Murray and Minor, who had led such disparate lives, were united in their fierce love of the language, were able to view one another as peers and foster a warm friendship are what make this a compelling book.

With a verve for storytelling, a good command of the craft of writing and careful attention to tiny details of little-known history, Winchester has turned an otherwise dry topic into a page-turning tale. The biggest downside to the book is the author's propensity to wax eloquent and on a tangent for extended periods, such as his discourse on mental diseases and the labels currently used to identify them, which tend to break up the narrative and detract from an otherwise exciting story.

An aside: Styled after John Murray's famous 1879 invitation to readers, the end of the book has an invitation by John Simpson, current chief editor of OED, ". calling for readers to participate in the collection of material." for the next edition. See for more details. For a
broader view of the history of the OED, read Simon Winchester's "The Meaning of Everything"

Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper
Harriet Scott Chessman
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014-3657
9781583222720, $24.00,

Exquisitely conceived and elegantly written, this wisp of a novel ushers readers into the often overlooked art world of Mary Cassatt, an American and a Parisian Impressionist, and her older sister Lydia, who is dying of Bright's Disease even as she recounts these five episodes from her life. Each episode centers around one of Mary's paintings of Lydia produced either in Mary's studio or their apartment in Paris and carefully limns the impact of art on a person close to a great artist.

Not much seems to happen in this book on the surface, and yet so much is happening in the ephemeral emotional realm: a paintbrush fluttering across canvas, cider spilling in the grass, a needle embroidering a wildflower, the smells of Paris.

Lydia is deeply impressed by Mary's art and talent, yet does not think that Mary is truly unusual. This expectation of extraordinariness in everything and everybody is what sets Lydia apart from the others in the story, including the famous Edgar Degas, who tells her, "You show me how to live, if only I could do it as you do."

With deft, quicksilver touches, Chessman catches the nascent tendre Lydia holds for her sister's friend and lover Degas, the insecurity Mary feels about her skills as a painter leading her to believe only in Lydia as her muse, the tugs and pulls of Lydia's relationship with each of her family members, her aching loneliness in her pain, and her terrible fear of the world continuing beyond her dissolving without a trace.

Susan Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue and the movie Red Violin have art as the centerpiece, whose story is told through various people, whereas Chessman has chosen to tell the story of one person through the paintings. Where Vreeland's book and the movie are peopled with complex and memorable characters, Chessman's book ultimately fails to satisfy, because in its short length, she fails to plumb the depths of anyone, giving everyone's personality a cursory treatment with everything hinging on Lydia's illness.

Chessman's use of French phrases in the conversation between the sisters is jarring. Both Lydia and Mary were born and brought up in Philadelphia. It is difficult to imagine them being so immersed in French in their adulthood as to use it in day-to-day conversation amongst themselves at home.

Despite these shortcomings, Chessman is able to carry the reader from the first page to the last on the strength of her pitch-perfect prose. A longer treatment styled after Tracy Chevalier's efforts would elevate this book from graceful to truly memorable.

Keira Soleore, Reviewer

Logan's Bookshelf

Vengeful Victims
Ken Havlicek
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456719814, $16.49,

When the law doesn't strike fast enough, speed comes from those who you expect to be the slowest. "Vengeful Victims" follows the tenants of a particular apartment building who find themselves constantly under fire by young punks who make their lives hell. With a certain drive, the elders unite and bring their own brand of justice to the table. "Vengeful Victims" is a fun read aimed at the aged but with humor for everyone.

Utopia Texas
Betty Byrd
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432717520, $15.95,

With oil, comes new money. With new money, comes corruption. "Utopia, Texas" follows Brya Harrison as she tries to save her daughter's life and face, trying to cover up her mistakes of life as she makes them. But she can only do it for so long before the truth comes out. A story of the Texas elite and the world of big oil, "Utopia, Texas" is a riveting read with plenty to entice readers.

The Answer
Allison Wynn
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432770945, $12.95,

Answers are what we're always looking for, even if we don't know the question. "The Answer: A Journey From Anger to Peace" is an uplifting read from Allison Wynn who offers her own thoughts and pondering on our journeys towards peace in our lives. Relaying many moving stories to help us forget our anger and find that elusive peace, "The Answer" is a moving read that shouldn't be overlooked.

Atlantis: The Lost Continent Finally Found
Arysio Santos
Atlantis Publications
9781556439568, $21.95,

The history and myth of Atlantis has proved to be an endlessly fascinating topic since Plato first composed those words. "Atlantis: The Lost Continent Finally Found" is an argument that Atlantis sits in Indonesia, as Professor Arysio Santos presents his argument against the idea that often places Mediterranean or the Atlantic Ocean. With plenty to argue his point, "Atlantis" is well worth considering for those captivated by the mythology and legend of the lost continent.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

The Razz
Roger Evans
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450219259, $16.95,

Teleportation sounds like it'd solve a lot of life's problems, but nothing comes without a cost. "The Razz" is a novel set in the mid twenty-first century as teleportation becomes a reality and is widely accepted. But faced with a terror using the new technology against them, those with the power to stop terror have a lot to be done. "The Razz" is a fun exploration of the reality of teleportation, highly recommended.

Garden of Eve
Mary A. Agria
Privately Published
9781458367990, $18.00,

As love eludes one's endless search, hope is the only thing allowing it to go on any further. "Garden of Eve" tells the story of hapless writer Eve Brennerman, losing the one man who she could call her beloved after all of this time. As she battles through her depression, she sees a light at the end of the tunnel for hope and more. "Garden of Eve" is an intriguing read of losing and finding love once more.

Robert Dunbar
Uninvited Books
9780983045724, $16.95,

A friend can help you, and a friend can hurt you. "Willy" tells the story a scarred child, who sent to a special school, finds one friend who may help him and give him the friend he needs. But there may be another side to Willy, something that he would send the child into something deeper and scarier. "Willy" is a fine read with a unique sense of horror, highly recommended.

Please Swipe Again
Megan Mann
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452093109, $16.49,

When life shows up, it's fight for flight for many people. "Please Swipe Again" follows Ava Sinclair as a bad relationship sends her out on her own, but as she runs from life, life will catch up. She finds a boy younger than her, but even as the adult, she soon realizes she has a lot of growing up that she needs to do. "Please Swipe Down" is an intriguing read which should resonate strongly with many readers.

Love from the Other Side
Carol Shrimp
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432767907, $19.95,

Spirituality can take you in a whole new way in understanding the world around you. "Love from the Other Side" is a memoir from Carol Shrimp as she reflects on finding spirituality after years of embracing traditional faith. Stating about the gifts embracing this new spirituality has delivered her, she speaks to others who may have felt lost by traditional faith, making "Love from the Other Side" worth considering for those who have followed traditional faith but feel unfulfilled.

Wishing After Dawn
Paul Van Nieuwenhuyse
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South New York, NY 10016
9780533162680, $9.95,

We're all a bit conflicted in our daily lives, and coping with it all can be ever so difficult. "Wishing After Dawn: A Schizophrenic in January" is the first collection of poetry from Paul Van Nieuwenhuyse as he reflects on the continuous cycle of life and wrapping it all together for life. "Wishing After Dawn" is an intriguing read with much to ponder, recommended. "Wishing": Wishing after dawn/the mirror long ago/Broken into many pieces/That reflected fresh morning/To the children of Eden.

Poems of Passion
Norma H. Conroy
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South New York, NY 10016
9780533163014, $10.00,

Poetry can become a passion that lasts the greater part of a century. "Poems of Passion" is a collection of poetry from Norma Conroy, who with her nine decades of life experience, demonstrates it in her preferred medium with a bit of thought and poignancy that only the wisdom of age can give. "Poems of Passion" is well worth considering, highly recommended. "Quest": Should I/who have loved and spurned love/now, thus far/seek to renew that passion/slowly burned and buried in the depths of me?/Seek like a star, its wanderings in the heavens done/swift gravitation toward the sun?/And merge its being as the time when nebulous/it drew away.../Should then I seek you, love/who loved me yesterday?

Margaret Lane

Molly's Bookshelf

An Unimaginable Journey
Aviad Meiter, editor
Eric L Mott, Kelly Jo Eldredge
Booksurge LLC
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439250501, $15.99,

Aviad Meitar's An Unimaginable Journey: How Pepsi Beat The Odds In Romania begins with a prologue describing in epic journey aboard a ship with billowy sails as the author sets the mood for the tale to follow.

Told in 14 chapters and ending with an Epilogue; Writer Meitar weaves an intriguing narrative filled with rich detail, quotes from a fascinating grouping of personalities, vividly portrayed scenes specifying the enormous business rivalry existing between Pepsi and Coke as these competitors battle for market share world wide.

Chapter 1 begins the tale in July 1990, Meitar was a young executive with Quadrant, a private investment group. The telephone call setting into motion Meitar's great adventure came just prior to news that a family member was to undergo emergency surgery in Israel, Saddam Hussein was beginning to rise in power in the middle east, and Meitar's work visa was expiring.

From that harrowing beginning the narrative moves the reader quickly along with the ups and downs of the venture Meitar ultimately categorizes as An Unimaginable Journey and his involvement as Pepsi Beat The Odds In Romania.

The venture was fraught with initial problems as Meitar defended the venture to the executives at a meeting of the investment group - they despised the notion.

I particularly enjoyed the Mark Strand quote used to open chapter 3; it sends with the words If Your's Afraid of a Journey, don't buy shoes.

Meitar notes his use of Viking laws to formulate much of his business acumen. 'Be brave and aggressive', 'Be Prepare', 'Be a Good Merchant', 'Keep the Camp In Order' - they are good ones to put into practice whatever the endeavor.

And, the work continues with a sailing theme as Meitar's well-written, crisp description of the introduction of an American brand in an Eastern European market presents the reader uncommon understanding regarding some of the challenges met as a business achieved great success despite the roadblocks set in their pathway.

The establishment of the Pepsi Cola operations in Romania is a fascinating facet of the work however, "An Unimaginable Journey" is also the personal chronicle regarding a group of people filled with enthusiasm coupled to a grand dream as embarking on a journey spanning more than a decade in the realizing of that dream.

Filled with optimism and expectation, in the face of obstacles many would have found too daunting; Meitar and his fellow adventurers were not to be dissuaded in their venture. While not a business plan, the work is filled with good advice offered in a very readable manner, set down in a lucid, easy to read method filled with interesting settings, humor and inspiration for those who are willing to follow a dream from beginning to end. Obstacles can be overcome; they are simply bumps in the road to where we hope to be one day in the future.

Writer Meitar's breezy command of language creates in interesting, interesting, interesting read sure to hold reader interest from prologue right down to epilogue as Meitar is surprised in 2007 to learn that the Romanian operation won PepsiCo's worldwide Bottler of the Year Award and continues sailing into another adventure; this time the work is taking place in Bulgaria as Pepsi is once again introduced to a new market.

Surely a second book will follow.

Happy to recommend An Unimaginable Journey How Pepsi Beat The Odds In Romania

Bad Kitty
Nick Bruel
Scholastic Inc
557 Broadway NYC NY 10012
9780439893619, $11.31,

Nick Bruel's Bad Kitty is one of Osage County First Grade's preferred cat focused books.

-She wasn't always a bad kitty. She used to be a good kitty,-

However it happened, one day, there was no food for the kitty in the house. Actually there was lots of wholesome, luscious STUFF. Opening with Asparagus and moving right on to goodies including eggplant and leeks and parsnips, watercress and zucchini we read our way through a tasty alphabet.

Accordingly, that was when she determined she would become a bad kitty, however she would not become just any old bad kitty, mind you, she would become a very bad one. Starting with Ate my homework, and continuing right through the alphabet again including hurling hairballs, loitering under the no loitering sign, writing on the walls, and you get the idea ... Kitty was well on her way to very bad.

Bad Kitty encompasses 4 dissimilar alphabet series as healthy food, poor behavior, newly purchased delicious kitty food, and a revisit to excellent Kitty behavior develops.

Osage County First Grade howls with mirth from the initial reading during the opening days of the school term, and continues with each reading until the end of the school year.

Bad Kitty is one of the various Alphabet Books we have in our Osage County First Grade classroom ABC book bag for Little Learners to use during alphabet work. It is one of the first removed and used during alphabet work and it is often taken for DEAR reading time and reading at home time too.

I particularly enjoy the hilarity the writer presents. Capricious illustrations and kitty treats including chicken cheese cake, goose goulash, an order of opossum, turtle turnovers, an eXcess of Tyrannosaurus ReX and baked Zebra Ziti all serve to stimulate attention and initiate the giggles of Little Learners.

As the school term goes on it is a delight to watch the perceptive understanding for the humor originate and expand as Little Learners not only take pleasure in but truly have a handle on the merriment and amusement the author is conveying.

Bruel has a whole series of Kitty themed works, Osage County First Grade enjoys them all, however Bad Kitty remains the hands down number one favorite.

Happy to recommend Nick Bruel's Bad Kitty.

This is an Osage County First Grade classroom library edition.

Poor Puppy
Nick Bruel
Scholastic Inc
557 Broadway, NYC, NY 10012
9781596432703, $16.95,

Nick Bruel's Poor Puppy commences where Bad Kitty left off. We parted with a transformed Bad Kitty following 4 diverse alphabet capers and the influx of new Kitty pleasing products as Kitty pondered the news that the family would be getting her a puppy.

And, so they did.

One glance at the cover seems to indicate that while Puppy is totally spellbound with Kitty she just may be less than overjoyed with Him.

Frontispiece and title page set the landscape for this particular work. A path of pandemonium follows puppy as he galumphs after a puffy tailed Kitty. Osage County First Grade picks up on the puffy tail immediately; in our classroom we like all books with cats as the major character.

And, Osage County First Grade has learned that puffy tail is a clear mark indicating all is definitely NOT well with the cat.

Peals of mirth ring as I turn to the first page featuring muddy kitty prints and dog paws trailing across the page. The kitty prints are seen tracking right up the wall to the top of the book case where Kitty hovers. The exasperation, discontent and annoyance unmistakable on the feline face sets Osage County giggle buttons to loud.

I find great wittiness evident in the minimalist manner the writer uses language. - Puppy's best friend is Kitty.- Even six year olds promptly become conscious that Puppy may think so, however Kitty has no such fantasy.

With Kitty's face turned to the wall there atop the book case Puppy grasps he will need to find something else to do - Kitty doesn't want to play with him today.-

And, the following page brings a sobbing puppy to alphabet 1, and a succession of toys numbering from one to 26. With 2 Balls, 5 Finger Puppets, 7 Glowsticks, 12 Liters of fingerpaints, 20 Teddy Bears and 25 Yo-Yos at his disposal; the reader might thing Puppy would be satisfied.

But No. -That was Fun! Puppy, if truth be told, wanted to play with Kitty-

Off he goes to snooze in his basket where he dreams of playing with Kitty. For sure; those dreams set the next alphabet in motion and he and Kitty bob for Apples in the Antarctic, hunt for Eggs on Easter Islad, Golf in Greece, Limbo in London, Play Rugby in Rome, Volleyball in Vietnam, and run Zig Zag with Zebra, Zebu and Zorilla in Zimbabwe.

Puppy awakens to realize Kitty seems to want to play too. There she is just ready to give him a poke. HOORAY, and off they go with galumphing Puppy in pursuit of puffy tailed Kitty.

The images are great fun as writer/illustrator Bruel not only sets the scene with Puppy and playthings or the cunningly detailed dream scenes, but adds Kitty to each graphic in a series of highly detailed, child pleasing, absurdity filled graphics.

Poor Puppy includes 2 dissimilar and separate alphabet series first as one oriented to playthings, amusements and counting, and, the second to world travel and activity and games to play.

Osage County First Grade, a group of cat adoring, bright eyed Little Learners, have yet to meet a cat they do not like from Skippy Jon Jones books to Splat and his adventures, Osage County First Grade howl with laughter, cheer for the cat and in general enjoy cat oriented works from earliest reading as we sit on the rug during the first week of the new school term to listen to the tales for the first time, and continue through the term to the end of the school year.

While we do keep Poor Puppy in our ABC book bag for Little Learners to use during alphabet work; I also find the counting 1-26 and the travel from country to country to be outstanding for meeting our state standards as well. Children in First Grade are expected to count to 100 by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s, and are expected to be able to grow some understanding regarding maps and their use.

As Puppy and Kitty move our class from country to country it does not take long before I notice Little Learners carrying small world maps along with the book to their DEAR reading station where they begin to search out some of those countries for themselves.

I especially enjoy the drollness, merriment and silliness presented by this writer illustrator, text sets the scene, the graphics drive home the significance. Giggles result all around, much to my enjoyment, as cheery, contented, chuckle filled groups of Little Learners become the setting in which I most enjoy teaching.

Bruel presents whimsical illustrations to stimulate attention and establish chortles of Little Learners. As the school term continues; I enjoy seeing insightful command regarding ludicrousness of the wittiness commences, enlarges and increases as Little Learners correctly become conscious that cheerfulness and jollity are driving the message the author is conveying.

Bruel has a whole series of Kitty themed works, Osage County First Grade enjoys them all, nonetheless while the original Bad Kitty remains the hands down number one favorite, Poor Puppy is hard on the heels of it.

Happy to recommend Nick Bruel's Poor Puppy.

Poor Puppy is an Osage County First Grade classroom library edition.

Frog and Toad Together
Arnold Lobel
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780881037821, $13.55,

Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad is one of the I Can Read Books first launched in 1957 as a truck for introducing Little Readers to the simple joy reading brings.

I Can Read Books set the bar then, and maintains the standard today. Five child friendly anecdotes are included in this edition.

Spring finds Fog excited, running up the path to Toad's house, and geared up for exciting activity. - The sun is shining! The snow is melting. Wake up! - are met with - I am not here-

Toad's house is shadowy; Toad is in bed with covers pulled up over his head. How is Frog to convince his friend that spring has come and it is time to rejoin society?

The Story began on a beautiful summer's day. Regrettably Fog was not feeling well, in fact he was looking pretty green. And, Toad set about lending a hand to help his friend feel better. First he made Frog a cup of fine hot tea and then sat down to tell Frog a story. The dilemma was Toad was not a very good story teller. So, he paced and he thought, stood on his head, poured water over his head and lastly began banging his head on the wall. Nothing seemed to help Toad come up with a tale.

A Lost Button starts with Toad and Frog out for a long saunter across the pasture, in the woodlands and along the river. Back home Toad is alarmed to apprehend that he has lost one of the buttons adorning his jacket. Back go the pair to hunt for the lost button. And, with the assistance of a sparrow and a raccoon they find buttons in abundance however, not one is Toad's button. When Toad reaches home with a pocket filled with buttons, and locates his lost button on the floor; the depth of comradeship comes to the fore.

Toad and Frog set out for a dip down at the river on the pages of A Swim. While Frog does not wear a swim suit; Toad does. The problem is, Toad thinks he looks funny in his swim suit and doesn't want anyone to see him.

Frog covers his eyes as Toad slips into the water where the pair have great fun splashing and playing. When turtle comes along Toad wants Frog to send him away. Frog asks turtle to leave so that Toad will not feel embarrassed when he exits the water and that is when the story takes a turn. Soon there is a great crowd all waiting to see Toad looking funny in his swim suit. Out of the water he comes, and funny he does look.

The final offering in this edition is The Letter. Toad was sitting on his porch, waiting for the mail to come and looking sad. Everyday he waits, everyday he gets no mail. Frog knows just what to do, and soon HE is pushing Toad to watch for an epistle. When at last the letter arrives; the outcome brings a whole new meaning to the term snail mail as it sums up the depths of friendship and what friends might do for one another to bring joy to them both.

Packed with fanciful, child pleasing graphics and easy-to-read terminology Frog and Toad are Friends has long been preferred reader in my K-1 classrooms. At times preposterousness, invigorating activity, and short, uncomplicated sentences present a real occasion for beginning readers as they chance past the picture books and begin the frightening aspect encountered with CHAPTER BOOKS in hands.

While not a Chapter Book per se, Frog and Toad are Friends is one I have accessible for Osage County First Grade to use as they begin to cross that conduit from little kid books to bigger kid editions.

I particularly like the discreet, simple illustrations. From their earliest days; I find Children in the present day are often so overwhelmed with clamor and glitz, video games and sparkle, TV and mechanisms and clamor and affectation, that they regularly come to Kindergarten or First Grade expecting to be amused. So many Little People seem incapable to keep themselves amused without never-ending, jumbled hullabaloo, hound and grab. Children often do not appear to be at ease with themselves.

It is not a positive or mind healthy facet, believes this long time teacher, for children to not be able to just sit basking in the warmness of sunshine, or observe a caterpillar or butterfly merely for the joyfulness of being in the open-air while watching that caterpillar or butterfly, or to neglect taking part in that time honored laying on their back upon warm grass and just gazing up at silent clouds floating over head and searching for the pictures found in their changing forms.

Or perhaps more importantly, to use their imagination to fill in the blanks as they read words. So many of the so called basal readers today are vast, weighty tomes having a solitary line or two of text and a great multi hued graphic filling the entire page. Nothing is left for the child to envisage or imagine about or consider over.

On the other hand; Frog and Toad are Friends features especially straightforward illustrations filled with browns and greens while proffering numerous opportunities for children to chat about what they see and what they might see as well to talk about feelings, and add imaginative narratives of what else the illustrator might have put into the pictures, but didn't. Following reading Little Readers get paper and using pencil or crayons begin to show more of what may have also been depicted.

Notwithstanding a movement today to re-color and re-do countless of the old children's books to cause them to be -more appealing to children today- as I read in a review listed for another book. That review was penned by a young parent who voiced disenchantment in the less multicolored publication she had purchased for her child.

In contrast; I find today's children are quite as captivated with the subdued tones found on the pages of Lobel's works. And, these children are even drawn to the tales filled with the old black and white line drawings of a generation or two ago just as children were way back then.

I continue to search out old books in jumble shops, bring them to my classroom and read them along with some of the newer - more colorful- works. I would be hard pressed to tell which works are more well received by Osage County First Grade, or, by any of the Little Listeners I have read to for more than a quarter century.

Frog and Toad are Friends is chosen often by my students for their free choice reading during DEAR reading time, or is brought to me as their selection for reading on 'their special day to choose the book ... a part of the perks just because they are the leader of the day.' Frog and Toad are Friends is taken home proudly to read at home as Little Readers progress into those chapter books and out of the - little kid- books.

Sixteen thumbs up as each child eagerly hoists two thumbs each.

A must have for the classroom, school, home and public library list. Each of Lobel's books have a place on the personal reading shelf of children, and none more so than Frog and Toad are Friends

Happy to recommend Arnold Lobel - Frog and Toad

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Peggy's Bookshelf

Six Healing Sounds With Lisa and Ted
Written & illustrated by Lisa Spillane
Singing Dragon
400 Market Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781848190511, $14.95,

"Six Healing Sounds With Lisa and Ted: Qigong for Children" is an excellent introduction to the practice of Qigong (pronounced "chee-gung") which teaches breathing techniques to achieve calmness and better health. Lisa and Ted are brother and sister. Like all kids they feel all kinds of emotions during different situations. Lisa gets mad at Ted. Ted is worried about his new school. Lisa is jealous of Ted's birthday presents. Ted can't fall asleep, and so on. In each situation children learn what body organ is affected by the negative emotion. Simple exercises and healing sounds show children how to change the way they feel. One of the most powerful things you can teach anyone - especially children - is how to control their feelings and develop a positive attitude. This book is an excellent tool for teachers and caregivers as a foundation for fun with role playing.

Saltwater Taffy
Eric DelaBarre, author
R.C. Nason, illustrator
Seven Publishing
PO Box 1123, Santa Monica, CA 90406
9780972357807, $15.95,

It's the summer of 1972, in Port Townsend and the annual Keys of Lafitte treasure hunt is underway. Brothers Scott and Gary Martin and their friends Zippy, Jimmy, and Jaq, team up to cipher clues and find the hidden key that will lead them to the pirate map where X marks the spot. Readers will enjoy sharing all the exciting intrigue and adventure with these quirky yet believable characters. Madcap and mayhem follow them every step of the way, which is too bad for them, but great fun for readers. Nason's illustrations look like animation stills and lend a Saturday matinee movie feel to this story. Best of all, there is a hidden treasure which you will never guess in a million-jillion years, but you will find the key inside "Saltwater Taffy".

"Blackbird Flies"
Chynna Laird
Astraea Press
ASIN: B004V9K5S8 $3.99
Kindle edition: 136 KB

Payton McGregor is a sullen and rebellious 15-year old on a train bound for Edmonton. No one understands that all he wants to do is play his music. Instead his grandparents have sent him away to live with Liam, the father he has never met. Once he arrives he finds life with Liam is full of one surprise after another. The biggest surprise of all is his acceptance into the School of the Arts for the musically gifted. The man Payton never knew actually knows him better than anyone. But his first term is a bumpy one that goes by the name of Lily, who is too much like his mother for his own good. Laird handles bi-polar nature, alcoholism, drug abuse, and other sensitive issues with realism and sensitivity. More than a coming of age tale, Blackbird Flies is an enticing story about coming to terms with the hand you've been dealt.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Richard's Bookshelf

Miracles Are Made
Lynette Louise
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411
9781934759493, $17.95,

The Miracle of Neurofeedback Offers New Hope

In her book "Miracles Are Made: A Real-Life Guide to Autism" Lynette Louise brings the reader a new kind of hope, as she relates concrete information gained through her personal experiences of the effectiveness and power of Neurofeedback techniques for healing autism.

By the middle of the first page of chapter one, three year old Dar was already tugging at my heart strings. Lynette Louise had my attention and my respect as a concerned caregiver and adoptive parent.

Lynette understands and discusses the problems that leave parents vulnerable to false hopes of finding a magical potion in Neurofeedback for curing their child of autism. Lynette is careful to state and describe a problem before she tries to present a solution. Her writing is filled with ideas, information, and insights. She is not only well informed; she is articulate and convincing in her presentation. She is candid while warning of the constancy of self-denial, the development of a martyr complex, and the overwhelming bouts with depression. She writes from a practical standpoint rather than from theory as she talks about the sensory perception and stress issues of care giving, and the need to be energized and focused. She reinforces the paradigm that children with autism can be successfully treated.

I appreciated the organization and flow of the material. Lynette previews in the introduction the aim and purpose of each chapter. The book is divided into two sections: Section I deals with Lynette's journey in raising eight children, two biological children, six adopted, five disabled, four on the autism spectrum. She also shares illustrations from the stories of some of her clients and their families. Section II is a resource section and includes: diagnostic criteria, available therapy, causal theories. I found her research listing to be very comprehensive. In conclusion she reviews the contents of the material again reinforcing the concepts included.

Several personal friends and acquaintances are currently struggling with the impact of autism on their children. I also have family members directly involved in the dealing with special needs children professionally. In my reading I became so emotionally involved that I often had to put the book down to allow time to assimilate the material.

Board Certified in Neurofeedback, considered an expert in Autism, Lynette Louise teaches children, counsels parents, and speaks to professionals. I highly recommend "Miracles Are Made: A Real-Life Guide to Autism" as must a read for educators, mental health professionals, social workers, and parents of autistic children.

A complimentary copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The One Minute Presenter
Warwick John Fahy
Unique Voices Publishing
Level 39
One Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Place, Central Hong Kong
9789881805015, $24.99

A Plan and Road Map to Effective Presentations in a World Where DSL Means "Digital as a Second Language"

Using a unique format Warwick John Fahy introduces each chapter of his book "The One Minute Presenter: 8 Steps to Successful Business Presentations in a Short Attention Span World" with a quick glimpse at the chapter with tips on one minute learning for the presenter and important information on the process. This eight step road map is filled with hands-on tips and dynamic techniques for preparing and communicating successful presentations.

I especially enjoyed the case studies at the beginning of each chapter. Each case introduces the material covered in the chapter and looks at causes and solutions, prepares the presenter to face the audience, or offers steps in preparing an audience focused message to make a connection with them. The chapter dealing with the mechanics of the presentation has important tips for building voice skills, cultivating non-verbal communication skills, the importance of interaction with the audience, and helpful hints for using handouts.

Warwick John Fahy is known throughout Asia and in the United States as an incredible communicator. "The One Minute Presenter: 8 Steps to Successful Business Presentations in a Short Attention Span World" firmly affirms this reputation. Powerful writing, practical content, and a user friendly layout. This is an important tool for every presenter, a ready reference for assimilation, application, and a great confidence booster when reviewed on a regular basis.

Where Strangers Cross
Kevin Avery and John Long
Xulon Press
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140
Longwood, Florida 32779
978-1609578459, $18.99,

A Modern Day Macedonian Call

"Where Strangers Cross: East Meets West on a Journey Towards Christ" depicts the life journeys of Kevin Avery and John Long. Through an unlikely chain of events, orchestrated by God, Kevin Avery's and John Long's lives intersect. John grew up in rural China; Avery in the city suburbs in the United States.

Both men are seeking to follow God's leading in their lives. John, motivated by dreams of success comes to America for post graduate work at Oral Robert University. Kevin visits Poland on an ESL (English as a Second Language) mission. The book parallels their lives. Their paths cross as they both participate in a ministry to International students. Both men have a heart for pursuing the Lord's call to evangelize, teach, and making disciples (followers of Christ.)

John tells his story. Kevin shares his. John becomes a pastor in Tulsa and Kevin is called to China to minister among the mountain villages. They tell of language barriers, cultural differences, differing Christian traditions, and of their concern for the lack of Bible knowledge among Christians today.

The writing is engaging. Their message is important. "Where Strangers Cross" reads like fiction with a strong plot and well developed characters. I enjoyed being able to vicariously experience the joy of a global ministry with Kevin Avery and John Long. I was deeply moved many times as I as the Holy Spirit touched my heart.

"Where Strangers Cross: East Meets West on a Journey Towards Christ" is a book for any Christian who recognize the value of biography in the process of deepening one's faith and increasing their insight and understanding of spreading the gospel to the international community. By bringing together East and West, the book provides unique insight into international Christian ministry and outreach opportunities.

Anyone who enjoys Missionary biographies will find the book unique, inspirational and informative. This is a valuable resource for individuals, Christian school and church libraries. It is a book that should be on the reading list of Bible Schools and seminaries for prospective missionaries and pastors. It inspires Christians to pursue Jesus as they disciple the Nations.

The authors are currently involved in Christian Ministry and Missions activities that impact countries in North and South American, Europe, and Asia.

A complementary copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Voice of Many Waters
Alan Youngblood
WinePress Publishing
P. O. Box 428, Enumclaw, WA 98022
97816061574, $15.99,

Beyond the Miracles - Experiencing the Presence and Forgiveness of God

Alan's Youngblood's personal story of being translated into heaven and entering into the very presence of God is not unlike the prophet Isaiah's account of standing before the throne of God ...seeing God "high and exalted" with seraphs worshipping. In his book "Voice of Many Waters: Irrefutable Evidence of Life After Death", Alan recounts awe-inspiring events which communicate God's power in amazing ways.

I appreciate the reminder that when our perspective of God focuses on His greatness and the very real sense of His presence, there is no need for fear. Youngblood's story is filled with lessons learned from submission to the call of God on his life. It is his prayer that this message "will bring hope, enlighten the mind, and change lives" of the reader. Alan's example illustrates the way God's life changing touch is imparted to others through obedience.

Stories of ministry to the oppressed and demon possessed through exorcism offer revelation of the power of the cross set captives free from the pain and outrage of being held in Satan's controlling grip. Other stories tell of souls released from psychopathic rages, hidden anger, and the "tortured terror" of youth abused and victimized by evil predators. There are testimonies of troubled people contemplating suicide who are introduced to "the liberating power of God and the healing virtues that flow from the sacrifices of his Son" Jesus. Others tell of reconciliation and forgiveness.

I appreciate Alan's gift of descriptive writing. His word pictures enable the reader to create their own mental images of the scenes and characters being portrayed. His experiences and illustrations reinforce the promises of God's power revealed in carefully selected scripture passages.

Alan candidly shares painful personal stories of reaching the bottom, feeling brokenness, calling out to God, pleading for answers, and the reward of God's gracious mercy, grace, and healing. There are also stories of ministry to others that resulted in miraculous answers to prayer, finding financial freedom, and of physical healing. The book is climaxed with a special message to the people of Israel and an invitation for the reader to join in the spiritual army being assembled to fight in the final battle against Satan and his evil forces.

Skeptics may have reservations regarding the reality of Alan's story but for many who have experienced a broken heart...for whatever reason, there is a message of hope and encouragement in the sensitivity of his testimony, and the promise of the indwelling Christ and ministry of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter for them.

A complimentary review copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Georgia Justice: Journey to Faith
Jackie Carpenter
Xulon Press
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140
Longwood, Florida 32779
9781612157689, $14.99,

Jason Veitch Cleared of All Charges

Friday, April 17, 2009 The Time-Herald of Newman, Georgia carried the headline "Vetch Cleared of All Charges." "Georgia Justice" is the story of the ten month journey to faith experienced by the family of Jason Vetch as told by his mother Jackie Carpenter.

After being the victim of seventeen copper thefts on his construction job sites, Vetch was guarding his property. In the early morning hours of June 28, 2008 another planned robbery was in process. Jason attempted a citizen's arrest when an accidental firing of his gun wounded one of the alleged thieves. Hours later the man died at the hospital and Jason was taken into custody. At the arraignment that followed Jason was charged with felony murder as well as four other serious charges.

Carpenter's earlier book "The Bridge" goes into detail regarding all the events that transpired on the night of June 28, 2008 and the trial that took place in April of 2009. "Georgia Justice" is Jackie's story of the onslaught of her spiritual battle, the frustration and tears she endured right up to the time the decision of jury was announced. "Not guilty on all five counts."

Jackie tells of her regular visits to her prayer closet to find release from the onslaught of Satan as he attacked her spiritually, mentally, and physically. There may be readers who feel Jackie's description of her roller coaster ride of emotions is repetitive but anyone who has experienced a visit with their son or daughter separated by a partition of prison glass will understand Jackie's heartbreak as she watched the tears rolling down her son Jason's cheeks on her first visit after his arrest.

Jason's exoneration is an affirmation of the power of prayer and the effectiveness of a prayer chain ministry. Thousands of people from Georgia to New York joined in prayer for the outcome of Jason's trial and his future.
"Georgia Justice" is a powerful testimony of the strength Jackie discovered as she claimed the promises of Psalm 91 and other selected scriptures as her lifeline to her faith, her sanity and her physical well being. Her story is a reminder to the reader of the spiritual strength available in the book Psalms.

I received a review copy of the book from a representative of the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

It's All Part of the Dance
Alan Gettis, PH.D.
Goodman Beck Publishing
P. O. Box 253, Norwood, N. J. 07648
9780979877533, $16.95,

Letting Go of the Past to Find Meaning and Purpose for the Future

"It's All Part of the Dance: Finding Happiness in an Upside Down World" by Alan Gettis is filled with stories passion and insight into self exploration. Gettis writes with the reader in mind. His goal is to write stories that help someone in some way. Alan writes from his heart. I found myself engaged in Alan's world within the first two paragraphs of the first chapter, uniquely titled "My First Ticonderoga."

Within the next few pages I was being encouraged to embrace each moment with vitality! I was challenged to look at things like acceptance, responsibility, freedom, the law of attraction and to see things from a new perspective. I was inspired to approach life with the "zest, courage, and hope of artists and rebels."

I found myself considering communication, social psychology, productivity, humility, and awe for the universe. I learned about narrowing the gap between "who I think I am" and "who I would like to be" by cultivating specific positive characteristics. I gained new insight into the freedom of "letting go" and the reward of "reframing" my personal history.

The importance of not falling into the comparison trap, the importance of developing an attitude of gratitude, the art of exercising kindness, and experiencing the transcendence of faith, are other keys Gettis suggest are important in the growth pattern of living extraordinary lives.

"It's All Part of the Dance: Finding Happiness in an Upside Down World" is an amazing compilation of stories which reinforce guidelines for "living a happier more fulfilling life." Fast moving, comprehensive, informative, and entertaining

Second Chances
Chuck Gallagher
Brown Books Publishing Group
16200 North Dallas Parkway, Suite 170
Dallas, Texas 75248
9781934812433, $19.95,

A Guide to the Potential of Life-Changing Consequences

"Second Chances: Transcending Adversity into Opportunity" is Chuck Gallagher's story. Chuck's is a story of the consequences of a wrong choice that spiraled out of control over a four year period.

The book is Chuck's personal account of "success" turned sour. An unexpected phone call became the turning point that forced Chuck to face reality. Chuck bares his soul as he relaters how a "look in the mirror" revealed his human frailties. This was the time he chose to assume responsibility for his actions, regardless of the "fall-out" of living a life of deception, lies, and illusion.

Chuck shares how he also took a look within his heart and how it revealed a glimpse of the "somebody" he actually was and the spiritual potential available by making right choices. He uses many entries from his personal journal, made while incarcerated, to provide insights learned through the process of rediscovering what it means to be "somebody."

The book is filled with short meaningful highlighted lessons, truths Chuck learned which are worthy of reflection, mediation, and life assimilation. One of my favorites reads:

"By your choices, you are empowered. By your choices, you can break the chains that bind you. By your choices, you can find joy and happiness."

Chuck's writing is authentic, inspirational, enriching, and life-changing. His life is an illustration of the opportunity afforded when free will is used to make choices that empower a person to be the spiritual being they were meant to be. His story demonstrates the relationship between personal accountability and finding success as a person and in business.

The final chapter considers "Twenty-Three Points to Ponder." Each point represents one of the twenty-three steps leading into the federal prison where Chuck was imprisoned. These truths contain keys to unlocking the "prisons" of personal bondage faced by Chuck's readers. For many years I have been associated with a faith-based prison ministry. I only wish that Chuck's book had been available earlier as an encouragement to the inmates and ex-felons contacted by our organization.

"Second Chances: Transcending Adversity into Opportunity" is a remarkable story providing guidelines to help the reader avoid the pitfalls of and the consequences of bad choices and to claim and activate the potential of making right choices for positive life-changing consequences.

A complimentary review copy of this book was provided by a representative of the author.

Lord I Feel So Small
Jon Drury
WinePress Publishing
P. O. Box 428, Enumclaw, Washington 98022
9781414118048, $17.99,

Are You Using Man's Yardstick or the Plumb line of the Scriptures?

In the book "Lord I Feel So Small: Using God's Yardstick to Conquer Self-Doubt" Pastor Jon Drury maintains that by measuring ourselves against man's yardstick we may miss our own greatness or significance by not recognizing the touch of God on our lives.

The pages are filled with contemporary stories from the lives of broken people struggling with the emotions of self pity, unworthiness, fear, and

rejection. Other examples come from Biblical accounts of men and women who have faced similar challenges of adversity. In a natural progression Drury shows how these illustrations often parallel many of the life experiences he grappled with as he emerged from his personal wilderness journey.

The book is made up of twenty chapters divided into six sections. These include concepts including: crafting a foundation of significance, dealing with feelings of despair and fear, and keys from scripture which counteract these negative feelings, replacing them with hope, courage, and healing. Jon talks about hindrances along the way, externals that frustrate signs of progress, and experiences that obstruct true success, friendship and trust. He warns of the danger of determining worth through comparisons.

Each chapter ends with a section titled "Think it Through" made up of questions for reflection and application. These questions which clearly relate directly to the material covered within the chapter also encourage personal consideration based on individual backgrounds and experience. The questions are also an excellent resource for group study discussion.

Jon's writing is transparent, appealingly honest and frank. He openly discusses his own feelings of anxiety, worry, and rejection as he equips the reader to discover God's purpose and to rebuild a life based on the Scripture. I enjoyed the user friendly format of the book as well as the comprehensive bibliography, suggested resources, and the gospel message included in the Appendix.

I can highly recommend "Lord I Feel So Small: Using God's Yardstick to Conquer Self-Doubt" for anyone wanting to exchange their struggle with self-worth or feelings of insecurity for a life of significance and purpose as they recognize the touch of God on their lives.

Before God
Mike J. Sarkissian
Xulon Press
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140
Longwood, FL 32779
9781615795222, $16.99,

The Spiritual Discipline of Prayer - A Theology of Prayer

Mike J. Sarkissian guides the reader on a spiritual prayer journey in his book "Before God: The Biblical Doctrine of Prayer." He describes the steps to developing a spiritual prayer discipline. He tells the story of how he set out to maintain on a more consistent and passionate level the practice of prayer.

He also provides the reader with suggestions for increasing the intensity, duration, and consistency in the process of discovering a more meaningful prayer life.

An underlying theme comes through Sarkissian's writing. It is his profound desire to inform, encourage, and challenge the reader to discover and pursue a more effective prayer life which results in an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival.

The book is divided into three parts: In part One, Sarkissian give a clear concept of prayer as he talks about feelings, experience, reason, and faith. He describes these ideas further by introducing Biblical case studies, prayer as communication, Jesus' prayer life, and His role as intercessor.

Part Two describes the components of prayer and includes an exegesis of the Lord's Prayer. Part Three includes some additional thoughts on prayer as well as an important chapter on the Life and ministry of Robert Murray McCheyne.

An extensive Bibliography is rich in resources used in Sarkissian's research and serves as a list of suggested additional reading. These titles referenced are books the reader may want to add to their personal library.

This is a book for the new believer, the seasoned saint, whether lay-person or theologically trained. Ideal for personal or small group studies.

Brian Zahnd
Charisma House
600 Rinehart Road
St. Mary, Florida 32746
9781616380250, $19.99,

Redefining, and Remolding the Christian's Understanding of Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Restoration

Brian Zahnd's "Unconditional?: The Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness" is already being highly acclaimed by a broad spectrum of Christian leaders and is destined to join the ranks of the classics of Christian literature. Zahnd's message is fresh, relevant, and unyielding. He challenges the status quo and calls for a vibrant authentic compelling faith patterned after the model Christ left for us.

In a day when pay-backs and reciprocal revenge have become expected and accepted, Brian Zahnd invites the reader to revisit, rethink, and restore God's design for forgiveness. This calls for a deeper understanding of forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. It is time for the Christian to answer the call to a new world view which demonstrates that "forgiveness has the capacity to rescue human society from the destructive vortex of violence and vengeance and give us a healing alternative." The act of forgiveness is imperative if humankind is to experience world peace.

Filled with illustrations drawn from the lives of survivors of unimaginable torture, suffering, pain, and hurt, as well as Biblical examples, and contemporary stories "Unconditional" heralds the heroes of the faith who have understood that forgiveness is the very core of "transcending beyond tragedy."

Each chapter includes a number of highlighted penetrating profound summary statements ideal for reflection, meditation and personal application. Brian draws from the writings of a wide range of classical authors, well known theologians, songwriters, and contemporary journalists as his resources. These are thoroughly documented in the chapter notes at the close of the book.

Riveting, Revolutionary, and Relevant inadequately express the depth, challenge, and insight contained between the covers of Brian Zahnd's new book "Unconditional: the Call of Jesus to Radical Forgiveness."

A complementary review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

No Christian Man is an Island
Dex Bahr
Xulon Press
2180 West State Street, Road 434, Suite 2140
Longwood, Florida 32779
9781609573607, $16.99,

A Call to Repentance - National and Individual

"No Christian Man is an Island: Leading the Spiritual Quest in America's Culture Wars" is a clear commentary on a contemporary downward spiral of depravity and a clarion call to individual and collective confession and repentance. Dex Bahr boldly calls Christian men to renounce sin, seek forgiveness, and to surrender to the Lordship of Christ.

Bahr warns of the dangers of secular humanism, the corruption of radical liberalism, and the pervasiveness of the media on American children. He then equips the reader with information to help focus prayers strategically and to become actively engaged in a cultural, educational, and political movement that will impact societies' perspective, viewpoint, actions, and spiritual intensity.

Bahr's writing is strong, convincing, and non-compromising. He describes a spiritual war in America today, and the need for heroes with valor, wisdom, and determination to take a stand on the foundation of truth to actively combat the many false contemporary faiths and change the course of our history.

A background as broadcast news reporter give Bahr additional credence to the insights brought to light in "No Christian Man is an Island." This is an important and relevant treatise and should be read by every Christian man in America today.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the author's representative in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Dying the Right Way
Janice Louise Long
Morgan James Publishing
1225 Franklin Avenue, Suite 325
Garden City, NY 11530-1693
96781600377006, $19.95,

A Guide to Living Life to the Fullest in the Final Years

Janice Louise Long has created an invaluable guide book to help individuals and family caregivers plan for the maximum enjoyment of the final years of life. "Dying the Right Way: A System of Caregiving & Planning for Families" provides caregiving tips, forms, legal concerns, and a look into end-of-life-care for individuals and their family members.

The pages are packed with helpful addresses of websites relate to aging with dignity.

Chapter one begins with a compelling personal first personal narrative experienced by the author in dealing with her parents. It is obvious that Janice Louise Long is thoroughly acquainted with the content of her book. Her personal family experience coupled with a career in health care and medicine; qualify her to write this book.

In addition to the guidance, compelling narrative, and tips for caregivers, Long provides an important appendix which makes this book an important addition to any family or caregiver's library. The appendix includes: suggested herbal oil recipes and their uses, nutritious recipes called "food for the soul," website resources, glossary, a comprehensive bibliography, and a complete index.

A quick look at the table of contents will direct the reader to areas of immediate concern. For instance chapter six provides detailed guidelines, duties, and tips with related caregiving forms. These suggestions and the related websites provide instantaneous guidelines for resolving the urgent matter currently being faced.

I am placing "Dying the Right Way: A System of Caregiving & Planning for Families" in a prominent place on my permanent family library, ready for frequent reference, re-reading, and study. Janice Louise Long's book is an outstanding contribution to the subject of caregiving. The book is important, relevant, and timely. I plan to highly recommend it to my family members and to incorporate the contents in my planning for the years ahead.

A complementary review copy was provided by the author's representative in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Fearful to Fearless
Jeff Kusner
Koozzz Publishing
Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050
9780615402321, $15.99,

Biblical Truths that Inspire Trust, Remove Fear, and Provide Comfort

Jeff Kusner has complied a remarkable collection of Christ centered, Biblically based promises that offer inspiration and a pattern for living, a life free of fear in exchange for a reverent worship of our awesome God. This compilation is found in his book "Fearful to Fearless."

There are selected passages from Genesis through Revelation with a complete index. The format of the book includes one of the selected scriptural passage addressing a "fear not" or other verses related to fear or comfort with a brief truth to accompany the verse that inspires, comforts, or challenges the reader to look to Jesus for calm and peace in the personal "storms of life" they are currently facing.

The book is designed so that it can be used for daily inspiration, for help in specific times of crisis, or when needing a nugget of truth or a promise for the peace and calm that Christ offers his followers in times when they need extra faith or spiritual strength. Each passage has been carefully selected.

"Fearful to Fearless" is an ideal gift book, a resource for hospital visitation, to honor graduates, or for any of those other occasions you want to offer encouragement and inspiration.

A Complementary Review copy of the book was provided by a representative of the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Living in the Rear View Mirror
Kim Vazquez
Mill City Press, Inc.
213 3rd Avenue North, Suite 209
Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781934937846, $16.95,

A Perspective on a Life on Finding a Life of Substance

"Living in the Rear View Mirror" is a story of conquering the power and poison of bitterness, anger, stress, loneliness, and addictions. It is a story offering hope and healing for those caught in a web of pain, suffering, emotional emptiness, anxiety, and mental illness. Kim Vazquez shares her story of vulnerability openly and candidly as she relates the results of childhood abuse, rejection, and insecurity.

Deserted by her father in her early childhood, Kim was left insecure. Her mother devastated. Kim suffered through her mother's dysfunctional relationships, emotional stress, and financial woes. She found herself in bondage to her mother's out of control years, feeling unlucky and misunderstood. She later felt cheated out of her childhood as she had become a mini adult while comforting her mother through her hard and difficult life. Kim's was counted on to help with household chores, shopping needs, and finances.

Kim chronicles her adolescence and teen years. She was verbally abused by her father, stalked by her grandfather, experienced low self esteem, and desperately sought acceptance from her peers. She soon found herself addicted to alcohol, drugs, misdirected aspirations, work, constant activity the need for ever present drama, and seeking the euphoria of love through dysfunctional relationships. She describes a love affair with marijuana, her anxiety attacks, and a cycle of oppression and depression.

The sub title of the book offers hope to the reader, "From Substance Abuse to a Life of Substance." Kim's is a spiritual journey, a pilgrimage, which took a new turn when she chose to break out of the cycle of fear, paranoia, emotional pain, and spiritual bankruptcy, a decision to change her life. She chose to search for quality of life, community, and friendliness. She helps the reader recognize the reality of the presence of outside spiritual energies through the power of forgiveness as the beginning of the restoration process.

Kim attributes her own restoration to a metaphysical approach, of counseling, meditation, and angelic healing. While there are those who will feel strongly that there is another road to recovery, "Living in the Rear View Mirror" affords an opportunity for others to identify with Kim's life as they realize their own need to pursue a spiritual solution to find release from their emotional pain in exchange for a hope in the seeds of possibility of spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery and healing.

A complimentary copy of the book was provided by a representative of the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Clay Morgan Wilson IV
Xulon Elite
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140
Longwood, Florida 32779
9781609573867, $22.99,

A Humorous Account of a Father's Love

Clay Morgan Wilson IV relates a lifetime of fond and loving memories in his book "Mush." This is a rollicking tale of a trip across country with two of his sons, Clay V and Jonathan to attend the wedding of his third son, Sean. Their plan was to follow route 66 stopping along the way to have a "whole bunch of fun."

A Gary Grant double feature in Barstow, a stop at Wigwam village in Arizona, time spent on Central Avenue in Albuquerque, the stop at "Route 66 Antiques," in Texas, Rogers Memorial in Oklahoma, Graffiti Bridge in Kansas, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis all encouraged a lot of Kodak Moments but put the trio way behind on their 3,000 mile drive.

The entire book is filled with humorous antidotes, typical family conversations, sentimental reminisces, and made up "stories" retold at his son's requests. These were stories Clay V, Jonathan, and Sean had heard and been a part of throughout their childhood. I found that Wilson's book allowed me to relive many of my personal memories related to experiences while raising my own four sons.

"Mush" is rich in down home humor, exemplifies family love, with an emphasis on Christian core values, and character. Wilson's writing is an inspiration to father's to create a closer relationship with their sons. Don't expect "classic literary style" but be assured of heart warming humor and poignant nostalgia.

A complementary review copy of the book was provided by a representative of the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Calling All Boomers
Randall D. Howard
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432743581, $14.95,

A Generation of Influence, Impact, and Change

In "Calling All Boomers: Reflect Now Before the Memory Goes!" Randall D. Howard describes a generation which has indelibly impacted society through creating a counter culture, leading the way in the civil rights movements, calling for tolerance while protesting, challenging status quo while embracing secularism.

Howard details a generation influenced by the Viet Nam war, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, peace marches, "love ins", and a full menu of endless causes. Boomers added a fresh perspective on music, politics, theology, mass consumerism, as well as new concepts of economics and finance. The introduction of new technology led the way to the information age and world wide globalization.

In a conversational style which is highly entertaining, and candidly honest Howard tells of his own pursuit of finding satisfaction through intellectualism and individualism. He tells of a void in his life, a sense of need for something more. He relates how he unwittingly discovered that throughout his life a chain of events, orchestrated by God, brought him into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

"Calling All Boomers" is hilariously funny, deeply thought provoking, boldly articulated. Randall Howard writing makes it obvious he is proud to be a member of a generation which has so indelibly left their imprint on society, an entire nation, and the world at large.

A complimentary review copy of this book was provided by a representative of the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

In Pursuit of Wholeness
Wilfred Graves, Jr., PHD
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768437942, $16.99,

Salvation and Wholeness: Emotional Healing and Deliverance

The book "In Pursuit of Wholeness: Experiencing God's Salvation for the Total Person" is written with the intent of providing an abundant life to the reader with a fresh introduction to Jesus and to help experience his power through an understanding of the fullness this salvation provides.

Dr. Wilfred Graves communicates, compassion, inspiration and encouragement through real life illustrations that demonstrate how Christ's healing touch can restore shattered relationships as well as minister wholeness in every aspect of our lives. He also makes clear that the message includes healing for brokenness, holistic deliverance, and hope for the distraught, distressed, and those filled with fear.

The pages are filled with life changing teaching and practical powerful profound principles, taken from God's Word, written in easy to understand language with personal applications that lead to the use of suggested coping tools to formulate strategies for pursuing wholeness.

Each chapter contains a rich discussion of the material described in topical title, a powerful affirmation, a chapter summary, a prayer directly related to topic under consideration, questions for reflection and discussion, and practical applications with suggested activities. The book concludes with a case study for ministering wholeness to broken individuals.

The format is uniquely reader friendly with topical headers, and other highlighted features. I found the endnotes to be rich in clarification of material covered, in resource material for future reading and study and as evidence of thorough research and study for this important manuscript. The material in Appendix A: Questions and Answers About Salvation and Wholeness is an excellent source for those often asked questions that come up in conversations when presenting the message of salvation to unbelievers, both genuine seekers and skeptics.

Appendix B: Trusting God in Difficult Times may be of personal help to the reader for finding answers to a personal need or for helping a friend find help in their time of crisis.

"In Pursuit of Wholeness" is significant, scholarly, and compelling. Practical pastoral theology, comprehensive illustrations, and workable solutions for the spiritual life journey make this an important book for every Christian reader. The clear gospel message expands the potential readership to anyone personally considering the claims of Christ

A complimentary review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Filming God: A Journey from Skepticism to Faith
Darren Wilson
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768437706, $15.99,

Filming the Signs and Wonders during the Production of The Finger of God and Furious Love

"Filming God: A Journey from Skepticism to Faith" is the story of Darren Wilson's journey while producing the films: Finger of God and Furious Love. Whether you are skeptical about Darren's Angelic visitation experience and stories which he purports to be legitimate signs and wonders or are a firm believer that we are living in the Kingdom Age of Miracles you will be touched by God's unconditional love and limitless power manifested within the pages of the book.

Darren relates how his head knowledge of God became a heart relationship, a complicated reality of walking in faith, experiencing encounters with God, which led to witnessing miraculous "God occurrences," encounters that changed his heart and his destiny.

"Filming God" is packed with seeds of spiritual revolution that ask the questions: Is God moving at an unprecedented rate? Is He moving in Biblical proportions on a regular basis around the world? The book is filled with first hand experiences or stories, from around the world, almost too incredible to be true. Darren reports them as he witnessed them or as they were related to him by people he trusts who experienced them. He encourages the reader to: "...approach these claims with an open mind, but not rush headlong into them simply because I say it's true." He reminds the reader of the importance of using discernment.

Something about Darren's openness really resonated with me. My heart was touched as I considered what it means to serve Jesus as Lord; unequivocally handing myself over to the God of the universe to do whatever He wants with me. Darren's writing is candid, warm and sincere, revealing a man with a heart after God. This openness is authentic, engaging, and compelling. I was drawn into his experiences especially as they parallel my own.

It is Darren's genuine desire to see lives changed forever. He also has a concern that Christians everywhere will learn to trust God more, to live up to their full potential, by living in the power of Christ.

"Filming God: A Journey from Skepticism to Faith" challenges the reader to examine their faith in light of a relational walk with Christ, in holiness, honesty, and humility, in a total commitment to follow His direction daily. Darren discusses how he was moved to rethink his world view of evangelism, his theology of God's power and love, and to take an honest look at God's expectation for purity and integrity in his followers.

The Jesus Training Manual: Operating in Miracles, Signs, and Wonders
Richard Mull
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 3610, Shippensburg, Pa 17257
9780768437461, $15.99,

Christian Ministry - Outside the Box

Richard Mull candidly relates the story of how God broke into his very natural existence in a supernatural way. "The Jesus Training Manual" is made up of two parts: Mull's personal encounter with God and the Biblical foundations for experiencing the God of the Bible, hearing His voice, walking in His authority and power, and finding His will for your life.

Mull advocates that God still works in the realm of the miraculous, that demons are real and we can know how to deal with them. He gives Biblical principles and truths about the Kingdom of God, healing, spiritual battles, and our spiritual armor for fighting those battles.
I found the study questions at the end of each chapter practical, probing, and heart searching, personally opening up the possibility of considering new perspectives on the meaning of discipleship and experiencing Christ's fullness in my walk with Him. These exercises become a vital core to the training manual especially when opportunities are available to discuss in a group or classroom situation along with the supporting material provided in the book's narrative.
Mull's unique story is one of allowing his character to be shaped and reshaped as the result his perseverance in praying to become a transformer of lives through a ministry to individuals tormented by fear, anxiety, depression, and negative thinking. Richard is convinced that when we limit God we are also limiting the extent of our experience with Him. He recaps the price of radically pursuing God. You can expect: rejection from your peers, you will be forced to overcome your skepticism; rethink your theological hang ups, and religious constraints to stand on Biblical principles alone.

I was impressed with illustrations from real life revealing break through in marital and family crisis, healing through deliverance, and stories of ministry in City wide revival, and cooperative youth evangelism and discipleship.

A comprehensive Appendix includes: A Resource List, A Helpful Listing of Passages from the Scriptures on Healing, and A Practical Guide for Personal Healing, "The Jesus Training Manual: Operating Miracles, Signs, and Wonders" is an excellent resource guide filled with Biblical principles, premises, and promises, selected with care, logically presented reinstating the scriptural basis for New Testament Christianity and Biblical discipleship.

Richard is articulate. His writing is compelling, convincing and convicting. The book is packed with stories of revival, restoration and revolution, as well as the practical lessons Jesus taught His twelve disciples through supernatural experiences of salvation, healing, and miracles.

A complimentary copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I Want What She's Got!
Bette James Laughrun & Kathie Nelson
PCG Legacy
317 Appaloosa Trail, Waco, Texas 76712
9780982666586, $14.95,

Finding Purpose and Fulfillment in Your Life

"I Want What She's Got!: The Secrets of Creating and Outrageous Life" is a compilation of lessons and observations learned along the way by Bette James Laughrun. The pages are filled with "food for thought" to stretch and encourage the reader to take charge of their live "outrageously."

Co-author Katie Nelson provides a "life design tool" with worksheets for developing six basic segments of life.

By sharing glimpses into some of the difficulties they faced and overcame, Bette and Kathie add creditability to the effectiveness of their "secrets" in "creating an outrageous life."

The thought provoking questions throughout the pages of the book encourage reflection on lifestyle, personal goals, and consideration of possible action steps toward realization of the goals. The format of the book lends itself to use individually, however, the book is easily adaptable for use with a mentor, life coach, or for group study. Although the book is written by women for women the principles are adaptable for anyone looking for motivation, a plan of action, and inspiration.

"I Want What She's Got!" provides a design for determining your purpose, discovering your talents, recognizing your relationships, making a contribution to your community, maintaining self care, extending your vision, and relying on supernatural power for living. Compelling and engaging.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from a representative of the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

New Age Lies Exposed
Sandra Clifton
Bridge Logos Foundation
9780882709390, $13.99,

A Call to Practical Action

Former New Age psychic, teacher and speaker, Dr. Sandra Clifton understands the contaminating influence of the half truths, inferences, hidden deceit and innuendos of alternative teachings of New Age spiritual humanism. In her earlier book "From New Age to New Life" Dr. Clifton shared her own journey out of New Age Deception.

In her new book "New Age Lies Exposed: How to Stand Firm in God's Truth" Clifton lays a Biblical and theological foundation for her reader. She clearly defines the message of the Christ of the Christian gospel and of the importance of experiencing authentic Christian faith.

She carefully analyzes the tenets of humanism and alerts the reader to beware of their use of spiritual terms, Jesus and other appealing words which often endanger the individual believer's walk with Christ and jeopardize the strength of their faith. She cautions the reader to be let them know that these teachings can be hazardous to the spiritual life of the believer. She discusses reasons for concern regarding the subtleties of New Age relativism, the abandonment of absolutes, of reality and existentialism, teachings regarding self evolving versus the transforming power of Christ, and New Age teaching of a cosmic Christ.

I particularly liked the "Putting it to Use Section" included in each chapter. Practical down to earth questions for review and assimilation help the reader understand and apply the material covered in the chapter. Clifton uses a progression of moving from the "AHA" moment to taking action steps which lead to informing others of the dangers of these New Age lies.

The Book is written for the lay person desirous of avoiding the deceit of New age teaching, the pastor who wants to protect their flock from deception, and for the seminary student who wants to be proactive in protecting their future followers from Satan's snares and his schemes of deception.

Clifton's writing is thoroughly researched and documented, brilliantly articulated, warmly compassionate, and valuable in content.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The 6th Seal
J. M. Emanuel
Book Surge
7290 Investment Drive # B, Suite 16
North Charleston, South Carolina 29418
9781439212776, $15.99,

Intense Drama, Prophetic Insight - Thought Provoking Impact

J. M. Emanuel skillfully blends Biblical fiction, end times prophesies which envisage the future with a fast moving action plot, and a contemporary twist that challenges popular fundamentalist views on the time line for Christ's return to earth.

"The 6th Seal" takes the reader on a journey into the dark side of evil through to the light of revelation into the events of the Apocalypse, the preparation for Armageddon, the Harvest of the Earth, and the return of Christ.

Emanuel uses the journal of His Holiness Angelo Savitorri to establish the background for events leading up to the year 2027, fifty one years after Satan cloned himself to lay the foundation for his devious plan of deception to rule on earth.

An old devoted priest learned of the secret identity of the Antichrist. He and two young followers are driven to promote the true message of God, to warn the world of this deception and to prepare man for the real return of Christ.

It is Emanuel's earnest desire to point the reader to a study of end times for themselves, to consider his concept in light of Biblical truths in light of current and traditional interpretations.

Emanuel's writing is strong, tight, exciting fiction, believable, convincing, and engaging. His character development is superb. He has a unique way of creating an overwhelming sense of the darkness of evil contrasted with the purity of truth, revelation, and light. A thoroughly enjoyable read, thought provoking, intense, and enlightening.

A complimentary copy of the book was received from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Pressing On
Kenneth W. Phillips
Innovo Publishing, LLC.
3451 Waterford Cove N., Suite 1
Collierville, TN 38017
9781936076390, $ 9.99,

The Realities of Overcoming Obstacles Confronting Christian Ministry

Kenneth W. Phillips, Senior Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Brockport, New York, looks at the challenges faced in Christian Ministry in light of those met in an obstacle course. In his book "Pressing On: Overcoming Obstacles to Everyday Ministry" he compares the starting line to the "call to ministry," the finishing line is related to "eternity." The obstacles are those challenges met between. Phillips uses the small Old Testament book of Haggi as the basis his study.

The book of Haggi is made up of four messages delivered to the people of Israel in the midst of discouragement while rebuilding the temple of the Lord. Obstacles of fear, discouragement, pride, and uncertainty are as prevalent in Christian ministry today as they were in the days of Haggi.

In the first three chapters Phillips lays the ground work for embracing the call to ministry, recognizing the extent, pitfalls, and hard work of ministry. The final four chapters deal directly with the principles God gave Haggi to deliverer to Israel and how they can apply to us today.

I appreciated the way Phillips maintains a clear concise narrative while preserving a comprehensive coverage of the Biblical text. The chapter summaries and "Reflection Questions" are invaluable tools for stimulating discussion or for further individual study. They helped me in my understanding, assimilation, and personal application of the Biblical principles.

"Pressing On" is inspiring, encouraging, and informational, as devotional reading, a study guide, or as a reference stool. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Freethinkers Child
Sean Phillips
Create Space
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781453737156, $9.99,

A Combination of the Supernatural, Theology, and Paranormal Events

"The Freethinkers Child" combines theology, cultism, the paranormal, satanic worship, and the supernatural. Sean Phillips has brilliantly combined the writing techniques of a Frank Peretti thriller with a touch of a Stephan King horror novel.

The plot centers on David Louther, a small Montana town, Jebson Proust, a charismatic pastor, an atheistic college professor, Dr. Stewart Collins, and his eight year old son, Sam.

David is unsettled in his Christian faith, asking probing questions, getting pat answers and familiar cliches from well meaning Christians, his local pastor, his cousin Richard, and now from Jebson Proust. Although impressed with Proust's intellect, appearance of genuine concern, and interest in adding him to his church staff, David felt a sense of evil in the background. He was convinced that something sinister was going on in the Carlsville community and that Proust may be at the core.

Phillips' has carefully created believable characters and a fast moving suspense filled plot. His writing bears evidence of a good understanding of basic theology, supernatural spiritual battles, satanic influences, and the paranormal. He carefully weaves his own passion for truth throughout the dialog and storyline.

"The Freethinker's Child" should establish Sean Phillips as a serious thinker and a promising writer. I look forward to a sequel in which David Louther continues his quest for truth and meaning.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for fair and honest review.

Letters to Ethan
Tom McQueen
Seraphina Press
212 3rd Avenue North, Suite 290
Minneapolis, MN 55401
9780984196593, $14.95,

An Enriching Approach to Leaving a Lasting Legacy for Your Children and Grandchildren

" Letters to Ethan: A Grandfather's Legacy of Life & Love" is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and families. Tom McQueen writes with purpose and passion in these thirty three letters to his grandson Ethan. The letters become a lasting legacy in which Tom establishes a common ground with in grandson as he explains the miracle of life.

Tom's letters contain humorous and poignant illustrations to help Ethan and his readers discover purpose and meaning to life, and to establish what he considers all important. In his words, "The single most important purpose for living is to know people, to engage people, and to uplift people."

I was personally inspired through the thought provoking quotes included in each chapter and by the depth of feeling breathed into the lines of the familiar poems integrated into the narrative. I was also moved by Mc Queen's account of seeking a deeper more personal relational friendship with God.

Among the topics that I found most engaging from the thirty-three letters to Ethan were the insights he shared on Christmas, goal setting, the untapped resource of the imagination, the two step process of empathy and compassion, and the courageous act of forgiveness.

"Letters to Ethan: A Grandfather's Legacy of Life & Love" will deepen your perception on parenting and grand parenting, allowing you to refocus your personal priority, and enlarge the lasting legacy you leave your children and grandchildren. The book will make an ideal Christmas gift for each family member on your list. It will provide year round inspiration and motivation as you benefit from the new level of bonding with your loved ones.

A Complimentary copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for fair and honest review.

The Power of Humility
R. T. Kendall
Charisma House
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746
9781616383480, $14.99,

Biblical Examples and Practical Principles for Walking in Christ Like Humility

By the end of the first paragraph of chapter one, R. T. Kendall had captured my full attention. I was already asking myself, "If I am a spirit filled Christian, how can I justify my subtle attitude of self righteousness and arrogance." "The Power of Humility: Living Free Like Jesus" is designed and destined to change lives. It is my prayer that my life might be one of them... because I want to emulate Jesus.

Kendall points out the danger of crossing over the line from dignity to arrogance. He draws from Biblical examples to illustrate the results of arrogance. The lives of Pharaoh, Rehoboam, Uzziah, Haman, Nebuchadnezzar, Belteshazzar, and Herod Agrippa all suffered the results of their arrogance. Kendall goes on to help the reader recognize how pride and self righteousness entered into the world through the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

I found the scriptural references and quotes from recognized leaders and personalities at the beginning of each chapter challenging, reflective, and profound. Many of them address a word of warning concerning humility, including: Self righteousness, self pity, hypocrisy, boasting, and judgment.

Today we may personally be confronting pride in the context of social, racial, financial, physical, or spiritual realms. These all hinder our relationship with God.

"The Power of Humility: Living Free Like Jesus" is an eye opening reminder to look within, to remember the source of our strength, to rely on the Lord for His blessing, while at the same time accepting and acknowledging his touch on our lives. This will allow the gifts and talents He has imparted to us to be used to bring honor to the Name of Jesus.

Compassionate Fairy Tales: A Mother Einhorn Collection
Lois Einhorn
Illustrated by Debby Gwaltney
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411
9771934759219, $16.95,

Transforming Fear and Violence to Compassion and Communication

In a unique approach Lois Einhorn, Ph.D. introduces some new twists on classic children's stories and fairy tales which communicate a positive message of compassion, communication, and friendship in "Compassionate Fairy Tales: A Mother Einhorn Collection".

In the story of "Two Boys and the Frogs" the reader will discover the enriching results of compassionate communication through a dramatic change of events that transpire as a result of redirecting the theme of the story. Another unique twist of events led to a romantic surprise ending in the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

Delightful illustrations created by Debby Gwaltney add a touch of warm, compassion, and happiness to the narrative.

Other of the selected writings convey character traits and actions that lead to feelings we have when our needs are met: confidence, happiness, a sense of loving and being loved, kindness, peace, and surprise. These stories also reveal the feelings we have when our needs are not met. Feelings like anger, sadness, and fear. Exercises are provided which allow the reader self to inventory their feelings, needs, abilities, connection, and meaning. There is also and exercise that encourages the reader to reflect on ways they personally experience having fun. One series of stories helps the reader determine ways to help the world get closer to true peace.

Thorough endnotes credit story sources and give additional evidence of the significant research that has been done in conjunction with this compilation of familiar works.

Lois Einhorn is recognized for her efforts in promoting forgiveness, reconciliation and peace through her emphasis on Compassionate Communication. These "kid tested" and "mother approved" stories make "Compassionate Fairy Tales: A Mother Einhorn Collection" an important resource for elementary school curriculum, for home-school advocates, as well as an important addition to school libraries.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Heaven is for Real
Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
Thomas Nelson Publishing Company
P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780849946158, $16.99,

A Child's Story of Experiencing a Visit to Heaven

"Heaven is for Real" is the story of Colton Burpo's miraculous survival of an emergency appendectomy. The circumstances leading up to this event and those following are carefully described by Todd Burpo, Colton's father, and skillfully written by author Lynn Vincent. This fast moving dramatic story captures Colton's experience in heaven.

Colton's testimony speaks of his experience in heaven and clearly illustrates the difference between grown-up and child-like faith. Colby's innocent expressions, as filtered through his parents and author Lynn Vincent, give the reader "a glimpse through the veil that separates earth from eternity.

The story reads like a novel; conflict, resolution and more conflict. The prayer of friends and their helpful and encouraging support enabled Burpo's to carry on the daily responsibilities of family, jobs, and ministry, during the entire ordeal. This is in itself a testimony of fortitude, dedication, and love. Almost as amazing as the story of Colton's visit to heaven is the miracle of recovery from his "burst appendix." You may want to do as I did and research the dangers involved in the poisonous infections that result when a child's appendix bursts.

"Heaven is for Real" offers comfort and assurance for the person who has lost a baby or young child through a miscarriage or death. The book brings an inspiring message of hope to the suffering or the terminally ill. It brings joy to the heart of the aging by removing some of the hidden mystery that surrounds the uncertainty of death. Colton's story gives assurance and a sense of peace to family members, loved ones, and caregivers of those who are left behind.

The book helps build a stronger faith for the believer; it helps overcome the fears of the frightened, and offers a heart warming touch to the heart of the staunchest skeptic.

Richard R. Blake

Riva's Bookshelf

Thea Atkinson
Thea Atkinson
ASIN B004C0542S
ISBN NOOKbook 2940011157271, $3.99

Anomaly by Thea Atkinson is a thought provoking look into the life of J, a transgender person struggling to find an identity to cling to while trapped in a male body that doesn't normally feel as though it is his own. J's life will undergo more changes than he thought possible in the space of one short week. Not only will his identity go from masculine to femme in that time, but he'll find someone he could care for, maybe. Go through hell to help a next door neighbor he just meets. And try to help out his dearest friend, only to discover that in the end, he's the one with the real problems.

J is a rich and multi-faceted character. He comes across so well on the page. Kind, infinitely human, with just enough smart ass thrown in to cause him trouble. He's flawed. He's put himself through all kinds of torment, but in the end he's a decent person you can really like. I feel as though I should be alternating pronouns between "he" and "she" as I describe J because ultimately J is both masculine and feminine. As a man J describes himself as a "pretty boy," as a woman J feels ugly and incomplete without her makeup on, just like most other women I know. J's character just feels 'real'.

I recommend Anomaly by Thea Atkinson. It puts a name, face and personality on an individual's struggle to be recognized for who he or she is regardless of the gender presented. It brings light to where we as a society fail transgendered people.

Erich's Plea
Tracey Alley
Tracey Alley
ASIN B003HS4V4S (Kindle version),
ISBN 2940000886342 (B&N NOOKbook),
ISBN10 1453600973 (paperback)
ISBN13 978-1453600979 (paperback)
eBook $0.99, paperback $14.99

Available from Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble or from your independent bookseller by special order.

Erich's Plea by Tracey Alley is a trip into a meticulously designed fantasy world teetering on the brink of worldwide war. "Erich" is High King Erich and his plea is directed, by way of a dream to his imprisoned son, Prince Einreich, better known as Slade. Slade is being held captive in the worst prison in the known lands, one where escape is impossible, but escape is what he must do if he is to assist his father, the king.

Circumstances make for strange alliances and Slade finds himself being told in the dream to "follow the Trunk," a strange half-ogre, half-troll. Imagine his surprise when the very creature foreseen in his dream materializes as a prisoner in the courtyard one day. A daring jailbreak ensues, bringing together followers of the different gods, as well as some non-magical people. The followers of any one sect almost all automatically distrust the followers of another sect and those who practice no magic have no fondness for those who do. It is a situation ripe with tension, both within the little group and outside of them as they hope to free themselves and take on the elven witch Shallendara, the Dark One and their group of cohorts. But worse yet is the fact a traitor is among them and no one can know for certain who should be trusted.

Alley does an admirable job of telling a story that is fraught with tension while laying the groundwork for future installments of the Witchcraft Wars. The tale kept me interested throughout its entirety and turning pages eagerly clear till the end. The story rarely lagged; I felt that each piece of information contained in the pages of the book was integral to the developing story. Finally, I enjoyed the book enough that I have the next installment sitting on my computer waiting for me to review in about a month or so.

What follows is an excerpt from the book, the necromancer Nickolai is speaking:

"I was captured in the north, in the Freeholds to be precise. I was traveling there, under orders, with Lord Michael Strong," Nickolai said slowly.

"You lie necromancer," Tares began.

"It's true, Tares,"surprisingly the interruption came from Lara. "I was there," she looked at Nickolai suspiciously, "but that was months ago."

"True," Nickolai continued smoothly even though he was quite taken aback. He had been unaware of this little halfling and wondered just how much she knew.

"But what I learned in the freeholds then remains relevant now. Lord Michael and I discovered evidence that suggests a secret army is being formed. Who is behind this or why we were unable to discover. However, I did find out two interesting pieces of information, both of which involved what I believe to be assassination plots. The first," he paused and looked at Slade, "involved your father, High King Erich. Unfortunately I was unable to find out much more than the fact someone had ordered Erich killed."

Slade could feel the blood drain from his face, his heart was pounding and a cold sweat broke out on his brow. This then was what the dream had been about, his father, his king and liege lord was being stalked by an unknown assassin. Slowly Slade turned to face Wulfstan. For the first time since Slade recognized the warrior it occurred to him to wonder exactly what one of his father's royal bodyguards was doing behind bars in Ostland's most vicious prison.

"You," Slade spoke slowly, his fear for his father pounding heavily through his blood, "You should have been with him. You're his bodyguard, one of them anyway," Slade's innate sense of fairness forced him to make that qualification. His love of his father however, drove him to his feet without his even being aware of it. Like a man in a dream or a nightmare, Slade walked over to the big warrior. Grabbing hold of the front of Wulfstan's shirt in his fist he pulled his one time friend to his feet."

"What happened Wulfstan?" Slade was shouting into Wulfstan's face, all thoughts of where he was or the need for silence completely forgotten in his fear and anger. "Where's my father?"

I recommend Tracey Alley's Erich's Plea. It was interesting and enjoyable reading, and is set in a world so intricately developed that it is guaranteed to hold you enthralled till the final pages.

Blood Line
Kate Hamilton
Kate Hamilton
Amazon Kindle
ASIN B004KZOU3E $4.50

Blood Line by Kate Hamilton is one of the more interesting romances I have read lately. I found its plot line unique and highly interesting. I enjoyed a few good chuckles as I read through the book. It is the tale of Lauren, a reluctant bride promised in marriage to the Scottish Laird Hugh MacBreach, and of Lauren's guardian angel, Cidriel.

Lauren is Cidriel's first assignment and some of his skills, especially those in human communication could use a bit of polishing. On his first visit to Lauren he fails to impress upon her how serious her plight is and he then finds himself in one position after another where his skill and timing are sorely pressed as Lauren seems to continually find herself in hot water.

Lauren finds herself embroiled in a Gothic suspense of the first caliber as she ties to avoid marrying the one man who might possibly be able to make her happy. But before Lauren can hope to find to find happiness she has to avoid the attempts on her life and try to discover her role in a prophecy she finds in a book in her library. All signs seem to point to something dark and terrible for Lauren, but can her angel help her out of her bind, and speaking of her angel, there's sparks flying between Lauren and Cidriel. Maybe things are even more complicated than they appear on the surface. Could the right man not be a man at all?

Kate Hamilton keeps you guessing on this one up till the final paragraphs. I don't want to give anything away, but I think you'll find the ending quite satisfying. I know I did. Until you reach it you'll be kept turning pages by Hamilton's excellent storytelling skills and her ability to continually draw you deeper into the story. I read the story through in two evenings as I did not want to put it down. When it was over I enjoyed the glow that comes from experiencing a tale well told and a romance that was exactly that, something that made your heart pound with excitement and joy. It was a wonderful experience.

Allen Steele
An Audible Frontiers audio book
Narrated by Peter Ganim, Allen Steele

I really enjoyed Coyote by Allen Steele. It is the story of the colonization of Coyote, a habitable planet in a distant star system. It is also the story of the theft of a multi-million dollar spaceship by its captain and crew.

Coyote is set in a future time when the United States has become the United Republic of America after a revolution twelve years earlier. People who disagree with the government's official positions are being rounded up and sent to re-education camps from which they never reappear. Stealing the URSS Alabama is Captain Robert E. Lee, descendent of the Confederate captain, and part of his crew. They populate the ship with a "crew" of dissident intellectuals, hoping to steal the Alabama and find safe haven on Coyote where they can start a new life on a new frontier.

I liked the format of the Audible Frontiers audio book rather than CDs or DVDs due to the ability to bookmark where I finished listening for a night and start again the next night from the exact same place, without having to worry about not using my CD/DVD drive for anything else during the day. I also thought the narrator for Coyote was wonderful. I truly enjoyed listening to him. Overall it was a wonderful experience. The only thing I didn't like was having to get out of a nice, cozy bed to go to my computer in order to mark my spot as opposed to simply slipping a bookmark into a traditional book.

I found Coyote to be highly entertaining. At no point did I wish for the end to hurry, in fact, when the book was over I found myself wanting more. I ended up downloading several successive volumes of the Coyote series for my nightly reading pleasure. I've listened to Coyote and Coyote Rising, the first two volumes in the series. I have the third and fourth volumes on my computer, but I'm currently listening to something outside of the Coyote series, after all, you can't eat steak every night.

I highly recommend Coyote. It has a rich and fascinating storyline and a cast of wonderful characters. The use of voice in the story is excellent, as is its rising and falling action, and multiple storylines. I found the book to be one of a kind. I think you will too.

Coyote Rising
Allen Steele
An Audible Frontiers Audio Book
Narrated by Peter Ganim, Allen Steele

Coyote Rising is the second volume in the Coyote series by Allen Steele. In it Coyote has been invaded with multiple spaceships from Earth and the original colonists from the first spaceship, the Alabama, have moved off to Midland, another continent on Coyote. In Midland the first colonists are living in houses built in large trees so the satellites from the new spacecraft can't find them. The new colonists are all socialists from America, another revolution having occurred during the time after the Alabama left Earth. The original colonists are deeply democratic and so have chosen to distance themselves from the new colonists.

Meanwhile, the spaceships from Earth have arrived bearing thousands of colonists ill-repared for life on the new frontier. There isn't enough wood on New Florida to build houses for everyone arriving so most of the newly arrived colonists live in tents in a town called Shuttlefield near the landing field. During the harsh Coyote winters the weak perish and their goods are fought over by the remaining. The original colonists, under the name of Rigel Kent, a fictitious name for their leader, conduct raids into the area of Liberty at least once a year on "Landing Day" the holiday celebrating the landing of the first party on Coyote. During their raids they steal supplies, especially firearms and sabotage those who remain behind on New Florida.

Rigel Kent's arch-rival remains behind in Liberty where he was left locked in one of the settlers' cabins when the rest of the original colonists had moved on to Midland. The reason for this - he had betrayed the location of Liberty to the Matriarch Hernandez, leader of the first socialist ship to come to Coyote and current leader of the colony.

Hernandez is obsessed with finding the original colonists and destroying them. This is in site of the fact that those she considers "undesirables" are allowed to leave the colony and go in search of the original colonists. Still, try as she might the location of the original colonists remains unknown until one event sparks a head-on confrontation between the two groups, the outbreak of a civil war between the armed forces of the socialists and the people who have left the colony behind in search of freedom.

Steele does an excellent job of developing the background for the civil war, it's beginnings and even the events that lead up to its eventual conclusion. Ganim again does an exemplary job narrating the book. The tension is finely developed, the characters larger than life, including a religious zealot, physically modified by a mad doctor to resemble a demonic angel, and his followers who go off into the wilderness seeking the original colonists only to face a horrific set of circumstances.

Coyote Rising is an wonderful work of fiction I highly recommend.

Tracy M. Riva

Sandra's Bookshelf

A Port in the Storm
Judy Genandt
Five Star Publishing
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive
Waterville Me 04901
97781594149511, $25.95,

In 1885, Margaret Ward, a socialite finds herself involved in a scandal in Boston's society. Even though it is not her fault, her father sends her to Wyoming to live with his friend and family on their working cattle ranch. She is also assigned to work as the village schoolmarm.

From the first day when she falls down a flight of stairs, to the time she falls in a yard that is nothing but mud, it is obvious that Margaret is not the most graceful woman. If it is not one thing for her then it is another. Yet it is always Tee, the ranch foreman who always finds her in one predicament or another.

It is up to Margaret to find the best road she should travel. To fit into a live style that is so different than she has ever known. To find out what true love is all about.

I love the characters in this book. I find the story to be refreshing and different than your normal genre of this type. This book is 410 pages, but it holds your attention from page one. I was tempted to read the last few pages of this book after I had read the second chapter. I wanted to see ahead of time how it would end.

But I am so glad that I did not. The biggest surprise is in the ending. In this book you will find laughter, sadness, suspense, love, a very determined young schoolmarm, and best of all a happy ending. One filled with love that flows in many directions.

I have laughed so much reading this book, and at times felt great sadness also. This book is a great read that I have enjoyed so much.

The Gifts: A Jacody Ives Mystery
Linda S. Prather
Echelon Press Publishing
9735 Country Meadows Lane, Laurel, MD 20723
9781590804629, $12.99,

If you love a good mystery mixed with the supernatural, and suspense, then this is the book for you. It is a thriller that has you thinking one way, and then within the next few pages you are on a journey that will keep you going until the end. It is like being on a roller coaster. You slowly make your way up to the top, all the time watching how high you are going. Then as you reach the top you say to yourself, "What was I thinking?" Yet it is too late to get off. This book is like a roller coaster.

Once you start reading it, there is no turning back. The book will drawl you into the story and the characters. I thought I had it figured out half way through the book, and then sure as shoot I found out I was lost. This is a great read.

I rate this book R for language and violence

Sandra Heptinstall

Suzie's Bookshelf

Devils on Horseback: Book 4 - Lee
Beth Williamson
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520
Macon GA 31201
9781609280444, $5.50 (eBook)

Lee Blackwood had fought gallantly in the Civil War. For his country, he sacrificed his arm in the name of freedom. The war had changed him both physically and mentally. His missing arm was a constant reminder of the man he would never be again.

Genevieve Blanchard found herself newly widowed with a child and a run-down farm. She knew in order to make it through the winter, she would have to ask for assistance. Setting her pride aside, she goes into town to find someone who is willing to help her and her daughter harvest their wheat crop.

When Genevieve meets Lee she sees him as a strong handsome man. Lee is reluctant to give into his attraction to Genevieve, for he fears she will reject him because of his disability.

When Lee hears of Genevieve's dilemma he offers his help. Genevieve has very little to offer him in payment. Will the two of them come to an agreement that will be beneficial for both of them?

Devils on Horseback: Lee - Book 4 is a superb book! Lee's and Genevieve's dark past is the substance that builds a true and loving foundation. To say that I immediately fell in love with this book is an understatement. After reading the first chapter, there was no way I could put this book down until I finished the last page. Although this book is part of a series, I easily was able to read it as a standalone novel. This one story captured my attention I just knew I had to read the other titles in the series. Historical romances like Devils on Horseback: Lee - Book 4 do not come along every day when we find them, know that we are receiving a very special gift. Other titles in this highly addictive series include:

Devils on Horseback: Book 1 - Nate
Devils on Horseback: Book 2 - Jake
Devils on Horseback: Book 3 - Zeke
Devils on Horseback: Book 5 - Gideon

21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart
Neal Barnard
Grand Central Life & Style
c/o Hatchette Book Group
237 Park Avenue,New York, NY 10017
9780446583817, $25.99,

Get ready, get set, go! It's time to take control of your eating habits and start working towards getting into the perfect shape. Through the knowledge shared in Neal Barnard's "21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health" there is hope to getting yourself in tip top shape.

The 21-Day Weight Loss program is the ideal solution for anyone who wishes to learn a quick and effective way to improve your health. The program focuses on reprogramming your body by these three elements:

Appetite Reduction
Metabolism Boost
Cardio Protection

What I found so unique about this program is the short amount of time it takes to be successful. It is easy to understand, and takes very little effort to achieve maximum results. 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health is a breakthrough revolution in the age of good health. It offers a way to show you the proper way to maintain proper diet and nutrition. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is search of a health program that produces maximum results.

Vertical Gardening
Derek Fell
Rodale Books
733 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781605290836, $23.99,

Do you dream of having the space to grow your own garden? Does the thought of home grown vegetable seem impossible? If you answered yes to any of these two questions, then hope comes in the form of Derek Fell's "Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space".

From the moment I received Vertical Gardening, I knew this was going to be the one book that I put to good use. Having grown up in the country I am use to the land needed for a garden. When I moved to a city, I found my gardening ideas were limited to the small amount of land I had for a backyard. Through the ingenious ideas of Vertical Gardening, I discovered ways to reuse my gardening skills in a small place.

There were several ideas that appealed to what I could do in my own backyard. What I found so unique was this book gives you all the in-depth details that you need to have a bountiful garden.

Don't let a small space hold you back from turning your garden dreams into a reality. Through Vertical Gardening, you will find the solution that allows you to cultivate an award winning garden. I highly recommend this book to anyone regardless of their gardening experience. Whether you are experienced or a novice, this book has a wealth of knowledge to offer.

Suzie Housley

Theodore's Bookshelf

John Lescroart
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780525951766, $26.95,

Readers should not expect the author's trademark court scenes in this novel. Instead, it is more of a psychological study about a newly elected DA, Wes Farrell, in San Francisco, protagonists also including Chief of Homicide Abe Glitsky, Asst. DA Amanda Jenkins and others. The antagonists include Ro Curtlee, a convicted rapist-murderer released by an appellate court on a technicality after serving nine years of a much longer sentence, and his parents, wealthy owners of one of only two newspapers in town and not hesitant in using their power to influence public officials or opinion.

Soon after Ro's release pending a new trial, the question of bail arises; Farrell takes no position and the judge grants it for a $10 million bond. And then the chief witness in the first trial is found strangled and her apartment burned. Obviously, suspicion falls on Ro. Another murder and threatening events soon follow. The thrust of the plot is to get Ro back in jail, and the machinations of the cops and prosecutors vs. the influence of the Curtlees.

So, instead of a courtroom drama, we have a thriller enhanced by peeks into the conflicts and complexities, including ethics, values and procedures, facing various professionals in their attempts to serve justice. Written with insights and flowing narrative, the novel is recommended.

Electric Barracuda
Tim Dorsey
Wm. Morrow
c/o HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061876899, $24.99,

Attempting to review a Serge A. Storm novel is no small chore, it is a monumental task, because there is no possible way to provide even a modicum of a synopsis. But one can always provide one conclusion, and this 13th novel in the series is no exception to the rule that it is whacky, humorous, different and a delight to read.

The themes in bare essence are as follows: Serge is on his usual tour of Florida's "attractions" as a "fugitive," advising those who read his website on how to enjoy themselves while "on the lam." Meanwhile, in reality (if such a thing exists in a Serge Storm plot) he is being chased by nemesis Mahoney and a Special State Task Force. And while he's at it, Serge has to recover funds fraudulently taken by an unscrupulous attorney from his grandfather's old gang.

Enough said. Just read the novel and laugh out loud.


The Snowman
Jo Nesbo
Translated by Don Bartlett
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780307595867 $25.95

The Harry Hole series presents the reader with somewhat of an anomaly. On the one hand, we are informed that Norway is virtually free from serial killers. On the other hand, Hole is reputed to be the only detective in the nation with experience in catching serial killers, having accomplished his experience in Australia and also attending an FBI course. And then, serial killers tend to appear in the Harry Hole novels, including this one.

The first of several missing persons is a married mother, and the only clue is a snowman outside her home. Shortly before her disappearance, Hole received a mysterious letter which, in retrospect, leads him to believe there was a link between it and the woman's vanishing. In reviewing unsolved cases, Harry and his team find an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over some years.

Once again, Jo Nesbo has written a taut thriller, one that is forceful and gripping and, this time, full of madness. His novels just keep on getting better and better. Fast-paced and staggering, always keeping the reader looking ahead to the next shift, keeping one off balance with wonder. Highly recommended.

The Janus Stone
Elly Griffiths
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02166
9780547237442, $25.00,

Near the conclusion of the debut novel in this series, "The Crossing Places," forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway and DI Harry Nelson enjoy an emotional one-night stand after solving the mystery of discovered bones in the salt marsh in Norwich, England. In this second installment, we learn that Ruth is now three months pregnant, but that doesn't prevent her from jumping into the trenches when a skeleton is uncovered during a dig at a development site. Are the bones ancient or more recent? Is it a murder case?

Juggling ancient Roman history, classical lore and modern science is the basics of a Ruth Galloway mystery, and "The Janus Stone" is no exception. Janus is the God with two heads, looking forward and backward, guardian of "the door." And it is under the door to an old mansion, which served for a time as a home for children, that the bones are found. Whether they are the remains of a little girl who ran away with her brother years before, or is there some other explanation, remains the task of DI Nelson and his associates to discover, especially after Ruth confirms they are of modern, rather than ancient, origin. [Not a spoiler - this is revealed very early on.] Other mysteries arise, especially when Ruth's life is threatened. Who is the perpetrator?

By combining ancient mythology with a plot involving family secrets, insanity, and two independent and interesting characters, the novel keeps the reader rapt in a flowing tale with multi-level subplots. Written with insight and humor, the book is recommended.

Three Seconds
Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom
Translated by Kari Dickson
Silver Oak Publishing
387 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10016
9781402785924, $24.95

In the tradition of Swedish noir crime novels, this is a brutal and twisted tale of the cynical use of criminals as informers ("snitches" in prison parlance) and the cover-ups and subterfuge which follow. It also is a cynical tale of the apparent practice of allowing drug use in Swedish prisons to keep prisoners calm and compliant. Moreover, it is a look at police and political corruption. In other words, it is one helluva tale.

The plot follows Piet Hoffman, who has served as an informer for almost a decade, now deeply involved with a Polish drug ring which he has infiltrated to the extent that he has risen to head up an operation to supply all of Sweden's inmates with drugs. It is, of course, the police plan that he would help crush the organization in the effort. Then there is Detective Inspector Ewert Grens, a troubled man investigating a murder at which Hoffman was present.

The five novels which have now been published by the authors are anything but the usual crime genre.. A combination of fact and fiction (one author is an investigative reporter, the other an ex-criminal), written with depth and detail. The writing is powerful, and the suspense builds from beginning to end.

Highly recommended.

Gideon's War
Howard Gordon
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439175811, $24.99,

Aficionados of action movies or television will certainly enjoy this novel, authored by someone already identified with endeavors like writing or producing such works as "24," "The X Files," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel." All of the characters in these efforts are firmly embedded in the plot, with enough action, killing and mayhem to satisfy even the most jaded of viewers or readers.

The tale involves two brothers and the twisted politics of Washington power plays. Gideon Davis is a quiet UN negotiator specializing in obtaining compromises among factions, attempting to secure peace around the globe. His brother, Tillman, apparently is involved in an insurgent Muslim faction in a fictional southeast Asian country aiming to unseat the sultan, who the U.S. President believes can bring democracy and peace to the nation. The President, upon learning that Tillman has offered to surrender to Gideon on an offshore drilling rig, sends him flying off to accomplish the task.

Then all the action starts. Page after page. There is enough to keep the reader guessing, while the plot surges ahead at a lightning speed. The writing is smooth and the story well-told.

The House at Sea's End
Elly Griffiths
21 Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1A 2NS
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9781849163675, 14.99,

As the book opens Kate, the baby born to Ruth Galloway, the forensic expert, as a result of a one-night stand with Detective Inspector Harry Nelson in the prior entry in the series, is now four months old and the mother is still juggling her maternal and professional duties, sometimes to much criticism from friends. But the baby seems to survive.

In any event, her motherly demands don't seem to prevent Ruth from getting involved with more forensic investigations and police investigations. Especially when six skeletons are discovered on a beach and her examination indicates that they are probably from Germany, perhaps dating back to an invasion during the early days of World War II on a lonely Norfolk beach. Indications are that each was shot in the back of the head. The question arises: Did the various persons in the Home Guard play any role in their deaths?

As in the previous two novels featuring Ruth and D.I. Nelson, they combine to discover the facts surrounding the mystery of past and present. The prose is lean and the plot moves apace with agility. The characters remain immensely human and intriguing, and the novel lives up to the standards of the predecessor novels.


The Cypress House
Michael Koryta
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780316053723, $24.99,

Death and corruption haunt this tale about a World War I veteran during the Depression who has a unique ability to see whether a person faces an imminent demise because of a trace of smoke in his/her eyes. Arlen Wagner in the late 30's was a supervisor at a Civilian Conservation Corps ("CCC") camp and was transferred to another in the Florida Keys along with several others from his detachment. On the train he saw the sign of death in his fellow passengers and tried to warn them of impending danger, but only 19-year-old Paul Brickhill listened to him.

The two abandoned the train and found themselves at an isolated inn on the Gulf Coast, The Cypress House (a euphemism for a casket). There they discovered a different kind of danger: a corrupt judge and a sheriff who ruled the area by sheer terror, allowing drugs to be imported from Cuba at a boat landing located near the inn.

The eerie but fascinating tale follows the efforts of the two men, along with Rebecca Cady, who runs the inn, to survive not only the massive 1935 hurricane which caused severe death and destruction, but the human forces that ruled the area. Written with an excellent eye for describing life during the Great Depression, the novel also exhibits a deep view of human emotions, as Arlen, while wishing to depart as fast as he can, refuses to abandon Rebecca or Paul.

Highly recommended.

Theodore Feit

Valentina's Bookshelf

Wounded Earth
Mary Anna Evans
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781456530709, $14.95,

I received this book from the Goodreads Giveaway Program. What surprised me most about this book was that it is not been swept up by a major publishing company. I see nothing in this book that would deter it from becoming a popular thriller. The writing is spotless, the grammar as it should be, the plot is fast-paced and highly entertaining.

Larabeth is a wonderful character, full of the type of contradictions that make for leaving a mark on the reader. As is, of course, the villain, Babykiller, a maniacal, egocentric and yet charming man who takes over whatever pages he touches.

The chaotic environmental scenarios the book creates are all the more frightening because they could easily come true. Nuclear plants on the verge of bursting in toxic fireworks, the pollution of our water, the decimation of our crops, all of it a terrifying reality.

Yes, there are a few weak points in the story, some resolutions that come a bit too quickly, and one character, Cynthia who is a just a cardboard cut-out of a real woman, but I have read so many "official" thrillers that have all of these faults, and more, that it makes me curious as to why it was not published by one of the "big" houses.

This is a book that any fan of suspense, thrillers, or mystery books will definitely want to add to his or her bookshelf.

Look to Our Mother and Our Father
Nada y Nadie
0692009248 Ebook $3.00 Paperback $16.00

When I received this ebook from the Librarything Giveaway program, I was curious to see what I would get from its controversial subject.

Well, little more than headaches and ill humor. I don't know what's worse: the author's belief that cancer could be easily cured by a primitive culture's medicine man, or that technology is a useless and evil invention. Remember this is an ebook, the author did not write this on banana leaves but probably on a laptop, to be read on a handheld ELECTRONIC device. The hypocrisy is disgusting.

Yes, of course, we the PEOCs, (as the author calls all European descendants or those who have adopted that way of life) have done a lot of negative things to the planet, but to say something so ridiculous as that the ancient non-European civilizations understood the value of life better, that they did not have murderers or rapists, that they lived a peaceful life, is absurd. Human sacrifice, anyone? Native Americans waged territorial wars all the time, as did all the other ancient civilizations. It is not a PEOC disease, just human nature. We are just like any other animal, aggressive, territorial, and opportunistic. Ancient civilizations had many of the same cultural issues, with hierarchies of power, with people in charge and people beneath them who worked. k, so they weren't getting paid with checks or direct deposits, but they were getting food for their work.

I was just astounded and frustrated by the time and effort it took for the author, who remains anonymous, to write something so concisely ludicrous, and I do regret spending my time in between its (cough cough) e-pages.

Valentina Cano

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

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