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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 21, Number 8 August 2022 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Health/Medicine Shelf Biography Shelf
Parenting Shelf General Fiction Shelf Historical Fiction Shelf
LGBT Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Poetry Shelf Business Shelf
Self-Help Shelf Judicial Studies Shelf  


Reviewer's Choice

In Country: My Memories of Vietnam and After
Forrest R. Lindsey
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
www.dorrancepublishing.com
9781639371723, $47.00, HC, 198pp

https://www.amazon.com/Country-My-Memories-Vietnam-After/dp/1639371729

Synopsis: "In Country: My Memories of Vietnam and After" is about the time in his life that Forrest R. Lindsey was a young enlisted Marine in Vietnam. In this personal memoir he relates his experiences as a truck driver, an artilleryman, and then out in combat with a Rifle Company -- including what it felt like to be wounded and to flow through the hospital system.

"In Country: My Memories of Vietnam and After" is also about what combat was like in the villages and coastal plains of Vietnam early in the war, including our language, culture, characters and the different versions of leadership.

Essentially this memoir is a biographical time capsule of the events and hazards, the enemy and the weapons and equipment -- and the effects that the opposition at home had on Forrest Lindsey. Of special note is the inclusion of many previously unpublished photographs to illustrate how the American part of the war looked and felt so that future generations of Americans will get a better feel for who the combatants were and what they went through for each other and for our country.

Critique: An extraordinary, detailed and vividly presented first-hand account of the Vietnam War as experienced by one front line marine, "In Country: My Memories of Vietnam and After" is especially and unreservedly recommended addition to the growing library of Vietnam War Histories & Memoirs. It should be noted for personal reading lists, as well as community, college, and university library 20th Century American Military History collections in general, and Vietnam War supplemental curriculum studies that "In Country: My Memories of Vietnam and After" is also available in a paperback edition (9781639371662, $39.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $34.00).

Forrest R. Lindsey grew up in California in a large family and entered the Marine Corps a year after high school in 1965. He served as an enlisted Marine in Vietnam and then after recovering from his wounds, returned to the Marine Corps as an Artillery Officer in 1973.

Lindsey served as a Marine Officer for a total of 23 years, serving in almost every artillery position in the Marines, finally commanding the 5th Battalion, 11th Marines in 1993-4 at Camp Pendleton, California. In between his artillery assignments, he had other unique jobs which took him all over the world. LtCol Lindsey retired from active duty in 1996 and was chosen to work in the new Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia as a Senior Engineer and Program Manager. His most notable and successful weapon system was the XM-326 120mm Automated Mortar System, the Dragon Fire.


The Health/Medicine Shelf

How To Avoid Being A Victim Of The American Healthcare System
Dr. David Wilcox
https://drdavidwilcox.com
Here For You Publishing
9780578878362, $19.95, PB, 184pp

https://www.amazon.com/Avoid-Victim-American-Healthcare-System/dp/0578878364

Synopsis: Have you ever wondered what really goes on inside the American Healthcare System? Why does your insurance company deny your claims? Why are your prescription drug prices so high?

If you're frustrated about falling through the cracks and not getting the care you need, be it from doctors, nurses, hospitals, and others, then "How To Avoid Being a Victim of the American Healthcare System: A Patient's Handbook for Survival" by Dr. David Wilcox will give you the insider knowledge you need straight from a medical professional who has decades of experience in all aspects of the American Healthcare System.

"How To Avoid Being a Victim of the American Healthcare System: A Patient's Handbook for Survival" will provide you with a comprehensive foundation of knowledge about all aspects of health care - from going to the hospital, to handling insurance companies, to finding lower cost alternatives for medications. Most of all, it will empower you with the skills to help you navigate the complex American Healthcare System safely and become an equal partner in your care.

Critique: Impressively informative, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "How To Avoid Being a Victim of the American Healthcare System: A Patient's Handbook for Survival" is an inherently fascinating expose of the American Healthcare System at all levels and is presented in two major sections: Staying Safe Inside The Hospital; A Better Healthcare System. Informatively enhanced with the inclusion of an informative Introduction and twelve pages of Notes, "How To Avoid Being a Victim of the American Healthcare System: A Patient's Handbook for Survival" needs to be a part of every community and academic library Health/Medicine collection. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of medical students, academia, practicing physicians, health care providers, governmental and health care policy makers, hospital administrators, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "How To Avoid Being a Victim of the American Healthcare System: A Patient's Handbook for Survival" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Dr. David Wilcox is a healthcare professional who has worked as a bedside nurse, hospital administrator, and in healthcare information technology. Dr. Wilcox has a dedicated website at https://drdavidwilcox.com


The Biography Shelf

An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia: A Memoir
Iris Novak
Independently Published
https://www.leila.si/en
9798773218036, $19.00, PB, 332pp

https://www.amazon.com/Independent-Woman-Yugoslavia-Memoir/dp/B09M7GZQ7T

Synopsis: "An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia is the memoir of Iris Novak who is determined to succeed, although she was born as a poor and frightened country girl in what was
then Yugoslavia. To achieve her goals, she used her abilities to gain knowledge from everything around her, and so triumphed against the odds and grew into a successful and independent business woman.

Iris starts with her earliest memories about her grandparents and parents. The local elementary school enlarges her narrow world and she realizes her initial, modest dream - to become the best pupil in one of the best-known Slovenian schools. But these years bring also bitter moments, because her father seems determined to make his family as unhappy as he is himself. When Iris, her mother and brother seem to have been left without anything, they are accepted by her mother's family and start to live a normal life, without violence.

Iris enters the secondary school and has to struggle again to become equal to her brilliant schoolmates. She falls in love, but soon finds out that the young man does not deserve the love she feels for him. After some miserable months, she meets another boy and thinks that she has finally found the love of her life. She graduates from the university, finds a good job, gets married and has three children. She has everything she ever wanted, or so she thinks.

The differences she sees between herself and her husband start to trouble her. Since she cannot solve the problems, she sublimates her overflowing energy and pours it into her children, for further studies and her job. She is happy as a mother, but has to overcome struggles as a business woman in an environment in which business is the realm of men. She eventually becomes successful in her business and in the academic world, but she remains without a man whom she
could love.

"An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia" is the true and personal story of a strong woman who overcomes many obstacles and is happy that she could participate in so many roles in life. It is a new angle on this coming-of-age story, since most anglophone readers will find the backdrop
of Yugoslavia and Slovenia exotic and new. She describes her life objectively, often laughing at her own mistakes and often remembering even the sadder moments of her life with grace and humor.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia: A Memoir" by Iris Novak (a pseudonym) is an inherently fascinating, informative, and thought-provoking read from cover to cover. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia: A Memoir" is very highly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Biography & Memoir collections, and will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in Women's Biographies and Yugoslavian modern social history and culture.

Editorial Note: The author writes under the pseudonym Iris Novak. She was born in the second half of the twentieth century in Slovenia, the northern part of the then Yugoslavia. She graduated from English and German, acquired her MA in Management and PhD in Librarianship. She worked in the international business, in librarianship, was director of a school for foreign languages and finally established her own business: employment agency and a college. The author lives in Slovenia, is married and has three children.

Aura: A Memoir
Hillary Leftwich
Future Tense Books
9781892061935, $17.00, PB, 294pp

https://www.amazon.com/Aura-Memoir-Hillary-Leftwich/dp/1892061937

Synopsis: "Aura" by Hillary Leftwich is not just another life story in the form of a memoir -- it is also a spell book for survival, a powerful promise from mother to son, and an intimate examination of power, spirituality, and the abuse of both.

Hillary weaves together the stories of her life to create startlingly raw memories that are both personal and profoundly universal. She explores the devastating impact of patriarchy in her own life while searching for answers in witchcraft, womanhood, and motherhood. Urgently portrayed and deeply felt, "Aura" is a complex tapestry of letters, spells, and memories. Her story is a vivid confrontation against an unforgiving world that traps women and children in the systems meant to save them. This is a story for seekers, searchers, and anyone in the process of saving themselves and their loved ones.

Critique: A truly exceptional, deftly crafted, and inherently fascinating life story, "Aura" will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in contemporary literary nonfiction and women's studies. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community, college, and university library Contemporary Biography & Memoir collections, it should be noted that "Aura" is also available as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212277242, $31.95, CD).

Editorial Note: Hillary Leftwich is the author of "Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock" (CCM Press/The Accomplices 2019). Her hybrid poetry and CNF collection, "Saint Dymphna's Playbook", is forthcoming from PANK Books in 2023. She is the founder and owner of Alchemy Author Services & Workshop, teaches at Lighthouse Writers, and is a creative writing professor at the University of Denver and an assistant creative writing professor at Colorado College. She focuses her writing on class struggle, single motherhood, trauma, mental illness, the supernatural, ritual, and the impact of neurological disease. She is an intuitive Tarologist and has been reading Tarot for over 25 years coupled with her clair abilities and studies under several well-known psychic medium mentors. She also teaches Tarot and Tarot writing workshops focusing on strengthening divination abilities as well as writing. There are two web pages dedicated to her at: https://www.lighthousewriters.org/users/hillary-leftwich & https://www.authorsguild.org/the-writing-life/member-spotlight-hillary-leftwich

Tablecloth Nights: A Memoir
Kathleen Fern Suess
Norbu Press
9798674804390, $16.00, PB, 243pp

https://www.amazon.com/Tablecloth-Nights-Kathleen-Fern-Suess/dp/B08JB7MHKR

Synopsis: A core of resiliency, a touch of humor, and a backwards glance into family relationships, with the publication of "Tablecloth Nights: A Memoir", readers follow life story of Kathleen Fern Suess from Queens, NY, where she was the youngest of four girls in a family fueled by too much alcohol and too little love.

Early marriage, divorce, another relationship, motherhood, and several chaotic years later, Kathleen gains her independence. She moves to the Catskills, adapting a new persona and a more relaxed way of life.

With time to reflect, Fern confronts her nagging suspicions about Uncle John, a Catholic priest, and an important part of her childhood. Pursuing answers to questions about the past, she discovers a secret that has been hidden for decades. With the knowledge comes validation and an unexpected bonus.

Critique: With a special appeal to readers with an interest in parenting, relationships, and biographies, "Tablecloth Nights: a Memoir" by Kathleen Fern Suess is an inherently fascinating, candid, and thought-provoking read from cover to cover. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Biography & Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Tablecloth Nights: a Memoir" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Kathleen Fern Suess founded a poetry group, publishing two chapbooks, while painting and working for a non-profit arts organization. She began writing her memoir after an unexpected family revelation. She takes photos wherever she goes, likes to write in the local coffee shop (pre-pandemic), has made fourteen quilts, installation art, and mixed media collages. She is an avid reader of a wide spectrum of genres, loves Rock & Roll, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Etta James -- among others. She is currently working on a cozy mystery novel that takes place in an historic small town in the Catskills. Kathleen has a dedicated web page at https://www.goodreads.com/author/20723200.Kathleen_Fern_Suess/questions


The Parenting Shelf

Empowered Kids, Liberated Parents
Cassi Clausen, author
Aaron Browder, author
Wonderfall Books
www.wonderfallbooks.com
9798986124902, $12.95, PB, 184pp

https://www.amazon.com/Empowered-Kids-Liberated-Parents-Educations/dp/B0B5KQ4DHG

Synopsis: More than ever before, schools are training children to do little other than follow directions, conform to standards, and memorize facts they can now easily look up anytime thanks to internet search engines.

Meanwhile, the phenomena of helicopter parenting, packing resumes for college, and mountains of homework mean that children have less time than ever before in history to play and explore, which is resulting in record high levels of anxiety and depression for kids.

To be successful in the 21st century, our children will need to be independent, creative, and able to learn new things all the time. What if instead of piloting them, we allowed children to make choices and learn from their mistakes? What if we allowed them to follow their own passions? What if increasing independence is the way nature intended children to grow up?

"Empowered Kids, Liberated Parents: Why Children Are Healthier, Happier, and Achieve More When in Control of Their Own Lives and Educations" by the team of Cassi Clausen and Aaron Browder draws on contemporary research as well as the experiences of self-directed schools, like the one they personally founded in 2015, in order to persuade parents to grant their children more freedom. Along the way, Empowered Kids, Liberated Parents" tackles many of the most important issues of our time, including safety, screen time, mental health, literacy and math, and character education.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'parent' friendly in organization and presentation, "Empowered Kids, Liberated Parents: Why Children Are Healthier, Happier, and Achieve More When in Control of Their Own Lives and Educations" is a timely contribution to the reading lists of parents seeking to provide their children with the best possible childhood so that they can go on to achieve the best possible adulthood. A thoroughly 'real world practical' DIY manual for raising children in today's physically turbulent, emotionally stressful, rapidly evolving, and precariously uncertain cultural, social, economic, and political environment, "Empowered Kids, Liberated Parents: Why Children Are Healthier, Happier, and Achieve More When in Control of Their Own Lives and Educations" fully lives up to the promise of its title. While highly recommended for personal, professional, and community library Parenting collections, it should be noted that "Empowered Kids, Liberated Parents" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note #1: Cassi Clausen is a mother of three with a Master's of Education from University of Missouri St. Louis and a Master's of Arts from University of London, Goldsmith's College. She taught at a private college prep high school for 3 years, and tutored in Spanish and English for about 8 years. Her introduction to the Summerhill school, the oldest democratic school in the world, in a college course led her to begin questioning conventional education. This culminated in her founding The Open School in Orange County, California. She has a dedicated website at https://cassiclausen.com/action

Editorial Note #2: Aaron Browder joined The Open School's staff in its second year, bringing a Bachelor's degree in engineering physics and a professional background in software development. Having grown up in conventional schooling, Aaron came around to Self-Directed Education by reading almost every book on the subject, chronicling his process of discovery in his writing. There is a dedicated web page on Aaron Browder at https://www.openschooloc.com/2017/04/25/staff-spotlight-aaron-browder


The General Fiction Shelf

Stepping Stone
Liv Arnold
The Wild Rose Press
https://wildrosepress.com
9781509241361, $16.99, PB, 280pp

https://www.amazon.com/Stepping-Stone-Invested-You-Arnold/dp/1509241361

Synopsis: Every time Jenna Kravitz sees her 'sex on a stick' ex-husband, she still craves him like he's a hotdog with all the fillings. They were soul mates, meant to grow old together -- before his freight train wreck dropped her off at despair station.

As if that weren't enough, she is also tasked with finding her employer's hacker, which might be the colleague whipping up her innermost fantasies. Marco Kravitz returned from Afghanistan with PTSD.

In a moment of lapsed judgment, he ruins his marriage. So, when his ex-wife proposes they have kinky fun, he accepts. After all, she can't help being drawn to his gigantic...brain. How could his plan to win back the mother of his children possibly go wrong?

He must rise to the occasion. She has to swallow her pride.

Critique: As a novelist, "Stepping Stone" showcases author Liv Arnold's seemingly natural flair for originality, memorable characters, and the kind of narrative storytelling style that holds the readers rapt interest from first page to last. While especially recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Stepping Stone" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Liv Arnold has worked as a copywriter for several global companies and now runs her own freelance business. She is a self-described massive book addict and often reads until all hours of the night. She as her own website at www.livarnold.com, and can be followed on Facebook www.facebook.com/livarnoldauthor Instagram www.instagram.com/liv_au Twitter www.twitter.com/liv_au BookPub www.bookbub.com/profile/liv-arnold and Goodreads www.goodreads.com/author/show/18845019.Liv_Arnold


The Historical Fiction Shelf

The Faithful Dog: A Civil War Novel
Terry Lee Caruthers
Black Rose Writing
www.blackrosewriting.com
9781684339785, $19.95 PB, $5.99 Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/Faithful-Dog-Civil-War-Novel-ebook/dp/B09VPXZV1N

Synopsis: When German-born Louis Pfeif leaves home to join the Fifty-Eighth Illinois Infantry Regiment in 1862, his dog accompanies him. At Chicago's Camp Douglas, Barchen charms Louis's fellow officers -- even Colonel Lynch.

As the Civil War escalates, the unit is transferred to Tennessee and placed under the command of General Lew Wallace. Shortly afterward, they come under fire at Erin Hollow. Barchen proves his mettle -- remaining by Louis's side amid the boom of cannon and the rattle of musketry.

Then one morning the two are thrust onto a battlefield, where one will die and the other must learn to carry on.

Critique: An inherently interesting and entertaining novel by an author with a genuine flair for the kind of narrative storytelling style that brings her Civil War tale to life in a true 'theatre of the mind' fashion. Highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library historical fiction collections, the paperback edition is currently only available from the author's website at https://terryleecaruthers-author.com while the Kindle edition can be readily obtained from Amazon.


The LGBT Fiction Shelf

Wonder World
K. R. Byggdin
Enfield & Wizenty
c/o Great Plains Publications
9781773370736, $16.95, PB, 176pp

https://www.amazon.com/Wonder-World-K-R-Byggdin/dp/1773370731

Synopsis: "What this town has done, it's like pickling people. Taking us when we're young and fresh and vulnerable, sticking us in a jar and filling us with all these rules they hope will preserve us from the rotting decay of worldliness. But you can't brine someone in that much guilt and shame their whole lives and expect them not to change. Shrivel into mere husks of their former selves, sour as vinegar."

Twenty-seven-year-old Isaac Funk is broke, drifting, and questioning his lonely existence on the East Coast. Having left his conservative hometown of Newfield, Manitoba full of piss and vinegar, Isaac's dreams of studying music and embracing queer culture in Halifax have gradually fizzled out.

When his grandfather dies and leaves him a substantial inheritance, Isaac is pulled back to the Prairies for the first time in ten years. Finding his father Abe just as enigmatic and unreachable as always and his extended family more fragmented than ever, Isaac begins to wonder if there will ever be a place for him in Newfield. Is the prodigal son home for good, or is it time to cut and run once more?

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Wonder World" is K. R. Byggdin's debut as a published writer, this inherently fascinating and deftly crafted novel will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in LBGTQ fiction. Impressively memorable characters combined with original and narrative driven storytelling, "Wonder World" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wonder World" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: K.R. Byggdin grew up on the Prairies and now lives on the East Coast. They are currently completing studies in English Literature and Creative Writing at Dalhousie University, and their stories have appeared in anthologies and literary journals including The Antigonish Review and Grain.


The Literary Fiction Shelf

West Side Love Story
Priscilla Oliveras
www.prisoliveras.com
Montlake
www.brillianceaudio.com
9781542031233, $12.95, PB, 331pp

https://www.amazon.com/West-Side-Story-Priscilla-Oliveras/dp/1542031230

Synopsis: Two familias in Texas, both alike in dignity, rivalries, and passion...

Having grown up in the nurturing household of Casa Capuleta, Mariana will do anything for familia. To solve her adoptive parents' financial problems amid their rapidly changing San Antonio comunidad, Mariana and her younger sisters are determined to win the Battle of the Mariachi Bands. That means competing against Hugo Montero, their father's archnemesis, and his band and escalating a decades-old feud. It also raises the stakes of Mariana's forbidden attraction for a certain dark-eyed mariachi who sets her heart racing.

To Angelo Montero's familia, Mariana is also strictly off-limits. But that doesn't stop him from pursuing her. As their secret affair intensifies and the competition grows fierce, they're swept up in a brewing storm of betrayals, rivalries, and broken ties. Against the odds, they vow to bring peace. But sacrifices must be made and consequences weighed for two star-crossed lovers to make beautiful music together.

Critique: Inspired by Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliette", with the publication of "West Side Love Story" author Priscilla Oliveras has breathed new life in an old and honored story, adapting it to more modern times in Texas and with a Hispanic-American cast of characters. A fun and entertaining read from cover to cover, "West Side Love Story" will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in multicultural romance. While highly recommended for community library fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "West Side Love Story" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713647485, $14.99, MP3-CD).

Editorial Note: Priscilla Oliveras is a 2018 RWA RITA double finalist who writes contemporary romance with a Latinx flavor. Proud of her Puerto Rican - Mexican heritage, she strives to bring authenticity to her novels by sharing her culture with readers. Her books have earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist along with praise from O, The Oprah Magazine, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Frolic, and more. She earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where she currently serves as adjunct faculty while also teaching the online class "Romance Writing" for ed2go. She also has a dedicated website at www.prisoliveras.com


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Pandion
William Michael Ried
CK Books Publishing
https://ckbookspublishing.com
9781949085549, $14.99, PB, 296pp

https://www.amazon.com/Pandion-William-Michael-Ried/dp/1949085546

Synopsis: Atticus Forester is the son of a billionaire, living a life of privilege between a Manhattan townhouse and Pandion, the family compound on the coast of Maine. But young Atticus misses a flight on his father's jet, and that changes everything.

Suddenly alone and on the street, Atticus must fend for himself armed only with his wits. He crashes in a Loisaida tenement and invents one scheme after another to feed himself and his dog. But tragedy piles upon tragedy when the jet crash is ruled sabotage, his father's empire collapses, and a killer stalks what's left of his family. Now Atticus must face the fact that everything he believed to be true is a lie, and he must find a way to save the ones he loves.

Critique: With a very special appeal to fans of Cosy Mysteries in general, and Cozy Animal Mysteries in particular, "Pandion" by novelist William Michael Ried is a genre-bending mystery of puzzlement, betrayal and love. The result is an addictively compulsive page turner of a read from cover to cover -- and an eager wait for this author's next mystery novel. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "Pandion" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: William Michael Ried's first novel, "Five Ferries", was a finalist in the 2019 American Fiction Awards for Best New Fiction. In 2021 his second novel, "Backstory", won the New York City Big Book Award for mystery, a Silver Medal from the Wishing Shelf Book Awards for adult fiction, was a semi-finalist for the Kindle Book Award for literary fiction, and was named a 2022 Eric Hoffer Award category finalist.

Death Warrant
Bryan Johnston
https://www.bryanrjohnston.com
CamCat Books
https://camcatbooks.com
9780744305081, $24.99, HC, 352pp

https://www.amazon.com/Death-Warrant-Bryan-Johnston/dp/074430508X

Synopsis: Frankie Percival is cashing in her chips. To save her brother from financial ruin, Frankie (a single stage performer and mentalist who never made it big) agrees to be assassinated on the most popular television show on the planet: Death Warrant. Once she signs her life away, her memory is wiped clean of the agreement, leaving her with no idea she will soon be killed spectacularly for global entertainment.

After years of working in low-rent theaters, Frankie prepares for the biggest performance of her life as her Death Warrant assassin closes in on her. Every person she encounters could be her killer. Every day could be her last.

She could be a star -- if only she lives that long!

Critique: Holding a very special appeal for readers with an interest in action/adventure technothrillers and dystopian fiction, "Death Warrant" by Bryan Johnston is a simply riveting read with all manner of unexpected plot twists and turns. An inherently compelling, deftly crafted, and impressively original novel, "Death Warrant" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Death Warrant" is also available in a paperback edition (9780744305326, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: During his 25 years in local network television, Bryan Johnston was an eleven-time Emmy award-winning writer and producer . Following his career in broadcast, he became the Creative Director for a Seattle-based creative agency, developing concepts and writing scripts for companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, T-Mobile, and Amazon. He has authored several books and written for numerous magazines and websites. He has his own dedicated website at https://www.bryanrjohnston.com

Assassin's Lullaby
Mark Rubinstein
https://www.markrubinstein-author.com
Thunder Lake Press
http://www.thunderlakepress.com
9781941016312, $16.99, PB, 344pp

https://www.amazon.com/Assassins-Lullaby-Mark-Rubinstein/dp/1941016316

Synopsis: In every life, there lurks catastrophe. So believes Eli Dagan, a thirty-nine-year-old man whose traumatic past led to his service as an assassin for the Mossad. He now lives in New York City, where under various assumed names he's a contract killer.

Anton Gorlov, the head of the Brooklyn-based Odessa mafia, has a new and challenging assignment for Eli. Gorlov wants to leave the country permanently, so all loose ends must be eliminated. He's willing to pay $1 million for a task divided into two parts. The job involves extreme measures along with unprecedented danger for Eli, who has lived a ghostly existence over the last ten years.

Is accepting Gorlov's offer a subliminal death wish? Or is it a way to reclaim part of his damaged soul? For the first time since his pregnant wife and parents were killed by a suicide bomber years earlier, Eli Dagan faces challenges that will reconnect him with his blighted past and may yet offer hope for a new and better life.

Critique: An impressively compelling read from start to finish, "Assassin's Lullaby" will have a very special and particular appeal to fans of vengeance quest assassins, Mafia crime fiction, and riveting suspense thrillers. While an extraordinarily riveting and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary Suspense/Thriller Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Assassin's Lullaby" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Rubinstein's high-octane thriller Mad Dog House was a finalist for the 2012 ForeWord Book Of The Year Award for suspense/thriller novels. His second thriller, Love Gone Mad, was published in September 2013 and his novella, The Foot Soldier (November 2013) won the Silver award in the 2014 Benjamin Franklin Awards competition, in the Popular Fiction category. His novel Mad Dog Justice (September 2014), tagged as a "pulse-pounding tale of post-modern paranoia," is a finalist for the ForeWord Book of the Year Award. His novella, Return to Sandara, (October 2014), won the gold IPPY Award for Suspense/Fiction. His latest novel, The Lovers' Tango, published in June 2015, has won the Gold Medal in Popular Fiction for this year's Benjamin Franklin Award. He has a dedicated website at https://www.markrubinstein-author.com

Revelation
Victor Acquista
BHC Press
www.bhcpress.com
9781643972305, 302pp

https://www.amazon.com/Revelation-Venom-Flame-Victor-Acquista/dp/1643972308

Synopsis: Since the dawn of civilization, a clandestine Brotherhood has been secretly organizing a hidden agenda. As the Illuminati orchestrate worldwide catastrophic events to establish a New World Order, only Serena Mendez and an ancient society with ties to ancient Atlantis can save humanity from centuries of manipulation.

Serena may have completed her training, but she is a warrior without a weapon. As Serena and her allies work to defeat the Illuminati, she must decipher seven mysterious messages that hold the key to survival in this thrilling race to unlock a secret that will change humankind-forever.

Rich in history and mythology, "Revelation " is struggle to the death between the masters of mind control and the brave warriors who oppose them in a battle to prevent a mounting apocalypse of death and destruction.

Critique: "Revelation" is the second and concluding volume in author Victor Acquita's series "The Saga of Venom and Flame" that began with "Serpent Rising" (9781643971148, $26.95 HC, $15.95 PB, $7.99 Kindle). An inherently fascinating, impressively original, exceptionally well crafted novel, "Revelation" will have a particular appeal to fans of ancient conspiracies and dramatic combats between the forces of good and evil with world domination at stake. While highly recommended for community library Technothriller and Action/Adventure collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Revelation" is also available in a paperback edition (9781643972312, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Victor Acquista enjoys writing in many genres and exploring thought-provoking themes. A member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers, and the Florida Writers Association, Victor has a dedicated website at https://victoracquista.com/

Burying Eva Flores
Jennifer Alsever
jenniferalsever.com
Independently Published
9798431746307, $16.00, PB, 384pp

https://www.amazon.com/Burying-Eva-Flores-Jennifer-Alsever/dp/B09VFXYHKP

Synopsis: "Burying Eva Flores" is a paranormal mystery about a war between two girls, Eva Flores, a TikTok star who moves to the small town of Paonia, and her classmate Sophia Palmer, a girl who has no interest in people or social media.

That war comes to a head when Sophia receives a notebook and everything she writes somehow changes her future. She finds a new power, and now, the whole town thinks she killed Eva.

It takes time to untangle the true story of both girls. "Burying Eva Flores" is a story of revenge, power and the stories we project to the world.

Critique: "Burying Eva Flores" by Jennifer Alsever will have a very special and particular appeal to mystery fans with an interest in suspense and witchcraft thrillers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Burying Eva Flores" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.00).

Editorial Note: Jennifer Alsever is also the author of "Ember Burning", "Oshun Rising", "Venus Shining", and "Extraordinary Lies". She also has a dedicated website at https://www.jenniferalsever.com


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Vampire Menace
Olga Wojtas
Independently Published
9781912235506, $11.79, PB, 247pp

https://www.amazon.com/Miss-Blaines-Prefect-Vampire-Menace/dp/1912235501#detailBullets_feature_div

Synopsis: The intrepid librarian Shona McMonagle, erstwhile Marcia Blaine Academy prefect and an accomplished linguist and martial artist, finds herself in an isolated French mountain village, Sans-Soleil, which has no sunlight because of its topography. It's reeling from a spate of unexplained deaths, and Shona has once again traveled back in time to help out.

Forging an uneasy alliance with newly widowed Madeleine, Shona is soon drawn into a full-blown vampire hunt, involving several notable villagers, the world-renowned soprano Mary Garden -- and even Count Dracula himself. Will Shona solve the mystery, secure justice for the murder victims and make it through a deathly denouement in the hall of mirrors to return to present-day Morningside Library?

Critique: The second volume showcasing the fantastic time traveling adventures Marcia Blaine which begin with "Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar", once again novelist Olga Wojtas has demonstrated here genuine flair for originality and being able to create an inherently fascinating, memorable, and entertaining story that will have a particular appeal to fans of vampire novels and time travel tales. This entire series (number 3 is "Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Weird Sisters") is especially and unreservedly recommended to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, as well as the personal reading lists of the growing legions of Olga Wojtas fans!


The Poetry Shelf

Inside Outrage
Gary Glauber, author
Hayley Haugen, editor
Sheila-Na-Gig Editions
https://sheilanagigblog.com/sheila-na-gig-editions
9781735400297, $18.00, PB, 120pp

https://www.amazon.com/Inside-Outrage-Gary-Glauber/dp/1735400297

Synopsis: With the publication of "Inside Outrage", the verse of poet Gary Glauber captures wild wisdom and abject love, the amity and misguided memories keeping us whole in this precarious viral existence. These points of refuge and resilience both unmask and protect us, using frustrations to confront rooted fears. In the end we must own identities, forgive mistakes, and grow older through the salvation of words. In daring to learn the steps and missteps of this odd dance called life, we maneuver through to find where our "Inside Outrage" happily resides.

Critique: An impressively crafted compendium of memorable freelance verse by a master wordsmith, "Inside Outrage" is very highly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library Contemporary American Poetry collections. It is a striking collection of insightful and emotion embedded free verse poems that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after this slim volume has been finished and set back upon the shelf.

Editorial Note: Gary Glauber is a widely published poet, fiction writer, teacher, musician, former music journalist, business owner, and sportswriter. He is the author of five poetry collections: Small Consolations (Aldrich Press), Worth the Candle (Five Oaks Press), Rocky Landscape With Vagrants (Cyberwit Press), A Careful Contrition (Shanti Arts), and Inside Outrage (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions). He also has published two chapbooks: Memory Marries Desire (Finishing Line Press) and The Covalence of Equanimity (SurVision Books), a winner of 2019 James Tate Poetry Contest. Glauber has had a career featuring over 500 published poems, many of which have been nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes.


The Business Shelf

Broken to Better
Michael Kurland
Houndstooth Press
https://www.houndstoothpress.com
9781544529721, $22.99, HC, 162pp

https://www.amazon.com/Broken-Better-Ways-Fail-Leadership/dp/1544529724

Synopsis: Being a business owner or entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It takes a firm resolve, the ability to persevere and pivot during challenging times, the humility to admit mistakes, and empathy for the people around you. Understanding who you are is critical to that journey.

With the publication of "Broken to Better: 13 Ways Not to Fail at Life and Leadership", author Michael Kurland draws upon his years of experience and expertise to candidly share every step of his own entrepreneurial odyssey-selling everything he owned, driving across the country to launch his new business, and ultimately building a purpose-driven culture that aligns purpose with profit.

In "Broken to Better" Kurland distills a lifetime of experience down to its purest essence. From key principles of organizational strength to the secrets of profitability and growth, Broken to Better offers up all his triumphs and mistakes in the same spirit of perseverance, fearlessness, empathy, and gratitude. Although Kurland humbly claims he did "whatever it took to avoid failing", the truth shines through on every page-he did whatever it took to Be Better.

Critique: An inherently interesting and informative account showcasing within a recognizable context significant insights into what it takes to create a successful business culture for any kind of enterprise, "Broken to Better: 13 Ways Not to Fail at Life and Leadership" will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in business management, leadership, and the motivation of themselves and their employees to succeed. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Business Management collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of corporate executives, business owners, enterprising entrepreneurs, MBA students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject the "Broken to Better" is also available in a paperback edition (9781544529707, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Editorial Note: As the CEO of Branded Group, Inc. (an award-winning facility maintenance company), Michael Kurland is committed to leading with purpose. His determination to Be Better was the driving force in the launch of his company and has led to its exponential growth, cultural transformation, innovative social impact programs, and cultivation of a highly-regarded team of industry experts. With a diverse background in sales and marketing, Kurland's vision is to create a conscious business that inspires future humanitarian leaders. The Branded Group and Michael Kurland have a dedicated website at https://www.branded-group.com/clients


The Self-Help Shelf

Unlock Your Potential at Work
Hillarie Kay
https://hillariekay.com
Independently Published
9781736130421, $16.91, PB, 124pp

https://www.amazon.com/Unlock-Your-Potential-Work-Beginners/dp/1736130420

Synopsis: Technically, enneagram is a compound word derived from the Greek neoclassical stems for "nine" (ennea) and something "written" or "drawn" (gramma). Enneagram may refer to: A nine-sided star polygon with various configurations (Geometry) or A model of human personality illustrated by an enneagram figure (Personality). -- Wikipedia

Whether this is your first time learning about the Enneagram, or you are already familiar with it as a self-development tool, "Unlock Your Potential at Work: A Beginner's Guide to Using the Enneagram" by Hillarie Kay will meet you where you are in your professional journey and covers topics ranging from Enneagram basics and communication styles, to leadership skills and avoiding burnout. By the end you will understand the why behind what you do and how to leverage each facet of your personality to help overcome common work obstacles.

In addition, "Unlock Your Potential at Work: A Beginner's Guide to Using the Enneagram" shows just how to build sustainable strategies to avoid those obstacles in the future. You are the key to your success and the next phase of your self-development journey starts here with a careful reading of "Unlock Your Potential at Work: A Beginner's Guide to Using the Enneagram".

Critique: Of special interest and appeal to readers with an interest in Work Life Balance in Business, Sustainable Business Development, and Environmental Economics, "Unlock Your Potential at Work: A Beginner's Guide to Using the Enneagram" is an exceptional in organization and presentation, making it a truly impressive and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Hillarie Kay, is a professional Enneagram Coach helping high achieving business owners, corporate executives and teams avoid burnout, increase communication and enhance performance using the Enneagram personality framework. She maintains a dedicated website at https://hillariekay.com

Change What Happened to You
Odille & Steve Remmert, authors
Powerstone Publishing
https://powerstonepublishing.com/index.html
9798985251401, $14.99, PB, 242pp

https://www.amazon.com/Change-What-Happened-You-Neuroscience/dp/B09SNV6GKT

Synopsis: If you feel stuck on a long road of struggle, pain, and limiting patterns, therapy isn't always enough to get on a better path. Your implicit memories control the navigation of your entire life, and they take root in your subconscious during childhood.

You can't build a time machine to change what happened in your childhood, but with the right tools, you can learn how to rebuild negative childhood memories into positive empowerment.

Combining neuroscience, psychology, and personal experiences, "Change What Happened to You: How to Use Neuroscience to Get the Life You Want by Changing Your Negative Childhood Memories" shares Odille and Steve Remmert's unique, proven memory-editing process with the power to transform your mind, behavior, and happiness. With step-by-step techniques for foundational self-love, this guide will help you change your implicit memories so you can heal from the negativity of your childhood and reroute your life toward the positive destination you desire.

"Change What Happened to You" offers: 3 steps to change negative childhood memories without blame, guilt, or shame; Explains how your childhood shapes your self-image, worldview, and beliefs in adulthood -- and why that can make healthy habits difficult; Provides techniques to gain control over your brain chemistry and produce more "feel-good" chemicals in times of stress; Showcases 'The Due Justice Technique', a simple way to overcome complex generational trauma and anxiety regarding certain memories; Presents zero tolerance strategies to silence negative self-talk before it derails your journey.

Critique: A life healing, life enriching, life enhancing, life embracing read from cover to cover, "Change What Happened to You: How to Use Neuroscience to Get the Life You Want by Changing Your Negative Childhood Memories" is especially recommended to the attention of anyone whose childhood was troubled and has negatively impacted upon their adult relationships and self-esteem. Informative, insightful, thoughtful and thought provoking, "Change What Happened to You" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement/Personal Transformation collections and reading lists. It should be noted that "Change What Happened to You" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Odille and Steve Remmert are mindset coaches specializing in emotions and the subconscious. After successfully transforming their lives by changing their own negative childhood memories, they created the Remmert Method to empower others to create deep and permanent life change through memory transformation. Steve holds a master's degree in psychotherapy from Governor's State University. Odille earned a certificate in the fundamentals of neuroscience through HarvardX. Their expertise and the Remmert Method has been featured on Speaker Insight, Success Quest, Happiness Club, and more. The Remmerts have a dedicated website at www.theremmertmethod.com

The Happy Human Playbook
Antonia Hall, MA
https://www.antoniahall.com
New Ventures Press
9780997085082, $17.95, PB, 154pp

https://www.amazon.com/Happy-Human-Playbook-Practical-Emotions/dp/0997085088

Synopsis: Are you feeling stressed out, anxious, and generally unfulfilled? You're not alone. The fact is that most humans find true satisfaction to be elusive. Fortunately you can rewire your body to bring a true sense of happiness back into your life -- one pleasure at a time.

Our society is all too often reluctant to encourage the exploration or discussion of the health benefits of enjoying our bodies, especially when it pertains to sexuality. Many of us were simply not taught to enjoy our bodies, which can leave us disconnected from not only the pleasures all around us just awaiting our attention but the very heart of human experience.

With the publication of "The Happy Human Playbook: A Practical Guide to Healing Body, Mind and Emotions With Joy and Pleasure", transpersonal psychologist and wellness expert, Antonia Hall, offers scientifically-backed ways to access pleasure that will lead to real, achievable happiness that you can feel. Finally, you will be able to calm your overstressed nervous system, enjoy your world and yourself in new ways, and experience well-being and satisfaction -- in life and behind closed doors.

Critique: Fascinating, informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Happy Human Playbook: A Practical Guide to Healing Body, Mind and Emotions With Joy and Pleasure" will hold a particular appeal to readers with an interest in adult human sexuality and sexual well-being. While highly recommended for community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections for it message that healthy, simple, physical pleasures can be mentally and emotionally transformative, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Happy Human Playbook: A Practical Guide to Healing Body, Mind and Emotions With Joy and Pleasure" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Noe: Antonia Hall, M.A. is a transpersonal psychologist, award-winning author, health and wellness educator, as well as a frequent contributor for some of the world's top magazines including Cosmopolitan, Women's Health, and Reader's Digest. She is also frequently interviewed by media outlets like The Today Show, Bravo TV, Buzzfeed, and Sirius XM about how to have better relationships and lead a more fulfilling life. She has a dedicated website at https://www.antoniahall.com


The Judicial Studies Shelf

Trial Lawyer
Richard Zitrin
https://www.richardzitrin.com
Political Animal Press
https://www.politicalanimalpress.com
9781895131611, $29.99, PB, 372pp

https://www.amazon.com/Trial-Lawyer-Representing-People-Against/dp/1895131618

Synopsis: Internationally known legal ethics professor Richard Zitrin's work as a trial lawyer placed him on the front lines of fighting systemic racism, pervasive elitism, and injustice against individuals in the legal system. With the publication of "Trial Lawyer: A Life Representing People Against Power", he shares details of the most compelling cases he's encountered and exposes the dilemmas he faced throughout his one-of-a-kind career. The profound, the consequential, the shocking, the bizarre, and even the humorous, is what "Trial Lawyer brings to life with respect as to what it means to represent people against power.

From his first case as a young law student on the famous and highly politicized San Quentin Six case and throughout his forty-year career, Zitrin has worked on dozens of cases that underscore the inherent biases of the legal system - towards people of color, the poor, the less educated, and those who just don't appear to fit the mold of whatever society considers "normal". His personal stories bring the reader inside the courtroom to experience a unique cast of characters, strange-but-true facts, brilliant trial tricks and tactics-and not-so-brilliant ones that failed miserably.

Each had its own lessons: about social justice, fairness, strategy, ethics, morality, and more.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and presented, "Trial Lawyer: A Life Representing People Against Power" is an inherently interesting and impressively informative read for both law students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Trial Lawyer: A Life Representing People Against Power" by attorney Richard Zitrin is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Judicial Studies, Legal History, and Contemporary American Biography/Memoir collections.

Editorial Note: Richard Zitrin has been licensed to practice law in California and New York for four decades. He has tried over fifty cases to verdict, from murder cases to products liability and malpractice, among others. He has been certified in California as a trial specialist in both criminal law and legal malpractice law. He also has spent over forty years teaching at two Bay Area law schools, primarily teaching Legal Ethics and also teaching Trial Practice. He has written three previous books, including The Moral Compass of the American Lawyer: Truth, Justice, Power, and Greed, and over one hundred published articles. He has published in periodicals from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle to the National Law Journal, the Sporting News, and NINE: A Journal of Baseball History & Culture. He has a dedicated website at https://www.richardzitrin.com


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


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