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9781632461605, $27.95, HC, 298pp
Synopsis: After being named Assistant Director of Intelligence for the Capitol Police just days before the 2020 election, Julie Farnam warned its leadership of the upcoming insurrection, sharing that "Congress itself is the target on the 6th." Tragically, her warnings were ignored.
With the publication of "Domestic Darkness: An Insider's Account of the January 6th Insurrection, and the Future of Right-Wing Extremism" Farnam takes us inside the explosive events of January 6, 2021, revealing how the Capitol Police disregarded intelligence about the right-wing extremists who would seize the capitol on that fateful day.
In addition to offering a harrowing view of what it was like on the ground, watching the violence unfold and knowing it could have been prevented, "Domestic Darkness" also examines the specific groups and ideologies, such as the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, QAnon, and white supremacists, who were central to the events of January 6 and who, emboldened by Donald Trump and other right-wing leaders, continue to be a threat to our democracy.
"Domestic Darkness" also explores what happened within the Capitol Police in the wake of the insurrection, and how to address future dangers from domestic terrorism.
With the 2024 presidential election just around the corner, we need to look at the lessons January 6 taught us to ensure something like that never happens again.
Critique: An impressively informative and true 'insider account' of the insurrection attempt to block the peaceful transfer of authority from one president to another based on a free and fair national election, "Domestic Darkness: An Insider's Account of the January 6th Insurrection, and the Future of Right-Wing Extremism" must be considered essential reading for as wide a range of American citizens as possible who are arguably vulnerable to losing our American style democracy to an authoritarian rule as has happened with disastrous results throughout the 20th Century and even in a number of countries around the world today. While also available for personal reading lists of political activists and the general public in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), "Domestic Darkness: An Insider's Account of the January 6th Insurrection, and the Future of Right-Wing Extremism" is an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to community and college/university Contemporary Political Science collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.
Editorial Note: Julie Farnam served as the Assistant Director of Intelligence for the United States Capitol Police during one of the most tumultuous periods in this country's history. During her time there, she oversaw the identification and vetting of nearly 20,000 threats against members of Congress, most of which were made by U.S. citizens who adhered to extremist ideologies. She also warned of the potential for violence on January 6, 2021. Prior to joining the Capitol Police, Farnam served with the Department of Homeland Security for over fifteen years. She holds a master's degree in Intercultural Relations from Lesley University. She is also the author of the book, "U.S. Immigration Laws Under the Threat of Terrorism".
The Health/Medicine Shelf
How Not To Age
Michael Greger, MD, FACLM
9781250796332, $39.99, HC, 640pp
Synopsis: When Dr. Michael Greger, founder of NutritionFacts.org, dove into the top peer-reviewed anti-aging medical research, he realized that diet could regulate every one of the most promising strategies for combating the effects of aging. We don't need Big Pharma to keep us feeling young -- we already have the tools. With the publication of "How Not to Age: The Scientific Approach to Getting Healthier as You Get Older", and as a physician and nutritionist, Dr. Greger breaks down the science of aging and chronic illness and explains how to help avoid the diseases most commonly encountered in our journeys through life.
Physicians have long treated aging as a malady, but getting older does not have to mean getting sicker. There are eleven pathways for aging in our bodies' cells and we can disrupt each of them. Processes like autophagy, the upcycling of unusable junk, can be boosted with spermidine, a compound found in tempeh, mushrooms, and wheat germ. Senescent "zombie" cells that spew inflammation and are linked to many age-related diseases may be cleared in part with quercetin-rich foods like onions, apples, and kale. And we can combat effects of aging without breaking the bank. Why spend a small fortune on vitamin C and nicotinamide facial serums when you can make your own for up to 2,000 times cheaper?
Inspired by the dietary and lifestyle patterns of centenarians and residents of "blue zone" regions where people live the longest, Dr. Greger presents simple, accessible, and evidence-based methods to preserve the body functions that keep you feeling youthful, both physically and mentally. Brimming with expertise and actionable takeaways, "How Not to Age" lays out practical strategies for achieving ultimate longevity.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "How Not to Age: The Scientific Approach to Getting Healthier as You Get Older" is unreservedly recommended for both professional and non-professional readers with an interest in the impact of nutrition and diets on longevity and the aging process. While also available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781529057355, $22.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99), "How Not to Age: The Scientific Approach to Getting Healthier as You Get Older" must be considered a core and essential addition for community and college/university library Health/Medicine collections and Human Aging/Longevity curriculum supplemental studies syllabus.
Editorial Note: Michael Greger (https://drgreger.org) is a physician, an author, and an internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. He has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, testified before Congress, and was invited as an expert witness in the defense of Oprah Winfrey in the infamous "meat defamation" trial. He is a graduate of Cornell University School of Agriculture and Tufts University School of Medicine.
The Education Shelf
Delivering Inclusive and Impactful Instruction
Kevin L. Merry
9781943085040, $38.00, PB, 210pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Delivering Inclusive and Impactful Instruction: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education", Kevin L. Merry provides a comprehensive and easy to understand introduction to implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in either the physical or virtual classroom.
Focusing on the application of practical strategies, techniques and methods, "Delivering Inclusive and Impactful Instruction" is the definitive teacher education text for higher education professionals new to teaching in higher education, and new to UDL. "Delivering Inclusive and Impactful Instruction" will also support enhancements in the practice of the most experienced and seasoned teaching staff when it comes to implementing UDL instructional design.
Based on an approach to instructional design utilized at De Montfort University, "Delivering Inclusive and Impactful Instruction" also provides the pedagogic blueprint detailing how a large and exceptionally diverse UK higher education institution successfully adopted UDL as its approach to learning, teaching, and assessment.
In "Delivering Inclusive and Impactful Instruction", Merry shows how educators can respond to increasing levels of learner diversity - a means of creating highly differentiated, customizable learning experiences that reflect the needs and preferences of diverse learners. Critical topics addressed include goal-oriented learning, learning activities, assessment, feedback, planning teaching and opportunities and outlets for reflection and development.
"Delivering Inclusive and Impactful Instruction" will be of particular interest to higher education professionals, including teaching staff, course leaders, learning technologists, educational developers, curriculum design specialists, quality assurance and enhancement specialists, senior academic leaders and managers, or anyone with an interest in higher education instructional design.
Critique: Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Delivering Inclusive and Impactful Instruction: Universal Design for Learning in Higher Education" is an ideal choice for in-service training programs and as a textbook for college/university library collections, as well as supplement Higher & Continuing Education Methods curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Delivering Inclusive and Impactful Instruction" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $36.10).
Editorial Note: Kevin L. Merry (https://drkevinl.wixsite.com/drkevinlmerry) for the last 20 years has been delivering accessible, inclusive and equitable education to learners, teachers, and leaders in a variety of educational contexts, including schools, further education, higher education and corporate education.
The Science Shelf
The Making, The Rise, And The Future Of The SpeakingMan, fourth edition
Dan M. Mrejeru
A Terrestrial's Mind Publishing
9798865351863, $20.00, PB, 319pp
Originally published as a series of articles on-line, human evolution is the core subject of "The Making, The Rise, And The Future Of The SpeakingMan" is heavily laced with the results of years of study focused on the evolution of homo sapiens and how environmental factors played (and continue to play) on the cognitive and physical development of human beings.
Critique: An original, seminal, deftly crafted, and ground-breaking study, this newly updated and expanded fourth edition of "The Making, The Rise, And The Future Of The SpeakingMan" by Dan M. Mrejeru is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended contribution to personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of student, academia, anthropologists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Making, The Rise, And The Future Of The SpeakingMan" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.00).
Editorial Note: Dan Mrejeru was always interested in the profound mystery of human beings. That interest compelled him to study many sciences resulting in him becoming a multi-disciplinary scientist.
The Military History Shelf
The United States Army Ground Forces During the Interwar Years 1919-1941
Master Sargent Jim Irwin (Retired)
Dorrance Publishing Company
9798888129906, $28.00, HC, 140pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "The United States Army Ground Forces During the Interwar Years 1919-1941: Infantry Cavalry Field Artillery Coast Artillery", retired master sargent Jim Irwin covers the period of the Interwar years 1919-1941.
Critique: Unique, seminal, impressively informative, well written, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presented, "The United States Army Ground Forces During the Interwar Years 1919-1941: Infantry Cavalry Field Artillery Coast Artillery" will have a particular relevance and value for readers with an interest in the history of the US Army during that time span. Of special note are the insignias and pictures that reflect and illustrate the era. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library 20th Century American Military History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted that "The United States Army Ground Forces During the Interwar Years 1919-1941: Infantry Cavalry Field Artillery Coast Artillery" is also available in a paperback edition (9798888121511, $15.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: MSG Jim Irwin (Retired) is a retired community college professor. He taught business and technology courses. He served two years in the US Army during the Vietnam war, and spent another twenty-seven years in the Indiana Army National Guard.
The Parenting Shelf
Practical Parallel Parenting
R. Shelly Loomus, JD, MSW
9798888123904, $17.00, PB, 170pp
Synopsis: Divorced and separated parents are told they must co-parent. Yet millions of parents face daily battles with their children's other parent. The conflict is real and so is the threat of losing custody. There is also the ongoing fear that the other parent will succeed in alienating their children. When your relationship with your children is at risk, how can you let go?
With the publication of "Practical Parallel Parenting: Reclaiming Your Life from Co-Parent Conflict", R. Shelly Loomus, JD, MSW, provides a comprehensive guide for managing post-divorce, child-related, conflict. Loomus addresses the daily battles parents face outside court and outlines pathways for disengaging and moving forward.
These issues include: The true nature of the conflict; Why the court system fails you; How to reframe your narrative; How to respond to the most common problems facing co-parents without getting into another fight; How to help your children develop skills to navigate their relationship with their combative parent.
For several decades, Loomus has combined her skills as an attorney, clinical social worker, and family mediator to help parents manage their divorce and post-divorce related conflicts. Loomus works with clients in real time, strategizing with them to effectively respond and resolve co-parent conflicts.
Critique: Simply stated, for anyone who is struggling with chronic co-parent conflict, "Practical Parallel Parenting: Reclaiming Your Life from Co-Parent Conflict" is essential and invaluable reading as they will. learn how from a seasoned and successful expert on the subject of co-parenting to free yourself and move on with your life -- and above all, to the benefit of the children of divorce. While unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Parenting & Child Rearing collections, it should be noted that "Practical Parallel Parenting" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.00).
Editorial Note: Rachel Shelly Loomus, JD, MSW, is an author, speaker, educator, and coach. She recently published Winning Your High-Conflict Divorce: Strategies for Moms and Dads, providing parents with step-by-step strategies for managing divorce related conflicts both in and out of the courtroom. A seasoned attorney with skills in clinical social work and mediation, Loomus' practice focuses on counseling parents on practical ways to contain their divorce and post-divorce conflicts while reducing the stress and expense of litigation. Loomus facilitates monthly parallel parenting seminars, speaks regularly in the metro Detroit area on the topic of containing divorce conflict, and teaches law at Henry Ford College.
The Music Shelf
Chasing the Masters
9798860200883, $35.00, HC, 310pp
Synopsis: Phil Haynes' 85+ albums on American and European record labels include collaborations with jazz greats Dave Liebman, Anthony Braxton, Paul Smoker, and Drew Gress. Critics have compared his drumming to masters Jack DeJohnette, Roy Haynes, and Elvin Jones, and his diverse compositions to Ellington, Ives, and Mingus.
With the publication of "Chasing the Masters: First Takes of a Modern Drumming Artist", Haynes offers up his reflections on a half-century of musical life. Included in this memoir are stories from onstage and backstage, letters, lyrics, poetry, reviews, thought-provoking quotes, illuminating audio tracks, and above all insights on what it means to live a life in the contemporary jazz tradition.
Of special note is the inclusion of QR codes for hours of companion listening.
Critique: This large format ( 8.25 x 0.89 x 11 inches, 1.91 pounds) hardcover edition of "Chasing the Masters: First Takes of a Modern Drumming Artist" by jazz musician and composer Phil Haynes will prove to be of immense interest to fans of Jazz music history and an singularly ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Jazz History/Memoir collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.
Editorial Note: Phil Haynes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Haynes) is an American jazz percussionist and composer based in New York City for the past 25 years.
The Biography Shelf
My American Dream: A Journey from Fascism to Freedom
Barbara Sommer Feigin
Five Star Press
9798988626107, $26.95, HC, 276pp
Synopsis: On August 4, 1940, the Seattle Times featured a photo of a toddler sitting on a dock, surrounded by suitcases and looking dazed. After a harrowing journey with her parents, she'd just stepped off a boat and into her new life in America. Barbara Sommer Feigin was that little girl.
Over seventy years later, Feigin made a stunning discovery: her Jewish father had kept a detailed journal that chronicled their family's escape from Nazi Germany. Her parents had never spoken of it, and she remembered nothing of their terrifying, death-defying passage three-quarters of the way around the world-from Berlin to Seattle by way of Lithuania, Russia, China, Korea, and Japan before crossing the Pacific.
Featuring three intertwining narratives, "My American Dream: A Journey from Fascism to Freedom" is a compelling memoir of resilience, grit, and grace.
Feigin tells of her life as a young German-speaking refugee living in a small Washington town and yearning to become an "authentic" American. She details how she became a trailblazing executive in the advertising business in New York City-a completely male-dominated business in the 1960s-rising from the ranks and ultimately securing a seat in the executive boardroom. A devoted wife and mom of three sons (including one set of twins), she spent twenty-five years as a caregiver for her husband, who suffered two serious strokes, and remained fiercely committed to building strong family bonds during turbulent times.
Critique: Eloquent, articulate, informative, fascinating, memorable, "My American Dream: A Journey from Fascism to Freedom" from Five Star Press will be of immense appeal to readers with an interest in Jewish Biographies/Memoirs, the experiences of women in business, and personal life stories with such universal themes as the American Dream motivating men and women from around the world to seek refuge and a new life as migrants to American. While also readily available in a paperback edition (9798988626114, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99), "My American Dream: A Journey from Fascism to Freedom" is a prized pick for personal reading lists, as well as community and college/university library collections.
Editorial Note: Barbara Sommer Feigin (https://www.barbarafeigin.com) earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, before completing a graduate program in business run jointly by Harvard Business School and Radcliffe Graduate School. Feigin found success in a completely male-dominated business (advertising) when career-building opportunities for women were virtually nonexistent. In her illustrious thirty-year career at Grey Advertising (now the Grey Global Group), she solidified her reputation as a visionary thinker. In all her years as a senior advertising executive and a corporate director, she was more often than not the only woman in the room. In 2017, Feigin was named one of the century's Legendary Pioneers by Grey.
The Unknown Face
New Origins Publishers
9798988860228, $24.99, HC, 262pp
Synopsis: A marriage with an imperfect love story goes tragically wrong one summer in a small college town in Virginia, and the husband is left picking up the pieces of pain and regret. How did it end in suicide instead of divorce?
What he discovers six months later is both heartbreaking and astonishing.
In a time when extreme events and behavior are more prevalent, "The Unknown Face: A memoir of marriage, mental illness, and the search for why" by Gregory Duncan offers in-depth psychological account of a seemingly normal relationship describes how things kept hidden underneath provide one's greatest downfall, and shows what one can learn from loss after the walls come tumbling down.
Critique: Deftly written, impressively candid, inherently fascinating, exceptionally thoughtful and thought provoking, Gregory Duncan's deeply personal memoir, "The Unknown Face" will prove especially appreciated by readers with an interest in marriage, mental illness, and the search for why when tragedy suddenly occurs. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library American Biography/Memoir collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of jazz enthusiasts and addressing the issue of marriage and suicide, "The Unknown Face" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99, Amazon).
Editorial Note: Gregory Duncan is a writer, musician, and educator, currently living in Philadelphia, after stops in Seattle, Chicago, Texas, Virginia, and Spain. When not taking care of his two compassionate, energetic dogs, he is usually playing the trumpet, reading, or writing. He is currently a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. Duncan has previously published in the online publication "Psych Central" and for the mental health organization NAMI. After twenty years in the music business and touring the world, he has released four jazz recordings, all of which have received radio play throughout the country and the world.
Swinging Away: A Celebration
Victor Pearn, author
George M. Eberhart, editor
Pearn and Associates
9781735773193, $17.00, PB, 226pp
Synopsis: "Swinging Away: A Celebration" is Victor Pearn's testament to poetry, friendship, and faith. The story of his life from ranging from joining the Marines in 1969 to becoming a professional publisher is told with his innate gift for description that captures the personalities and quirks of his colleagues and the literary luminaries that he happens to meet.
For Pearn, becoming a poet was an ongoing series of adventures that took place from Illinois to Colorado and from Mexico to China, where he taught English. The narrative is peppered with poetry samples and musings on the natural world, academia, and spirituality.
Sports fans will especially appreciate Pearn's tales of the 1969 Wyoming Cowboys football team and the 1957 season of the high-school basketball team, the Ashland (Illinois) Panthers. Book buffs will enjoy his take on reading and the great works of literature.
Film buffs will relish his adventure as an extra in a Hollywood movie.
Service members will be entertained by his stories of life in the Marines. Whatever life offered him,
Victor Pearn keeps swinging away to make sure he comes out on top-and manages to put it into a poet's perspective.
Critique: An exceptionally interesting memoir of an exceptionally interesting man, "Swinging Away: A Celebration" will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in baseball, basketball, and life as a Marine in the 70s. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library American Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Swinging Away: A Celebration" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Senior Editor of "American Libraries" magazine (retired) and a noted bibliographer, Victor Pearn was invited to be Poet-in-Residence at Quincy University, in Illinois. In 2005 he established Pearn and Associates, a book publishing company which has published 61 titles by award winning authors. His poems have been published in more than 300 publications. His poem "Living Inside Confucius Wall," was translated into Mandarin and published by Jining University in China. His poems have also been published in Swansea, Wales, Canada, and the Virgin Islands. Swinging Away: A Celebration is his 15th book.
Paris for Life
Savory Adventures Publishing
9780983614142, $28.95, HC, 224pp
Synopsis: When a chance friendship offered him the trip of a lifetime, a twenty-one-year-old Barry Frangipane swapped the familiar beaches of Florida for the passion of 1970's Paris.
What followed was a year of learning the language, showering in the kitchen (you read that right), escaping a terrorist bombing, and working on the frontlines of the burgeoning personal tech industry. All while slowly falling for the girl who'd invited him there -- a love that was to remain entwined with Paris forever.
"Paris for Life: Notes from a Lifetime in and out of Paris" is warmly nostalgic and sharply witty memoir, Barry weaves surprising historical insights through his fondest memories (past and present) of the City of Light. From the pastries to the politics, the cafes to the cathedrals, "Paris for Life" is an examination of what it means to be wholly captivated by a city and eternally changed by its lessons.
Critique: Part memoir, part travelogue, and a complete celebration of the famed City of Lights, "Paris for Life: Notes from a Lifetime in and out of Paris " by Barry Frangipane is a memorable and entertaining read from start to finish. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Paris for Life" is a deftly crafted and unreservedly recommended pick for community and college/university library American Biography/Memoir and Paris Travelogue & Guide collections. It should be noted for readers who aspire to one day visit Paris themselves that "Paris for Life" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780983614135, $17.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Barry Frangipane doesn't so much write books as simply putting pen to paper and letting his life (and sense of humor) spill onto the page. Born in New Jersey, USA, Barry became infected with wanderlust in his youth and has failed to find a cure ever since. He has travelled extensively, operated an exclusive European tour company, and eaten more crepes than he cares to mention. Most recently he found himself captivated by Liguria, Italy, and is now retired there with his wife. Barry claims to know French, Italian, English and the names of several other languages.
Post Hill Press
9781637589052, $28.99, HC, 256pp
Synopsis: "Nuff Said" is the sequel to "Just Tyrus: A Memoir". We continue to follow the live and times of Tyrus by delving further into his extraordinary life experiences and see how they connect with the most pressing social, political, and cultural issues of our time including immigration, crime, bullying, athletics, politics, China, parenting, respect, and more.
A combination personal life story and acutely insightful social commentary, Tyrus's articular commentaries comprising "Nuff Said" have the power take and hold the reader's total attention from start to finish.
Critique: Written with a distinctive conversational style that will be particular appreciate by readers with an interest in the world of professional athletes, political observations delivered with humor, and the unique life story of a remarkable and memorable man, "Nuff Said" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted that for personal reading lists that "Nuff Said" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).
Editorial Note: A 6'8", 350-pound behemoth, Tyrus is an affable, hardworking entertainer with a sly sense of humor. Following his initial calling to football, he became a bouncer at numerous establishments in Los Angeles where he caught the attention of Snoop Dogg and became his bodyguard. That drew the attention of the WWE where he went on to enjoy success as "Brodus Clay," and later, "The Funkasaurus," which led to his starring in Mattel commercials and appearing in WWE videogames. Along with working as an actor in film and television, he recently captured the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and is a co-host of American's number one late-night comedy, The Greg Gutfeld Show.
The General Fiction Shelf
9781735962221, $TBA, HC, 280pp
Synopsis: What began as just another long stretch of hours in the parched and daredevil fall of 2006, when he was too young to leave home, but too old to stay home -- Nate Simmons said no. Bolstered by the thrill of defiance, he barrels down a path that forever changes two households.
Critique: A deftly crafted and original novel that will prove to be of immense appeal to readers with an interest in coming of age stories combined with a small town southern backdrop, "Dry Spell" by Avery Caswell showcases the author's genuine flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling that raises her work to the status of great literature and an inherently fascinating read from start to finish. Simply stated, "Dry Spell" is especially and unreservedly recommended pick for personal reading lists, as well as community and college/university Contemporary American Literature collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.
Editorial Note: Avery Caswell was born just north of Chicago, Illinois. From a young age she was always scribbling, filling stenographer notebooks with observations (like Harriet, the Spy) and drawing scenes from Camelot (Franco Nero!). She grew up in various small towns across the Midwest and lived briefly in upstate New York before making the Carolinas home. An interest in the blurred edges between religion and magic, and a love of history inspire much of her writing. Caswell attended Kent State and Purdue Universities, the University of Baltimore, and Iowa Writers' Workshop. She holds MFAs in theatre and creative writing.
The Greater Good
Frank J. Sapienza
9781611794229, $21.99, PB, 262pp
Synopsis: Dr. Jonathan Morrison saves his son's life with a kitchen knife, but finally realizes he has been in denial about the true cause of his son's worsening symptoms.
When he is contacted by Advanced Genomic Research, their promise of creating a revolutionary new treatment for his son seems too good to be true. And there is a catch.
He is faced with an impossible choice, abandon a possible cure for his son, or embrace an ethical compromise that will change him forever.
Critique: A deftly crafted novel arising from the fundamental question of what would a parent to, how far would a parent go, to have their child cured of a debilitating and ultimately lethal illness. "The Greater Good" by novelist and practicing dentist Frank J. Sapienza is a compelling, thought-provoking, and memorable read from start to finish. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of anyone with an interest in medical suspense/thriller fiction that "The Greater Good" is also readily available from in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99) from Cortero Publishing.
Editorial Note: Frank J. Sapienza (https://www.franksapienza.com) is a practicing dentist since 1985. The youngest of five children, he began assisting in his father's dental office at the age of sixteen. He quickly developed in interest in technology in the healthcare setting, writing a dental practice management software package at the age of twenty. Later, he published a computer tutorial for dentists, Computers in the Dental Office: How to Evaluate, Select and Get the Most Out of Your System. Advances in technology, both in his practice and in the larger healthcare arena, continue to be his main professional passions.
The Aziola's Cry: A Novel of the Shelleys
Ezra Harker Shaw
History Through Fiction LLC
9798987319178, $19.95, HC, 372pp
Synopsis: In the year 1814, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, a gifted teenager born into a family of literary brilliance, falls deeply in love with the youthful rebel, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Defying societal conventions, they embark on a daring escapade, accompanied by Mary's step-sister Claire, leaving behind their respective families and Percy's wife and children. However, their journey proves to be far from an idyllic romance, for it is fraught with tumultuous challenges.
In their quest for freedom and expression, Mary and Percy immerse themselves in experimental notions of free love and join forces with the enigmatic and infamous Lord Byron. Amidst these thrilling encounters and adventures, the young lovers are confronted by heart-wrenching tragedies that test their resilience and resolve.
Driven to elude the strict laws of England, which threaten to separate them from their own children, Mary and Shelley embark on a nomadic existence, wandering through the captivating landscapes of Italy while constantly evading their haunting past. As their circumstances become increasingly dire, their shared passion for writing emerges as the sole lifeline that binds them together. Through their literary endeavors, they become each other's guiding force, ultimately crafting timeless masterpieces that will etch their names into the annals of literary history.
Critique: Although an inherently fascinating work of historical/biographical fiction, "The Aziola's Cry: A Novel of the Shelleys" by Ezra Harker Shaw is based on actual events and personalities. Showcasing the author's genuine flair as a novelist for the kind of eloquent narrative driven storytelling that creates truly memorable and deftly crafted literary experiences for the reader, "The Aziola's Cry: A Novel of the Shelleys" will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Aziola's Cry: A Novel of the Shelleys" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798987319185, $19.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Ezra Harker Shaw is a non-binary writer who loves all things Gothic. While earning a PhD, Shaw explored the collaborative writing of Percy Byssche Shelley and Mary Shelley, a project that led them to write "The Aziola's Cry". A celebrated performance poet, Shaw regularly hosts poetry nights in London and was nominated for the Outspoken Prize for Poetry. Shaw often conducts university lectures and conducts workshops with aspiring young writers. To further inspire and educate others, Shaw also hosts the Meliorist Writing podcast, where they provide valuable writing tips and engage in insightful interviews with fellow creatives.
Zhang Ling, author
Shelly Bryant, translator
9781662509025, $28.99, HC, 224pp
Synopsis: In the summer of 1976, an earthquake swallows up the city of Tangshan, China. Among the hundreds of thousands of people scrambling for survival is a mother who makes an agonizing decision that irrevocably changes her life and the lives of her children. In that devastating split second, her seven-year-old daughter, Xiaodeng, is separated from her brother and the mother she loves and trusts. All Xiaodeng remembers of the fateful morning is betrayal.
Thirty years later, Xiaodeng is an acclaimed writer living in Canada with a caring husband and daughter. However, her newfound fame and success do little to cover the deep wounds that disrupt her life, time and again, and edge her toward a breaking point. Xiaodeng realizes the only path toward healing is to return to Tangshan, find her mother, and get closure.
Spanning three decades of the emotional and cultural aftershocks of disaster, Zhang Ling's intimate epic explores the damage of guilt, the healing pull of family, and the hope of one woman who, after so many years, still longs to be saved.
Critique: Original, impressively eloquent, inherently interesting, and a memorably riveting read from start to finish, "Aftershock" by Zhang Ling is a saga style novel that is ably translated into English for an American readership by Shelly Bryant. "Aftershock" will hold a particular interest for fans of deftly crafted family stories of personal loss and ultimate redemption and that are raised to the highest levels of literary fiction. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Aftershock" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781662509025, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Editorial Note: Zhang Ling (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Ling_(author)) is the award-winning author of ten novels and numerous collections of novellas and short stories, including A Single Swallow, translated by Shelly Bryant; Where Waters Meet, her first novel written in English; Gold Mountain Blues; and Aftershock, which was adapted into China's first IMAX movie with unprecedented box office success. Born in China, she moved to Canada in 1986 and, in the mid-1990s, began to write and publish fiction in Chinese while working as a clinical audiologist. Since then, she has won the Chinese Media Literature Award for Author of the Year, the Grand Prize of Overseas Chinese Literary Award, and Chinese Times's Open Book Award.
Editorial Note: Shelly Bryant (https://paper-republic.org/pers/shelly-bryant) divides her year between Shanghai and Singapore, working as a teacher, writer, researcher, and translator. She is the author of two volumes of poetry, Cyborg Chimera and Under the Ash. Her third volume of poetry, Voices of the Elders, and her travel memoir The End of the Line are slated for release in 2012. Her current projects include writing an updated guide to the city of Shanghai for Urbanatomy and translating Sheng Keyi's novel Northern Girls for Penguin Books. Shelly's poetry has appeared in journals, magazines, and websites around the world, as well as in several art exhibitions, including dark 'til dawn, Things Disappear, and Studio White Exhibition 2011.
A River Divided
Heads & Tales
9780646846651, $17.99, PB, 384pp
Synopsis: A River Divided follows Evelyn, a geneticist and amateur archeologist, who discovers a tomb while vacationing in Israel. Believing she has found the remains of Christ, she attempts to revive the DNA found preserved at the site so that she can clone Him. Though more a scientist than a zealot, she wants to do everything to bring Him back to the world. If her experiment were successful, the consequence could be the salvation of a dying Earth.
The result of her daring discovery is the birth of identical twins Christopher and Jose, who are raised apart and unaware of each other's existence - one in the affluent suburbs of Sydney and the other in the slums of Buenos Aires. As different artists would sculpt different statues from the same block of marble, different environments produce different characters out of the same DNA. The twins are destined to clash, adversaries in an almighty battle for the Amazon.
Urged by the flame of science, renowned neuroscientist George Paxinos has written his thrilling first novel that takes a neuropsychological approach to the question of nature versus nurture.
Critique: Eloquent, original, thought-provoking, exceptionally well written, and a compelling read from start to finish, "A River Divided" will be of special and particular interest to readers concerned about the nature of humanity and its impact on the environment. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A River Divided" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Editorial Note: George Paxinos, AO, is a leading global neuroscientist who studied at Berkeley, McGill and Yale and is Professor of Medical Sciences at NeuRA and The University of New South Wales, Sydney. Past president of the Australian Neuroscience Society and the World Congress of Neuroscience, George has identified and named more brain areas than anyone in history. He's received awards from the Association of American Publishers and the British Medical Association. George is an environmental activist who's often been defeated by government. Twenty-one years in the making, A River Divided is his answer.
The Great Gimmelmans
Lee Matthew Goldberg
Level Best Books
9781685124212, $18.95, PB, 392pp
Synopsis: Middle child Aaron Gimmelman watches as his family goes from a mild-mannered reform Jewish clan to having over a million dollars of stolen money stuffed in their RV's cabinets while being pursued by the FBI and loan sharks. But it wasn't always like that. His father Barry made a killing as a stockbroker, his mother Judith loved her collection of expensive hats, his older sister Steph was obsessed with pop stars, and little sister Jenny loved her stuffed possum, Seymour.
After losing all their money in the Crash of 1987, the family starts stealing from convenience stores, but when they hit a bank, they realize the talent they possess. The money starts rolling in and brings the family closer together, whereas back at home, no one had any time for bonding due to their busy schedules. But Barry's desire for more, more, more will take its toll on the Gimmelmans, and Aaron is forced into an impossible choice: turn against his father, or let his family fall apart.
From Jersey, down to an Orthodox Jewish community in Florida where they hide out, and up to California, "The Great Gimmelmans" by novelist Lee Matthew Goldberg goes on a madcap ride through the 1980s. Filled with greed and love and the meaning of religion and tradition until the walls of the RV and the feds start closing in on the family.
Critique: An original and deftly penned novel of dark humor and family pathos, "The Great Gimmelmans" is an extraordinary read from start to finish. Compelling, memorable, and storytelling ast its literary best, "The Great Gimmelmans" is an unreservedly recommended pick for community and college/university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Great Gimmelmans" is also currently available in a digital book format (Kindle, $0.99) from Amazon.com
Editorial Note: Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of fourteen novels. He was nominated for an Anthony Award and the Prix du Polar. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, he's been published in multiple languages and his writing has also appeared as a contributor in CrimeReads, Pipeline Artists, LitHub, Electric Literature, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Mystery Tribune, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Maudlin House and others. He is also the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City.
Dorrance Publishing Company
9798890270184, $15.00, PB, 126pp
Synopsis: While on vacation, the Pearson family gets much more excitement than they had planned when the three Pearson boys go on a journey for Peruvian gold in the Andes mountains in this good, old-fashioned adventure.
Critique: Although a work of fiction, "Peruvian Gold" by Adam Pearson is based on real people including the author's sons, his Peruvian wife, himself, and his father-in-law and brother-in-law. Exceptionally well written and a fun read from start to finish, "Peruvian Gold" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Peruvian Gold" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) as well.
Editorial Note: Adam Pearson is an entrepreneurial enthusiast and the proud owner of Fortunato Chocolate (https://fortunatochocolate.com). He loves to read and, later in life, has also discovered a love of writing. Pearson has been married for nineteen years and has three young sons. His other passions include traveling and being a foodie. He believes that hard work and adventure are essential for raising kids successfully.
The Historical Fiction Shelf
Ivan Luiz Hernandez with Victoria Petelin
Wise Ink Creative Publishing
9781634895927, $24.95, HC, 392pp
Synopsis: Victor wasn't supposed to be anything more than a farmer. But when he is suddenly orphaned, one of Cuba's most esteemed judges adopts him at the pivotal moment in history when Fidel Castro is overthrowing President Fulgencio Batista and taking control of the island.
When Castro raids his adoptive family's estate and arrests his father, Victor narrowly escapes by concealing his identity and fleeing to the US. Determined to rescue his father and liberate his homeland, Victor accepts an unconventional, deadly deal with the CIA that exposes him to some of the most sensational moments in US history.
In a whirlwind twist of events, he reunites with a childhood crush, Sarita Rodriguez, whose newfound fame as an actress in New York puts their opposite lives through unimaginable danger.
A cinematic piece first written as a screenplay, Isla Vulnerable delivers the edge-of-your-seat pacing of Jack Ryan with telenovela-style high-stakes drama, perfect for fans of historical and political thrillers, international spy mysteries, biographies and documentaries, government conspiracies, and romantic suspense.
Critique: Although a work of fiction, "Isla Vulnerable: by Ivan Luiz Hernandez (with the assistance of Victoria Petelin) is the product of 18 years of research and interviews, sharing the journey of a poor farm boy named Victor Gomez, who transforms into a US spy while falling for the very public Sarita Rodriguez at the height of the Cuban revolution. A deftly crafted and inherently fascinating read from start to finish, "Isla Vulnerable" will hold a very special interest for fans of political/historical thrillers, international spy mysteries, and governmental conspiracies. While a very highly recommended pick for personal and community library collections, it should be noted that "Isla Vulnerable" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) as well.
Editorial Note: Ivan Luiz Hernandez (https://ivanluizhernandez.com) is a writer, business consultant, and entrepreneur dedicated to bringing unique stories and ideas to life. The son of a former US spy, Ivan always felt his family was different. The unusual events he experienced as a child inspired him to finally tell his family's riveting story, which he has created in his debut novel, "Isla Vulnerable".
Belfield: A Novel
Green Writers Press
9798988382072, $21.95, PB, 224pp
Synopsis: Although a work of fiction, "Belfield" by Joan Alehsire is based on an historical incident in the life of Charles Willson Peale, who was an Early American painter, a Revolutionary War veteran, an inventor, a museum founder, and a farmer.
Although he opposed slavery publicly, Peale accepted an enslaved family into his household as payment for a debt. He freed the husband and wife after a few years, but held their son, Moses Williams, until he was 26, and taught him to be a profile cutter, working in his Philadelphia natural history museum.
In imagining the Peale family's life on an 18th-century farm, "Belfield" explores ethics and inclusion: the contradictions at the heart of 18th-century America..
Critique: Inherently fascinating, deftly crafted, historically accurate in background details, "Belfield" by Joan Aleshire and published by Green Writers Press is a thoughtful and thought-provoking read from start to finish -- and one that is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and college/university library Historical Fiction collections.
Editorial Note: Joan Aleshire (https://poets.org/poet/joan-aleshire) grew up in a large extended family, hearing stories about their Peale ancestors. She began to read and write stories, plays, and poems. Joan graduated from independent schools, and from Harvard/Radcliffe in 1960. She studied film and Russian, married, worked on a therapeutic farm in Vermont, and had a daughter. She received an MFA from Goddard College in 1980, became Interim Director of the Warren Wilson MFA Program, and was on the poetry faculty from 1983 to 2013.
The Romantic Fiction Shelf
Piqued and Repiqued
Judith Hale Everett
9781958720011, $15.99, HC, 350pp
Synopsis: Jonathan Blysdale has risen from wealthy tradesman's son to gentleman in the highest circles of Society through sheer determination. When he catches sight of Lady Athena Dibbington, he knows he has found the jewel to crown his achievement. But Lady Athena was bred to marry no less than a marquess, and she has no patience with the attentions of one so far beneath her as Blysdale.
Yet it is not beneath Lady Athena to sustain her lifelong friendship with the awkward and outspoken Iris Slougham, whose family's wealth also originated in trade. This very peculiarity inspires Iris to further Blysdale's suit, for she is convinced there is more to him than ambition. But will her unconventional efforts to help secure her friend's happiness do more harm than good?
Critique: An original and thoroughly fun read from start to finish, "Piqued and Repiqued" deftly showcases author Judith Hale Everett's complete mastery of the Regency Romance genre, as well as her impressive and effective skills as a novelist in creating the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that will keep the reader's total attention from first page to last. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), "Piqued and Repiqued" is especially and unreservedly recommended community library Regency Romance collections.
Editorial Note: Judith Hale Everett (www. judithhaleeverett.com.) is an award-winning author who writes tongue-in-cheek traditional Regency romance in an immersive style perfect for fans of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, with emphasis on delightful language and historical accuracy (no forays into the bedroom). As one of seven sisters, Judith grew up surrounded by romance novels. Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen were staples, and formed the groundwork for her lifelong love affair with the Regency. Add to that her obsession with the English language and you've got one hopelessly literate romantic. She was a finalist in the 2022 Wishing Shelf Book Awards for her third book, Forlorn Hope.
The Space Between
W. W. Crown
9781954007550, $29.99, HC, 474pp
Synopsis: The love we choose can change everything. A fateful night in Central Park leads Andrea Leighton-Hughes and Jace Morgan to one life-changing conclusion -- that they are meant to be.
Andrea is no stranger to wealth. She is the daughter of one of the richest men in Manhattan and has been used as a chess piece in her family's business empire since she was born.
Jace Morgan is no stranger to hardship. He lost his parents at a young age, and he and his brothers struggle every day to get by. Now they're risking it all in a gamble to hit it big and rise to the top of the music industry.
Andrea defies her family and promises Jace forever. Jace defies his brothers and promises Andrea always. But sometimes always doesn't mean forever, and forever doesn't mean always.
After years apart, Jace barges in on Andrea's wedding and says just one word-don't. Now Andrea must decide, does she take Jace's hand and find always and forever, or does she fulfill another promise and marry the one man she always swore she'd never love.
Critique: "The Space Between" by Sarah Ready spans nearly two decades and is a compelling novel of longing, betrayal, friendship, as well as the undying belief that love and music can heal the world. An original and deftly crafted novel that will be of special interest to fans of contemporary romance laced with humor, "The Space Between" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Romance collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated Rom-Com fans tht "The Space Between" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781954007536, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
Editorial Note: Sarah Ready (www.sarahready.com) writes contemporary romance and romantic comedy. Her books have been described as "euphoric", "heartwarming" and "laugh out loud". Her works include Josh and Gemma Make a Baby, Josh and Gemma the Second Time Around, French Holiday, The Space Between, and romcoms in the Soul Mates in Romeo series. Her debut novel The Fall in Love Checklist was hailed as "the unicorn read of 2020".
Crossing Paths: The Road to Destiny
Newman Springs Publishing
9798887632650, $17.95, PB, 360pp
Synopsis: Annie's destiny awaits. Will it be smooth sailing or turbulent seas as she tries to navigate this new positive romance?
After a life-changing journey, Annie's decision to accept a proposal from Ramone, a dashing Spanish matador who defies his own father to keep Annie and her father safe, opens the next chapter in their destiny book.
During the politically-fraught British turnover of Hong Kong to Beijing, the happy couple's charted path appears to be on course. However, politics and romantic suspense intervene, causing lives to be changed or lost.
The island of Mallorca off the coast of Spain offers the perfect refuge from the conflict. In the midst of the King's Cup Regatta and the Night of the Pilgrims Pilgrimage, a wedding is planned. Annie's journey has produced the man of her dreams and the happy couple welcome familiar faces from their different worlds to celebrate their union.
Friends and family gather; hidden facts are revealed. Alliances are broken or formed, culminating in a series of crossroads leading to choices to be made and destiny's potential.
Crossing Paths continues the story begun in Beyond the Sea: Annie's Journey into the Extraordinary combining our favorite characters with colorful new ones creating a combustion of interactions and a mystery to be solved!
The end of one journey is sometimes the start of new beginnings!
Critique: A novel of romance and adventure, "Crossing Paths: The Road to Destiny" by Nina Purtee is an inherently compelling read from start to finish. The sequel to Purtee's first novel, "Beyond the Sea: Annie's Journey Into the Extraordinary", the author once again showcases an impressive narrative driven storytelling style that the reader will find to be simply riveting from beginning to end. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Crossing Paths: The Road to Destiny" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.49).
Editorial Note: Nina Purtee (https://ninapurtee.com) is a gifted writer of Romance & Adventure novels that typically feature intrigue in exotic places. Purtee has a knack for weaving experiences from her own voyages with stories of family relationships fiction, youthful awakening, adventure, cultural diversity, & romance!
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
January 6: A Novel
9781804430545, $9.99, PB, 228pp
Synopsis: January 6, 2020 was the day democracy was assaulted in an armed attempt to overthrow a freely and fairly elected American government. Protesters and insurrectionists at the President Donald J. Trump's rally morphed into a mob that stormed the Capitol, right-wing extremists in their midst.
"January 6: A Novel" is a work of fiction based on an historical event witnessed on television in real time by millions of Americans. It takes place in the politically sacred halls that author Norman Brewer had walked for decades as a reporter.
In this original novel based on real events, hostages are taken, the House Speaker among them. A horrific standoff gives extremist militias time to unleash deadly terrorism across the nation. Public officials are assassinated. Bombs ignited in malls.
National Guard units are beset by mutiny. Dams and electrical grids attacked, innocent citizens killed. Insurrectionists commandeer radio stations, broadcasting calls for revolution. Riots break out, extremists of the right and left in mortal combat. Cities are aflame.
The President, in election denial, weighs declaring martial law to quell the violence -- and to justify refusing to leave office.
Can democracy survive?
Critique: Although a work of fiction, "January 6: A Novel" provides genuine and vivid insider glimpses of what might come next in 2024 in real life. All kingdoms, empires, and nations throughout history have risen, flourished, and then fallen. American may not be an exception. Follow a disputed election in 2020 and the possibility of an insurrectionist political candidate being once more defeated at the polls, the very real possibility of what is described in "January 6: A Novel, makes it an unreservedly recommended addition to community and college/university library collections -- and essential reading for those with interest, in politics, terrorism, freedom, and the future of the United States of America.
Editorial Note: Norman Brewer is an award-winning reporter and editor who worked for The Des Moines Register and Tribune and for Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C. As a reporter, he covered Congress, the White House and federal agencies, and pursued investigative projects that earned recognition, including from the National Press Club. He was also Director of Employee Communications at the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.
Brewer's experience has given him a powerful perspective regarding the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, domestic terrorism and the political landscape. Exposure to terrorism issues helped shape January 6: A Novel as well as two earlier novels, "Blending In: A Tale of Homegrown Terrorism", and "Killer Politics: A Satirical Tale of Homegrown Terrorism".
Prelude to Murder
Level Best Books
9781685124427, $16.95, PB, 266pp
Synopsis: Young, prodigious Metropolitan Opera violinist Julia Kogan, having survived her entanglement in an investigation of her mentor's murder and a subsequent violent, life-threatening attack of a ruthless killer, is called upon for a key musical leadership position at the Santa Fe Opera.
But at the spectacular outdoor theatre in the shadows of the mysterious New Mexican Sangre de Cristo Mountains, she witnesses yet other operatic murders, both on-stage and off. Dark and painful secrets emerge as, ignoring warnings from her colleagues and from Larry, her significant other, Julia plunges into her own investigation of the killing.
Ghostly apparitions combine with some of the most bloody and violent operas in the repertoire to make Julia question her own motives for searching for the killer. But this time, the threat to her life originates from a source she never would have imagined.
Critique: Impressively original and carefully crafted, "Prelude to Murder" is a fun read for 'whodunnit' murder mystery buffs from start to finish. As a novelist, Erica Miner clearly draws from her career with the Metropolitan Opera and exhibits a genuine flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that will quickly engage the reader's total attention in a compelling story featuring the supernatural and amateur sleuthing. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Prelude to Murder" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
Editorial Note: After 21 years as a violinist with the Metropolitan Opera, Erica Miner (www.ericaminer.com) turned to her lifelong love of writing as her creative outlet. Her debut novel, "Travels with My Lovers", won the Fiction Prize in the Direct from the Author Book Awards, and her screenplays have won awards in the WinFemme, Santa Fe, and Writers Digest competitions. "Aria for Murder", published by Level Best Books (2022), the first in her Julia Kogan Opera Mystery series, and was a finalist in the 2023 Eric Hoffer Awards. As a writer-lecturer, Erica has given workshops for Sisters in Crime; Los Angeles Creative Writing Conference; EPIC Group Writers; Write on the Sound; Fields End Writer's Community; Savvy Authors; and numerous libraries on the west coast.
A. M. Vergara
Damocles' Blade Press
9781962246026, $28.99, HC, 304pp
Synopsis: The world's oldest family of high-profile assassins, the Firefaxes, have been killing off dignitaries -- and being well-compensated to do so-for centuries.
The family is thrown into turmoil by their patriarch's death and the return of their cunning, cruel prodigal, Murdoch. Murdoch is the only one left who knows where the secret island is that the Firefax wealth is kept.
But Murdoch's former protege, now turned nemesis, Istani, who is the leader of a British intelligence network, and Murdoch's former colleagues from a Continental intelligence network are also looking for that wealth. These spy networks are bent on tracking down the legendary treasure, whatever the cost, but may have met their match in the wily, dysfunctional family of killers.
Critique: Original, deftly crafted, riveting, and a fun read from start to finish, "Firefax" will hold a special appeal to readers with an interest in historical novels featuring groups clandestine assassins and spy group operatives locked in mortal combat. Author A. M. Vergara demonstrates a complete mastery of the kind of narrative storytelling style that compels the reader's rapt attention from first page to last. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Action/Adventure Historical Thriller collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists for fans of alternative science fiction novels that "Firefax" is also available in a paperback edition (9781962246026, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
Editorial Note: A.M. Vergara (https://amvergara.com) is a physician assistant and paramedic. When not writing, reading, or working in the hospital or on the ambulance, she can be found outside, hiking, camping, riding her mule, foraging for edible mushrooms, field-herping, or playing her banjo.
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Ming & Leopold: A City in the Sky
Klasky Cuspo Inc.
9798218298333, $15.99, PB, 254pp
Synopsis: The year is 2299, and Ming and Leopold are Good Witches. Though they appear to be eighteen and twenty-one, they have actually lived a millennium. Leopold, born in Russia, became an orphan at age twelve. His cruel aunt and uncle sent him away as a child to be a soldier in the Russian army.
He and Ming are in love, but Leopold's PTSD from war strains their relationship. The couple arrive in NYC after leaving the jungles of Brazil.
A war between Good Witches and Dark Witches ensues. Zoltan Janka, leader of The Dark Witch Nation, plans to control all Electrical Energy Plants in NYC and beyond. Janka's objective: to rule Planet Earth and subjugate humans by denying them electricity. The world is on the brink of an Electrical Energy Apocalypse!
Critique: "Ming & Leopold: A City in the Sky" by Arlene Klasky is an original and deftly crafted fantasy of love, sacrifice, and hope. A fun read from start to finish, and set in the future, "Ming & Leopold: A City in the Sky" is a fantasy that will especially interest fans of witches and wizards and is unreservedly recommended for personal, highschool, and community library Fantasy fiction collections.
Editorial Note: Arlene Phyllis Klasky (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arlene_Klasky) is an American animator, graphic designer, producer and co-founder of Klasky Csupo with Gabor Csupo. In 1999, she was named one of the "Top 25 Women in Animation" by Animation Magazine. She is most known for her work with Nickelodeon in the 1990s and 2000s.
Lesley Conner, editor
Jason Sizemore, editor
Apex Book Company
9798223970637, $24.95, PB, 358pp
Synopsis: Whether striving to protect the family they've chosen, searching for meaning amid the chaos of the world, or questioning what it is that makes one alive, robotic ambition can mean many different things.
Collaborative compiled and co-edited by Lesley Conner and Jason Sizemore, "Robotic Ambitions: Tales of Mechanical Sentience" is a compendium of twenty-five short stories by authors who explores the nuance of sentience manufactured and evolved within mechanical beings. These are stories that, collectively, peel back the metal exterior and takes a hard look at what is inside.
Within these stories will be discovered original tales of robots defying their coding for a chance at love, resisting societal norms so that they may experience art and pleasure, and searching for their place in a world that was not made for them, but rather was made to use them. These are stories about striking out on your own, building something new amid destruction, and doing whatever it takes to make sure you survive.
Robots and AI are more than tools for humanity. They have their own goals, dreams, and aspirations.
Critique: An impressive anthology that includes original robot-oriented science fiction stories by Lavie Tidhar, Premee Mohamed, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Jason Sanford, and twenty-one others, "Whether striving to protect the family they've chosen, searching for meaning amid the chaos of the world, or questioning what it is that makes one alive, robotic ambition can mean many different things. Robotic Ambitions: Tales of Mechanical Sentience explores the nuance of sentience manufactured and evolved within mechanical beings. It peels back the metal exterior and takes a hard look at what is inside.
Within these pages you will discover stories of robots defying their coding for a chance at love, resisting societal norms so that they may experience art and pleasure, and searching for their place in a world that was not made for them, but rather was made to use them. These are stories about striking out on your own, building something new amid destruction, and doing whatever it takes to make sure you survive. Robots and AI are more than tools for humanity. They have their own goals, dreams, and aspirations.
This anthology includes stories by Lavie Tidhar, Premee Mohamed, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Jason Sanford, and many more. Whether striving to protect the family they've chosen, searching for meaning amid the chaos of the world, or questioning what it is that makes one alive, robotic ambition can mean many different things. Robotic Ambitions: Tales of Mechanical Sentience explores the nuance of sentience manufactured and evolved within mechanical beings. It peels back the metal exterior and takes a hard look at what is inside.
Within these pages you will discover stories of robots defying their coding for a chance at love, resisting societal norms so that they may experience art and pleasure, and searching for their place in a world that was not made for them, but rather was made to use them. These are stories about striking out on your own, building something new amid destruction, and doing whatever it takes to make sure you survive. Robots and AI are more than tools for humanity. They have their own goals, dreams, and aspirations.
Critique: "Robotic Ambitions" is an impressive, thought-provoking, and entertaining anthology that includes original stories by Lavie Tidhar, Premee Mohamed, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Jason Sanford, and 21 others. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "Robotic Ambitions" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary Science Fiction collections.
Editorial Note: Jason Sizemore (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason_Sizemore) is a writer and editor from the Appalachian hills of southeast Kentucky. He edits and publishes science fiction, fantasy, and horror at Apex Books and the genre short fiction zine Apex-Magazine.com
Out of Body
Christopher John Chater
9780996596312, $9.99, PB, 207pp
Synopsis: Harley Baker's obsession with the afterlife leads him to experiment with astral projection, but when he doesn't take the necessary precautions before an OBE, he comes back to find that a demon has taken over his body.
While in spirit form, Harley watches the impostor romance the girl he's crushing on, ace his college exams, and impress his best friend with opportunities for wealth beyond his wildest dreams.
Not only does Harley have to figure out how to get his body back before he's trapped in the astral plane forever, but he has to stop the demon from a plan that will veil the world in darkness and enslave the human race.
Critique: An original and deftly crafted suspense thriller of a fantasy novel from start to finish, "Out of Body" by Christopher John Chater is a riveting and fun read that will be of particular and special interest to fans of supernatural fantasies that are liberally laced with humor. While also available for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans, "Out of Body" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections.
Editorial Note: Christopher John Chater (https://christopherjohnchater.blogspot.com) has successfully pursued his lifelong dream of writing novels. His books include: The Traveler's Companion, Omegasphere, Aquarius Rising, Out of Body, and the award-winning series Dating in the Apocalypse.
The Poetry Shelf
some blue, a little spur
9798988302216, $15.00, PB, 77pp
Synopsis: Poetry has many functions -- some recreational, some 'real world' relevant, and some that works of verbal art and storytelling in verse. The poems compiled and presented in Kris Falcon's "some blue, a little spur" (her second volume of published poetry) are inherently fascinating and evoke resonating responses in the mind and soul of her readers.
Critique: Kris Falcon's genuine gift for writing the kind of poetry that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after this little volume is finished and set back upon the shelf truly rise to the level of literary excellence. "some blue, a little spur" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and college/university library Contemporary Poetry collections.
Editorial Note: Kris Falcon's attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago MFA. Her new poems appear in Anti-Heroin Chic, The Hong Kong Review, Red Ogre Review, and elsewhere.
The Sports Shelf
Running Up the Mountain
Matt Baxter, author
Ron Mann, author
9781734989960, $28.95, HC, 296pp
Synopsis: In a remote Arizona mountain town more than half a century ago, a collegiate dynasty was born. Northern Arizona University learned about excellence in the altitude mecca of Flagstaff, a training ground for generations of legendary runners. But this school with no traditional powerhouse credentials fought to build momentum and a culture of success over decades before finally exploding to become the country's preeminent distance-running team.
Authored by three-time cross country All-American Matt Baxter and Hall of Fame coach Ron Mann, "Running Up the Mountain: Northern Arizona Altitude, Lumberjack Attitude, and the Building of a Distance Dynasty" authentically captures NAU's humble origins and growing pains, culminating in an insider's perspective that will delight running fans.
Running Up the Mountain is a moving portrait of an elite squad with colorful characters fighting to reach the summit of their sport amid the pressure of intense rivalries and the jarring impact of COVID-19. From quaint beginnings to national champs, grit and commitment endure as defining features -- when you're running with the Lumberjacks!
Critique: A seminal history that will be of immense and particular appeal to readers with an interest in sports/athletics in general, and running/jogging in particular, "Running Up the Mountain: Northern Arizona Altitude, Lumberjack Attitude, and the Building of a Distance Dynasty" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Sports/Athletics collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Running Up the Mountain" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99) as well.
Editorial Note #1: Matt Baxter was a top-15 individual for Northern Arizona University's first three NCAA national cross country championships. He's now a professional for HOKA NAZ Elite, where he has been a New Zealand national champion and a national record holder in the indoor 5000m and the road 5K. This is his second book. He was author of Hurt Me If You Can: The Tales of a High School Runner, a memoir of his formative years as an athlete in New Zealand. He currently resides in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Editorial Note #2; Ron Mann is also an NAU alumnus and letterwinner who went on to coach his alma mater's cross country and track and field squads for 22 years, where he mentored 107 All-Americans, four NCAA individual national champions, and 16 teams that finished in the top 10. He coached USA men's national teams in international competition and held administrative positions with the US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, including the presidency. He coached 47 more All-Americans at the University of Louisville before retiring from collegiate coaching in 2013. Mann continued to coach elite runners, including 2012 Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir, and was inducted into the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame in 2018.
The Travel Shelf
Sneed B. Collard III with Roy Ozaki
Bucking Horse Books
Synopsis: Japan is a country like no other. Its people are different. Its transportation is different. Its language and customs are different. All of these are great reasons to visit--but can be a source of anxiety for first-time travelers. First-Time Japan: A Step-by-Step Guide for the Independent Traveler provides the essential details that most mainstream guidebooks overlook. This entertaining, highly-readable guide informs and educates visitors about every key aspect of Japan travel, from landing at Haneda or Narita airports to riding the subway to your first hotel to grabbing a quick bite late at night. Want to know what to pack, how to behave respectfully, or what to do in a health emergency? First-Time Japan has got you covered, and includes expert insider tips and suggestions from Roy Ozaki, former Japan tour guide and long-time resident.
Critique: Illustrated with black-and-white photography, First-Time Japan: A Step-by-Step Guide for the Independent Traveler lives up to its title as a solid guide to preparing for a visit to Japan. First-Time Japan is not intended to be a sightseeing guide, but rather a reference and resource for dealing with practical matters. Chapters address how to use Japan's public transportation, how to show respect in Japanese culture, what to expect from Japanese cuisine, health and hygiene matters (such as required vaccines, what to do if one becomes sick, and how to use Japanese toilets), packing suggestions, and much more. First-Time Japan is an excellent "must-read" when planning the trip of a lifetime, highly recommended.
The Self-Help Shelf
Creating Harmonious Relationships
9798988748304, $16.95, PB, 254pp
Synopsis: "Creating Harmonious Relationships: a Practical Guide to the Power of True Empathy, Revised Edition" by Andrew LeCompte is empowering in a heartfelt way. It teaches the reader how to communicate wisely and effectively with other people. The basic technique is easy to grasp, and it is taught in a step-by step manner. It teaches how to listen in a way that invites the other person to open up and disclose what is really bothering them while also encouraging them to turn what might be their negative complaint into a positive hope. This is the use of "true empathy." It is particularly useful in defusing an argument when emotions are running high.
"True empathy" involves first acknowledging the other person's feeling state, as in "Are you upset because...?" This guess shows concern for the other person's feeling state and invites their correction. They might say, "I'm angry at you because you've only been criticizing my idea." Then you guess at what their positive hope might be that is behind their feeling criticized. You might reply, "So you're angry because what you really want is some positive support." Then they will supply what their hope is, in this case probably involving some kind of help. This defuses their emotional energy.
Hopes are a key concept in interpersonal communication. We are all motivated to get our hopes met. Hopes are such things as to be heard and understood, to be accepted. These are connection hopes. We also have freedom hopes such as to be free to express our creativity and to be treated with honesty. Hopes are positive needs that can be met without infringing on someone else. They are at the heart of effective conflict resolution.
This method of communicating is the culmination of techniques that have been practiced and refined over many decades. Thousands of people have learned and benefitted from the first edition of Creating Harmonious Relationships: a Practical Guide to the Power of True Empathy. The book was sold out in its first printing and the much awaited Revised Edition is now available.
Critique: While being a successful human doesn't come with an instruction manual. But this newly revised edition of Andrew LeCompte's "Creating Harmonious Relationships: A Practical Guide to the Power of True Empathy" is the next best thing. Expertly written, organized and presented, "Creating Harmonious Relationships" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, and supplemental Communications curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for personal and professional reading lists that "Creating Harmonious Relationships" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Editorial Note: With a master's degree in Humanistic Psychology in Organizations, and practical life experience, Andrew LeCompte (https://andrewlecompte.com) developed a deeper method of interpersonal communication, which involves tapping into each person's emotions and what they are most hoping for. He then taught empathic speaking and listening skills to couples and to people in schools, colleges, civic groups, legal practices, hospitals, pharmaceutical and financial corporations. As President of the Let's Talk training group he led leadership, management, and organizational development programs.
The Metaphysical Studies Shelf
I Am Consciousness Incarnate
Mystic Ink Publishing
9798988499800, $12.95, PB, 158pp
Synopsis: I am consciousness incarnate.
The fact that you just became conscious of me has made you more conscious than you were a moment ago. Your recognition has brought you a heightened awareness of my presence that constitutes an expansion of consciousness. In no more than a few words, this reflection of my existence within you is already bigger than that first moment of acknowledgment.
Now that you are paying attention, the energy you are giving me has caused me to grow both here where I am meeting you in one of my many forms, and inside of you where you embrace these myriad forms with the mirror of your own incarnate consciousness.
If you question what makes up their consciousness, you will come to the conclusion that your thoughts make up your consciousness, which leads to the question, "Who is it that is aware that I am thinking?"
The answer is, "I am aware that I am thinking," but it isn't that simple. If it is ourselves that is aware that we are thinking, that would mean that we are separate from ourselves in order to make that observation.
This is not the case, which leaves only one other option. Our individual consciousness has to be a part of something greater than itself; the proverbial drop of water in an ocean of consciousness, which begs the question, where does the ocean start and the droplet end?
I am you, you are me, I am everything, and everything is me, so you are everything, and everything is you by default.
If you are still with me, then I am growing on you, but the truth of it is that I have been here all along.
What is growing is your awareness of me.
The more you ponder me, the more you find yourself struggling to define something that is ubiquitous both inside and outside of anything you have ever known or experienced. Like the infinite amount of drops of water in the ocean, there have been many attempts to define just what I am, but the reason I defy description is because I am definition itself.
Critique: A unique blend of cognitive psychology, New Age spirituality, personal transformation, and self-help guide, "I Am Consciousness Incarnate" by Matthew Pallamary is an inherently fascinating, iconoclastic, and thought-provoking read from start to finish. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99), "I Am Consciousness Incarnate" will prove to be an appreciated and idiosyncratic pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Metaphysical Studies lists.
Editorial Note: Matthew J. Pallamary (https://mattpallamary.com/aboutmatt/author) has had his works translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Norwegian, French, and German. His historical novel of first contact between shamans and Jesuits in 18th century South America, was titled "Land Without Evil". It was also adapted into a full-length stage and sky show, co-written with and directed by Agent Red and performed by Sky Candy, an Austin Texas aerial group. The making of the show was the subject of a PBS series, Arts in Context episode, which garnered an EMMY nomination.
The Criminology Shelf
Book Baby Publishers
9781667899756, $23.99, PB, 228pp
Synopsis: The ruthless and powerful crime family that reigned in Kansas City appeared to be on its last legs in the 1990's. But the Mafia life still called to a cadre of young men with gangster ambitions, and the FBI was still aggressively pursuing the organization that would stubbornly survive into the next millennium.
Agents in KC were also hot on the trail of a massive insurance fraud enterprise run by the Riley family, a criminal organization unto themselves whose youngest member, Joseph Riley, had his own dreams of gangster glory.
Big-time white-collar crime would soon collide with the gritty underworld of a Mafia town in a deadly drug sting that attracted nationwide attention and tested the limits of a controversial legal doctrine.
Through copious research and interviews with principal participants, with the publication of "Mafia Dreams: A True Crime Saga of Young Men at the End of an Era in Kansas City", author Frank R. Hayde pieces together an epic true crime tale with surprising connections and startling events.
Critique: The stuff of which block buster movies are made, "Mafia Dreams: A True Crime Saga of Young Men at the End of an Era in Kansas City" by Frank Hayde is richly detailed and impressively written. Particularly well documented and an inherently informative and fascinating read from start to finish, "Mafia Dreams" is a 'must' for anyone with an interest in organized crime in general, and the Kansas City Mafia in particular. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library True Crime collections and supplemental Organized Crime curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Mafia Dreams" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99) as well.
Editorial Note: Frank R. Hayde is a career law enforcement officer and the author of four previous books including The Mafia and the Machine: The Story of the Kansas City Mob; Stan Levy: Jazz Heavyweight; Zion National Park: The Story Behind the Scenery; and Italian Gardens: A History of Kansas City Through its Favorite Restaurant. Descended from Irish-American bricklayers and machine politicians, Hayde's roots in Kansas City stretch back to the 19th Century, and he enjoys the local honor of being the last man to be officially inducted into the Sabenadica Club. (https://store.bookbaby.com/profile/FrankRHayde)
The Holocaust Studies Shelf
The Politzer Saga
Linda A. Broenniman
Bethesda Communications Group
9781736777374, $39.95, HC, 256pp
Synopsis: A housefire in 2011. The contents of a box that survives become the catalyst for a quest whose seeds were planted in 1983 - the day Linda Ambrus Broenniman learned that her Catholic father was Jewish and what little family history she knew was a lie.
Searching for truth, Linda pieces together the astonishing story of her Jewish ancestors (the Politzer family) their remarkable lives lost to her father's secrets.
From the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 1700s to modern day Hungary and America, she finds her family: doctors and lawyers, entrepreneurs and industrialists, writers and musicians, artists and art collectors. She learns of their resilience in surviving religious persecution, wars, epidemics, and economic upheavals. Finding her roots brings Linda a new sense of who she is and a peace that now she can honor the memories of her family.
Critique: Presenting a family history and personal biography, with the publication of "The Politzer Saga" by Linda Ambrus Broenniman, encompasses issues that still echo today with respect to the presence and impact of anti-Semitism, prejudice, persecution, and the enduring costs of attempts at assimilation. It should be noted that "The Politzer Saga" from the Bethesda Communications Group is also the subject of an Exhibition at the Rumbach Synagogue, Budapest, Hungary. Especially and unreservedly recommended to readers with an interest in Jewish biographies/memoirs and Holocaust histories, "The Politzer Saga" is an important addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections. It should be noted that "The Politzer Saga" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Linda Ambrus Broenniman grew up in Buffalo, New York. She is the middle child of seven born to Hungarian physicians who survived World War II and started their new life in the US in 1949.Linda graduated from Swarthmore College with a BA in psychology. Several years after getting her MBA from Carnegie Mellon, she left mainstream corporate America to follow her path as an entrepreneur, building companies in technology and biotech. She let her passion for uncovering hidden potential in unexpected places guide her. And she allowed this passion to fuel her search for her hidden family.
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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