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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 22, Number 1 January 2023 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Education Shelf
Biography Shelf Music Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Travel Shelf Business Shelf General Fiction Shelf
Historical Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Poetry Shelf Humor Shelf


Reviewer's Choice

The Secret Files
Michael Hayes
Kingston Imperial
https://kingstonimperial.com
9781954220447, $29.99, HC, 400pp

https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Files-Officers-Escaped-Accountability/dp/1954220448

Synopsis: In 2018, reporter Michael Hayes uncovered a major story about how the NYPD was not only turning a blind eye to police misconduct, but also allowing hundreds of officers with severe misconduct charges to remain on the force. In the aftermath of that story, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio attempted to reform the department only to abandon his plans.

While de Blasio may have suffered a political setback, it's New Yorkers who are the true victims of this failure to deliver accountability and transparency. The state has a law that specifically prevents the public from learning about concealed police records. New Yorkers are increasingly distrustful of the police after witnessing their loved ones being targeted, brutalized, and murdered with near impunity.

With the publication of "The Secret Files: Bill De Blasio, The NYPD, and The Broken Promises of Police Reform" Hayes takes his readers inside decades of police corruption and controversial laws, chronicling the stories of the families and activists who have had enough. He makes a compelling case for the limits of reform in the aftermath of the major Black Lives Matter rallies following the murder of George Floyd and growing calls to defund the police.

Critique: An impressive and inherently engaging expose of New York City police corruption and subsequent attempts at reform, "The Secret Files: Bill De Blasio, The NYPD, and The Broken Promises of Police Reform" is a compelling and detailed history and study that is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Criminology, Criminal Law, and Civil Rights Law collections. It should be noted for students, academia, governmental policy makers, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Secret Files: Bill De Blasio, The NYPD, and The Broken Promises of Police Reform" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Michael Hayes (https://glose.com/author/michael-hayes) is a journalist whose work has appeared in ProPublica, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, The Appeal, and elsewhere. He has reported America's largest police department, the NYPD, for over five years.


The Writing/Publishing Shelf

Dreaming on the Page
Tzivia Gover
The Collective Book Studio
https://thecollectivebook.studio
9781685550127, $19.95, PB, 240pp

https://www.amazon.com/Dreaming-Page-Midnight-Supercharge-Writing/dp/1685550126

Synopsis: With the publication of "Dreaming on the Page: Tap Into Your Midnight Mind to Supercharge Your Writing", Tzivia Gover has created an instructional guide and reference for writers of all genres, ranging from casual journal-keepers, to experienced authors, to anyone who aspires to writes.

"Dreaming on the Page" reveals how to: Turn your dreams into poems and stories; Supercharge your poetry and prose; Blast through writer's block; Use brain science to help harness your creative powers; Have an endless supply of rich writing prompts -- and so much more!

"Dreaming on the Page" is about knowing how to 'tap into your midnight mind to supercharge your writing".

Critique: Unusual, unique, fascinating, inspiring, "Dreaming on the Page: Tap Into Your Midnight Mind to Supercharge Your Writing" by Tzivia Gover is unreservedly recommended reading for aspiring writers and experienced authors alike. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Dreaming on the Page: Tap Into Your Midnight Mind to Supercharge Your Writing" is especially recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dreaming on the Page: Tap Into Your Midnight Mind to Supercharge Your Writing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Tzivia Gover (https://thirdhousemoon.com) is the founder of Dreaming on the Page classes and workshops, and the author of several books, including The Mindful Way to a Good Night's Sleep. She teaches programs internationally, domestically, and online. She is also a Certified Dreamwork Professional and a Certified Proprioceptive Writing instructor. Gover has an MFA from Columbia University in creative nonfiction


The Education Shelf

Note to Self
Adrian Gordon
Leap Year Music Publishing
https://www.leapyearmusiconline.com
9798218041847, $17.99, PB, 132pp

https://www.amazon.com/Note-Self-Directors-Transitioning-Building/dp/B0BHBTL6Q5

Synopsis: School music programs aren't all the same. Making the transition to a new music teaching position isn't always as simple as reading sheet music. Changing schools means big career changes, different kids, and entering into an already-established music program with its own entrenched culture.

With the publication of "Note to Self: A Music Director's Guide for Transitioning to a New School and Building a Thriving Music Program" by Adrian Gordon, aspiring and practicing K-12 music teachers can smooth over a move to a new school for themselves, their music program, and their students with a plan and some intentional actions.

Whether you're a fresh teacher finding your rhythm or a veteran educator getting ready for the next gig, Note to Self is your guide to navigating the transition to your new music teaching job while preserving your physical, emotional, and mental health. With straightforward advice and ideas, get the expert help you need to prepare your new classroom for learning success, and start building the rock star music program that every student deserves.

"Note to Self: A Music Director's Guide for Transitioning to a New School and Building a Thriving Music Program" covers: What to expect during the transition and the first years in your new music director role; Essential summer prep with a beginning-of-the-year checklist; Ideas for creating community in music class and filling a void in students' musical journeys; How to get people on board with your vision for the music program (and how to work with those who aren't): Self-care for a balanced daily life during new-job stress - despite assessments to grade, parents to email, and lesson plans to develop.

Critique: An ideal DIY instruction guide and 'how-to' manual, "Note to Self: A Music Director's Guide for Transitioning to a New School and Building a Thriving Music Program" must be considered essential reading for new and aspiring K-12 music teachers -- and a a great deal of relevance and value for experience school music class instructors. While highly recommended for personal, professional, and school district library Music Education collections, it should be noted for music education students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Note to Self: A Music Director's Guide for Transitioning to a New School and Building a Thriving Music Program" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Adrian Gordon (www.adriangordonmusic.com) is an internationally performed composer and seasoned music educator. After 17 years of teaching music in the classroom in South Florida and going through four music director job transitions in two different schools, as well as general music, choir, and two string orchestra positions, Adrian realized there was a gap in his music education training. Even though his undergraduate and graduate programs were musically and pedagogically extensive, he never felt as though they touched on those hard-to-navigate areas of transitioning between jobs.

Adrian currently serves as the director of orchestras at Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC. He believes in the power of music education in a child's life and understands the necessity of having passionate, confident, and supported music teachers at the helm, promoting great musical experiences for students.

In addition to teaching, Adrian is the founder of Leap Year Music Publishing, which publishes string music for elementary, middle, and high school ensembles. His compositions appear on the Florida, Texas, Maryland, and Georgia Orchestra Association Music Performance Assessment Lists. His compositions are distributed through J.W. Pepper and have been performed throughout the world. He takes pride in creating music that is fun and pedagogically sound at all levels.


The Biography Shelf

He Charged Alone
John R. Strasburg
www.johnstrasburg.com
Lulu
Lulu.com
9781387855926, $17.98, PB, 249pp

https://www.amazon.com/He-Charged-Alone-Recipient-Private/dp/1387855921

Synopsis: Frank Gaffney was a 33-year-old papermaker from Western New York when America entered the Great War in 1917. While his age exempted him from serving in the military, Gaffney ran to the colors anyway. He fought bravely on Belgian and French battlefields as a U.S. Army soldier with the 27th Division's 108th Infantry Regiment.

On September 29, 1918, Gaffney singlehandedly breached a section of Germany's Hindenburg Line, coming away with 80 prisoners. Six grateful nations recognized his bravery, including his own. In June 1919, the United States awarded him the Medal of Honor. Years later, the 27th Division's commanding general, Maj. Gen. John F. O'Ryan, wrote of Gaffney, "...no one man had performed more daring exploits and had exercised a bigger influence upon those about him by the gallantry of his conduct."

With the publication of "He Charged Alone: World War I Medal of Honor Recipient Private First Class Frank Gaffney", John Strasburg chronicles the life of a First World War American soldier whose bravery was once compared to that of the legendary Sergeant Alvin York.

To tell Frank Gaffney's story, Strasburg deftly weaves together Gaffney's personal correspondence with military/government records, newspaper accounts, and published unit histories. Nearly fifty illustrations (photographs and maps) augment the narrative.

While much of "He Charged Alone" focuses on Gaffney's military service, heroism on the battlefield, and subsequent rehabilitation from a combat injury he received in the war's closing days, it also covers Gaffney's upbringing and how he managed the burden that comes with being a Medal of Honor recipient. At its core, "He Charged Alone" memorializes a true American hero from New York State who in life was admired by people across the country but in death has been nearly forgotten.

In the pages of "He Charged Alone", Frank Gaffney's legacy returns to the fore, where it belongs.

Critique: Informative enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a two page Epilogue, a two page Appendix, thirty-eight pages of Notes, a twelve page Bibliography, and a four page Index, "He Charged Alone: World War I Medal of Honor Recipient Private First Class Frank Gaffney" is especially recommended to readers with an interest in World War I Military History & Biographies. A truly exceptional biography that effectively rescues a World War I Medal of Honor winner from an undeserved obscurity, "He Charged Alone" is a ver special and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library collections

Editorial Note: John Strasburg (https://www.johnstrasburg.com) is a genealogist who specializes in military records research and enjoys helping others discover their ancestral past. He is a retired U.S. Coast Guard commissioned officer and holds a bachelor's degree in political science from SUNY Stony Brook, a master's degree in library & information science from the University of South Florida, and a certificate in genealogical research from Boston University's Metropolitan School, Center for Professional Education.


The Music Shelf

The Inner Light: How India Influenced the Beatles
Susan Shumsky, D.D.
Permuted Press
https://permutedpress.com
9781682619773, $30.00, HC, 512pp

https://www.amazon.com/Inner-Light-India-Influenced-Beatles/dp/168261977X

Synopsis: The spiritual journey of the Beatles is the story of an entire generation of visionaries in the sixties who transformed the world. The Beatles turned Western culture upside down and brought Indian philosophy to the West more effectively than any guru. "The Inner Light: How India Influenced the Beatles" illumines hidden meanings of the Beatles' India-influenced lyrics and sounds are decoded by Susan Shumsky who is a rare insider having spent two decades in the ashrams and six years on the personal staff of the Beatles' mentor, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

An informative and facinating volume that draws back the curtain on the Beatles' experiments with psychedelics, meditation, chanting, and Indian music. Among many shocking revelations never before revealed, we discover who invented "raga rock" (not the Beatles), the real identity of rare Indian instruments and musicians on their tracks, which Beatle was the best meditator (not George), why the Beatles left India in a huff, John and George's attempts to return, Maharishi's accurate prediction, and who Sexy Sadie, Jojo, Bungalow Bill, Dear Prudence, Blackbird, My Sweet Lord, Hare Krishna, and the Fool on the Hill really were.

Half a century later, the Beatles have sold more records than any other recording artist. A new generation wants to relive the magic of the flower-power era and is now discovering the message of this iconic band and its four superstars. For people of all nations and ages, the Beatles' mystique lives on. "The Inner Light" is Susan Shumsky's gift to their legacy.

Critique: Fascinating, informative, revelatory, "The Inner Light: How India Influenced the Beatles" by Susan Shumsky is a 'must read' selection for the legions of Beatles fans. While certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal, community, and academic library Rock Music History collections, it should be noted that "The Inner Light: How India Influenced the Beatles" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99).

Editorial Note: Susan Shumsky (https://en.everybodywiki.com/Susan_Shumsky) has authored twenty books in English, released thirty-six foreign editions, won forty-one book awards, and done 1,300 media appearances. A rare insider, she was on the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's personal staff for six years and lived in his ashrams for twenty years.

Eagles: Up Ahead in the Distance
Rik Forgo, author
Steve Cafarelli, author
Time Passages LLC
https://timepassages.net
9781734365337, $39.99, PB, 503pp

https://www.amazon.com/Eagles-Up-Ahead-Distance-Trilogy/dp/1734365331

Synopsis: The opening guitar chords of "Take It Easy" captured America's attention in June 1972, and Eagles' debut single became that summer's national anthem. Blending musical and commercial excellence, the band from Los Angeles became a pop-rock phenomenon with few peers over the next several years.

"Eagles: Up Ahead in the Distance" is a history of this rock music legendary band with 500-plus pages of detailed stories, in-the-moment photographs from rock's greatest photographers, exclusive interviews, comprehensive informational graphics, and Time Passages' own brand of "forensic rock research" that uncovers specifics in the band's history that offers the most thorough retelling of the Eagles' story ever published.

Authors Rik Forgo and Steve Cafarelli pick up where the first book in the series, "Eagles: Before the Band", left off -- continuing the stories of the group's evolution from opening act to can't-miss headliners. This second volume in the series and tracks how the Eagles rocketed to the top of the charts with hits like "Witchy Woman," "The Best of My Love," "One of These Nights," "Lyin' Eyes," "Take It to the Limit," "Hotel California," and "The Long Run."

"Eagles: Up Ahead in the Distance" explores the inspirations behind the songs you know (and some you don't!) and traces each band member's journey and the artistry and personalities that blended so beautifully but could clash so vehemently. "Eagles: Up Ahead in the Distance" follows the band's ascent into rock's upper echelon and describes how the pressure to succeed, creative intensity, and an unrelenting drive for perfection consumed its members and led to their breakup in 1980.

Critique: Absolutely essential reading for the legions of Eagles fans, "Eagles: Up Ahead in the Distance" continues the saga of one of America's premier rock bands. While unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Rock Music/Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Eagles: Up Ahead in the Distance" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Ric Forgo (https://rik-time-passages.medium.com) is a fan of history and classic rock music, a writer, an editor and an entrepreneur who owns and operates Time Passages LLC, a independent book publisher near Annapolis, MD.


The Cookbook Shelf

Michaels Desserts: Sweets for a Cause Baking Cookbook
Michael C. Platt
https://www.michaelsdesserts.com
Get Creative 6
c/o Sixth&Spring Books
https://www.sixthandspring.com
9781684620470, $17.99, PB, 128pp

https://www.amazon.com/Michaels-Desserts-Cookbook-Recipes-Tomorrow/dp/1684620473

Synopsis: Combining a fun cookbook with Michael Platt's dedicated mission to bring awareness to food and poverty, "Michaels Desserts: Sweets for a Cause Baking Cookbook" will quickly become a favorite teen baking book that builds skills in the kitchen, celebrates history, and inspires activism.

The desserts recipes collection includes Michael's signature Freedom Fighter Cupcakes themed around figures from the history of civil rights and activism ranging from Martin Luther King Jr., Grandpa Kitchen, Jose Andres, Maya Angelou, and Malala Yousafzai, to Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, Harriet Tubman, and more -- as well as illustrated chapters on pies, tarts, cakes, snacks, and breads. Each individual dessert features stunning photography, a list of ingredients, easy-to-do step-by-step instructions, and insightful tips from Michael that will make baking tons of fun.

Critique: A cookbook showcasing more than 45 palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, and 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes for all ages (whether baking with kids or simply wanting to support Michael's incredible mission of ending world hunger), "Desserts: Sweets for a Cause" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended culinary resource for teaching teens and young adults to bake (and a bonus for those whose kids cook already!). Simply stated, "Michaels Desserts: Sweets for a Cause Baking Cookbook" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections.

Editorial Note: Michael C. Platt (www.michaelcplatt.com) is a teen baker, social entrepreneur, and food-justice advocate, whose business, Michaels Desserts, has a 1-for-1 model which donates a dessert to someone in need for every one sold. With this model, Michael has served hundreds of people. Michael appeared as one of the best kid bakers in the country in season 4 of Kids Baking Championship on Food Network and has been featured in Ted Talks, Good Morning America, CNN, Washington Post, People.com, Guideposts, the Rachael Ray Show, and more. He's a member of the Kashi Crew, a group of kid cooks who worked with Kashi to create a new line of cereals and snack bites called Kashi by Kids. He also appeared on BYU tv's feel-good show Operation Awesome, taking a look at how kids are changing the world every day in 2021.


The Travel Shelf

Sea Trials
Wendy Hinman
Salsa Press
http://wendyhinman.com/salsa-press
9780984835034, $20.00, PB, 442pp

https://www.amazon.com/Sea-Trials-Around-World-Bailing/dp/0984835032

Synopsis: A shipwreck might end a dream of circumnavigating the globe. In 1973, the Wilcox family sets off to sail around the world aboard the 40-foot sailboat, Vela. Thirteen months later, they are shipwrecked on a coral reef, with surf tearing a huge hole into the side of their boat.

With years invested in saving money, preparing the boat, and learning to navigate by the stars, parents Chuck and Dawn refuse to give up. Fourteen-year-old Garth is determined to continue, while eleven-year-old Linda never wanted to go in the first place. Can they overcome the emotional, physical and financial challenges to transform from castaways into circumnavigators?

To triumph, they must rebuild their boat on a remote Pacific island. Damage sustained on the reef and a lack of resources haunt them the rest of the way around the world as they face daunting obstacles, including wild weather, pirates, gun boats, mines and thieves, plus pesky bureaucrats and cockroaches as stubborn as the family. Without a working engine and no way to communicate with the outside world, they struggle to reach home before their broken rig comes crashing down and they run out of food in a trial that tests them to their limits.

Critique: A true life story that reads with all the drama of a deftly crafted novel, "Sea Trials: Around the World with Duct Tape and Bailing Wire" by Wendy Hinman is an inherently fascinating read from cover to cover and will prove to be of special appeal to readers with an interest in real life adventure stories of the sea. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library travelogue collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sea Trials: Around the World with Duct Tape and Bailing Wire" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Wendy Hinman (www.wendyhinman.com) is an adventurer, speaker and the author of "Tightwads on the Loose" -- a popular travel adventure book about the 7-year, 34,000-mile voyage she took with her husband aboard a small violently rocking sailboat during which she alternated between feats worthy of Wonder Woman and Suzy Homemaker. Full of humor and armchair thrills, "Tightwads on the Loose" was selected for the literature program for Western Washington University, won the Journey Award for best true life adventure story and was selected as a top travel book for women.


The Business Shelf

The Stripped-Down Guide to Content Marketing
John Egan
HawkStar Press
9798986258218, $22.99, HC, 172pp

https://www.amazon.com/Stripped-Down-Guide-Content-Marketing-Beginners/dp/B0BJHC4S99

Synopsis: Content marketing can grow a small business, but there is so much to do it can be overwhelming. There's SEO, "pillar content", blog post creation, brand storytelling and so much more. Where do you start?

With the publication of "The Stripped-Down Guide to Content Marketing: Success Secrets for Beginners", content creator and marketing strategist John Egan shares the essentials for creating high-quality online content that grows your business. Your content will attract, educate, enlighten, and retain current and potential members of your audience after you've uncovered his strategies. Through examples of compelling content marketing campaigns you'll learn to harness the power to influence customers and drive product sales.

"The Stripped-Down Guide to Content Marketing" covers: Successful content marketing secrets for a tight budget; Tools to generate buzz for your content, including LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media; Is content quantity more important than content quality?; Ways to make blogging the cornerstone of your program; The path to SEO for beginners, including the #1 rule you must know!

"The Stripped-Down Guide to Content Marketing" is a DIY hands-on guide to content marketing strategy complete with professional insider lessons and tips about what will work, what won't, and more from the online world of content marketing.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized, timely, and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, and academic library Business Marketing & Communications collections, it should be noted that "The Stripped-Down Guide to Content Marketing: Success Secrets for Beginners" is also available in a paperback edition (9798218003340, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) for the personal reading lists of MBA students, academicians, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.

Editorial Note: Content creator and marketing strategist John Egan (www.johnegan.net) entered the content marketing business in 2010 as editor in chief at Bankrate Insurance. Later, John served as editor in chief at SpareFoot (now part of Storable) and LawnStarter. He developed content marketing programs for all three companies. John, founder of Jawhawk Media, has been a content marketing entrepreneur since 2017. His clients include Forbes Advisor, Experian, Bankrate, and The Balance. John earned his master's degree in communication from Southern New Hampshire University.

Lights, Camera, Impact
Tony Gnau
T60 Productions
https://www.t60productions.com
9798986420103, $16.99, PB, 168pp

https://www.amazon.com/Lights-Camera-Impact-Storytelling-Production/dp/B0BHC1TT41

Synopsis: A corporate video, whether in marketing or internal communications, is a crucial and effective way to tell your company's story in a digital media world that can't get enough video content. But what video content actually creates a connection and an impact with your audience?

With the publication of "Lights, Camera, Impact: Storytelling, Branding, and Production Tips for Engaging Corporate Video" by three time Emmy Award winner Tony Gnau will help to produce better videos that get a company's message across every time. With "Lights, Camera, Impact" every video-production dollar will count with Gnau's short storytelling tips for digital marketing and internal communication professionals. Readers will learn DIY shooting suggestions for work they do without the need of a video pro. This how-to instructional guide gives you the insights from top thought leaders in corporate communication in order to create a solid video-marketing plan.

"Light, Camera, Impact" covers: The core videos for video marketing success, including "About Us" videos; The best marketing strategy to ensure customers watch videos and take action; What to do before and after video production is complete to maximize results; How to add music for impact and making the most of client testimonials; When a DIY video is the best media choice, like when your audience opposes big companies or you're a small business.

Whether making a DIY video inside a company or hiring a production company to create it, "Lights, Camera, Impact" will enhance video skills making certain messages are hitting home with their intended audiences!

Critique: An ideal instruction guide and 'how to' DIY manual, "Lights, Camera, Impact: Storytelling, Branding, and Production Tips for Engaging Corporate Video" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, corporate, community, and academic library Marketing & Promotion instructional reference collections. It should be noted for MBA students, academia, corporate administrators and marketers, as well as non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Lights, Camera, Impact: Storytelling, Branding, and Production Tips for Engaging Corporate Video" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Tony Gnau (www.tonygnau.com) is a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and founder and chief storytelling officer of T60 Productions. He believes every company has a story and loves helping them tell it.Tony has led T60 to win 18 Telly Awards for corporate videos. He teaches video strategies, speaks at conferences, and blogs on T60Productions.com, where he has written more than 700 video marketing posts. Tony earned his BA in broadcast journalism from the University of Southern California.

Be Visionary: Strategic Leadership in the Age of Optimization
Marty Strong
Business Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing
www.johnhuntpublishing.com
9781785354328, $23.95, PB, 216pp

https://www.amazon.com/Be-Visionary-Strategic-Leadership-Optimization/dp/1785354329

Synopsis: With the publication of "Be Visionary: Strategic Leadership in the Age of Optimization", business coach and author Marty Strong offers 'real world effective' self-help, business leadership book that demonstrates to existing and aspiring leaders the positive impact of applying flexibility, creativity and decisiveness to achieve results -- even (and especially) in uncertain times.

More importantly, "Be Visionary" will enable business leaders to understand that while business operations optimization may have value in certain circumstances, it can also adversely affect a leader's management style, his or her message and replace strategic thought with short-term focus and gratification. For example, even the most efficient wagon-wheel manufacturer in the early 1900s was put out of business by the invention of the automobile -- think and lead strategically!

Critique: Informative, thoughtful, challenging, insightful, and deftly written, organized and presented, "Be Visionary: Strategic Leadership in the Age of Optimization" will have a special appeal and value to business managers, corporate leadership, and entrepreneurs. While unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, and academic library Business Management & Entrepreneurship collections, it should be noted for MBA students, academic, corporate motivational team leaders, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Be Visionary: Strategic Leadership in the Age of Optimization" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Marty Strong (https://martystrongbenimble.com) is an accomplished leader and an active corporate CEO and Chief Strategist. He is was a member of the elite Navy SEAL Teams for twenty years, leading combat missions and helping to design and test new special operations capabilities. Marty coaches and mentors business and other organizational leaders in the areas of strategy, organizational design, leadership, crisis management, and coping with the dynamic nature of market disruption.


The General Fiction Shelf

The Fireballer
Mark Stevens
Lake Union Publishing
https://amazonpublishing.amazon.com/lake-union-publishing.html
Brilliance Audio
www.brillianceaudio.com
9781662512520, $28.99, HC, 416pp

https://www.amazon.com/Fireballer-Novel-Mark-Stevens/dp/166251252X

Synopsis: Frank Ryder is unstoppable on the baseball field -- his pitches arrive faster than a batter can swing, giving his opponents no chance. He's being heralded as a game-changing pitcher.

But within the maelstrom of press, adulation, and wild speculation, Frank is a man alone. Haunted by a tragic incident from years past, he yearns to be the best but cannot reconcile the guilt he carries with the man everyone believes him to be. Frank's path to redemption leads him on a journey back to where his life changed forever, to visit his family, his high school coach, and his brother.

Through reconnection and reconciliation with those also deeply affected by the devastating event of Frank's youth, he finds peace and his place in the world both in and outside the game.

Critique: "The Fireballer" is a lyrical, moving story by novelist Mark Stevens about the undeniable talent and the life-changing power of forgiveness. A subtly romantic ode to America's favorite pastime, "The Fireballer" will have a very special appeal for baseball enthusiasts, as well as readers with an interest in contemporary romance and Coming of Age stories. While unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Fireballer" is also available in a paperback edition (9781662505638, $16.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781799788652, $29.99, MP3-CD).

Editorial Note: Mark Stevens (https://markhstevens.wordpress.com) as worked as a reporter, as a national television news producer, and in public relations. His books include: Antler Dust (a Denver Post bestseller in 2007 and 2009); Buried by the Roan, Trapline, and Lake of Fire (wich were all finalists for the Colorado Book Award (2012, 2015, and 2016, respectively), and Trapline won. Trapline also won the Colorado Authors League award for best genre fiction. Stevens has had short stories published by Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, by Mystery Tribune, and in Denver Noir (Akashic Books). In September 2016, Stevens was named Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Writer of the Year. Stevens hosts a regular podcast for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and has served as president of the Rocky Mountain chapter for Mystery Writers of America.

Hawai'i Calls
Marjorie Nelson Matthews
https://marjorienelsonmatthews.com
Rootstock Publishing
https://www.rootstockpublishing.com
9781578690923, $27.99, HC, 302pp

https://www.amazon.com/Hawaii-Calls-Marjorie-Nelson-Matthews/dp/1578690927

Synopsis: Sadira Doyle believes the best years of her life are behind her. A housewife and mother in a parochial town during the latter years of the depression, she yearns for more. Her husband is an alcoholic sinking into despair; her eldest son's eccentricities make him the object of bullying; and her mother-in-law's religious zeal runs counter to Sadira's own spiritual sensibilities. The weekly radio show, Hawai'i Calls, offers her a chance to escape. When her husband Archie loses his job as a mortician, Sadira decides they will begin anew in Hawai'i.

Archie and Sadira set forth from New York City with their two young sons, bound for a place where they know no one. While the fresh start in Honolulu doesn't transform Archie, and the move exacerbates their son Lionel's emotional struggles, Sadira discovers new possibilities with a job as the society columnist for a Honolulu daily, finding herself in the company of movie stars, politicians, and Honolulu's most powerful players.

This intoxicating, glamorous world soon proves challenging and flawed. The Japanese attack on Oahu changes the landscape once again, altering daily life for the islands and for Sadira. With the islands' serenity shattered, its glory days as playground to the stars are over, and Sadira must recreate herself once more to survive with her family intact.

Critique: With the publication of "Hawai'i Calls", novelist, Marjorie Nelson Matthews clearly demonstrates her genuine flair for originality and a narrative storytelling style that keeps her readers full attention from first page to last. This is all the more impressive when considering that "Hawai'i Calls" is her first published novel. An impressively entertaining work of fiction, "Hawai'i Calles" is fully and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of those with an interesting Family Life/Women's Domestic Fiction that "Hawai'i Calls" is also available in a paperback edition (9781578690916, $18.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Marjorie Nelson Matthews (https://marjorienelsonmatthews.com/about), born and raised in Honolulu, now lives with her husband in Hanover, New Hampshire. She taught speech and communication courses in both the University of Hawai'i and the University of New Hampshire systems, and taught speech and nonfiction writing at Iolani School in Honolulu.

Twinkies & Beefcake
T. H. Forest
Holdorf Press
9798987033012, $29.95, HC, 354pp

https://www.amazon.com/Twinkies-Beefcake-T-H-Forest/dp/B0BMT435BF

Synopsis: Robby is a gay, sharp-witted and posh London teenager who spends his days with his best friend Dee, sharing secrets and yearning for sex and love, while also dodging the torment of bullies from his elite prep-school. When he meets the man of his dreams, he falls fast. Maybe too fast.

Hailing from the dregs of Manchester, and twelve years Robby's senior, Vas is gorgeous and irresistible, and swears he's equally smitten with Robby. But in the midst of their wild, sexual exploration of each other, the cameras come out, as do the drugs, and the booze. Soon, Robby is in over his head: addicted, porn-famous, and still yearning for love.

Amid family tensions, trips to rehab, and finishing university, Robby's past finally catches up to him when a bully from secondary re-enters his life and everything is exposed. Robby is forced to contend fully with the trauma of his adolescence so that he can find, and be with, his soulmate. Striving for happiness, inner-peace, and true love, Robby must decide if his sins can ever be overcome.

Critique: A riveting and complex coming-of-age story involving bullying, sex, addiction, redemption, and a 'longing for true love at any cost', "Twinkies & Beefcake" by novelist T. H. Forest is a simply riveting read and, although a work of fiction, plays fair in its depiction of the hazards of being a gay 'outsider' in a predominantly straight world. While recommended for community library LBTGQ+ fiction and romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Twinkies & Beefcake" is also available in a paperback edition (9798987033005, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Historical Fiction Shelf

The Voyage: Part I
Robert Vincent
http://www.robvincent.org
Archway Publishing
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781480898967, $28.95, HC, 140pp

https://www.amazon.com/Voyage-Robert-Vincent/dp/1480898961

Synopsis: In 1832 the USS Hayes sails the Indian Ocean, guided by its lord and master, Captain Gellins. Meantime a shipmate is wrongly accused of stealing and faces the fatal lash. Likewise, he is just one of many who have been accused of false charges: others who have already met their end at the gratings; all from the lies supplied to the captain by shipmate Penderghast.

Who can tell what will happen if certain other shipmates take the law into their own hands to try and right this injustice? And if the plot succeeds, what may follow?

"The Voyage: Part I" is the tale of a young sailor's journey to the truth as he becomes embroiled in events beyond his control and through an act of sacrifice ironically unleashes an ancient curse.

Critique: An erudite work of historical fiction by novelist Robert Vincent, "The Voyage: Part I" will have a very special appeal to fans of such literary gems as 'Mutiny On The Bounty". Inherently fascinating and deftly crafted, "The Voyage: Part I" is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Voyage: Part I" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: Robert Vincent (http://www.robvincent.org) is the author of several screenplays, novels, and dramatic works. He is also the writer and illustrator of a children's book.


The Literary Fiction Shelf

Returning from Silence: Jenny's Story
Michele Sarde, author
Rupert Swyer, translator
Swan Isle Press
https://swanislepress.com
9781736189306, $30.00, PB, 418pp

https://www.amazon.com/Returning-Silence-Jennys-Mich%C3%A8le-Sarde/dp/1736189301

Synopsis: Sephardi Jewish culture and language flourished in Salonica for four centuries, but with the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the 1920s, and the sense of troubling times to come, Jenny's family felt impelled to leave their much-loved city and rebuild their lives in France. Their years in France led to change that none could have fully expected, and then, the Holocaust. The trauma lasts well into the post-war period, silencing both mother and daughter in unanticipated ways.

Based upon her own family's history, "Returning from Silence" by novelist Michele Sarde is a powerful saga that reaches deep into Jewish history, opening with the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and their settlement in a more tolerant Ottoman Empire.

Born in Brittany on the threshold of World War II, novelist Michele Sarde had long been silent about her origins. After her mother, Jenny, finally shared their family history, Sarde decided to reconstruct Jenny's journey, including her exile from Salonica, move to Paris in 1921, and assimilation in France. The Nazi occupation then forced her and her family to hide and conceal their Jewish identity, and in this retelling, Sarde shows how Jenny fights with everything she has to survive the Holocaust and protect her daughter.

Through this family history, Sarde sensitively raises questions about identity, migration, and assimilation while weaving fiction together with history, research, and testimony to bring the characters' stories to life.

Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently fascinating work of fact-based fiction, "Returning From Silence" by Michele Sarde is ably translated into English for an American readership by Rupert Swyer. An impressive, extraordinary, memorable work of Jewish literary fiction, "Returning From Silence" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as community, and academic library Literary Fiction collections.

Editorial Note #1: Michele Sarde (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mich%C3%A8le_Sarde) is a novelist, biographer, essayist, and professor emerita at Georgetown University. She has been awarded by the Government of France the prestigious Chevalier dans l'Ordre National du Merite and Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres.

Editorial Note #2: Currently residing in Paris, France, Rupert Swyer is an independent translator and journalist. His translations include the works of notable French philosophers, sociologists, and historians. (https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/author/S/R/au168621547.html)

And I Was like November
Rachael Biggs
Independently Published
9798986483801, $19.00, PB, 220pp

https://www.amazon.com/I-was-like-November/dp/B0BHMS257Q

Synopsis: In a world where everything is glossy and it seems that we're triggered or offended by everything, "And I Was like November" by Rachael Biggs is a compendium of fifteen short stories, each of which offers a glimpse of the other side. These are stories of what happens to the women that didn't get their happy ending, the ones who don't believe family is everything, and the women who know that live laugh love isn't the cure all.

Critique: Original, eloquent, erudite, riveting, thought-provoking, and truly memorable, the short stories comprising "And I Was like November" showcase author Rachael Biggs' genuine flair for a riveting and narrative driven storytelling style. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99), "And I Was like November" is a strongly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction & Anthology collections.

Editorial Note: Rachael Biggs is an author, screenwriter, copywriter and journalist who divides her time between Vancouver, and Los Angeles. She started writing as soon as she discovered pens and paper and began creating stories and winning contests as early as second grade. (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6883586.Rachael_Biggs)

Artifacts and Other Stories
Ronna Wineberg
www.ronnawineberg.com
Serving House Books
https://servinghousebooks.com
9781947175563, $14.95, PB, 240pp

https://www.amazon.com/Artifacts-Other-Stories-Ronna-Wineberg/dp/1947175564

Synopsis: A compendium of fourteen short stories by Ronna Wineberg, "Artifacts and Other Stories" explores the exhilaration, disappointment, and surprises of love and connection. These original short stories portray relationships -- between lovers, spouses, parents and children, and friends.

In these stories, desire, longing, memory, marriage, betrayal, adultery, loss, and fresh starts dominate lives. Men and women navigate their feelings and domestic struggles, wrestle with the shifting tides of affection, aging, and illness. Past and present weave together, spilling into the futures as these vibrant, deeply human characters face unexpected changes in their lives and in themselves.

Critique: Eloquent, erudite, original, entertaining, deftly crafted, inherently fascinating, thought-provoking, and memorable, "Artifacts and Other Stories" showcases author and storyteller Ronna Wineberg's genuine flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling that holds her reader's rapt attention from cover to cover. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Artifacts and Other Stories" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction & Short Story Anthology collections.

Editorial Note: The stories of Ronna Wineberg (www.ronnawineberg.com) have appeared in American Way, Colorado Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, North Dakota Quarterly and other literary journals, and have been broadcast on NPR. She was awarded a fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a scholarship in fiction from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and residencies to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Ragdale Foundation. She is also the founding fiction editor of the Bellevue Literary Review.


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Den
Cara Renard
www.carareinard.com
Thomas & Mercer
Brilliance Audio
www.brillianceaudio.com
9781542039765, $16.99, PB, 335pp

https://www.amazon.com/Den-Cara-Reinard/dp/1542039762

Synopsis: Nothing brings the four Fox siblings together like their detestable father's heart attack -- and a hefty inheritance to be divided equally. At his deathbed is his oldest daughter, Valerie; her irresponsible sister, Lucy; and their two embattled brothers, Christian and Jeremy. Even the former housekeeper, Marian, who's been with the family for forty years, is on watch. All Valerie hopes for is an amicable reunion, despite the damages of the past.

By punishing means, Stefan Fox raised his children to be competitors. The cruel lessons now serve them well in a game of life and death. When it comes to the family fortune, the rules are simple: fewer siblings means a bigger share.

After a suspicious accident, Valerie knows the worst is yet to come -- and that confiding in the wrong person could be the most dangerous thing she's ever done.

Critique: A deftly crafted novel of psychological suspense by an author with a genuine mastery of the genre, as well as having an impressive flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling talents the keep the reader's compulsive and riveted attention from first page to last, "The Den" by Cara Reinard" is an especially recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Den" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713656098, $19.99, MP3-CD).

Editorial Note: Cara Reinard (www.carareinard.com) is an author of women's fiction and novels of domestic suspense, including Into the Sound and Sweet Water.

Rough Justice
Burt Weissbourd
Rare Bird Books
https://rarebirdlit.com
9781644283097, $20.00, PB, 232pp

https://www.amazon.com/Rough-Justice-Callie-Cash-2/dp/1644283093

Synopsis: "When you get out of jail, don't ever come back here."

Callie James thought those were the last words she'd ever speak to Cash Logan. Two years later, in Danger in Plain Sight, Callie and Cash become an improbable, incompatible team that faces down money launderers, weapons dealers, and professional hit men -- all while unraveling a conspiracy and ultimately saving her business and their own lives.

With the publication of "Rough Justice" by Burt Weissbourd, Callie and Cash are back, and their now shared lives are about to be shaken to the core. It's been a year since they had to take on unexpected, lethal adversaries. Having lived through twists and turns, drama and life-threatening danger together -- they realize they are wildly in love.

The smooth sailing abruptly ends when a half-Algerian female guest, twenty-five-year-old Sara, appears at Callie's restaurant with a shocking, unbelievable story. Someone is trying to kill her, and they've stolen her identity. Desperate for Callie and Cash's help, she shares a stunning, life-changing secret.

Called to action, Callie and Cash assemble their unconventional ragtag family - including peg-legged Andre, and Itzac, "The Macher." Together, they go to war with formidable adversaries to attempt to save Sara, putting their own lives on the line. The fierce, global battle leads to Cuba, where they launch an audacious offensive that's shocking even to themselves... and will absolutely take your breath away.

Critique: As a novelist, Burt Weissbourd is a master of the Amateur Sleuth/Crime Thriller genre and his newest story, "Rough Justice" continues to demonstrate his genuine flair of originality and the kind of riveting and narrative driven storytelling style that makes for a truly entertaining and memorable read from first page to last. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49), "Rough Justice" is unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: From 1977 until 1986, Burt Weissbourd (https://burtweissbourd.com) developed screenplays working with screenwriters including Frederic Raphael (Two for the Road), Alvin Sargent (Ordinary People), Andy Lewis (Klute), Stewart Stern (Rebel Without a Cause), and many others. He also worked with actors including Robert Redford, Lily Tomlin, Goldie Hawn, Sally Field, Diane Keaton, and Al Pacino. During this time he produced films such as Ghost Story, based on the novel by Peter Straub and starring Fred Astaire, and Raggedy Man, starring Sissy Spacek and Sam Shepard.

Truth is a Flightless Bird
Akbar Hussain
Iskanchi Press
https://www.iskanchi.com
9781957810034, $25.00, PB, 300pp

https://www.amazon.com/Truth-Flightless-Bird-Akbar-Hussain/dp/1957810033

Synopsis: Nice (real name, Theresa) has just arrived Nairobi airport where she will be picked up by her old friend, Duncan, an American pastor for a small evangelical denomination. Duncan cannot know that Nice is fleeing her life choices, and her UN job in Mogadishu.

She believes she is too innocent-looking, too nice, for anyone to suspect that she is smuggling drugs. But Nice has not contended with her drug-dealer Somali boyfriend having an associate in the Kenya Police Service.

Duncan's car crashes on the way back from the airport. Duncan awakes after the car crash, to find himself captive to the sociopathic policeman, Hinga, and the charmingly amoral Ciru. Nice is gone. Plucked from his expat bubble, Duncan must plunge into the moral complexities of the under-city to get Nice back.

But how deep can Duncan go, without destroying his faith, and himself?

Critique: A deftly crafted and riveting read from first page to last, "Truth Is A Flightless Bird" by novelist Akbar Hussain is an impressively written crime thriller with more unexpected twists and turns that a Coney Island roller coaster. The stuff of which movies are made (and this one is soon to be a major television series), "Truth Is A Flightless Bird" is highly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of suspense/thriller fans that "Truth Is A Flightless Bird" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: A lawyer and co-founder of a successful fintech startup, Akbar Hussain (https://www.amazon.com/stores/author/B09TL4G223/about) lived in Nairobi for 7 years and currently resides in New York.


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Welcome to the Free World
Lloyd Raleigh
www.lloydraleigh.colm
PBS Press
9780578371368, $28.00, HC, 324pp

https://www.amazon.com/Welcome-Free-World-Lloyd-Raleigh/dp/0578371367

Synopsis: Will Robin does what no one should: pluck microchips from people's heads.

In an age where AI has been fully integrated with human life, Will clearly sees what everyone else doesn't; that it's a ploy for control and power. What started out as using his skill to exercise his own free will quickly became a passion and a mission to free the world around him. Even if it's just one pluck at a time.

When the government gets wind of this, they target Will, and it sets off a cascade of events that threatens to take the one thing that he values most: his freedom. But that won't be the only price he pays!

As Will's life spirals out of control and is consumed by mayhem, he must deal with ruthless government agents, cutthroat corporate assassins, and an AI named Aja who's willing to torture him into submission. Amid all this chaos, the Earth is falling apart; and while their world burns, the people revel in the metaverse as a brief escape. Water turns to dust, living becomes a struggle, and people claw at each other just to survive. Will knows that everything is connected but proving that is hard and stopping it is even harder.

Critique: "Welcome to the Free World" by Lloyd Raleigh is a deftly crafted dystopian science fiction novel about a young man's hazarodus journey as he faces climate change, escapism, and oppression. In the same apocalyptic visionary fiction as George Orwell's "1984", Raleigh's novel is a strikingly memorable 'what if' extrapolation of technological and society trends of today. Unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Science Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian fiction fans that "Welcome to the Free World" is also available in a paperback edition (9798218088033, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note: For novelist Lloyd Raleigh (https://nitter.1d4.us/Lloyd_Raleigh) the aftermath of 9/11, as well as the drastic impact of war, violence, and environmental breakdown he experienced during his travels, are major contributions to the production of his debut novel, "Welcome to the Free World". Through his work, he aims to entertain readers while also inspiring them to take charge of not just their lives but also the future of the planet they call home.

Throwing Shadows: A Dark Collection
Jerry Roth
Brigids Gate Press
https://brigidsgatepress.com
9781957537399, $11.99, PB, 156pp

https://www.amazon.com/Throwing-Shadows-Collection-Jerry-Roth/dp/1957537396

Synopsis: "Throwing Shadows: A Dark Collection" by Jerry Roth is comprised of original horror fantasy tales that include: A woman develops an unhealthy obsession with a scarecrow; A boy plays with a Ouija board and receives a terrifying warning of murder; A down-on-his-luck father learns what happens when you die in your sleep. These stories and six more frightening tales await the reader. "Throwing Shadows" is an impressive collection of short stories and in the words of the author they 'will feed that hungry dark side that lives in your cellar'.

Critique: Best read with the lights on, "Throwing Shadows: A Dark Collection" is a memorable haunting series of horrific short stories that will have a very special appeal for readers with an interest in Dark Fantasy fiction. Original, compelling, "Throwing Shadows: A Dark Collection" will linger in the mind and memory long after the book has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While highly recommended for personal and community library Horror Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted that "Throwing Shadows: A Dark Collection" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Jerry Roth (www.jerryrothauthor.com) is the author of "Bottom Feeders". He has written for Ohio newspapers and sports articles for the Disc Golf Pro Tour. His fiction career began as a screenwriter. After reading "The Stand" by Stephen King, he became passionate about creating his own work of fiction.

Flight of Fools
Sean Myers
Myers Freelance LLC
9798986019901, $15.99, PB, 472pp

https://www.amazon.com/Flight-Fools-Sean-Myers/dp/B0B49PRRSF

Synopsis: Brensin is back. His eyes on the throne, he is joined by Masothelio, the wizard, Jin, the thief, Gullin, the bard, and Rainn. Together, they climb the mountain, evade the dragon, find the magical amulet, and come back just in time for Brensin's assassination. The others scramble.

Betrayed, Masothelio submerges himself in a new role, swimming against the current of the political tides. Branded, Gullin struggles to make a life for himself once again. Disadvantaged for so long, Jin helps her family out of poverty, only to learn that she cannot escape her reality. Isolated, Rainn escapes into a make-believe world made just for him, where he can be happy and powerless.

"Flight of Fools" blurs the lines between what is fantasy and what is real. It pokes holes in the page until there is nothing left to keep the real world from seeping in, and nothing left to stop the ending from reaching out through the page to clutch your chest and squeeze.

Critique: A fun political satire about escapism (that is especially timely for today's hyperpolarized America where politics determine facts), "Flight of Fools" by Sean Myers is a fantasy about reality and will have an immense appeal for readers with an interest in magical realism and humorous/satirical fantasy fiction. While unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Flight of Fools" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note: Sean Myers is a freelance legal writer with a keen sense of the humor in life. (https://medium.com/about-me-stories/about-me-sean-myers-ffdb674a47be)

Percivious: Escape
J. J. Cook, author
A. J. Cook, author
Aj Jj Publishing
9781777377472, $25.95, HC, 276pp

https://www.amazon.com/Percivious-Escape-J-Cook/dp/1777377471

Synopsis: A vicious insomnia pandemic devolves into a devastating apocalypse, and humanity teeters on the brink of extinction in "Percivious: Escape ", the thrilling final installment of the Percivious Trilogy by co-authors J. J. Cook and A. J. Cook.

Emerging from the dark side of the moon, the HELIX and its crew embark on a desperate effort to save the last of their species-and ours.

An unexpected alliance forms between humans and the XYZ-Earth's first intelligent hominid species-to stop the pandemic once and for all. But when unforeseen forces surface, Herriden, captain of the HELIX-which carries the last of the cetacean XYZs-must make an unfathomable choice, if it's not already too late...

"Percivious: Escape" is an astonishing conclusion to the Percivious Trilogy, in which life as we know it will never be the same.

Critique: Along with the first two novels in co-authors J. J. Cooks and A. J. Cook's deftly crafted Percivious Trilogy ("Percivious: Insomnia" and "Percivious: Origins", "Percivious: Escape" is an inherently interesting and original story that will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in Post-Apocalyptic, Evolutionary, and Colonization science fiction novels. While all three titles in this outstanding series are unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists each of these three novels are also available in a paperback edition ($12.95) and in a digital book format ($2.99).

Editorial Note #1: J. J. Cook (https://www.bookseriesinorder.com/j-j-cook) is a pseudonym for a married couple who write mysteries, mostly set in the South, with a touch of paranormal and romance. Together, they are the authors of the Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mysteries and the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries.


The Poetry Shelf

A Loose Rendering
T. P. Bird
Golden Antelope Press
www.goldenantelope.com
9781952232732, $16.95, PB, 106pp

https://www.amazon.com/Loose-Rendering-Memory-Other-Considerations/dp/1952232732

Synopsis: What does it mean to think of time and memory loosely? With the publication of "A Loose Rendering: Time, Memory, and Other Considerations: Memory", preacher and poet T.P. (Tom) Bird's work helps us answer that question.

He divides his fifty "renderings" into three sections-"Time & Memory"; "Poets, Presidents and Me," and "Other Considerations." In the first, his metaphors evoke a gently self-mocking nostalgia--for a Saturday trip to a barbershop, a boyhood leap into a leaf pile, a young soldier's time in Bavaria.... Old memories become road trips into his father's past, and his grandfather's. Comfortably familiar metaphors-ice, gnarled trees, burning leaves, stone walls, full moons-code an aging man's values as he loosely reshapes a past which "never leaves you, and which you never leave."

In his second section, Bird aligns his life's path with the works and days of presidents and poets. Fourteen presidents, from Truman to Biden, and 67 poets, from Walt Whitman to Mary Oliver, stand as guideposts marking his path into and through American culture.

In his final group of poems, "Other Considerations," existential questions about time, space, memory, and meaning become whimsical word puzzles, image-fests, and philosophical debates, leading to a genuine appreciation for the beauty of the natural world and a deep, albeit cautious, faith in a creator.

Critique: Deftly crafted, thoughtful and thought-provoking, original and inspirational, "A Loose Rendering: Time, Memory, and Other Considerations: Memory" by T.P. Bird is an elegant compendium of memorable verse on subjects both individual and universal. A volume of poetry that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "A Loose Rendering: Time, Memory, and Other Considerations: Memory" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary American Poetry collections. It should be noted that "A Loose Rendering: Time, Memory, and Other Considerations: Memory" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: T.P. (Tom) Bird is a retired industrial drafter/designer and Christian minister. He has published in a number of journals and is the author of a chapbook as well as three full collections.

Swallowing the Light
John Schneider
Kelsay Books
https://kelsaybooks.com
9781639801886, $20.00, PB, 100pp

https://www.amazon.com/Swallowing-Light-John-Schneider/dp/163980188X

Synopsis: Poetry is a very special gift and one of those abilities that separate human beings from the other life forms that populate the Earth. With the publication of "Swallowing the Light" American poet John Schneider debuts his genuinely impressive flair for using free verse language to reveal emotion, celebration, insight, and more.

Critique: A memorable collection of free form verse on a range of topics both intensely personal and yet universal, "Swallowing the Light" is specifically and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary American Poetry collections.

Editorial Note: John Schneider (https://atticusreview.org/author/johnschneider) has been published in The Worcester Review, Tampa Review, The American Journal of Poetry, West Trade Review, Canary, Atticus Review, California Fire and Water: A Climate Crisis Anthology, and elsewhere. His poetry has been a Merit Award winner in the Atlanta Review 2021 International Poetry Competition He is also a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee.

The Sweetest Dance on Earth
Di Brandt
Turnstone Press
www.turnstonepress.com
9780888017352, $19.00, PB, 180pp

https://www.turnstonepress.com/books/poetry/sweetest-dance-on-earth-the.html

Synopsis: Since her debut in 1987 with the publication of "questions I asked my mother", Di Brandt has remained curious, still asking questions and pushing poetic bounds. Now for the first time, her latest volume, "The Sweetest Dance On Earth: New and Selected Poems" showcases the best work of this Griffin Award winning poet to date.

Gathered together in one place and deftly distilled into one collection, "The Sweetest Dance On Earth: New and Selected Poems" showcases Di Brandt's insatiable desire to understand, question and show the world in a new light. From her feminist work to her eco poetics, readers will get a chance to see the breathtaking career of one of Canada's most influential poets.

Critique: Elegant, eloquent, thoughtful, original, and above all, memorable, "The Sweetest Dance On Earth: New and Selected Poems" will have a very special appeal to readers who appreciate what poetry can evoke and convey with respect to the reader. "The Sweetest Dance On Earth: New and Selected Poems" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community/academic library Contemporary Canadian Poetry collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Di Brandt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Di_Brandt) is one of Canada's most loved and admired poets. Her internationally celebrated and award-winning poetry titles include questions i asked my mother; Agnes in the sky; Jerusalem, beloved, Now You Care, and Walking to Mojacar. Her most recent work, Glitter & fall, is a cross-cultural trans(inha)lation of the Dao de Jing. Glitter & fall was shortlisted for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year award as well as a Fred Cogswell Award. She currently teaches at the University of Winnipeg. Di Brandt is also an award-winning essayist and literary critic, and has collaborated with numerous other writers, critics and artists, including Annie Jacobsen, Jane Finlay-Young, Barbara Godard, Aganetha Dyck, Rebecca Campbell, Carol Ann Weaver and Jana Skarecky.


The Humor Shelf

Thieves, Thespians, and Perverts
Daniel S. Goodman
Independently Published
9798844200823, $4.99, PB, 100pp

https://www.amazon.com/Thieves-Thespians-Perverts-Daniel-Goodman/dp/B0B93642TV

Synopsis: With the publication of "Thieves, Thespians and Perverts", Daniel S. Goodman has served up a memorable collection of humor, philosophical sketches, Haiku, on-the-mark one liners, samples of the human experience, limericks.

Critique: As a writer, "Thieves, Thespians, and Perverts" is the perfect showcase for Daniel S. Goodman's wit and wisdom. He style is short and punchy and to the point. For example: "Every time I go past an ATM machine I get withdrawal symptoms." and "Any guy who wants to be a boxer should have his head examined -- especially after the fight." A delight to savor one page at a time, "Thieves, Thespians, and Perverts" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal and community library collections. It should be noted that "Thieves, Thespians, and Perverts" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.01).

Editorial Note: Along with Army service, Daniel S. Goodman's colorful career has included being a celebrated showman, business man, author, character model, poet, champion athlete, real estate broker, voice over talent, award winning principal performer in television and radio commercials. (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/699393.Daniel_S_Goodman)


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