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Letters From The Heart
Dr. Jonathan Benumof, author
Sherrie Benumof, author
Park Place Publications
9781953120205, $24.95, PB, 434pp
Synopsis: "Letters from the Heart: A Young Army Doctor's 1969 Vietnam War Experience" offers a fascinating look back at the grounding in medicine that Dr. Jonathan L. Benumof received during the Vietnam War. He endured and persevered through the trauma and drama with the love and correspondence with wife Sherrie, often accompanied by her banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and preserved in this compilation of 282. After his tour of duty in Vietnam Dr. Benumof would go on to become one of the top Anesthesiologists in the world, publishing numerous definitive books in his field: critical resources that other physicians continue to rely upon.
"Letters from the Heart" also includes an introductory commentary by Jonathan and Sherrie Benumof regarding important issues, events, thoughts and feelings that provides a very helpful context to the rest of this collaborative memoir, as well as a brief look at their lives after 1969.
"Letters from the Heart" provides a fascinating look at history through the daily lens of an intelligent and articulate physician who was drafted to serve in Vietnam for a year. Married to his wife for just 6 months, they agreed to write daily letters to each other, which ultimately became the mental lifeline of hope that sustained Dr. Benumof through a year of disheartening conflict that often seemed to stretch on forever.
Dr. Benumof and his wife have now been married over 50 years. Their dedication to one another and constant communication while he was in Vietnam surely helped to create their strong long-lasting marriage, and inspires hope in us all.
Critique: Offering an impressively unique, exceptionally informative, and intensely personal perspective on the Vietnam War, "Letters from the Heart: A Young Army Doctor's 1969 Vietnam War Experience" is an extraordinarily informative and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college and university library 20th Century American Military History & Biography collections in general, and Vietnam War supplemental curriculum studies lists in particular.
The Health/Medicine Shelf
The Art of Human Care for COVID-19
Hassan A. Tetteh, author
Understanding Sowerby, illustrator
c/o Tetteh Consulting Group, LLC
9781733665452, $27.99, HC, 120pp
Synopsis: The global COVID-19 pandemic has claimed countless lives, disastrously impacted the world, and changed our lives forever. "The Art of Human Care for COVID-19" by Dr. Hassan A. Tetteh serves to answer this question: How can we positively change our world through healing?
Dr. Tetteh has served on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, experienced personal loss, and witnessed intense suffering. Informed by his own life-altering, near-death experience, his approach to healthcare ultimately led to his development of The Art of Human Care theory in general, and "The Art of Human Care for COVID-19" in particular. His personal and professional experience helped him embrace the mind-body-spirit connection that informs his practice every day.
In "The Art of Human Care for COVID-19", Dr. Tetteh combines many of his own personal stories with the healing power of art. His down-to-earth humanitarianism and unique perspective on what it means to heal inspires readers to learn how they, too, can turn passion into a purpose, work every day to make the impossible possible, and save the world through healing.
Critique: Amidst this global pandemic, "The Art of Human Care for COVID-19" can positively change your life and the lives of those you love. Also available from Amazon.com in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.95), "The Art of Human Care for COVID-19" is a timely, life-protecting, life-enhancing, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, clinic, college and university library Health & Medicine collections.
Off Our Chests
John Marshall, author
Liza Marshall, author
9781646870486, $26.95, HC, 334pp
Synopsis: "Off Our Chests: A Candid Tour Through the World of Cancer recounts the story of the experience of Liza Marshall and her husband Dr. John Marshal with respect to her medical diagnosis and treatment. Written in alternating voices, Liza details her treatment, the complex decisions she had to make throughout her course of chemotherapy and radiation, including clinical trial participation and an elective double mastectomy, the added complexity of being treated at the cancer center of which John was the chief of hematology and oncology, and the emotional impact of knowing she may die as a young woman with young children.
John, who lost his own mother to cancer at the age of 13, provides an inside look into the world of cancer care and research, but also the perspective of someone who understands the medicine but who was unprepared for assuming the role of caregiver and worried husband. John adds insights into his world of running the clinical operations of the cancer center where Liza would receive her care, commentary on the breast cancer machine, the need for clinical research, the high cost of cancer care, and an easy to understand explanation of the clinical and scientific background of oncology.
While they both felt that they were already expert commentators on their own "Cancer Channel" during the course of Liza's illness, they both came to realize how little understanding they truly had of what a cancer diagnosis does to the patient, caregivers, children, family members, and friends. Liza and John share their most intimate thoughts, including many that were previously unsaid - even between the two of them. Both gain an understanding of the other's life, a deeper appreciation of what it means to be a cancer patient, and of the emotional strains of being an oncologist where so many of the patients die on their watch.
Critique: Sensitive, candid, insightful, informative, and ultimately inspiring, "Off Our Chests: A Candid Tour Through the World of Cancer" is an extraordinary account and one that is especially
and unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of anyone having to deal with diagnosis of cancer for themselves or a loved one. While a core addition to community, college and library Health/Medicine collections in general, and Oncology/Cancer supplemental studies curriculum lists in particular, it should be noted that "Off Our Chests: A Candid Tour Through the World of Cancer" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Biography Shelf
Norman Jewison: A Director's Life
9781989555385, $28.95, HC, 495pp
Synopsis: Norman Jewison directed some of the most iconic and beloved films of an era, from In the Heat of the Night and The Thomas Crown Affair to Jesus Christ Superstar and Moonstruck. But despite being what his friend William Goldman called "a giant of the industry," Jewison could also walk the streets of any city in the world and go unrecognized. Jewison was a man of contradictions: he cared more about telling great stories than gaining fame and fortune by showcasing movie stars, but generations of Hollywood's marquee actors -- Judy Garland, Sidney Poitier, Faye Dunaway, Al Pacino, Jane Fonda, Burt Reynolds, Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis, Denzel Washington - trusted him at crucial moments in their careers. Yet, for all his talent and the passionate support of his actors, Jewison suffered heartbreaking rejection from the executives who refused to believe in his dreams.
"Norman Jewison: A Director's Life" by Professor Ira Wells is a story of artistic survival and re-invention, and about the fate of original cinematic ideas in an industry increasingly captive to corporate greed. Drawing upon exhaustive archival research and dozens of interviews, Ira Wells provides a soulful portrait of an idealist who had to fight for every frame of his legacy. Here are Norman's legendary collaborators Hal Ashby, William Rose, Steve McQueen, and more, all brought to vivid life in original letters, telegrams, and revealing, unpublished interviews. A clear-eyed reassessment of Hollywood's final golden age, "Norman Jewison: A Director's Life" is both the intimate portrait of an artist and a rallying cry for anyone who has had to fight for their creative vision.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Norman Jewison: A Director's Life" is an extraordinarily informed and informative biography -- and one that will be an exceptionally appreciated addition to personal, professional, community, college and university library American Biography & Cinematic History collections.
Editorial Note: Ira Wells is an Assistant Professor of Literature at Victoria College in the University of Toronto. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, The New Republic, The Walrus, Globe and Mail, Los Angeles Review of Books, American Quarterly, and many other publications.
Drafted: A Memoir of the '60's
9781637605202, $30.00, HC, 376pp
Synopsis: It's 1966, and young Heywood Gould, a Brooklyn boy with literary ambitions, has his dream job. He is a reporter at the ultra liberal New York Post, alongside young writers like Nora Ephron, Pete Hamill and Anthony Scaduto. New York is a newspaper town, six dailies trying to beat each other to the big story. He revels in the action and competition.
It's also one of the most consequential decades in American history. Gould chases stories about the civil rights struggle, the anti-war movement, riots and rat infestation and World's Fair scandals. He covers everything from toy shows to murder trials. This is the best training for an apprentice writer.
Then he gets that fateful letter that begins, "Greetings." After five years of dodging, Uncle Sam has caught up with him. He's been caught in the Vietnam draft. Now he is torn between his hatred of the war and his loyalty to his intensely patriotic family, Jewish immigrants who credit America with saving their lives, all of whom served in World War II.
"Drafted: A Memoir of the '60's" is a comic memoir of his early life, as screenwriter, director and novelist Gould cuts back and forth between vivid scenes of childhood as early as age 2, and coming of age in New York City in the '60's. Fighting anti-Semitic bullies in the neighborhood. Collecting corpses for a Brooklyn funeral home. Dropping acid in Greenwich Village and dropping out of college for a year of sleazy encounters and one bittersweeet love affair in the down and out world of left bank Paris.
He tell of the strategies he employed as his draft day approached. Shrink's notes, urine switches, bogus arrests, arranged marriages, freakouts at the physical-all to no avail. Possessed of uncanny recall for details, an unparalleled ear for dialogue, and disarming candor about his foibles, young Heywood is great company. Reader will be treated to a ride to another era, not so terribly long ago.
Critique: An exceptionally well written and inherently interesting life story, "Drafted: A Memoir of the '60's" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college and university library 20th Century American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Drafted: A Memoir of the '60's" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781637605349, $16.00).
Love, Life, and Lucille
She Writes Press
9781631528828, $17.95, PB, 379pp
Synopsis: Judy Gaman was so busy making a name for herself that she barely took the time to meet a stranger, enjoy life, or simply stop to breathe. Immersed in her job as the director of business development for a high-profile medical practice (a job that required her to write health and wellness books and host a nationally syndicated radio show) she spent every day going full speed ahead with no looking back. That is, until the day she met Lucille Fleming.
While writing a book on longevity, Judy interviewed Lucille, an elegant and spirited woman who had just recently turned 100. Lucille had the fashion and style of old Hollywood, but it was all hidden behind the doors of her assisted living center. What began as a quick meeting became a lasting friendship that transformed into an inseparable bond.
Lucille brought incredible wisdom and great stories to the table, while Judy provided an avenue for excitement and new opportunities. Together, the two began living life to the fullest, and meeting the most interesting people along the way (including Suzanne Somers). But then Lucille's life came to an end through unexpected and unfortunate circumstances -- and the very first lesson she ever taught Judy proved to be the most important one of all.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and engagingly riveting read throughout, "Love, Life, and Lucille: Lessons Learned from a Centenarian" is an extraordinary, eloquent and memorable combination of memoir and biography. Emotionally moving and ultimately inspiring, "Love, Life, and Lucille: Lessons Learned from a Centenarian" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college and university library American Biography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of readers with a particular interest in the subjects of aging and friendship that "Love, Life, and Lucille: Lessons Learned from a Centenarian" is also readily available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).
The Home Improvement Shelf
The Homeowner's Guide to Contracting, Building, and Remodeling
9780970973443, $24.95, PB, 263pp
Synopsis: Building or remodeling a home can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it can also be a stressful and daunting challenge. Organized to cover all the major phases of construction and renovation, "The Homeowner's Guide to Contracting, Building, and Remodeling: Save a Fortune by Learning What Contractors Don't Want You to Know" by Joe Oswald is a complete and comprehensive instructional guide and manual for the non-specialist general reader with over one hundred actual construction and renovation photographs, checklists, financing options, builder insights, industry secrets, design ideas, and other valuable information to help homeowners save a fortune while completing their project on time, within budget, and with less stress.
Whether building a new home or renovating an old home, with "The Homeowner's Guide to Contracting, Building, and Remodeling" shows: how to avoid builder markups; how to control costs and avoid costly setbacks; how to finance your project; how to find and hire contractors; how to obtain estimates for materials and labor; how to work with an architect; how to apply for permits and work with inspectors; learn the practical uses and installation methods of many home improvement products; and most importantly, you will learn how to save money without sacrificing quality.
"The Homeowner's Guide to Contracting, Building, and Remodeling" is not about how to be a professional contractor but how homeowners can learn more about the building process and how to save money by controlling their costs.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Homeowner's Guide to Contracting, Building, and Remodeling" is a comprehensive and thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide and manual that is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and community library Home Design, Remodeling & Construction collections. It should be noted that "The Homeowner's Guide to Contracting, Building, and Remodeling" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95) that features full color images of all the photographs in paperback edition, as well as active hyperlinks to videos and articles for further reading from the bibliography.
Editorial Note: Joe Oswald was a licensed real estate agent for over twenty years, worked as a new home consultant for a residential builder, and completed a general contracting course. Joe served as his own general contractor when building a three-level brick addition onto his Spanish Revival home. His other books include a history of Chicago's Beverly/Morgan Park Neighborhood, published by Arcadia Publishing as part of their Images of America series, and a vocabulary improvement book titled Vocabulary for Champions.
The Parenting Shelf
Opening Up: The Parenting Journey
Radius Book Group
9781635767612, $22.95, HC, 208pp
Synopsis: Enhanced with the inclusion of an informative foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr., "Opening Up: The Parenting Journey" by Anne Peretz is a chronicle of the struggles and triumphs of families suffering the internalized stresses from poverty, domestic abuse, racism, and neighborhood violence, among other challenges. Through their parenting responsibilities and efforts these showcased families have been able to resolve harmful habits and identify their strengths to raise their children in a healthier environment.
In the pages of "Opening Up", Peretz tells the story of this bold organization and flagship therapeutic group program that takes a different approach to helping families in need. Told through the perspectives of the families who have participated over the decades, "Opening Up" challenges readers to think differently about family. These stories view symptoms of stress, fear, and hopelessness that extend throughout generations as remediable and how even the severely traumatized can regain stability.
"Opening Up" is an inspiring testament that with mutual respect, compassion, and openness, together we can address the personal and systemic injustices that are at the roots of many of these patterns and together we can rebuild these communities.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, insightful, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking "Opening Up: The Parenting Journey" is particularly suited to the needs of parents in these troubled times and highly recommended for community library Contemporary Parenting collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Opening Up: The Parenting Journey" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).
Editorial Note: Anne Peretz is a family therapist who, while working in two housing projects in the mid-1980's, founded a program now known as Parenting Journey to assist struggling families who lacked the necessary resources to face great challenges. Peretz has received awards and distinction from prestigious organizations such as The Alliance for Mentally Ill of Massachusetts, Phillips Brooks Housing Association, Harvard University, On The Rise Inc., and from the cities of Somerville and Cambridge.
The Theatre/Cinema Shelf
Lessons from the Set
Library Tales Publishing
9781732888814, $16.99, PB, 301pp
Synopsis: "Lessons from the Set: A DIY Guide to Your First Feature Film, from Script to Theaters" by Usher Morgan is a comprehensive filmmaking guide that takes a cinephile's "Do It Yourself" approach to low-budget indie film production and distribution.
"Lessons from the Set" is a compendium of filmmaking tips and tricks, as well as providing valuable, practical insight into the process of writing, directing, producing, and distributing commercial feature films on a low budget -- whether you're working with $1,000 or $1m.
With "Lessons from the Set" the reader will learn how to write, direct, produce, and release their film to theaters, tackle festivals and handle press, create a marketing plan, get reviews, and approach the filmmaking process with both an artistic soul and an entrepreneurial mindset.
After releasing his debut feature film to wide acclaim, filmmaker Usher Morgan (Prego, Windblown, Pickings) decided to write a filmmaking instructional guide and manual which would detail his approach to writing, directing, and producing his own work, as well as the steps he took to distribute and market his film, Pickings, and release it to theaters across the nation.
The result is "Lessons from the Set", making it the perfect DIY textbook for any aspiring filmmaker and an essential guide for anyone who wants to tell stories and make movies for a living.
Critique: Expertly written, exceptionally well organized, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in presentation, "Lessons from the Set: A DIY Guide to Your First Feature Film, from Script to Theaters" an especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college and university library Video & Movie Direction/Production collections and supplemental studies film making curriculums. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of film makers and film making students that "Lessons from the Set" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Editorial Note: Usher Morgan is a filmmaker, entrepreneur and studio executive residing in New York City. He produced his first documentary film, The Thought Exchange, starring David Friedman and Lucie Arnaz in 2012, followed by his directorial debut, the award-winning short film Prego. His first feature film, Pickings, was released to critical acclaim and received a limited theatrical release via AMC Independent in March of 2018.
The General Fiction Shelf
The Next Wife
Thomas & Mercer
9781542025942, $15.95, PB, 311pp
Synopsis: Kate Nelson had it all. A flourishing company founded with her husband, John; a happy marriage; and a daughter, Ashlyn. The picture-perfect family. Until John left for another woman. Tish is half his age. Ambitious. She's cultivated a friendship with Ashlyn. Tish believes she's won. -- But she's wrong.
Tish Nelson has it all. Youth, influence, a life of luxury, and a new husband. But the truth is, there's a lot of baggage. Namely, his first wife - and suspicions of his infidelity. After all, that's how she got John. Maybe it's time for a romantic getaway, far from his vindictive ex. If Kate plans on getting John back, Tish is one step ahead of her. -- Or so she thinks.
But what happens next is something neither Kate nor Tish saw coming. As best-laid plans come undone, there's no telling what a woman will do in the name of love -- and revenge.
Critique: A carefully crafted domestic and psychological thriller of a novel by and author with a genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling style that fully engages the readers attention from first page to last, "The Next Wife" by Kaira Rouda will prove to be an immediate and enduringly welcome addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Next Wife" is readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, 4.99). Librarians should be aware that there is a large print library binding edition of "The Next Wife", as well as being available as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713559504, $14.99, MP3-CD).
From Ashes To Song
Milford House Press
9781620064085, $16.95, PB, 219pp
Synopsis: Italy, 1911. Pietro's life on the family vineyard is idyllic. He has at last captured the melody of the grape harvest on his clarinet and can't wait to share his composition with his grandfather, but before he can play, news arrives of a deadly disease sweeping the countryside. They have no choice but to burn the vineyard to stop its spread. The loss is too much for Pietro's grandfather, and by morning Pietro has lost two of the most precious things in his life -- his grandfather and the vineyard. All he has left is his music, but a disastrous performance at his grandfather's funeral suggests that music, too, is now beyond his reach.
Adrift with grief, Pietro seeks a new start in America. He goes to work in a Pennsylvania coal mine where his musician's hands blister and his days are spent in the muffled silence of underground.
When the beautiful voice and gentle heart of a friend's wife stirs a new song in him, Pietro at last encounters a glimmer of hope. From a respectful distance and without catching the attention of her husband, Pietro draws on Assunta for inspiration and soon his gift for music returns. But when grief strikes in Assunta's life, Pietro is to blame. When Prohibition steals Pietro's last pleasure, he has to do something before Assunta's grief consumes them both.
Critique: Inspired by true events, "From Ashes to Song" by author and storyteller Hilary Hauck is an extraordinary novel of unconventional love, hope, and the gifts brought to America by ordinary people in the great wave of immigration. Inherently entertaining and, against the current backdrop of controversies with respect to immigration quite timely, "From Ashes to Song" is especially and unreservedly recommended -- especially for community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "From Ashes to Song" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).
Red Hen Press
9781597091169, $17.95, PB, 312pp
Synopsis: In a polygamist commune in the desert, a fourteen-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old girl fall in love and consummate that love, breaking religious law. They are caught, and a year later, she gives birth to his father's child while the boy commits murder four hundred miles away -- a crime that will slowly unravel the community.
Told by eight adolescent narrators, "Strange Children" is a story of how people use faith to justify cruelty, and how redemption can come from unexpected places. Though seemingly powerless in the face of their fundamentalist religion, these "strange children" shift into the central framework of their world as they come of age.
Critique: An emotionally intense and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a particularly effective narrative storytelling style, "Strange Children" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Strange Children" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).
The Book Patch, LLC
9781642546439, $12.99, PB, 332pp
Synopsis: Chad Gibbons and his best friend, Gary Lee Dillanger, have worked their way through the ranks of competitive go-karting with the legendary Kilgore racing family. Monroe Kilgore and his wife Uma see their racing world very differently, and Uma is haunted by it.
Chad is pursuing the opportunity of his lifetime to become a professional auto racer, but the fast and luxurious world of racing is not as it appears. Tragedy strikes, and Chad is left to find his own way. Elle Dillanger struggles with criminal charges against her son, Gary Lee, and the truth about his tragic accident unfolds as the detectives investigate.
More than a coming-of-age story, "Wheelboys" by Dd Jaseron challenges society's complacency with the exploitation of youth and questions adult and corporate responsibilities. The journeys faced by these three families are universal and resonate for any reader: overcoming grief, finding one's path, and discovering love.
Critique: A deftly crafted and thoroughly entertaining novel that reveals the dark side of competitive sports in general, and auto racing in particular, "Wheelboys" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wheelboys" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
Big City Press
9781949751208, $14.95, PB, 358pp
Synopsis: The Sixties shook America to its foundation -- the assassination of an idealistic young president, a tragic and unpopular war, a battle for civil rights, a cosmic clash of riots and burning cities, and an explosion of sex, drugs and rock'n roll.
For four young people, the Sixties is a decade of promise and freedom. For orphaned Troy, it's the joy of living with his new family and exploring the world of flight and outer space. For Tara, the girl he loves, the power of song as she evolves into a rock'n roll star. For his new brother, Mick, a football hero and rebel, a time to question everything, including the fast-growing war in Vietnam. And for Daisy, the girl Mick loves, a chance to fight for equality, join the Peace Corps, and expand her study of the human mind.
America is the first of Mike Bond's seven-volume historical novel series, capturing the victories and heartbreaks of the last 70 years and of our nation's most profound upheavals since the Civil War -- a time that defined the end of the 20th Century and where we are today.
Through the wild, joyous, heartbroken and visionary lives of four young people and many others, the Sixties come alive again, as do its questions: what is life? What is freedom? What was lost, what was won?
Critique: The debut of a planned new series by author Mike Bond, "America" is an extraordinary and deftly crafted novel that combines interesting characters within the context of an historically detailed background. The result is an inherently entertaining and even fascinating read from cover to cover. While highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "America" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
William Michael Ried
CK Books Publishing
9781949085372, $14.99, PB, 328pp
Synopsis: Ansel Tone has been named "The Golden Boy of Popular History." He teaches propaganda at Columbia University and writes Redux Revisionist History best-sellers. His looks and family wealth help him to hawk his books on late night talk shows. He speaks to packed auditoriums. Undergraduates are said to swoon over his lectures. The public sees a professor who drives fast cars and runs with glamorous women, but his personal life is poised between an overbearing father and a son he hardly knows.
Ansel spent his junior year at Trinity College in Dublin, on a campus cloaked in four centuries of student pranks and mayhem. Twelve years later a classmate comes to New York and organizes a reunion. Ansel attends mostly to see how time has treated the beautiful Tess, his girlfriend that year who married their classmate, Charlie.
Charlie and Tess live in "Mountain House" in the Hudson Valley. She's a big-firm lawyer. He's trying to replicate the success of his first novel and overcome the train-wreck of his second. At the reunion Charlie announces he will fictionalize the story of how he won Tess away from Ansel. He'll change the facts to improve the story, but he first wants help remembering what really happened.
Ansel panics. Digging into the past could reveal secrets that could overturn his life, and so he sets out to manipulate the story. Complications ripple from Charlie digging into his college days, Ansel struggling to rewrite his own past and Tess wondering if she wound up with the right guy, while their classmates come to terms with themselves and each other and share the repercussions of rewriting history.
Critique: An original and deftly crafted novel that in an inherently riveting read from cover to cover, "Backstory" showcases author William Michael Ried's genuine flair for the kind of narrative storytelling style that brings his characters to life and holds the reader's rapt attention from first page to last. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Backstory" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Next Wife
Thomas & Mercer
9781542025942, $15.95, PB, 311pp
Synopsis: Kate Nelson had it all. A flourishing company founded with her husband, John; a happy marriage; and a daughter, Ashlyn. The picture-perfect family. Until John left for another woman. Tish is half his age. Ambitious. She's cultivated a friendship with Ashlyn. Tish believes she's won. -- She's wrong.
Tish Nelson has it all. Youth, influence, a life of luxury, and a new husband. But the truth is, there's a lot of baggage. Namely, his first wife - and suspicions of his infidelity. After all, that's how she got John. Maybe it's time for a romantic getaway, far from his vindictive ex. If Kate plans on getting John back, Tish is one step ahead of her. -- She thinks.
But what happens next is something neither Kate nor Tish saw coming. As best-laid plans come undone, there's no telling what a woman will do in the name of love and revenge!
Critique: A deftly crafted gem of a psychological thriller, "The Next Wife" by Kaira Ropuda is an inherently compelling read from beginning to end. An impressively original and simply rivet novel, "The Next Wife" will prove to be an extraordinary and popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of domestic thriller fans that "The Next Wife" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99). Librarians should be aware that there is both a large print edition of "The Next Wife" (Wheeler Publishing, 9781432889456, $34.99, Library Binding) and a complete and unabridged audio book of "The Next Wife" (Brilliance Audio, 9781713559504, $14.99, MP3-CD).
Packard Island Publishing
9780578862934, $24.95, HC, 220pp
Synopsis: Zeke Layne, with his white beard and red suspenders, is a man noted for his salty good humor, harmonica playing, and teller of tall tales.
Zeke lives with his daughter, teenage granddaughter and golden lab in an old mobile home, built on steel pilings at the Miller Ferry Catawba dock, with a view from his deck of South Bass Island. Alzheimer's and a worrisome heart condition haven't stopped him from his daily routine of entertaining passengers waiting at the Catawba dock to board the ferry or caring for his Chincoteague pony. It's not a bad life, even having to deal with two rapacious stepdaughters and their biker pals.
But when the unthinkable happens, Zeke must summon all his fading resources in a madcap dash to a safe haven.
Critique: In his newest novel, "Memory Layne", author Adamov populates his inherently engaging, impressively original, and always entertaining story with a cast of unforgettable characters who demonstrate the power of love, and how it is that man can be destroyed, but not defeated. Compelling, timeless, and exceptional, "Memory Layne" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.
The Flower Boat Girl
Top Floor Books
9789627866541, $26.99, HC, 436pp
Synopsis: Sold as a child to a floating brothel, 26-year-old Yang has finally bought her freedom, only to be kidnapped by a brutal pirate gang and forced to marry their leader.
Dragged through stormy seas and lawless bandit havens, Yang must stay scrappy to survive. She embeds herself in the dark business of piracy, carving out her role against the resistance of powerful pirate leaders and Cheung Po Tsai, her husband's flamboyant male concubine.
As she is caught between bitter rivals fighting for mastery over the pirates-and for her heart-Yang faces a choice between two things she never dreamed might be hers: power or love.
Critique: Set along the South China coast in 1801, and based on a true story, "The Flower Boat Girl" by Larry Feign is a deftly crafted and inherently impressive biographical style novel about a woman who, against all odds, shaped history on her own terms. A simply riveting read from first page to last, "The Flower Boat Girl" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Flower Boat Girl" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9789627866558, $18.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Firefly Southern Fiction
c/o Iron Stream Media
9781645262640, $16.99, PB, 352pp
Synopsis: Native American Emerson Coffee is the last surviving member of her tribe. An endling. After an internship in New York, she has returned to her chosen life of solitude in the stone cabin atop the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where her grandfather trained her to survive by seeking God's guidance in nature.
When US Marshals inform her she is being hunted by a mob hit man, Emerson declines their offer of witness protection, believing she can best outwit a predator on her own turf. But when three innocent children living in the art colony below become caught in the crosshairs, Emerson must decide if she will risk it all her mountains, her heritage -- even her life to secure their safety.
Can a lone and unarmed endling stop the most ruthless family of all or will everything her ancestors fought to preserve die with her?
Critique: A deftly crafted and impressively original novel, "The Endling" by Deborah Maxey combines a Christian perspective with elements of mystery, suspense, and Native American perspectives. The result is an inherently riveting and exceptionally entertaining read from cover to cover. While unhesitatingly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Endling" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Editorial Note: Deborah Maxey grew up immersed in the legends and traditions of Native American and Appalachian culture. Her oil portraits and one-woman art shows helped fund her PhD in counseling. As a psychotherapist and expert witness in the courts, her fascination with characters and conflict drives her passion to create fiction.
The Historical Fiction Shelf
9781951122195, $17.95, PB, 394pp
Synopsis: Francoise-Athenais de Rochechouart de Mortemart had to have Louis, King of France, but his other mistresses stood in the way. Then she meets the very helpful sorceress and Athenais gets her wish.
But soon Louis hears tales of witchcraft and poison, a conspiracy spreading through his court -- like the beasts in the Versailles menagerie, courtesans are clawing their way to his favor, and his bed. He orders Lieutenant General of Police Gabriel-Nicolas de la Reynie to investigate. Mysterious deaths mount while La Reynie presses on, hauling in witches, charlatans, and the nobility alike.
Grimy fingers point to Athenais, the King's mistress, with whispers of a black mass celebrated over her naked body. Then La Reynie discovers a plot to kill her!
Critique: A simply riveting read from first page to last, "The Menagerie" by Judy Willmore is a deftly crafted historical mystery that will keep the reader's rapt attention from one unexpected plot twist to another. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Fiction and Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Menagerie" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Exploration: The Stanfield Chronicles
River Grove Press
c/o Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781632993311, $18.95, PB, 400pp
Synopsis: After a disastrous fire in the year 1613, a young man named Isaac Stanfield leaves English seaside town of Dorchester to become a sailor on a merchantman ship called the Sweet Rose. Through resilience, initiative, and luck, Isaac finds himself a participant and observer in the explorations that preceded the arrival of the Mayflower in New England in 1620. Isaac's thirst for adventure is tempered by the love and support of friends while his youthful exuberance and charm attract many important people to engage him in their endeavors. Describes events in the period 1613-1620, "Exploration: The Stanfield Chronicles" by novelist David Tory is also the story of Isaac's coming of age in those turbulent times.
Critique: The debut novel of David Tory, "Exploration: The Stanfield Chronicles" is an impressively crafted work of historical fiction that pays precise attention to cultural and technical detail. Replete with interestingly memorable characters, as well as impressively entertaining and unexpected plot twists, "Exploration: The Stanfield Chronicles" is an especially recommended addition to community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Exploration: The Stanfield Chronicles" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Literary Fiction Shelf
Fire in the Field and Other Stories
Golden Antelope Press
9781952232565, $16.99, PB, 198pp
Synopsis: In the sixteen seemingly simple stories comprising "Fire in the Field and Other Stories", author John Young's memorable characters ask (or refuse to ask) what shapes us. Education? Talent? Impulse? Family? Money? Need for approval? Most of the stories are set in small-town Indiana, with a handful coming from New England villages. All are sensitively written, careful, and real.
The impulse to cheat (embellish) shows up early in the collection, as an antique dealer teaches himself to craft high-quality fakes. It reaches a fever pitch and crashes in the next tale, when an ambitious minister in an affluent community pays more attention to his neighbor's wife and pumpkins than to the living he's inherited.
Young's protagonists range from observant nine-year-olds to hyper-competitive teens, from working class dreamers (and drinkers) to privileged executives defending the compromises they've made. A few face public humiliation; a few others die. In two of the strongest stories, young women face painful life-and-death decisions, and the conclusions are uncertain. In most, there's an ethical dilemma, skillfully and subtly plotted so that we readers come away energized, appreciating "the oxymorons of life".
Critique: Original, eloquent, erudite, entertaining, memorably thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Fire in the Field and Other Stories" showcases author John Young's impressive mastery of the short story format. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college and university library Contemporary American Short Story collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fire in the Field and Other Stories" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Editorial Note: John Young earned an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. His first novel, "When the Coin Is in the Air", was published in 2019.
Tears of Amber
Sofia Segovia, author
Simon Bruni, translator
9781542027915, $14.95, PB, 493pp
Synopsis: With war looming dangerously close, Ilse's school days soon turn to lessons of survival. In the harshness of winter, her family must join the largest exodus in human history to survive. As battle lines are drawn and East Prussia's borders vanish beneath them, they leave their farm and all they know behind for an uncertain future.
But Ilse also has Janusz, her family's young Polish laborer, by her side. As they flee from the Soviet army, his enchanting folktales keep her mind off the cold, the hunger, and the horrors unfolding around them. He tells her of a besieged kingdom in the Baltic Sea from which spill the amber tears of a heartbroken queen. Neither of them realizes his stories will prove crucial and prophetic.
Not far away, trying and failing to flee from a vengeful army, Arno and his mother hide in the ruins of a Konigsberg mansion, hoping that once the war ends they can reunite their dispersed family. But their stay in the walled city proves untenable when they find themselves dodging bombs and scavenging in the rubble. Soon they'll become pawns caught between two powerful enemies, on a journey with an unknown destination.
Hope carries these children caught in the crosshairs of war on an extraordinary pilgrimage in which the gift of an amber teardrop is at once a valuable form of currency and a symbol of resilience, one that draws them together against insurmountable odds.
Critique: Ably translated into English for an American readership by Simon Bruni, "Tears of Amber" is a deftly crafted and inherently engaging novel that fully showcases author Sofia Segovia's genuine flair for eloquent originality and the kind of narrative storytelling style that is memorably entertaining and holds the reader's rapt and riveted attention throughout. While "Tears of Amber" is unreservedly recommended for community, college and university library Literary Fiction & 20th Century Historical Romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that this memorable novel is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713560210, $14.99, MP3-CD).
Editorial Note: Sofia Segovia is a creative writing teacher who has also been a ghostwriter and communications director for local political campaigns, and has written several plays for local theater. She is also the author of Noche de huracan (Night of the Hurricane), Huracan (Hurricane), and maintains an informative website at: www.sofiasegovia.com
Goods & Effects
Golden Antelope Press
9781952232558, $16.95, PB, 176pp
Synopsis: Devastated by the death of her husband and sons, Hannah Mercer sells the family farm and creates a store and living quarters in a delivery truck. As she travels several circuits selling her wares, Hannah becomes the heart of a network of interlinking lives: Nathan owns the motel where Hannah often parks her truck. Darla is a young and talented deaf artist, whose parents let her accompany Hannah on her rounds. Wanda, the sassy receptionist at a hardware distribution center, has larger ambitions. Naomi, wife of the pious Mennonite deacon, entertains fantasies of sexual freedom. Frank, a gentle farmer with a chronically-ill wife, harbors great affection for Hannah, but has troubling biases. LeRoy is a black farmer and talented singer, yet his family is subjected to racial terrorism. Velma owns a woodworking shop. Is she a good match for Vivian, Ronan County's elegant, lesbian librarian?
Critique: Of special and particular attraction to readers with an interest in Family Life and Women's Domestic Life stories, "Goods & Effects" is an eloquent, erudite, and deftly penned novella by Al Schnupp (a retired faculty member of the Theatre and Dance Department of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo) that is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Goods & Effects" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.49).
The Romantic Fiction Shelf
9781592110896, $32.99, HC, 286pp
Synopsis: Irish-born Johnny Flynn, a former British soldier, is banished from his homeland and sent to America on a ship so riddled with disease that he realizes the voyage was meant to murder him. When he survives the trip, the captain forces him to walk the plank into the Hudson River. Miraculously, Johnny is rescued by a rum running Irish gang, the Swamp Angels, and given a job running whisky in Hell's Kitchen just as Prohibition makes liquor a hugely profitable, dangerous business.
Fighting for his life and livelihood amid the denizens of the Manhattan piers, Johnny is plagued by the memory of his lost lover, Nora, whose father, the famed Irish revolutionary, James Connolly, met his death through a firing squad that included a reluctant gunman named Johnny Flynn. Nora's last words to him, when she learned of his betrayal and left him, "I love you, Johnny Flynn", echo in his heart, leaving him pulsing with guilt, yearning, and the hope that she might yet forgive him.
Johnny drinks hard. One night, drunk on the floor of Hailey's speakeasy, he encounters a seeming apparition on stage, the ghostly Esme, an Irish singer who suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of the British Black and Tans. Johnny is dazzled by her. She is not only a singer but a healer, teaching poor and afflicted children to sing and gather hope at an old theater called The Woebegone. From Esme Johnny learns how to overcome the desire for revenge, only to discover that she, too, clings to her own dark dream of retribution.
Hell's Kitchen, Johnny discovers, is thronged with people whose damaged hearts ache for revenge, repentance and love. As he grapples with taking responsibility to help others resolve this overwhelming dilemma, he learns that Nora is coming to New York to advocate for Irish independence. As he confronts her and soon thereafter receives a piercing love letter from Esme, the story comes to a turbulent climax.
Critique: "The Crossing" by Ashby Jones is a powerfully written and memorable love story set in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen during Prohibition and dealing with the reconciliation of love and guilt, grief and promise. Deftly combining history, fact, surrealism, and reality into an 'ever-recycling boost of the human spirit', "The Crossing" is a compelling page turner of a read from start to finish and will prove to be a welcome and appreciated addition to community library collections in general, and the personal reading lists of romance and suspense fans in particular.
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Eva Lesko Natiello
Fine Line Publishing
9780998285115, $15.99, PB, 317pp
Synopsis: It's New Year's Eve. Shae Wilmont, the adored celebrity host of IShop (a popular shopping site) is ready to reclaim her life. Her stalker has been caught. But en route to a party, a harrowing encounter lands her in the wrong place at the wrong time. She panics. And trusts her gut. It's a devastating mistake. Only one person knows where she ends up. It's where no one can find her.
Shae's stunned fans quickly galvanize to track her down. Yet the charismatic Shae they know, who delivers digital intimacy to viewers who'll buy anything she sells, off camera is an enigma (private and strangely insecure) unable to let anyone get close. When startling personal secrets are exposed during the investigation, the paradox of Shae begins to unravel.
In "Following You" the lives of three strangers collide irreversibly. Honey, a displaced Southern girl with a painful past, is fiercely protective of her friends at the expense of her own safety, derailing her new life in California. Creepy Lawrence, a Detective Bureau fast-tracker with a penchant for latex gloves and a perverse obsession with Shae. And Shae, with millions of fake friends but hardly a real one. All three are hiding something, but only two of them are lying.
"Following You" is suspenseful page-turner bares our assumptions of strangers. Who we believe without judgment and who we judge without believing. It is also a story about privilege, family, identity, the need for belonging and the destruction caused by secrets.
Critique: An inherently riveting and deftly crafted novel of dark psychological suspense, "Following You" showcases author Eva Lesko Natiello's genuine flair for originality and a distinctively entertaining narrative storytelling style. While highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated psychological thriller fans that "Following You" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
9781733654746, $15.95, PB, 241pp
Synopsis: Nuclear bombs are being smuggled in suitcases by Islamist terrorists on under-the-radar sailboats through the Greek Islands on their way to multiple key targets in Europe and America. Can ex-Navy SEAL Adam Weldon and his girlfriend, an FBI sharpshooter, join forces with a mesmerizing Interpol drone expert to stop the planned destruction?
Critique: Set in the Greek Islands and Washington DC, "Cyclops Conspiracy" by William McGinnis is taut, deftly written, and thoroughly entertaining thriller that delivers twists and surprises that will keep the reader's totally engaged and compulsive page turning addition from cover to cover. While highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary Suspense/Thriller collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated action/adventure fans that "Cyclops Conspiracy" is also readily available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).
The North Face of the Heart
Dolores Redondo, author
Michael Meigs, translator
9781542022323, $24.95, HC, 496pp
Synopsis: Amaia Salazar, a young detective from the north of Spain, has joined a group of trainees at the FBI Academy in Virginia. Haunted by her past and having already tracked down a predator on her own, Amaia is no typical rookie. And this is no ordinary student lecture at Quantico. FBI agent Aloisius Dupree is already well acquainted with Amaia's skills, her intuition, and her ability to understand evil. He now needs her help in hunting an elusive serial killer dubbed "the Composer," and in solving another case that's been following him his whole life.
From New Jersey to Oklahoma to Texas, the Composer's victims are entire families annihilated in the chaos of natural disasters, their bodies posed with chilling purpose amid the ruins. Dupree and Amaia follow his trail to New Orleans. The clock is ticking. It's the eve of the worst hurricane in the city's history. But a troubling call from Amaia's aunt back home awakens in Amaia the ghosts from her childhood and sends her down a path as dark as that of the coming storm.
Critique: An expertly crafted and riveting thriller of a suspense novel by an author with genuine originality and a flair for the kind of narrative storytelling that keeps the reader's rapt attention from cover to cover, "The North Face Of The Heart" by novelist Dolores Redondo is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery/suspense/thriller fans that "The North Face Of The Heart" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781542022316, $14.95), in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713555063, $24.99, MP3-CD).
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Lord of Order
9781945501418, $27.00, HC, 439pp
Synopsis: Long after the destruction of all electronic technology, the Bright Crusade rules the world as a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. Gabriel Troy is Lord of Order for the New Orleans Principality. For years, he and his deputies have fought to keep their city safe from the attacks of the Crusade's relentless enemies, the Troublers -- heretical guerillas who reject the Crusade's rule and the church's strict doctrines. As their crowning achievement, Troy's forces capture the Troublers' local leader. The city has never been more secure.
Alarming intelligence leaks from Washington: Supreme Crusader Matthew Rook plans to enact a Purge -- the mass annihilation of everyone deemed a threat to the Crusade. Rook orders his forces to round up all but the blindly loyal and march them to New Orleans. Once the prisoners have been chained inside, the Crusaders will wall off the city and destroy the levees. The resulting deluge, reenacting the Biblical deluge of Noah's time and the city's devastation during Hurricane Katrina, will kill everyone inside.
Forced to choose between the Crusade and the city he has sworn to protect, Troy and five other conflicted conspirators gird for battle, fully aware that the looming apocalypse will demand horrific choices, test their faith, and require them to join forces with their sworn enemies.
Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently compelling page-turner of a read, "Lord of Order" by Brett Riley is a simply riveting and original dystopian and post-apocalyptic science fiction novel that is unreservedly recommended for highschool and community library Science Fiction collections for readers ages 16 and older. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated science fiction fans that "Lord of Order" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.93).
The Business Shelf
They Did What?
Cornelia Gamien, author
Barbara Mitchell, author
Book Baby Publishers
9781098328276, $16.99, PB, 260pp
Synopsis: People have been misbehaving at work since work began. "They Did What?: Unbelievable Tales from the Workplace" is a compilation of stories collected by the team of Cornelia Gamien and Barbara Mitchell from HR and other business leaders that have been deftly woven into a narrative that showcases the challenges HR professionals face daily in dealing with employees.
Funny, sad, and seemingly unbelievable, all the stories comprising "They Did What?" are all based on actual situations. Told against the backdrop of a fictitious company by leaders from different business sectors, "They Did What?": Portrays people issues that can arise in any workplace; Spotlights the world of HR leaders and how they keep things on an even keel; Provides a glimpse behind the scenes into compelling and relatable workplace tales.
Critique: Invaluable, instructive, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking reading that is a 'must' for corporate and business managers charged with supervisor oversight of employees, as well as for community, corporate, college and university library Human Resources & Personnel Management reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "They Did What?: Unbelievable Tales from the Workplace" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Barbara Mitchell is the founder and Managing Partner of The Mitchell Group, a management consulting practice that helps a wide variety of clients with people and talent management issues. Cornelia Gamlem founded the Gems Group, a management consulting firm offering clients solutions to employee relations, workplace diversity and related HR and business issues.
Indie Books International
9781952233579, $20.00, PB, 191pp
Synopsis: Typical corporate leadership development focuses on a single direction: downstream in the organizational hierarchy. Leadership that is mission critical requires that you lead well in all directions: up, across, down, and inward.
"Mission-Critical Leadership: How Smart Managers Lead Well in All Directions" was specifically written by Jon Lokhorst for those corporate executives and managers who have ever: Felt stuck in their job; Been frustrated with their own boss; Experienced a lack of cooperation from peers at their same leadership level; Wondered why the team they supervise fails to perform to their expectations.
"Mission-Critical Leadership" is an instructive guide showing how to build influence and relationships that deliver impactful results. With these strategies corporate organizations will have more engaged employees, better talent retention, and a plan for developing the next generation of leaders.
The underlying message of "Mission-Critical Leadership" is that when the stakes are high, smart leaders focus on what's mission critical to cut through the clutter, clear away distractions, and ensure their teams are devoted to what's truly essential.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Mission-Critical Leadership: How Smart Managers Lead Well in All Directions" is a thoroughly 'user friendly' DIY course of instruction on effective management techniques, practices and principles. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, corporate, college and university library Business Management, Motivation & Leadership collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of MBA students, academia, corporate executives, business managers, and entrepreneurs that "Mission-Critical Leadership: How Smart Managers Lead Well in All Directions" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
Editorial Note: Jon Lokhorst, CPA, PCC is a leadership coach, speaker, trainer, and author. He works with organizations to develop leaders everyone wants to follow, build teams no one wants to leave, and deliver exceptional results. Before launching Lokhorst Consulting LLC, Jon enjoyed a 30-plus year career as a CPA, CFO, and organizational leader.
The Jobs/Careers Shelf
The Surprise Restaurant Manager
9781736282304, $14.99, PB, 207pp
Synopsis: All too often new restaurant managers (especially those promoted from the restaurant's waitstaff) find themselves leading with minimal training, a ton of responsibilities, and no clue how to improve. While they may have run the Friday night rush, as well as previously juggled expectations of staff and guests, they have not figured out how to improve while keeping the restaurant profitable -- which is now their main responsibility as the restaurant manager.
In "The Surprise Restaurant Manager", the novice manager will learn from Ken McGarrie (himself a restaurant operator who has helped launched dozens of successful restaurants), as he provides the tools necessary to master the unexpected challenges that managers must face every day. "The Surprise Restaurant Manager" offers real-life examples, straightforward strategies, and expert insight to better leadership. It is your DIY guide to restaurant industry success beyond basic food knowledge and inventory counts.
"The Surprise Restaurant Manager" covers: How to locate quality candidates and interview effectively, including eight signs you shouldn't extend an offer-from subtle clues to outright red flags; Tips on ways to support your staff during challenging situations and how to use genuine suggestions to develop more effective hospitality skills; Common communication mistakes that guarantee FOH turnover and increase work stress-and how to avoid them; Proven steps to upgrade your table touch and salvage every negative guest experience, including guaranteed methods to improve your restaurant's online reviews; How to embrace blunt criticism, work effectively with strong personalities, and avoid professional burnout.
Critique: The ideal DIY instruction guide and manual for anyone having to assume the duties of a restaurant manager with little or no previous experience, "The Surprise Restaurant Manager" is impressively comprehensive and exceptionally 'user friendly' in both organization and presentation. While very highly recommended for community, college and university library Service Industry collections in general, and Restaurant Management supplemental studies curriculums in particular, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Surprise Restaurant Manager" is also readily available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).
Editorial Note: Ken McGarrie is the cofounder of Korgen Hospitality, a nationwide consulting firm dedicated to helping restauranteurs reach their absolute potential with effective leadership and maximum profitability. For the past two decades, he has helmed many successful restaurants, bars, and entertainment-based venues with a relentless focus on anticipatory service, staff empowerment, and attentive hospitality. Ken has helped launch new concepts and train hospitality leaders throughout the U.S. and Canada. He maintains an informative website at www.korgenhospitality.com
The Money/Finance Shelf
Retirement Planning QuickStart Guide
Ted D. Snow, CFP, MBA
9781636100050, $34.99, HC, 294pp
Synopsis: While planning for retirement is the biggest financial commitment of our lives, most of us an simply not prepared. The future is often filled with fear and uncertainty. Fortunately, our retirement doesn't have to be. Managing finances, preparing to transition out of the workforce, and ensuring that our money is working as hard as possible to make our golden years sparkle can be overwhelming. That's why finance industry veteran Ted D. Snow, CFP(R), MBA has written "Retirement Planning QuickStart Guide" in order to offer financially sound money management strategies, practical tips, and a thorough look at with it takes to prepare for a retirement worth looking forward to
Using the guidance and insight provided in the pages of "Retirement Planning QuickStart Guide", anyone, at any stage of their career, can prepare for a comfortable, satisfying, and financially secure retirement. Whether retirement is right around the corner or still decades over the horizon, "Retirement Planning QuickStart Guide" is essential reading.
Critique: Exceptionally 'user friendly' in commentary style, organization and presentation, "Retirement Planning QuickStart Guide" is comprehensive, detailed, and the perfect DIY course of instruction enabling even the most novice of financial managers to effectively and successfully prepare for retirement. An ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal and community library Retirement Planning and Wealth Management collections. It should be noted that "Retirement Planning QuickStart Guide" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781636100043, $24.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Honey Money Publishing
9781736618301, $19.99, PB, 226pp
Synopsis: Do you have enough money for retirement? Want to cash out of the 9-to-5 corporate workweek while young enough to pursue your dreams? Are you ready right now to live off the income from a handful of real estate rental properties?
Beginners can start with a careful reading of "House FIRE: How to Be a Red-Hot Real Estate Millionaire with a Wealth of Time and Money to Burn" by multi-millionaire real estate investor Alan Corey. Here they will learn about the technique called House F.I.R.E (Financial Independence, Retire Early). They will discover how to create the life they want to live with just a few real estate investments so that they can fast-forward themselves to a stress-free early retirement.
Whether you are starting from nothing, have one or two rental homes already, or looking to diversify other investments into real estate, House FIRE is your step-by-step guide to immediately changing your financial future. Learn how to overcome analysis paralysis and typical first-timer freeze when evaluating rental properties so you can be in complete control of your time and money and live the life you always wanted.
"House FIRE: How to Be a Red-Hot Real Estate Millionaire with a Wealth of Time and Money to Burn" transforms a formerly complex process into a step-by-step instructional guide to enable the reader to become a small-time property-owning landlord that results in a retirement-worthy level of cash flow income!
Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in commentary style, organization and presentation, "House FIRE: How to Be a Red-Hot Real Estate Millionaire with a Wealth of Time and Money to Burn" is especially recommended to the attention of anyone wanting to take an entrepreneurial approach to wealth building and management. While very highly recommended for community library Money/Finance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "House FIRE: How to Be a Red-Hot Real Estate Millionaire with a Wealth of Time and Money to Burn" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Alan Corey is a well-recognized author, entrepreneur, and real-estate investor. His debut book, "A Million Bucks by 30", chronicled his first journey to riches as a penny-pinching real-estate investor, bar owner, and reality-TV regular. His comedic and autobiographical tales of his finances have been heard or seen on more than fifty radio and TV shows, including CNBC's The Big Idea with Donnie Deutsch; CNN's Tips from the Top; ABC's Money Matters; Fox & Friends; and Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
The Christian Studies Shelf
Engage: Tools for Contemporary Evangelism
Wm. Craig Price, editor
c/o Iron Stream Media
9781563093173, $39.99, PB, 544pp
Synopsis: In Christianity, evangelism (or witnessing) is the act of preaching the gospel with the intention of sharing the message and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians who specialize in evangelism are often known as evangelists, whether they are in their home communities or living as missionaries in the field, although some Christian traditions refer to such people as missionaries in either case. Some Christian traditions consider evangelists to be in a leadership position; they may be found preaching to large meetings or in governance roles. In addition, Christian groups who encourage evangelism are sometimes known as evangelistic or evangelist. (Wikipedia)
The emerging generation in today's culture believes evangelism is wrong according to recent studies. Yet Scripture is clear: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19 ESV). So how do we lead people to Jesus in a church with members who think evangelism is wrong? And how do we connect people with Jesus in an ever-changing culture? How do we share Jesus in a multicultural world?
Expertly compiled and deftly edited by Wm. Craig Price, "Engage: Tools for Contemporary Evangelism" is a thorough guide to the daily ministry of sharing Christ with those in the world around you. This compilation handbook contains more than 30 chapters and covers effective evangelism to the elderly, children, and families while encouraging the church to become multicultural. Research and recommendations cover evangelism in various settings such as Sunday School, missions, and social justice situations to name a few.
This instructional reference and quite will enable the reader to become equipped to remind their fellow believers of the New Testament context of evangelism, how morality can be engaged in evangelistic efforts, and lead others to understand the importance of prayer. This handbook covers these topics and so much more.
Specifically, "Engage: Tools for Contemporary Evangelism" offers access to the research and tools needed to be equipped including: The theology behind evangelism; The context of evangelism; The role of the pastor and individual as evangelist; Effective ways to reach children, the elderly, families and those marginalized by the church; Elements of effective public invitations.
Critique: If leading people to Jesus is your heart's desire, "Engage: Tools for Contemporary Evangelism" is the ideal resource and DIY instructional reference to becoming the leader and instrument God uses to change the world through Christian evangelism! While highly recommended for church, seminary, community, college and university library Evangelical Christian and Christian Spirituality collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of clergy, seminary students, missionaries, and non-specialist general readers and members of the Christian community with an interest in the subject that "Engage: Tools for Contemporary Evangelism" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).
Editorial Note: The mission of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is to equip leaders to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandments through the local church and its ministries. Since 1917, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) has equipped leaders to answer God's call. NOBTS offers an academic environment that utilizes innovative delivery systems, preparing students for ministry. Whether God is calling someone as a pastor, missionary, counselor, youth minister, educator, worship leader, apologist, or something else entirely, NOBTS has a ministry training option available. Most of all, this community will equip believers to follow God wherever He leads.
c/o HarperCollins Christian Publishing
9781400330621, $32.99, HC, 200pp
Synopsis: Is it possible to find hope in the midst of tragedy? Or joy in the hardest times? When Char Harryman suffered a series of grand mal seizures and was rushed to the hospital on Easter Sunday, her life and that of her husband Steve would never be the same again.
With Char's diagnosis of a malignant brain tumor requiring life-saving surgery, that tragic event in their lives would mark the beginning of a remarkable journey of faith and perseverance spanning nearly twenty-five years. It was on this journey that Steve and Char experienced the nearness of God and found true hope and joy amidst the suffering. "Char's Gift" is ultimately a story of triumph over the storms of life and a testament to the depth of God's faithfulness and unfailing love.
Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Char's Gift: A Remarkable Story of Hope Through the Storms of Life" is an inherently moving story of love, faith and triumph in the face of unexpected and unplanned for tragedy. Told from a decidedly Christian perspective, "Char's Gift" is especially and unreservedly recommended reading. Simply stated, "Char's Gift" is one of those true life stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book is finished and set back upon the shelf.
Editorial Note: Steve Harryman is founder and president of Hope Through The Storm Ministries, a Christian faith-based organization devoted to bringing hope and encouragement to people facing serious illness and disability. Steve is also an award-winning filmmaker/videographer, photographer and successful magazine writer. Steve lives in West Michigan and was married to his wife Char for nearly thirty-three years before she went to heaven in May of 2019. Steve maintains and informative and relevant website at https://steveharryman.com
Harley and the Holy Mountain
9781838255602, $13.95, PB, 312pp
Synopsis: Harley they an antiquated 50cc motorbike (top speed 25mph) who carried John Mole up and down the backroads of Greece from the island of Evia to deliver the collected Jeeves and Wooster stories to a Moldovan monk on Mount Athos -- a self-governing state run by monks.
"Harley and the Holy Mountain: Through the Heart of Greece to its Soul" is the sequel to John Mole's "It's All Greek To Me!" and is laced through and through with a similar combination of humor, self-deprecation, entertaining stories, and insights into the contemporary country of Greece.
The road trip forming the basis of "Harley and the Holy Mountain" is based on the author's lifetime's love of Greece. It is seasoned with experiences and memories, absurdity and humour, treats and discomforts, the terrors and boredom of the slow lane, and above all comedy. With just a glimmer of enlightenment at the end.
"Harley and the Holy Mountain" is a journey through the heart of Greece to its soul as reflected by the pass sites and sights from prehistory to the present: a Mycenaean beehive tomb, 3500 years old; the body of a Russian saint, who teleported pilaff; a refugee camp in a chicken factory; and many other extraordinary places as well as taverns, cafes, cheap hotels and anywhere else John Mole found conversation and a jug of wine.
The reader will encounter the key moments in three thousand years of history that every Greek is familiar with and create their sense of who they are. Some are celebrated, for example the War of Independence from the Ottomans, others are no less powerful but unspoken, like the Civil War of 1946-49. As we meander north we come across the different peoples that created today's Greece.
A hundred years ago the first language of half the population was not Greek but any one of Albanian, Aromanian, Macedonian, Pomak, Tsakonian, Romaniote, Ladino, Romani, Turkish, Italian and half a dozen Anatolian dialects with all their racial and cultural baggage. Whatever their origins, Greeks are brought up to believe they are direct descendants of the Ancient Greeks whose language they speak. They also believe they are custodians of the one true religion, Orthodoxy, the defining characteristic of Greekness for two thousand years.
Having travelled through time and space, John left Harley at the frontier of Athos and plunged into a spiritual dimension. Wonder-working icons and relics are channels to the divine; everyday miracles are part of nature; the marvellous deeds of saints are facts not metaphors. Their reality permeates Greek culture and sense of self. Greece is two hundred years old. Out of a patchwork of cultures and languages Greeks have forged a homogeneous European nation.
Since the bloody revolution against the Ottomans, Greeks have resisted British, French, Russian, German, Italian, Bulgarian and American incursion, invasion or domination. The struggle continues for independence from the Brussels, Frankfurt and Washington institutions that control its finances. Through turbulence and disaster Greeks have created a vibrant, enterprising, European democracy with a unique identity. This is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary people.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Harley and the Holy Mountain: Through the Heart of Greece to its Soul" is a unique combination of travelogue, memoir, and a country's cultural/political/social history. While very highly recommended for community, college and university library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Harley and the Holy Mountain: Through the Heart of Greece to its Soul" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.64).
Catch and Release God's Supernatural
Dr. Andrew M. Nkoyoyo
Kingdom Impact Ministry
9781735819006, $19.95, PB, 305pp
Synopsis: Imagine what it would be like to pray for miracles and see them happen right in front of you. Accessing God's supernatural power has always seemed reserved for those involved in ministry and endowed with unique spiritual gifts. But in the pages of "Catch and Release God's Supernatural: Keys to Operating in God's Miracles, Healing, and Power", Dr. Andrew Nkoyoyo will show you how you can now operate in power, miracles, and healing despite your spiritual maturity or call, even if you're a new believer and have no prior experience in God's supernatural.
"Catch and Release God's Supernatural" shows how the power of God will make a shift in your life so that you can be victorious and transform the lives of others. It will reveal the simple yet powerful kingdom keys, secrets, and methods needed to release the supernatural. This instructive volume will guide you step by step on how to apply each kingdom key in your life so that you can access heaven and unleash the miracle worker in you. It interweaves powerful supernatural testimonies and stories that Dr. Nkoyoyo experienced both personally and in ministry to demonstrate each key.
Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Catch and Release God's Supernatural: Keys to Operating in God's Miracles, Healing, and Power" is unexcelled as a kind of spiritual Self-Help/Self-Improvement manual to accessing the love and power of God to deal with all the issues raised within the context of our daily lives. It should be noted for clergy, seminary students, and all the members of the Christian community that "Catch and Release God's Supernatural: Keys to Operating in God's Miracles, Healing, and Power" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.97).
Editorial Note: Dr. Andrew Nkoyoyo is the founder and president of the Kingdom Impact Ministry. He is a revivalist, international speaker, host of Kingdom Come television program, apostolic/prophetic minister, author, a missionary from Uganda, East Africa to the United States of America. Additionally, Andrew is also a member of Harvest International Ministry, an apostolic network. After many years of evangelistic, apostolic, and revival work in Africa, God called him into the mission field of America mid-1999.
The Graphic Novel Shelf
United States of Banana
Giannina Braschi, author
Joakim Lindengren, illustrator
Amanda M. Smith, editor
Amy Sheeran, editor
Mad Creek Books
c/o Ohio State University Press
180 Pressey Hall, 1070 Carmack Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1002
9780814257869, $19.95, PB, 128pp
Synopsis: "I was a monument to immigration -- now I'm a border control cop." So admits the Statue of Liberty in Giannina Braschi's graphic novel, "United States of Banana". This rollicking and nakedly political allegory of US imperialism and Puerto Rican independence is illustrated by Swedish comic book artist Joakim Lindengren and based on Braschi's epic manifesto by the same title.
The story takes us along on the madcap adventures of Zarathustra, Hamlet, and Giannina herself as they rescue the Puerto Rican prisoner Segismundo from under the skirt of the Statue of Liberty. Throughout their quest, the characters debate far-ranging political and philosophical subjects, spanning terrorism, global warming, mass incarceration, revolution, and love. The Marx Brothers, Pablo Neruda, Barack Obama, Disney characters and more make appearances in this stirring call to overthrow empire, liberate the imprisoned masses, and build a new country rooted in friendship, art, poetry, and laughter.
Critique: As iconoclastic and entertaining as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "United States of Banana" is a tale for our times and unreservedly recommended for community, college and university library political graphic novel collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "United States of Banana" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.61).
The Political Science Shelf
The Next Great President
9780998328133, $29.95, HC, 610pp
Synopsis: In the pages of "The Next Great President", author and historical cycles expert Edward Thomas has provided a masterful analysis of three of our greatest presidents (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt) and their paths to the presidency. This study also analyzes their presidential leadership, legacy, and parallels in the challenges each faced as President. Then, it provides a list of challenges the next great president will have to face and overcome, and a list of accomplishments that will have to be achieved, in order to become as revered as those other great men and be considered one of the greatest presidents in American history.
"The Next Great President" also provides an informative and thoughtful comparison of these past presidents and the common (and uncommon) traits and abilities that reveal their character. Additionally, "The Next Great President" reviews the foundational aspects of the American democratic experiment from the perspective of the presidency and the founding fathers who are responsible for its existence.
Does the crisis make the man, or does the man prove himself through his handling of the crisis? The greatness of our first three great presidents coincides with three great events in our history - the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the Second World War. Each of these crucial events occurred approximately 80 years apart, and the last great event occurred about 80 years ago. With an eye to this 80-year cycle of secular crisis in United States history, Author Edward Thomas predicts that The Next Great President will be elected in 2020, 2024, or 2028
Critique: An inherently fascinating, thoughtful and thought-provoking, and highly recommended read throughout, "The Next Great President" will prove to be a welcome addition to community, college and university library Political Science and American History collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Next Great President" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780998328140, $19.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95).
Editorial Note: Edward Thomas is a member of the Royal Economic Society. He received a Master of Business Administration from the University of California in Irvine, California and was a National Merit Scholar at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His 30+ year career in the Aerospace industry includes experience on some of the most advanced and leading edge programs in Aerospace history.
The Gardening Shelf
Nine Perfect Petals
Angela M. Rosenberg
Inside Out Enneagram
9781736676707, $29.99, HC, 156pp
Synopsis: "Nine Perfect Petals: The Enneagram for Flower Gardeners" by Angela M. Rosenberg brings readers on a spirited, enlightening journey to answer that question, following the Enneagram personality typology through the lens of flower gardening. The ancient system of the Enneagram describes nine distinct personas, reflecting core, divine qualities that connect and differentiate us as fellow humans.
In the pages of "Nine Perfect Petals", Dr. Angela Rosenberg uses gardening practices and particular flowers to help readers appreciate the nine types. Each chapter detail characteristics, strengths, challenges, and pathways for individual growth and well-being.
Thought-provoking quotes and beautiful, original drawings make "Nine Perfect Petals a must for any reader interested in the Enneagram, and for every gardener who seeks to understand their own personality-and blossom. Eminently sharable, you'll want all your family, friends, and co-workers to discover their types.
Critique: A nicely illustrated and inherently fascinating read throughout, "Nine Perfect Petals: The Enneagram for Flower Gardeners" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library Flower Gardening, Popular Psychology, and Personal Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted that "Nine Perfect Petals" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781736676721, $21.95).
Editorial Note: Dr. Angela Rosenberg focuses on strategic planning, workshop facilitation, and leadership development of individuals and teams, through her company, Inside Out Enneagram. She is a Board Certified Leadership Coach (BCC) who uses several assessment methods in her courses; however, the Enneagram is, admittedly, her favorite typology. She also wrote and illustrated a The Shell and Me, a children's book. She also maintains an informative website at www.insideoutenneagram.com
The Self-Help Shelf
Midlife, No Crisis
9781736159439, $19.99, PB, 104pp
Synopsis: "Midlife, No Crisis: An Audacious Guide to Embracing 50 and Beyond" by Life & Health Coach Lisa Levine guides women through this transformative time with easy, actionable advice, inspirational quotes, and scientific studies. In this uniquely focused 'how-to' guide, Lisa encourages her readers to practice self-care, cultivate positive habits, and let go of what's holding them back from living their best life.
Women over 50 are often more ready than they realize for this kind of joyful change. They have survived many of life's challenges and truly know themselves. "Midlife, No Crisis" shows how to: Change your perspective on aging; Create a life for who you are today; Make time for healthy habits; Dream audaciously; Chart a course for the next stage of your life -- and so much more!
It's never too late to find your passion, live with renewed purpose, and become the women you were meant to be with the help of "Midlife, No Crisis"!
Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation, "Midlife, No Crisis: An Audacious Guide to Embracing 50 and Beyond" is the ideal DIY guide to enhancing, enjoying and celebrating the mature years of a woman's life. While very highly recommended as an addition to community and senior citizen center Self-Help/Self-Improvement library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that ""Midlife, No Crisis: An Audacious Guide to Embracing 50 and Beyond" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Editorial Note: Lisa Levine is a Certified Life and Health Coach at Audacious Health & Wellness. She helps women who are approaching midlife to create new and healthy habits in the way they think, eat, sleep and move, empowering them to live their lives fully and audaciously. She maintains an interesting and informative website at www.audaciouswellness.com
The Poetry Shelf
9781637528716, $16.99, PB, 130pp
Synopsis: From prom & college acceptances to heartbreak and personal loss, Diana Haemer's second book of poetry, "Sensing" represents her life's work. The poetry comprising "Sensing" is a kind of autobiographical journey that encapsulates the essences of nature, love, loss, and family exploring a variety of poetic styles (villanelles, sonnets, haikus, et al).
Written over the span of six years, the poetry in the pages of "Sensing" is a collection of moments in which Diana details what it means to grow from the pressures of being a competitive figure skater into a self-assured young adult. Diana's poetry also tells of her travels through time and space with a distinct honesty and openness, convincing readers of her truths in a soft yet beautiful way.
Critique: Compelling, thoughtful, thought-provoking, universal in theme while particular in person, "Sensing" is an eloquent and deftly crafted poetic odyssey which is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community, college and university library Contemporary American Poetry collections.
Editorial Note: Diana is an enthusiastic and introspective poet who has been writing since she was sixteen. A recent graduate of William & Mary, she hopes to combine her loves for marine science and English into a career as a science journalist and creative writer. Currently she is using her nearly seven years of experience as a creative writer to publish personal poems and create poetry for others. She maintains an informative website at www.onethirtythree-poetry.com
The Soprano, the Monster, and the Dragonslayer
Vashti Stopher Klein
Book Baby Publishers
9781543990133, $19.99, PB, 104pp
Synopsis: What would you decide to do if fighting a battle to save your life threatened the very essence of your life? Written by poet, folk singer, and storyteller Vashti Stopher Klein as a kind of fairytale, with enchanting artistic elements, "The Soprano, the Monster, and the Dragonslayer" will have readers rooting for the Soprano's success, worrying over the outcome of her battles, and cheering for her triumph. Her voice is then heard in a blending of poetry and music.
Critique: Eloquent, original, entertaining, reflective, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Soprano, the Monster, and the Dragonslayer" is an impressive volume of memorable storytelling verse. While highly recommended for community, college and university library Contemporary American Poetry collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Soprano, the Monster, and the Dragonslayer" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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