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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 23, Number 6 June 2024 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Economic Studies Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Parenting Shelf Biography Shelf General Fiction Shelf
Historical Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
Poetry Shelf Humor Shelf Criminology Shelf


Reviewer's Choice

Bonsai
Sandy Nicholson
Independently Published
9798884144767, $19.99, HC, 304pp

https://www.amazon.com/Bonsai-Sandy-Nicolson/dp/B0CXMMLDH7

Synopsis: They know him by his nickname only. That is about all they know about the man they call Bonsai. To most people, he is a complete nobody.

He's just the strange guy that runs the gas station on the edge of town. The town being Salinas in the valley. It's a dinosaur of a gas station, slipping in all ways into the ground, a symbol of a bygone time, like him. History.

But this is not the full story. -- And contrary to everyone's assumption, Bonsai is like any of us, actually quite remarkable.

"Bonsai" by Sandy Nicholson is his story -- a former driver to a Japanese Yakuza, an inveterate gambler, an Asian American immigrant, a devout father.

In a strange series of events his remarkable past comes suddenly back into his reality, and forces him to resolve lots of unfinished business in his life. He learns that there is life left to celebrate even though, like any of us, he is not fully in control of his destiny. But maybe his dreams will come true and he will be reunited with his daughter? Her mother would be too much to ask of course.

It's a page turning, life affirming ride and you will pity the fool that entered his gas station and didn't bother take a second look at him in their rear view mirror.

Critique: A carefully crafted, vividly rendered, and memorable account, "Bonsai" will have a very particular appeal to readers with an interest in action/adventure Yakuza crime novels and complex family dramas presented in an Asian American memoir format. Especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bonsai" by Sandy Nicholson is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798884029514, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Economic Studies Shelf

Intergenerational Theft
Daniel Anthony Harrison
Independently Published
www.intergenerationaltheft.org
9798851518003, $32.24, PB, 175pp

https://www.amazon.com/INTERGENERATIONAL-THEFT-Undeservingly-Millennials-Generations/dp/B0CCCS6P45

Synopsis: "Intergenerational Theft: The L15 Trillion UK Government Policy Bias That Makes Baby Boomers Undeservingly Rich By Stealing From Generation X, Gen Y (Millennials), Gen Z (Zoomers) & Future Generations" by Daniel Anthony Harrison is a groundbreaking study that definitively proves the scale of the intergenerational injustice facing young people in the UK - and is the first economic analysis to precisely quantify the 15 Trillion GBP problem.

Demolishing the false political and media narrative of continually rising living standards, "Intergenerational Theft" takes a robust evidenced-based approach to conclusively prove that Generation X, Gen Y, and Gen Z have all progressively experienced a continuously falling standard of living compared to the baby boomer generation.

Consider the following facts:

Pre-millennium, and over the entire post-war period 1945-2000, it was possible to afford an average home, and raise children on a single (mostly semi-skilled) income.

Post-millennium, over the period 2001-2022, to afford an average home, and raise children now requires three semi-skilled incomes, or two highly skilled (usually graduate) salaries.

This has happened because there are around 3 million 'extra' baby boomers (by definition), and to get their vote, UK government policy is deliberately biased towards favouring their economic interests.

The 2015 UK Parliament Select Committee on Work and Pensions report "The Intergenerational Contract Under Strain" admits that "The economy has become skewed in favor of baby boomers and against millennials", calculating that the baby boomers have passed on debts of 220,000 GBP per person - and this debt is being forced upon younger generations.

Clear examples of this policy bias are:

Housing: House prices are kept high to pander to the older homeowning majority
Pensions: The triple lock on pensions saddles future generations with huge debts
National debt: The accumulation of crippling national debt is being passed onto future generations
Privatisations: The family silver has been sold off, squandered on tax cuts for the older generation
PFI schemes: Poor value PFI schemes will burden future generations for decades to come
Student fees: Saddles young people with unprecedented personal debt for decades
North sea oil & gas: A one-off windfall squandered on tax cuts for the older generation
Climate change: The old have passed on a monumental economic liability to the young

The consequences of this are stark for the young and future generations are:

Young people are having to use a range of adaptation strategies to cope
All of life's natural milestones are being delayed, deferred, or denied
Dual income couples are effectively paying twice the taxes of previous generations - subsiding the old by 220,000 GBP per person - we estimate 500,000 GBP per person if you include housing, student fees, and climate change
The financial strain is severely impacting mental health, relationships, and family life
Intergenerational injustice contributes to an increasingly unfair, and unmeritocratic society as wealth concentrates in the older haves vs. the younger have nots
The young are gaslighted as though it is their fault with absurd claims about avocado on toast, mobile phones, and Netflix subscriptions, rather than admit the systemic failure

In "Intergernerational Theft" Daniel Anthony Harrison utilizes an analytical data-driven methodology that quantifies Intergenerational Theft within the UK at 15 Trillion.

"Intergenerational Theft" concludes by suggesting radical solutions to the problem. To that end, it provides a definitive reference guide for young people to help re-frame the media narrative with the economic facts, refute the media & political agenda, recover what's been stolen from them, and to reclaim their futures.

Critique: A seminal and ground breaking UK study, "Intergenerational Theft" has an impressive relevance to American economic conditions with respect to generational inequalities and its impact on boomers, millennials, Gen Zs, and their children/grandchildren. While also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Intergenerational Theft" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, governmental, and college/university library Contemporary Economics collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Daniel Anthony Harrison is an accomplished market analyst, economist, writer, publisher, and author with over 15 years of experience in business intelligence and market analysis. (https://www.if.org.uk/author/danielharrison)


The Cookbook Shelf

MOBB Cookbook & Diet
Frankie 'Spice' Morelli & Sandra Frank
MOBB Publishing
https://ourmobb.com
9798989079612, $59.95, HC, 214pp

https://www.amazon.com/MOBB-Cookbook-Frankie-Spice-Morelli/dp/B0CRQYCVKQ

Synopsis: Get ready to up your cookbook game with the "MOBB Cookbook & Diet", a limited edition, giant hardback coffee table cookbook featuring breathtaking food photography.

Co-authored by Frankie "Spice" Morelli and Dr. Sandra Frank, this collectible is not your typical cookbook, especially when Dr. Frank brings her expertise to the table with calorie counts and serving sizes, so you can indulge in fantastic Italian cuisine without the guilt.

"MOBB Cookbook & Diet" unlocks the secrets of savory and healthy Italian cuisine so that not only will your taste buds be tantalized, but you body with be nourished with wholesome ingredients as you elevate your culinary game while taking care of your health with exciting new and exciting recipes.

Featuring stunning photos thorough out that will illustrate the very heart of Italian kitchens, "The MOBB Cookbook & Diet" is the ultimate guide to delicious and nutritious food with entertaining Mobb Stories and the unique Family History of Frankie "Spice" Morelli.

Critique: This large format (12 x 12 x 2 inches, 5 pounds) hardcover edition of "The MOBB Cookbook & Diet" is unreservedly recommended as a unique and prized addition to personal, professional, family, and community library cookbook collections. A pleasure to browse and inspiring to plan menus with, "The MOBB Cookbook & Diet" is truly extraordinary and certain to be proudly handed down from generation to generation.

Editorial Note: "MOBB Cookbook & Diet" is a cookbook that the author, Frankie 'Spice' Morelli, wrote while serving out a prison sentence.


The Parenting Shelf

Parent's Pocket Guide to Surviving the Preschool Years
Danielle R. Linder
Independently Published
9798399233253, $18.99, PB, 144pp

https://www.amazon.com/Parents-Pocket-Guide-Surviving-Preschool/dp/B0CTGKLNYX

Synopsis: The preschool years can be daunting for everyone -- but especially for parents! In fact, every year of raising a child will present a parent with new challenges and dilemmas that they never thought they would have to deal with. However, the joys of having a child who loves you, asks you to tuck them in at night, looks to you for comfort and security, and wants nothing more than to hold your hand make it all worth it.

"Parent's Pocket Guide to Surviving the Preschool Years: One Challenge at a Time" by Danielle R. Linder is meant to help you, as a parent, to successfully navigate some of the many hurdles that must be faced during those early years, both in school and out, when children are between two and five years old.

Some chapters will give you easy tips to incorporate into your daily routine and other chapters are simply stories about "real" kids and "real" parents, mean to inspire, coach, and hopefully add a little humor to parental responsibilities during a child's preschool years.

Critique: Of particular interest to new (and even experienced) parents of preschool age children with concerns over such issues as babysitting, day care, child care, and parenting issues. Exceptionally well written, impressively comprehensive, 'real world' practical, and throughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Parent's Pocket Guide to Surviving the Preschool Years: One Challenge at a Time" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, family, professional, and community library Parenting collections. It should be noted that "Parent's Pocket Guide to Surviving the Preschool Years: One Challenge at a Time" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Editorial Note: Danielle R. Lindner (https://daniellelindner.com) is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of London Day School Franchising, LLC. The first London Day School was created by Ms. Lindner who saw a need for an enriching, challenging and socially engaging program for young children.

Danielle Lindner is a member of the SCBWI (Society for Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) and a certified Early Educational and Elementary Teacher in the State of New Jersey. Always having a view to a career in education, Danielle gained an M.A.in Teaching and Elementary Education (Hons.), from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1997. She has worked as a teacher, trainer and educator for over 18 years in both public and private educational institutions.


The Biography Shelf

Unstoppable
Matthew Kenslow
River Birch Press
https://riverbirchpress.com
9781956365580, $22.99, PB, 384pp

https://www.amazon.com/Unstoppable-Matthew-Kenslow/dp/1956365583

Synopsis: Matthew Kenslow never gave Autism the prerogative to stop him from achieving what would bring him joy in life-spreading acceptance of others' disabilities and teaching classrooms of students. Notwithstanding, life has brought him a world of setbacks and stand-stills, causing him to put in extra effort to prove his competence and helping him learn how to go through things rather than around them.

"Unstoppable" will take you on a gripping story of how one man took on Autism head-on, persevering through discrimination in his own neighborhood, all the while not being given a full range of opportunities. Matthew tackled one of the most rigorous programs in California in order to obtain his teaching credentials. Currently a substitute teacher of NMUSD as he awaits landing a full-time teaching career, he has made an impact on thousands of students, often being called the "best sub".

Critique: An inherently interesting and ultimately inspiring memoir of one man's struggle to succeed in his chosen career despite the condition, difficulties, and challenges of being autistic, "Unstoppable" is an extraordinary life story and one that is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary Biography/Memoir collections. For the personal reading lists of those with an interest in the subject of autism, it should be noted that "Unstoppable" is also readily available from River Birch Press in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49).

Editorial Note: Matthew Kenslow has grown up with Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a result, life has been filled with adventure and struggle. Overcoming the effects of Autism, he became an author and is telling the world what it is like living with a disability, how people can be friends with others like him, and how everyone has a purpose despite having a disability. Matthew has appeared on television, radio, and podcasts around the world, being featured in Newsweek Magazine, Spectrum News, ABC7 Los Angeles, and many more. Over a million people follow his story on social media, as he motivates the world to embrace the unique talents they have. He believes that anybody can do what they set their heart and mind to do, disability or not. (https://the-art-of-autism.com/how-i-got-an-award-winning-book-about-autism-published-at-23)

Flourish In Captivity
Gloria Londono
https://glorialondono.co
Unbreakable Life Publishing
9798989603305, $22.99, HC, 140pp

https://www.amazon.com/Flourish-Captivity-Memoir-Survival-Forgiveness/dp/B0CZW3YQGK

Synopsis: At age 25, Gloria Londono's life skidded to a terrifying halt when she was kidnapped off the streets of Medellin, Colombia. Held ransom against her will, Gloria did what she needed to stay alive. The repercussions of her choices (and the choices of her family) changed the course of her life forever.

With the publication of "Flourish In Captivity: A Memoir of Survival, Forgiveness, and Hope", readers will follow the emotional and empowering true story of a young woman thrust into a horrific ordeal that forced her on a journey of self-discovery and forgiveness. Struggling from the scars of Stockholm Syndrome, depression, and family conflicts, Gloria found herself ensnared by the shadows of past trauma -- seeking love in toxic, narcissistic relationships, frozen in fear, and unable to move forward. Only when she faced her deepest fears could she move forward with gratitude.

A memoir of resilience and the power of the human spirit, "Flourish in Captivity" offers a lifeline to those seeking peace after trauma. Covering core issues around trauma recovery and post-traumatic stress disorder, Gloria advocates for a pathway to forgiveness and presents a blueprint for transformative growth through empathy and self-care. Gripping and honest, "Flourish in Captivity" guides the reader to break free of the chains of trauma and take empowering steps toward healing.

Critique: Extraordinary, candid, and ultimately inspiring, "Flourish In Captivity: A Memoir of Survival, Forgiveness, and Hope" will be of particular appeal to readers with an interest in survival memoirs, family/personal dysfunction, and abuse recovery. An inherently riveting read from start to finish, "Flourish in Captivity" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Contemporary Biography/Memoir collections. It should be noted that "Flourish in Captivity" from Unbreakable Life Publishing is also available in a paperback edition (9798989603336, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Gloria Londono (https://glorialondono.co) is a certified life coach and podcaster from Coaching World VIP, LLC, who leverages her healing journey from personal struggles to empower others. She also emphasizes reconciliation with family for personal and professional growth, and her diverse expertise includes Reiki, massage, and yoga. Her podcast, Unbreakable Life with Glory, offers insights into overcoming adversity.

Sweet Memories: Family, Friends, Chess and Sugar
J. Eugene Salomon & Diane S. Dahl
SFB Multimedia Publishers
9798988558309, $17.95, PB, 242pp

https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Memories-Family-Friends-Chess/dp/B0CCC1BD2Y

Synopsis: With the publication of "Sweet Memories: Family, Friends, Chess and Sugar ", readers are presented with the extraordinary life of J. Eugene Salomon, a man whose journey through three countries is as captivating as it is inspiring.

From the ravages of the Spanish Civil War, which left his once-wealthy family in ruins, to enduring the horror of German planes attacking the streets of his beloved Asturias, Salomon's early years forged in him an unyielding resilience and determination to succeed.

Now, after "94 years of coincidences", as he describes his life, in the pages of "Sweet Memories", Salomon continues to share his wealth of knowledge as a revered Chess Master and successful businessman, advising companies and shaping their futures. In this profound autobiography, Salomon unveils the secrets behind his remarkable achievements, while also revealing the immeasurable impact of love, family, and friendship on his life.

"Sweet Memories" is a true testament to the triumph of the human spirit and the enduring power of compassion and perseverance.

Critique: An inherently fascinating life story, "Sweet Memories: Family, Friends, Chess and Sugar" from SFB Multimedia Publishers is the extraordinary memoir of an extraordinary man who lives through extraordinary times. Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Sweet Memories" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary Biography/Memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sweet Memories" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: J. Eugene "Gene" Salomon was born in Spain in 1928 and is thrilled to be publishing this book in time for his 95th birthday.

Editorial Note #2: Diane S. Dahl is excited to make her literary debut as a published author with Sweet Memories. She grew up in Old Bridge, New Jersey, where she first met the Salomon family 45 years ago. She retired in 2021, but has recently "unretired" to teach struggling readers at the high school level. In her spare time.

Circle of Sawdust
Rob Mermin
Rootstock Publishing
https://www.rootstockpublishing.com
9781578691562, $19.99, PB, 340pp

https://www.amazon.com/Circle-Sawdust-Circus-Memoir-Mayhem/dp/1578691567

Synopsis: "Circle of Sawdust: A Circus Memoir of Mud, Myth, Mirth, Mayhem and Magic" by Rob Mermin is a uniquely personal story of the wild characters, fascinating personalities, remarkable histories, and behind-the-scenes world of traditional traveling circuses.

This is a true-life memoir about a boy's impulse to run off and join the circus and then-through doubt, failure, loss, and tragedy-pursue the implausible vision of starting his own circus! With humor and passion, founder of Circus Smirkus Rob Mermin writes about the precarious life of a creative artist, the ups and downs of taking risks, and the idealistic struggle to hold onto a dream.

Critique: Absolutely recommended reading for anyone who has ever dreamed of joining the circus, "Circle of Sawdust: A Circus Memoir of Mud, Myth, Mirth, Mayhem and Magic" is an inherently fascinating autobiography from start to finish. An extraordinary and riveting life story, "Circle of Sawdust" is a unique and enduringly popular pick for personal reading lists, as well as community and college/university library Contemporary American Biography/Memoir collections.

Editorial Note: Rob Mermin (https://robmermin.com) ran off to join the circus in 1969 and studied the art of mime with Marcel Marceau. An accomplished performer, entrepreneur, author, lecturer, playwright, and director, Rob founded the award-winning international touring company Circus Smirkus in Greensboro, Vermont.

Where Shadows Dance
Dana Killion
Amplify Publishing
https://amplifypublishinggroup.com
9781637556412, $24.95, HC, 280pp

https://www.amazon.com/Where-Shadows-Dance-Dana-Killion/dp/1637556411

Synopsis: He got sober. I got broken

It would be easy to say "Where the Shadows Dance" is Dana Killion's personal memoir about a marriage -- but marriage is simply the setting. There was so much more.

In her candidly presented life story, Dana Killion dives deep into what we do for love, what we do because of love, how love can break us, how love can save us, and how the most important love is the love we feel for ourselves because, without it, no other kind can ever be as rich.

A raw, vulnerable exploration of the damage that secrets and lies inflict, "Where the Shadows Dance" is a story for every woman who has set herself aside because someone else's needs seemed greater.

Critique: Honest, frank, absorbing, insightful, perceptive, and ultimately inspiring, "Where the Shadows Dance" is both intensely personal and universally resonant. Especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary Women's Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Where the Shadows Dance" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Dana Killion (www.danakillion.com) grew up in a small town in northern Wisconsin, reading Nancy Drew and dreaming of living surrounded by tall buildings. A career in the apparel industry satisfied her city living urge and Nancy Drew evolved into Cornwell, Grafton, and Evanovich.

One day, frustrated that her favorite authors weren't writing fast enough, an insane thought crossed her mind. "Maybe I could write a novel?" Silly, naive, downright ludicrous. But she did it. She plotted and planned and got 80,000 words on the page. That manuscript lives permanently in the back of a closet. But the writing bug had bitten.

Her first novel, Lies in High places, published in 2017 kicked off the mystery series. It was followed by The Last Lie (2018), Lies of Men (2019), Tell Me a Lie (2020), and The Liar's Code (2022) To date, the series has sold in 53 countries. Then in May of 2023, Dana will present her debut memoir, "Where the Shadows Dance:. A story born of a life in turmoil and her husband's addiction, a situation where the only way through was to write it.

Forces of Nature
Gina DeMillo Wagner
Running Wild Press
9781960018793, $19.99, PB, 316pp

https://www.amazon.com/Forces-Nature-Memoir-Family-Finding/dp/1960018795

Synopsis: Gina DeMillo Wagner's brother Alan had a rare genetic disorder that caused him to veer from loving to violent. When Alan died suddenly, Gina was pulled away from the safety of her adult life and thrust back into a family she has been estranged from for nearly ten years.

Here life story as laid out in "Forces of Nature: A Memoir of Family, Loss, and Finding Home" follows this rewinding of the past as Gina's caregiving journey and reckoning with complicated grief, plus Alan's Christmas-themed funeral, and an investigation into his cause of death.

It's a deeply personal story that asks universal questions: How much of ourselves should we sacrifice to those we love? And, what forces shape our sense of family and home?

Critique: Compelling, articulate, thoughtful and thought-provoking, Gina DeMillo Wagner's life story "Forces of Nature: A Memoir of Family, Loss, and Finding Home" from Running Wild Press is especially and unreservedly recommended for highschool and community library Contemporary YA American Biography/Memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Forces of Nature" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Gina DeMillo Wagner (www.ginadwagner.com) is a journalist and author. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Memoir Magazine, Modern Loss, Self, Outside, CRAFT Literary, and other publications. She is a winner of the CRAFT Creative Nonfiction Award, and her memoir was longlisted for the 2022 SFWP Literary Award.

Counterfeit Mother
Deborah Disesa Hirsch
Olympia Publishers
https://olympiapublishersusa.com
9781804393413, $12.99, PB, 200pp

https://www.amazon.com/Counterfeit-Mother-Deborah-Disesa-Hirsch/dp/180439341X

Synopsis: What do you do when you're desperate for a baby? True, it was Deborah Hirsch's own fault. She didn't start trying to have a child until she was in my early 40s.

Four failed IVFs, and two miscarriages later, Deborah knew she needed a donor. She found one and had a good pregnancy. But that's when the trouble started. That surrogate produced infant never felt like hers.

It turns out, Deborah was not alone in her feelings. Many women have trouble connecting with their donor- conceived children. Since they have no blood connection to them, it can be hard to feel like this child is really theirs.

Even as this beautiful child grew, and clearly saw Deborah as his mother, the feeling that she was not was overwhelming.

"Counterfeit Mother" is Deborah's personal journey to learn and accept that her surrogate produced Phillip is truly her son.

Critique: A unique memoir that is deeply personal and yet has a universal resonance, "Counterfeit Mother" is a thoughtful, candid, insightful, thought-producing read from start to finish and one that is especially commended for women who are having a child through a surrogate donor. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95), "Counterfeit Mother" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Contemporary Parenting Issues collections.

Editorial Note: Deborah Disesa Hirsch: "I probably embarrassed my son and my husband writing this book -- they're both very private. But it was a story I needed to tell, about my needing to use a donor to have my son. I've been published at healthday.com, Hearst Media Connecticut, the New York Times, US News and World Report, AP, and publications you've probably never heard of."


The General Fiction Shelf

Supplemental Needs
Virginia Isaacs Cover
Bold Story Press
https://www.boldstorypress.com
9781954805521, $16.99, PB, 358pp

https://www.amazon.com/Supplemental-Needs-Virginia-Isaacs-Cover/dp/1954805527

Synopsis: An expected phone call from her obstetrician turns the world of pregnant Rachel and her husband upside down. Thrilled at what they consider to be a miracle pregnancy, they learn that their unborn child has a genetic condition called Klinefelter syndrome, which can cause a range of developmental disabilities.

The doctor at the genetic counseling center advises them to terminate the pregnancy. They are frightened, confused, and heartbroken.

"Supplemental Needs" by author Virginia Isaac Cover is a compelling novel that traces the journey of Rachel and Dave Gold from their decision to continue the pregnancy, through the gradual process of accepting that their child has special needs and learning to plan for a life where some level of disability may always be a consideration.

Critique: Impressively original and exceptionally well written throughout, Virginia Cover's novel, "Supplemental Needs" from Bold Story Press will prove to be of specially appeal and value for readers with an interest in Jewish family life that, although a work of fiction, has a real life resonance from start to finish. A compelling read that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "Supplemental Needs" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Supplemental Needs" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Virginia Isaacs Cover (www.virginiacover.com) is a native of Minnesota and holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Michigan. She works with children and adults with developmental disabilities. In 2012, she published a widely read guidebook for those affected by X and Y chromosome variations, Living with Klinefelter Syndrome, Trisomy X, and 47, XYY.


The Historical Fiction Shelf

Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea
Rita Chang-Eppig
Bloomsbury Press
www.bloomsbury.com
9781639730377, $28.99, HC, 304pp

https://www.amazon.com/Deep-Sky-Red-Rita-Chang-Eppig/dp/1639730370

Synopsis: When Shek Yeung sees a Portuguese sailor slay her husband, a feared pirate, she knows she must act swiftly or die. Instead of mourning, Shek Yeung launches a new plan: immediately marrying her husband's second-in-command, and agreeing to bear him a son and heir, in order to retain power over her half of the fleet.

But as Shek Yeung vies for control over the army she knows she was born to lead, larger threats loom. The Chinese Emperor has charged a brutal, crafty nobleman with ridding the South China Seas of pirates, and the Europeans (tired of losing ships, men, and money to Shek Yeung's alliance) have new plans for the area.

Even worse, Shek Yeung's cutthroat retributions create problems all their own. As Shek Yeung navigates new motherhood and the crises of leadership, she must decide how long she is willing to fight, and at what price, or risk losing her fleet, her new family, and even her life.

A book of salt and grit, blood and sweat, "Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea" presents a portrait of a woman in a man's world who is able to lead with the courage and ruthlessness against all odds.

Critique: Of particular appeal to readers with an interest in historical pirate novels (only this time, Asian pirates in the South China Sea), "Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea" by Rita Chang-Eppig is a simply riveting read from start to finish. Raising an action-adventure novel to an impressively level of literary excellence, "Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted that "Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea" is also available in a paperback edition (9781639734085, $18.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Rita Chang-Eppig (https://rchetypes.com) received her MFA from NYU. Her stories have appeared in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Conjunctions, Clarkesworld, The Santa Monica Review, The Rumpus, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Best American Short Stories 2021 (selected by Jesmyn Ward), and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the Rona Jaffe Foundation/Vermont Studio Center, the Writers Grotto, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University.

Candlelight Bridge
Cara Lopez Lee
https://caralopezlee.com
Flowersong Press
9781963245073, $21.95, PB, 460pp

https://www.amazon.com/Candlelight-Bridge-Cara-Lopez-Lee/dp/1963245075

Synopsis: In 1910, twelve-year-old Candelaria Rivera and her family flee across the Chihuahuan Desert to America to escape the rising storm that is the Mexican Revolution.

Meanwhile, twenty-year-old Yan Chi Wong flees the Chinese Revolution and a shattering loss, is also bound for America, where he's nicknamed Yankee.

The two of them meet in El Paso, Texas, where they struggle to make a home in a world that does not want them, until a terrible desire threatens to destroy their lives.

"Candlelight Bridge" is not just story a romance. It is a tale of grudging partners struggling to survive the American Dream.

Critique: With the publication of "Candlelight Bridge" author Cara Lopez Lee has raised her novel to an impressive level of literary excellence. A deftly crafted, impressively original, and inherently interesting read from start to finish, "Candlelight Bridge" from Flowersong Press is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and college/university library Literary Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Cara Lopez Lee (https://caralopezlee.com) is the author of the memoir, "They Only Eat Their Husbands", and coauthor of "Unexpected Prisoner". Her writing has appeared in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Manifest-Station, and Rivet. She was an award-winning television journalist in Alaska. She's also a winner of The Moth StorySLAM and is featured in such storytelling shows as Stories from the Stage and Unheard L.


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Rock Creek
Kevin Flynn
Kilimanaro Press
https://kilimanjaro-press.com
9781662950179, $28.99, HC, 348pp

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rock-creek-kevin-flynn/1143830612

Synopsis: Emily Rose is a beautiful Capitol Hill staffer with a tragic past, rooted in the Holocaust, that she can never quite seem to escape. She's dumped and abandoned in Rock Creek Park, a lush urban wilderness with its own haunted history.

Shane Kinnock is a homicide detective at the lowest point of his life and career, still shell-shocked from the war and scarred by loss. He sees the prospect of redemption in the mystery of Emily's death, but he'll find that her story draws him close to insanity.

Race and intolerance, injustice and protest, publishing and politics, sex and ambition, gambling and government: Rock Creek brings to life a time and place that are so distant, yet still seem so close.

Part murder mystery, part political thriller, "Rock Creek" by novelist Kevin Flynn is an epic work of historical fiction set in Washington, D.C. It's the most important city in the world in 1952, but at its heart it's still a small Southern town deeply divided along race and class boundaries. With big themes, bigger characters, and enduring spirit, "Rock Creek" expertly weaves an evocative tale in small, ineffable moments, telling the story of what happens to those who try to cross D.C.'s dividing lines.

Critique: A simply riveting read from start to finish, "Rock Creek" is an especially recommended read for anyone with an interest in political fiction, historical murder mysteries, and deftly crafted suspense thrillers. While available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781662950186, $21.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.49), Kevin Flynn's novel, "Rock Creek" is unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Kevin Flynn (www.authorkevinflynn.com/#landing) prosecuted violent crimes in Washington, DC for the Department of Justice for more than thirty-five years, and he is the author of two books: Relentless Pursuit, his non-fiction account of a horrific murder case and its impact on two families, and the upcoming Rock Creek, a mystery thriller set in DC in 1952.Relentless Pursuit was acclaimed nationwide by multiple publications including the Washington Post and USA Today. Most notably, in 2008 Relentless Pursuit was nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for an Edgar Award in the category of true crime.

The Corpse in the Trash Room
Colette Tajemna
Archelaus
9781961852075, $17.95, PB, 230pp

https://www.amazon.com/Corpse-Trash-Room-Colette-Tajemna/dp/1961852071

Synopsis: In a college dorm in the late Seventies, seven hallmates hold a funeral for a pet hamster, only to stumble upon a body. Startled but not exactly sorrowful at finding their unpopular dorm preceptor slumped atop a garbage can in the trash room, Keith and his friends can't resist investigating, and set to questioning a quirky set of potential witnesses and suspects.

Could the killer be a fellow student? A member of the faculty or staff? The provost? Might it even be one of their friends? Keith and his pals must navigate college politics, unruly druggies, and lesbian separatists in order to uncover the truth.

Critique: Clever, original, and a fun read from start to finish, "The Corpse in the Trash Room" by author Colette Tajemna showcases her genuine flair as a novelist for the kind of narrative driven 'whodunnit' drama that keeps the reader's total attention from first page to last. While especially and unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery fans and community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted that "The Crorpse in the Trash Room" from Archelaus is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note: As an author, Colette Tajemna writes other kinds of books as Karla Huebner (https://www.karlahuebner.com).


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Stone of Fear
Margaret Izard
https://www.margaretizardauthor.com
Wild Rose Press
https://wildrosepress.com
9781509255375, $16.99, PB, 268pp

https://www.amazon.com/Stone-Fear-Stones-Margaret-Izard/dp/1509255370

Synopsis: Marie Murray, a spunky expert on spiritual buildings, jumps at the opportunity to renovate the chapel mosaic floor at Dunstaffnage Castle, where she falls hard for the dashing John MacArthur. From their first kiss, sparks fly.

Believing her religious renovation creates magic, a fanatical priest kidnaps Marie. Obsessed with obtaining a powerful magic Stone of Iona, he drags her to 15th-century Scotland. With his love kidnapped, John must tackle his hereditary duty and locate a magic Fae stone while chasing his love across time. Her memories of their passion keep her sane. His fuel his will to find her.

Will John get to Marie in time to save her soul?

Critique: Book 2 of the Stones of Iona series by novelist Margaret Izard, "Stone of Fear" is another deftly crafted and impressively original combination of fantasy and romance. A simply riveting read from beginning to end, and also available for dedicated fantasy fans in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), "Stone of Fear" will prove to be an immediately welcome and enduringly popular pick for personal and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Margaret Izard (www.margaretizardauthor.com) is an award-winning author of historical fantasy and paranormal romance novels. She spent her early years through college to adulthood dedicated to dance, theater, and performing. Over the years, she developed a love for great storytelling in different mediums. She does not waste a good story, be it movement, the spoken, or the written word. She discovered historical romance novels in middle school, which combined her desire for romance, drama, and fantasy. She writes exciting plot lines, steamy love scenes and always falls for a strong male with a soft heart.

Stone of Love
Margaret Izard
https://www.margaretizardauthor.com
Wild Rose Press
https://wildrosepress.com
9781509253364, $19.99, PB, 354pp

https://www.amazon.com/Stone-Love-Stones-Margaret-Izard/dp/150925336X

Synopsis: After leaving her abusive ex, American scholar Brielle DeVolt embarks on a career-changing opportunity, the renovation of Laird Colin MacDougall's Chapel ruin.

The attractive, broad-shouldered Laird leaves her weak-kneed, but can she trust herself to love again? Dusted in construction dirt, the curvy beauty in his study captivates Colin. As Brielle steps to the window, her brunette tresses halo in the sunlight, and he sees her as his dream soul mate. When he learns his hereditary duty is safeguarding magic Fae stones, all he wants is to protect Brielle from the evil forces of the Fae.

Traveling to the past to assume his forefather's identity and find a missing magic stone is challenging enough. When Brielle appears, an undeniable attraction to his ancestor ignites, causing her confused passion. Faced with fighting an evil Fae to save the realms, Colin must choose between saving the stone or saving his love.

Critique: Book 1 of author Margaret Izard's Stones of Iona series, "Stone of Love" is a deftly blended and original novel of fantasy and romance. A fun read from start to finish that is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99), "Stone of Love" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal and community library collections.

Editorial Note: Margaret Izard (www.margaretizardauthor.com) is an award-winning author of historical fantasy and paranormal romance novels. She spent her early years through college to adulthood dedicated to dance, theater, and performing. Over the years, she developed a love for great storytelling in different mediums. She does not waste a good story, be it movement, the spoken, or the written word. She discovered historical romance novels in middle school, which combined her desire for romance, drama, and fantasy. She writes exciting plot lines, steamy love scenes and always falls for a strong male with a soft heart.

The Monstrous Misses Mai
Van Hoang
47 North
c/o Amazon Publishing
9781662517846, $16.99, HC, 347pp

https://www.amazon.com/Monstrous-Misses-Mai-Novel/dp/166251784X

Synopsis: Los Angeles brims with opportunity in 1959 -- though not for aspiring fashion designer Cordelia Mai Yin, the first-generation child of Vietnamese immigrants. Cordi finds the city unkind to outsiders and as dispirited as her own family. But when Cordi rents a cheap loft in an old apartment building, she quickly warms to kindred souls Tessa, Audrey, and Silly. They also want better things and have pasts they'd rather forget. That they all share the same middle name makes their friendship seem like destiny.

As supportive as they are of each other, it's a struggle just to eke out a living, let alone hope to see their wishes for success come true. Until an ever-present and uncannily charming acquaintance of the landlord's offers a solution to their problems. He promises to fulfill their every dream. All it takes is a little magic. And a small sacrifice.

As one surprisingly effective spell leads to another, their wishes get bigger. But so does the price they must pay. Amid the damaged seams of her life so far, Cordi must realize her own power in order to rip free, without losing everything she's worked so hard to achieve.

Critique: A fascinating and impressively original novel by Van Hoang, "The Monstrous Misses Mai" will have a particular affinity for readers with an interest in deftly crafted stories of Dark Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, and Magical Realism. Certain to be an immediately popular pick for community library Contemporary Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans that "The Monstrous Misses Mai" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Van Hoang (www.authorvanhoang.com) earned her bachelor's in English at the University of New Mexico and her master's in library information science at San Jose State University. While she was born in Vietnam and grew up in Orange County, California, she currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, kid, and two dogs.


The Poetry Shelf

Brisk Verse
Garrison Keillor
Prairie Home Productions
https://www.garrisonkeillor.com
9798988281832, $21.95, PB, 239pp

https://www.amazon.com/Brisk-Verse-Garrison-Keillor/dp/B0D2RW96ZN

Synopsis: A collection of original invigorating verse, "Brisk Verse" by Garrison Keillor (legendary host of the radio program Prairie Home Companion) once again showcasing one of the finest literary talents of our time.

"Brisk Verse" is comprised of one hundred and thirty-two poems in all -- and cover an impressive diversity of topics including: Brevity, Thongs, Minnesota, Manners, Mozart, Marilyn Monroe, Failure, Fatherhood, Episcopalians, Plumbing, Spaghetti, Spring, Online Love, Eighty, and the National Anthem as it might've been written by Whitman, Dickinson, Eliot, Frost, and other poets.

Critique: Illustrated with quirky antique advertisements for tonics and gizmos, and featuring a foreword by the author, "Brisk Verse" from Prairie Home Productions is a 'must' for the legions of Garrison Keillor fans and is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Contemporary American Poetry collections.

Zaftig
Molly Raynor
Fifth Avenue Press
c/o Ann Arbor District Library
https://fifthave.aadl.org
9781956697278, $15.00, PB, 57pp

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zaftig-molly-raynor/1145307970

Synopsis: In her exceptional debut collection of poems, "Zaftig", Molly Raynor welcomes her readers to meet her ancestors, mothers, sisters, friends, and wild women as she deftly blends together memories of waxy-lipped kisses and potato peel dresses. Ghosts of the old country, lost loves, and the unborn haunt verses comprising "Zaftig".

Raynor's free verse poems are imbued with deep Judaic traditions and a sprinkle of Yiddish. They burst forth with sensuality, survival, and the push-pull of women's bodies as coveted flesh. Braiding together words like bread to lay on the table in honor of the beauty and the terror of living, this is a collection of poems that breathe new life into the familiar and the unanticipated.

Inspired by the past, but firmly planted in the present, "Zaftig" joyfully takes up space like the powerful women who fill Raynor's heart and words.

Critique: Visually enhanced with the inclusion of full page, full color illustrations and artwork, "Zaftig" is an inherently fascinating read from start to finish and this large format (7.50(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.16(d)) paperback edition from Fifth Avenue Press is a solid and unreservedly recommended high value pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Contemporary American Chapbook Poetry collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Molly Ranor (www.mollypershinraynor.com) a poet, educator, community builder, and momma to Malachi Moon. Her poetry has been featured on NPR and published in several literary magazines, including Vinyl, The Rumpus, Porkbelly Press, and Split Lip Magazine.


The Humor Shelf

We're Hip To Your Tricks
Daniel S. Goodman & John Robison
Independently Published
9798882975011, $6.99, PB, 74pp

https://www.amazon.com/Were-Your-Tricks-Daniel-Goodman/dp/B0CWRC6XJP

Synopsis: With the publication of "We're Hip To Your Tricks" we are treated to the humor of that dynamic duo, Daniel S. Goodman and John Robison as they expose in zany fashion
the daily trickery exhibited on Planet Earth. In so doing, their iconoclastic humor breaks every rule in the more erudite literary circles.

Critique: A slender paperback with each individual page having a single bit of humor in the form a question, a statement, or a brief ditty of a poem. There are a few pages with blank space for the reader's benefit such as the page headlined 'This page is reserved for sending messages to Aliens'. A fun and funny read (and with lots of material to inspire stand-up comics), "We're Hip To Your Tricks" is laugh-out-loud recommended for personal, community, and college/university library Contemporary Humor collections.


The Criminology Shelf

Chasing Shadows
Peter W. Ashooh
Dorrance Publishing Company
www.dorrancepublishing.com
9798889251170, $30.00, HC, 264pp

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/chasing-shadows-peter-w-ashooh/1144426688

Synopsis: "Chasing Shadows: Terrorists, Gangsters and Bankers and the Al Capone Method The FBI in a Post 9/11 World" is the firsthand account of retired FBI Special Agent Peter W. Ashooh and informs readers about the battles he and his colleagues endured during the reaction and outcome of the 9/11 tragedy. He also explains the changing demands FBI agents experienced in order to prevent the next terrorist attack. Ashooh shares the details of his investigations that identified the activities of the hijackers, up to the day of the attack on the Pentagon.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and descriptive memoir of an FBI agent in the war against terrorism, "Chasing Shadows: Terrorists, Gangsters and Bankers and the Al Capone Method The FBI in a Post 9/11 World" is a unique and extraordinarily informative account that will prove to be a welcome addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Contemporary American Memoir collections and supplemental Criminology/Terrorism curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Chasing Shadows: Terrorists, Gangsters and Bankers and the Al Capone Method The FBI in a Post 9/11 World" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.00).

Editorial Note: Peter W. Ashooh, a retired FBI Special Agent, first joined the FBI in 1979 after graduation from the College of William and Mary. He served as a firearms instructor, defensive tactics instructor, and tactical instructor for over twenty years. Ashooh acted as the undercover agent in more than twenty separate undercover operations. He trained in martial arts for over 50 years and achieved black belts in multiple styles, currently holding an eighth degree black belt in Isshin-Ryu style of Okinawa karate, weapons, and jujitsu. He currently teaches classes several evenings per week in Virginia, where he lives with his wife, Wini.


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