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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 21, Number 11 November 2022 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Money/Finance Shelf American History Shelf
International Studies Shelf Judicial Studies ShelfFolktale/Fairytale Shelf
General Fiction Shelf Romantic Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Graphic Novel Shelf Political Science Shelf
Business Shelf Music Shelf Biography Shelf
Self-Help Shelf    


Reviewer's Choice

Heat: A Tale of Love and Fear in a Climate-Changed World
Matthys Levy
Rsbpress LLC
9781937667276, $16.95, PB, 204pp

https://www.amazon.com/Heat-Tale-Love-Climate-Changed-World/dp/1937667278

Synopsis: In a retirement home on the fringe of Miami after decades of rising seas, the remaining residents struggle with the prospect of being relocated as a hurricane approaches. The world you know is under water - so where do you go?

"Heat" by novelist Matthys Levy follows an environmental scientist, an engineer, a former ballerina and her husband/manager, a couple obsessed by a comparison to the holocaust, a widow warning about the end of times, the owner of the home distraught by the consequences of his inescapable loss, and the nurse who looks to a future with a sense of cautious optimism.

All are forced to leave and seek new homes away from the excruciating heat and invading seas. As they move north, they encounter distrust, hardships and masses of refugees competing for the last habitable places on Earth. They also confront an administration unable to find a positive path to the new world resulting in a developing police state with government troops trying to control, often harshly, the movement of the refugees.

The characters are all transformed by their experience as some find love, some develop new bonds while others remain resigned to their fate. But all are changed through this voyage of self-discovery as seen from the perspective of an older generation that struggles to process this climate changed world.

Critique: "Heat" is a prophetic novel that takes for its inherently fascinating storyline a logical extension of what we are now seeing in terms of the dramatic impact of climate change and a warming Earth, the melting of glaciers and the rising of sea levels. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99), "Heat" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Disaster Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Matthys P. Levy (https://patents.justia.com/inventor/matthys-p-levy) is a co-author of Why Buildings Fall Down; Structural Design in Architecture; Why the Earth Quakes, Earthquakes, Volcanoes & Tsunamis; and Engineering the City. He is also the author of Why the Wind Blows: a History of Weather and Global Warming, published in 2007.He published his first novel, Building Eden in 2018. He is a founding director of the Salvadori Center, which teaches New York City youngsters mathematics and science through hands-on learning about the built environment.


The Money/Finance Shelf

Wall Street's Grand Deception
Norman Pappous
Contango Publishing
www.wallstreetsgranddeception.com
9798986615905, $19.99, PB, 110pp

https://www.amazon.com/Wall-Streets-Grand-Deception-Financial/dp/B0BF2Z1L2L

Synopsis: With the publication of "Wall Street's Grand Deception: Why Your Financial Advisor Might be Hazardous to Your Wealth and What You Can Do About It" by Norman D. Pappous, investors are provided with an insider's account of Wall Street's sleight of hand and their financial future.

We all dream of finding financial freedom in retirement -- but as non-professionals unsure of how to invest funds to make that happen. Hiring a financial advisor to steer investment money through the market's ups and downs seems like the smart choice. However, the scary reality is that Wall Street firms work to ensure that most investors have little understanding of how their financial advisor's advice affects their financial future.

"Wall Street's Grand Deception: Why Your Financial Advisor Might be Hazardous to Your Wealth and What You Can Do About It" will enable an investor to spot the differences between a skilled financial advisor who is working for you or one just skilled in sales and collecting fees.

Financial industry veteran Norman Pappous wants to pull back the curtain on how wealth management firms actually work. An insider's account of Wall Street's billion-dollar marketing-machine scams, "Wall Street's Grand Deception" is the perfect instruction guide for spotting high-quality portfolio advice and avoid falling for the fake narratives of Wall Street's marketing machine.

"Wall Street's Grand Deception" covers: How firms evaluate their financial advisors' performances, beginning with sales quotas; Provides examples of how Wall Street marketing deceives rather than informs, like distorting the results of famous academic studies; Why you shouldn't trust the portfolio performance reports generated by your financial advisor; Offers surprising secrets about financial advisor media rankings and search services; Explains why having your financial advisor act as a fiduciary does not actually eliminate conflicts of interest.

Until now, investors haven't been able to answer the question "Is my financial advisor's investment advice worth the fees?" -- Wall Street's Grand Deception" provides the knowledge and techniques to conclusively answer that question.

Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, expertly organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, "Wall Street's Grand Deception: Why Your Financial Advisor Might be Hazardous to Your Wealth and What You Can Do About It", while highly recommended for professional, community, and academic library Wealth Management and Stock Market Investing collections, it is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Retired financial markets professional Norman D. Pappous (https://muckrack.com/norman-d-pappous) was motivated to enter the wealth management industry by a personal tragedy. He discovered an industry that is opaque at the expense of its clients and began his mission to get accountability back into investors' hands. FinancialAdvisorCheck.com is his company that produces confidential portfolio performance reports for the clients of financial advisors but without the knowledge of the advisors.

Replace Your Income
Brian T. Boyd, Esq.
Authority Publishing
https://authoritypublishing.com/about
9798886360080, $19.99, PB, 150pp

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/replace-your-income-brian-t-boyd/1141961666?ean=9798886360080

Synopsis: Real estate serves us financially in so many ways. It can build generational wealth, contribute to financial independence, and provide a home to those who cannot afford to buy-or who choose not to. It can also be your legacy to others, in that you "left it better than you found it" and helped others along the way. Investing in real estate is good for you and those whom you serve.

"Replace Your Income: A Lawyer's Guide to Finding, Funding, and Managing Real Estate Investments" by Brian T. Boyd will help aspiring and beginner real estate rental investors to: Decide what type of real estate to invest in; Find rental properties worth owning; Calculate the potential return on their investment; Build the right team to help their business grow; Expand their portfolio quickly.

Having amassed a growing portfolio of 18 short-term and long-term rentals, Brian Boyd draws upon his years of experience and expertise to share what he has learned along the way. His goal is to help shortcut your path to real estate wealth and navigate the inevitable challenges that come with real estate investing.

Whether you are looking to earn some extra income through renting, are interested in the tax benefits that come with owning real estate, or want to work towards replacing the income from your day job, "Replace Your Income" will show you how!

Critique: Thoroughly comprehensive, exceptionally well written, expertly organized, and throughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, "Replace Your Income: A Lawyer's Guide to Finding, Funding, and Managing Real Estate Investments" is informative enhanced with the inclusion of a four page listing of Resources, and 'End Notes" -- one page listing of thematically appropriate and useful websites. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and community library Financial Investment/Management and Real Estate Marketing collections, it should be noted that "Replace Your Income: A Lawyer's Guide to Finding, Funding, and Managing Real Estate Investments" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: As a lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee, Brian Boyd (https://briantboyd.com) helps clients with real estate, construction, and business matters. It is with that knowledge that he and his wife, Dawn, have grown their portfolio to a six-figure income.


The American History Shelf

Heaven on the Hudson
Stephanie Azzarone, author
Robert F. Rodriguez, photographer
Empire State Editions
c/o Fordham University Press
45 Columbus Avenue, Rm 312, New York, NY 10023
www.fordhampress.com
9781531501006, $39.95, HC, 240pp

https://www.amazon.com/Heaven-Hudson-Mansions-Monuments-Riverside/dp/1531501001

Synopsis: To New York City outsiders or East Siders, Riverside Park and Riverside Drive may not have the star status of Fifth Avenue or Central Park West. But at the city's westernmost edge, there is a quiet and beauty like nowhere else in all of New York. There are miles of mansions and monuments, acres of flora, and a breadth of wildlife ranging from Peregrine falcons to goats. It's where the Gershwins and Babe Ruth once lived, William Randolph Hearst ensconced his paramour, and Amy Schumer owns a penthouse.

Told in the uniquely personal voice of longtime resident Stephanie Azzarone, "Heaven on the Hudson: Mansions, Monuments, and Marvels of Riverside Park" is the only New York City book that features the history, architecture, and personalities of this often overlooked neighborhood, from the eighteenth century through the present day.

Combining an extensively researched history of the area and its people with an engaging one-on-one guide to its sights, "Heaven on the Hudson" sheds new light on the initial development of Riverside Park and Riverside Drive, the challenges encountered (from massive boulders to "maniacs") and the reasons why Riverside Drive never became the "new Fifth Avenue" that promoters anticipated.

From grand "country seats" to squatter settlements to multi-million-dollar residences, "Heaven on the Hudson" follows the neighborhood's roller-coaster highs and lows over time. Readers will discover a trove of architectural and recreational highlights and hidden gems, including the Drive's only freestanding privately owned villa, a tomb that's not a tomb, and a sweet memorial to an eighteenth-century child.

Azzarone also tells the stories behind Riverside's notable and forgotten residents, including celebrities, murderers, a nineteenth-century female MD who launched the country's first anti-noise campaign, and an Irish merchant who caused a scandal by living with an Indian princess.

While much has been written about Central Park, little has focused exclusively on Riverside Drive and Riverside Park until now. "Heaven on the Hudson" is dedicated to sharing this West Side neighborhood's most special secrets, the ones that, without fail, bring both pleasure and peace in a city of more than 8 million.

Critique: An impressively scripted local history embellished with thematically relevant photography, "Heaven on the Hudson: Mansions, Monuments, and Marvels of Riverside Park" is an extraordinarily informative and inherently fascinating local history that would well served as a template for similar histories of other local urban communities. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Heaven on the Hudson: Mansions, Monuments, and Marvels of Riverside Park" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Architectural & Urban History collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note #1: Stephanie Azzarone (https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanieazzarone) is a native New Yorker who has lived on Riverside Drive most of her adult life. A former journalist (freelancer for the New York Times and New York magazine, among others), she also ran an award-winning Manhattan public relations agency. Currently, she is studying for her tour guide certification to share her knowledge of Upper West Side life along the Hudson River with natives and tourists alike.

Editorial Note #2: Robert F. Rodriguez (https://www.linkedin.com/in/robertfrodriguez) is a highly experienced visual journalist with extensive knowledge in photo and video editing, web research, social media, creating photo composites, producing video and photo galleries, web management, caption and headline writing and special projects.


The International Studies Shelf

Gorky, Russia; First man in
Donn G. Ziebell
Ziebell Associates, Incorporated
9780989474535, $14.95, PB, 168pp

https://www.amazon.com/Gorky-Russia-First-man-American/dp/0989474534

Synopsis: Russians needed internal visas to travel outside their place of residence. It was rare for foreigners to get such travel permission. After 30 years of corporate employment Donn G. Ziebell made an improbable career change.

His new boss and two VP's were blacklisted by the KGB and could not enter Russia. Ziebell was asked to write a business seminar proposal for Russia to see if he could open a door and get in. One of the three Russians who received the proposal got approval nine months later by Moscow's Ministry of Education and the KGB .

Surprisingly the seminars were designated to be held in Gorky, an exile city for political prisoners and closed to foreigners. The Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. and the officials in Moscow would not issue a travel visa to Gorky. So Ziebell took the chance to be driven 250 miles to Gorky without a visa.

The Russians in the city had never seen an American before. The seminar was attended by 60 top industrial personnel, including some suspected to be KGB. With the publication of "Gorky, Russia; First man in: Memoirs from being the first American allowed inside Russia's closed exile city", Ziebell describes seminar incidents which reveal the thinking and unexpected responses by the Russians. He was taken to meet with many different people and visited many sites during his stay.

This unique memoir is is comprised of memorable events and entertaining cross-cultural experiences. From his time inside Russia, readers follow the many twists, turns and surprises the author encountered which entertain and hold reader's attention. Gorky was not opened to foreigners until the year after all these events described in "Gorky, Russia; First man in" took place.

Critique: A simply fascinating, impressively informative, exceptionally well written, and thought-provoking read from cover to cover, "Gorky, Russia; First man in: Memoirs from being the first American allowed inside Russia's closed exile city" by Donn G. Ziebell (https://www.authorsden.com/donngziebell) is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, governmental, college and university library collections in general, and supplemental curriculum Russians Studies reading lists.


The Judicial Studies Shelf

Timothy B. Dyk: The Education of a Federal Judge
Timothy B. Dyk, author
Billk Davies, author
Anthem Press
https://anthempress.com
9781839982149, $125.00, HC, 252pp

https://www.amazon.com/Timothy-B-Dyk-Education-Federal/dp/1839982144

Synopsis: With the publication of "Timothy B. Dyk: The Education of a Federal Judge", Timothy Dyk lays out his life and judicial experiences in connection with some of the most significant times in modern American law, ranging from his time at the Warren Court, through a private career in First Amendment and other high profile practice, to his current role in the US Court of Appeals.

Based on his own account of his long career and supplemented with documentary evidence drawn from archives, media sources and scholarship, and with the assistance of Professor Bill Davies, "Timothy B. Dyk: The Education of a Federal Judge" not only details Dyk's experiences but also offers a significant contribution to our understanding of the seismic changes in US law since the 1960s.

Critique: Of special and particular value to readers with an interest in the judiciary, the federal legal system, and judicial biographies/histories, "Timothy B. Dyk: The Education of a Federal Judge" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Judicial Studies and American Biography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of law students, academia, attorneys, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Timothy B. Dyk: The Education of a Federal Judge" is also available in a paperback edition (9781839987236, $40.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $27.15).

Editorial Note #1: Timothy B. Dyk (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_B._Dyk) is the Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Editorial Note #2: Bill Davies (https://www.american.edu/spa/faculty/davies.cfm) is Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs, American University, Washington, DC.


The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf

The Anchored World: Flash Fairy Tales and Folklore
Jasmine Sawers
Rose Metal Press
https://rosemetalpress.com
9781941628270, $15.95, PB, 88pp

https://www.amazon.com/Anchored-World-Flash-Fairy-Folklore/dp/1941628273

Synopsis: A goat begins to grow inside a human heart. The rightful king is born a hard, smooth seashell. Supernovas burst across skin like ink in water. Heartbreak transforms maidens into witches, girls into goblins, mothers into monsters. Hunger drives lovers and daughters, soldiers and ghosts, to unhinge their jaws and swallow the world.

Drawing inspiration from a mixed heritage and from history ranging from the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen to the ancient legends of Thailand, from the suburbs of Buffalo, New York to the endless horizon of the American Midwest, in the pages of "The Anchored World: Flash Fairy Tales and Folklore", author Jasmine Sawers invents a hybrid folklore for liminal characters who live between the lines and within the creases of race and language, culture and gender, sexuality and ability.

Equal parts love letter to the old tales and indictment of their shortcomings, "The Anchored World" creates a new mythology reflecting the many faces and voices of the twenty-first century.

Critique: Original, fascinating, memorable, "The Anchored World: Flash Fairy Tales and Folklore" is a unique compendium of modern era folklore/fairytale stories by Jasmine Sawers, an author with a genuine flair for the kind of inventive, narrative driven, emersive storytelling style that will fully engage the reader from cover to cover. While highly recommended for community and academic library folklore and short story anthology collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Anchored World: Flash Fairy Tales and Folklore" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.95).

Editorial Note: Jasmine Sawers (https://www.jasminesawers.com) is a Kundiman fellow and Indiana University MFA alum whose work has appeared in such journals as Foglifter, AAWW's The Margins, SmokeLong Quarterly, and more. Her fiction has won the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest and the NANO Prize, and has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, and the Pushcart Prize. Sawers is proud to serve as an associate fiction editor for Fairy Tale Review. Originally from Buffalo, Sawers now teaches creative writing outside of St. Louis.


The General Fiction Shelf

How Far?: A Tale of Determination, DNA, and Drama
Bob Wilber
Outskirts Press, Inc.
www.outskirtspress.com
9781977250391, $29.95, PB, 568pp

https://www.amazon.com/How-Far-Tale-Determination-Drama/dp/1977250394

Synopsis: "How Far?" is the story of two disparate characters as told in their own distinct voices. One is a gifted baseball player from Southern California and the son of artist hippies. The other an undersized hockey player from Roseau, Minnesota, a hotbed of high school hockey in a state where hockey is king.

Roseau is a small community just south of the Canadian border and has produced numerous NHL and international hockey stars. Both characters progress through the challenges they face. Each come from vastly different upbringings. Both reach levels of greatness. And, thanks to one spontaneous moment, they met, became friends, and achieved their individual paths to the pinnacle of their sports.

"How Far? A Tale of Determination, DNA, and Drama" is a work of fiction that is brought to life by novelist Bob Wilber's storytelling technique and attention to detail. There is drama, heartbreak, elation, and more. Life lessons learned. Moments of brilliant brightness as well as the darkness of personal lows. There are also deep dives into the world of amateur and professional sports, down to the tiniest important details. This is a tale of life as told through the lens of two elite athletes playing different games while they impact each other's lives.

Critique: "How Far? A Tale of Determination, DNA, and Drama" showcases author Bob Wilber's genuine flair for originality, compelling dialogue, memorable characters, and a narrative driven storytelling style. One of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book is finished and set back upon the shelf, "How Far? A Tale of Determination, DNA, and Drama" is unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "How Far? A Tale of Determination, DNA, and Drama" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Bob Wilber (https://bobwilber.net) grew up aspiring to follow in his father's baseball footsteps, and while he was able to secure a full college scholarship and later spend parts of six years in professional ball, as a player, coach, and scout, his mother's writing, communications, and public relations skills were what eventually defined his career. His first published book was his autobiography, "Bats, Balls, & Burnouts".

What We Never Say
Paulette Stout, author
Media Goddess Inc.
https://mediagoddessinc.com
9781736637159, $18.99, PB, 394pp

https://www.amazon.com/What-Never-Say-Bold-Journeys/dp/1736637150

Synopsis: After a lifetime of lacking confidence at work and in life, Rebecca has finally found her voice. Her blog for women is gaining traction, even getting noticed by the world's top fashion magazine. When they request an article, Rebecca is beyond thrilled. So why is her boyfriend Kyle so concerned?

Kyle has a blank spot in his past he won't share-not even with Rebecca. But his secret is blown when a powerful woman from Kyle's fashion past, becomes desperate to get his attention. It's attention he never wanted and has been trying to forget for eleven years.

As Kyle takes steps to heal, Rebecca's article becomes a global sensation. Events force Kyle's past and present to converge, putting Rebecca's future at serious risk.

Kyle and Rebecca must now act to reclaim their lives before it's too late.

Critique: Having a special appeal to readers with an interest in family/women's fiction, "What We Never Say" is a deftly crafted, deeply engaging, and memorably compulsive page turner of a novel that is part of author Paulette Stout's new series 'Bold Journeys". While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99), "What We Never Say" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Paulette Stout (www.paulettestout.com) is a author of women's fiction who tackles taboo topics too long ignored. She is also the author of "Love, Only Better". Paulette is the gold-star wordsmith and owner of her content marketing agency, Media Goddess Inc., where she crafts content for her list of global clients. Prior to MGI, Paulette led content and design teams at several tech companies, and one educational publisher where her elimination of the Oxford comma caused a near riot.


The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Never Meant to Meet You
Alli Frank
Montlake
9781542034104, $12.95, PB, 319pp

https://www.amazon.com/Never-Meant-Meet-You-Novel/dp/1542034108

Synopsis: Self-appointed fixer of other people's woes Marjette Lewis is uncharacteristically determined to keep to her side of the driveway when it comes to her flawless neighbor Noa Abrams. Professionally, Marjette has her hands full as she prepares for a new class of kindergarteners and her first year of teaching without her best friend, Judy, as campus "Black-up." And at home, her son's budding manhood challenges her expectations, and her vexing ex-husband continues to be a thorn in her side.

But when tragedy strikes Marjette's street, and an unexpected child shows up on the first day of school with an uncle who has all the class moms aflutter, Marjette is forced to contend with both her neighbor and her own heartache over losing the life she once thought was guaranteed. Through laughter, tears, and the gift of found family, Marjette and Noa navigate the rituals of loss together and discover the strength to remake their lives -- whether they meant to or not.

Critique: A carefully crafted and decidedly entertaining novel that is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Romance and Domestic Family Life fiction collections, "Never Meant to Meet You" by the team of authors Alli Frank and Asha Youmans is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713668664, $14.95, MP3-CD).

Editorial Note #1: Asha Youmans received a degree from the University of California, Berkeley and settled in Seattle, Washington where she taught in public and private schools for nearly 20 years. "Never Meant To Meet You" is her first book.

Editorial Notes #2: Alli Frank has worked in education for over 20 years in San Francisco and Seattle. She has been a teacher, curriculum leader, coach, college counselor, assistant head, private school co-founder, sometimes pastor, often mayor, and de facto parent therapist. A graduate of Cornell and Stanford Universities, when she needs good food (because she can't really cook) she turns to her co-author Asha Youmans.

Orchid Blooming
Carol Van Hende
Azine Press
https://carolvandenhende.com
9781958223031, $29.95, HC, 248pp

https://www.amazon.com/Orchid-Blooming-Carol-Van-Hende/dp/1958223034

Synopsis: Kind and generous, twenty-seven-year-old Orchid Paige will never forget that day. Living as best she can after witnessing her parents' fatal accident, the beauty industry marketer yearns to win a promotion to China to connect to her mom's ancestry. But with competition fierce, she despairs she'll never make the grade -- until she meets an encouraging man who makes her feel safe despite her usual distrust.

After Orchid convinces the handsome entrepreneur to let her gain experience at his nonprofit project, she's determined to keep their relationship professional and ignore their powerful attraction. But when working on his military ad campaign for veterans triggers her own unresolved PTSD, she fears her confident mentor may be too good to be true even if she could trust him with her heart.

A childhood tragedy followed her into adult life. Will she ever claim real happiness again? Can she conquer her vulnerabilities before she loses her chance at forever?

Critique: A literary masterpiece of contemporary romance fiction, "Orchid Blooms" once again demonstrates and documents author Carol Van Den Hende's genuine flair for originality, the creation of memorable characters, and the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that is as elegant as it is engaging. A fun read from cover to cover and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists of those with an interest in mulitcultural romances and romance novels with a disability element that "Orchid Blooms" is also available in a paperback edition (9781958223017, $18.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Carol Van Den Hende's novels "Orchid Blooming" and "Goodbye, Orchid" have been awarded more than 20 times, winning the 2020 American Fiction Award for urban fiction, 2020 Pinnacle Achievement Award for multicultural fiction, IAN Outstanding Fiction for Best New Novel, Best Book Finalist, Royal Dragonfly Award, Audiobook Reviewer Author of the Year. Plus, "Goodbye, Orchid" has been named one of the most anticipated fall reads by Buzzfeed, Parade, and Travel+Leisure, one of The Write Review's Top Books of 2020 and has been featured in Glamour, Bookstr, Frolic, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, DIYMFA, WABC Radio among others. The Pulpwood Queens selected Goodbye Orchid as a 2022 Bonus Book-of-the-Month.


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Human Factors
Professor Paul Griffiths
Independently Published
9798766673040, $11.20, PB, 362pp

https://www.amazon.com/Human-Factors-Prof-Paul-Griffiths/dp/B09MCC1WGL

Synopsis: A retired doctor lies exsanguinated (drained of blood) in his own home. The relatives and neighbors talk of suicide, but Inspector Bill Painter has doubts. When further cases appear, Painter's worst fears are confirmed.

Will he be able to work out what lies behind this conspiracy before the medical profession is decimated? Painter is an old-school policeman with a love of jazz and a belief in old-fashioned police procedure. Modern crime, as well as modern life, challenge him to the limits as he untangles a complex web of intrigue. This very contemporary and extraordinary crime takes him into a world of revenge, remorse and public liability like no other.

Critique: A deftly crafted and compelling read that will simply fascinate crime thriller fans, "Human Factors" is the latest addition to novelist Paul Griffiths 'Inspector Bill Painter Mystery Series'. Showcasing Professor Griffith's genuine flair for originality and his background in medicine, "Human Factors" 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 buffs that "Human Factors" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.13).

Editorial Note: Paul Griffiths, Emeritus Professor at University College London, studied medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London and at the University of Birmingham in Alabama, USA. In his fourth novel featuring Inspector Bill Painter, Professor Griffiths' expertise in blood borne viruses weaves authentic medical information into the lives of fictitious characters to provide us with a highly topical factional thriller.


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

TimeLock
Howard Berk, author
Peter Berk, author
Ingram Elliot Publishing
http://www.ingramelliott.com
9781952961076, $15.31 (Amazon), PB, 240pp

https://www.amazon.com/TimeLock-Howard-Berk/dp/1952961076

Synopsis: With crime rampant in the near future, the President authorizes a controversial program: TimeLock, a cellular acceleration process that instantly ages prisoners the total number of years of their sentence. In other words-three strikes and you're old . . . very old.

Despite ongoing public outcries, two years later the program is up and running and crime is already on the decline. But what happens if you're innocent?

Falsely convicted of murder, 23-year-old Morgan Eberly is sentenced to be aged 40 years in a TimeLock capsule. When a riot interrupts his processing, Morgan (now 43 years old) manages to escape.

With powerful forces on his trail, Morgan enlists the help of Janine Price, the FBI agent who arrested him. Together, they investigate the murders of ex-prisoners who were transformed by TimeLock and soon discover why Morgan is certain to be next. Can Morgan and Janine unlock the truth about TimeLock before it's too late?

Critique: A deftly crafted dystopian style science fiction suspense thriller of a novel, "TimeLock" by the team of Howard and Peter Berk is a compulsive page turner of a read from cover to cover and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction, action adventure, and suspense/thriller fans that "TimeLock" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

Editorial Note: Peter Berk and his father, Howard Berk, shared more than DNA -- they shared a love of film and television and a talent for writing. Indeed, Howard was an award-winning film and TV writer and book author whose credits included such classic series as Columbo, Mission: Impossible, and The Rockford Files.

Our Lady of the Artilects
Andrew Gillsmith
Independently Published
9798837333972, $24.99, HC, 413pp

https://www.amazon.com/Our-Lady-Artilects-Andrew-Gillsmith/dp/B0B7J78R8F

Synopsis: World leaders are already on edge as Artilects (next generation androids) begin reporting a strange apocalyptic vision that only they can see.

But when an Artilect belonging to the wealthiest man in Africa shows up at the Basilica of Our Lady of Nigeria claiming to be possessed, the stakes are raised. The Vatican sends Fr. Gabriel Serafian, an exorcist and former neuroscientist, to investigate. Serafian quickly finds himself swept up in a conspiracy of global and possibly supernatural dimensions.

The timing couldn't be worse. Rome is on the verge of reconciliation with the Chinese Economic Interest Zone after a 50 year cold war, and the Chinese are particularly sensitive about the so-called Apparition.

To discover the truth and save not only humanity but the artilects themselves, Serafian enlists the aid of a tough-as-nails Imperial Praetor named Namono Mbambu.

Critique: Showcasing author Andrew Gillsmith genuine and impressive flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling based style that makes for a compulsive page turner of a read, "Our Lady of the Artilects" is a fully engaging novel that will appeal to readers with an interest in the paranormal/metaphysical and the deftly blending of fantasy and science fiction. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Our Lady of the Artilects" is also available in a paperback edition (979-8819594711, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: Andrew Gillsmith (https://www.sfwa.org/featured-author/andrew-gillsmith) is a science fiction writer who grew up in the Golden Age of Cyberpunk.

The Definition of Luck: Or The Post-Modern Prometheus
Steven Paul Leiva
Magpie Press
9781735298542, $15.99, PB, 316pp

https://www.amazon.com/Definition-Luck-Post-Modern-Prometheus/dp/1735298549

Synopsis: Khadambi Kinyanjui is a 6-foot-five-Kenyan who grew up in London and is from a wealthy family. Joe Smith, quite a bit shorter, is a red-headed orphan who grew up with his Aunt Liz in a hole in the California desert. Both are brilliant scientists. One is a neurobiologist, the other an astronomer, who first meet in 2049 under the Tommy Trojan statue at the University of Southern California. They become the best of friends but a very odd couple. And yet, their brotherhood is more robust than most actual brothers.

Then tragedy strikes the pair. Death is near for one of them. What can fend it off? Can the mind, the self, be uploaded to some digital realm? Can one become more than a human and far less than an animal? Or will the fix be something unexpected and mysterious? Can this human survive? Can humanity? Can friendship?

Critique: Having a special appeal to readers with an interest in philosophy and science fiction, "The Definition of Luck: Or The Post-Modern Prometheus" showcases author Steven Paul Leiva's genuine and impressive flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling that fully engages the read from beginning to end. Thoughtful, thought-provoking, original and entertaining, "The Definition of Luck: Or The Post-Modern Prometheus" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Definition of Luck: Or The Post-Modern Prometheus" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Steven Paul Leiva (https://emotionalrationalist.blogspot.com) is the author of ten critically acclaimed novels and has received the Scribe Award from the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.


The Graphic Novel Shelf

Washington White
Adam Griffiths
Secret Acres
www.secretacres.com
http://www.adamgriffiths.ink
9781734485691, $24.95, PB, 244pp

https://www.amazon.com/Washington-White-Adam-Griffiths/dp/1734485698

Synopsis: Adam Griffith's graphic novel, "Washington White", is a spy thriller set in a future Washington, D.C. and incorporates the true story of Adam Griffiths' grandmother, Peggy Griffiths, a lawyer for the U.S. Civil Service Commission's Appeals Review Board, best known for winning a landmark bias lawsuit against the federal government in 1977 for wrongfully being denied a promotion.

"Washington White" is the story of bureaucrat Peggy Fables who is denied promotion by the President who plans to install a supporter of the government's mind-control drug program. The representation of institutionalized racism experienced by his grandmother is, to Adam Griffiths, the most important part of this work.

Critique: Published in a coffee-table style paperback volume (10.94 x 0.63 x 8.5 inches, 1.81 pounds), "Washington White" will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in LGBTQ+, Historical, Biographical, and Literary Fiction in a graphic novel format -- making it highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library graphic novel collections for an adult readership.

Editorial Note: Adam Griffiths (https://papercutszines.com/adam-griffiths) is a cartoonist, illustrator, animator, photographer, video artist and curator. His art centers on the various symbolisms and mutabilities of historical imperialism and the class system, posing conceptual riddles about the structure of society. Griffiths is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art and has studied at the Center for Cartooning Studies and the Sequential Art Workshop. His work has been exhibited at the Flashpoint Gallery, the Fridge, Hillyer Art Space, International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP), Pleasant Plains Workshop, Rhizome DC, School 33, Washington Project for the Arts (WPA).


The Political Science Shelf

The Envoy
Gordon Sondland
Bombardier Books
c/o Post Hill Press
https://posthillpress.com/bombardier-books
9781637585283, $28.99, HC, 272pp

https://www.amazon.com/Envoy-Mastering-Diplomacy-Trump-World/dp/1637585284

Synopsis: Gordon Sondland (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Sondland) served as the US ambassador to the European Union as a political appointee of President Trump; and appeared as a pivotal witness in Trump's impeachment trial.

With regard to his having served in the Trump administration which was to corrupt so many who previously had sterling reputations, Republicans and Democrats, business associates, strangers, and even close friends still ask him: How did he survive Trump? How did he handle being grilled by the Senate intelligence committee? How did he come out of the situation intact, able to move on?

These are just a few of the questions Sondland answers with the publication of "The Envoy: Mastering the Art of Diplomacy with Trump and the World" -- a surprising and endlessly amusing account of inflated egos, botched phone calls, bad behavior, and international jujitsu.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and informative contribution to the growing exposes of Donald Trump and his administration, "The Envoy: Mastering the Art of Diplomacy with Trump and the World" a behind-the-scenes look at Trump, his cabinet, and an international diplomacy by someone with no scores to settle, no hidden agenda, no check to cash. "The Envoy" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Political Science/Biography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Envoy" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Gordon Sondland is the founder and CEO of Provenance Hotels, which currently owns or operates nineteen full-service boutique "lifestyle" hotels that have received industry awards and critical acclaim from national and international publications. In 2018, President Trump asked Sondland to serve as the 20th United States Ambassador to the European Union. As one of the highest-ranking US officials in Europe, Sondland's portfolio included trade, energy, national security, defense agriculture, and several other files.


The Business Shelf

The Soul of the Deal
Marc H. Morgenstern
Rodin Books
https://www.rodinbooks.com
9781957588087, $28.99, HC, 256pp

https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Deal-Creative-Frameworks-Investing/dp/195758808X

Synopsis: His music-fueled philosophy that people (not spreadsheets) are the epicenter of every business interaction took Marc Morgenstern from Silicon Valley to Shanghai as principal, advisor, or counsel, as well as to the Board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Tangible takeaways (presented as "Morgenstern's Maxims") punctuate every chapter of "The Soul of the Deal: Creative Frameworks for Buying, Selling, and Investing in any Business" and are woven into vivid stories that make this as much thriller as it is a business book.

"The Soul of the Deal" is an entertaining and accessible book that addresses the unchanging human, emotional, and tactical aspects of negotiating; stressing humor, real-time spontaneity and flexibility, empathy, and engaged listening as pathways to expanded negotiating and operating success.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Soul of the Deal: Creative Frameworks for Buying, Selling, and Investing in any Business" is an inherently interesting, 'real world' insightful, thoughtful and thought provoking read from cover to cover. While unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, corporate, and academic library Venture Capital, Business Negotiation, Sales/Selling, Business Management collections, it should be noted for MBA students, academia, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Sould of the Deal" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Marc H. Morgenstern (https://www.bluemesapartners.com/bio) has taught Street Smart Startups at UC Berkeley. He's a veteran dealmaker and entrepreneur with billions of dollars of buying, selling, and financing innovative and disruptive businesses from Day One of OfficeMax to Co-Founding digital healthcare software company Within3. Marc is the Managing Partner and Founder of early-stage investor Blue Mesa Partners, as well as Mentor-at-Large for The House Fund at UC Berkeley and its portfolio companies.


The Music Shelf

Glory Guitars
Gogo Germaine
University of Hell Press
https://university-of-hell-press.myshopify.com
www.blackstoneaudio.com
9781938753459, $19.95, PB, 298pp

https://www.amazon.com/Glory-Guitars-Memoir-Teenage-Grrrl/dp/1938753453

Synopsis: A unique form of music ensconced in the black hole between childhood and adulthood, a glorious degenerate-grade freedom endures, a rebellion from respectability, an anathema to normalcy, Punk Rock is the type of defiance that's hopeful -- hurt by the world but looking to reconcile it. Enter Gogo Germaine and her girl gang of delinquents.

As manic teens in the '90s punk scene, they engage in a vivid spectrum of misbehavior -- from truancy to tattoos to trespassing. Here, in the underbelly of adolescence, music is God and the rest is a rush of nihilism. "Glory Guitars: Memoir of a '90s Teenage Punk Rock Grrrl" is the story of Gogo and her friends as they stumble through sound and fury into questionable firsts at varying degrees of sobriety.

Many of us blunder through that black hole. It is a point of universal convergence, manifested by divergent experiences. Gogo's rebellion may look different from yours, but the soaring highs and visceral lows will be familiar.

Critique: Having a very special appeal to readers with an interest in Punk Rock history and performers, "Glory Guitars: Memoir of a '90s Teenage Punk Rock Grrrl" is highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library American Music History collections. It should be noted for the legions of Punk Rock fans that "Glory Guitars: Memoir of a '90s Teenage Punk Rock Grrrl" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212257572, $36.95, CD).


The Biography Shelf

White Flag
Judy L. Mandel
Legacy Book Press
https://legacybookpress.com
9781737592631, $14.99, PB, 284pp

https://www.amazon.com/White-Flag-Judy-L-Mandel/dp/1737592630

Synopsis: Cheryl said many times that "I'm done with that life, I'll never go back to it." But she did. When her Aunt Judy finds her in jail after two years of thinking she may be dead, she hopes and prays this is a second chance for her niece. Her sensitive, funny, bookworm niece. Her big sister's eldest daughter, the sister who has since died.

And through writing "White Flag", author Judy L. Mandel finds that it didn't start with Cheryl, but that the tentacles of trauma explored in her first book "Replacement Child" have grabbed hold of her niece too. She struggles with being powerless to help Cheryl, and she discovers that transgenerational trauma and epigenetics may have started this avalanche of pain. She wonders why some people can recover from addiction, and others cannot. Why some are able to raise their white flag of surrender.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "White Flag" will have a special affinity for readers with an interest in memoirs and biographies of those who have had to deal with being members of (and recovering from) dysfunctional families. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Memoir/Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "White Flag" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Judy Mandel (https://www.asja.org/member/judy-mandel) began as a reporter. She later worked in public relations and advertising and somehow found herself in corporate communications at various insurance companies, where she earned a living for 20 years. Her first memoir, "Replacement Child", grew out of early essays and the promise she made to her family to tell the story.


The Self-Help Shelf

Jane's Jam: Inspiration to Create Your Super Awesome Life
Jane Enright
She Writes Press
www.shewritespress.com
9781647422813, $14.95, PB, 256pp

https://www.amazon.com/Janes-Jam-Inspiration-Create-Awesome/dp/1647422817

Synopsis: Life puts us all through change; some might even say life is change. In the blink of an eye, the unexpected can happen. Your life can suddenly be toast -- butter side down, full of icky stuff you don't want anywhere near you. Conversely, you can also land butter side up, with wonderful opportunities you never could have imagined.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder to all of us that change can change its mind anytime. Now more than ever, it is important to keep perspective and remember that our life is what we create.

Positive thoughts have a good effect on us. They can support us to become happier, heathier, and add value to our entire lives -- especially during times of great uncertainty. Maintaining a positive mindset can attract more brightness into your life, so you can successfully navigate those curveballs out of left field and move forward, not backward, while life plays out.

"Jane's Jam: Inspiration to Create Your Super Awesome Life" by Jane Enright is not a compendium of self-help jargon; rather it is 'edutainment' for the soul, offering powerful, uniquely inspiring, and humorous OMG-playbook approach to overcoming adversity and living your best life, looking on the bright side, bouncing back from the unthinkable, and intentionally create a super awesome life -- no matter what the situation.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Jane's Jam: Inspiration to Create Your Super Awesome Life" by Jane Enright offers exceptional insight, motivating illustrations, and a 'real world effective' DIY instruction guide for dealing with unexpected adversity of any and all kinds. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49), "Jane's Jame" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.

Editorial Note: An inspiring and humorous thought leader, author, and speaker, Canada-based Jane Enright (www.janeenrightauthor.com) is a former kindergarten teacher, strategic planner, and university lecturer, as well as the founder of My Super Awesome Life Inc. Jane can be found on LinkedIn and Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest and www.mysuperawesomelife.com.

The Happy Clam
Rosemary A. Schmidt
Gainline Press
www.gainline.com
9780970852823, $14.95, PB, 240pp

https://www.amazon.com/Happy-Clam-Rosemary-Schmidt/dp/0970852827

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Happy Clam" author Roseemary Schmidt picks up where her last book left off. If "Go Forward, Support!" was all about staying a child as long as possible, then "The Happy Clam" is all about being an adult.

Started many years ago and finished in 2020, with the world on the brink of a global pandemic, the message of "The Happy Clam" is one of hope and happiness -- perhaps needed now more so than ever before.

"The Happy Clam" scales the realms of happiness (physical, intellectual, emotional, relational, spiritual) bringing together findings from across the fields of psychology and philosophy, with practical advice on how to apply them and be happier.

It turns out there are a thousand little things we can do to invite a little more happiness into our lives, to nudge the needle a tick or two, but only a few things that really make a difference.

Why "The Happy Clam" as a title? Just as clams are filter feeders, taking in nourishment from what's in the passing current, Rose has taken in all the bits and bytes of daily news, research, and experience, and stitched them together to create a delicately crafted mosaic rich in hope and inspiration. "The Happy Clam" also shares deeply personal experiences, with both humor and gravity in the face of loss, along with serving up some favorite family recipes.

Critique: More than just another motivational self-help oriented memoir, "The Happy Clam" is particularly inspirational with real life illustrations, observations, and insights that reads with the storytelling style of a memorable novels. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), "The Happy Clam" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Biography/Memoir/Self-Help collections.

Editorial Note: Rosemary Schmidt is a writer, sometimes poet, philosopher, publisher, blogger, and retired rugby player. Rose first started writing a weekly column while in her senior year at the University of Dayton when the editorial staff of the Flyer News took a chance on her. Rose's first book (Go Forward, Support! Rugby and the Meaning of Life) was a philosophical contemplation of how the lessons of rugby apply equally well to life, and was published in 2003. Rose picked up the pen again in 2014 when she started her blog (Rosebuds Blog), covering the range of human experience, from art and music to science and psychology.


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


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