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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 21, Number 10 October 2022 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Money/Finance Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Biography Shelf General Fiction ShelfHistorical Fiction Shelf
Romantic Fiction Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Poetry Shelf
Gardening Shelf Photography Shelf  


Reviewer's Choice

My Mother Would Hate This Book
Marcia Seligson
Amarna Books & Media
https://www.amarnabooksandmedia.com
9798985967418, $27.95, HC, 236pp

https://www.amazon.com/Mother-Would-Hate-This-Book/dp/B0B8R42NY5

Synopsis: In the words of the author: "My new book is called 'My Mother Would Hate This Book'. And she probably would because it's pretty wild. It's about the adventurous journey that's been my life, from chasing Mother Teresa around India, to trotting around with lions in Kenya, to camping in Big Sur with John Denver, to watching for UFOS with Steven Spielberg in the California desert... all the escapades I've had while being a journalist, like seeking out shamans in Peru."

Critique: An interesting life lived out in interesting places during interesting times, "Marcia Seligson's memoir, "My Mother Would Hate This Book", is comprised of a series of her inherently interesting life stories that are replete with wit and wisdom, fun and thought-provoking, memorable people and memorable events. Life as a wild adventure is the theme of this intensely personal life story. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "My Mother Would Hate This Book" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Biography & Memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of readers with an interest in Broadway theatre and Jewish biographies, that "My Mother Would Hate This Book" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798985967401, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Marcia Seligson is a journalist, adventurer (nine African safaris), author of eight published books and a zillion magazine articles. Her first book, The Eternal Bliss Machine, America's Way of Wedding was a best-seller. With a lifelong passion for musical theatre, she created Reprise: Broadway's Best, and was the Producing Artistic Director for over forty events in LA. She co-produced two plays on and off-Broadway and co-founded the Foundation of New American Musicals. She has a dedicated website at https://www.marciaseligson.com


The Money/Finance Shelf

What Your Doctor Wants You to Know to Crush Medical Debt
Virgie Bright Ellington, MD
Independently Published
www.crushmedicaldebt.com
9798985300123, $29.99, HC, 128pp

https://www.amazon.com/What-Doctor-Wants-Crush-Medical/dp/B09WQ62QW2

Synopsis: The central messiage of "What Your Doctor Wants You to Know to Crush Medical Debt: A Health System Insider's 3 Steps to Protect Yourself from America's #1 Cause of Bankruptcy" by Dr. Virgie Ellington is that no matter how much you owe, there's a better way to get rid of your medical debt beyond bankruptcy.

When Dr. Virgie Bright Ellington became a cancer patient, she faced insurmountable medical bills. That's when she took her insider industry knowledge and put it to work. With the publication of "What Your Doctor Wants You to Know to Crush Medical Debt", she shares her secrets to help individuals, families, and veterans protect against America's number one cause of bankruptcy -- medical debt.

Filled from cover to cover with practical and step-by-step strategies, this is an instructive guide that provides the tools you need to stop spending money you don't owe and save yourself from becoming a victim of a predatory healthcare system.

You will learn: How to get rid of your medical debt and hospital bills in three simple steps -- and without going bankrupt; Definitions to help you catch common CPT code and medical bill mistakes; How to effectively communicate with your provider to fix mistakes in your bills or coverage, including COVID-19 and pandemic-related costs; What to do when your private insurance company, Medicaid, or Medicare won't cover your medical costs; Debt management tips to negotiate a lower bill and set up an interest-free payment plan regardless of your credit score.

You can get the healthcare you need while taking care of your financial health at the same time. You can fight back against predatory billing practices! You can apply the insider secrets laid out in "What Your Doctor Wants You to Know to Crush Medical Debt" to free yourself from a lifetime of bills and save your financial life.

Critique: Simply stated, everyone and anyone impacted by the rising costs of health care should give a careful and deliberate reading of "What Your Doctor Wants You to Know to Crush Medical Debt: A Health System Insider's 3 Steps to Protect Yourself from America's #1 Cause of Bankruptcy". Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "What Your Doctor Wants You to Know to Crush Medical Debt" must be considered a timely, essential, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Financial Medical Management collections. It should be noted that this indispensable and 'real world practical' combination of instruction guide and 'how to' manual for dealing with medical costs and health insurance financing is also available in a paperback edition (979-8985300109, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Virgie Bright Ellington (www.crushmedicaldebt.com) is an internal medicine physician and medical billing expert. A dedicated patient advocate, she earned her degree at the University of Michigan Medical School and trained at the Cambridge Hospital of Harvard Medical School. After practicing more than 20 years in primary care and psychiatric settings and as a health insurance executive, Dr. Virgie helps patients maximize billing accuracy and avoid financial devastation.


The Cookbook Shelf

1001 Greatest Sausage Recipes
Stanley Marianski, author
Adam Marianski, author
Bookmagic LLC
www.bookmagic.com
9780982426777, $24.95, PB, 602pp

https://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Sausage-Recipes-Stanley-Marianski/dp/0982426771

Synopsis: "1001 Greatest Sausage Recipes" offers a collection of the world's greatest sausage recipes. Finding a reliable recipe on the internet becomes harder every day. To gain income from advertising clicks, the majority of large web sites generate thousands of so-called "sausage recipes" and when people search for "sausage recipes" they usually get recipes of dishes with sausages, but not actually how to make them. Unfortunately, the vital information about meat selection, ingredients and processing steps is usually missing.

This is where "1001 Greatest Sausage Recipes" by Stanley and Adam Marianski fills the void. "The 1001 Greatest Sausage Recipes" is not about cooking meals with sausages, it is about making them. There is a big difference between writing about ready-made sausages and making them yourself. "1001 Greatest Sausage Recipes" lists materials, the ingredients and detailed processing steps for making all types of sausages. The majority of recipes comprising "1001 Greatest Sausage Recipes" come from Polish, Spanish, German, Russian, Italian and French official sources and archives in order to be as accurate as possible. Many of those were produced by commercial plants for sale to the general public, and a number of the recipes are still commercially used even now.

Reading these recipes is like taking a trip back in time as many recipes are backed with hundreds of years of tradition. "1001 Greatest Sausage Recipes" is an invaluable and instructive 'how to' reference for anybody thinking about producing sausages and just by studying the detailed instructions one can become an accomplished sausage maker.

Critique: A simply massive 602 page compendium dedicated to the sausage, "1001 Greatest Sausage Recipes" is impressively comprehensive and organized -- making it a truly extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library Barbecue & Grilling themed cookbook collections and a 'must' for all dedicated sausage fans. Of special note is the related website Meats & Sausages at www.meatsandsausages.com


The Biography Shelf

The Ordeal
Josephine Walden
Independently Published
9798847402897, $12.99, PB, 400pp

https://www.amazon.com/Ordeal-Journey-Misfortunes-Illness-Betrayal/dp/B0BBCZ2JJ9

Synopsis: After two major floods with their financial, physical, and emotional ramifications, a car accident, several dangerous encounters while traveling, and a number family deaths, Josephine Walden found herself spiraling down into a life-changing, nursing-career ending illness.

Here diagnosis was: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome -- a very little understood illness at the time.

As a single mom, Josephine struggled to work but the symptoms of her condition slowly overtook her and included: a debilitating fatigue, flu-like symptoms, a pre-leukemic blood dyscrasia, and a slow loss of memory.

Then a beloved sister and Josephine inherited two estates. As probate progressed she was blissfully unaware of game playing, creative manipulations, plots, thefts and acts of revenge.

Critique: An impressively candid, dramatic, and exceptionally well written memoir, "The Ordeal: A Journey from Misfortunes, Illness, and Betrayal to Truth" by Josephine Walden will have a particularly special appeal to readers with an interest in true stories of hardships, loss, dysfunctional family relationships, and the struggle with life-changing illness. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary American Biography & Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Ordeal" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).

Escape Prisons of the Mind
Kaziah May Hancock
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
www.dorrancepublishing.com
9781636613604, $90.00, HC, 362pp

https://www.amazon.com/Escape-Prisons-Mind-Kaziah-Hancock/dp/1636613608

Synopsis: With the publication of "Escape Prisons of the Mind", Kaziah May Hancock presents her readers with a blending of memoir and art. It's her personal story of going through what she describes as a school of hard knocks -- where only the strong survive.

It's also the powerful true life story of an unscrupulous man who uses religious compulsion in the extreme in order to subject and exploit other human beings for his own personal gain. He accomplished this by adding a word where it was convenient and subtracting words so as to give scriptures a whole new meaning, then claiming priesthood power and rights, he locked na´ve victims into a trap. Preach long enough, loud enough, often enough and they will begin to believe it. Control the environment. Do not allow your subjects to have outside communication, then capitalize on their labors. And what you have are Prisons of the Mind.

Critique: An extraordinary life story by an extraordinary woman, "Prisons of the Mind" by Kaziah May Hancock is part cautionary tale, part emancipation celebration, and part compendium of artwork by an impressively talented portrait painter. While this unique coffee-table style volume (8.5 x 1.13 x 11 inches, 3.12 pounds) is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library American Biography/Memoir and Contemporary Religious Cult collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Prisons of the Mind" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $85.00).

Editorial Note: Kaziah May Hancock (https://myhero.com/kaziah_hancock_07) is a self-acknowledged people person. She studied the human face long before she began putting paint to canvas twenty-five years ago. With a self-described "weakness for a face that has weathered the storm," she specialized in painting the older, interesting people who made up her community.

Morlocks in the Basement
Carolyn Colburn
Running Wild Press
https://runningwildpress.com
9781955062206, $19.99, PB, 236pp

https://www.amazon.com/Morlocks-Basement-Carolyn-Colburn/dp/195506220X

Synopsis: "Morlocks in the Basement" by Carolyn Colbern is an irreverent, bittersweet, often outrageous chronicle of accidental motherhood in the age of fractured families.

Part love story, part real-life soap opera, and part play-by-play of a personal train wreck, Carolyn Colburn's debut memoir is not quite like anything you've read before. It's a treatise on housekeeping, a primer for roller skating on acid to Canada and back, a how-to for dodging calls from the county jail concerning "an incarcerated loved one," your daughter.

Throw in a cabin in the woods, the howling of wolves, a flying pig, and a couple of incongruous recipes, and you have the ingredients for this riotous odyssey of a memoir. The little voice in your head might be muttering WTF?!, but you keep hanging on to find out what's coming next.

Written with humor and pathos in equal measure, "Morlocks in the Basement" takes the reader on a hilarious and heartrending ride from a 1950s childhood through the mid 2010s, in a series of connected stories that jump around in time.

Critique: The deeply personal, impressively candid, inherently fascinating, and deftly written memoir, "Morlocks in the Basement" is one of those life stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Autobiography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Morlocks in the Basement" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Carolyn Colburn received an MFA in Writing from Goddard College and has been awarded a Loft-McKnight Fellowship and a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant. She has worked as a musician, teacher, typesetter, and contract writer. Her novel "Minimum Maintenance" was published in 2010.


The General Fiction Shelf

Goodlife, Mississippi
Eileen Saint Lauren
Eileen Saint Lauren Books
www.eileensaintlauren.net
9798986196305, $23.99, HC, 332pp

https://www.amazon.com/Goodlife-Mississippi-Eileen-Saint-Lauren/dp/B0B8RPB271

Synopsis: With the publication of "Goodlife, Mississippi", novelist Eileen Saint Lauren chronicles the first twelve years - 1950 to 1962 - of Mary "Myra" Boone, a questionably biracial young Southern girl of the sixties.

The setting of the novel begins in Meridian, Mississippi, and then moves onto the fictional city of Goodlife. As an author, Eileen Saint Lauren fully captures the experience of growing up in "pockets" of a regressive and repressive Southern culture. "Goodlife, Mississippi is truth mixed with magical realism achieved by the constant threading of the ordinary with the extraordinary, supernatural, and the sublime.

A sequence of linked stories comprises events in Myra Boone's life. Myra persists through extreme adversities because of her dream of meeting Ray Charles Robinson and her natural sense of place in the grand scheme of life: her true calling. Though her scars (inside and out) will remain, she emerges a young woman of compassion with a self-forged faith in the underlying goodness of the universe and her value in the world.

And in having Myra Boone prevail, Saint Lauren leaves her readers contemplating the resilience of the human soul far beyond the pages of her novel.

Critique: Populated with deftly crafted and memorable characters, and all the more remarkable when considering that it is her debut as a novelist, "Goodlife, Mississippi" showcases author Eileen Saint Lauren's genuine flair for originality and her narrative driven storytelling skills that will keep the reader fully engaged from first page to last. Highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary American Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Goodlife, Mississippi" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Eileen Saint Lauren (https://www.facebook.com/EileenSaintLaurentheWriter/) is an award-winning photo journalist and news and feature writer who worked early in her career as a commentator for Nebraska Public Radio and at Smith College Museum of Art. She has studied creative writing at The Washington Center, Duke University, Kansas Newman College's, The Milton Center, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She divides her writing time between Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Madison, Mississippi.

Son of Stalin's Bootmaker
Morry Frank
Silverback Books
9780916747220, $10.00, PB, 291pp

https://www.amazon.com/Son-Stalins-Bootmaker-Morry-Frank/dp/0916747220

Synopsis: "Son of Stalin's Bootmaker" by Morry Frank is the story of an 8-year old Russian boy arriving in Chicago with his shoemaker father who at the age of 50 would try his hand at this thing called Capitalism. Brought to a dismal Southside neighborhood the boy longs for home:
"My street in Moskva teemed with my peers from the minute I stepped outside. Boys in clever activity: cheeky checker players and beginners and better at chess who could speak without fantasy of Soviet hold in the world and of its dark stepchildren, Cuba and parts of Africa. Where had I been brought? Boys my age could think of no better that to throw a ball back and forth and catch it in a leather glove. They brought out baseball cards they traded back and forth day after day. Idiots they seemed but I stood by as they threw a ball and traded cards because there was little else."

Critique: A deftly crafted, impressively original, inherently engaging read from cover to cover, "Son of Stalin's Bootmaker" clearly showcases novelist Morry Frank's genuine flair for creating memorable characters and then adroitly embedding them in a narrative driven story that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Son of Stalin's Bootmaker" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Take It from Me
Jamie Beck
Montlake
https://amazonpublishing.amazon.com/montlake.html
www.brillianceaudio.com
9781542032391, $12.95, PB, 347pp

https://www.amazon.com/Take-Me-Novel-Jamie-Beck/dp/1542032393

Synopsis: Wendy Moore hides her collection of pilfered bric-a-brac from everyone, including her husband. He thinks she licked her kleptomania in therapy more than a decade ago. Therapy did help, as did focusing her attention on motherhood. But now Wendy's gardening and furniture-refinishing hobbies fill up only so much of the day, leaving the recent empty nester lonely and anxious -- a combination likely to trigger her little problem. She needs a project, fast. Luckily, Harper Ross (a single, childless younger woman in desperate need of highlights) just moved in next door.

The only thing Harper wants to change is the writer's block toppling her confidence and career. Then a muse comes knocking. Sensing fodder for a new antagonist, Harper plays along with Wendy's "helpful" advice while keeping her career a secret so Wendy keeps talking. Sure, she's torn about profiting off her neighbor's goodwill (especially when Wendy's matchmaking actually pans out) but Harper's novel is practically writing itself.

Just as a real friendship begins to cement, their deceptions come to light, threatening Wendy's and Harper's futures and forcing them to reconcile who they are with who they want to be. Easier said than done.

Critique: A fun and fascinating read from cover to cover, "Take It from Me" by author Jamie Beck will have a particular attraction for readers with an interest in novels with the theme of women's relationships and friendships. The stuff of which Hallmark Movies are made, "Take It from Me" is especially appropriate and recommended for community library Contemporary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Take It from Me" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713656357, $14.99, MP3-CD).

Ruin: A Novel of Flyfishing in Bankruptcy
Leigh Seippel
City Point Press
https://www.citypointpress.com
9781947951600, $27.00, HC, 320pp

https://www.amazon.com/Ruin-Flyfishing-Bankruptcy-Leigh-Seippel/dp/1947951602

Synopsis: Frank is another dreamer whose life is suddenly burned to the ground. More a disillusioned literature Ph.D. than an experienced financier, he had naively agreed to join his wife's inheritance with his own personal guarantee of a college friend's private equity partnership debt.

The business implosion and subsequent bankruptcy took all their assets. Francy, an orphaned European heiress, now finds herself homeless, still married to pleasant, witty Frank -- who had failed to protect them from disaster.

The couple flees Manhattan to live at a desolate non-working Hudson Valley farm. Frank starts an artisanal brewery with a charismatic new eccentric friend. And, central to the heart of the story, he takes up fly fishing. A local doctor, perceiving Frank's depression, prescribes that he gain some confidence through self-taught fishing.

Frank's perceptions on the water are fresh and acute, sometimes colored by his memory of the words of famous writers, now painfully ironic in his life's new context.

"Ruin: A Novel of Flyfishing in Bankruptcy" deftly weaves together fly fishing and life experiences that ultimately turn shockingly deadly.

And throughout "Ruin: A Novel of Flyfishing in Bankruptcy", there is Francy's story. Now in exile, she re-approaches painting with new and darkly complex emotional energy. Painting in reclusive concentration, she cuts Frank off, tacitly becoming her own woman. Her work's enigmatic intensity attracts a wealthy neighbor who offers Francy a show in his Manhattan gallery and that attracts a great deal of trouble indeed.

Critique: Deftly weaving together fly fishing and life experiences that ultimately turn shockingly deadly, "Ruin: A Novel of Flyfishing in Bankruptcy" by Leigh Seippel will have particular attraction for readers with an interest in fishing, along with literary and coming of age fiction. Complex, eloquent, memorable, and an inherently interesting read from cover to cover, "Ruin: A Novel of Flyfishing in Bankruptcy" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ruin: A Novel of Flyfishing in Bankruptcy" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Leigh Seippel has worked a small farm in the Hudson Valley, complete with officious goat herd. Fly fishing has taken him across four continents. He is a past president of The Anglers' Club of New York, where he now heads its fishery conservation activities.


The Historical Fiction Shelf

Brighter than the Flames
Stefan Scheuermann
https://www.scheuermannbooks.com
Virtualbookworm.com Publishing
9781638680185, $28.95, HC, 348pp

https://www.amazon.com/Brighter-than-Flames-Stefan-Scheuermann/dp/1638680183

Synopsis: Anna Koob was born into a middle-class German family in 1566. A bright and spirited girl, she became a favorite of her village of Kleinostheim. As an eight-year-old, she is summoned to the home of a prominent baron. The baron's daughter has asked for her as she lies dying. What happens in the baron's home sets off a chain of events that will dictate the flow of Anna's future.

Anna grows into a learned and outspoken woman, a dangerous thing to be in the generation before the Thirty Years War. As her intellectual and spiritual light shines around her, some delight in her, some fall in love with her, and some are frightened by her and set themselves to extinguish her light from the world.

Critique: An original and deftly crafted novel inspired by a historical witch trial, populated by memorable characters, and rife with unexpected plot twists and turns, "Brighter than the Flames" by novelist Stefan Scheuermann will have a very special appeal for readers with an interest in the Historical Fiction subgenre. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists that "Brighter than the Flames" is also available in a paperback edition (9781638680178, $21.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Stefan Scheuermann has degrees in history and literature. His writing spans multiple genres in fiction and non-fiction, from comparative language and biography to alternative history and historical fiction/fantasy. The author of The Swan Knights Trilogy and The Tannhauser, Stefan enjoys blurring the lines between history and fiction, showing the remarkable stories that can come from obscure lives. He has a personal and professional website at https://www.scheuermannbooks.com


The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Sarah's Dilemma
Jean Joachim
www.jeanjoachimbooks.com
Independently Published
9798821022479, $14.99, PB, 296pp

https://www.amazon.com/Sarahs-Dilemma-Catskills-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B09X22W7Z7

Synopsis: It's 1788, in Fitch's Eddy and Sarah Chesney, almost eighteen, decides she's ready for marriage, but is she? She picks Josiah, a strong, decent young man from her own class, but keeps the choice to herself.

Just as she sets her cap for him, haughty, rich-as-sin, Benjamin Fitch saves her from a deadly snake. She assumes she's beneath Ben's status in life since his wealthy father owns the whole town. He disagrees.

Every young woman in Fitch's Eddy is after Benjamin, except Sarah. She runs into him often in the general store. The way he looks at her and doffs his hat makes her shiver. Who would make the best husband, Josiah or Benjamin? Who proposes first? Who will she pick? This is Sarah's Dilemma!

Critique: Exceptionally well written by an author with a genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling style that will immediately engage and hold the reader's rapt attention from first page to last, "Sarah's Dilemma!" by Jean Joachim will have a very special resonance with fans of historical romance novels. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sarah's Dilemma" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Jean Joachim (http://www.jeanjoachimbooks.com) is an award-winning, USA Today best-selling romance author whose books have hit the Amazon Top 100 list in the U.S. and abroad since 2012. She writes sports romance, small town romance, big city romance, and romantic suspense. With more than 50 books in ebook, print and audio, she writes fulltime.


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Chase Across Time: Search for the Ice Castle of Fire
Z. Altug, author
Tracy Gensler, author
Independently Published
9798847586603, $9.99, PB, 376pp

https://www.amazon.com/Chase-Across-Time-Search-Castle/dp/B0BBCZ2PV4

Synopsis: Danny is a 10-year-old boy with no special powers. He travels on an airship between Earth and a distant civilization and is frustrated with being dismissed as an outcast in both worlds. While on an exploratory mission, a wicked emperor attacks the airship and kidnaps Danny's parents. Danny must join forces with his friends across seven continents in a desperate chase across space and time to save his family. They try to fend off the angry robots, ghastly warriors, and bent-nose mobsters as they unravel clues to find the portal to the sorcerer's ice castle of fire.

Critique: A great and fun read from cover to cover, "Chase Across Time: Search for the Ice Castle of Fire" by the team of science fiction authors Ziya Altig and Tracy Gensler is a delightful throwback to that classic era of Golden Age science fiction. Pure entertainment throughout and having special interest for dedicated science fiction fans of quest-based action adventure novels, "Chase Across Time: Search for the Ice Castle of Fire" is highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections.

Editorial Note #1: Z. Altug is a licensed physical therapist and wellness consultant in Los Angeles, California. He is the author of Integrative Healing and coauthor of the 2012 Healthy Lifestyle Wall Calendar, The Anti-Aging Fitness Prescription,and the Manual of Clinical Exercise Testing, Prescription and Rehabilitation. Z enjoys writing, playing sports and learning about astronomy.

Editorial Note #2: Tracy Gensler is a registered dietitian in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She is the author of Probiotic and Prebiotic Recipes for Health and coauthor of The Anti-Aging Fitness Prescription. She has collaborated on over a dozen books and has written for the Good Housekeeping website and magazines.

Alliance
E. B. Bridenstine
Bridenstine Books
www.bridenstinebooks.com
9798772108451, $23.99, HC, 266pp

https://www.amazon.com/Alliance-B-Bridenstine/dp/B09YMKBSPH

Synopsis: The Evil Emperor Charr is capturing magical creatures, forcing them to perform in a circus to entertain humans. Ranamayve, a beauty even amongst elves, is taken from the only land she's ever known to a world filled with humiliation and savagery. As she strives to conceal her identity, Ranamayve must make alliances with Races that she would have preferred never to meet.

She is forced to take a closer look into her prejudices when Bozek, a half-ogre, befriends her. His beastly form frightens her, yet she's intrigued by his soft heart. Bozek has struggled his whole life with his half-ogre heritage. Nevertheless, he has a mission, and his resolve is unwavering until the beautiful Ranamayve distracts him from his task of discovering the Emperor's source of power.

Bozek loses his heart, but can Ranamayve see past the beast? Can their alliance grow into Devotion?

Critique: The first of a two-volume fantasy saga, "Alliance" by E. B. Bridenstine will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in romance, adventure, and fantasy. With a memorable cast of deftly crafted characters embedded in a compulsive page turner of a read, "Alliance" will prove to be a welcome addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated romance and fantasy fans that "Alliance" is also available in a paperback edition (9781710304909, $14.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book ably narrated by Kirby Heyborne (MP3-CD).

Devotion
E. B. Bridenstine
Bridenstine Books
www.bridenstinebooks.com
9798772119280, $23.99, HC, 308pp

https://www.amazon.com/Devotion-B-Bridenstine/dp/B09Y3LWQK9

Synopsis: Grief and heartache plague the world of Leusandia in "Devotion", the second of a two-volume fantasy saga by E. B. Bridenstine .

As Bozek and Ranamayve go their separate ways, they each must hold onto the glimmer of hope that their Devotion will hold true. As they journey to join his ogre tribe, Bozek and his elf friend Garik, encounter hardships, unlike anything they have endured before. While Ranamayve attempts to convince the complacent elves to join forces with other Races against Emperor Charr's tyranny, she struggles with her grief, and loneliness -- hoping Bozek will soon return victorious.

But at a growing sense of unease, Ranamayve leaves her homeland of Elavae to find Bozek and Garik, and defeat Emperor Charr once and for all. As the battle at Medgar looms closer, Bozek has to accept each part of himself for who he is and Ranamayve must fight for the Devotion they share.

Critique: The sequel to "Alliance", the first volume author E. B. Bridenstine's fantasy 'duology', "Devotion" once again demonstrate's the author's genuine flair for originality and narrative storytelling skills. Of special and particular interest to dedicated fantasy and folklore fans, "Devotion" is very highly recommended, especially for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Devotion" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781735086422, $14.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book deftly performed by Kirby Heyborne (MP3-CD).


The Poetry Shelf

A Land Between Worlds
John Mack
www.life-calling.org
PowerHouse Books
https://powerhousebooks.com
9781648230080, $75.00, HC, 210pp

https://www.amazon.com/Land-Between-Worlds-Shifting-Landscape/dp/1648230083

Synopsis: After a four-year journey - flying more than 300,000 air-miles aboard over 200 flights, driving over 15,000 miles with the aid of over 25 car rentals, including hiking over 220 miles, 7 helicopter charters, 6 seaplane charters, 8 grizzly sightings, and 1 husky sled-poet and with the publication of "A Land Between Worlds: The Shifting Poetry of the Great American Landscape", photographer John Mack returns with evidence of some of America's most iconic, natural sites and their current state of deterioration vis a vis the proliferation of smart devices and the encroaching virtual environment.

In an attempt to shed light on the current state of our nature, Mack completes what he calls a "reconnaissance mission," having crisscrossed the entire United States of America. Covering a land with length from Maine to Hawaii, a depth from the southern bend of Texas to the far reaches of Alaska's arctic circle, "A Land Between Worlds" shares Mack's vision of who we are in relation to our environment and looks for clues as to whether or not a balance between nature and today's increasingly seductive technology can be attained.

Critique: A coffee-table style volume (9.75 x 1.5 x 13.25 inches, 3.04 pounds), "A Land Between Worlds: The Shifting Poetry of the Great American Landscape" is a blending of both exquisite b/w and full color photographs set with elegant verse. The result is a browsing experience that will have particular and contemplative attraction for readers with an interest in nature poetry and landscape photography. One of those unique and memorable books that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "A Land Between Worlds: The Shifting Poetry of the Great American Landscape" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections.

Editorial Note: Thinker, artist, photographer and poet, John Mack (https://johnmack.org/) shares the poetry of nature as a counterpoint toward a world that is every day becoming all the more dependent on digital devices and algorithmic feeds. In 2021 Mack founded Life Calling Initiative, a not-for-profit aimed at helping society to live fulfilled lives in the digital age while retaining our humanity and personal autonomy. This is achieved through a diverse set of tools and activities, including, but not limited to, awareness campaigns, education, art, lectures, and programming.


The Gardening Shelf

Lavender Fields of America
Rebecca Rosenberg, author
Gary Rosenberg, author
https://www.rebecca-rosenberg.com
Lion Heart Publishing
9781732969933, $29.00, PB, 108pp

https://www.amazon.com/Lavender-Fields-America-American-Farmers/dp/1732969930

Synopsis: "Lavender Fields of America: A New Crop of American Farmers" is an impressive pictoral look at the modern (yet ancient) phenomenon of lavender, and the enterprising American farmers who grow the herb, including author, Rebecca Rosenberg.

One no longer has to travel to Provence to experience the majesty of lavender fields in full bloom. Three hundred American farmers have planted fields of lavender from Hawaii to the East Coast. Each distinctive lavender farm is influenced by the farmers who plant them and the land in which they grow. One might think that lavender fields are quite similar, but the settings, types of plants, and characteristics of the farms vary as much as Americans do.

Each individual farm is as distinctive as a fingerprint, germinating as it does from each farmer's background, personal style, and point-of view. Yet, the farmers have all gravitated to the beneficial lavender plant, dedicating their lives to its cultivation, and to the production of lavender products. Their lavender products have practical uses: relaxation, pain relief, insect repellant, air freshener, antiseptic, and more.

From harsh winters to drought to rocky soil, these farmers face challenges with the land. They struggle, sometimes fail, and then persevere in planting the right lavender cultivars and perfecting methods of planting and maintenance.

Critique: With informative commentary and captioned full color photography, "Lavender Fields of America: A New Crop of American Farmers" is a delight to browse through and will have a very special and unique appeal to readers with an interest in herb gardening and garden pictorials. "Lavender Fields of America: A New Crop of American Farmers" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary Gardening & Horticulture collections.

Editorial Note #1: Rebecca Rosenberg is a lavender farmer and the award-winning author of four books. She lives on a Sonoma, California lavender farm with her family. She has a dedicated website at https://www.rebecca-rosenberg.com

Editorial Note #2: There is a complete list of books by Gary Rosenberg at https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/1344168.Gary_Rosenberg

The Spanish-English Dictionary of Gardening and Landscaping
Jay Miskowiec
Aliform Publishing
https://www.aliformpublishing.com
9780982278482, $14.00, PB, 147pp

https://www.amazon.com/Spanish-English-Dictionary-Gardening-Landscaping-espa%C3%B1ol-ingl%C3%A9s/dp/0982278489

Synopsis: "The Spanish-English Dictionary of Gardening and Landscaping" (El diccionario espanol-ingles de jardineria y paisajismo) by Jay Miskowiec is a useful tool for both professionals and homeowners working with Hispanic gardeners and landscapres.

Flowers, plants and trees; fruits, herbs and vegetables; the garden, greenhouse and nursery; tools, materials and hardware, and much more, all in a categorized, easy-to-read English/Spanish format.

Critique: Alphabetically organized, the first half of "The Spanish-English Dictionary of Gardening and Landscaping" is English to Spanish, the second half is Spanish to English. In an easily portable paperback (5.5 x 0.34 x 8.5 inches), it should be noted that "The Spanish-English Dictionary of Gardening and Landscaping" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95) -- making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library Gardening/Landscaping collections.


The Photography Shelf

Tones of Grace
Dave Brosha, photographer
Rocky Mountain Books
https://rmbooks.com
9781771605861, $50.00, HC, 224pp

https://www.amazon.com/Tones-Grace-Dave-Brosha/dp/1771605863

Synopsis: In a world of staggering color, it's a bold choice in the modern age to strip color out of the equation and present visuals of the planet in time-honored black and white photography.

In "Tones of Grace", Canadian photographer, author, speaker, and educator Dave Brosha presents 100 meticulously crafted black and white images of the world around us, including landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, and the majesty of wildlife. Rather than simply a collection of monochrome photos, however, Brosha presents us with his masterful visual introspections, each a moment that combines experience, passion, dedication, craft, and experience to enable the viewer to look upon "the world out there" from a different perspective, with the goal of inspiring us all to consider our surroundings more carefully.

With images spanning Canada and the planet, Brosha is a storyteller at heart, and he constructs in this remarkable collection a visual narrative that will bring the viewer to lands near and far, and make you think about light, shadow, shape, and subject in ways you might have never considered. With subjects as diverse as Antarctic penguins, soaring mountain tops, desert sands, apartment buildings, crows, wild horses, and highways, each page is a journey (a viewpoint of the world at large) that will make you look a little more closely at your own personal environment.

Critique: Photographs are visuals to be consumed, but they also reflect the lived experience and the insights of their makers. With the publication of "Tones of Grace", readers will experience Dave Brosha's 20 years as a visual storyteller and prepare to be immersed in a world of compelling beauty. A coffee-table style (8.6 x 1 x 11.1 inches, 2.78 pounds) volume, "Tones of Grace" is highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary Photography collections -- and will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in what black/white photography can accomplish.

Editorial Note: Dave Brosha (https://davebrosha.com) has had exhibitions of his work in Canada as well as in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany. His images have appeared in Photo Life, Practical Photography, Canadian Geographic, Maclean's, The Independent (UK), The Globe and Mail, The Sunday Telegraph, China News, The Guardian, Tehran Times, Montreal Gazette, Outdoor Photographer and many more.


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
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