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American University in Cairo Press
420 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10018-2729
9789774168352, $59.95, HC, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In one of the most remarkable artistic pilgrimages in history, the nineteenth century saw scores of Western artists heading to the Middle East. Inspired by the allure of the exotic Orient, they went in search of subjects for their paintings.
Currently living in Norfolk, England, James Parry is a writer and lecturer on the art, architecture, and history of the Middle East. He has worked in many countries across the region and for a wide range of publications and heritage organizations.
In the beautifully and profusely illustrated pages of "Orientalist Lives: Western Artists in the Middle East, 1830 - 1920", Parry reveals what led this surprisingly diverse and idiosyncratic group of men (and some women) to often remote and potentially dangerous locations, from Morocco to Egypt, the Levant, and Turkey. Where they would live, work, and travel for weeks or even months on end, gathering material with which to create art for their clients back in the drawing rooms of Boston, London, and Paris.
Based on his research in museums, libraries, archives, galleries, and private collections across the world, Parry deftly traces these journeys of cultural and artistic discovery. From the early pioneer David Roberts through the heyday of leading stars such as Jean-Leon Gerome and Frederick Arthur Bridgman, to Orientalism's post-1900 decline, he describes how these traveling artists prepared for their expeditions, coped with working in unfamiliar and challenging surroundings, engaged with local people, and then took home to their studios the memories, sketches, and collections of artifacts necessary to create the works for which their audiences clamored.
"Orientalist Lives" also features excerpts from letters and diaries, including little-known accounts and previously unpublished material, as well as photographs, sketches, and other original illustrations, bring alive the impressions, experiences, and careers of the Orientalists and shed light on how they created what are now once again recognized as masterpieces of art.
Critique: An enormously illustrated and detailed study that is as impressively informed and informative as it is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Orientalist Lives: Western Artists in the Middle East, 1830 - 1920" is a simply outstanding and original work of exceptional and accessible scholarship and a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library Art History collections and supplemental studies lists.
Zen on the Trail
199 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781614294443 $17.95 pbk / $11.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Discover how hiking can be a kind of spiritual pilgrimage - calming our minds, enhancing our sense of wonder, and deepening our connection to nature.
Evoking the writings of Gary Snyder, Bill Bryson, and Cheryl Strayed, Zen on the Trail explores the broad question of how to be outside in a meditative way. By directing our attention to how we hike as opposed to where we're headed, Ives invites us to shift from ego-driven doing to spirit-filled being, and to explore the vast interconnection of ourselves and the natural world. Through this approach, we can wake up in the woods on nature's own terms.
In erudite and elegant prose, Ives takes us on a journey we will not soon forget. This book features a new prose poem by Gary Snyder.
Critique: Zen on the Trail: Hiking as Pilgrimage explores how to hiking and enjoying the outdoors can be spiritual, meditative activities. Chapters draw upon Buddhist philosophy and encourage the reader to connect with the natural world. Thought-provoking and uplifting, Zen on the Trail is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Zen on the Trail is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).
Lost in a Far Country: A Novel
Thomas M. Daniel
c/o Daniel & Daniel Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564746115 $14.95 pbk / $14.95 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Jack is a 17-year-old honor student whose counselor has advised him to apply to Ivy League colleges. But Jack's father nixes the idea, having decided higher education is a waste of money, and Dad does not waste money. Not one cent. Jack's mother is no help, because she's a drunk. Disgusted with his dysfunctional family, Jack steals one of his dad's junker cars, withdraws all the money in his savings account, and runs away from home. He drives into Canada, where he destroys his passport and gives up any thought of turning back. Jack buys a canoe and sets out on the lakes, only to discover that paddling a canoe into the wind is no picnic, and camping is not as carefree as he had expected. Lost in a Far Country is inspired by O'Neill's drama Long Day's Journey into Night.
Critique: Lost in a Far Country is the saga of a teenaged boy trapped in a dysfunctional family and seeking escape. He flees to the wild country of Canada, but the natural environment is fraught with its own dangers. Intense and captivating, Lost in a Far Country enraptures the reader as both a character portrait and as a glorious canvas of nature's beautiful ferocity. Highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Lost in a Far Country is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.95).
Working My Way Back to Me
April Kirkwood & Donald G. Evans
9781732349025, $14.95, PB, 156pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: For rural Ohio beauty queen April Kirkwood, her #MeToo moment came way before the term was coined. She lost her virginity to the middle-aged Frankie Valli at 16, after a decade pursuing a childhood fantasy to be the crooner's wife.
The affair would go for decades. But Frankie Valli is just a central character in April's complex story of her struggle to break the generational cycle of abused and dependent women. Indeed, the strong women in "Working My Way Back to Me: A Frank Memoir of Self-Discovery" are filled with enormous love that offers protection, but also intensifies the hurt.
Through April's eyes, we experience joys and heartaches that echo across more than a half-century of old family secrets and ways, and the triumphs and defeats involved in trying to break the mold.
Critique: It is interesting to note that April Kirkwood has worked over twenty five years in public education and in the mental health field as a social worker, teacher, guidance counselor, mentor for new teachers, and counselor. She presently lives in Florida and Ohio and spends most of her time writing, sharing her story with others, helping women, and is a public speaker.
Her memoir, "Working My Way Back to Me: A Frank Memoir of Self-Discovery" is more than just an exercise in personal catharsis, it is a representative true life example of the effects of a pervasive cultural patriarchally based misogyny -- and how a new movement is helping women break from their invisible bonds and emerge as worthwhile and independent women in a pluralist society. While very highly recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Working My Way Back to Me" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Subtracting Insult From Injury
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781504397223, $30.95, HC, 166pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When a bear, eagle, whale, elephant, camel, and other creatures experience pain, they react sanely. Instead of getting hysterical, they find a safe, calm place to heal and be gently settled, which fosters their natural restorative, pain-relieving endorphins and potent immune stimulators to be released into their bloodstreams. Without a pharmacy, medical clinic, hospital, surgeon, or psychotherapist, they instinctively lay still and start to heal.
Humans, on the other hand, add to their anguish by entering a fight, fright, or flight mode, which should only be reserved for life-or-death moments. We spook ourselves and compound the problem at hand by thinking things such as: Crap always happens to me. God must hate me. I bet this pain in my armpit is cancer. These pains will never go away. I'm just a loser. If they force me into less pain meds, I cant make it.
"Subtracting Insult from Injury: A Buddheo-Christian Art of Transmuting" by AlanCooper (who is a practicing Doctor of Chiropractice, a chronic pain specialist, and a medical hypnotherapist) is an insightful, practical, and effective pain-relieving guide that will enable the reader to break free from those self-harmful thoughts and discover an endorphin paradise. Dr. Cooper also explores why humanity has lost its natural pain-abating ability and how trusting our instincts can literally can help us overcome our fears, pains, and personal traumas to heal ourselves.
Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, accessibly organized and presented, "Subtracting Insult from Injury: A Buddheo-Christian Art of Transmuting" is a unique and highly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Alternative Medicine collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for medical students, doctors, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Subtracting Insult from Injury" is also available in a paperback edition (9781504397230, $13.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
Neil Gaiman, author
Chris Riddell, illustrator
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780062906205, $19.99, HC, 112pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A stunning and timely creative call-to-arms combining four extraordinary written pieces by Neil Gaiman and illustrated with the striking four-color artwork of Chris Riddell, "Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World" is drawn from Gaiman's trove of published speeches, poems, and creative manifestos, "Art Matters" is an embodiment of this remarkable multi-media artist's vision, presenting an exploration of how reading, imagining, and creating can transform the world and our lives. "Art Matters" is a stirring testament to the freedom of ideas that inspires us to make art in the face of adversity, and dares us to choose to be bold.
Critique: Inspired and inspiring, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Art Matters" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781982595241, $14.99, CD).
Social DNA: Rethinking Our Evolutionary Past
M. Kay Martin
20 Jay Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781789200072, $130.00, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: What set our ancestors off on a separate evolutionary trajectory was the ability to flex their reproductive and social strategies in response to changing environmental conditions.
Exploring new cross-disciplinary research that links this capacity to critical changes in the organization of the primate brain, "Social DNA: Rethinking Our Evolutionary Past" by M. Kay Martin presents a new synthesis of ideas on human social origins, and thereby challenging models that trace our beginnings to traits shaped by ancient hunting economies, or to genetic platforms shared with contemporary apes.
Critique: M. Kay Martin has a diversified research, planning, and management background in the academic, public, and private sectors; she has taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has since held executive posts in applied anthropology, environmental research, resource conservation, and other fields. She was the principal author of "Female of the Species" (1975, Columbia University Press) and has also published ethnohistorical and cross-cultural studies on foraging societies.
Now in "Social DNA: Rethinking Our Evolutionary Past" she has drawn upon an impressive body of research to provide an exceptionally informed and informative overview respecting the evolution of the human species that will prove to be a valued addition to community and academic library Anthropology collections and supplemental studies lists. Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a thirty-four page Bibliography, eleven pages of Endnotes, and a five page Index, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Social DNA: Rethinking Our Evolutionary Past" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $30.90).
c/o Clear Fork Publishing
9781946101655 $17.99 amazon.com
Available on Ingram, and:
The Masterpiece is illustrated by Kathi Green Nixon and crafts a simply stunning set of images to capture vivid colors and the efforts involved in painting a landscape masterpiece.
Many children's picture books have covered the art and effort of painting; but few are able to reproduce the vivid colors involved in a step-by-step series of descriptions that are themselves beautiful creations.
Opening with a "deep blue canvas" that progressively adds splashes of pink, streaks of orange, and more, this painter's art is a series of representations of life, from sailboats on the water and a wheelchair-bound boy's play with a dog to animals and people celebrating the day.
A surprise twist to the end identifies the mysterious painter and adds a spiritual component to the masterpiece of life under investigation.
It's rare to see an evocative, beautifully illustrated spiritual survey that reaches across religions to embrace a simple sense of appreciation about the spiritual component of life itself. The Masterpiece is aptly named both for its subject and its own approach, and requires no special religious discipline in order to appeal to all.
The story's eye-popping colors, simple language, and deeper meaning blend in a compelling story that parents can use as a read-aloud and young picture book readers can pursue on their own.
Its message pairs nicely with its artistic brilliance, making it a highly recommended story suitable for religious and secular collections alike.
The Stone of Wisdom
Dancing Horse Press
9781948543576, $10.95, www.dancinghorsepress.com
The Stone of Wisdom is the fourth book in the Centaur Chronicles series and continues the saga of Carling and her companions, who seek protection from the evil Heilodius Centaurs who stalk them. They have fled for home and have already fought and won a deadly battle with one band of Centaurs, but their encounters become even more dangerous when other roving bands try to end their lives.
In keeping with Evans' past books, a quest for another powerful stone is involved in an effort to complete a Silver Breastplate, and a wizard re-enters the picture to offer much-needed magical assistance. Despite the nature of their quest and many friends (both good Centaurs and other fairy-world beings), Carling once again finds herself at a disadvantage and must summon every ounce of courage and resources to locate the Stone of Wisdom while preserving her life and those of her loyal companions.
Foe Xanbar attempts to defend his rule from a threat by teen Duende Carling and her efforts to become the Queen of Crystonia, but the real question is what will happen when Carling's breastplate is complete and she enters the next phase of her mission: to take the throne and rule Crystonia. Events and confrontations are fast-paced and firmly rooted in a fantasy world replete with all manner of mystical friends and enemies.
The result is a powerful quest story best appreciated by prior fans of the 'Stones' series (likely to be young adult readers, but which also should include quite a few adults who like Tolkien-like settings and epic sagas). These audiences receive clashes, confrontations, the story of a plucky girl's courage in facing down formidable adversaries, and a consideration of the kind of loyalty that leads others to make supreme sacrifices supporting her ultimate goals.
Action-packed, riveting, and steeped in the atmosphere so carefully built in prior books in the series, The Stone of Wisdom is a fine conclusion to a sweeping epic fantasy that offers some unexpected twists and turns as Carling finally comes into her powers.
Anne and Louis
9780984790685 (pbk) $14.95
9780984790692 (ebook) $2.99
Anne and Louis: Passion and Politics in Early Renaissance France: The First Years of Anne of Brittany's Marriage to Louis XII will delight readers of historical fiction who want their dramas firmly rooted in facts. This audience - especially those who enjoyed the first book in the Anne of Brittany series - will find a compelling continuation of the saga in this story of Anne, the Duchess of Brittany, who has a country to run even as her lover Louis has a controversial annulment to pursue in order to fulfill his romance with Anne.
Even more complicated are the politics which dictate their romance and relationship. This is an overlay which creates seemingly insurmountable controversies between the couple and their individual political circles, and is deftly explained by Rozsa Gaston, whose saga assumes no previous knowledge of Anne of Brittany, Louis XII, or French history and politics. This makes the tale accessible to both history buffs and those with only a mild familiarity with the era.
At age 21, Anne was both a widow and the ruler of a kingdom, as committed to maintaining Brittany's independence from France as she was in seeing her relationship with Louis become a bond between their countries. Their struggles in 16th-century Europe on the cusp of the Renaissance era come to life as Anne finds herself caught between love and country.
Chapters don't just build the characters and explore the issues between Anne and Louis, but also probe their world. Thus, the romances and relationships between others are also presented within the context of the social mores of their times ("When he looked up, Charlotte of Naples and Aragon was floating toward him in the full glory of her youth and serene beauty. He felt himself in the presence of a goddess. One day such a glorious creature would grow into a woman like his mother or the duchess Anne. For such a woman, an offer of marriage must follow a kiss. But first, a kiss. Her father would kill her; her mother would roll over in her grave. She had allowed him to take her hand.").
Rozsa Gaston presents a rich, multifaceted universe through the eyes of a number of characters who interact with their world, which she spices with vivid descriptions to bring the setting to life through the eyes, experiences, and thoughts of many: "Anne of Brittany turned her back on her high-spirited charges to climb the final steps to the summit. At the top the flat marshy countryside spread out before her. In the late morning sunlight the bay of Mont-St.-Michel shimmered in the distance like a beckoning jewel. Beyond the bay was the Mor Breizh, also known as the Channel, the body of water over which Brittany's settlers had traveled from the British Isles. She drank in the view as her lungs filled with fresh sea air."
Adding to the feel of the story are lovely color artworks and images of the times, which pepper a saga that brings to life Anne's concerns, her people, her romance, and her conundrums. From her distrust of Italian politics and her appetite for luxury to the impact of her relationship with Louis, yet another powerful strength of this story is its astute assessment of how the personalities of each affected their choices and political perceptions: "Her Louis was too nice a man to be entering into agreements with wily Italians seeking to take advantage of his innate decency. She would protect her husband's interests while this sharp second secretary remained among them. Louis' step sounded on the stairs above and all eyes turned. As Anne gazed at her husband's beneficent expression and handsome yet careworn face, her heart hurt. She knew behind her, the shrewd young Florentine would be sizing him up and determining sooner rather than later that France's king could be easily manipulated on the Italian peninsula."
All this means that the story about a changing society as the Renaissance gets started is given a personal touch that brings the entire era to life through Anne's eyes and the experiences of those who interact with her.
The result is a powerfully-written saga that requires only an interest in a compelling love story and its historical background to prove satisfying, revealing, educational, and hard to put down, all in one. Quite simply, Anne and Louis is a masterpiece that paints an extraordinary vision of its times, capturing the facets of a social and political milieu with historical accuracy and vibrant emotional resonance.
Another Page Publishing
9781726762144 $2.99 E-book $14.99: Paperback $19.99 Hardback
Jon is over six hundred years old and thinks he's seen everything in his long life; but now something is happening that defies anything he's ever observed or heard of: stars are vanishing at the edges of humanity's spread across the universe. A second challenge is posed by another immortal who seeks to undo what Jon and human society have built over hundreds of years.
The story opens with an intriguing bang ("Jon sat across from his best friend of six hundred years, devastated that he had to kill him.") and builds scene after scene of compelling action, from Jon's own manipulation of possibilities and events in an attempt to direct the course of humanity's progress and choices to what humans will do for the opportunity to live forever.
These moral and ethical conundrums power the story line, which is made equally strong with elements of thriller intrigue and hard science.
When Jon's interrogation ends badly and directs him to the planet Jangali in search of a mysterious organism, he encounters crippled Saiph and his people, who live a spiritual life that faces unwelcome changes when the lights go out.
From Saiph's battles with drones and bots to the ability to purchase immortality on Earth, Jon is writing a story not just of lost stars; but about lost people, purposes, and love.
All these facets coalesce into a vivid read cemented by strong characters, diverse perspectives and purposes, and a scientific phenomenon that threatens to change everything.
What is the cost of containing technological potential and social possibilities for the sake of preserving lives and dreams? Lost Stars not only presents a powerful saga of worlds colliding and changed by human error and decisions, but it packs an additional gut punch with its insights into love, relationships, and connections that keep readers thinking long after the story's unexpected, gripping conclusion.
The Heiress of Egypt
D. X. Varos, Ltd.
9781941072417 $18.95 paperback/ $5.99 ebook
The Heiress of Egypt opens five thousand years ago in Thebes, Egypt, with a priest, a mummification duty, and an ancient, dark power in a stone cylinder received as a gift from the alien Celestials, who arrived in Egypt thousands of years before.
Amasis learns about this closely-held secret gift and its connections to the afterlife, but his lessons on mummification and regional politics soon takes a dangerous turn when the new heir to the throne, Princess Merit, seems destined to change the world in more ways than one.
Only a few months later, rebellion is in the wind, and young Roma comes to realize that his nightmares reflect reality and that he has a role in the world beyond anything he'd dreamed.
From the ambition of Varis to become the new pharaoh, believing Senu and his entire lineage have been destroyed, to the escape and struggles of the latter's daughter, Merit, The Heiress of Egypt presents a vivid world of early Egyptian politics, power plays, priests, and confrontations that makes a successful rebellion's outcome uncertain and unstable.
From miracles, which the subjugated people only see Varis capable of achieving, to a young priest forced to choose between his virginity or his life, the pyramids' connections to the People of the Sky, and the peoples' conviction that somehow Princess Merit would overcome impossible adds to return to claim her father's crown, The Heiress of Egypt paints a compelling intersection of fiction and fantasy in a saga that's hard to put down.
Readers anticipating either a novel based on history alone or a sci-fi story largely emphasizing aliens, supernatural gifts, or strange occurrences, will find The Heiress of Egypt excels in being neither fish nor fowl. Instead, it successfully blends history and fiction, tosses in sci-fi elements, and adds a dash of romance and thriller into the mix for extra spice.
The result is an engrossing tale that offers many twists and turns through its increasingly fantastical story line right up to its call for action to support Merit as she struggles to regain her rightful heritage and the throne. A cliffhanger in its final pages sets the stage for more, and it should be advised at this point that The Heiress of Egypt represents Book 1 in a series.
If the other books are as vivid as The Heiress of Egypt, readers are in for an enthralling treat.
DP Kids Press/DocUmeant Publishing
9781937801946, $14. 99, www.MiasReflections.com
Degphilip illustrates the picture book Mia's Reflections using bold, large-size, exceptionally color-packed drawings as Ginger Marks tells of ten-year-old Mia, who faces isolation after her parents are killed in a car wreck and she journeys far from home and friends to live with a relative.
She's worried about fitting in as the new kid in school. Having wild, curly red hair makes her feel odd and ugly. As she's staring at her reflection in a mirror, the voice of her mother interjects, and Mia receives a message that shows her just how special she is.
Good reading skills or parental read-aloud assistance will lend to the appreciation of a story that outlines Mia's beautiful qualities, which move beyond physical appearance and document her efforts to help improve the world around her.
As Mia begins to recall how good it makes her feel to help others, she loses her fixation on her appearance and her conviction that her new classmates will automatically judge her.
A number of themes in this easy reader encourage further discussion with adults and among peers. Issues of bullying, personal appearance, worthiness, and life changes all provide a wealth of discussion material. This objective is enhanced at the story's conclusion by a list of parent-teacher resources, from approaches that can be used to help youngsters absorb the messages in Mia's Reflections to puzzles, vocabulary words games, and suggestions for fun activities. There's also a website with more educational resources, color pages, and a Mia paper doll.
Mia's Reflections is much more than an entertaining story. It's an activity guide designed to promote deeper understanding by offering a support system to parents and youngsters. It creates an interactive environment that encourages contemplation, discussion, and understanding, and is very highly recommended for any adult who would help children navigate peer relationships to build self-confidence.
9781943258888, $15.95, www.warrenpublishing.net
Yesterday's Love is a romance story of marriage gone awry and tells of Yasmine and Jonas, whose mutual admiration, love, and support has not only fostered an affectionate relationship leading to marriage, but has encouraged career aspirations on both sides over a period of years.
But 'happily ever after' takes a turn, here, as Yasmine comes to realize that even though they both have experienced success, Jonas and his career goals have always been the priority. Now, when push comes to shove, he moves to international success, and Yasmine discovers that after years of what she's perceived as mutual support, she's being left high and dry and alone as he flies away towards the big golden ring of success, leaving her increasingly alone.
Yesterday's Love focuses on the process of growth as it reveals ways in which Yasmine was blinded and blindsided, her growing realization of differences between her perceptions and reality, and Jonas and his differing viewpoints.
One notable difference between Yesterday's Love and the usual romance is that the female's point of view isn't the only one in the limelight. Jessica Stevens-Eddy provides Jonas' experiences as well, and the two opposing perspectives power a story more capable, than most, of revealing points of contention, disparity, and difference: "Jonas stepped out of the car and slammed his door. He'd planned to be sensitive. He wanted to be kind. Fighting was not what he wanted, and for all of his efforts, she wouldn't even let him touch her. How cruel, he thought to himself as he walked slowly around the car to open her door. It'd been five days since he held her last. Five days since she'd said she loved him back. Five days since he'd broken her heart and he hadn't had a good night's rest since. He knew he didn't deserve one either."
Playful moments and connections between the two waver between loving and adversarial even as distance separates them and introduces her ideas and conflicts about the loss of a daughter, conflicted family relationships, and the bad timing of golden opportunities, and realizations of faults and feelings ("She'd never had to deal with those tough days without him right by her side but now, thanks to his ambitious departure that March, she had. What was worse was that she hadn't said a peep about it. Jonas knew that her lack of addressing their issues meant that a storm of sorts could be waiting when he finally did come home. With just two months left on his assignment, he'd promised to make it back to her by their anniversary at the beginning of September.").
Should the couple strive to put things back the way they were before; or has their love changed forever?
Yesterday's Love is an exceptional read about a long-time couple who endures newfound challenges. It is especially recommended for romance and relationship readers who prefer their stories to hold psychological depth, insights, characters who grow both individually and as a couple, and an uplifting conclusion with a resolution that fully embraces individuality as well as love's opportunities for growth and change.
To Squeeze a Prairie Dog: An American Novel
9780999717387, $15.99 paper/$3.99 ebook
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-squeeze-a-prairie-dog-scott-semegran/1129533592?ean=9780999717387
Google Play Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Scott_Semegran_To_Squeeze_a_Prairie_Dog?id=HwZuDwAAQBAJ
J. D. Wiswall is the newest clerk in a pool of state government workers. He learns of competition among peers for a $10,000 prize for developing a cost-saving program to improve the government's budget and their own lives. Their developing team is on track to win, but when J.D.'s bumbling alcoholic supervisor accidentally stumbles on a multimillion-dollar cost-savings suggestion, problems begin.
Governor Bennett is a politician who will stop at nothing to stoke his ego; even if it means throwing the personal lives and quirks of his clerks into the public eye. When a snoopy reporter threatens the clerks' ability to claim a prize that will change their lives, sparks erupt in this quirky, fun spoof about ambition, success, dirty little secrets, and social and political oddballs.
The book's title, To Squeeze a Prairie Dog, already indicates that the tale will be extraordinary, and readers will quickly realize that the multifaceted account isn't just a romp through political ambition and smarmy individuals. It's about a group of oddballs with ambitions to move beyond their set financial, social, and career courses to achieve greater goals, and it pairs a healthy dose of wry humor and insights with a realistic story of interactions between very different colleagues who are thrown together to evolve to something greater than their clerical roles.
Satire and comedic observation are juxtaposed with acts of connection in a story that excels in portraying not just great ambitions, but small acts of kindness: "I wish there was something more I could do to bring joy to all of us besides cookin'," she said. Seeing smiles on her coworkers' faces did bring her immense joy."
From creative brainstorming over the grand prize to the things everyone feels compelled to do to get ahead, To Squeeze a Prairie Dog isn't just about sacrifice and ambition, but about the costs of success and the challenges of remaining creatively quirky in a world replete with economic, social and political challenges and goal-seekers.
Fun, ironic acronyms and jokes illustrate real efforts to bond, support one another, and survive against secrets and revelations about how the world really operates. To Squeeze a Prairie Dog paints a rollicking story that careens through the office structure to delve into the motivations, lives, and connections between ordinary individuals.
Readers seeking an uplifting, fun story of fortune, friendship, and fame will find To Squeeze a Prairie Dog juxtaposes a range of viewpoints and ironic situations designed to leave readers both entertained and thoughtful. This tale comes full-circle to provide a satisfying spoof on political ambitions while commenting on personal achievement and ideals of success.
Firsts: Coming of Age Stories by People with Disabilities
Belo Miguel Cipriani
9781732312708 (Trade Paperback) $15.95
9781732312715 (eBook) $ 3.99 www.amazon.com
Firsts: Coming of Age Stories by People with Disabilities blends the memoir of author Belo Miguel Cipriani with a wider-ranging collection of coming-of-age stories about people with disabilities. When Cipriani was twenty-seven and newly blind, he searched futilely for such stories, seeking connections and assurances that he was not alone in his experiences.
What he uncovered was limited, and not necessarily what he needed to hear: "In fiction, I often found the physical limitations of a character were used as the primary source of their villainy. Men and women were painted to be pure evil as a result of a missing limb or sense. Even worse, though, was to see people, whose body showed some diversity in biology, be simply shown as charity cases. In the world of memoir, the reading options for disability stories were limited. In fact, they were almost non-existent. Many books that were labeled as disability stories, turned out to be about people, who were told, after a tragedy, that they would never walk, see, or speak again, beat all odds and miraculously get their abilities back. Thus, the protagonist ends up not having to live with their condition - an option not available to most people with disabilities."
His aim in gathering these writings involved eschewing popular misconceptions about the disabled community, to capture their real struggles and experiences and to provide a series of more realistic stories that portray disabled folk as neither heroes nor villains; but as real people. In the course of his search for stories more true to life, Cipriani honed his own identity as a writer and journalist and found himself on a mission to gather and get these stories into the public eye.
Firsts thus represents both a self-growth odyssey and a collection of storytellers who have their own life-affirming stories to relate.
Because Cipriani found that there is relatively little discussion in literature of the rites of passage of people with disabilities, he narrowed his topic to a specific area, selecting essays from eleven authors who reveal their own special challenges, successes, and failures.
From Nigel David Kelly's 'Dark Cloud', which explores a physically fit individual's struggle with initial hearing loss that leads to a much bigger issue and the problems experienced by those who are disabled by conditions invisible to others, to Kimberly Gerry-Tucker's 'Firsts in Art', which follows an autistic child's unique journey into art, perception, and self-awareness, each story outlines a different process of growth, change, and empowerment which cover not just different lives and diagnoses of disability, but the growth of powerful tools of adjustment for daily living.
Readers anticipating 'coming of age' as it usually refers to teenagers will find that, in this case, the stories embrace blossoming at different ages, through different strategies and experiences.
The result is an anthology that should be considered a foundation pick for any collection strong in disability literature and personal stories of growth.
Matti is a feisty commando woman whose own mother was killed in the course of an undercover mission, leaving her beloved daughter to be raised by others. She follows in her birth mother's footsteps in working on foreign missions, facing terrorists, torturers, and adversaries and cultivating relationships with strong peers who also operate under the radar, but she's also managed to shield her husband and children from her demanding career as a secret operative.
What could possibly go wrong in her latest mission? Plenty; because it not only involves dangerous confrontations overseas, but comes full circle to attack her personal life and everything she loves.
The central force in AESOP lies in Matti's personality and spunky perspective take the world, and in her take-charge attitude and training which not only allow her to survive, but to consistently confront the forces against her. It's refreshing to see a female protagonist take the reins with independent thinking, proactive engagement, and confrontations that demand higher-level thinking.
Matti is a formidable spy, enemy, operative, and individual whose dual identity as a wife and mother is constantly tested by her assignments.
From chance encounters and the nature of 'defining moments' that change her course in life to her creative problem-solving skills and determination to not just survive, but thrive, Matti's character is the driving force to a story of espionage, intrigue, and adventure that will capture reader interest and keep readers engaged right up to a vigorous, explosive conclusion.
Plenty of thrillers attempt to create spunky female protagonists; but AESOP excels in its gritty, first-person observational style. It will especially delight thriller audiences who like their action nonstop and their characters not just intelligent, but self-determined, driven, and sometimes edgy in their relationships with loved ones, superiors, peers, and the world.
AESOP is highly recommended and is head and shoulders above most thrillers featuring female operatives facing high-level threats and physical and mental challenges.
The Upside-Down Gardener
The Well Bred Book
1730777279, $12.95, www.wellbredbook.net
The Upside-Down Gardener offers picture book readers a different kind of gardening story about Dory Oslo, who lives in New York City, hates the winter, and can't wait for warm weather, where people wear brighter colors and smile more.
Her wise mother suggests they add color into their lives by planting a garden: but Dory doesn't see the potential in her inner city home. Instead of a promising plot of land, she observes: "...the trash cans and a few cats in the alley behind their house. And she saw only a small piece of the sun. Dory wondered how a garden could ever grow in this tiny back yard."
Kids with good reading skills and parents who assist them will relish this story of a young gardener who doesn't envision herself as such, especially since she's impatient and thinks the seeds she plants should somehow yield color and bounty immediately.
Dory's never been good at waiting for anything...but then, she's never thought she could grow anything.
As youngsters follow Dory's progression, the story takes an unexpected turn from her frustration with her little plot's lack of progress and color to an urban gardening miracle.
This twist to the tale gives it an added attraction and flavor and makes The Upside-Down Gardener a standout from any other picture book about young gardeners. It creates a sense of mystery and adds a dash of humor as Dory realizes that her impatience may have influenced her own 'upside down' results.
Dory cultivates some wild dreams that grow beyond her garden and into the rest of her life. This, too, makes The Upside-Down Gardener an exceptional read that links the effort to grow plants to a broader discussion of growing new ideas, objectives, and approaches to life.
These elements make The Upside-Down Gardener a top recommendation for elementary-level collections looking for a creative approach to problem-solving that uses gardening as a springboard towards achievement and positive approaches to life itself. It's a highly recommended book that adopts a topic lending to classroom discussion not just about growing plants, but growing new, positive pathways to life itself.
Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows
9781732457805 $12.99 print / $5.99 eBook
It's been seven years since Thomas last saw his father. He was six years old then, and he's about to turn thirteen, now.
As the story opens, Thomas seems to be an ordinary boy: a studious child who likes doodling, has a close friend, and enjoys martial arts. But on one ordinary day, he runs into a wild-eyed man whose music draws him with a mysterious familiarity he can't quite put his finger on. When the man disappears, Thomas pursues a vanishing promise of magic and enters an antique bookstore. Inside, he discovers an amazing place and a special book that opens the door to another world of possibilities.
He's always been interested in magic - real magic; not new age and fantasy. His father laid that groundwork of interest seven years ago, before his sudden disappearance: "His dad's last words flashed into his mind, the final fragment before everything changed. "Magic is real, Thomas. No matter what happens, always remember that magic is real."
Thomas embarks on his own discovery of this magical realm and its meaning in his life, bringing middle grade fantasy readers into a rollicking ride through self-discovery, incredible danger, and a quest that holds vast implications and impacts for not just Thomas's life, but for everyone and everything around him.
Many of the devices employed by J.M. Bergen (a beloved, but missing parent, an unshakable belief in magic, a mysteriously-appearing old bookstore, and a journey into another realm) will be familiar to young fantasy enthusiasts; but this story offers more depth and detail than similar-sounding tales.
For one, Thomas is tasked with employing his studious skills in the course of tracking down clues, which includes internet research and critical thinking: "The reference to magical crystals was too intriguing to ignore. If the book and scroll were connected, and it seemed like they must be, then maybe the crystals Jackman searched for were the same ones the dark stranger gave to Isham. Thomas had a printed copy of the article in his now-bulging backpack and emailed himself the link for good measure. If there were more non-Goth references to The Book of Sorrows on the Internet, Thomas didn't find them."
Secondly, a blend of treasure hunt, kidnapping challenge, and monster story keeps the plot fast-paced and unpredictable as Thomas enters a vibrant, bizarre, and colorful world and finds himself part of a new team that relies on those with magical abilities to achieve what their talents don't include.
Characterization is strong, several different purposes and encounters keep the story line fast-paced and unpredictable, and kids who enjoy blends of fantasy, treasure hunting, and personal struggle will relish the balance between these themes in Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows.
The result is a captivating story that goes beyond a quest/adventure in a magical realm to follow the progress of a thirteen-year-old just beginning to acknowledge not only his own strengths, but different realities and his place in these worlds.
Middle graders will find Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows a compelling story that offers good psychological depth, exquisite tension, and an adventure tale that proves hard to put down.
A Child is a Piece of Paper
Lance Crossley, Publisher
9781386835714 $3.99 Kindle
A Child is a Piece of Paper focuses on Canada's treatment of its indigenous peoples. It presents the issues through the eyes and experiences of Wanisin, who moves from a natural life on the reservation, filled with outdoors experiences and habits that support his native roots, to a brutal indoctrination process at a Catholic-run "Indian" residential school where he is physically and psychologically molested and forced to adopt a culture not his own.
Dresden Lake's focus is on crushing his Indian spirit and soul, and they accomplish this so completely that "Wally" loses his identity, confidence, and roots, and faces adult responsibilities without the grounding that his cultural origins would have provided. His process of regaining these roots and confronting the abuses of a system determined to crush his Indian heritage makes for a gripping, wrenching read that encourages readers to consider the processes and impact of cultural clashes, genocide, and survival. The message deeply embedded in this process is clearly presented: "...the world is generous. It will give you many, many signs, many, many chances to find your way home. The thing is not to lose hope."
Hope is a river that runs through A Child is a Piece of Paper and follows Wanisin as he attempts to heal his crippled body and mind and reconnect to his culture and life's meaning. Readers thus receive much philosophical and psychological strength in a story that flows through Wally's revised experiences and world, offering metaphors for his changed life and all its foundations; even his beloved fishing tradition: "-Wally, we can't eat that. -Uh? -Not here. It's toxic. Wally tilts his head, absorbing his friend's words. The happiness he experienced for that brief moment fades. His grip on the gills loosen as the fish twitches one last time above the nebulous red grave it has prepared for itself."
How does one evolve when all the familiar foundations of experience and connection have been broken? A Child is a Piece of Paper answers this question through succinct, hard-hitting scenes of life experience and changes that follow Wallace/Wanisin through his growth and struggles both with himself and with the Canadian world around him.
Fiction readers seeking enlightenment into the processes of cultural domination and transformation will find A Child is a Piece of Paper an important key to understanding cultural survival and recovery, tailoring a story that is inviting, realistic, and thoroughly engrossing.
The Book Fix
Black Rose Writing
PO Box 1540, Castroville, TX 78009
The Book Fix is a story of two librarians and their battle against censorship and prejudice. As Adam and Olivia find their world changed in a post-2016 whirlwind of social and political conflicts, they emerge from their comfort zones to address new opportunities and challenges.
He's already an idealist who loves classical music and wants to improve lives. She's already an experienced activist raised in Chicago, savvy about the process. And the public library milieu that serves as a backdrop to these connected lives is anything but a refuge for the introverted: it's a melting pot of cultural connections and political information that provides lifelines to those without the knowledge to fight back.
This emphasis on political savvy and knowledge's link to activism and life choices is emphasized throughout the course of evolving relationships not just with each another, but with society as a whole. As Olivia says, "Day after day, my father saw people in the old Chicago neighborhoods, in the 'hoods that had gone bad, people who couldn't begin to imagine how to get out, how to save their lives, their children's lives, who to find to talk to, what to ask, what might be out there for them. They didn't know enough to know what they didn't know."
The Book Fix is not just a story of two individuals facing transformation, but of a community's involvement in issues of censorship, homophobia, and workplace and community-wide liberties.
Readers anticipating a story of librarians in love or involved in bookish pursuits receive many surprises in The Book Fix because it's not just a story of books and their role in the community, but of changing lives affected by prejudice and repression.
All the characters grow from their original beliefs and perceptions, and all face risks and consequences of their decisions which affect not just their roles in life, but their relationships with each other and their community. This story can serve as a parable for modern America: an account of very different individuals joined by their passion for not just books and the inner workings of the library board, but the liberties they promise.
Fiction readers seeking a cut above the usual book topic will find The Book Fix especially strong in social insight while staying true to the characters' evolving personalities, beliefs, and interpersonal relationships.
The Yankee Way: The Blueprint that Created America
Courant Publishing, LLC
9781732781207, $14.95, www.theyankeeway.com
With all the rhetoric surrounding making America great again and its past, present, and future possibilities, it's important to note that many answers about its history and potentials lie in The Yankee Way: The Blueprint that Created America.
Readers of both American history and political issues would do well to refresh their memories and re-examine historic events using The Yankee Way as a blueprint for tracing America's journey. It presents the unusual argument that the wellspring of America's values, strengths, and success lie not so much in founding documents, principles, or aggressive expansion behaviors as in the basic ethnic traits of Yankees who developed moral and ethical principles that were passed from the early New England Puritans to their descendants.
These foundation belief systems, more so than documents or actions, formed the basis of America's devotion to order, conduct, and family values, creating an environment that led to the real 'greatness' of America's vision and its social strength.
The Yankee Way blends a cultural and ethnic group inspection and analysis with broader considerations of this group's impact on America's formation and history, tracing Yankee and American evolution from early to modern times.
As chapters reveal a scenario of developing beliefs and decision-making based on this cultural group's foundations, they also evolve a warning about how the hallmarks of the 'Yankee Way' (thrift, ingenuity, civic virtue, determination and work ethic; all of which receive their own separate chapters of close inspection) are eroding in modern times, holding dangerous consequences for future generations of Americans.
The Yankee Way affords readers a powerful grasp on the origins of some of this nation's most basic tenants, a newfound understanding of their evolution, and a thought-provoking appreciation of why these values are threatened, today.
No thinking American should neglect tracing this blueprint of evolution, because the consequences of not fully understanding the message and history provided in The Yankee Way are dangerous and all too possible. Rather than concluding with despair, Troy Tyson points out a choice and challenge to his readers: "Americans must first recognize the source of their nation's greatness, and determine whether they will continue down the path that led them to their position as the world's leading nation, or abandon that path for a new, perhaps more immediately appealing way forward; whether they will throw off the cultural toxins inhaled over the past 50 years, or return zealously to the Yankee Way, sowing its powerful seeds so that future generations of Americans might reap the unparalleled benefits."
The Yankee Way: The Blueprint that Created America is highly recommended not just as a basic read for all Americans, but as a point of debate for high school to college-level American history classes.
A Knife's Edge
9781946664426, $19.95 Paper / $0.99 Kindle
A Knife's Edge is a powerful Ronan McCullough thriller revolving around a drug cartel's operations in Charleston. Ronan's investigations take a more personal turn when the body of his colleague is found in a burning car, leading him to probe her life.
Ronan's personal life is just as complicated as the case he's investigating: he's trying to support his boyfriend Ty, an emergency room nurse, in different ways; he is immersed in not one but a number of murders; and he's enraged at Ty for some of his choices.
Eliot Parker takes time to expand Ty's role and perspective, adding an extra dimension of interpersonal interaction to the story that flushes out its action and intrigue and keeps events personal and compelling. Ty's nursing instincts become an integral part of the investigation, much to Ronan's chagrin, and add to the story line as Ty navigates a complex series of deaths that move beyond emergency room efforts and into the realm of criminal investigation.
As Ronan becomes more immersed in a killer's cover-up, Ty struggles with not being able to save the victims who pile up during the course of events. The cat-and-mouse game that emerges affects them all, toying with their emotions, professions, and relationships.
One of the most compelling aspects of A Knife's Edge is its attention to building interpersonal connections between characters, then using them to support the evolving intrigue embedded in a stand-alone police procedural thriller. Readers become involved not just in a 'whodunnit' crime story; but in the relationship between Ronan, Ty, and others in their circle of friends and professional associates.
Hearts and careers are on the line as Ronan edges ever closer to a startling medical truth that could change all their lives.
Exquisite tension, well-developed characters who are as solid in their personal lives as in their professional objectives, and an attention to nicely-paced detail make A Knife's Edge a winning read that's highly recommended not just for fans of police procedurals and mysteries, but for those who like a good medical mystery spiced with psychological depth.
The Adventures of Fawn: 'Til the Last Snowflake Falls
Al E. Boy
ASIN: B00NRZO920 $3.50 Kindle/$10.99 Paper
'Til the Last Snowflake Falls is the first book in The Adventures of Fawn series, and provides a coming-of-age story about the daughter of Santa's legendary reindeer, Comet and Vixen.
One would anticipate a picture book production (or perhaps a chapter book) from the title and premise of the story; but a little over three hundred pages of text (accompanied by some black and white drawings) places it more in the realm of a post-elementary-level reader. Kids past the chapter book stage who still enjoy whimsical, light-hearted stories of Santa's legacy, as well as adults who look for inspirational, uplifting reads and who are not too 'old' to delve into a book featuring a younger animal protagonist, will appreciate the character of Fawn, who is determined to strike out on her own against her parents' wishes.
Because she can't gain their permission, she begins to sneak out to do dangerous, exciting things on her own. 'Til the Last Snowflake Falls chronicles these mishaps, secrets, white lies, and the world outside of her familiar Santa's Village home.
Fawn rebels not only against her parents' wishes, but against the structure of her protected life: "You see! Even when I try to have a little fun---I don't! My life is as boring as a melting snowball!...Each and every day is exactly the same, Dad. I have no friends! I can't go anywhere---and have nothing to do. I hang around all day watching the Forgetful Twins sweeping floors and brushing down the reindeer."
The contrast between parents who want to shelter their child and a rebellious child's vision of a more interesting world and life beyond the boundaries of these restrictions are presented using clear dialogue and interactions that reinforce the perceptions of not just Fawn, but her parents and those around her.
As a host of characters influence Fawn's journey, from Snowboy/Snowman to a hungry wolf and Doctor Weather, Fawn brings magic and wonder to a world outside of her own, and young readers receive an engaging fantasy filled with animal protagonists.
Discussions of the far-reaching consequences of bridging very different worlds create an engrossing survey: "Doctor, just as Fawn entered my world one day---and changed it forever, you have entered our world today. After this, perhaps your own world won't quite ever be the same again. Will you have to make a choice between the two worlds? Or, can you live with them both?"
It's hard to easily peg the age group of this light-hearted adventure. Kids with good reading skills who can appreciate the black and white drawings peppered throughout a thought-provoking story of changes, adventures, and mature thinking will appreciate 'Til the Last Snowflake Falls, a study in contrasts, development, and the lasting consequences and impact of choices. But Fawn's underlying message of community and spirit in Christmas season and beyond can reach well beyond the children's market, as well.
The philosophical and underlying message of the story is recommended for elementary-grade readers in grades 4-5 who are past the need for color picture embellishments, but still capable of enjoying a whimsical, fun fantasy about Santa's world and small Fawn's determination to make her life more exciting and meaningful; but its real impact will prove inviting to all ages who look for more than another Santa Christmas tale.
The Preacher's First Murder
Paperback ISBN: 9780996700207 $14.99
E-book ISBN: 9780996700214 $4.99
The Preacher's First Murder is the first book in the Pastor Matt Hayden series, and examines the alter ego of a policeman forced to enter the Witness Protection Program to revise his identity and save his family. With his newfound identity as a Texas pastor just out of seminary school, Matt anticipates a semi-retired pastoral life. The goal is to stay out of trouble; but he seems destined for the fast track as the small town he relocates to faces a murder and a controlling daughter's grip.
Forced to blend the dual personas of a quiet pastor with the investigative prowess of his alter ego, Matt receives heart-wrenching lessons in crime and small-town politics and personalities: "Elsbeth wanted her son to use the service as a campaign stop."), and theological challenges ("Every one of those sermons had followed the gospel for the day to the letter. Every one of them would have made his seminary instructors proud. They'd been theologically truthful. Scripturally sound. And, very possibly, blatantly boring."
Because The Preacher's First Murder is firmly rooted in Matt's new identity, it offers an intriguing contrast between his investigative skills and his theological dilemmas, which at times clash in the arena of bigger picture thinking and small town interactions.
From violent threats during bar brawls where the residents handle their own problems without police intervention to changing times, duties, and approaches in the town of Wilks, generational ties and history come to light as Matt toes a delicate line between a pastor's spiritual world and a policeman's gritty scuffle with death and murder.
This dichotomy challenges perceptions of home, safety, good and bad memories, and present-day issues often cleverly defied by those not quite in socially accepted circles: "She could stand living in a town where people thought she was something she wasn't. She'd done that all of her life and snubbed her nose at them all. Heck, she'd even named her bowling team "The Hellraisers" so that the Lutheran Church would be forced to put a bad word in their bulletin every time the church team played hers...She couldn't stand living in a town where someone had hated enough to kill her mamma. She wasn't sure she could live with that fact without becoming an animal herself."
Matt's probe of close-held small-town secrets endangers his newfound persona and his perception of his revised role in life. Events center upon his choices and individuals challenged by both the murder and the town's evolving new identity. The possibility of romance imparts an additional spicy flavor to the plot.
Readers seeking a murder mystery that works on many levels, from investigative processes to different levels of interrogation and suspicion, will relish Matt's special dilemmas as he faces the overwhelming weight of responsibility as events unfold to reveal a deadly twist.
Does the truth really set you free, or does it introduce more complications? Murder mystery fans who look for more than a simple 'whodunnit' plot will find The Preacher's First Murder takes a satisfyingly complex path. It follows Matt's conundrums, possibilities, choices, and the difficult task of settling into not just a new town, but a new identity challenged by past and present events and future promises.
Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services
The Clean Money Revolution
Joel Solomon with Tyee Bridge
New Society Publishers
PO Box 189, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada, V0R 1X0
9780865718395, $29.99, HC, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: By 2050, $50 trillion will change hands in North America in the largest generational wealth transfer ever. It will remake the world and be the biggest money-making opportunity in history.
"Business as usual", founded on exploitation and environmental ruin, is over. Climate change based catastrophes, reactionary politics, and widening inequity have put the world on edge. Meanwhile innovations are shifting the economic ground, and an entire generation is pounding the table for real change. Capitalism is evolving into a force that can restore the planet, transform the global economy, and bring justice to people.
Chair of Renewal Funds, Canada's largest mission venture capital firm, Joel Solomon (an impact investor and change agent), lays it on the line In "The Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power, Purpose, and Capitalism" which is partly the memoir of an inspiring thought leader's journey from presidential campaigner to pioneering investor, partly an insider's guide to the businesses remaking the world, and partly a manifesto for a new vision of profit, power, and purpose.
Readers will meet some of the people behind this massive shift, and discover the role they can play in the $50-trillion movement toward true prosperity.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Clean Money Revolution: Reinventing Power, Purpose, and Capitalism" must be considered essential reading for investors, wealth advisors, aspiring entrepreneurs, economists, students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the new capitalism that will use wealth to transform how we can all live and prosper in an ever changing and ever challenging world. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Clean Money Revolution" is also available in a paperback edition (9780865718920, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
New Public Leadership
Douglas F. Morgan, Marcus D. Ingle, and Craig W. Shinn
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9780765634641 $49.95 pbk / $47.45 eTextbook amazon.com
Synopsis: Most leadership literature stems from and focuses on the private sector, emphasizing personal qualities that bind leaders and followers to a shared purpose. As the authors of New Public Leadership argue, if these shared purposes do not build trust and legitimacy in public institutions, such traditional leadership tropes fall short of the standard demanded by contemporary public servants.? For twenty years the authors have been developing a leadership education and training framework specifically designed to encourage public service professionals to 'lead from where they sit.' This book presents that comprehensive, integrated, and practical leadership framework, grounded in the uniqueness of public legal missions, culture, history and values.
The authors explore three key elements of leadership success: 1) an understanding of our public service context, including the history, the values and the institutions that comprise our leadership setting, 2) a set of tools designed to help leaders initiate collective action in wicked challenge settings, and 3) tools to support sound judgment, enabling leaders to do the right thing in the right circumstances for the right reasons. The authors further provide readers with a basic understanding of democratic institutions, encouraging them to work within and across multiple vertical and horizontal systems of authority?
The book is organized into four sections, each of which is accompanied by a Master Case that provides the reader with an opportunity to apply the principles and leadership tools discussed in the text to practice. To further reinforce the practice-centered approach to leadership knowledge and skills, the authors have developed an accompanying EMERGE Leadership Handbook, complete with exercises, available online. Written specifically with the practicing public manager in mind, this book arms public servants with a large repertoire of leadership skills, designed to accommodate changing public values and conflicting priorities at all levels of our public organizations.
Critique: New Public Leadership: Making a Difference from Where We Sit is a scholarly examination of the skill and virtue of leadership, particularly with regards to improvements in the public sector. Created especially to aid public servants in a wide variety of government fields, New Public Leadership emphasizes a diversity of leadership skills tailored to adapt to the changing needs of the general public. A bibliography and an index round out this welcome contribution to public and government library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that New Public Leadership is also available in a Kindle eTextbook edition ($47.45).
The Integrity of the Body of Christ
Arden F. Mahlberg & Craig L. Nessan
c/o Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401-2960
9781498235389, $44.00, HC, 236pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: For religious communities to have integrity and credibility they must flourish as places of love and respect. Every aspect of church life is defined and protected by essential boundaries: boundaries around space, time, thought, speech, will, emotion, and behavior -- both for clergy and church members.
Lack of awareness and attention to boundary keeping diminishes the integrity of the church and harms its mission, whereas insight and vigilance about best practices lend freedom and energy to the calling of the church to care for others and to reach out to the world. In a flourishing Christian community, a wide array of boundaries must be recognized, celebrated, and navigated ranging from the boundaries that define and protect us as individual persons to role boundaries and the boundaries that define essential communal functions, such as worship.
"The Integrity of the Body of Christ" by Arden Mahlberg (who is a practicing psychologist whose career has focused on the interface between psychotherapy and spirituality with the purpose of helping increase people's capacity for doing good in the world) is no conventional account of boundaries. It takes a comprehensive approach to the challenge of understanding and creating healthy boundaries.
It also applies the lessons from the emerging field of behavioral ethics to the rich and rewarding complexity of boundaries in church life, helping us to be more loving and responsible in how we think, speak, and act, so that the church can be true to its identity and mission.
Critique: It is interesting to note that Arden Mahlberg is a psychologist and the Director of The Integral Psychology Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and that a substantial part of his counseling and consulting practice being with clergy, he has written extensively for clergy wellness publications. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Integrity of the Body of Christ" is unreservedly recommended for church, seminary, and academic library collections. It should also be noted for personal reading lists that "The Integrity of the Body of Christ" is also available in a paperback edition (9781498235365, $29.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Murder She Wrote Manuscript for Murder
Jessica Fletcher & Hon Land
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451489302, $25.00, www.amazon.com
Normally the series of "Murder She Wrote" novels are fun reading as Jessica Fletcher helps solve a case. "Manuscript for Murder" is a bit different because Jon Land takes readers behind the scenes of the publishing world revealing a lot of things about the business with a very fascinating story. A writer dies. At first it seems he committed suicide, then his and Jessica's publisher turns up dead also ruled that the owner of the book company took his own life. Jessica pulls together the pieces of the puzzle that revolve around a manuscript that leaves a trail of bodies along the way for anyone who touches it. "Murder She Wrote Manuscript for Murder" races along with many plot twits until the final page with great characters and the charming armature sleuth Jessica Fletcher in the middle of it all. Fans of the TV show should enjoy this welcome addition to the series of novels.
A Gathering of Vultures
Donald Michael Platt
9781942756347, $17.50, www.amazon.com
'A Gathering of Vultures" is a dark and sinister tale of horror that is bound to captivate any reader to the very end. Terri and Rick Hamilton are professional ball room dancers who compete whenever and wherever they can. Terri though, has some health issues that keep her from doing a lot more in her life. The two take a trip to a scenic island off the coast of Brazil to visit old friends. They find that the wife of Martin mysteriously died a while ago and that Martin is since re married a very short time after the death of his first wife. They question a lot of things including why there is a bizarre smell that surrounds Martin. Terri through a strange health center begins to change in character while Rick stands by helpless to do anything. Beginning with a dance competition the novel races along to a final revealing climax that is a nail-biting finish. "A Gathering of Vultures" is a great read for anyone who is looking for a new author of horror to enjoy
AJ & Magnus Best Family Ever
Written by Bryan Steel
Illustrated by Simon Steel
9780692779958, $19.99, www.amazon.com
"AJ & Magnus Best Family Ever" is the second collection of the comic strip by two talented men that is guaranteed to make anyone laugh at the wonderful antics of the two main characters. So often these days this genre is filled with superhero books that fill the shelves. Its refreshing to see an old-time type of collection that is for comic relief of the negative world we live in. "AJ & Magnus Best Family Ever" is a nice addition to the series of books.
A Man of Miracles A True Story of Hope
Michael Duffy. JR
9781732207516, $15.95, www.amazon.com
"A Man of Miracles" reads like a piece of fiction but is the true story of one mans journey of life and how he's escaped death while accomplishing so much for other people. The writing moves along throughout one man's passage from adolescence to adulthood with the clear-cut image that through faith anyone can succeed whatever they set out to do. "A Man of Miracles" has many positive messages for all of us to follow to get through even the darkest of times.
The Christmas Sweater A Novel
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781416594857, $19.99, www.amazon.com
Every so often a book comes along that later becomes a classic of a particular season. That is the case of the wonderful novel "The Christmas Sweater." Eddie a twelve-year-old boy wants one thing for Christmas as a present. Unable to give him what he wants his mother with caring and love knits him a sweater that she hopes he will appreciate. Instead she is crushed by his reaction. Eddie is deeply angered by the death of his father due to cancer. His resentment manifests itself in many different ways as he and his family of his grandparents and mom move through the Christmas season. "The Christmas Sweater" is a beautiful tale of the true meaning of the holiday that is an inspiration for all of us to enjoy over and over again that would make a great film to show every year around Christmas time.
Jewish Holiday Style: A Beautiful Guide to Celebrating the Jewish Rituals in Style
Rita Milos Brownstein
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781684849591, $30.00, www.amazon.com
There are many different facets to Judaism that are exposed in "Jewish Holiday Style A beautiful guide to celebrating the Jewish rituals in style." Beginning with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) the book concludes with Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath). The sections reveal the history, customs, and the foods with recipes for everyone to learn more about a slice of the religion, while being able to experience it firsthand. "Jewish Holiday Style A beautiful guide to celebrating the Jewish rituals in style" is a fantastic coffee table conversation piece that anyone can enjoy that is also filled with beautiful pictures that enhance a person's enjoyment.
Breakaway Beyond The Goal
Alex Morgan with Sarah Durand
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781481491086, $19.99, www.amazon.com
Kids these days are bombarded with so many negative messages on social media and other means. It's nice to see Alex Morgan in her book "Breakaway Beyond The Goal refutes much of the adverse implications of our present day. Besides that, she is a positive role model for all kids to follow. She epitomizes the old-time sports figure who were influenced by another person, then gave back to others as she excites others to the growing sport. She has represented the United States in the World Cup Games, the Olympics and now is a team member on The Orlando Pride a professional soccer team. Here she exposes her own life and the lessons learned along the way. Some of the points are setting goals but also being aware there may be setbacks in her case injuries, maintaining relationships and how they may play a role later, focusing on what you want, striving to get there also warning to be cautious of what you put out on social media, are some of the things she conveys. Each chapter ends with her letting kids know things to keep in mind for whatever they want to be in life not just for sports. She is a proponent of equality showing the difference of the ground men play on that is grass while females perform on turf. There is a correlation of cancer, while injury ratios are higher for females versus males, all because of the surfaces they compete on. Morgan's positive words in "Breakaway Beyond The Goal' is also a major part of the movie she stars in "Alex and Me" that shows more of what she writes about. Both are educational tools for parents to pass on to their children that are fun to learn from.
The Gift of Bread Recipes for the Heart and the Table
c/o Worthy Media Inc
9781683970255, $15.99, www.amazon.com
"The Gift of Bread Recipes for the Heart and the Table" is not just a great cookbook celebrating one of the most beloved things to eat but, also an educational expose highlighting the role bread has played in many different religious customs. Some breads are affiliated with Jesus while others show the relationship of the ancient Hebrews. Author Whiting takes readers on an excursion through religious history to learn and experience by making many of the recipes she provides. "The Gift of Bread Recipes for the Heart and the Table" is sure to please with the many types of creations anyone who wants to try something new for any meal while learning a bit of religious background.
The Last 60 Minutes
9781520277738, $9.97, www.amazon.com
The title of "The Last 60 Minutes" comes from the authors own experience of his own fathers' death where David was there the last hour of his dad's life. From that event David realized he had to change his direction and the book reveals things he learned on his self-awareness journey that he now passes on to others. He kicked the bad habits of excess drinking, partying excessively to search for a new understanding of the meaning of life. He learned to be grateful for positive and negative things, who he is, what he wants are just a few of the things he writes about.
Author Your Life
9781726624268, $15.97, www.amazon.com
"Author Your Life" expands many of the concepts, writer David McCrae began in "The Last 60 Minutes." This time he tells readers they have to look at their own lives and dig deep to find themselves, some of the ideas he expresses are, realizing what their particular calling is and moving towards it, unlocking their true self, what are the influences and what can they do for others. His writing is easy to follow as if he is talking directly to the reader. "Author Your Life" is a treasure trove of information, geared to help anyone to better enjoy their journey through life.
Rookie Privateer: Privateer Tales Book One
Amazon Digital Services LLC
Fickle Dragon Publishing
B00JT2LEOG, $0.00 Kindle ebook, 275 pages
9781499195538, $11.00 pbk amazon.com
Rookie Privateer is a fun hard science space opera that doesn't have any significant weaknesses. It is actually so well written that the story is better than it appears.
Liam Hoffen has just graduated from the equivalent of high school on mining Colony 40 in the Asteroid Belt. He has always wanted go into space and leave the hard life of asteroid mining but knows he doesn't have the money to leave his family's mining claim. He is about to give up his dreams when Colony 40 is attacked by pirates. He and his friends fight back and by chance become privateers for the Colony and Mars.
As with all fiction, there has to be compromises to the facts and allowances in the storyline to keep the plot moving. These weaknesses are so well hidden that most readers will never recognize them or, if they do, they push them aside so they can continue reading. Rookie Privateer is a very easy recommendation for everyone. The characters are relatable to teens, the story is fun for all SF genre readers and the pacing is fast enough for any action/adventure readers.
The Dante Connection: A Genevieve Lenard Novel
Amazon Digital Services LLC
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
B00BKKSUTC, $5.99, ebook, 361 pages
9781482609509, $15.99 pbk
The Dante Connection is more of a suspense/action novel than a mystery with historical connections. The book is also firmly linked into the other books in the Genevieve Lenard series. The story can be read as a standalone but the reader will spend the first half of the book pulling together descriptive facts from the first book to fill in the character development in the current story and will be disappointed that the ending is lead to the next book in the series.
Doctor Genevieve Lenard is an insurance investigator specializing in reading people's micro-expressions. She also happens to be an autistic savant. She wants and tries to relate and empathize with other people but struggles all the time with her autism.
A series of significant art thefts and attacks on people she knows occur that seem random but she knows are related. Genevieve recognizes that there is a pattern to these occurrences and she has to decipher the hidden meanings and taunts being sent to her before either she or her friends are harmed.
The Dante Connection is a fun book and is recommended as a thriller with a dash of mystery. The savant Genevieve is a great character and an enjoyable protagonist in the tale. The reader is warned that the book is intimately linked to the other books in the series so you might want to first consider this deeper commitment before picking up this title.
S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer
Rebuilding an Enlightened World: Folklorizing America
Indiana University Press
9780253029690, $25.00, HC, 194pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Bill Ivey is Senior Policy Fellow at Americans for the Arts and Trustee of the Center for American Progress. He was Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in the Clinton-Gore administration, and was Team Leader in the Obama presidential transition. Ivey is Past-President of the American Folklore Society, serving that group as Senior Advisor for China. He is author of "Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights" and "Handmaking America: A Back-to-Basics Pathway to a Revitalized American Democracy".
Twenty-first century global disorder has been attributed to the collapse of liberalism, the abandonment of the common good, a failure of democracy, and an inexplicable derangement of society. In "Rebuilding an Enlightened World: Folklorizing America", Ivey articulately argues that we are living through the painful and perhaps irreversible end of the Enlightenment. Today, the long-assumed belief in the permanence of an enlightened world is suddenly open to challenge.
Human rights, participatory government, and social justice have lost global influence, and a thread of unreason runs from the Taliban, through the Tea Party, to Trump, threatening women's rights, social justice, and democracy. To understand and to counteract the loss of this hard-won marker of human progress, we must set aside embedded explanations and embrace a frame of observation and understanding grounded in the power of belief, legend, and traditional.
Even as ordinary people around the world began to push back against the enlightenment, folklorists became more adept at recognizing the primary role of tradition and legend in the conduct of public affairs and everyday life. If we are to salvage the best of the Enlightenment dream, we must understand and ultimately accommodate the pervasive power of informal culture -- the customs, norms, and traditional practices that shape all human behavior.
Critique: An erudite, insightful, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking contribution to our national dialogue in this current 'Age of Trump' with its resurgence of racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and the rise of aself-acknowledged sexual predator to the presidency of the United States, "Rebuilding an Enlightened World: Folklorizing America" should have as wide a readership as possible, While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, social and political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Rebuilding an Enlightened World: Folklorizing America" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.01).
ChupaCabra Meets Billy the Kid
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806160726, $24.95, HC, 184pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: After years of working with at-risk youth, Chicana social worker Rosa Medina leaves Los Angeles's gang-ridden barrios and street violence to settle in the New Mexican village of Puerto de Luna. Her goal: to write a novel about Bilito -- Billy the Kid. It all sounds straightforward enough, but things get more complicated (and a lot more exciting) when Rosa is transported back in time to 1879, where she participates in the infamous Lincoln County War, riding alongside Bilito. How Rosa achieves this fantastical feat of time travel, and what she discovers about herself, Bilito, and her Nuevomexicano heritage, unfolds through the course of this novel by master storyteller Rudolfo Anaya.
As she travels in time, Rosa passes into an alternative reality inhabited by extraordinary creatures, including shapeshifters, extraterrestrials, Bigfoot, and ChupaCabra. Readers familiar with Anaya's previous ChupaCabra mysteries will remember the heroine's earlier dealings with the elusive monster, a frightening creature of Hispanic folklore. But new dangers are also lurking for Rosa in the land of her ancestors, as a secret group of scientists known as C-Force threatens to clone ChupaCabra to create an army that will rule the world. As she encounters the Nuevomexicana women whose families suffered during the Lincoln County conflict, Rosa finds new reasons to fear the ChupaCabra -- and to fight against the forces that threaten to shake the county to its core.
With her laptop computer in her saddlebag, Rosa rides into the Lincoln County War and accompanies Bilito on his last ride. By the end, her very soul is transformed, as she realizes that the same evil forces that propelled the violence along the Pecos River are much more resilient than she had hoped. In the finest tradition of magical realism and historical fiction, Anaya invites us to consider the ways that the supernatural reveals the realities of the past -- and of our own times.
Critique: It is interesting to note that Rudolfo Anaya, the author of "ChupaCabra Meets Billy the Kid", is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico and award-winning author of numerous books including the classic "Bless Me, Ultima". Having received myriad awards and honors for his work including Western Writers of America's Owen Wister Award (2018), the National Humanities Medal (2015), the National Medal of Arts (2001) and the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement from the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes (2012), he lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the Southwest has served as an inspiration for his writing throughout his life.
Now he applies his exceptional narrative driven storytelling talent as a novelist in an impressively original and inherently riveting read. "ChupaCabra Meets Billy the Kid" is an especially and unreservedly recommended personal reading lists, as well as for community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.
The Hope Squad
Gregory A. Hudnall
Cedar Fort, Inc.
2373 West 700 South, Springville, Utah 84663
9781462122196, $13.99, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It takes a village to raise a child, and in the case of youth suicide, it takes an entire community to save one.
Gregory A. Hudnall is a former high school principal, student service director, and associate superintendent with the Provo City School District. He has been involved with suicide prevention for the past twenty years. He is the founder of HOPE4UTAH, a nonprofit grassroots community organization dedicated to suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention in Utah. The school-based program HOPE Squads has been responsible for over 2,500 students referred for help and is in over 300 schools.
As a high school principal, Hudnall dealt with dozens of student suicides and devoted himself to bringing hope to despondent students.
"The Hope Squad: The Successful Suicide Prevention Program for Students" is a much-needed instructional study on bringing hope to despondent and at risk students in which Dr. Hudnall draws upon his years of experience and expertise to teach his readers about risk factors and warning signs of suicide and how they too can be a member of the Hope Squad.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented so as to be thoroughly accessible to teachers, school counselors, parents, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, "The Hope Squad: The Successful Suicide Prevention Program for Students" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to school district, community, mental health clinic, college, and university library Suicide Prevention collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
How to Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship
Eva Hagberg Fisher
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
3 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780544991156, $24.00, HC, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Eva Hagberg Fisher spent her lonely youth looking everywhere for connection: drugs, alcohol, therapists, boyfriends, girlfriends. Sometimes she found it, but always temporarily. Then, at age thirty, an undiscovered mass in her brain ruptured. So did her life. A brain surgery marked only the beginning of a long journey, and when her illness hit a critical stage, it forced her to finally admit the long suppressed truth: she was vulnerable, she needed help, and she longed to grow.
She needed true friendship for the first time.
"How to Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship" is a story of how an isolated person's life was ripped apart only to be gently stitched back together through friendship, and the recovery (of many stripes) that came along the way. It explores the isolation so many of us feel despite living in an age of constant connectivity; how our ambitions sometimes pull us apart more than bring us together; and how a simple doughnut, delivered by a caring soul, can become the essence of what makes a life valuable.
With gorgeous prose shot through with empathy, pain, fear, and the secret truths inside all of us, Eva writes about the friends who taught her to grow up and open her heart -- and how the relentlessness of suffering can give rise to the greatest joy.
Critique: An inherently engaging, impressively compelling read from beginning to end, "How to Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship" is extraordinarily well written and ultimately inspiring. While unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "How to Be Loved" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).
From Broke To Breadwinner
Morgan James Publishing
9781642790221, $14.95, PB, 146pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "From Broke to Breadwinner: A Single Mom's Guide to Financial Independence and More" by Certified Life Coach and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner, Janaki Chakravarthy provides 6 key ingredients that guide single moms to financial independence and beyond.
"From Broke to Breadwinner" shows single moms how to take charge of their life and their finances, while being the best parent for their children.
With unique concepts such as 'Guardian-mom' and 'Intentional Learning', "From Broke to Breadwinner" is practical without being preachy and motivates single moms to overcome the hurdles in their lives.
Critique: As real world practical as it is inspirationally motivating, ""From Broke to Breadwinner: A Single Mom's Guide to Financial Independence and More" is extraordinarily 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, making it an ideal and highly recommended addition to personal and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "From Broke To Breadwinner" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Feminisms in Motion
Jessica Hoffman & Daria Yudacufski, editors
370 Ryan Ave #100, Chico, CA 95973
9781849353342, $20.00, PB, 284pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In recent years, feminism has been at the forefront of social criticism in the United States, but the mainstream face of feminism is still typically white and often focused on gender issues to the exclusion of race, class, and almost everything else. Meanwhile, there are long and rich traditions of women-of-color-centered feminisms that acknowledge all systems of power as connected, and recognize how ending one form of violence entails the transformation of society on multiple fronts.
From 2007 to 2017, a small, Los Angeles-based independent magazine called make/shift published some of the most inspiring feminist voices of the decade, articulating ideas from the grassroots and amplifying feminist voices on immigration, state violence, climate change, and other issues.
Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by writer, editor, and museum administrator Jessica Hoffmann and Daria Yudacufski (Executive Director of Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative at USC), "Feminisms in Motion: Voices for Justice, Liberation, and Transformation" presents highlights from 10 years of make/shift magazine, providing a wide-ranging look at contemporary intersectional feminist thought and action.
We are living in a moment of mounting racist violence, xenophobia, income inequality, climate displacement, and war. Intersectional feminism has been creating and pointing toward solutions to these problems for generations. "Feminisms in Motion" showcases ideas, critique, and inspiration from diverse feminists from Los Angles, to India, to Palestine, who are pointing toward a world where all people can thrive.
Critique: An especially timely contribution to our on-going national dialogue over women's issues such as the MeToo movement and the increased presence of women in positions of political leadership, "Feminisms in Motion: Voices for Justice, Liberation, and Transformation" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Feminist Studies collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, gender equality activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Feminisms in Motion" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.26).
Heal the Body, Heal the Mind
New Harbinger Press
5674 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
9781684031047, $16.95, PB, 200pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Traumatic events can leave mental and physical scars -- but these scars don't have to define you. "Heal the Body, Heal the Mind: A Somatic Approach to Moving Beyond Trauma " by Susanne Babbel, (who is a licensed psychotherapist practicing with a trauma specialty in her private practice in San Francisco, CA) takes trauma survivors on a supportive and healing journey toward well-being. By practicing the somatic exercises and mind-body interventions in this compassionate guide, you'll learn to move past difficult experiences, restore relationships, and cultivate spiritual awareness.
When trauma occurs, the logical mind is hijacked and physiology takes over in an effort to protect you. This leaves an imprint -- your body wants to ensure that nothing like that will ever happen again. Being reminded of a traumatic event can trigger these automatic responses, leaving you feeling paralyzed or unable to take action. This book will help you understand why and how unresolved trauma can infiltrate all aspects of your life, including your mind and body -- even when you're not aware of its influence.
With "Heal the Body, Heal the Mind" as a gentle guide, the reader will learn about different types of trauma, find helpful assessments, and discover how traumatic experiences (even childhood and incidental traumas) can affect all aspects of your life: your relationship choices, the roles you play in them, your sense of pleasure and desire, and how you approach your career, spirituality, and interactions with others.
Using the combination of mind-body interventions, cognitive behavioral theories, research, case studies, and exercises woven into each chapter of "Heal the Body, Heal the Mind", the reader will begin to address the unresolved trauma held in our bodies and advance our healing processes.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Heal the Body, Heal the Mind: A Somatic Approach to Moving Beyond Trauma" is impressively informative and ideally suited to the needs of the non-specialist general reader having to cope with trauma in their own lives or the lives of loved ones. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal and community library collections, it should be noted that "Heal the Body, Heal the Mind" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.15).
Galapagos Girl / Galapaguena
Marsha Diane Arnold, author
Angela Dominguez, illustrator
Children's Book Press
c/o Lee & Low Books
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780892394135, $18.95, HC, 40pp, www.amazon.com
Valentina was born on an island formed by fire, surrounded by blue-green sea. As a Galapaguena, Valentina spends her days observing the natural world around her. She greets sea lions splashing on the shore, scampers over lava rocks with Sally-lightfoot crabs, and swims with manta rays. But Valentina also understands the fragility of this wondrous world, and she makes a solemn promise to protect the islands and her animal friends.
"Galapagos Girl / Galapaguena" by the team of author Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrator Angela Dominguez is delightful bilingual story (English/Spanish) was inspired by the childhood of Valentina Cruz, whose family was one of the first permanent inhabitants of the Galapagos. Valentina is now a biologist and naturalist guide who has dedicated her life to the conservation of the islands.
The whimsical illustrations by Pura Belpre Honor recipient Angela Dominguez transport young readers ages 4-8 to these unique islands, which shelter a diverse number of plant and animal species, many found of which can be found nowhere else on the planet!
Wonderfully entertaining from first page to last, "Galapagos Girl / Galapaguena" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Bilingual Picture Book collections.
Temple Grandin: The Stories I Tell My Friends
Future Horizons, Inc.
721 West Abram Street, Arlington, TX 76013
9781941765609, $18.95, PB, 200pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Temple Grandin is quite possibly the most famous person with autism in the world. Whether you know her from the HBO movie, Temple Grandin, her decades of work in the meat and cattle industry, or her unmatched contribution to the autism world, surely you know a thing or two about Temple.
In "Temple Grandin: The Stories I Tell My Friends". Temple's close friend and author, Anita Lesko, conducts personal and unique interviews that include chapters such as: Filming of the HBO Movie, Temple Grandin, with Clare Danes; Crazy Funny Stuff and Childhood Memories: Thrilling Events in Temple's Life; Work Hard to Succeed; Temple's Big Message; and so much more!
In these pages, readers will be told of the moments that made her laugh (and cry!), meet those closest to her, and even take a glimpse into her seventieth birthday party. Readers will discover Temple's "big message" and her ideas about what makes the biggest difference for children with autism.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Temple Grandin: The Stories I Tell My Friends" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Temple Grandin: The Stories I Tell My Friends" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.46).
I Am Perhaps Dying
Dennis Rasbach, MD, FACS
PO Box 4527, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
9781611214505, $14.95, PB, 144pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Invalid teenager Leroy Wiley Gresham left a seven-volume diary spanning the years of secession and the Civil War (1860-1865). He was just 12 when he began and he died at 17, just weeks after the war ended. His remarkable account, recently published as "The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865", edited by Janet E. Croon (2018), and spans the gamut of life events that were of interest to a precocious and well-educated Southern teenager -- including military, political, religious, social, and literary matters of the day. This alone ranks it as an important contribution to our understanding of life and times in the Old South. But it is much more than that. Chronic disease and suffering stalk the young writer, who is never told he is dying until just before his death.
Dr. Rasbach, a graduate of Johns Hopkins medical school and a practicing general surgeon with more than three decades of experience, was tasked with solving the mystery of LeRoy's disease. Like a detective, Dr. Rasbach peels back the layers of mystery by carefully examining the medical-related entries. What were LeRoy's symptoms? What medicines did doctors prescribe for him? What course did the disease take, month after month, year after year? The author ably explores these and other issues in "I Am Perhaps Dying" to conclude that the agent responsible for LeRoy's suffering and demise turns out to be Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a tiny but lethal adversary of humanity since the beginning of recorded time.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, tuberculosis was the deadliest disease in the world, accounting for one-third of all deaths. Even today, a quarter of the world's population is infected with TB, and the disease remains one of the top ten causes of death, claiming 1.7 million lives annually, mostly in poor and underdeveloped countries.
While the young man was detailing the decline and fall of the Old South, he was also chronicling his own horrific demise from spinal TB. These five years of detailed entries make LeRoy's diary an exceedingly rare (and perhaps unique) account from a nineteenth century TB patient. LeRoy's diary offers an inside look at a fateful journey that robbed an energetic and likeable young man of his youth and life. "I Am Perhaps Dying" adds considerably to the medical literature by increasing our understanding of how tuberculosis attacked a young body over time, how it was treated in the middle nineteenth century, and the effectiveness of those treatments.
Critique: "I Am Perhaps Dying: The Medical Backstory of Spinal Tuberculosis Hidden in the Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham" is a unique and extraordinary study that will prove to be a valued and enduringly appreciated addition to college and university library American Medical History collections in general, and Spinal Tuberculosis supplemental studies reading lists in particular. An exceptional work of seminal scholarship, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "I Am Perhaps Dying" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.61).
The Rise and Fall of Political Orders
Richard Ned Lebow
Cambridge University Press
One Liberty Plaza, Fl. 20, New York, NY 10006
9781108472869, $89.99, HC, 444pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Deftly drawing on political theory, comparative politics, international relations, psychology and classics in "The Rise and Fall of Political Orders", Ned Lebow (Professor of International Political Theory, Department of War Studies, King's College London) offers insights into why social and political orders form, how they evolve, and why and how they decline.
Following "The Tragic Vision of Politics: Ethics, Interests and Orders" (9780521827539, $129.00; 9780521534857, $34.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle) and A Cultural Theory of International Relations (9780521871365, $160.00 HC; 9780521691888, $69.99 PB), "The Rise and Fall of Political Orders" completes Professor Lebow's trilogy with an original theory of political order.
He identifies long- and short-term threats to political order that are associated respectively with shifts in the relative appeal of principles of justice and lack of self-restraint by elites. Two chapters explore the consequences of late-modernity for democracy in the United States, and another chapter, co-authored with Martin Dimitrov, the consequences for authoritarianism in China.
"The Rise and Fall of Political Orders" forges new links between political theory and political science via the explicit connection it makes between normative goals and empirical research.
Critique: An impressively informative work of truly exceptional scholarship throughout, "The Rise and Fall of Political Orders" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of figures, a sixty-eight page Bibliography, and an eleven page Index. Uncommonly well written, organized and presented, "The Rise and Fall of Political Orders" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Rise and Fall of Political Orders" is also available in a paperback edition (9781108460682, $29.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $24.00).
No Matter What: The 10 Commitments of Accountability
9781640950160, $24.99, 156 pages
A Journey into Valuing People and Understanding Accountability
"No Matter What: The 10 Commitments of Accountability" the title of Sam Silverstein's new book encapsulates an understanding of accountability I had not considered before. In the book Sam introduces ten core commitments of accountability providing clarity and increased focus, helping the reader get unstuck how to move on.
The book opened my eyes to the importance of keeping my commitments to people and following the 10 Core Commitments as an example to effectiveness in leadership and to accomplish mutual goals in an organizational structure.
Each of the ten chapters concentrates on one of the core commitments to accountability by highlighting key elements, topic highlights, and in-depth discussion.
Silverstein's writing is highly informative, deeply inspiring, brilliantly formatted, and superbly motivating.
A copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.
Stop Depriving the World of You: A Guide for Getting Unstuck
Darlene M. Corbett
9781640950283, $15.99, 144 Pages
Moving into a New Chapter of Life: Getting Unstuck
In the first chapters of her book "Stop Depriving the World of You: A Guide for Getting Unstuck" Darlene M. Corbett introduces you, the reader, to the relationship of the earth's movements to man's world, the need for movement and its influence on your life journey.
The following chapters guide the reader to move forward by introducing them to ten critical steps to getting "unstuck," celebrate your uniqueness, and moving into the "excitement" of the unknown.
A professional speaker, author and success coach, Darlene Corbett, has experienced a multifaceted thirty-year career helping people succeed.
Corbett's writing is stimulating, filled with thought-provoking challenges which probe deeply, resulting in self-discovery, and behavioral changes. Chapter after chapter, page after page, and example after example Darlene guides the reader to awaken new talent, develop new skills, and in the ability to excel.
"Stop Depriving the World of You: A Guide for Getting Unstuck" has opened my eyes to exciting new ways through which I can incorporate my skills, passions, and experiences from the past to enter into a new season of life with new aspirations, and new visions, for discovering purpose and fulfillment in the months and years ahead.
I would have liked to have Corbett expand and develop more deeply some of the unique tools, prompts, and exercises introduced in this book. I am looking forward to the publication of her new book, now in process.
Empower Yourself: 7 Steps to Personal Success
9781640950474, $15.99, 122 pages
Self-Knowledge, Self-Confrontation, and Self-Realization
A quick review of the chapter titles and a scan of the format of John Martin's book
"Empower Yourself: 7 Steps to Personal Success" assured me I was in for some good reading, a practical approach and reliable guidelines for self-exploration and encouragement for finding the fulfillment of my life purpose.
John's writing challenges the reader to push beyond their comfort zone, their routine, and a risk-free life to take the first step: assessing where they are and where they want to be. Martin then guides the reader in a natural progression step by step program to personal success.
The book's format and headers throughout each chapter provide a glimpse into the emphasis of information to be covered and become study tools for preview, review and moving forward through action steps toward accomplishing life-changing goals.
John Martin's "Empower Yourself: 7 Steps to Personal Success" is a book I plan to implement, apply, reread, and review often. It is helping me identify, develop my strengths, and empower me to accomplish my dreams.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.
Richard R. Blake
Kayanerenko:wa: The Great Law of Peace
Kayanesenh Paul Williams
University of Manitoba Press
301 St. John's College, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2M5
9780887558214, $38.95, PB, 480pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Several centuries ago, the five nations that would become the Haudenosaunee (the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca) were locked in generations-long cycles of bloodshed. When they established Kayanerenko:wa, the Great Law of Peace, they not only resolved intractable conflicts, but also shaped a system of law and government that would maintain peace for generations to come.
This law remains in place today in Haudenosaunee communities: an Indigenous legal system, distinctive, complex, and principled. It is not only a survivor, but a viable alternative to Euro-American systems of law. With its emphasis on lasting relationships, respect for the natural world, building consensus, and on making and maintaining peace, it stands in contrast to legal systems based on property, resource exploitation, and majority rule.
Although Kayanerenko:wa has been studied by anthropologists, linguists, and historians, it has not been the subject of legal scholarship. There are few texts to which judges, lawyers, researchers, or academics may refer for any understanding of specific Indigenous legal systems.
Following the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and a growing emphasis on reconciliation, Indigenous legal systems are increasingly relevant to the evolution of law and society.
In "Kayanerenko:wa: The Great Law of Peace Kayanesenh", negotiator, lawyer, and historian Paul Williams (who has been counsel to Indigenous nations for forty years, with a law practice based in the Grand River Territory of the Six Nations), brings the sum of his experience and expertise to this analysis of Kayanerenko:wa as a living, principled legal system. In doing so, he puts a powerful tool in the hands of Indigenous and settler communities.
Critique: Comprehensive, definitive, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Kayanerenko:wa: The Great Law of Peace" is a unique and seminal work of outstanding scholarship and unreservedly recommended for community, governmental, college, and university library Indigenous Peoples collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Kayanerenko:wa: The Great Law of Peace" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $25.00). Librarians should note that there is a hardcover edition of "Kayanerenko:wa: The Great Law of Peace" available from Amazon.com (9780887551932, $95.01).
A Township at War
Jonathan F. Vance
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771123860, $34.99, HC, 308pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the pages of "A Township at War", Canadian author Jonathan F. Vance takes his reader from rural Canadian field and farm to the slopes of Vimy Ridge and the mud of Passchendaele, and shows how a tightly knit Ontario community was consumed and transformed by the trauma of World War I.
In 1914, the southern Ontario township of East Flamborough was like a thousand other rural townships in Canada, broadly representative in its wartime experience. "A Township at War" draws from and is comprised of rich narrative sources revealing what rural people were like a century ago in terms of how they saw the world, what they valued, and how they lived their lives. We see them coming to terms with global events that took their loved ones to distant battlefields, and dealing with the prosaic challenges of everyday life.
Fall fairs, recruiting meetings, church services, school concerts -- all are re-imagined to understand how rural Canadians coped with war, modernism, and a world that was changing more quickly than they were.
"A Township at War" is a detailed story of resilience and idealism, of violence, of small mindedness, of a world that has long disappeared, and yet, one that remains with us to this very day.
Critique: Impressively informative, expertly researched, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "A Township at War" is a seminal work of extraordinary scholarship that will prove to be of immense interest and value to academia and non-specialist general readers alike. Simply stated, "A Township at War" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library 20th Century Canadian History collections and supplemental studies lists.
Native American Landmarks and Festivals
Yvonne Wakim Dennis & Arlene Hirschfelder
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Rd., #414, Canton, MI 48187-2075
9781578596416, $22.95, PB, 448pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: From ancient rock drawings, historic sites, and modern museums to eco- and cultural tourism, sports events and powwows, the "Native American Landmarks and Festivals: A Traveler's Guide to Indigenous United States and Canada" provides a fascinating tour of the rich heritage of Indigenous people across the continent including the annual All Indian Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada, a dog-sledding trek in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, a rough ride to the ancient Kaunolu Village Site on Lanai, Hawaii, The Montezuma Castle National Monument, Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, The Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma City, The Autry Museum of the American West, The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, The Thunderbird Powwow, The First Nations Film and Video Festival in various cities and states, The Angel Mounds State Memorial, The Harvest Moon American Indian Festival, The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Canada's National Aboriginal Veterans Monument, and hundreds more!
"Native American Landmarks and Festivals" guides the traveler to 729 landmarks, sites, festivals, and events in all 50 states and Canada. Travelers will not only read about the history and traditions for each site, but benefit from the maps, photos, illustrations, addresses and websites that are included to help further exploration.
"Native American Landmarks and Festivals" lets the reader choose from a vast array of "authentic" adventures such as dog sledding, camping in a tipi, hunting and fishing expeditions, researching the history with the people who made the history, making crafts, herbal walks, building and sailing in canoes, hiking along ancient routes, exploring rock art, and preparing and eating Native foods.
Organized by region, Indigenous enterprises are included in state and federal parks, including federal and international heritage sites, public and private museums and non-Native events that include Indigenous voice, this convenient reference also has a helpful bibliography and an extensive index, adding to its usefulness.
Critique: Whether traveling by car, plane, or armchair, Native American Landmarks and Festivals: A Traveler's Guide to Indigenous United States and Canada will bring hours of enjoyable, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Contemporary Native American collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of on-site visitors and armchair travelers, Native American culture enthusiasts, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Native American Landmarks and Festivals" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.69).
Being Heard: Presentation Skills for Attorneys
American Bar Association
321 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781641051873, $39.95, PB, 208pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Public speaking is a skill that can be learned, just like any other skill such as writing, playing an instrument, succeeding at a sport or becoming a chef. A quick and easy read, "Being Heard: Presentation Skills for Attorneys" by Faith Pincus (who is a licensed attorney and former Federal Law Clerk making her uniquely positioned to understand the speaking skills required of attorneys) provides basic and advance techniques, and abn insider knowledge, for aspiring law students and practicing attorneys seeking to improve their presentations, whether in or out of court. Attorneys and non-attorneys alike will find a multitude of techniques that can be used immediately to improve their presentation skills. "Being Heard: Presentation Skills for Attorneys" consolidates the most helpful and effective tips of the trade in order for anyone to become better public speakers. These tools have been time-tested and will help to ensure that both in and out of the courtroom, the reader will be able to project the image and message that they want.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Being Heard: Presentation Skills for Attorneys" is unreservedly recommended for community, law firm, college, and university library collections. It should also be noted for the personal reading lists of law students, lawyers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject of public speaking that "Being Heard" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $34.99).
Teaching Power Yoga for Sports
Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 5076, Champaign, IL 61820-5076
9781492563068, $29.95, PB, 344pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "Teaching Power Yoga for Sports", author Gwen Lawrence shares her approach to yoga and sports that she developed through years of work with sports' top professional teams; NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, and MLB coaches; and elite athletes. She takes into account the athlete's training cycle, the position they play, and common movements and injuries in the sport. In this book, she offers detailed, easy-to-implement instruction on the following: Safe and effective poses that complement common movements in sport; Yoga routines, organized by sport and season; Ways to spot and fix posture and alignment imbalances before injury occurs; Five restorative sequences to facilitate recovery and long-term stability; Six facets of Power Yoga for Sports: balance, strength, flexibility, focus, breathing, and mental toughness; Mindfulness tools for developing focus, clarity, and determination.
Exclusive to "Teaching Power Yoga for Sports" are the invaluable sport-specific sequences for athletes participating in a range of sports: football, soccer, basketball, baseball and softball, hockey, lacrosse, volleyball, wrestling, golf, tennis and racket sports, skiing, swimming, running, cycling, and mixed martial arts. For each sport, there are top five poses that most closely mimic that sport's movements, along with accompanying images that compare each pose to an athlete in action.
Coaches and trainers will gain valuable teaching and coaching skills can be immediately put into practice with athletes including training the whole body and mind with powerful yoga poses, breathing techniques, and mental focus activities. "Teaching Power Yoga for Sports" will be an invaluable instruction manual for developing balance, strength, flexibility, and performance in athletes and help them thrive in a long and successful sporting career.
Of special note is that a CE exam is available! For certified professionals, a companion continuing education exam can be completed after reading "Teaching Power Yoga for Sports" or The Teaching Power Yoga for Sports CE Exam may be purchased separately or as part of the Teaching Power Yoga for Sports With CE Exam package, which includes both the book and the exam.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, illustrated, organized and presented, "Teaching Power Yoga for Sports" provides a complete, comprehensive, and thoroughly 'user friendly' manual that is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, university, and sports team instructional reference collections.
Can You Hear Me?
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781633694446, $30.00, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Can You Hear Me?: How to Connect with People in a Virtual World" is a powerful, practical book in which communication expert Nick Morgan outlines five big problems with communication in the virtual world: Lack of feedback; Lack of empathy; Lack of control; Lack of emotion; Lack of connection and commitment -- and thereby sharply highlighting what is lost in our accelerating shift to a more virtual world.
"Can You Hear Me?" provides a clear path forward for helping us connect better with others. as Morgan persuasively argues that while virtual communication will never be as rich or intuitive as a face-to-face meeting, recent research suggests that what will help (and what we need to learn) is to consciously deliver a whole set of cues, both verbal and nonverbal, that we used to deliver unconsciously in the pre-virtual era. "Can You Hear Me?" explains and guides us through this important process, providing rules for virtual feedback, an empathy assessment and virtual temperature check, tips for creating trust in a virtual context, and advice for specific digital channels such as email and text, the conference call, Skype, and more.
Critique: Erudite, insightful, informative, thought-provoking, "Can You Hear Me?" is especially recommended to the attention of entrepreneurs, independent professionals, and managers in any commercial organization that has more than one office or customers who aren't nearby. While very highly recommended, especially for community, corporate, college, and university library Business Management collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Can You Hear Me?" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.60).
Paul T. Vogel
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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