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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 4 April 2017 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf
Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf Clint's Bookshelf
Duncan's Bookshelf Gail's Bookshelf Joshua's Bookshelf
Julie's Bookshelf Kaye's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf
Margaret's Bookshelf Mari's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf
Molly's Bookshelf Moore's Bookshelf Peggy's Bookshelf
Sloan's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf
Teri's Bookshelf    

Reviewer's Choice

all the beloved ghosts
Alison MacLeod
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781408863763, $27.99, paperback, 235 pages.

Ann Skea, Reviewer

"Short stories are like pots on a potter's wheel", said Alison Macleod in an interview for Matter Magazine. "They seem slippery and mysterious when I write them: I don't know how they're going to take shape (or if they will) but I trust my instincts and I trust the story to arrive at the shape it needs to be".

She also said that she is "intrigued by the dovetailing of fact and fiction". This is very evident in all the stories in all the beloved ghosts where fact and fiction are woven together, often with iconic figures at the centre of an imaginative vision. A sequence of photographs taken on Princess Diana's last day form the basis of 'Dreaming Diana: Twelve Frames'. And 'Sylvia Wears Pink in the Underworld' draws imaginatively on MacLeod's visit to Sylvia Plath's grave, on her reading and re-reading of Plath's poems and letters, and on biographies which have been written about her.

Similarly, in the story which has given this book its title, MacLeod imaginatively becomes, for a brief time, Angelica Garnett, the daughter of Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. MacLeod knows about Garnett's art, has read her biography and has twice heard her speak about growing up at Charleston Farmhouse in Essex, where Vita Sackville-West once gave her a puppy and her aunt, Virginia Woolf, was a frequent visitor. Angelica Garnett also read and approved her story.

In 'The Heart of Denis Noble', too, this eminent biologist, who is renowned for his work in mapping the functioning of the heart, read and approved MacLeod's imagined, very personal, version of his thoughts and experiences whilst undergoing his own heart-transplant.

Not all the stories in the book are linked to well-known figures. Some are closer to Macleod's own life. The opening story, 'The Thaw', brings to life a young woman living in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in the early 1900s. The story is dedicated to Marjorie Genevieve, and wise words prefaced some paragraphs: "Wisdom after the event is cheap indeed..." and "the penalties of past mistakes cannot be remitted, but at least the lessons so solemnly and dearly learned should be taken to heart". We learn that two of Marjorie's six sisters have died of TB and her only brother died accidentally of hypothermia when friends left him on the front porch of his home after bringing him home concussed from a drunken night-time brawl.

Marjorie, however, who is a thoroughly modern young working woman, is full of life. She has saved for two years to buy the expensive, fashionable beaver-fur coat which she proudly wears to attend the Saturday night dance in North Sydney, just across the Harbour. "Wrapped in her new coat, she enjoys every moment" of the sixteen mile journey to get there through the December snow and ice. Only after the last dramatic moments of the story do we learn of Marjorie's link with the author.

A very different story ventriloquises the thoughts and feelings of a young black man whose girl-friend may, or may not, have precipitated the violence in the 2011 Tottenham riots in London, when armed police tried to control the hundreds of people who were looting and setting fire to local businesses. Macleod captures the unreality and the drama of the scene vividly: "It was like some kind of video game"; "they were already chanting loud: 'Whose streets? Our streets!'" "I saw old and young African and Caribbean, White and Asian working together to push up steel shutters"; "I saw kids as young as ten. I saw one take a golf club to the 7 Mobile window. I saw an old geezer with boxed of trainers stacked high on his arms".

There is humour, too. 'In Praise of Radical Fish' begins "Brothers, I tell you solemnly: it is not so easy to become radicalised in a seaside resort. There are distractions". So says the young man who has decided to become a radical Muslim after a quarrel with his father. "We must think of Brighton as the Endurance Course of the Soul" he tells his radical friends when they chastise him for not being serious enough about Holy War. But it is clown fish in the Brighton aquarium which finally tip the balance, when he, and they, find that they cannot concentrate on rejecting joy and waiting for The Call.

In 'How to Make a Citizen's Arrest' a woman activist takes us step-by-step through the process as she enacts it. It is only as the story progresses that we recognise which high-profile political figure she is arresting and what she deems to be his crimes.

My favourite story is 'We Are All Methodists', in which a young female university lecturer forms an unexpected bond with a war-veteran plumber who is renovating the central heating in the converted Methodist chapel in which she lives. Macleod deftly captures these two very different lives and the way that casual conversation between strangers can create empathy based on common humanity.

Macleod is an excellent story teller, able to create the thoughts and the conversations of her very different character in a natural and believable way. Her tales are beautifully written and each is as individual as any hand-crafted pot. I look forward to reading more of her work.

A Brief History of Comic Book Movies
Wheeler Winston Dixon and Richard Graham
Palgrave Macmillan
One New York Plaza, #4500, New York NY 10004-1562
9783319471839, $54.99, 100 pages,

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Comic book / superhero movies have become extremely popular in recent years. This book explores their history.

In the 1930's, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers were among the first comic book characters to make it to the big screen. They were multi-chapter movie serials (the film equivalent to a radio serial) to get children to come to the theater week after week. In the 1950's and 1960's, TV shows like Superman (with George Reeves) and Batman (with Adam West) were still aimed at children. With the booming popularity of annual conventions like San Diego Comic-Con (attended by upwards of 100,000 people), comic books are now marketed for adults.

The authors look more specifically at DC Comics, home to Batman and Superman. A number of films have been produced over the last 30 years with each character, with varying levels of quality and level of box office receipts. DC has also produced a number of lower-budget animated Batman and Superman films over the years. The average comic book fan has not heard about them because they went straight to video or straight to streaming.

Marvel Comics, on the other hand, has a seemingly infinite number of superheroes, and combinations of superheroes, from which to choose. Examples included Spiderman, the Avengers and Iron Man. The first few Marvel films were underwhelming, in regards to quality and box office receipts, so Marvel Studios was created. The quality of the films, and their receipts, increased dramatically.

No book on comic book movies would be complete without a look at Japanese anime. It started after World War II when American brought comic books to Japan. The reader will learn a lot about anime. The book also explores movies that began life as comic books from companies other then DC and Marvel, like Barb Wire, Tank Girl and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Comic book fans and pop culture fans will love this book (despite the high price). It is short, very easy to read and well worth the reader's time. This easily gets five stars. (I received this book from the author in exchange for this review.)

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation
Octavia E. Butler, author
John Jennings, illustrator
Damian Duffy, adaptor
Abram's Comicarts
115 West 18th St., New York, NY 10011
9781419709470, $24.95

Susan Rae Howard, Reviewer

Kindred is a graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler's novel by the same name. It was adapted by Damian Duffy with illustrations by John Jennings. I was handed Kindred on a Friday afternoon at my local public library. The librarian whom I've known for years handed the book to me and told me I should read it. I listened to her, brought it home and finished it before the weekend was over.

Full Disclosure:

I've heard of Octavia Butler, but I've never read anything by her.

Science fiction is not my genre of choice.

I've read graphic novels and I like them.

I disclose this information for the reader who may not be a fan of science fiction and/or graphic novels. It is for that particular reader that I say, read this book. Even though it is an adaptation, the book belongs to Octavia Butler. These are her words, her images and most importantly her story. Duffy preserves the authenticity of Butler in his adaptation of a powerful, black, female protagonist, Dana, who finds herself involuntarily traveling through time and space to Maryland in the early 19th Century. Kindred tells the story Dana losing a sense of self when she as a contemporary 20th Century woman is not only forced to deal with the societal rules of the Antebellum South but also reconcile her own personal truth that her ancestors were slaveholders and now that she has traveled back in time, determine the role she will take in her family's narrative.

The graphic novel is an interesting vehicle for this novel adaptation because even though it is a horrific narrative, he storyboarding allows the reader to manage the horrors of the narrative. The Illustrator aptly creates images that are equal to the horrors of the events of the story. They are angular and dark and yet the graphics temper the atrocities in the narrative like rape, death, violence, and human trafficking.

Kindred is a stunning story of the ability to survive. The graphics and text complement one another to create a truly unique reading experience. Readers should not be turned off by the fact it is science fiction or a graphic novel. Both of those are the reasons why this novel is so successful when lots of adaptations fall flat. Duffy and Jennings got it right. They took a magnificent source text and re-invented it while staying true to its roots.

Jacumba Connection
David Charlton Taylor
E-magination Publishing
9780996987202, $15.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 353pp,

Douglas Hoffman

This story grabbed me from the first page and kept me hooked all the way to the end. A great read that I recommend to all of my friends. It's a wild ride inside the human side of the illegal smuggling business with a love story at it's core. I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN - it's that good! Take a ride with Denice, aka Dee-Dee, and her husband Charlie as they careen their way through the ups and downs of life. There is danger, love, family and so much more. Get the book, you won't regret it (well except that part about being tired at work after you stay up all night reading it from front to back). I can't wait to see David's next novel.

Aunt Phil's Trunk: Volume Five - Bringing Alaska's History Alive
Laurel Downing Bill, author
Aunt Phil's Trunk LLC, publisher
9781578334357, $19.95, 448pp
eBook ASIN: B01IU8D9XS, $8.99

David James, Reviewer
Alaska Dispatch News, April 24, 2016

Aunt Phil's Trunk makes Alaska history accessible.

Ten years ago when I first took a job reviewing Alaska books for another publication, I was handed a stack of recent works for consideration. Among them was "Aunt Phil's Trunk Volume One," featuring a photograph of an elderly woman with a kind face on the cover along with the words: "an Alaska historian's collection of treasured tales."

Since it was independently published, and since I'd received another volume of anecdotal Alaska history that was poorly written and lacking in context, I was unsure if I wanted to consider this one. I decided I'd give it 20 pages, and if it didn't grab me, I'd move on.

Twenty pages later, I was a dedicated fanboy and have remained so throughout the ensuing decade and the now four additional volumes of "Aunt Phil's Trunk" that followed.

The genesis for this series - of which the fifth volume was recently published - lies with Phyllis Downing Carlson, who moved with her family to Alaska in 1914 at age 5. A teacher by training, she started collecting stories from her fellow Alaskans in the years after World War II and published them in assorted magazines and newspapers, including the old Anchorage Times. Drawing off newspaper accounts, interviews and other sources, she wrote about Alaska history from the viewpoint of its participants in a lively fashion that lent a personalized sensibility to the names and dates of textbooks.

Downing Carlson died in 1993, and her trove of articles, notes, clippings and all else went to her niece, Laurel Downing Bill, a third-generation Alaskan and fellow history fanatic. It was a fortuitous inheritance. After earning a journalism degree in 2003 from the University of Alaska Anchorage, Downing Bill set to work assembling her aunt's articles into chronological order, filling in some gaps with her own contributions, tidying up a few details and adding photographs to accompany the text.

More than 2,000 pages

The result, which spans five books and more than 2,000 pages, is neither an academic nor a comprehensive history of Alaska, but it is an entertaining and accessible account of the people who have called it home from the opening of the Bering Land Bridge to the 25th anniversary of statehood.

"Aunt Phil's Trunk Volume Five" takes up where the previous one left off, immediately after Alaska was admitted to the Union. The first chapter introduces readers to the new state's first governor, William Egan, with a quick recap of his career. This is followed by chapters exploring challenges facing Alaska as it shifted from a territory that had been almost fully financed by the federal government to a state expected to pull its own weight.

Readers learn about the difficulties of funding a vast region with a tiny population. They'll also discover that the perennial efforts at moving the state capital from Juneau to someplace closer to the more populated Southcentral region commenced almost as soon as the gavel fell to open the first meeting of the Legislature.

One can't write about early statehood without mentioning the 1964 Good Friday earthquake that devastated Anchorage and many coastal communities. This is particularly true for a series focused on the human side of history, and this volume devotes more than 100 pages to the calamity. The damage the quake and subsequent tsunamis inflicted on Anchorage, Valdez, Kodiak, Whittier and elsewhere is recounted.

The "Aunt Phil's Trunk" books have a well-deserved reputation for being exhaustively illustrated with photographs on nearly every page, and the selection on the earthquake is especially dramatic with dozens of images of the disaster's aftermath.

The 1960s were a time for Alaska calamities, and later chapters tell of the 1964 fire that gutted the downtown of already-quake-damaged Cordova, and the 1967 flood that washed away much of Fairbanks.

Citizens' history

The other big story of Alaska's first quarter-century as a state is the intertwined battles over land distribution, Native claims and the oil discoveries that spurred action on all three fronts. The book pays tribute to Alaska Native leaders who worked the system from the inside through legal maneuvering, winning a historic victory with passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Meanwhile the section on the building of the trans-Alaska pipeline includes some of the best pictures in this already well-illustrated volume.

As more of a citizens' history, the book includes things that would likely be left out of textbooks. There's an account of the first Iditarod, a chapter on how Alaskans dealt with the mentally ill, the story of an enormous flagpole that the city of Ketchikan donated to Anchorage, and several tales of high-profile murders, including the massacres in McCarthy and Manley that occurred about a year apart in the early 1980s.

Like previous volumes, chapters in this book are written in the style of newspaper features articles. They can easily stand alone while also adding to a greater whole. This isn't an academic work, this is popular history done well. The writing is engaging throughout and the pictures alone are worth the cost of the book.

By making her aunt's work available and adding her own touches, Downing Bill has brought Alaska's past to life in a way that should appeal even to those who rarely read history. Volume Five ends in 1984 and Downing Bill does not plan on taking it further, so the series is complete. And all of it is good.

The 20-Minute Networking Meeting: Professional Edition
Nathan A. Perez & Marcia Ballinger
Career Innovations Press
9780985910648, $16.99 PB, $7.99 Kindle, 182pp,

Barry Silverstein, Reviewer
Foreword Clarion Reviews

The 20-Minute Networking Meeting should prove extraordinarily beneficial to job seekers at any level. In The 20-Minute Networking Meeting by Nathan Perez and Marcia Ballinger, two executive search firm professionals reveal an invaluable five-step process for successful networking.

Most job seekers recognize that creating a solid resume and performing well at an interview are essential elements for securing a position. But finding the right position in the first place is a challenge because of the "hidden" job market - "job openings that are not advertised or publicly announced." This is where networking becomes so important, but according to the authors, "the vast majority of networking meetings are near-complete failures." Thankfully, Perez and Ballinger offer a well-structured, elegantly simple yet comprehensive five-step process to vastly reduce the chance of failure at networking. Before they even walk through the steps, though, the authors provide useful commentary on the importance of networking, common networking myths, and why networking is difficult for most people. This material is not just helpful, it demonstrates a compassionate understanding of the anxiety networking causes most people, and it will likely assuage many fears. The authors also explain the rationale (and support it with informal research) for restricting networking meetings to just twenty minutes.

The process itself breaks the networking experience into five specific steps, each of which (except for the final step) is assigned a specific time in minutes. Every one of the first four steps is described in a fair amount of detail, using actual examples where appropriate. Step five ("Great Follow-Up") addresses how to follow up after a networking meeting. This last step should be just as useful in a nonnetworking business situation, for it very clearly lays out some excellent follow-up tactics, again with actual examples. The authors then use an ingenious way to summarize the five steps: they include a full example, part script and part description, of an actual twenty-minute networking meeting, with reactions at the end from the two participants.

The book's appendix contains several worthwhile additions, such as a networking "readiness exercise," a checklist to help one make a "great first impression," a tracking sheet for following up, and a list of ideas for things the networker can give away as a thank-you.

The "Professional Edition" of The 20-Minute Networking Meeting contains insights garnered from career experts and other business professionals. Other editions include the "Graduate Edition" and the "Executive Edition." The writing is consistently lucid; the text is presented in a professional yet informal manner, so the book is quite easy to read.

The counsel the authors provide could be surprising to some who may be skeptical of networking in general or will scoff at the notion of a twenty-minute meeting. However, it is obvious from the credentials of the authors that they are highly qualified authorities whose advice should be taken seriously. The 20-Minute Networking Meeting should prove extraordinarily beneficial to job seekers at any level.

Katabatic Wind: Good Craic Fueled By Fumes From The Abyss
Stephen Crimi
Logosophia, LLC
9780996639415, $36.00, HC, 232pp,

Mihir Shah

"Lead me from the unreal to the real. Lead me from darkness to light. Lead me from death to immortality."

In a world that eternally powers forward, Stephen Crimi's Katabatic Wind presents his audience with an opportunity to awaken the wisdom from within using sacred origin stories that help readers be more cognizant of the ever-important question: who am I? This compilation of essays begins with a dive into the abyss of the underworld, a katabasis, with an analysis of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, and culminates with a deep dive into the significance of geometry and the number 108. The most extensive and intriguing aspect of Katabatic Wind, however, is the discourse of dharma - duty - and its juxtaposition in Shakespeare's Hamlet and the epic poem, Mahabharata. Crimi's discourse is inundated with both analysis and research that helps the reader arrive at a more complete understanding of how one can lead a more purposeful life.

A thorough reading of Katabatic Wind will yield one golden nugget after another of self-realization. The most intriguing of Crimi's discussions is this idea of dying two deaths: the death of flesh and the death of ignorance. Specifically in the Mahabharata, the world's greatest archer, Arjuna, is conflicted with his dharma, or the right way of living, as he and his charioteer, Krishna, described as the supreme personality of godhead in the Bhagavad Gita, are stationed in the middle of the battlefield, Kuruksetra. Incorporating the idea of Sanskrit, the Rgveda, and karma, the author takes Arjuna's moral dilemma and compares it to Hamlet's predicament, where he must avenge his father's death by slaying the current king, his uncle, Claudius.

Although Crimi includes complex slokas, or chants from the Bhagvad Gita, he explains the meaning and his purpose for its inclusion with such precision that even the layman would pick up the message. For instance, in one sloka, Crimi translates the Sanskrit version to simple ideas such as transforming from dark to light, and death to immortality.

Crisis, tragedy, and loyalty are the common themes for both princes, Arjuna and Hamlet. Both epics debate their moral dilemma through iconic monologues: Arjuna's bow, the Gandiva, is described as trembling under the weight of the family members he must slay to carry out his dharma, while Hamlet's "to be or not to be speech" has become a part of all literary canons. The way these characters make decisions, face their doubt, and come to a resolution is insightful, and certainly, as Crimi suggests, useful to tackle the daily challenges of life.

Like an intricate puzzle, Crimi dissects his evidence, and unveils it piece by piece, until his purpose and the image he is trying to convey fits nicely into the reader's mind. In his section on Exegeses, Crimi goes into the mysticism of the rose and the role it plays over many cultures and literary texts, including the Islamic Sufi tradition and Dante's Inferno. On a deeper level, however, the audience will be intrigued by the intercultural uses of the number 108. Whether it is the Pentagon, the Golden Triangle, the radius of the moon, Buddhism, or the cosmological Yugas - phases of life - in the Hindu culture, 108 always finds its way into relevance. Interestingly, there is even a section on the sanctity of the game of baseball and Pythagorean numerics and angles.

In the end, Purgito Ergo Sum, Crimi brings the lens back to his own life, where he finds himself in an ayahuasca-fueled journey, and comes to the realization that he is, "neither Shiva nor Satan," and "this is all that being human is." Several elements of life and myth come through loud and clear after reading Katabatic Wind; however, the constant is a stronger understanding of cultural origin stories, parallels, and an overall glimpse into what it means to be human.

Stephen Crimi's Katabatic Wind leaves no stone unturned. The depth of research and insightful information he conveys about our identity as human beings begs for multiple reads of this text . While Katabatic Wind will turn every philosopher into a kid in a candy store, its concise explanations make for a meaningful read for anyone who wishes to understand the layers of their humanity.

The Road to Spiritual Freedom, Mahanta Transcripts, Book 17
Harold Klemp
PO Box 2000, Chanhassen, MN 55317-2000 USA
9781570433412, $16.00, PB, 381pp,

Kirkus Reviews

A guide presents a religious approach to understanding the inner self and the experiences of life.

Klemp (ECK Wisdom on Conquering Fear, 2016, etc.) is the author of a series of books on Eckankar, "Religion of the Light and Sound of God," established in 1965 by Paul Twitchell, "the modern-day founder." (It is "also known as the Ancient Science of Soul Travel.") This latest volume guides readers through the faith's teachings and the ways they can enrich spiritual connections with themselves and the world. Klemp, presented as the ECK Master, covers many topics, from love and mistakes to karma, mental balance, and consciousness. The work is organized into bite-sized "teachings," most in the form of anecdotes about meetings between two or more people. For example, one story focuses on a wealthy commodity trader who returns home to a large mansion dressed in casual clothes. A stranger on the sidewalk outside remarks that no one should own a house so big, and the two engage in a discussion. The trader eventually walks away realizing that this man believes, wrongly, that because a rich entrepreneur built this lavish house, the stranger cannot. Klemp uses this anecdote to stage a discussion about the infinite wealth of the spirit and posits that no one can limit or prohibit another's spiritual success. While the book may read fluidly for someone already knowledgeable about ECK teachings, it will require some study for those unfamiliar with the religion. A glossary of terms in the back helps readers identify the players and the texts that are referenced, but the work dives straight into the small lessons rather than giving an overview of the religion. (Indeed, ECK followers may be the target audience.) Nevertheless, the manual focuses on the positivity of individual encounters and uses storytelling to uncover some of the contradictions the author finds prevalent in the world today. The powerful optimism of these teachings should resonate with all readers, even those unacquainted with ECK.

An intriguing book explores spiritual practices and perspectives using storytelling as the main device.

Looking Glass Friends
E. L. Neve
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781540864451, $14.99, PB, 302pp,

Deborah Lloyd, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite

A unique and refreshing love story is chronicled in Looking Glass Friends: A Novel Inspired by Real Love Letters by E.L. Neve. The relationship that grows between Neil and Ellie begins with her gift to him of a book, Atlas Shrugged. Neil worked in the local bakery that Ellie frequented, and she felt compelled to share this work with him. This book literally changed Neil's life in many ways. Through email communications, they discovered a connection not felt in each of their marriages. The deep level of sharing and understanding between them did not exist elsewhere in their lives. Ellie is devoted to her little five-year-old son and thinks it would be devastating to disrupt his life. Whether this soulmate relationship survives at all, or if it will culminate in a permanent relationship, is the main theme of the story.

E.L. Neve has written a compelling story in Looking Glass Friends. The focus is on the meeting of minds, rather than a physical sexual relationship - and that is truly refreshing in today's romantic genre of books. The quality of the author's writing is superb and thought-provoking. The development of the four main characters - Neil and Ellie, and their spouses Jake and Fay - is certainly intriguing. Likewise, the concepts of what qualities a meaningful love relationship should entail is interesting to mull over while reading this novel. This is a novel to be cherished and considered, not read through quickly - a true gem in the contemporary world of love stories.

Memory of Beheram
Farida J Manekshah
Bruce and Holly
9781539668145; 7.99 (GBP); $9.99 USD; $2.99 Kindle, 274pp,

Nicholas Goodman, Reviewer
Law Society Gazette

Farida Manekshah's emotional maelstrom sucks the reader into her gritty memoirs, co-written with friend and solicitor Vivian C Ward. Born in India, Farida's first brush with the law occurred when her father faced a race against time in the courtroom after the Pakistan government requisitioned the ground floor of their palace in Karachi. Her father, in seeking to reclaim their property, was told by an advocate of the High Court of Pakistan that only senior English judges will 'give you a fair trial' as Pakistan judges 'wont' go up against the Pakistan government'. And an English judge delayed his flight home to come to the rescue.

While Farida describes 1950's Pakistan 'as a young country which was at peace with itself', the courtroom drama capped a troubled time for Farida's family after the death of her elder brother Beheram. Here Farida movingly recounts Beheram's funeral at the Tower of Silence in Karachi where the body was laid out for vultures to pick clean. Farida's parents then decided to make a fresh start in England.

But Farida faced a difficult childhood as 'Papa was an old Victorian-minded man. He wanted discipline and respect'. When Farida visited the children's officer at Chiswick Town Hall, she was told, 'He can't keep you a prisoner. You are entitled to go out and have friends'. Having received a magistrates' court summons and being charged with child cruelty, Farida's father took on the council, which 'had no evidence to prove that papa had ever hit me or ill-treated me'.

Farida is no less uncompromising in her descriptions of her abusive marriage to Jock. 'I had learned to accept and hide it,' Farida writes, 'except when the injuries were so severe they were obvious to everyone.'

Inevitably, the marriage ends up in the hands of solicitors but not before Farida writes courageously of life with Jock. 'I was so destroyed by this horrible monster,' Farida reflects. This book is not for the faint hearted."

The Rainbow Virus: Second Edition
Dennis Meredith
9781939118073, $16.95 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 347pp,

Judy Griffith Gill, Reviewer

This is by far one of the best books I've read in the last twelve months. Robert Louden, a somewhat disfavored FBI agent has been getting crap assignments but when seemingly random individual citizens in California start turning up with inexplicable color changes; blue, red, green, orange, yellow, and shades in between, the suspicion grows that this may be the result of a strange virus. Then, a common element turns up; the newly "colored" people are all patients of an allergist who's given them injections. rainbow-virusBut the allergist is as mystified as everyone else, so what can Louden do but go to work, as ordered, with the CDC? As Louden and the old CDC master, Doc, whose partner is the beautiful but unapproachable and unpredictable Kathleen Shinohara begin to gather facts and follow evidence, they realize little is what it first seems to be.

The person who's disseminating the virus - is he a prankster or a dangerously sociopathic microbiologist who does not have the world's good health as his primary aim? When bullets, not aimed by the good guys, start flying toward the elusive skin-color-tinkerer, Team Louden has to consider that may Someone Even Bigger has an interest in this entire mess. But what interest? What aim? Good or bad? And worse, what Alphabet Agency might it be? Domestic? Otherwise? Those they thought the could trust, well, maybe they shouldn't. But if this is all for real, it's their duty to bring the perpetrators to justice before it's too late--even if it means going against orders.

Though this is a serious book that warns of world-wide dire repercussions with terrifying possible outcomes if the virus is weaponized and not contained, it's also extremely funny. As Meredith takes us through his delightful tale and turns nearly all of Denver into a multi-hued fruit basket (or maybe that should be 'nut' basket), the characters come alive and his rich sense of humor crops up over and over, leaving the reader smiling, grinning, and even laughing out loud with his quirky turns of phrase and exquisite timing.

Really, don't miss this book.

The Education of Doctor Montefiore
Emmet Hirsch, MD
Emmet Hirsch, Publisher
9780997843002, $12.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 294pp,

Ed Sarna

The Education of Doctor Montefiore, the debut novel of Emmet Hirsch, MD, is a poignant and humorous book about the path to becoming a doctor, and it draws back the curtain on the darker aspects of that road traveled. We get a glimpse into the fear and heartbreak, life and death situations, and constant sacrifices inherent in the medical profession. The story takes place during the four-year residency of Robert Montefiore, an affable, sincere, and hardworking medical student persevering through the overwhelming task of ob-gyn residency. Robert, though overflowing with positive traits, is as clueless in romantic relationships as an adolescent on his first date.

Doctor Hirsch is a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Illinois, and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago. His background gives credibility to the story so that even in the most outlandish situations, there is every reason to believe this happened exactly as written.

The book is separated into four sections, one for each year of residency. While navigating the inhumane workload and the gross inequalities of the system, Robert forges friendships, makes enemies, and falls in love. The scenes of his attempts at romance were simultaneously cringe-inducing and made me laugh out loud. I'll never again look at a bagel shop in quite the same way.

The characters populating this story, from the lovable to the despicable, are sharply drawn. While some border on stock characters straight out of central casting, they are so endearing you happily go along for the ride. And quite a ride it is. Betty, for example, is the Chairman's overly competent secretary who not only has her fingers on the pulse of the hospital, but also is able to use those same fingers to yank the tenuous strings of the high and mighty doctors who mistakenly believe they are in control.

Robert is at times exasperating, at other times, endearing, but always true to his character. Early on, he questions not only his own abilities, but also his right to even be in medical school. As is often the case in life, just as he starts feeling in control, he is knocked to the ground. His ability to keep going despite hard times is a testament to his character and speaks to every doctor's invaluable hard work and perseverance.

The dialogue is crisp and witty, as when Robert's friend Larry states, "Women! Can't live with 'em, can't be a gynecologist without 'em.'" The humor, while maybe not quite as dark as Catch-22 or M*A*S*H, occupies the same space. There's even a touch of Cyrano de Bergerac thrown into the mix. I enthusiastically recommend The Education of Doctor Montefiore to anyone looking for a smart read, a good laugh, or insights into the minds of those who spend their lives caring for us.

The Afflicted Girls
Cathleen Calbert
Little Red Tree Publishing
9781935656449, $19.95, PB, 122 Pages,

Deborah Hauser, Reviewer
Mom Egg Review, October 31, 2016

Cathleen Calbert's fourth book, The Afflicted Girls, which won the Vernice Quebodeaux "Pathways" Poetry Prize for Women, is part history (though not meant to be historically accurate), part tribute, and part social critique. The collection opens with "First Wife," a dramatic dialogue in the voice of Lilith, and closes with "The Princess Bride," a tribute to Calbert's friend. In between, these pages give voice to an array of women from Florence Nightingale to Zelda Fitzgerald in a variety of styles. "Talking Cure" and other poems use found language. "At Chawton Cottage" and " The Misses Bronte's Establishment for The Board and Education of a Limited Number of Young Ladies " are personal narratives that connect the speaker to the women and explore our attraction to them.

Comparison to Carol Ann Duffy's The World's Wife is inevitable. Both books present a compressed history of the world from the point of view of women. Despite the similarity, Calbert's handling of the subject is completely unique. There is less the sense that the women in Calbert's book are speaking in relation and opposition to men and more of a feeling that the women have finally claimed the agency to speak for themselves. Most of Duffy's "wives" are fictional (Mrs. Midas, The Devil's Wife) and the retellings are clever with modern twists. Calbert's girls are real people (Jane Austen, Marilyn Monroe) which elicits more pathos in the reader.

It's exciting for the reader to discover the subject of the poem when it isn't announced in the title, but occasionally frustrating when the subject doesn't become readily apparent. Almost every poem has a Note at the end of the book which provides a source citation and additional context. This is of interest to the reader who wants to delve deeper into the lives of the women who speak in this collection, but it is entirely possible to read and enjoy the poems without referencing the Notes.

Women writers and women who suffer from illness are the subject of many of the poems. The cover features a sketch of Ophelia, and the book opens and closes with images of Ophelia. "Stunner" is a narrative of that "mad girl," referring to both Ophelia and Elizabeth Siddal, the model who posed for John Everett Millais' painting "Ophelia." Calbert asks of Siddal the question she asks of so many of the women in this book including Elizabeth Bishop, Joan of Arc, Sylvia Plath, and more contemporary artists such as Amy Winehouse:

flirted with death, so you kept threatening
to waste away. Consumptive? Anorexic? Another
nineteenth-century lady with a medical mystery. (31)

Assumption gives voice to the Virgin Mary "who said little, and wrote nothing." The power of words to create, and impregnate, is revealed:

she conceived, in a manner of speaking,
via the ear, like a medieval weasel,
through the word of the Holy Spirit
Oxymoronic virgin/mother of Jesus
and the rest of us, she wasn't hot enough
to be the lover of God the Father, (4)

"Assumption" winds its way down and back up in one long stanza that creates a back and forth tension between the biblical story we are familiar with and the poem's irreverent version of the immaculate conception.

Calbert masterfully uses form to express content and skillfully uses indentations to create shape and movement. Form is most effectively used in "Dear Miss Dickinson," which can't be reproduced here, but zigzags down the page from the left to right margin in a dizzying display that mimics the speaker's confusion about Emily Dickinson's:

but it's you that I want to grab a hold of
and make answer all my questions. Tell me,
Beauty's kangaroo, Death's girlfriend,
from our perspective in the 21st century,
how would you classify your problem? (26)

The poem is a direct address to Dickinson in which the speaker rapidly fires question about the poet's life, work, and illness, and confesses: "I don't know what you mean" (27).

In "Mata Hari," the same form dazzles the reader as it enacts the exotic shimmy of the femme fatale who "turned sexy into tragique/as a thousand curves of her body/trembled in a thousand foreign rhythms" (45).

In the title poem, the women persecuted in the Salem Witch trials collectively speak of the power of speech and knowledge: "the fault that of the Father of Lies,/who improved out tongues/to speak of things we knew not of" (10). The women wield their newfound power against each other:

They seized the Scold, Troublemaker,
Quarrelsome Shrew and hanged her
at our word as if we were men or queens.
We swore before the Congregation
that we would become Good Wives, (11),

Fortunately, there are no "good wives" inhabiting the pages of this sensitive and illuminating study of history's "afflicted" women. Their voices deserve to be heard. Their stories are bewitching.

Loss Angeles: Stories
Mathieu Cailler
Short Story America Press
9780988249745, $25.00, HC, 226pp,

Niles Reddick

Cailler's newest Loss Angeles is one of the best short story collections I have ever read. I haven't read a collection this good since Michael Chabon's. When I learned it was a Pulitzer nominee and a finalist for the Best Book Awards and the International Book Awards, I wasn't surprised one bit. Loss Angeles is finely conceived and carefully crafted and I am looking forward to reading more from Cailler in the future.

A writer of poetry and prose, Cailler is well-published in literary magazines and journals and has received much recognition including being a finalist for Glimmer Train, the New Rivers Press American Fiction Prize, and Raymond Carver Short Story Award. He is also a recent recipient of a Short Story American Prize for Short Fiction. All of these recognitions are richly deserved. Hollywood certainly won't have to go looking far for its next blockbuster.

These fifteen stories of "loss" are set in or near the city of angels and keep readers turning pages and pulling for the marginalized characters as they deal with all forms of loss. Anecdotally, loss is typically seen as tragic, but these are not necessarily the historical tragedy and melodrama one might think of in the City of Angels. In fact, they surge forward through the tragedy. The characters learn to deal with loss and grow from it. In addition to the stories being more realistic and dealing with everyday characters and situations, they move beyond classical tragedy to a more hybrid and postmodern form, where characters not only overcome the tragic, but they find themselves experiencing life in an even more beautiful way.

In "Over the Bridge" Ella struggles with the tragic loss of her own mother in a car wreck. She begins to establish a real relationship with her father after some bad choices at a party. It's beautifully written and in the end, the loss allows her to experience a more deeper love than she has previously experienced. In "Chasing Light", Conrad, an aging and retired nature photographer, has recently pulled through a traumatic health crisis and has the mounting medical bills to prove it. He worries about that and struggles with what he suspects is his wife's infidelity with his own brother while he was ill. While capturing photographs for the local Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce, he spots a male movie star with another male friend and gets the idea of paying off his hospital debt by sending in some photos. While it doesn't work out in Conrad's favor, he moves through loss and into a better psychological space. "When Men Wore Hats" gives readers Shin, a young English teacher from China who comes into his own by playing Brando's role in a local theatre production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Though he loses a relationship, he gains a great deal of courage through his experience.

Cailler's Loss Angeles is a must read. There are many surprises here and readers will go on multiple journeys at once that will expand their own consciousness and point them in a new direction in dealing with their own tragic and existential crises. The stories teach without preaching, and we are better humans for having experienced them. I felt that way the first time I heard Cailler read "Dissonance" from his collection at a writing conference and was personally inspired to write additional stories from reading his. He is destined for an award with this newest post-modern masterpiece. To read more about Mathieu Cailler, please see his website:

The Sacred Sands
Vahan Zanoyan
Gampr Books
9780998392400, $16.95 PB, $8.99 Kindle, 370pp,

Charles Remington, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite

Jim Blackburn is the founder of the Petroleum Consulting Group, a company which advises governments and corporations on the complex machinations of the world's most traded commodity - oil. The Sacred Sands by Vahan Zanoyan launches us into this fast-moving world, opening with a 1980s OPEC meeting in Vienna and moving quickly to Japan, where the chief executives of all the major Japanese oil companies are meeting to develop a strategy to secure the country's oil needs and ensure future supplies. Blackburn, who is an expert in the Middle East oil market, is hired to research and advise, and this takes us on an intriguing journey, starting in Washington and including Japan, Kuwait, Austria and Italy, to London, Washington and New York, in a gripping narrative that never fails to deliver on the excitement and capriciousness of the oil business.

Blackburn is a likeable character - he moves in a glamorous world of top-class hotels, superb restaurants and folk who make multi-million dollar deals before lunch without a second thought, but throughout he manages to maintain a clear, analytical eye on his chosen market and a sound commonsense approach to life. The storyline takes us through Japan's efforts to secure its oil supplies, to the machinations of Middle East oil politics and the players, the Iran - Iraq war, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and the subsequent action by the USA and its allies to drive the Iraqis out. A cleverly constructed plot also manages to interweave Blackburn's romance with two very different women, and his dealings with the US government and the CIA.

The scope of this novel is breathtaking - there are so many thought-provoking instances, enlightening observations and astute analyses that it is difficult to know where to begin. Let me say this right away, you will enjoy reading this book as a simple thriller. The Sacred Sands is very well written with an intriguing plot that will keep you hooked to the very end. What you will also gain from the book is a clear analysis of the problems in the Middle East, the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism and the way that we in the West view the region, from the pen of someone who has a deep understanding of this area. Vahan Zanoyan is a consummate storyteller and has managed to present an incredibly complex subject in a clear, erudite, and most certainly entertaining way. I urge you to read this book - it is the most accomplished novel I have read this year and I can thoroughly recommend it.

A Food Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure: 6 Simple Steps
Yuchi Yang, RD
American Nutrition Counseling, LLC
9781539803423, $12.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 110pp,

Sue Magee

Very simple changes you can make which will lower your blood pressure. Personal experience tells me that they work.

Yuchi Yang has been a registered dietitian for over twenty years and she's allowing us the benefit of her knowledge to help us to reduce our blood pressure without taking medication, although she does stress that if you are taking medication you shouldn't stop doing so without consulting your doctor. You can reduce your BP in six steps, which are actually a lot simpler than they sound. Does it work? Yes, it does: I've been eating this way for more than two years and I've gone from having 'very worrying' blood pressure readings to getting a smile when they're taken and being told that my BP is perfectly normal - and that's without taking medication of any sort.

So, what do you have to do? Well, the first step is very simple: you need to drink enough liquids. Getting a good sodium-to-potassium ratio is the second step and whilst this might sound complicated it's not and Yang explains exactly how you can do it and you get examples of the sort of food which you should be eating. Getting an adequate amount of calcium is not complicated and once you know what you're looking for and it's relatively simple to eat high magnesium foods. For me the most important steps were eating a balance of good fats in moderation and limiting the amount of added sugar. In the summer of 2014 I might not have known the science behind the way that I was beginning to eat (I do now, thanks to Yang) but I certainly felt the benefits.

It had been a casual remark which made me go and get my blood pressure checked and the threat of being on medication, possibly for life, which made me take a long, hard look at the way that I was eating. I changed my diet by trial and error, but Yang has laid it all out for us in simple language: each section starts with some facts and provides examples of the type of food which you should be eating and then there's a tool which allows you to track your progress. There are also answers to some of the questions that might have been niggling you, such as whether or not you should use salt substitutes, or food supplements and what's a good ratio of the different types of fat?

Yang makes no claims for the benefit of the changes you should make other than the possibility of reducing your blood pressure, but for me there have been many others. I'm three stone lighter and have the sort of energy levels that I used to have twenty five years ago: I feel better in and about myself.

Bethany's Bookshelf

A Shipload of Women's Memories
Ann-Dorte Christensen & Marit Benthe Norheim
Aalborg University Press
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9788771126006, $32.00, HC, 160pp,

Synopsis: Presented by the team of visual artist Ann-Dorte Christensen and journalist Marit Benthe Norheim "A Shipload of Women's Memories: Narratives across Borders" is based on 18 life stories, as told by women over the age of 70, and with roots in 27 different countries.

Each individual story is analyzed as a unique account of individual experiences with strength, pain, and love. At the same time, their stories are a source of knowledge about major events in society over the past decades, where flight, migration, and encounters between different cultures have been a condition of life for many.

Used as a framework for "A Shipload of Women's Memories" is visual artist Marit Benthe Norheim's project, Lifeboats, which consists of three sailing sculptures that symbolize different stages in women's lives: Longing-the young about to set out in life; Life-the pregnant in mid-life; and Memories-the ageing. It is the third boat and its 19 figureheads that this book is linked to.

The narratives of the figureheads hold the common message that, in spite of differences, readers should remember the past and use their experiences to promote openness and tolerance.

Critique: Published with support from the Spar Nord Foundation, "A Shipload of Women's Memories: Narratives across Borders" is a unique series of personal stories that is a consistently compelling read from beginning to end. Profusely and beautifully illustrated, "A Shipload of Women's Memories" is impressively informative, thoughtful, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation making it an unreservedly recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Gender Studies collections and Migration Studies supplemental reading lists.

Musically Grown: Our First Years
Jakova Pen
Musically Grown LLC
9781944244989, $19.99, HC, 125pp,

Synopsis: Jakova Pen began her educational pursuits in Graphic Design at the International Academy of Art & Design in Tampa, Florida, followed by eight years as a freelance graphic designer. Her aspirations are to inspire adults and children alike towards conservation and sustainability through art and music.

With the publication of "The Musically Grown : Our First Years Book and Album" Jakova features 11 new and original songs including a semi-finalist in the 2015 International Songwriting Writing Competition! Included is a mini-CD disc with each song accompanied by an activity, made to grow with your child for physical, mental, social, and eco-conscious development - from newborn through childhood and beyond.

These catchy melodies focus on different aspects of development, including self-awareness, communication, exercise, diversity and the environment. "Musically Grown: Our First Years" encourages parents to turn off the television and replace it with some music and sing along fun with their children ages birth to six.

Critique: Unique, imaginative, fun, inspired, inspiring, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Musically Grown: Our First Years" is very highly recommended for family, preschool, daycare center, elementary school, and community library collections.

The Samstag Legacy: An Artist's Bequest
Ross Wolfe, editor
Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art
c/o University of South Australia
Hawke Building, City West Campus, 55 North Terrace, Adelaide, Australia
9780994335081, $85.00, HC, 392pp,

Synopsis: Featuring informed and informative essays by Lea Rosson DeLong and Ross Wolfe, "The Samstag Legacy:An Artist's Bequest" is published by the Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art for the University of South Australia's 25th birthday celebrations and the 25th anniversary of the Samstag Scholarships. This groundbreaking book charts the lives and careers of Anne and Gordon Samstag, and their sixteen years of living and working in Australia and eventual return to America. Who were the enigmatic Samstags? Intensely private, each boasting rich ancestral family trees, philanthropy was in their blood, "The Samstag Legacy" is a richly illustrated showcasing of their personal and professional story.

Critique: Enhanced with more than 190 flawlessly produced images of their artwork, "The Samstag Legacy: An Artist's Bequest" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it a highly prized and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library Contemporary Art History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Sacred Geometry of Nature
Francene Hart
Bear & Company
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781591432739, $35.00, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: It is the belief of Francene Hart that every human being possesses the potential to receive visionary experiences and integrate them into their lives. For example, artists become visionaries by cultivating their instinctive creative spark and sharing their profound visions with the world.

"Sacred Geometry of Nature: Journey on the Path of the Divine" is a lavishly illustrated memoir, which includes more than 80 full-color reproductions of Hart's intricate watercolor paintings and the stories behind them. Hart deftly recounts the evolution of her art from formative influences to her masterful integrations of Nature, Spirit, and Sacred Geometry.

Opening with her early work on mandalas and her explorations of the work of Joseph Campbell and C. G. Jung, Hart explains how her first works of art were in response to the solitary life she led in the forest, where she discovered the hidden order of Nature.

Hart then reveals how she learned to center her artistic explorations on the intelligence of the heart rather than the intellect, utilizing the wisdom and imagery of Sacred Geometry, reverence for the natural environment, and the interconnectedness between all things as her inspirations.

Hart describes the shamanic lessons that accompanied her discoveries and shaped her understanding of sacred relationships with the self, others, and Mother Earth. She explores how to tap into the energies provided by spirit guides and power animals, like Jaguar, Raven, Octopus, and Dolphin, and explains her profound affinity for the ocean, including her discovery of water consciousness in Hawaii.

Offering chronicles of her inspiring travels and transformational encounters around the world, Hart shares her experiences at sacred sites in the Amazon, Central America, Egypt, England, Scotland, Paris, Cambodia, and the Himalayas and how these places influenced her art.

Exploring what is revealed as inspiration arises, Spirit informs, and vision is transformed into art, Hart's recorded journey offers a window into the secret order of Nature, the power of sacred symbols for evolving consciousness, and a visionary artistic path that perfectly blends the mathematical rigors of sacred geometry and the numinous.

Critique: Combining art with metaphysical spirituality, "Sacred Geometry of Nature: Journey on the Path of the Divine" is an extraordinarily impressively informative, consistently compelling, beautifully illustrated, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Sacred Geometry of Nature" is also available in a Kindle format ($33.25).

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Fatherhood in America
Carl Mazza & Armon R. Perry
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398091378, $49.00, PB, 370pp,

Synopsis: Fathers are critical to their children's growth and development. Research on the involvement of men with their children stresses the important role that fathers play from infancy to adolescence. Due to the ethnically diverse population of fathers in America, culture and context frames the nature of fathering and shapes expectations within a cultural milieu.

"Fatherhood in America: Social Work Perspectives on a Changing Society" by Carl Mazza (Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Social Work, Lehman College of the City University of New York) and Armon R. Perry (Associate Professor, Kent School of Social Work, University of Kentucky) offers a wide range of vantage points social work, family studies, marriage and family therapy, counseling, sociology, psychology, gender studies, anthropology, cultural and ethnic studies, urban studies, and health.

There are five primary parts comprising "Fatherhood in America", each of which looks at numerous facets of fatherhood in the twenty-first century. Part I defines the concept of fatherhood and family composition, becoming a father, young fathers, single fathers, fathers and daughters, and examines the father-son relationship. Part II looks at nonresident fathers, homeless fathers, incarcerated fathers, and the never married fathers. Part III reviews biological fathers, stepfathers, male foster carers, fatherhood and adoption, and gay fathers. Part IV examines the cultural dimensions of fatherhood, including Latino, African American, and Native American. Part V explores the fatherhood service delivery system by engaging fathers in culturally competent services, measuring the father's involvement, and the initiatives to support fathering. The context, practice, and gaps in responsible fatherhood programs are also discussed.

"Fatherhood in America" will be useful for researchers, students, and professionals in the field of social work, health, family counseling, and human services. Applicable in classrooms and treatment situations, Fatherhood in America bridges the gap between research and practice through chapters authored by some of the country's foremost fatherhood scholars and clinicians by offering fresh perspectives and keen insights borne out of field experience working with fathers.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, "Fatherhood in America: Social Work Perspectives on a Changing Society" is a collection of eighteen articles each of which is an exceptional work of seminal scholarship, by learned contributors who are listed along with their credentials. Exceptional, thoughtful and thought provoking, "Fatherhood in America" is an especially recommended addition to college and university library Parenting Studies collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Early Years
Boruch Oberlander & Elkanah Shmotkin
Kehot Publication Society
770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213
9781932349047, $42.00, HC, 550pp,

Synopsis: "Early Years: The Formative Years of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson" is the result of an exhaustive, years-long, worldwide research project.

The "Early Years" tells the riveting story of the early life of the man who, as much as anyone else, set the course of Jewish history in the twentieth century. What was his childhood like? What type of schooling did he receive? Who were his mentors and teachers? When did he first meet his father-in-law and predecessor, and what was the relationship between them like? At what point did the ideas that were to transform the landscape of post-Holocaust Jewry begin to take form in his mind? These questions and others about the Rebbe's early life have never been answered comprehensively.

Presenting newly-uncovered government documents, private journals, letters and diaries, Rabbi Boruch Oberlander (head of Budapest's Orthodox Rabbinate) and Rabbi Elkanah Shmotkin (Director of Jewish Educational Media) have produced a highly-engaging account which offers an unimpeded view of the formative years of modern Judaism's most recognized personality. Over 450 documents and photographs are beautifully reproduced in full color, illuminating and informing the text.

Meticulously researched and engagingly presented, "Early Years" tells the fascinating story of the Rebbe's early life, including newly-uncovered details of: The Rebbe's first meeting with his future father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of Lubavitch. How the match between the Rebbe and Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak's middle daughter, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, came about. The identity of the Rebbe's childhood teacher who lived in his home and whom he described as "a great Torah scholar." The details of the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin's wedding in Warsaw, and of the simultaneous celebrations across the globe marking the event. The Rebbe's life in Berlin, where he lived with Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well written, expertly organized and presented, "Early Years: The Formative Years of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson" is a model of biographical scholarship and an unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Judaic Studies collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Justice as a Virtue: A Thomistic Perspective
Jean Porter
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
2140 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802873255 $40.00 pbk

Synopsis: "Aquinas," says Jean Porter, "gets justice right." In this book she shows that Aquinas offers us a cogent and illuminating account of justice as a personal virtue rather than a virtue of social institutions, as John Rawls and his interlocutors have described it - and as most people think of it today.

Porter presents a thoughtful interpretation of Aquinas's account of the complex virtue of justice as set forth in the Summa theologiae, focusing on his key claim that justice is a perfection of the will. Building on her interpretation of Aquinas on justice, Porter also develops a constructive expansion of his work, illuminating major aspects of Aquinas's views and resolving tensions in his thought so as to draw out contemporary implications of his account of justice that he could not have anticipated.

Critique: Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was a Catholic priest whose work as a jurist and whose scholarly writings on philosophy and theology were enormously influential. In Justice as a Virtue, author Jean Porter (John A. O'Brien Professor of Theological Ethics, University of Notre Dame) presents essays affirming the Aquinas perspective of justice as a personal virtue, rather than a virtue of social institutions. Portraying justice as a matter of interpersonal morality rather than a civic or social obligation, Justice as Virtue places Aquinas' ideas in a contemporary context relevant to modern society. A bibliography and a name index enhance this erudite treatise.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Robert "Boom" Powell
Specialty Press
99 Spring Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10012
9781580072359, $39.95, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: From the beginning, landing airplanes on ships at sea has been considered the ultimate challenge in aviation. The success of generations of aircraft carrier operations would never have been possible without the Landing Signal Officer, or LSO. "Wave-Off!: A History of LSOs and Ship-Board Landings" is the first time a full history of the LSO has ever been published.

The major changes brought about by visual landing aids and angled decks are nothing less than revolutionary, and these features are explained by Robert "Boom" Powell who is a seasoned Naval Aviator who flew attack jets from carriers.

"Wave-Off!" tells the story of LSOs from the first carrier operations in 1922 through World War II, the early jet era, Korea, Vietnam, and up to today's nuclear-powered leviathans. Also explained are naval aircraft and equipment development through the years; it covers both the faster and heavier aircraft and the changes in shipboard flight-deck systems. Diagrams showing the evolution of aircraft carrier deck design from World War I to the present are also included.

Historical fact and detailed information is interspersed with colorful anecdotes that add the feeling of being on the fantail of a carrier as jets scream past at 200 mph and land right next to carrier personnel. There's a good reason the LSO platform is called "the best seat in the house".

From primitive biplanes to the latest supersonic jets, aircraft could not have been brought aboard ship without the Landing Signal Officer and "Wave-Off!" deftly explains the exciting world of the LSO.

Critique: Profusely illustrated from cover to cover, "Wave-Off!: A History of LSOs and Ship-Board Landings" is impressively informative, exceptionally well written, virtually unique, and very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Military Aviation History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Bosch: The 5th Centenary Exhibition
Pilar Silva Maroto, editor
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500970799, $45.00, PB, 400pp,

Synopsis: Jheronimus van Aken (1450 - 1516) was born and lived in the Dutch city of 's-Hertogenbosch (Bois-le-Duc) in North Brabant; in signing himself "Jheronimus Bosch" he linked his fame to his native city. In Spain, where he was known as "el Bosco," his work earned considerable acclaim early in his career.

Bosch came from a long line of painters and soon mastered the skills of his craft. In stylistic terms, however, he departed from tradition, developing his own outlook. His inventive approach to both content and form is a hallmark of his work. Bosch played a pioneering role in the transformation of Flemish painting techniques in the early sixteenth century. Nowhere is this radical change more apparent than in his direct application of dabs of paint to the pictorial surface to create highlights and nuances or to define forms, almost as though he were drawing with the paintbrush.

"Bosch: The 5th Centenary Exhibition" is published for the exhibition at the Museo del Prado to mark the 500th anniversary of Bosch's death, provides up-to-date information on the artist's life and family, examines the data available regarding his patrons, surveys his status as painter and draftsman, and investigates his visual and textual sources as well as his values and ideology, with particular reference to The Garden of Earthly Delights and his depictions of Hell. The catalogue entries for the paintings belonging to the Prado collection discuss the findings of recent technical research carried out specifically for this exhibition.

Critique: Beautifully showcasing 402 flawlessly reproduced illustrations and featuring an impressively informed and informative commentary, "Bosch: The 5th Centenary Exhibition" is an extraordinary volume that should be considered a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library European Art History collections in general, and Bosch supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Sport Business Analytics
C. Keith Harrison & Scott Bukstein, editors
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781498761260, $89.95, HC, 260pp,

Synopsis: Developing and implementing a systematic analytics strategy can result in a sustainable competitive advantage within the sport business industry. Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Keith Harrison and Scott Bukstein, "Sport Business Analytics: Using Data to Increase Revenue and Improve Operational Efficiency) is timely, relevant, and provides practical strategies to collect data and then convert that data into meaningful, value-added information and actionable insights.

The primary objective of "Sport Business Analytics" is to help sport business organizations utilize data-driven decision-making to generate optimal revenue from such areas as ticket sales and corporate partnerships. To that end, "Sport Business Analytics" includes in-depth case studies from such leading sports organizations as the Orlando Magic, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Duke University, and the Aspire Group.

The core purpose of sport business analytics is to convert raw data into information that enables sport business professionals to make strategic business decisions that result in improved company financial performance and a measurable and sustainable competitive advantage. Readers will learn about the role of big data and analytics in: Ticket pricing; Season ticket member retention; Fan engagement; Sponsorship valuation; Customer relationship management; Digital marketing; Market research; and Data visualization.

"Sport Business Analytics" deftly examines changes in the ticketing marketplace and spotlights innovative ticketing strategies used in various sport organizations. It shows how to engage fans with social media and digital analytics, presents techniques to analyze engagement and marketing strategies, and explains how to utilize analytics to leverage fan engagement to enhance revenue for sport organizations.

Critique: Packed with insightful and illustrative 'real world' case studies, "Sport Business Analytics: Using Data to Increase Revenue and Improve Operational Efficiency" is specifically commended to the attention of sports business professionals and sports industry students. Of special note is the concluding chapter on teaching sport analytics further enhances its value to academics. Comprised of fourteen erudite contributions by experts, "Sport Business Analytics" is especially recommended for college and university library Sports Business & Marketing collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Sport Business Analytics" is also available in a Kindle format ($70.16).

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Creative Industries of Detroit
Leon Dixon
CarTech Inc.
838 Lake Street South, Forest Lake, MN 55025
9781613252130, $39.95, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: As America entered the postwar 1950s a resurgence by the auto manufacturers enabled them to create the most eccentric and extravagant automobiles of all time. Fierce competition between designers from General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and independents such as Packard all turned to one car builder nestled firmly in America's bustling automotive mecca to help design the most elaborate prototype and concept cars ever: Creative Industries of Detroit.

"Creative Industries of Detroit: The Untold Story of Detroit's Secret Concept Car Builder" is a comprehensive account that chronicles the greatest automotive achievements constructed at Creative Industries of Detroit. The careers of the company's founder, Fred Johnson, and his successor, Rex Terry, are examined to show how two former Chrysler employees led the most diverse automotive firm in all of Detroit. Dream cars created and examined in great detail include the Ford Atmos-FX, Mercury XM-800, Dodge Granada, Packard Balboa, Packard Panthers, Packard Request, Ford Mystere, Corvette Corvair, Dodge Daytona, Plymouth Superbird, Delorean, and many more. An amazing amount of hardware was constructed, each make separate from the other, and with a high level of secrecy.

"Creative Industries of Detroit: The Untold Story of Detroit's Secret Concept Car Builder" offers the most exhaustive and complete account of the 40-plus-year history creating dream, prototype, concept, and one-off cars from Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1950 Presidential Lincoln Limousine to the 1993 Mustang Mach III concept cars. This all-inclusive and unique history is the first-ever on the subject, and features behind-the-scenes images and interviews never published before.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, impressively informed and informative, exceptional well researched, written, organized and presented, "Creative Industries of Detroit: The Untold Story of Detroit's Secret Concept Car Builder" is very highly recommended, especially to community and academic library American Automotive History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Educational Justice
Howard Ryan
Monthly Review Press
134 W. 29th Street, Suite 706, New York, NY 10001
9781583676141, $95.00, HC, 248pp,

Synopsis: That education should instill and nurture democracy is an American truism. Yet organizations such as the Business Roundtable, together with conservative philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Walmart's owners, the Waltons, have been turning public schools into corporate mills.

Their top-down programs, such as Common Core State Standards, track, judge, and homogenize the minds of millions of American students from kindergarten through high school. But corporate funders would not be able to implement this educational control without the de facto partnership of government at all levels, channeling public moneys into privatization initiatives, school closings, and high-stakes testing that discourages independent thinking.

"Educational Justice: Teaching and Organizing Against the Corporate Juggernaut" by educator and journalist Howard Ryan, and featuring contributions by other specialists, opens with four chapters that discuss theories on teacher unionism, social justice pedagogy, and corporate school reform. These chapters are balanced with four case-study chapters documenting exemplary teaching and school-site organizing practices in the field.

Reports from various educational fronts include innovative union strategies against charter school expansion, as well as teaching visions drawn from the vibrant "whole language" movement. Bold, informative, clearly reasoned, "Educational Justice is an education in itself -- and a non-exclusionary, democratic one at that.

Critique: Howard Ryan has taught college English, worked for many years in union organizing and representation in higher education, as well as in labor journalism. Now retired, he writes and organizes for quality education in public schools. In "Educational Justice: Teaching and Organizing Against the Corporate Juggernaut" he draws upon his many years of experience, observation and expertise to prove an impressively organized and presented study that is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library collections. For the personal reading lists of students, educational institution policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Educational Justice is also available in a paperback edition (9781583676134, $23.00) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Plato's Statesman: Dialectic, Myth, and Politics
John Sallis
State University of New York Press
State University Plaza, Albany, NY 12246-0001
9781438464091, $90.00, HC, 326pp,

Synopsis: The Statesman is among the most widely ranging of Plato's dialogues, bringing together in a single discourse disparate subjects such as politics, mathematics, ontology, dialectic, and myth. Knowledgeably compiled and deftly edited by John Sallis (Frederick J. Adelmann Professor of Philosophy at Boston College) the seventeen essays comprising "Plato's Statesman: Dialectic, Myth, and Politics" consider these subjects and others, focusing in particular on the dramatic form of the dialogue. They take into account not only what is said but also how it is said, by whom and to whom it is said, and when and where it is said. In this way, the contributors approach the text in a manner that responds to the dialogue itself rather than bringing preconceived questions and scholarly debates to bear on it. The essays are especially attuned to the comedic elements that run through much of the dialogue and that are played out in a way that reveals the subject of the comedy. In the Statesman, these comedies reach their climax when the statesman becomes a participant in a comedy of animals and thereby is revealed in his true nature.

Critique: Comprising a seminal body of erudite scholarship by a diverse range of knowledgeably contributors, "Plato's Statesman: Dialectic, Myth, and Politics" is further enhanced for academia with the inclusion of an eight page Bibliography, a four page listing of the contributors and their credentials, a eight page English Index, and a two page Greek Index. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Philosophy collection in general, and Plutonian supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Plato's Statesman: Dialectic, Myth, and Politics" is also available in a Kindle format ($69.30).

Michael J. Carson

Clint's Bookshelf

The Great Green Gold Rush
Michael Caldwell & Kathleen Tracy
Creative Classic Publications
9780995259317, $14.00, HC, 220pp,

Synopsis: Legal marijuana is a $5 billion industry, growing at the rate of 27 percent per year-and that's without full-fledged legalization. In this current era of acceptance, new and unique business opportunities abound, and in "The Great Green Gold Rush", co-authors Kathleen Tracy and Michael Caldwell offer readers fifteen case studies that tell the stories of a wide variety of innovators and forward thinkers who are making their entrepreneurial mark in the fastest-growing industry in the United States.

A few of the trailblazers featured in the book are famous, such as Oscar winning actress Whoopi Goldberg and legendary musician Willie Nelson, but most are ordinary people executing extraordinary visions, from dispensary owners and market researchers to edible bakers and educators.

Critique: Impressively informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Great Green Gold Rush" is exceptionally well organized and presented. Especially commended for academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use, "The Great Green Gold Rush" will prove to be an enduringly popular and unique addition to both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Great Green Gold Rush" is also available in a Kindle format ($8.00).

Amy L. Stone
Trinity University Press
One Trinity Place, San Antonio, Texas 78212
9781595348005 $24.95

Synopsis: Fiesta San Antonio began in 1891 began as a parade in honor of the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto and has evolved into an annual Mardi Gras-like festival attended by four million with more than 100 cultural events raising money for nonprofit organizations in San Antonio, Texas.

At Fiesta's start, the events were socially exclusive, one of the most prominent being the Coronation of the Queen of the Order of the Alamo, a lavish, debutante pageant crowning a queen of the festival. Cornyation was created in 1951 by members of San Antonio's theater community as a satire, mocking the elite with their own flamboyant duchesses, empresses, and queens, accompanied by men in drag and local political figures in outrageous costume. The stage show quickly transformed into a controversial parody of local and national politics and culture.

Told through more than one hundred photographs and dozens of interviews, Cornyation is the first history of this major Fiesta San Antonio event, tracing how it has become one of Texas's iconic and longest-running LGBT celebrations, and one of the Southwest's first large-scale fundraisers for HIV-AIDS research, raising more than two million dollars since 1990.

Critique: Featuring a wealth of vintage black-and-white as well as some full-color photography, Cornyation is part history, part celebration of a vibrant San Antonio cultural tradition with deep roots in comedic satire. "A few lesbians were involved in the show... The show did not have a reputation, however, for including lesbians, and lesbian involvement and contributions were largely invisible. In general, gay men, particularly those sophisticated men in this show, were much more prominent in the public sphere." Spanning the 1950's to the modern day, Cornyation a fascinating browse from cover to cover, and highly recommended.

Dark Angel
Ron Felber
Barricade Books
2037 Lemoine Ave., Suite 362, Fort Lee, NJ 07024
c/o National Book Network (dist.)
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9780942637878 $16.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In Dark Angel, the third Jack Madson crime thriller, readers will encounter a Nazi geneticist, a billionaire serial killer, a renegade CIA operative, and a Hollywood starlet as deadly as she is beautiful; all participants in a horrifying project of staggering historical dimension: the creation of the Fourth Reich.

Critique: Dark Angel is a whirlwind thrill ride from cover to cover. Jack Madson confronts a globe-spanning conspiracy, with the fate of all humanity in the balance! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Dark Angel is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99). Also highly recommended for fans of the genre are the first two novels in the Jack Madson series, "A Man of Indeterminate Value" (9781569804902, $16.95 pbk. / $9.99 Kindle) and "The Kafka Society" (9781569805107, $16.95 pbk / $9.49 Kindle).

Kill The Father
Sandrone Dazieri
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781471154102, $28.00, HC, 512pp,

Synopsis: A woman is beheaded in a park outside Rome and her six-year-old son goes missing, the police unit assigned to the case sees an easy solution: they arrest the woman's husband and await his confession. But the Chief of Rome's Major Crimes unit doubts things are so simple. Secretly, he lures to the case two of Italy's top analytical minds: Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli, a fierce, warrior-like detective still reeling from having survived a bloody catastrophe, and Dante Torre, a man who spent his childhood trapped inside a concrete silo. Fed through the gloved hand of a masked kidnapper who called himself 'The Father', Dante emerged from his ordeal with crippling claustrophobia but, also, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and hyper-observant capacities. All evidence suggests that 'The Father' is back and active after being dormant for decades. Indeed, he has left tell-tale signs that signal he's looking forward to a reunion with Dante. But when Columba and Dante begin following the ever-more-bizarre trail of clues, they grasp that what's really that what's really going on is darker than they ever imagined. In Sandrone Dazieri's "Kill The Father", two people, each shattered by their past, team up to solve a series of killings and abductions and in the course of their investigation must face their deepest fears.

Critique: "Kill The Father" is a consistently riveting read from cover to cover and wonderfully showcases author Sandrone Dazieri's genuine flair for original and deftly crafted storytelling. While unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kill The Father" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.99).

The Meating Room
Frank Muir
Constable Crime
c/o Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613737897, $14.99, PB, 368pp,

Synopsis: When Thomas Magner's business partner is found dead in his car on the outskirts of St. Andrews, all evidence points to suicide. Meanwhile Magner, a wealthy property developer, is under investigation for a series of alleged rapes almost thirty years ago. In total, eleven women are prepared to go to court to testify against him, but one by one they withdraw their complaints until only six remain. With the procurator fiscal now reconsidering her case, one of the remaining accusers is found brutally murdered in her home. Even though Magner's alibi is rock solid, DCI Andy Gilchrist is convinced he is somehow responsible. But as Gilchrist and his sidekick DS Jessie Janes dig deeper, they begin to expose Magner's murky past and uncover a horrifying secret that has lain dormant for decades. Was Magner a serial rapist in his youth? Or was he something much worse?

Critique: A simply riveting read from cover to cover, "The Meating Room" clearly showcases author Frank Muir's complete mastery of the genre. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Meating Room" is also available in a Kindle format ($11.99,

The Clintons' Anti-Working-Class Record
Jack Barnes
Pathfinder Press
PO Box 162767, Atlanta, GA 30321-2767
9781604880915 $10.00 pbk

Synopsis: Never before have presidential candidates of both major capitalist parties evoked such distrust, disgust, and aversion among working people as in the 2016 elections. Hillary Clinton contemptuously calls millions of workers who refuse to vote for her deplorable, even irredeemable. Donald Trump demagogically tries to turn us against each other, targeting Mexicans, Muslims, women, and whomever. Both seek to divert us from seeing that it's working people the world over who ve been made to carry the burdens of capitalism's global economic and social calamity and spreading wars.

The Clintons Anti-Working-Class Record documents the profit-driven course of the US rulers since the Clintons first took up residence in the White House in 1993. It points to the anger and wide-ranging discussion among working people looking to understand and effectively resist the employers assault. For the first time in decades, as Clinton's words reveal, the US rulers and their government have begun to fear the working class.

Critique: Author Jack Barnes (National Secretary of the Socialist Workers Party) presents a stinging indictment of the Clintons from a left-wing perspective. It should be noted that The Clintons' Anti-Working-Class Record is emphatically not a pro-Republican or pro-Trump manifesto; the focus is on the Clintons' culpability in a status quo of immiseration for the working class. Chapters especially focus on the negative ramifications of "Ending Welfare As We Know It" in the early 2000's, and the root causes of the 2008 world financial crisis that became the Great Recession of 2009. A handful of black-and-white diagrams and an index round out this fierce, no-holds-barred condemnation of the Clintons' failings. Also highly recommended is Barnes' "Are They Rick Because They're Smart?" (9781604880878, $10.00), an open call for socialist revolution in the United States.

Big Agenda
David Horowitz
Humanix Books
9781630060879 $26.99 hc / $13.45 Kindle

Synopsis: Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 election was more than a historic upset. It was the beginning of a major political, economic, and social revolution that will change America - and the world.

One of the nation's foremost conservative commentators, New York Times bestselling author, and a mentor to many of Donald Trump's key advisers, David Horowitz presents a White House battle plan to halt the Democrats' march to extinguish the values America holds dear.

Big Agenda details President Trump's likely moves, including his:

* First wave of executive orders - restoring Guantanamo, Keystone XL, nixing amnesty
* Surprising judicial appointments - Supreme Court and the federal judiciary
* Radical changes to federal rules & regulations - Obamacare, EPA overreach, and a New Deal for black America

With the White House and Senate in GOP hands, and a Supreme Court soon to follow, President Trump will have a greater opportunity than even Ronald Reagan had to reshape the American political landscape while securing the nation's vital security interests abroad.

Critique: Conservative commentator David Horowitz, who has also been a mentor to many of President Trump's key advisors, offers a proposed outline of how newly elected President Trump will use his office to reshape American politics. Extensive notes and an index enhance this blend of forecasting, political battle plan, and unabashed advocacy for conservative causes. "To restore a culture of law and order in the federal government, the Trump administration should launch a wholesale investigation into those responsible [for unjustly targeting and persecuting conservative taxpayers] at every level of the IRS bureaucracy, with penalties up to and including criminal prosecution for those who played ball with the Obama administration's push to wield the agency as a political weapon against its rivals." A "must-read" for anyone anticipating the new America that President Trump's administration will bring - whether one welcomes or dreads the transformation! It should be noted that Big Agenda is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.45).

Clint Travis

Duncan's Bookshelf

Heart of Darkness
Conrad, Joseph
Dover Publications, Inc.
31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, NY 11501
9780486264646, $2.50, pbk, 72pp

Conrad is "celebrated for his tales of the sea and exotic climes in which men's personalities are subjected to extreme physical and psychological trials". (Editor's Note). Conrad chose to expose man's depravity toward 'savages' by describing men shooting black men on the river bank and 'old' slaves dying slowly after serving their masters The narrator (Marlowe) describes a man (Kurtz) who is idolized by a tribe of warriors. What the reader sees is a man who is greedy for ivory and fame, a man who leads his warriors to killing entire villages in the Congo.

Kurtz's boss (manager Marlowe) laments that Kurtz has ruined his region for business, but the company confiscates Kurtz's ivory hoard. Business and white men and 'white' weapons are destroying the Congo and the elephants. The narrator allows the reader to see and sense the black evil that white men are creating with no sense of guilt.

Poseidon's Arrow
Cussler, Clive with Dirk Cussler
G.P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson Street; New York, NY 10014.
9780399162923, $6.98, 520pp

Dirk Pitt and his children Summer and Dirk (Jr.) face multiple challenges to protect top secret research to develop a 'super-cavitation' technology designed to let submarines travel as fast as 45 knots (ie. 100). A researcher dies. Dirk Jr. recovers the man's plans from the wrecked sunken yacht. The plans are then stolen as is the almost built model submarine. Dirk Sr. leads a mission to rescue 70 slave laborers at a camp run by Edward Bolcke (shades of Ernest Blofield, heh?). The camp is destroyed. Bolcke steals the new propulsion motor from the Sea Arrow. Pitt almost singlehandedly sinks a cargo carrier in the Panama Canal to keep the new engine from Chinese hands.

The villains are familiar. The technology is new. The adventure and action will keep you reading. The spy in the White House was a surprise. Enjoy the story. The number one bad guy is sucked down a drain.

Sumerian Wisdom and Anunnaki Prophecies: Book of Sajaha-the-Seer
Free, Joshua, Ed.
Mardukite-English translation, as unpublished companion to Book of Marduk by Nabu
Mardukite Research Organization Archive # Cycle 5

Sajaha-the-Seer (maybe Shah Jaha) worked for King Nebuchadnezzar II. Her tablets were unearthed in Assyria. Her tablets are writings, sayings and/or prophecies sent directly to her King; and direct prayers to the Anunnaki gods. Sajaha was a Mardukite priestess of the Temple of Marduk. Generally, the prayers are explanations of the workings of the spiritual world. This is an interesting book of prayers for those who have interest in Babylon, Druidry, and/or Systemology.

The Great Pyramid Hoax
Creighton, Scott
Bear and Company
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
97815911437895, $6.95 (pbk); 208 pp

Creighton compiles 'a compelling dossier of highly incriminating facts that strongly suggests that the painted "quarry marks" in these chambers - in particular the various royal names of the king - were almost certainly faked by Vyse [Col. Richard Vyse] and his team." (p. 3) Creighton ends by asking today's archaeologists and Egyptologists to submit the "quarry marks" to scientific analysis.

Readers of alternative history believe the Great Pyramid was built by Enoch to hide/preserve documents before the Great Flood. If true the Pyramid was not built during the Fourth Dynasty (2550 BC) but contemporaneous with the Sphinx in very ancient Egypt (ie 15,000 to 10,000 BC).

Marty Duncan, Reviewer

Gail's Bookshelf

Angels on Earth: Inspiring Stories of Fate, Friendship, and the Power of Connections
Laura Schroff & Alex Tresniowski
Howard Books
216 Centerview Dr., Ste. 303, Nashville, TN 37027
9781501144752, $16.00,

Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski's first book was the true account of an extraordinary moment between an 11-year-old panhandler and a busy sales executive. The idea came from a Chinese proverb that says: An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance which became the book's title: "An Invisible Thread." In that book Laura wrote about how she learned a change of attitude or action in "one tiny moment" can change everything whether someone considers the moment fate, destiny or the hand of God.

The premise of their second book continues that theme with a pay it forward concept titled, "Angels on Earth." While Laura still believes in traditional angels she believes she's gained a "new understanding of the role of kindness and angels in our lives."

In this collection of thirty stories the authors feature a variety of roles people play as "angels on earth." The narratives are then divided into categories of "kindness, yesness, outwardness, awareness, uniqueness, clearness and connectedness." Stories of humans as angels are tales of protectors, messengers or guides and sections begin with a brief overview of that particular category. While the stories on kindness explore what kindness is, Laura believes kindness is "something you allow to happen."

The story of Annie, Kevin, their newborn son Peter and eighty-three-year-old neighbor Shirley in Bremerton, Washington happened when Annie made time to be kind. Their angel story is about a five year relationship where Shirley became "Grandma Shirley" and toddler Peter became Grandma Shirley's "little Peter boy." It's a story about kindness, time and Annie's belief that friendship with Shirley "just had a real yessness about it."

The second group of stories in the "yesness" category capture moments that feature "the rightness of something" as illustrated by Linda's story when her step-father told her to get out during a blinding snowstorm. Linda was seventeen-years-old, had no money or clothes and had nowhere to go, until a friend's father invited her to "...stay as long as you want." The helpful father in this story believed in paying it forward which passes on a received blessing to someone else, what we now call "paying it forward."

Laura's collection came from people who contacted her or from those she met during the promotion of her first book, "An Invisible Thread." The meaningful and authentic stories feature "tiny moments, common events and ordinary things" that surprise, inspire and entertain. The book's small size makes it easy to slip into briefcase or bag and the short stories make them perfect for moments of waiting time in the doctor or dentist's office or during a work break.

The Shroud Conspiracy: A Thriller
John Heubusch
Howard Books
216 Centerview Dr., Ste. 303, Nashville, TN 37027
9781501155703, $26.00,

John Heubusch's unusual story of suspense and intrigue, "The Shroud Conspiracy," pits faith against science when blood and DNA results vanish during an investigation of a religious artifact said to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ - the Shroud of Turin. However, no one suspects the real purpose behind the theft is to use the blood samples taken from the Shroud to clone Jesus Christ.

The story opens in the massive Vatican library known as the sanctum sanctorum, where "texts undisturbed for centuries" now lay with pages irretrievably torn among splintered shelving" ruins. Father Parenti, known as the hunchback priest because of his misshapen back, mutters curses as he "gasps for breath and struggles to get up from the "sprawling heap of priceless books" surrounding him.

The dwarflike priest could only pray for a miracle since the "makeshift shelf he'd napped" on collapsed and left him like "an overturned tortoise, stuck on his shell," unable to right himself. The little priests worst fears were realized when he saw the large feet and towering frame of Father Antonio Barsanti, the dreaded library prefect approach! Before a word was said, the deformed priest knew he was doomed!

Thus begins a debut suspense wrapped in evil, deceit and Vatican intrigue inspired by bringing about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. What wasn't planned was the forensic anthropologist, an outspoken atheist who was determined to prove the Shroud of Turin a fake or his new love interest, the beautiful Vatican representative who believed the religious relic was real.

Add pedophilia, kidnapping, intriguing human weakness and a globe-spanning chase and you have a fast-paced and ambitious debut thriller. Some readers might find the act of animal cruelty and suggested rape distasteful although they are central to the plot. However, the author's creative plot premise, to use blood from the Shroud of Turin to clone Christ and bring about His Second Coming, is well done, though his characterizations and plot threads are a bit weak at times. I'm sure readers will see more of this author and his future books will only add to his characterizations and intricate plotting techniques.

John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and contributing writer for The New York Times, Forbes Magazine and The Washington Post releases his debut thriller, "The Shroud Conspiracy," March 14, 2017.

Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God
Athena Dean Holtz with Inger Logelin
Redemption Press
1730 Railroad St, Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781683142379, $16.99,

Athena Dean Holtz, speaker, radio host, author, pastor's wife and co-founder of former WinePress Publishing released "Full Circle: Coming Home to the Faithfulness of God" in February from Enumclaw based Redemption Press. Her search for happiness is a candid and gripping account of "physical abuse, spiritual abuse, toxic leadership and God's faithfulness" that led her from a cult mentality back into the "arms of Jesus."

"Full Circle" is both a personal story and a professional women's story that begins with the intentional loss of a child, a loss that left Athena with trust issues and the determination to "never let anyone use me again...instead she was determined to become the user," she writes. Although Athena was now a young woman, the problems that created her drive to be the best, to be the "center of attention," to perform began in early childhood.

She remembers distancing herself from her mother at a very young age and craving her father's attention. She wanted to be her father's "special girl." Since she was the only girl in the family when she "danced and twirled and laughed" her dad would bring out the movie camera and record her. Perhaps that's when her drive to please her father, be the center of attention, to perform, became an obsession.

Or it might have been when she realized her "parent's marriage was a sham." Although her mother knew her dad was seeing another woman she only demanded he move into another bedroom, otherwise they kept up appearances socially. However, Athena's father was now an "absentee father" and the little girl "tried hard to win his approval" when she did see him.

Or it could have been when she was sexually molested by a maid in Georgia, an abuse that began when she was five-years-old and didn't end until she was eight and the family moved to New York. As frequently happens with childhood abuse "those three years are mercifully like a blank page," she writes, although the experience left her susceptible to sexual experiences as a teenager.

Journey along with Athena and learn learns about victimization, control issues, trust and how to ask the hard questions that put her on a path of "self-discovery, redemption and freedom." Where she learned life-changing biblical truths that taught her to "be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10), the differences between a "good idea and a God idea" and why she believed in Scientology, mysticism and spiritual deception for twelve years.

Athena's inspirational story of God's faithfulness and restoration in spite of bad choices is compelling, authentic and impossible to put down! Besides an intriguing inside look at how cults work her first-person account teaches those who suffer from physical or spiritual abuse an encouraging message of God's love, hope and restoration.

I was very impressed with "Full Circle" and know it will touch the hearts, lives and spirits of all who read it.

With Love, Wherever You Are
Dandi Daley Mackall
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781496421227, $15.99,

Fact meets fiction in Dandi Daley Mackall's incredible love story, "With Love Wherever You are," a fictionalized true story of a WWII whirlwind romance and wedding based on over "600 letters tied together with boot laces since 1945." Letters Dandi's father gave to her when he was dying and asked her "not to read" until he and Dandi's mother had passed on.

While her father believed her mother wouldn't want anyone reading about their "mushy melodramas," Dandi believed he was wrong. However, she honored her father's request and waited until her parent's death to write this captivating love story from the perspective of a "real-life couple" from "the greatest generation."

The story begins on December 7, 1941when student nurse Helen Eberhart, Dandi's future mother, heard over the hospital's PA system: "President Roosevelt says the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii from the air..." Stunned, everyone stood around hospital beds and corridors, worried about family, more attacks and if they could complete their nursing degrees and internships. The war until now had seemed distant and far away and Helen didn't know she would soon ask, "Where do I sign up?"

Meanwhile in St. Louis, Missouri, Intern Frank Daley heard the hospital's chief of staff announce "...there has been an enemy attack on our forces...a surprise air attack with multiple explosions...and fatalities..." Until the announcement Frank's overriding concern had been to finish his internship and add MD to his name like all the other interns. For that to happen now, Frank and the other residents would have to enlist with a deferment, hoping the war would be over in a matter of weeks and they wouldn't be needed.

Thus begins a powerful and realistic love story that captures the love, faith and sacrifices of a young doctor and spirited nurse drawn together after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Although it was common knowledge war romances never lasted, Army nurse, Helen Eberhart and Lieutenant Frank Daley, M.D. defied the odds. Their powerful love story reflects the patriotism, the danger, struggles and loneliness of war and their touching concern and care for the "desperately wounded patients" from the "front lines of Europe."

Dandi breathes life into a couple molded by the depression years, a couple who served with honor during WWII and returned home to help rebuild a nation. She knew them as parents. The reader gets to know and love them through their letters and photos. Dandi's strong and warm characterizations combine with realistic dialogue to reflect the historical times and wartime experiences. This is an exceptional, well-done historical romance that will live long in your memory!

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Joshua's Bookshelf

12 Years a Slave
Solomon Northup
Graymalkin Media
9781631680021, $3.78

Considered one of the most beloved books about slavery in the American South since it's movie release in 2013, 12 Years a Slave depicts the heart-crushing and heart-warming story of a freeman who was impressed into slavery against his own will in the mid-nineteenth century.

Solomon Northup, a New York freeman and talented musician, was forced to wear the chains of enslavement against his own will and social status for twelve years' after he was purposely drugged and sold off to plantation owners in the south. Northup's story goes deeper into the plot from that of the movie. Steve McQueen's movie, which won the 2014 Best Picture Academy Award, did justice to the original story, but Hollywood is never as rich in detail as the source material is. 12 Years a Slave in the diary format tells Northup's story from his own eyes. The terrifying and depressing emotions spill from its pages, when this male finds out that he was chained to the bind of America's sin against his own will. The reader can infer how enslaved Africans lived in the American South before the Civil War. Treatment was brutal, fairness was cruel, and white superiority was the law of the land. This book is a direct reference to the personal struggles a black would endure in pre-Civil War America. The experiences that Northup would go through tells us today that the world was a cruel and bitter place in that part of American history.

Northup's story is gripping, captivating, and exciting. As an historian who is always interested in learning more about how the slaves (the other half of the population in the United States at that time) lived and worked, 12 Years a Slave is a perfect primary historical document to analyze and examine further. The original diary was written by one of Northup's colleagues, labeled as a ghostwriter. This could cause problems with the actual realities of the story. As Northup's enslavement spanned twelve long years, did some truth get distorted by falsified memory. Maybe yes, maybe no. However, Northup's profoundly-deep emotions wraps the reader up in this short but detailed account on how slavery was really executed in the Confederate States of America before the bloodiest war this nation has ever had. Final Verdict: Read the book before seeing the movie; a recommend.

41: A Portrait of my Father
George W. Bush
Crown Publishing Group
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553447781, $28.00

A story written by the son about the father always brings me to tears. Tears of happiness fell from my face when I immersed myself in this book. I have never personally met the two President Bushes, but they have both inspired me to lead a civil life in the future. The 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, writes a heart-warming tale of his doting father, George H. W. Bush, and takes the reader on a journey of ups and downs from the moment of Bush Sr.'s birth to his 90th birthday celebrations.

Bush Sr. had a life full of joys and disappointing moments. Whatever the case might have been, these difficulties never put the man in a closed hole- he was determined to live life to the fullest and serve the people who had elected him. Bush Jr. describes the story of a man who came from a prominent family (the Bush family has always been very influential in American politics). Growing up in a small Texas town, Bush Sr. had the opportunity to obtain a college degree, fight in the Second World War, and get married before the young age of 25. Political success and disappointments were to follow (as well as many children and then grand-children). Bush Jr. does not heavily focus on his father's political aspirations, but how well his father connected to his constituents. He was always ready to serve the people of America, in positions such as Head of the FBI, Ambassador to China, Vice-President, and then President. However, Bush Sr. was a calm and private man, personally keeping to himself when it came down to intense political debates, possibly prompting the American people to change their opinions about him and elect a boisterous man like Bill Clinton in 1992. Maybe George Bush Sr. should've been more vocal, like any other politician of the day. Alas, Bush Sr. served his country well, was devoted to the core of American ideals and beliefs, and retired from politics as a humble and loving family man.

Many people of my younger generation do not know the life of George H. W. Bush. Some might recall him as the father of our former Bush President, and then might not know much more about the elder Bush. As a presidential historian, I had only read a little about the elder Bush in my studies. He was the 41st President, but unfortunately did not draw in the popular voice that his son was to have eight years after. He was only a one-term President, stuck in between the great Ronald Regan and the scandalous Bill Clinton. Bush was in an unfortunate time at an unlucky place in history. Today, not many people refer him to a President because of this. However, his son writes a story that dismisses his unpopular presidential politics, and dives deeper into the life of a man who was devoted to his family and friends. George W. Bush displays a personal side of his father that the world and media has never seen before. When reading this book, take aside and forget all the politics that made George H. W. Bush so unpopular in his last years of his political career, and focus solely on the man who married his childhood sweetheart and adored every child he had. By thinking in a different frame and state of mind, one will engage in this book with a new sense of pride and acknowledgement for the great George H. W. Bush. Final Verdict: This was a book I would read over and over again, a calm, affectionate, and engaging tale of a former President- a highly recommend read.

Joshua V. Chanin

Julie's Bookshelf

3D Origami Art
Jun Mitani
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781498765343, $39.95, PB, 136pp,

Synopsis: Origami is the art of making shapes only through folding paper. The practice of origami reveals a fascinating area of geometry woven with a variety of representations. The world of origami has progressed dramatically since the advent of computer programs to perform the necessary computations for origami design.

"3D Origami Art" by Jun Mitani (Professor of Information and Systems in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Tsukuba) presents the design methods underlying 3D creations derived from computation. It includes numerous photos and design drawings called crease patterns, which are available for download on the author's website. Through the book's clear figures and descriptions, readers can easily create geometric 3D structures out of a set of lines and curves drawn on a 2D plane.

Professor Mitani uses various shapes of sheets such as rectangles and regular polygons, instead of square paper, to create the origami. Many of the origami creations have a 3D structure composed of curved surfaces, and some of them have complicated forms. However, the background theory underlying all the creations is very simple. Professor Mitani shows how different origami forms are designed from a common theory.

Critique: Profusely and meticulously illustrated, thoroughly 'user friendly' with its informative commentary and instruction, "3D Origami Art" is a unique and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, and academic library Mathematics collections in general, and Origami Art supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "3D Origami Art" is also available in a Kindle format ($31.16).

The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens
Douglas Haddad
Rowman & Littlefield
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781442256958, $18.95, PB, 286pp,

Synopsis: "The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens" by Douglas Haddad (who has worked as a middle school teacher, coach, mentor, nutritionist, and inspirational speaker) was specifically written for parents who are concerned or frustrated with the choices their child makes when it comes to his or her peer groups, study habits, and use of social media. For those who feel their child is pushing them away and their parental bond is weakening. Who are unsure of the next steps they should take to help your child succeed.

"The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens" offers a step-by-step plan for raising a child through this tumultuous adolescent time and provides specific, proven tools to help a child become a problem solver and grow to be smart, successful, and self-disciplined. Parents will: Discover the secrets of effective communication with your child; Learn the techniques to stop behavior problems right in their tracks when they happen; Know the strategies to best motivate your child and unlock their potential; Find out how to set appropriate limits and hold your child accountable for their actions; Understand today's "child-limiting challenges" and the solutions for handling them with your child.

Every parent wants the best for their child, and these years can be fraught with challenges: bullying, violence, gambling, sex, smoking, alcohol, substance use, eating disorders, depression, suicide, unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity, etc. Making sense of these challenges, "The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens" offers exercises for incorporating the ten child unlimited tools into an effective parenting style and anecdotes to illustrate strategies and techniques. Supported by current research, the tools presented in "The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens" will serve as a guide for any family with tweens or teens.

Critique: One of the most 'parent friendly' instruction guides ever written for anyone charged with the responsibility of raising teenagers in our contemporary world, "The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens" clearly lives up to its title and is extraordinarily informative and exceptionally accessible in both organization and presentation. While very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Parenting Studies instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Discovering Your Optimum "Happiness Index"
Errol A. Gibbs & Marjorie G. Gibbs
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781504983198, $19.95, PB, 286pp,

Synopsis: Over the past century, the world has experienced exponential growth in academia, human knowledge, science and technology, and financial and material wealth. Human beings have made significant progress in religious understanding, space exploration, medical research, and in the treatment and eradication of some common diseases such as smallpox, measles, yellow fever, and polio (poliomyelitis).

The thoughtful observer could envisage a "new" world that blossom's into a "new era" of high civilization with peace and prosperity, and hope and happiness. Instead, humanity has been ushered into the "global village", observably unprepared to manage national and international challenges that seem to suffocate hope and happiness of many.

Discovering Your Optimum "Happiness Index" (OHI) is a book that puts forward that a "materially driven life" may bolster ones' lifestyle, but one's lifestyle is not fundamentally intrinsic to happiness. It contends that the potency of "Optimum Happiness" is a higher imperative of happiness underpinned by the "Spiritual" and the "Natural."

This book is not essentially a scientific treatise on happiness, but it presents a "new" narrative that will engage individuals in the fields of psychology, sociology, and other social science disciplines. The discourse is an alternative approach to the "Search for Happiness," based on multigenerational family life experiences, nurturing children, experiential knowledge, intuitive, intellectual and empirical observation, and global travel.

Discovering Your Optimum "Happiness Index" provides the reader with a broad spectrum of inquiry into the influence of human attributes, achievements, and customs on one's health, well-being, and happiness. The "Happiness Index" methodology will take the reader on a journey of discovery where he or she can find happiness in the midst of plenty (wealth), likewise in the midst of scarcity (poverty). Regardless of your station in life, Discovering Your Optimum "Happiness Index" will help to brighten your path to happiness", not merely as a lifestyle, but as a "life of fulfillment".

Critique: A potentially life enhancing, life changing read, "Discovering Your Optimum "Happiness Index"" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.

Where Angels Walk
Joan Wester Anderson
Loyola Press
3441 North Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657
9780829444704, $14.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: We don't hear much about angels nowadays. When we do, they have often been secularized or commercialized. Instead of ministering angels who reveal God's love and mercy, we hear about "angel investors" or we gobble up foil-wrapped chocolate angels at Christmas. But Joan Wester Anderson trusts that angels still walk among us.

On mountain slopes, on desolate rural highways, in airplane cockpits - these are just a few of the many places where ordinary people have felt the very real presence and power of God's angels at work in their lives. In "Where Angels Walk: True Stories of Heavenly Visitors", Joan Wester Anderson (the "Angel Lady") offers dozens of reasons and stories for us to reconsider our rather limited view of angels.

Anderson, who holds traditional Christian beliefs about angels, was careful to select only those stories that had a ring of truth to them. But are they true? Do heavenly visitors really walk among us? "Where Angels Walk" is a powerful witness to the reality of angelic phenomenon.

Critique: Newly released as a 25th Anniversary Edition (including several new stories of angelic encounters), "Where Angels Walk: True Stories of Heavenly Visitors" by Joan Wester Anderson is once again available for the edification of a whole new generation of readers. While unreservedly recommended for church, community, and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Where Angels Walk" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Julie Summers

Kaye's Bookshelf

What Poets Used to Know
Charles Upton
Angelico Press / Sophia Perennis
9781597311717, $17.95, 210 pp.

Genre: Poetry - Metaphysics

Rating: Good

I am going to deviate from how I usually start my reviews (quoting from the back cover) in that the back cover information is basically endorsements for the book, and although they are right on, do not tell us much about the book or its author.

What Poets Used to Know is not an easy, light read in any manner, shape or form and probably will not appeal to the average reader. I am also from San Francisco, have a background in comparative religions, Homer, Basho, Kundalini Yoga, Carlos Castanada, Alan Watts, Gurdjieff and taught hatha yoga for many years and found this book quite a challenge.

It's an eclectic collection of twenty-one chapters having to do with poetry with a strong leaning toward the metaphysical. Allow me list some of the chapters: 1) Poetry, the Siege Perilous; 4) Mythopoesis; 7) The Metaphysical Uses of Metaphor, Kenning, Riddle and Rune in the Teutonic Tradition; 11) The Dark Side of Poetry: Terence McKenna, DMT, the Techno-Elves, and the Deconstruction of the Human Form; 12) Sufism, Spiritual Romance, and the Union of East and West; 14) An Exegesis of the Prologue to William Blake's The Marriage of Heave and Hell; 16) The City of Byzantium in the Symbology of William Butler Years: 19) The Curse of Poetic Subjectivism.

If you're a serious student of poetry or a seeker of truth on a spiritual path, you may find Charles Upton's writing of value, This book is not to be read lightly; it's more a book to be studied a little at a time. It is clear from the start that Charles Upton is an extremely well-educated, consummate writer and the quality of the book (its cover, paper, print, editing) are far above average.

For the educated reader, a reader interested in metaphysical studies, What Poets Used to Know will be worth the time and energy, adding to their collective knowledge.

Upton quoted one of my favorite haiku poems from Japanese poet, Basho, to demonstrate phanopoeia (the power of poetry to make us see images with our mind's eye): "An old pond - Then a frog jumps in, Kerplop!" However, the interpretation with which I am familiar is slightly different: "The old pond - A frog jumps in - Plop!" Regardless, yes, you can see it in your mind's eye.

For the rest of us, much of what Upton has to say may not appeal to the average reader. You know who you are.

Patterns in Nature
Victoria Rose
Privately Published
9781520746159, $8.00, 50 pp

Genre: Photography Art - Haiku poems

Rating: Very good

Patterns in Nature is a small collection of simple, not particularly interesting subjects which have been made interesting and unique with the assistance of digital photography. The subject matter includes cracks in the street, snow on rocks, dirty snow, bare trees, rocks, cattails in a pond. Next to each photo is a haiku poem.

Victoria Rose has taken these less than attractive subjects and with her unique perspective turned them into something beautiful: art worth displaying in your home.

Patterns in Nature is the first in her series on patterns. The book is well designed, has an attractive cover and would be a perfect gift for a friend or relative.

I highly recommend this book for all ages, and for a book of photographic art, the price is reasonable at $8.00.

Kaye Trout, Reviewer

Logan's Bookshelf

Predicting the Turn
Dave Knox
Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.
950 Danby Road, Suite 136, Ithaca, NY 14850
9781941688441, $28.00, PB, 158pp,

Synopsis: Disruption and innovation are in the global marketplace is at the top of every executive agenda for the world's largest companies. These leaders are trying to determine how to compete with a new breed of competitors that are playing the game by entirely different set of rules. In "Predicting the Turn: The High Stakes Game of Business Between Startups and Blue Chips", Dave Knox (Managing Director of WPP Ventures and Chief Marketing Officer of Rockfish, a WPP agency and a seven-year veteran of Procter & Gamble, where he was instrumental in the digital turnaround that led to P&G being named to AdAge's Digital A-Lis) discusses the new high-stakes game of business between disruptive startups and Blue Chip companies, teaching readers how to foresee the future of their industry.

As a brand marketer, venture investor, and startup advisor, Knox provides a one-of-a-kind worldview into the changing relationship between startups and Fortune 500 companies. His insight-filled commentary teaches the world's largest companies how to foresee the future of their industries.

The lessons comprising "Predicting the Turn" include such observations as: Your competitors of today are not your competitors of tomorrow: One of the biggest mistakes that big companies make is underestimating their Total Available Market and where their future competitors will emerge from; Innovation-driven acquisition can be the new R&D: Every industry is being transformed by technology, Acquisitions can infuse Digital DNA into a company's core business both in terms of business models, as well as human talent: Incumbents have an opportunity to disrupt the disruptors.

The ultimate takeaway from "Predicting the Turn" is that by taking inspiration from a startup or innovative competitor, big companies can use their scale, brand, and financial resources to launch a new effort.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Predicting the Turn: The High Stakes Game of Business Between Startups and Blue Chips" should be considered a 'must read' for anyone charged with corporate responsibilities and is a fundamental and unreservedly recommended addition to community, corporate, and academic library Business Management collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Predicting the Turn" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Face: Strangers on a Pier
Tash Aw
Restless Books
9781632060457, $9.99, PB, 80pp,

Synopsis: In "The Face: Strangers on a Pier", author Tash Aw deftly explores the panoramic cultural vitality of modern Asia through his own complicated family story of migration and adaptation, which is reflected in his own face.

From a taxi ride in present-day Bangkok, to eating Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1980s Kuala Lumpur, to his grandfathers' treacherous boat journeys to Malaysia from mainland China in the 1920s, Aw weaves together stories of insiders and outsiders, images from rural villages to megacity night clubs, and voices in a dizzying variety of languages, dialects, and slangs, to create an intricate and astoundingly vivid portrait of a place caught between the fast-approaching future and a past that won't let go.

Critique: "The Face: Strangers on a Pier" offer a unique and thought-provoking perspective of a life lived out in interesting times, places, and circumstances. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Face: Strangers on a Pier" is very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Face: Strangers on a Pier" is also available in a Kindle format ($2.51).

The Lost Order
Steve Berry
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250056252, $28.99, HC, 512pp,

Synopsis: The Knights of the Golden Circle was the largest and most dangerous clandestine organization in American history. It amassed billions in stolen gold and silver, all buried in hidden caches across the United States. Since 1865 treasure hunters have searched, but little of that immense wealth has ever been found. Now, one hundred and sixty years later, two factions of what remains of the Knights of the Golden Circle want that lost treasure?one to spend it for their own ends, the other to preserve it.

Thrust into this battle is former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone, whose connection to the knights is far deeper than he ever imagined. At the center is the Smithsonian Institution?linked to the knights, its treasure, and Malone himself through an ancestor, a Confederate spy named Angus "Cotton" Adams, whose story holds the key to everything. Complicating matters are the political ambitions of a reckless Speaker of the House and the bitter widow of a United States Senator, who together are planning radical changes to the country. And while Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt face the past, ex-president Danny Daniels and Stephanie Nelle confront a new and unexpected challenge, a threat that may cost one of them their life.

From the backrooms of the Smithsonian to the deepest woods in rural Arkansas, and finally up into the rugged mountains of northern New Mexico, The Lost Order by Steve Berry is a perilous adventure into our country's dark past, and a potentially even darker future.

Critique: Another simply riveting read from a master of the action/adventure genre, "The Lost Order" is a deftly constructed, multilayered, consistently compelling novel that deftly showcases author Steve Berry's genuine flair for original and unfailingly entertaining storytelling. While very highly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Lost Order" is also available in a Kindle format ($14.99). Librarians should be aware that "The Lost Order" is also available as a complete and unabridged CD audio book (Macmillan Audio, 9781427282736, $39.99).

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Travels and Identities
Peter E. Paul Dembski, editor
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771122252, $24.99, PB, 306pp,

Synopsis: Elizabeth Smith Shortt was one of the first three women to obtain a medical degree in Canada, and her husband, Adam Shortt, enjoyed a successful career as a professor of politics and economics at Queen's University in Kingston. In 1908 Adam Shortt relocated his family to Ottawa to take up a commission to oversee civil service reform under Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier. There he convinced his superiors that an onsite investigation of four European countries would expedite his effort to improve Canada's bureaucracy, and in June 1911 he and Elizabeth embarked on their trip. This book chronicles their Atlantic crossing and extended visit to England, as well as trips to Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands.

The Shortts were generally pleased with England and its values, but Elizabeth was sharply critical of the behaviour of British nurses. Her diaries and letters, here reprinted, critiqued the lands and peoples she visited in Europe. Leading foreign feminists such as Lady Chichester and Mrs. Maud of the Mothers' Union in England sought her advice, as did Alice Salomon in Germany, the corresponding secretary of the International Council of Women. The diaries and letters presented in this volume reveal the multifaceted nature of Adam and Elizabeth Shortt, from public figures to difficult employers to a couple who couldn't help but live beyond their means.

Peter E. Paul Dembski's "Travels and Identities: Elizabeth and Adam Shortt in Europe, 1911" provides an informed and informative introduction to a Canadian couple who lived as moderate liberals with occasional conservative or radical views, and who blended science and an adherence to Protestant Christianity into their thinking. Their travel experiences, during a period of building political upheaval, provide a valuable snapshot of pre - First World War European society and culture.

Critique: Impressively researched, exceptionally well written, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Travels and Identities: Elizabeth and Adam Shortt in Europe, 1911" is an extraordinary study that is enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations and an appendix (Inventory of Purchases). While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Canadian Biography and 20th Century Canadian/European History collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Travels and Identities" is also available in a Kindle format ($14.99).

Isabella of Castile: Europe's First Great Queen
Giles Tremlett
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781632865205, $35.00, HC, 624pp,

Synopsis: In 1474, when Castile was the largest, strongest, and most populous kingdom in Hispania (present day Spain and Portugal), a twenty-three-year-old woman named Isabella ascended the throne.

At a time when successful queens regnant were few and far between, Isabella faced not only the considerable challenge of being a young, female ruler in an overwhelmingly male-dominated world, but also of reforming a major European kingdom riddled with crime, debt, corruption, and religious factions. Her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon united two kingdoms, a royal partnership in which Isabella more than held her own. Their pivotal reign was long and transformative, uniting Spain and setting the stage for its golden era of global dominance.

Acclaimed historian and economic journalist Giles Tremlett has eloquently and accurately chronicled the life of Isabella of Castile as she led her country out of the murky Middle Ages and harnessed the newest ideas and tools of the early Renaissance to turn her ill-disciplined, quarrelsome nation into a sharper, truly modern state with a powerful, clear-minded, and ambitious monarch at its center. With authority and insight Tremlett deftly relates the story of this legendary, if controversial, first initiate in a small club of great European queens that includes Elizabeth I of England, Russia's Catherine the Great, and Britain's Queen Victoria.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Isabella of Castile: Europe's First Great Queen " will prove to be an extraordinary and popular addition to community and academic library Historical Biography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of European History students and non-specialist general readings with an interest in the subject that "Isabella of Castile: Europe's First Great Queen " is also available in a Kindle format ($13.19).

Maybe It's You
Candace Calvert
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781414390369 $14.99 pbk / $9.87 Kindle

Synopsis: ER nurse Sloane Ferrell escaped her risky past?new name, zip code, job, and a fresh start. She's finally safe, if she avoids a paper trail and doesn't let people get too close. Like the hospital's too-smooth marketing man with his relentless campaign to plaster one "lucky" employee's face on freeway billboards.

Micah Prescott's goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive Sloane Ferrell.

Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders... and exposes disturbing details of Sloane's past. Can hope spring from crisis?

Critique: Part romance novel, part medical drama, Maybe It's You showcases the expertise of former ER nurse Candace Calvert both as a medical professional and as an eloquent storyteller. Maybe It's You deals with the fallout from heartrending crimes, and the painful process of rebuilding the ability to trust, or love. Highly recommended for connoisseurs of the genre. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Maybe It's You is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.87).

A Measure of Murder
Leslie Karst
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781683310181 $25.99 hc / $9.59 Kindle

Synopsis: Sally Solari is busy juggling work at her family's Italian restaurant, Solari's, and helping Javier plan the autumn menu for the restaurant she's just inherited, Gauguin. Complicating this already hectic schedule, Sally joins her ex-boyfriend Eric's chorus, which is performing a newly discovered version of her favorite composition: the Mozart Requiem. But then, at the first rehearsal, a tenor falls to his death on the church courtyard--and his soprano girlfriend is sure it wasn't an accident.

Now Sally's back on another murder case mixed in with a dash of revenge, a pinch of peril, and a suspicious stack of sheet music. And while tensions in the chorus heat up, so does the kitchen at Gauguin--set aflame right as Sally starts getting too close to the truth. Can Sally catch the killer before she's burnt to a crisp, or will the case grow as cold as yesterday's leftovers?

Critique: A Measure of Murder: A Sally Solari Mystery is a tasty, food-oriented mystery, enriched with a handful of recipes. Amateur detective and restauranteur Sally Solari has to juggle the hectic life of restaurant management and murder investigation in this savory sleuth-connoisseur's delight! It should be noted for personal reading lists that A Measure of Murder is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.59).

You Carried Me
Melissa Ohden
Plough Publishing House
151 Bowne Drive, PO Box 398, Walden, NY 12586
9780874867886 $19.99 hc / $8.49 Kindle

Synopsis: What happens when an abortion survivor finds her birth mother, who never knew her daughter was alive?

Melissa Ohden is fourteen when she learns she is the survivor of a botched abortion. In this intimate memoir she details for the first time her search for her biological parents, and her own journey from anger and shame to faith and empowerment.

After a decade-long search Melissa finally locates her birth father and writes to extend forgiveness, only to learn that he has died without answering her burning questions. Melissa becomes a mother herself in the very hospital where she was aborted. This experience transforms her attitude toward women who have had abortions, as does the miscarriage of her only son and the birth of a second daughter with complex health issues. But could anything prepare her for the day she finally meets her birth mother and hears her side of their story?

Critique: You Carried Me is the true-life memoir of a woman who survived a botched abortion, and grew up with a loving adoptive family. Gradually, she learned more about her birth parents and their families, culminating in an emotional meeting with her birth mother. You Carried Me is a heartrendingly personal memoir, a testimony of abiding Christian faith, and a sober condemnation of legalized abortion in America. Author Melissa Ohden openly denounces the ills of legal abortion - including that women can be pressured (whether by family members or financial difficulties) into having an unwanted abortion, and that the mother and the father of an aborted child may experience a lifetime of regret. No matter how one may feel about the controversial issue of abortion, You Carried Me is a compelling, soul-felt, and honest testimony, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that You Carried Me is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.49).

Margaret Lane

Mari's Bookshelf

Joy Jacobsen
Translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw
Graywolf Press
250 Third Ave North, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781555977559, $16.00

The problem with borders is that they're opportunities. In his novel, Borders, originally published in Norwegian, but released October 2016 in English by Graywolf, Roy Jacobsen explores the borders as clear distinctions, and also limits to push against. Traversing the border between past to present, Jacobsen develops strong characters who fight to define their place in time.

The book begins with the story of a bridge over the river Our in 1894. A miller inquires of the governments on both sides of the river about building a bridge so that he can get between his house and the mill more easily. Others would find the bridge useful, too. But bureaucracy delays the project long enough that the miller ends up building a bridge himself. So starts the story of border people, forging their own paths often contrary to institutional arrangements.

We skip to the same geographical region in 1960's. The community now includes the main characters, Leon and Markus, veterans of WWII, Leon's sister, Leni and her mentor, Maria and Maria's son, Robert, whose father, a now-absent American soldier and pianist, fought opposite Leon and Markus. In the bulk of the novel, Markus tells Robert, and through Robert, us, how he lost track of his son during the battle of Stalingrad. Markus and his son both worked as radio operators with the German army. Markus, from his post in Command Headquarters, relayed sensitive messages to his son, in the thick of the action, that would affect the outcome of the battle, as well as their relationship. Meanwhile, Leon loses track of his regiment (defects?) and spends time in a POW camp. Both men come home to families who accept them, changed as they are. (Leon is distant and Markus is "blind.") Jacobsen sets the two war stories alongside one another. They do not intersect, but play off of each other and shape Markus and Leon's relationship. So, too, Jacobsen inserts stories from the more distant past, about William of Orange and a traveling sword thrower, like wavy, distorting mirrors held up to the main action.

"'War is mother of all things,'" Markus quotes Robert. "But what [Carl von Clausewitz] had in mind was state building, constitutions, demarcation of borders and that sort of thing, while my attention is directed toward the little man and the invisible lines within ourselves which we never cross but which move like swaying ribbons, first we're on one side, then we're on the other, we keep our word and we keep our peace, but the borders move and the words are changed, the interpreters die and our reason fails us, it's almost like sitting down at the piano when all hell breaks loose" (206). After reading his story, I think what Jacobsen means is that war - rifts and destruction, pain and failure - bears the potential for something entirely new and unexpected, perhaps even reconciliation. In other words, war cannot exist without the chance for not war, without peace and fecundity and creativity. Borders exemplifies this claim through its border crossing characters, characters at war in themselves. They are each accused of being traitors. Markus has to choose between his son's safety and the safety of the army. Leon has to decide which army to call his own. And each has to choose how best to love his own family, however unorthodoxly. Are they traitors for making the decisions they make or are they simply human for making a decision, crossing a border, at all?

Borders is not about war and borders so much as it uses these things to make a point about the act of writing itself. Like war, any story's conflict is pregnant with possible resolutions. And we are all stories. Jacobsen makes this clear as Markus narrates his tale to Robert. He inserts questions and commentary to Robert, which is really Jacobsen speaking to us from the text. Just as Markus queries Robert, Jacobsen asks us to take the risk of crossing the border between reality and fiction, to let the story have currency for us. We aren't traitors by crossing such a border, rather, it is how we create new worlds, new endings, ones we never would have conceived if not by the help of a gifted storyteller like Jacobsen to give us a border to cross ourselves.

Mikhail and Margarita
Julie Lekstrom Himes
Europa Editions
214 W 29th St., New York, NY 10001
9781609453756, $18.00

Inspired by Mikhail Bulgakov's classic, Master and Margarita, in Mikhail and Margarita, Julie Lekstrom Himes tells a tale of enduring love: what threatens and what saves it. (Is it coincidence that both Bulgakov and Himes are physicians and novelists?) Satan figures prominently in Bulgakov's original novel. In Hime's novel, Party official Ilya Ivanovich plays the part of the evil tempter luring Margarita away from one form of imprisonment to another. Meanwhile, satirist Mikhail Bulgakov, her lover and the reason for her imprisonment, tries to rescue her himself. This love triangle tells us not only about the devotion and betrayal between the participants, but the risky act of writing that engages them all in the first place.

Mikhail and Ilya aren't the only ones who love Margarita. Almost everyone who meets her falls for her. Bulgakov becomes smitten when he first meets her as his friend's mistress. Her bunk-mate at the women's work camp becomes attached to her and the guards show attraction, too. We don't know much about her. She is gaunt and assertive, but kind and vulnerable, too. She works at a newspaper and, even though she doesn't know why, she prefers writers to anyone else, which begs the question, "what is it about Margarita?"

Himes provides clues to Margarita's key role in the drama with her choppy prose and curt dialogue. Many sentences come across as interruptions, like the bugs and other creepy- crawlies that make several unexpected appearances throughout the book. The effect is of constant suspense. I read with my face close to the page, nervous not to miss any tiny detail that might jump out at me. "Quite suddenly, her skin prickled; to the far right, along the distant wall, she caught the movement of an animal, a large rat, making its way along the silvery floor" (147). Margarita, like the bugs that fall from the ceiling onto the table, or the drowning boy she catches in the corner or her eye, represents those overlooked, undervalued, marvelous paradoxes worth fighting for. She ignites something in both men and women that gives them a reason to keep going.

Philosopher Hannah Arendt, a contemporary of Bulgakov, said that only good is radical; not evil. Evil is banal and has no core. It is nothingness. It reduces humans while good elevates and can be pursued to its depths. Both are exemplified in Hime's superb novel. "She reached across the dark car toward Ilya; her fingers stopped short of him. Why Bulgakov? She thought back to Patriarch's Ponds [where she first met him] - had he known then? Before everything, had she known of those things of which she could be capable? She withdrew her hand. Write your most flawed character, she wished to him so far away. She squeezed her eyes shut until the darkness turned red. She strengthened her prayer. Tell all of humanity and write your grandest villain, your most foul sinner. Write as though mankind depended on this. And render some parcel of that humanity for me" (338). Literature is means both to explore moral extremes as well as to create new possibilities of which we become the products. Like Margarita, beloved of two main characters and others, we, too, are rendered a parcel of humanity in the gift of Himes' writing.

The Breaking of a Wave
Fabio Genovesi
Translated by Will Schutt
(first published in Italian, 2015, by Mondadori Libri S.P. A Milano)
Europa Editions
214 W 29th St., New York, NY 10001
9781609453879, $18.00

In THE BREAKING OF A WAVE, Fabio Genovesi simulates a tsunami of interwoven tales that crash over us, leaving a wake of devastation as well as hope. Serena, a knock-out single mother of two, allows her eighteen year old son, Luca, go to France surfing for his birthday. Younger sister Luna, an albino teen derided by schoolmates, stays home with Serena and her friend-by-default, Zot, a newly transplanted Chernobyl orphan who supplants her as the most ridiculed middle schooler. Meanwhile, a threesome of n'er-do-well forty year olds, Sandro, Marino and Rambo, scheme to make money and lure chicks. When catastrophe strikes Serena's family, Sandro steps in to win her heart. But, as usual, his best intentions end in disaster - or do they?

Genovesi cites many instances of waves, but also creates a wave by building stories to a peak that inevitably comes crashing down. Waves of pleasure thinking about sex, waves of shock as bullies pounce, waves of grief, waves on which to surf and waves to survey while sitting on the beach eating pizza: these are the small waves of our main characters' ordinary time. A storm is brewing as they try to change the course of their lives with a trip to Pontremoli to see the ancient statues made by moon worshippers of Lunigiana. Luna convinces her mom and Sandro to take her and Zot to find out what message these relics might bear for them. Back at home, Marino and Rambo, fleeing a scheme-gone-sour, meet the crew in Pontremoli. When they come together, myth collides with reality, youth confronts maturity, and best laid plans fails. The giant wave of narrative breaks in these climactic scenes. But that isn't the end. "And whatever is behind us we don't see, though something is there. The whole gigantic sea and the water that never rests and the waves that have always come and will always come, one after the other. They break on the shore and that seems to be the end of them. Only it's not. They withdraw so that the next one can rise and the next and the next, with a shove from who knows where, but it's there and it sends us up and down, up and down, sending us up and down, up and down, in this warm embrace that we don't need to face to feel, it's all around us, while we keep looking ahead, at what the current carries us, at the break of day, which looks like an enormous orange gift waiting to be opened" (461). Rather than wrapping up the story, the last chapter opens up new possibilities, the early stages of a new wave.

The book won the Stega Prize for Young Readers. Its fast pace and the age of the characters (both mentally and physically) clued me in to the intended audience. The characters, although well drawn, are bumbling and likable and not fully developed as people. They're reminiscent of holy fools in Russian literature - wise and dumb at the same time, not made for this world. First and foremost of these "idiots" is Luna, the narrator, who sometimes speaks as "I" but sometimes addresses her mother as "you," as though she's looking back on her life from another era, perhaps as Tages, the little white man we meet in a fable told in the first chapter, with whom Luna identifies. The novel is a coming of age story, for all of us coming into our own age; all of us who need relief from growing pains. It is not a challenging read, rather, utterly enjoyable and engaging. It makes me want to do something rash and spontaneous, like hop a plane to Italy and find these friends I've just made!

The Gringo Champion
Aura Xilonen
Translated from Spanish by Andrea Rosenberg
2015 Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial
Europa Editions
214 W 29th St., New York, NY 10001
9781609453657, $17.00

The Gringo Champion is a "wetback" who earns his title by beating all odds. After crossing the Rio Grande into an American border town, Liborio is rescued by migrants, naked and blistered. He lives and works with them until they're nearly caught by immigration officials. He escapes to a city where he finds work in a bookstore. There, he discovers the loves of this life: books and "the chickadee," a beautiful neighbor. A fight to defend her lands him unexpected fame and a chance to channel his anger toward good.

Liborio's primary opponent is not the one he hits, but his past. Aura Xilonen inserts Librorio's recollections of his past in italicized sections sprinkled into his narration of the present. For the first half of the book, past and present are equally represented. But after Liborio shows his boss what he writes: "I saw her there for the first time, or what the hell ever, spinning serendipital through the trees of a pleistocene paradise. But she, with the fucking sweetness produced by blindness, didn't see me until it was too late, mingled with a pagan night on a red bus, when we monsters sprout from the alveolar sewers of the city, under the hieroglyph that rains down ectoplasmic beatings on only a few, when amid the streets, amid the streetlights, amid the hanging gardens of the fucking starts, someone, in silence, falls in love," the italicized segments end and the present takes over as the only narration. Jefe, the bookstore owner and Liborio's boss, can't believe this isn't plagiarism. Just like other authority figures throughout Liborio's nineteen years, Jefe can't believe Liborio is capable of his own creativity. And until he begins to write, Liborio is merely the product of years of abuse. He is, at first, leery of the words he reads in the bookstore (where he devours books), and feels threatened by anyone who tries to do him a good deed. He lashes out. But in this pivotal confrontation with Jefe, Liborio recognizes his own power - his pen and his fists. From then on, he puts his power to work for his own benefit. He lives in the present. He becomes not only a gringo but a champion.

As Liborio becomes more settled and the text becomes less bifurcated and less profane, I wondered if the story would devolve into a fairy tale. Would he marry the girl of his dreams? Would he become rich and famous? I didn't want it to happen both for the sake of the story, which is beautiful in its edginess and the way it hops back and forth in time, and for the sake of truth. Fairy tale endings aren't common among illegal immigrants; I didn't want this fiction to spread false hopes. But the book exceeds my expectations. I was surprised by the final scene. Love wins, but not as I thought it might.

A Separation
Katie Kitamura
Riverhead Books
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399576102, $25.00

A Separation, the story of a dissolved marriage, also asks what links people together. The unnamed narrator promises her estranged husband, Christopher, she'll tell no one about their separation. But when his mother, Isabella, calls to find out what's become of him, as she hasn't heard from him during his research trip to Greece, our narrator begins to question her promise. She goes to Greece to find him but returns without him. He's gone from her forever, and yet, in his absence, he and his family loom large in her life.

Kitamura weaves a psychological drama not by analyzing and delving into characters but by exploring how the characters don't know one another. What Isabella doesn't know about the narrator and Christopher keeps the two women in contact. So, too, between the narrator and the taxi driver she meets in Greece: "the same mechanism of destruction that had operated upon my own life, it was something that we shared... neither of us said anything further" (157). The negative space between them becomes a bond. She is also aloof from her new fiance, Yvan, with whom she is "still waiting" at the end of the book, "for what... neither of us could say" (229). Her inability to act, the persistent questions and inquiry that stall her, rather than what she does, characterize her. Therefore, it is hard to picture her with Christopher, a charismatic and adventurous womanizer (his mother says he "can't keep his cock in his pants"), who loves to make connections and write about them, but not to get to the bottom of things. His shallowness is at odds with the narrator's thoughtful and probing tone. She tries, throughout the text, to put her finger on what brought them together; all she knows is what keeps her from severing the last tie: her promise not to tell of the separation.

Just as the narrator asks what attracts her to Christopher, we wonder what draws us to the narrator? We know little about her appearance and scant information about her job as a translator. But we are intimately acquainted with her observations. We see as she sees. We share a perspective, separate, anonymous form each other, but both in position of observer.

In this way, exploring the void between knowing and unknowing becomes a literary as well as a psychological theme. Comparing her situation to that of the Colonel and the Countess in Balzac's Colonel Chabert, which she has translated, our narrator says, "and so despite the clear differences, life rarely finds its exact likeness in a novel, that is hardly fiction's purpose, there was a similarity to the situations, a resonance that was the product of the mutual chasm between the letter of the law and the private reality. The question was which to serve, which to protect" (188). Don't we all read our own lives into novels? Don't we compare our lives to those around us, in books and in reality? We want to learn from others' mistakes and successes. And authors capitalize on our desires to know one another, not to exploit, but to inspire new outcomes. Like the professional mourners Christopher researches in Greece, master singers with lugubrious voices, who are paid to honor the dead as laypeople cannot, Kitamura's carefully wrought prose mitigates our confrontation with others' private affairs. We are in the hands of an artist. Hers is not an intrusion into her characters lives, nor into our own, rather, an invitation to see beauty in what we know as well as what we will never know.

Mari Carlson, Reviewer

Mason's Bookshelf

Company Houses, Company Towns
Andrew Molloy & Tom Urbaniak, editors
Cape Breton University Press
P.O. Box 5300, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada, B1P 6L2
9781772060492, $19.95, PB, 255pp,

Synopsis: Former company houses and towns have meaning. They can inspire attachment and a sense of place. They can be tight-knit but also quintessentially global; their resources and products have served far-off markets while housing a mosaic of newcomers from around the world; they speak to the diversity of Canada and the immigrant experience. Their landscapes, though often threatened with abandonment and decline, are a kind of language that conveys rich and layered stories. They are hands-on classrooms of culture, economics, architecture, politics and sociology.

Taken together, the case studies comprising "Company Houses, Company Towns: Heritage and Conservation" speak to the heritage and enduring value of these places. Company towns mean a great deal to the people who put down roots there or passed through them. Many of the houses became homes. In "Company Houses, Company Towns" we also see how some of these places are being commemorated, conserved, regenerated and renewed -- not as static museum pieces but as proud living communities.

Critique: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by the team of Andrew Molloy (Professor of Political Science, Cape Breton University) and Tom Urbaniak (Associate Professor of Political Science at Cape Breton University), "Company Houses, Company Towns: Heritage and Conservation" features an informative Preface (Memory: Diversity and Regeneration), seven seminal articles, and a three page listing of the contributors and their credentials. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Company House, Company Towns" is also available in a Kindle format ($19.99).

Craft Obsession
Jeff Rice
Southern Illinois University Press
1915 University Press Drive, SIUC Mail Code 6806, Carbondale, IL 62901
9780809335282, $40.00, PB, 292pp,

Synopsis: Denied access to traditional advertising platforms by lack of resources, craft breweries have proliferated despite these challenges by embracing social media platforms, and by creating an obsessed culture of fans. In "Craft Obsession: The Social Rhetorics of Beer", Jeff Rice (a craft beer enthusiast and a Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky) uses craft beer as a case study to demonstrate how social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter function to shape stories about craft.

Professor Rice deftly weaves together theories of writing, narrative, new media, and rhetoric with a personal story of his passion for craft beer. He identifies six key elements of social media rhetoric (anecdotes, repetition, aggregation, delivery, sharing, and imagery) and examines how each helps to transform small, personal experiences with craft into a more widespread movement.

When shared via social media, craft anecdotes (such as the first time one had a beer) interrupt and repeat one another, building a sense of familiarity and identity among otherwise unconnected people. Aggregation, the practice of joining unlike items into one space, builds on this network identity, establishing a connection to particular brands or locations, both real and virtual.

The public releases of craft beers are used to explore the concept of craft delivery, which involves multiple actors across multiple spaces and results in multiple meanings.

Finally, Rice highlights how personal sharing operates within the community of craft beer enthusiasts, who share online images of acquiring, trading for, and consuming a wide variety of beers. These shared stories and images, while personal for each individual, reflect the dependence of craft on systems of involvement.

Throughout, Rice relates and reflects on his own experience as a craft beer enthusiast and his participation via social media in these systems.

Both an objective scholarly study and an engaging personal narrative about craft beer, "Craft Obsession" provides valuable insights into digital writing, storytelling, and social media.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Craft Obsession: The Social Rhetorics of Beer" is a seminal study that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Enhanced with the inclusion of six pages of Notes, a twenty-two page listing of Works Cited, and a four page Index, "Craft Obsession" is highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections. For the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Craft Obsession" is also available in a Kindle format ($38.00).

Arthur and Sherlock
Michael Sims
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781632860392, $27.00, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: As a young medical student, Arthur Conan Doyle studied in Edinburgh under the vigilant eye of a diagnostic genius, Dr. Joseph Bell. Doyle often observed Bell identifying a patient's occupation, hometown, and ailments from the smallest details of dress, gait, and speech. Although Doyle was training to be a surgeon, he was meanwhile cultivating essential knowledge that would feed his literary dreams and help him develop the most iconic detective in fiction.

In "Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes", author and Sherlock Holmes fan Michael Sims traces the circuitous development of Conan Doyle as the father of the modern mystery, from his early days in Edinburgh surrounded by poverty and violence, through his escape to University (where he gained terrifying firsthand knowledge of poisons), leading to his own medical practice in 1882.

Five hardworking years later (after Doyle's only modest success in both medicine and literature) the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes emerged in A Study in Scarlet. Sims deftly shows Holmes to be a product of Doyle's varied adventures in his personal and professional life, as well as built out of the traditions of Edgar Allan Poe, Emile Gaboriau, Wilkie Collins, and Charles Dickens -- not just a skillful translator of clues, but a veritable superhero of the mind in the tradition of Doyle's esteemed teacher.

Filled with details that will surprise even the most knowledgeable Sherlockian, Arthur and Sherlock is a literary genesis story for detective fans everywhere.

Critique: Impressively well researched, written, organized and presented, "Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes" is a 'must' for the legions of devoted Sherlock Holmes fans and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Literary Studies collections in general, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Arthur and Sherlock" is also available in a paperback edition (9781408858547, $11.13) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

Pedro de Alcantara
Turtleback Books
9781417792528, Library Binding: 192 pages, August 14, 2007

Pedro de Alcantara
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
9780385732659, Hardcover: 192 pages, November 8, 2005

Juvenile Fiction

Reading level: Ages 9-12

A two page spread of 'The Splinter' draws Readers into the narrative from the start. Featured is the September issue brought to life by editor B.S. Cohen. He is violinist Becky Cohen's younger brother.

Becky's dreams of becoming an accomplished violinist are diminishing with each group lesson she takes. Her widowed, overworked mother cannot afford the cost of private lessons. Mrs. Stark, the instructor offering the group lessons at the Y, is hateful, critical and never pleased. Becky misses her father dreadfully. Feeling herself a complete outsider Becky knows she is not one bit pretty or interesting. She is overlooked and scorned by classmates at school, and her violin lessons Becky Cohen is experiencing a rough life. Even her mother at home disapproves of her. At home her mother's disapproval comes until Becky wonders if she can please her at all.

Becky's one true friend is her younger brother Benjy, a newspaper loving kid.

Despite diligent practice and paying careful instruction lessons offered by Mrs. Stark; Becky is not at all convinced that she will ever become play the violin well enough to be called a virtuoso. Unfortunately Becky's music teacher does not hide that she shares Becky's self evaluation. Mrs. Stark is neither kind in her treatment or assessment of Becky and her ability. To compound the problem when Becky tries to practice the scales at home to hone her skill; the activity seems to drive Mrs. Cohen to a frenzy. Becky's self image really is taking a beating.

Mrs. Cohen, manager at a deli across town, works long hours and has little patience for dealing with the death of her husband and the harsh reality of being widowed.

Writer de Alcantara has crafted a forceful read on the pages of Befiddled. He offers teens who are tormented by feelings of failure or inadequacy a glimpse into the life of another youngster who harbors many of the same worries. Becky worries she will lose remembrance of her deceased father, that she just does not fit in anywhere, and that she is destined to nothing more than failure, blunders and unhappiness.

As is frequently the case with youngsters as they are in the course of growing up; Becky finds herself incapable to reveal her misery to her mother and often withdraws to weep alone in her room.

Becky daydreams of becoming a great violinist, however, at the group lessons she's forced to take at the Y, Becky plays poorly and compounds her concern that she will never learn to play well. Then Becky meets Mr. Freeman, her building's handyman. He recognizes her sadness and need for someone to talk to. Mr. Freeman has a lot to share with her about becoming a musician, and being a friend. Her playing, now performed from the heart, helps Becky begin to believe she just might become the violinist she hopes to be.

For a time it seems that only Benjy and Mr Freeman proffer the encouragement Becky needs to appreciate her musical potential. Slowly, Becky begins speaking her mind more often, and is rewarded to find that people actually listen. Becky is thirteen, her violin teacher is unkind and only Benjy and Mr. Freeman offer the support Becky needs to realize her musical potential.

With encouragement from Mr Freeman and Benjy Becky finds herself beginning to love playing her violin. Then Mr. Freeman encourages Becky to take part in a scholarship contest offered at the local performing arts high school. Relying on the life lessons and the music coaching learned from Mr. Freeman and Benjy, Becky hopes to conquer her fears and pushes herself out of her comfort zone.

Becky really feels nearly overwhelmed when she learns Ramsay Adkins, a girl she has known for years, will also participate in the upcoming Aaron Copland Scholarship competition. Ramsay is a very good student and makes very good grades. Mr. Adkins and the now deceased Mr. Cohen were contemporaries, and the girls have known one another most of their lives.

All the old fears and mishaps seem insurmountable, as the tale continues, Becky plays volleyball in the school gym where to the consternation of her teammates she avoids the ball, and she is sent to the principal.

Lunch in the school cafeteria, a classmate named Damian, Mr. Freeman's kindness and encouragement, Benjy goes to visit their Aunt Hannah, and practice, practice, practice fill Becky's life. Wearing one of her father's old shirts, a kitten named Minks, and a finger caught in the window along with her mother's anger, all play a part in the narrative surrounding Becky previous to her becoming a finalist in the competition held at the Sedgwick School for Performing Arts.

Befiddled is a well-written work presented for specifically for the middle grades and older readers. For many students Becky will be a character with whom they can identify. It seems for this age group there are times when each thinks themselves pretty much a nerd, and nothing goes right, her hair is horrible and so is their own. Becky feels herself shunned by classmates; a common situation for the 10 to teen set. Her clothes aren't right, PE class a disaster and some of the teachers don't like her are all things Middle Grade students voice, identify with and fear.

For many students Becky's overworked, widowed mother, who always seems too busy, is caught up in the resentment she feels following the death of her husband and is powerless to cope with the realities of what is going on with her family is a refrain common to many in the target audience of grades 4 - into high school.

Writer de Alcantara presents a compelling read in his initial offering. He offers teens who are suffering from feelings of inadequacy a peek into the life of another youngster who has many of the same worries. Becky fears she will lose memory of her deceased father, that she just cannot fit in, and that she is doomed to nothing but mistakes and misery. As is often the case with youngsters as they are in the growing up process; Becky finds herself unable to confide in her mother and often retreats to her room where she weeps alone.

Befiddled is a well written work presented for readers of middle grades and up. Becky is a geek, nothing goes right, her hair is horrible, she finds herself shunned by classmates, her clothes aren't right, PE class is misery and some of the teachers don't like her. Becky's overworked, widowed mother is busy, caught up in the anger she feels following the death of her husband and unable to cope with the realities of what is going on with her family.

Forwarded with Becky's thoughts and her brother's editions of 'The Splinter,' as well as, pithy dialogue typical of teens Befiddled is a fast paced work

Enjoyed the Read, happy to recommend. The work has a place on the personal reading list, the classroom reading shelf and the school library.

I was sent review copy by publisher

Secret of Abbott's Cave
Max Elliot Anderson
Baker Trittin Concepts
9780975288009, Paperback: 144 pages, January 25, 2005

Max Elliot Anderson's Secret of Abbott's Cave narrative begins with Randy Wilcox awakening to the noise of heavy trucks rumbling up his street. Oh No. That not too singular an event in his hometown of New Market, Virginia. It was when the all too familiar sound reminded Randy; he had forgotten to set out the garbage, again.

Eleven-year-old Randy and his buddies Hal Conti, Stewart Adkins and Jeff Stevens have been thinking their town is pretty boring. They hope for something to add a little excitement; Randy and his friends pool their money and then anxiously look forward to the delivery of a police scanner the fellows bought from an Internet site.

Randy and the fellows formed the New Market, Hilton Park Road Detective Club with the objective to relieve the boredom and assist the police with the cracking of crimes. The members of the Detective Club predict that using their scanner will lead them to crimes to solve; the fellows anticipate also that using the scanner is sure to help them recognize police codes.

While waiting for the scanner's arrival the youngsters take a class about cave safety. Checking the Internet to learn about the caves dotting the state; the boys are delighted to learn that Abbott's Cave is on land belonging to one of the boy's uncles. Parents agree to a trip to explore the cave.

Before long the scanner arrives as does the date for their trip! The scanner brings news that a bank robbery has taken place in the area where the cave is located. However, reasoning that the bank robbers are sure to be gone before their arrival the lads continue their plans for their trip.

When the lads realize the thieves and the bank robbery money are in the cave the members of the Hilton Park Road Detective Club know they in for an adventure and just maybe more excitement than they had anticipated.

Writer Anderson has created a high interest, action packed, easily read, adventure filled chapter book certain to please middle grade readers. While my career spanning nearly 4 decades was spent in the K 1 arena; Secret of Abbott's Cave is a book I used during the two years I taught Osage County fourth grade in Osage County. It was a book with good appeal for both girls and boys.

That Anderson knows his audience well is obvious. Boys in Middle Grade group often steer clear of books in favor of action and activity. Secret of Abbott's Cave is a book I took to my classroom, with the anticipation that the setting and storyline would draw the most reluctant readers into the action. I was pleased that the book did as expected.

I have found few students, especially boys but girls too, in the 10 -12 age group are not captivated with police officers and crime solving. Most view themselves as larger than life, thus the tale and decision to go on to the cave despite knowing a robbery had taken place is not out of the realm of the target audience.

Vocabulary used keeps the action moving. Quick-paced dialog, sprinkled with adeptly produced action scenes generates a sure winner for the Middle Grade target audience. Anderson's command of language pulls the reader into the narrative and maintains interest from the opening lines as Randy awakens at home in his own bed right down to the last paragraphs as Randy converses about what true valor is and how he, a kid, can help honor the community heroes and emergency workers, whose work helps to keep us all out of harm's way each day.

Writer Anderson's excitement packed page turner is overflowing with concentration, grit and resolve as the robbers pursue the boys through the cavern before finding themselves outmaneuvered by youthful detectives and their eventually facing justice.

My students were especially happy that list of 10-Codes and Fire Signals are included on the last pages of the book.

Great courage, life lessons, principles and expectations for appropriate behavior are presented in, kid friendly, non-preachy manner.

Secret of Abbott's Cave is an excellent choice for the classroom, personal reading list and the school and home library.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

I was a sent a soft cover edition for review.

T'ongil, the Thirst for Love
Julian Winter
Stillmind Pub; First Edition edition
9780971598119, Paperback: 303 pages, July 2002

Ainsley Revere leaps in to save a little girl when she tumbles into the tiger pit at the zoo where he works.

Watching as a feather floats down to land near her he drew courage with the sight of the feather. Quickly Ainsley moved into action. The sole explanation leading to Ainsley's triumphant rescue is for the reason that Nicte, the principal tiger, intercedes, as he realized she would, with her siblings and allows him the child.

Known as Falling Feather, Ainsley was raised by his Grandfather who taught him the lasting beliefs of his native people.

From that point Ainsley's being becomes entwined with an existence he had never before realized existed. Korea, the unsympathetic country where he lives, can be both harsh and unforgiving; little girls living in orphanage can be sold into bondage where they were expected to reimburse their benefactor.

Ainsley was a young man during the time he first interned with the big cats. His job then was to care for Rose a jaguar of extraordinary magnificence and cunning. As an adult Ainsley became not only an authority regarding large cats; but he appears to also possess what some regard as an almost numinous, mystical relationship with the animals.

It was Rose who caused the scars Ainsley wore over the length of his back. One little girl sold to the 'benefactor' was also named Rose.

Western spirituality meets Eastern mysticism on the pages of Julian Winter's novel, T'ongil, the Thirst for Love.

T'ongil is a well-written love story regarding two rather enigmatic persons who come to realize in one another an old and unexplained connection. Spirituality is a key component that causes the main characters, Ainsley and Changmi (Rose), to be the persons who and what they are.

Writer Winter has fashioned a particularly absorbing work in his narrative T'ongil, the Thirst for Love . If the reader is not careful the narrative can be a smidgen hard to follow.

This is not a volume to scrutinize swiftly whilst flipping page after page. To a certain extent T'ongil, the Thirst for Love is a work to read unhurriedly, stopping to note the art presented on each chapter beginning page, thinking and savoring each paragraph. T'ongil weaves an expressive tapestry from Korean bordello to Native American Falling Feather and back to Ainsley once again.

Ainsley, the Tiger Man, dreams a dream of Nicte that is far more real than might be imagined. T'ongil is not simply a chronicle. It is a stirring compilation of tales brought together to be plaited into a single strand. The narrative woven around two little girls who were each raised to believe she was alone, and the enigmatic man who at last permits another into his heart and the profound, non-traditional love story growing between a reflective Native American man and a Korean woman is offered in poetic style through use of almost inscrutable language.

Changmi's chronicle is woven concerning Ainsley's being as it takes hold of him and causes them both advantage and torment. T'Ongil moves at its own pace. The moving saga telling of the Roses, Ainsley and his beloved cats, is one certain to give pleasure to those who are looking for something a little different to read reflectively, bit by bit wrapped in a quilt before the fireplace during a chilly winter afternoon.

I found T'ongil, the Thirst for Love to be an engrossing relationship account presenting a distinctive, unique perspective regarding storyline, main characters, locale, and unquestionably, the big cats encompassing a large part of Ainsley's view. The thesis grasps the reading audience as each becomes more familiar with Ainsley and Changmi, as well as the various critters. Watching the various interactions strengthens better reader appreciation for what the writer hoped to achieve.

T'ongil is a splendid, sensitive, presentation in which differing traditions effectively blend together; on the pages day by day life becomes packed with particularly inspired language. An oft not recognized opinion as regards cats and flowers can be noticed meandering all through the sequence of events as novelist Winter permits advancement of the narratives involving Ainsley and Changmi, as well as those pertaining to Ainsley and three specific large cats to progress in easy, laid back style allowing readers to really fee and appreciate this well written, multifaceted character study of man and critters about whom readers may find themselves wanting to know more.

I enjoyed the read. The physical book itself is fine-looking with a delicate cover presentation and elegant Korean writing added to each chapter heading. Happy to recommend.
I was sent review copy by publisher

A Brooklyn Rose
Suzanna Lonchar
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
9781456471996, Paperback: 332 pages, October 18, 2003

It was during the early 1900s when an Italian emigre family seeking a new life said good bye to family, friends and the land of their birth traveled across the sea to America. Filled with hope, Sicilian Francesco Finazzo, his wife Giroloma and their baby begin their new life in New York City.

The family numbers climbed to five children when Giroloma, watching from an upstairs window in 1911, sees her dearly loved husband shot dead on the sidewalk below.

The time near the turn of the 1900s century on Brooklyn streets is a era of horse drawn wagons, push carts and multi languages abounded as the immigrant population bringing with them many of their old familial mores and customs settled into their new homes.

Francesco's younger brother, Luiji, now is facing a true predicament. A newly arrived immigrant himself Luiji is engaged to be married. Following Luiji's receiving of his brother Francesco's a letter urging him to come to New York Luiji is only nineteen years old, but family tradition dictates his action. He marries his brother's pregnant twenty-nine year old widow. Job opportunities to work to earn income were few in that day; and were especially so when the woman was one with four young children to care for.

Luiji and Giroloma settle into a predictable life which at the beginning is dominated by obligation and social mores, and later by true fondness for one another. Giroloma carries eleven children, however, typical of the time she does not get to raise them all. Following the model of her own mother, as a little one was born, during their twenty years of marriage, one of the older kids was assigned the task to be teacher and caretaker for the little one.

Gangster funerals, police prejudice and racial tension are all part of the ever changing scene in which this family lives.

When Giroloma dies of cancer at the relatively 'old age' of the time; Luiji after two decades of successful marriage to his brother's wife has watched his brother's children all become adults, his familial and social obligation are completed and he sets out for Detroit, Michigan with his own three teenaged children. At last, Luiji will have the chance to marry the woman to whom he was engaged in Sicily previous to Franceso's untimely demise and Luiji life took an unexpected and major turn.

The reader is offered a glance into life as seen through the eyes of a pretty representative family living in Brooklyn from late 1800s to 1939 via writer Lonchar's well written work. Via Lonchar's skilled pen A Brooklyn Rose abounds with the demonstration, echo and fragrance of early 20th century New York City apartment building life. The reader is drawn into the narrative from the opening page when Giroloma is dismayed to see her husband killed before her eyes. Interest is held fast right down to the last lines when Luiji and his three kids are settling into their new home and new life many miles from New York.

Lonchar provides an abundance of verification regarding her proficiency as a writer in this nicely crafted work in which she relates her family lore set against the commotion of a turbulent city filled with tumult and hullabaloo.

A Brooklyn Rose is named for Luiji and Giroloma's daughter, Rose Finazzo, who is Lonchar's mother.

With detailed descriptions of foods, habits, behaviors, language and dress set against the turbulence of the emigre locality positioned against a backdrop of early Brooklyn, New York City the narrative grants the reader an enhanced understanding of the social history of the time when it is simply accepted that in Little Italy, no matter previous plans or person's, a brother must marry his sibling's widow.

In the early 1900s it is also accepted that those living on the lower end of the wealth and social scale will quietly put up with narrow-mindedness and prejudice, and, that the children of poor people were frequently considered as little more than chattel by the newly formed social organizations developed to supposedly shield them.

Family traditions, an amazing childhood along with the privation and destitution enmeshing most of society experienced from living through The Great Depression are all found on the pages of A Brooklyn Rose. Lonchar adds just enough broken English dialog to flavor the tale.

A Brooklyn Rose is a good book for a long lazy afternoon spent in sipping iced tea, reading and sitting in the porch swing on the front porch.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend. Who enjoy a nice reminisce slice of life type work.

Published first by Publish America, A Brooklyn Rose is now available on Amazon via CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Seeing Color: It's My Rainbow, Too
Arlene Evans
CVD Publishing
9780974352008, Paperback: 46 pages, September 15, 2003

Genre: education

Arlene Evans' diminutive work, Seeing Color: It's My Rainbow too, comprised of forty-six content pages, presented in 9 chapters is a dandy preface meant to acquaint the reader with CVD - Color Vision Deficiency. I first read this book in 2003 after my return to teaching following a ten year hiatus when Husband and I moved from California to Oklahoma.

I could have used the knowledge held on these pages during my twenty six-years teaching in California. Re-reading the book now I find the information to be as fresh and informative as it was in 2003. While it is often misunderstood that colorblind means the same as CVD, that is not the case at all.

School Nurse Arlene Evans, RN has taken a difficult concept to understand and presented it in a comprehensible manner more easily understood by youngsters and adults alike. While the words are used pretty interchangeably; to be totally colorblind essentially indicates the individual sees life as black and white while CVD indicates the person sees shades, tints and colors, but not as most people see them.

Genetic characteristic which can be passed from one generation to another, and how Color Vision Deficiency carried by the X chromosome is passed from parent to child is explained in depth. Joey Knight, who has an X chromosome affected with CVD inherited from his mother clarifies some of what a child who has Color Vision Deficiency will likely encounter as they enter school, begin learning about our world, and come to a decision regarding their path in life via their life occupation. Writer Evans goes on to explain how Knight's future sons will have classic color vision despite his having inherited the affected X chromosome for the reason that his sons will inherit Joey's Y chromosome.

In the rare cases when both a man and his son have reduced color vision, Nurse Author Evans explains, the son inherited his affected X from his mother and not Joey despite Joey also having CVD.

While most of us simply take the capability for seeing and identifying color for granted; those affected by Color Vision Deficiency find life to be more challenging.

Illustrating the difficulties encountered by the child, Joey Knight, who struggles to recognize colors as do his peers provides teachers, parents and others with a better understanding of CVD. The color of clothing, toys, crayons was baffling to Joey, as he grew older trying to match clothing, or recognize states or countries on a map were mystifying.

As do others having CVD, Joey learned coping strategies. Remembering that the red traffic light is always on the top and green is on the bottom, helped him deal with an everyday situation, driving a vehicle without problem, that most other adults rarely consider. While Joey could not see the green or the red; he could tell the brightness of the lights themselves.

Reading of Joey's life, problems and coping skills developed, offers a dandy introduction to CVD and sets the tone for the rest of the book. Writer Evans takes readers through key issues including how we see the world around us. Means of detecting, and coping with CVD are explained.

Presented in clear, succinct manner using concise vocabulary Evans has created a book to be used by middle grade and older students, teachers, parents, and other adults for those who need to understand the difficulty of CVD for the person affected as well as those around him.

Handy for parents, teachers and care givers, as well youngsters themselves; Seeing Color: It's My Rainbow, Too is presented by the author as an aid to be used as an assist for those who may have CVD. Writer Evans, who served as a school nurse for over two decades, proffers enlightenment regarding precisely the how of just what takes place to allow us to see shape and color, as well as defining the significance of cones on the retina.

When CVD is suspected a diversity of testing techniques are employed to identify the condition. CVD is not correctable as is near sightedness or comparable eye vision problems. People having Color Vision Deficiency cannot make clear completely to those of us who do not also have the condition exactly how they see.

Evans goes on to point out that Color Vision Deficiency need not be thought of as 'the end of the world.' There are lots of job opportunities to be had for those who cannot see color as is seen by the majority of the population; living in a color coded world is doable even for those who do not really see the color.

Evans relates that shopping for a person having Color Vision Deficiency may demand a little extra attention. Dressing for the day can be made easier when those having color definition problems buy and wear same color socks, for instance ... all brown, etc, or they can ask their non color impaired spouse, parent or room mate mark tags with the color word.

Writer Evans has fashioned an admirable, well-written, effortlessly read book in Seeing Color: It's My Rainbow, Too. The causes for Color Vision Deficiency as well as some of the variants of the condition are explained in enough 'kid friendly' depth and vocabulary; that much of the ambiguity facing those who have color related vision difficulties can be resolved.

Presented in short; easily digested chapters written in plain English, embellished with simple line drawings and a sample of common color blindness tests commonly used in the school setting Seeing Color: It's My Rainbow, Too helps students having the condition appreciate that they are not extraordinary or inadequate, nor are they alone.

Strategies offered for supporting the child who may have CVD are offered so that parents and teachers can help these kids begin to notice the colors around themselves in a singular way and begin to get a feel for their environment in order to understand and embrace their very inimitable situation.

Seeing Color: It's My Rainbow, Too proved to be a first-rate resource/teaching tool during my latter years engaged in classroom teaching. I am confident the book will be helpful for teachers and parents alike as they guide youngsters into an understanding of what CVD is and is not. I read the book to the whole class; I found students not having CVD as well as those who were affected by the condition gain better understanding and empathy for fellow students.

The book is a read-to with lots of time for discussion, and answering questions for younger kids ages 5-11. Pre Teens and Teens alike will be able to read, understand and verbalize what they have discovered during a conversation period following reading of the chapters.

Excellent read, happy to recommend especially for parents, teachers, caregivers and kids in the middle grades and beyond.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Moore's Bookshelf

The Irish Brigade
Steven J. Wright
Steven Wright Publishing
P.O. Box 171, Springfield PA 19064-0171
1881683001, $63.25, PB, 60pp,

"The Irish Brigade", by Steven J. Wright, is a slim volume that packs an emotional wallop far out of proportion to its size. In a mere sixty pages, the book offers vivid photos and moving descriptions of the Irish who fought in the United States Civil War. There is no shortage of heroism or honor on display in this book. But just as these traits are heralded, so is the tragedy of war driven home.

Most of the people featured in the book did not survive the War. This is a startling reality. Letters to family from fallen soldiers highlight the toll war took on millions from both the North and the South. Although some Irish did join the Confederate effort, overwhelmingly, these men fought with the Union army.

Though sourcing in this book is necessarily selective, because of its size, the material cited is very affecting. A wealth of first-person accounts captures the experience of war.

I found the book in a local library. It is listed for sale in most places as a collectible or rare book. The book would be of particular interest to Civil War buffs or to those who would like to learn about Irish-American history. I highly recommend Steven J. Wright's "The Irish Brigade".

Bismark: A Life
Jonathan Steinberg
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016
9780199782529, $34.95 hc / $9.99 Kindle,

In Bismark: A Life, Jonathan Steinberg suggests that the modern German state had its origins in the hubris of Prince Otto von Bismark. However, Steinberg builds his case with such apparent animus toward the subject that the value of this book is somewhat undermined. Steinberg implicitly lays at Bismark's door responsibility for WWI (by creating the German Empire and buttressing autocracy), WWII (by reinforcing the Junker class and doubling down on militarism), and genocide of the Jewish people (by fueling antisemitism).

Steinberg's approach is comprehensive. He traces Bismark's rise to power and attempts to lay bare the state-builder's multiple motivations. In support of his analysis, Steinberg provides extended excerpts from Bismark's correspondence and from other first-person accounts. The portrait of Bismark that emerges is more 'Diablo' than Machiavelli.

Bismark, by Steinberg's account, was a hypochondriacal, reactionary, warmongering anti-Semite. He was a misogynistic ingrate with an unbridled thirst for power. Despite Steinberg's compilation of evidence, the reader is left with doubts about the integrity of this author's presentation. His loathing for Bismark is so manifest that we feel bias must inevitably influence judgment.

Because Steinberg's book is well resourced, it has much to offer, however. I was interested, for example, to learn how Germany reacted to the Revolutions of 1848. Also interesting was the tension between the papacy and secular heads of Europe, as the twentieth century approach. Most fascinating was Bismark's effort to weaken France by aligning himself with Russia. I kept thinking, as I read, of the present and Donald Trump's attempts to realign with Russia, as he distances himself from NATO.

I recommend this book, but with reservations. Be prepared to read another biography about Bismark, because many questions are likely to remain at this book's end. Chief among these will be, what was Bismark really like that?

A. G. Moore

Peggy's Bookshelf

Gone Camping: A Novel in Verse
Tamera Will Wissinger
Illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10016
9780544638730, $15.99, 112 pages

While Sam and Lucy prepare for the family's camping trip they eagerly anticipate all the fun they will have at the lake. But when the big day arrives Dad is too sick to go along and Mom has to stay home with him. Sam and Lucy are less than thrilled to hear that Grandpa will be going instead. But Grandpa proves to be seasoned camper and a lucky fisherman. Wissinger's clever storytelling in verse unfolds in a series of poems, with each poem being a chapter. Cordell's gray washed line drawings fill in the details with a flair for the dramatic and oodles of silliness. Rhythm, rhyme, poetry techniques, and how-to books are presented in the appendix, which raises this lively novel in verse to the level of a fun beginner's guide to poetry. "Gone Camping" brings poetry to life in this wonderfully wacky outdoor adventure.

Let's Find Momo!: A Hide-and-Seek Board Book
Andrew Knapp
Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781594749582, $9.99, 24 pages

Momo the Border Collie has penetrating brown eyes, a tongue-lolling grin, and a personality that leaps off the page. "Let's Find Momo!" is a sturdy, 8-inch square board book that presents a series of photographs. The object is to find the four things pictured on the left side of each two-page spread within the composite photograph on the opposite page. Since Momo is the star, the challenge is to find where he's hiding in each photo. Mostly a wordless picture book, the only words are those that describe each object in the search. Knapp combines an adorable dog with captivating, colorful photos of familiar scenes. Although this board book is recommended for ages two to five years, even infants and one-year olds will be drawn to this charming dog. "Let's Find Momo!" will easily become a treasured favorite for toddlers to enjoy again and again.

Not Quite Narwhal
Jessie Sima
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
9781481469098, $17.99, 40 pages

Baby Kelp emerges from a clam shell deep in the ocean with his head encircled in a clear bubble. Raised by narwhals (whales with tusks) Kelp assumes he's one of them because he also has a tusk protruding from his forehead. But deep down he senses something is not quite right. He's not a fan of seafood. He doesn't breathe underwater or swim very well. And the other narwhals don't seem to care or even notice that he has four legs. When a strong current pushes Kelp toward the shoreline, he spies a creature that looks a lot like him. With the help of a crab, a frog and a turtle, he makes his wobbly transition to his land legs. After a long, scary search he discovers a herd of unicorns and realizes his true identity. They introduce him to all the joys of life on land as a unicorn. Yet Kelp can't stop thinking about his narwhal family and how much he misses them. When he returns home he discovers the narwhals knew all along he's a unicorn. Soon Kelp longs for his unicorn friends and knows he must find a way to bring everyone together.

Jessie Sima's picture book debut offers a fantasy twist on the ugly duckling theme illuminated with digital watercolor illustrations. Shades of aquamarine depict Kelp's undersea home which Sima artfully contrasts with the rich, rainbow-colored land of the unicorns. Amusing creature antics with balloon captions sprinkle the story with action and humor. "Not Quite Narwhal" introduces readers to the adorable Kelp who learns that it's possible to belong in two different worlds.

Jabber: The Steller's Jay
Sylvester Allred
Illustrated by Diane Iverson
WestWinds Press
P.O. Box 10306, Portland OR 97296-0306
9781943328895, $16.99, 32 pages

In the spring, two Steller's jays build a nest with twigs and mud high in the ponderosa pine tree. Jabber is one of the baby birds that hatches from four bright blue eggs. As soon as she can fly, Jabber is on her own to fend for herself. She learns survival skills from watching other wildlife in the canyon. The red-tailed hawk alerts her that a storm is coming. The woodpecker shows her how to crack acorns. Then she learns to flee before he catches her stealing his stash. The thievish chipmunks and squirrels teach her to bury her seeds and acorns for safekeeping. The mountain lion reminds her to stay high up in the trees. When winter blows in and the pine seeds and acorns run out, Jabber rejoins the flock of Steller's jays. They show her where to find plenty of seeds in the pinyon forest. Soon it will be spring and Jabber's turn to find a mate and build a nest. By tracking Jabber through four seasons Allred shows the habits and habitat of the Steller's jays. Iverson's colored pencil illustrations bring the vibrant canyon country to life in all its splendor. A picture glossary identifies each of the canyon critters Jabber encounters in the ponderosa pine forest. "Jabber: The Steller's Jay" is a brilliant introduction to this sapphire star of the southwest.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Sloan's Bookshelf

Seattle Red (The Boss MacTavin Action Mysteries Book 4)
Reb MacRath
Privately Published
B06XBSPTSM, 188 pages, $1.99, Kindle,

Boss takes his newly acquired (and very un-Bosslike) man bag with him to the mean streets of Seattle in this new mystery that is vintage Boss MacTavin.

His client: Ramona Hinton, who just wants to know who is responsible for the untimely demise of her security guard husband, found in the drug-infested alley behind the convenience store in which he worked.

But the case involves far more than what appears to be a random whack job. It turns out to be an epic fight against Organized Retail Crime (ORC), which is running rampant in area stores. Boss joins forces with some highly memorable characters, including local rent-a-cop legend Duncan Jackson (think "Denzel Washington in Crimson Tide") and beefy detective Al Swanson who "was in his mid-forties, six-three, 230 pounds. He appeared to like the sauce and had the pallid complexion and rasp of a serial smoker."

As with every Boss book, author extraordinaire Reb MacRath entertains endlessly, marrying matchless prose with memorable plotlines. This installment in the series is no exception. From time to time, he can't resist a well-turned, quotable phrase:

"Deep voice. Soft and low as a spirit can go."


"Angus McPherson - born of thunderrrrrr, drunk on blood!"


"Tough guy in a small man's way. Dead-eyed and bullet-headed."

But, back to the story. Boss, and his two colleagues, DB (Dirty Boy) and Luigi, take on the boosters and the alphas that comprise the majority of fleet-fingered felons by posing as either blind-eyed security guards or, in Boss's case, as a multi-pocketed pilferer -- the better to sniff his way up the food chain to the head goombahs running the rackets.

They're joined by a gorgeous Geisha to run a sting that will entice the ORC mind trust to reveal themselves, so the Seattle detective team, Al and his partner Bobby, to swoop in and make the pinch.

But it's not that simple. The good guys run up against some tough resistance and before the end the plotline dips and twists on a rollercoaster ride to the surprising finish.

This is a well-orchestrated story that shows off all the Boss bravado fans have come to love, backed up by an ensemble cast of characters who are totally believable and one hundred percent enjoyable.

Five-plus stars to Seattle Red. And bring on the next book in the series. We're all rrrready for yet another Boss Corrrrection.

Margaret: Book #3 in the House of Donato Series
Patricia M Jackson
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781539599043, $13.00, PB,
B01MU7TPC9, $3.99, 292 pages, Kindle,

Peggy Schoenfelder and Brian Donovan are oh-so-right for each other. They just don't know it yet.

As this outstanding YA novel gets underway, Peggy is visiting her cousin Etta in Marquette, Michigan -- escaping over Thanksgiving from her dreary job in Toledo -- when Brian walks in.

"Brian Donovan was tall and slender with short-cut reddish brown hair with a helter-skelter cut. He had the most incredible searing hazel, almost golden, eyes."

It's not exactly love at first sight, but it's close as Brian listens in amazement to Peggy's prowess on the living room keyboard. She's been accepted at Julliard in New York City, but needs to find a roommate to share expenses. Brian, as it turns out, has just joined the FBI, and will be living in -- you guessed it -- NYC as he gets started with the Bureau.

It's a wonderful concept for a story, and accomplished author Patricia M. Jackson deftly weaves players and plot together to achieve the maximum enjoyable effect.

There are plenty of intertwining side stories as this third in the series of House of Donato books unfolds. A coldly calculated kidnapping sends searchers into the woods surrounding Springbook Nature Center, searching for Etta -- but she's found okay, just battered and bruised. The kidnapper gets away. Etta's boyfriend, Tom, who helped rescue her, is filled with relief and hardly leaves her hospital bedside, even though the two had earlier been on the outs. And then there's Izzy Donato and her on-again-off-again relationship with Murphy. Now that he's going into pro hockey, they really should try to work things out.

It's very well-written romance, adventure, and drama, driven by careful characterization -- all the necessary ingredients for a dynamite read that keeps you guessing.

Fast forward six months. Brian and Peggy are sharing a one-bedroom flat near Central Park, and the big city is having a profound effect on both of them. Brian is deep into his law classes at Fordham University and Peggy is practicing hour upon endless hour to maintain her first-in-class piano position at Julliard.

Through sheer willpower, the pair are successfully ignoring the attraction they feel for each other.

Then, one night about 3 a.m. Peggy stumbles in the apartment door bathed in sweat. Brian, who's been waiting up anxiously for her, grabs her and feels her forehead. He gets a thermometer and reads it --103+ degrees. A phone call to his mother for advice brings him to the realization that he must act fast to save her life.

Quickly undressing her, he plunges her into the tepid bathwater, then climbs in to keep her from sliding too far down. The moment is more tender than torrid and the author brings the scene off to perfection as Brian realizes with an electric shock that he really loves this incredible young woman. She remains unaware of his ministrations and hovers near unconsciousness as he pats her dry and puts her to bed, maintaining anxious vigilance until the crisis is past.

Moments like these, combined with a near-cinematic, scene-setting ability that puts the reader right into the hustle and bustle that is New York City, makes this novel more akin to watching a well-made Hallmark movie than reading a book. It's that good.

In the second half of the story, Brian must put himself in harm's way as he pursues a case at the behest of the FBI in Minnesota. And Peggy tours the world as a renowned pianist. Can their love withstand separation and incipient danger?

Find out for yourself by downloading this five-star work of romantic fiction. And be sure to read carefully so you can figure out for yourself why the book is titled Margaret.

4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781520649825, $16.95, PB,
B01CQB45K6, $7.99, 351 pages, Kindle,

The entire affair began with sheep brains and falafel -- Saddam Hussein's favorite dish.

CIA operative Rik Bogart is trying to impress famed TV correspondent Ingrid Johansson at lunch one day in downtown Baghdad when the dubious delicacy threatens to rocket right back up into Rik's bowl. Thankfully, he steadies himself with a firm look into Ingrid's lustrous, approving, emerald eyes and the two continue getting to know one another on the outdoor restaurant patio in pre-war-torn Baghdad.

It's a strange way to start a romance -- and an even stranger way to begin a clandestine relationship, feeding each other choice bits of information from highly placed sources.

"The desert winds have shifted," she says enigmatically one evening. The remark proves to be prophetic and sets off a flurry of frantic activity at the U.S. Embassy where Rik is headquartered. Sensitive files are burned and hurried plans are made to leave Iraq, under threat by Saddam's secret police.

But what's the cause of all this dire activity?

It is the eve of Saddam Hussein's invasion of neighboring Kuwait, and this thrilling book gives a true-to-life account of covert activity surrounding the event, weaving in some very realistic diplomatic dialog from 1990.

You'll swear you are standing beside Rik through every agonizing moment of uncertainty, fear and outright intimidation by Saddam's goons as he makes plans to go to Riyadh to escape almost certain death. But in the end, he stays in Baghdad to save the woman he loves.

Problem is, she has gone to the Kuwaiti front with a news crew, leaving a bewildered Rik at the mercy of the sadistic Tariq Yuhana, head of the Iraqi State Police.

The price Rik pays for his devotion to his departed love is 19 months inside Abu Ghraib -- the prison of the dead.

The author's description of Rik's time in his dreadful, cramped cell is excruciating, watching his body shrivel and his mind slowly wither with it. Indeed, this is a grim highlight of the book as the author vividly illustrates what happens to political prisoners in places like Iraq. It's beyond brutal.

He has all but lost hope when word comes of the cease-fire. He is released in cast-off clothes with nothing but a plane ticket to New York in one hand and a bottle of expensive wine -- a whimsical parting gift from Yuhana -- in the other. He still hopes to find Ingrid and share a toast to his release.

The remainder of this fine psychological thriller details Rik's return to civilization and his new life as a nightclub owner in the Big Apple ten years later. Inevitably, Ingrid walks through the doors of Rik's place in 2001. The reunion does not go well, and they part company once again -- only for Ingrid to court a disastrous end when the World Trade Center collapses.

What ensues will prevent you from putting this book down -- even to sleep -- as Rik sets off on a new quest, as a favor to an old friend. The surprise ending is incredible.

This is a tense, methodical look at what went wrong for U.S. policy in Iraq, and the devastating effect it had on the men and women who were there just prior to the first Gulf War.

But it's also a study in dogged determination: one man persevering in the face of deprivation and long odds to finally build a new life for himself after his country turns its back on him.

It also speaks eloquently about such vital issues as patriotism, comradeship, and the lengths to which love will go.

Five stars for Rik's. This gritty read will ring true with any follower of America's foreign interventions -- and then deliver a stunning affirmation of life in the end.

Don Sloan

Susan's Bookshelf

One Mother's Journey: Creating My Family through In Vitro Fertilization
Jennifer Prudenti
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781490883977, $11.95, Pages 114

Genre: Parenting & Relationships

For most of us women having a baby is something we naturally want, and assume it will just happen, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

In this frank and detailed book the author, Jennifer Prudenti, with timely insertions from her husband Marty, take us on their quest to be parents.

Throughout, they lay bare their thoughts and emotions for us to read, in the hope that it will give others guidance and that it will help to full in some of the questions which others are wondering about, or may have forgotten to ask.

Jennifer's story starts very openly as she explains how, as the daughter of a loving mother, all she wanted was a daddy, and how, like many before and since, she turned to boys to get the attention she craved from males. This yearning, and the consequences of it took her health and body down a tragic route which eventually led her to need In Vitro Fertilization, or as it is commonly known IVF.

Happily married, all Jennifer and her husband Marty wanted was a family, however, this was not to be - well not easily, as you will read. The path they took was a hard one, IVF. Jennifer explains in detail the various procedure, and tests which she endured, and the life she led dancing to the rhythm of her body clock, and the routines which had to be followed. The unfortunate disappointments, the emotional rollercoasters, and everything being swept aside by Jennifer's strong feelings that she would be incomplete as a woman, and a wife, without being a mother, despite Marty's protestations of the opposite.

Along with following traditional guidelines, she found herself trying alternative medicines and remedies. They changed clinics and doctors, done whatever they could until, finally she was carrying her babies.

For many, from then onwards is a natural path, set in stone, but for others (myself included), this is just the beginning of months of fears and worries. Unless you have experienced it no-one can understand the feelings you go through just to get to the magical 28 weeks when baby is 'viable', however the author does a very good job, as it certainly brought back memories for me.

As the title suggests this story does have a happy ending, but then as they say in films, this is only the beginning of Jennifer and Marty's life as parents. I am a true believer that no-one can prepare you for parenthood, of course, the love you feel when you see your baby or babies for the first time, but also the emotional toll, sleepless nights, worries when they don't sleep, the list is endless. As parents all we can do is our best, and of course hindsight is a wonderful thing.

This story is one which needed telling, not only because Jennifer and her husband thought so, but also to give hope, information, courage and the strength not to give up to the thousands of couples out there who strive to have a family of their own, whatever it takes....

Fearne Fairy and the Dandelion Clocks: Book 8 in the Whimsy Wood Series
Sarah Hill
Abela Publishing
9781910882672, $7.99, Pages 66

Genre: Children's Book

This delightful Fearne Fairy adventure takes place on a beautiful March morning. With the daffodils swaying in the breeze, and bird song filling the air as young chaffinches practice their singing.

On such as super day, in her moss covered tree trunk home deep in the middle of Whimsy Wood, Fearne Fairy is in the mood for spring cleaning, however, it isn't long before her tummy reminds her she hasn't had her breakfast.

We all know that fairies are magical, and can do amazing things, but like ordinary people there are things they have problems with, and Fearne really does have trouble with her landings, and unfortunately on this day she crashes at the bottom of the stairs and hurts her head.

No worries, she thinks, I have just the remedy hidden in my conker cupboard, her special, sore-head-fixing dandelion drink. However, when she goes to the cupboard she discovers that there is no drink left!

What can she do! Well she must have a good think, and what better to help her than a crumpet or four? Just as she finds the solution, she hears a rumpus outside and discovers Bertie and Beatrice, the bunny twins fighting over a dandelion clock! Of course, like most fighting, it ends in tears and also poor Beatrice bumps her head. The situation is urgent, now there are two sore heads and no sore-head-fixing dandelion drink.

But will the bunny twins remember where they got the clock from, because, surely there will be dandelion leaves there, and hopefully there will there be enough for Fearne Fairy to make some of her magical drink.

It is time for a lesson Fearne decides, and so she tells the twins, after their fight about the importance of sharing, and about her family's motto of 'share and share a-like.'

But as to the spring cleaning, well...

This is a truly enchanting fairy tale, magical and yet with a little lesson about the importance of sharing woven in. I read it to my little granddaughter and she was captivated, loving both the story and the wonderful illustrations. I look forward to sharing more Fearne Fairy tales with her as we explore this exciting series together.

Lessons from Shadow: My Life Lessons for Boys and Girls
Shadow Bregman
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781524673741, $20.99, 46 Pages

Genre: Children's Book

What a wonderful book for children. Not only is it cleverly written by a worldly black Labrador called Shadow, of course kindly penned by his human daddy Walter Bregman, but it contains some important life lessons for children to learn, and other dogs of course as long as their mummies and daddies read it to them. Because you see, as I already know, but many people don't, dogs to understand us, and talk to us too!

When Shadow's mummy and daddy decided to take him home from the rescue centre Shadow had already learnt a lot of good, and bad things. Sensibly they took their other dog Betsy to say hello to shadow before they made a final decision, but they didn't need to worry, they quickly became friends. Betsy did like to be the boss though, and could be a bit of a bully some times, but the story behind that is in one of the lessons.

Shadow's lessons cover many subjects. In the first one, Shadow admits to being very greedy, (like most dogs) and tells of the mischief which can be caused if the pantry door isn't closed, especially if dogs pinch the chocolate!

As we settle down to enjoy the tales Shadow tells, it is fun to look at life through his eyes, taking a dogs eye view of life and situations. For instance, escaping is fun, the bigger the fence the better, until you get to the other side, and discover you want to go home! Then things can be pretty scary!

Family life is varied and sometimes sad, and Shadow explains in his own sensitive, wise way, how he and his daddy coped with sad times in their lives, and the loneliness which affected them after.

Of course the world is sometimes confusing for a dog. In the chapter called lessons, we discover some of the things which we, as humans, don't really understand about dog communication, and some of the things which puzzle them. Shadows summing up of this lesson is priceless, but you will have to read the book to find out what it is.

If you love dogs, whether you are young or old, you will find this book enchanting. For those of us who love our dogs, it is affirmation that they do understand us, and can teach us so much. The chapters in this book cover very important issues for children, and guide them sensitively in the right direction, to enable them to deal with various situations.

I loved this book! Shadow is a very wise dog and I hope he and his daddy write some more so I can enjoy learning more about their lives, and the important lessons they have to share

Diary of a Drug Addict
Stephen E Crockett
Kindle Direct Publishing
B01MYX17O0, $2.96, Pages 87

Genre: Addiction & Recovery

You see them on street corners, hiding in doorways, furtively watching, waiting for their next fix, selling drugs, or perhaps they have just had a shot.

When you see drug addicts or alcoholics on the streets, or in the dark corners of bars, do you ever wonder why, and how, they became addicted?

What made this person take that particular route through life, and at what stage couldn't they say no?

Perhaps you walk by pitying them, looking on with distain, smugly thinking that you will never be in their position, you would never become an alcoholic, or a drug addict. If you do, just stop and think. Who are you to judge? There is a very true saying "You cannot judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes." As we go through our lives we make decisions, some very minor, or so we think at the time, however, everything we do comes with consequences. The face we put on to the world is not necessarily the person within, many of us hide behind masks. Sometimes this is done in the knowledge that we want to be deceptive, mislead, and bend a person to our will. However for many others it is a necessity, the only way to deal with the demons within, self-preservation.

Stephen Crockett life changed at a very early age, when he could no longer endure being surrounded by religious fanaticism, made to attend church, and being beaten if he asked questions.

It was in his 18th year however, just before graduation that his drug and alcohol abuse really took hold. Stephen had tried drink and marijuana before, however, whilst his fellow class mates were getting ready for the graduation photo, Stephen was sitting in the car park, passed out drunk. He missed his graduation ceremony because he was in hospital, recovering from asphyxia, and acute alcoholic poisoning.

Missing that ceremony seems to be a turning point, in his own mind he became invisible, unworthy, from then on he began his quest to blending into the background, suffering tremendous feelings of disappointment in himself, and depression.

His decision to leave the countryside for the town opened his eyes to a whole new world, and he became addicted to Heroin, the mother of all illegal drugs, which claims more lives than all the others put together. Stress and depression become his monsters in the closet, as trapped in his miserable existence he turns to drugs and alcohol. Soon he becomes part of the underground scene, dealing drugs, and living from fix to fix, in a drugs and alcohol induced haze.

This book, and its companion 'Black Tar' has opened my eyes to a world I knew nothing about. Stephen has a very frank way of writing, and in his own unique no holds barred style, he talks openly about the addiction he has had for decades.

What will the future hold for you if you go down the same route? Well, as Stephen so graphically explains, you will lose everything - no not just physical things, but yourself, self-worth, friends, and so much more.

So what has become of Stephen now?

Is he drugs free, and if so how did he do it?

Find out by reading his compelling story - I guarantee you it will be an eye-opener!

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Suzie's Bookshelf

Jaded Justice
H.E. Kline
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B06XR4MDMH, $2.99


Justice has the power to change lives . . .

Rebecca "Becky" Lawrence excelled in her college courses and graduated with high honors with a law degree. To help prepare for her chosen field, she worked as a law clerk. The job enabled her to meet some very influential individuals. As a woman, Becky had to work twice as hard to be able to compete with her male counterparts. Along the way, she developed strength and determination that nothing would stand in her way to becoming a lawyer.

Upon graduation, Becky is summoned by a Federal Judge who offers a chance of a lifetime, to become an Assistant U.S. Attorney. Becky knows that by accepting this high-profile job that it can be the chance she has been waiting for to jumpstart her career. With her first day at work, she is assigned to work with Zach Woods. Although Zach is married, there is an irresistible charm that radiates from every pore of his body. The instant chemistry between them is hard to ignore.

To complicate matters more, a ghost of one of the victims decides to appear to Becky. Through Charlie, she is able to gain insight into things that may not be readily visible. With Charlie's expert advice and Zach's partnership, Becky is able to bring justice to its knees.

Will Becky have the strength to have a fiery relationship, grow a thriving career, and be able to keep a ghost entertained? Or will her juggling act soon grow out of control and she will find she is forced to make a choice between having a successful career and throwing it all away in the name of passion?

JADED JUSTICE is one hot and sizzling adventure! This book should come with a warning that ice is kept nearby while reading. Zach and Becky are two explosive characters. Whether you find them in the courtroom or the bedroom, they provide an electronic current that cannot be ignored.

H.E. Kline
Horrors of the Mind Entertainment, LLC
Amazon Digital Services, LLC.
B00KQ3SP3K, $TBA 136 pages


In the blink of an eye evil can enter into anyone's world and destroy all who it finds in its path...

On the way back from an emergency trip to the veterinarian, Doug King picks up a hitchhiker on Route 44. There is something strange about the man he picks up. He is glad to see the short distance he agreed to take him comes into sight. As the man exits the vehicle, a cold chill goes up Doug's spine.

When Doug finds Ponce foaming at the mouth and producing a foul odor, he fears for his beloved pet's life. He calls the vet and they assure him that all is normal. Ponce turns on him and viscously attacks, leaving a gash that requires stitches... a sinister evil then takes possession of the once loveable family cat as he goes on a murderous rampage spreading a lethal virus up the eastern seaboard.

After reading this book I will never look at a cat as an innocent pet. Wow, this one really took me back. It should come with a warning: NOT TO READ AT NIGHT!

IMMOLATION is a book that gives horror a new name. This story is one that will leave you terrified of your own shadow. The realism in this book that is projected is to be commended. There is no doubt that H.E. Kline knows all of the elements essential to writing an unforgettable horror novel. This one caused me to lose a night's sleep because I made the mistake of reading it before I went to bed! I feel H.E. Kline's skill as a writer far surpasses similar authors. After reading this story there is no doubt in my mind that her skill is in a class by itself.

Hallowed Halls
H.E. Kline
Kindle Edition
B06X3X858R, $TBA 349 pages


Recent Harvard Graduate Becky Lawrence had worked hard to achieve her position as U.S. Attorney. Working as a law clerk ensured that she had built a strong and solid foundation that would enhance her present position.

Her job allows her to get an up close and personal look behind the scenes of the justice system. She is determined that with each case she is assigned that she will put all of her heart and soul into providing justice for all. Then the unexpected comes when a courtroom phantom takes an interest in her.

To complicate matters further, Becky is starting to have feelings for Senior Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Woods. Will she be strong enough to be able to juggle a new career, a ghost, and a new love? Or will she be forced to make a choice of whom and what is to stay in her life?

HALLOWED HALLS is an outstanding novel! Becky is a character that projects a strong and dominate female. I felt a strong connection with her instantly. The chemistry that is felt between her and Zach threatens to catch the book on fire with their sizzling heat.

H.E. Kline is a one of a kind author! With each book that I have the privilege of reading, I grow more in love with her writing style. There is no other author that can write a legal drama like Ms. Kline. I feel this author is on the verge of many great things to come. I highly recommend her to anyone who appreciates an author that gives only the best to her readers.

P is for Phoenix
Chris Mason
9781310628702 $TBA ebook


Embark on a mystical and educational journey...

Take a mystical journey as you are transported to the world where dragons, ghosts, and imps all project a fun and educational way to learn the alphabet. The words of this delightful book along with the beautiful illustrations are assured to both entertain and educate the reader.

As an adult, I could appreciate the amount of time, effort, and concentration that it took for the author and illustrator to work masterfully together to produce a beautiful creation. I feel this book is one that could easy win multiple awards.

P IS FOR PHONIX is an exceptional book that is assured to be a highly beneficial addition to any child's book collection. I feel it would be the perfect bedtime story for the child would be fascinated with these pictures and the words that explain each illustration.

Chris Mason has proven to me that he is a master in providing education tools that will be a tremendous benefit to a child's education. I feel this book is one of the best that I have yet to discover from this talented author.

Rest Relax Recharge and Color
Chris Mason
9781370426102, $TBA ebook

Non-Fiction: Adult Coloring Book

In today's turbulent times it is essential that each of us has an outlet to rest, relax, and recharge our mind, body, and soul. From the first page I turned in this book I was immediately drawn to the beautiful detailed illustrations that called out to my artistic side.

It is evident that the author put a lot of thought and reflection into the pictures he selected to ease a person's day. You will find a large potpourri of scenes that include princesses, knights, frogs, and eagles. As an added bonus there are many memorable peace scenes that send an outer message to world to be one with each other.

REST RELAX RECHARGE AND COLOR is an exceptional book! While I took the time to study and color these memorable pages it helped relieve my built up stress. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to find an inner source of calmness.

Chris Mason is a man of many talents. He is an outstanding author and now he has proven that he has the talent to create an outstanding coloring book. I am so impressed with this one author. I can't wait to see where his creative talents will take his fans next.

Tutor in a Box: The Guide to the Best Free Education Resources on the Internet
Chris Mason
9781310605079, $TBA ebook


"Education is all about igniting young minds and enabling them to attain their fullest potential"

~Nita Ambani

Tutor in the box is every teacher and students dream! This book is packed with so much helpful information. I was so amazed at all the sites that I had never even heard about. This book would be ideal for a parent who homeschools, or for a student who needs some extra study help, or a teacher who is looking for a way to explain a subject in more detail.

Being in the teaching field, I can appreciate the amount of time and effort that went into this one book. I feel this book is one that is assured to be one that becomes an ideal reference tool. I predict that this book will help increase a child's grades.

TUTOR IN A BOX is an exceptional idea for it offers a wealth of priceless information. All main subjects in school are touched upon in this one book. It is ideally laid out so that it can be used as an informative reference source.

Chris Mason is an author who never disappoints his reader. His books teach and educate in a fun way. I feel privileged that I have been selected to review so many of his wonderful titles. He has quickly become one of my all-time favorite authors.

Entrepreneur in a Box A Guide to the Best Ways to Make Money on the Internet
Chris Mason
9781310281631, $TBA ebook


The internet provides an open opportunity for a person to earn money. Each one of us has our own talents and hobbies that can easily be turned into money-making projects. Throughout the pages of this informative book, it is filled with a wide variety of categories that offers an overabundance of information.

With the content contained in this one book, a person can easily put their skills to work for them and start generating some extra income. The money they make from contributing to one of these sites can be used for luxury items like vacations, a new car, or an extra payment on a home.

ENTREPRENEUR IN A BOX A GUIDE TO THE BEST WAYS TO MAKE MONEY ON THE INTERNET it is one outstanding book! I learned so many ways that I never knew existed that I would be able to put my own talents to good use to help earn a source for extra income.

Chris Mason has put a tremendous amount of thought and research in creating this book. I feel this book is an exceptional source for anyone that wants to think outside the box and explore ways that they didn't know existed and match them with the talents and skills they possess. I highly recommend this author and he has quickly grown to be someone that has been included on my "must read" list.

More Than Seven Super Wonders Found in Nature
Chris Mason
Smash Words
9781370467846, $TBA ebook

Nonfiction, Children's Books, Activity Books

"All nature seems to bespeak the works of God"

~Ellen Boyd K. Packer

In my life I have been blessed to have traveled a large part of the world. Through my adventures I have been blessed to have seen some of God's greatest creations.

From page one of this beautifully illustrated book I was greeted by the aurora borealis - it took me back to where I was when I first seen this magnificent piece of nature. Then a few pages into the book I saw the Colosseum, and was able to re-experience how I felt when I took looking up at its magnificent structure.

As I progressed through the book, I was thrilled to know that there was more in places in this book that I had visited, loved, and enjoyed (Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Stonehenge, Grand Canyon, and Leaning Tower of Pisa).

The illustrator of this book knows how to bring the true essence of these portraits to the viewer's heart. You can almost sense the care he takes with each one to set the perfect scene. Each one of these drawings is so rich in details and compels you to want to view more of this talented authors work.

Yet again, I am so impressed with the amount of a talent and creativity that Chris Mason is able to produce. I feel strongly this author is on the cusp of a big breakthrough in his career! The world deserves to know the talents this one man possesses!

Soul Doubt
Leo J Battenhausen, MA, MSW, LCSW, LCADC
Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.
9781635750737, $15.95, Paperback


God has the power to save . . .

Suicide and depression are running rampant in our society. Each day it is robbing our environment of many people who feel they have no other choice but to take their own lives in their own hands.

Medicine is not preventing these senseless deaths. People are seeking the wrong type of advice to help bring them out of their despair. Often they turn to alcohol, drugs, and sex in hopes to relieve their symptoms of depression. These destructive habits are a negative outlet that will cause them to sink lower into their troubled mind.

This book focuses on finding the salvation which comes in the form of our creator, our God. By allowing God into our lives he will provide the healing balm our soul needs to survive. His saving power to love and protect us is unlimited.

SOUL DOUBT is a book that is an exceptional written. It shows the reader how to bring God into their life in order to find peace and harmony. The words in this book provided me a sense of warmth and hope. I feel this book contains a powerful substance that will enrich anyone's lives who takes the time to read it.

Leo J Battenhausen has proven to me that he is an exceptional author. Through this one book, I was able to see how much talent he possessed as a writer. I feel his advice and in-depth research has the power to change people's lives. I highly recommend this book for I feel that it is a great contribution to the literary world.

Bread for the Table
Tara Botel Doherty
Pinehurst Literary Press
0998464708, $12.99
B01NASHBD7, $2.99, 234 pages

I love those random memories that make me smile no matter what's going on in my life right now...

Thirty-year-old Sage finds her mind is plagued by memories of her past. It started when she sees a postcard from her mother. She remembers that day in vivid details she can still picture her mother and the last words of advice she provided.

Then the past memories take her to the time of her being with her older sister before her untimely death. From there, her mind is filled with those that she loved and the wonderful times that they all had shared.

Will Sage's many thoughts of the past lead them to resurface to the present? Or will she find a way to bury her memories and start living for the future?

BREAD FOR THE TABLE is a beautiful story of how one woman has built her life on the memories of days gone by. Sage is a character who is easy to connect with as she takes you on her journey of her life. Through her eyes, you see the struggles that she has had to endure in order to make it this far.

Tara Botel Doherty is an exceptional author who knows how to write a very compelling story. This is my first experience with this author and I was deeply impressed with her smooth flowing writing style. I felt an immediate connection to her work. I feel this book is a great contribution to the literary world.

The Lazy Hour (The Time Series Book 2)
Nicholas A. Price
Demy Books
B06X3TGBBT, $2.99, 11 pages

Children - Age Level 4-10

Every day is filled with twenty four hours. These hours are measured by seconds, minutes, and hours. Mr. Hour feels that his part of the day is one of the slowest to ever come around. He spends his life watching the Silly Second Quad and Hasty Minute Crowd always seeming to take center stage.

Each one plays an important role to keep the years moving forward. For if they were to slack off on their duties time would stop. Teamwork is essential to keep the time marching along.

THE LAZY HOUR is a wonderful illustrated book. I loved the uniqueness each character brought to the overall story. Children are sure to be delighted in this wonderful tale that will help explain the importance of time.

Nicholas A. Price writes superb content that is highly beneficial to a child's learning experience. This is the second in this highly entertaining series that I have had the privilege of reading. I feel this author's writing is so crucial to the young minds of America. I highly recommend his writing and would love to be able to see it included in the curriculum for the specified age group.

Mister Second Runs Out of Time (The Time Series Book 3)
Nicholas A. Price
Demy Books
B06VVVRBBN, $2.99, 12 pages

Children's (Age Level: 1-10)

Time Marches On. . .

Mr. Second is intent to find a way to stop time. He sees the prime opportunity come when he spies Old Miss Julie Clock. There she was on the wall a tick tock, tick tock coming from her clock. He decides she is an easy target and overpowers her.

Finally, he is convinced he has stopped time!!! He dances with joy that he has finally succeeded in slowing the hands of time down to allow him a sense of freedom.

Will Mr. Second win in his battle to stop time? Or will he see that his efforts are all for not, for time is an element that goes on regardless of the circumstance?

MISTER SECOND RUNS OUT OF TIME is another exceptionally written book THE TIME SERIES. With each new offering, I grow more in love with this beloved character and his clever ways to want to stop time.

Nicholas A. Price is a very talented and creative author. I am highly impressed with his writing skills and feel his time series is one of the most beneficial series of books I have read for youngsters. Each one speaks with their own special voice.

Isabella Bedi
Kindle Edition
1520480822, $3.99, 102 pages


Sofia Taylor's life was forever changed when she learns that she has been in a car accident. When she awakes she finds that she is being held on the other side by an Anima.

She refuses to be held against her will. She breaks free of her abductor and sets out to learn how to escape the underworld. On her journey to find freedom she joins forces with a group that she hopes will be her ticket out of the hellish world.

Will Sofia be strong enough to find her way back to her home? Or will the Anima overpower her and destroy her existence?

MAYA is one outstanding book!!! From the first page I discovered a high intense drama that set the stage perfectly for a well-developed novel. The characters each have their own fresh and powerful voice that commands the reader to follow them to the end.

Isabella Bedi has convinced me that she is a very talented author. I knew from the first chapter of her book that I was not reading the works of an amateur. I feel this book would make the excellent start of a series. I could easily see more stories coming forward from characters in this book. I highly recommend her writing and feel the literary world is rejoicing to have gained a gifted author.

Ruby in the Water: a Coming-of-age Novel about Life, Decisions, and Family
J.P. Sterling
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B01MZAXIZR, $2.99, 199 pages


Seventeen year old Peter Arnold was a gifted musician. He felt all of his hard work was about to pay off when he landed his first headline tour to promote his classical piano album, Ruby in the Water. What should have been the best night of his life turned into his worst nightmare as horrific pains in his back sent him collapsing to the floor right before his fans eyes.

Peter was rushed to the hospital and found himself in a deep coma. Dreams of people he knows comes to him as his body fights to be healed. What will he learn when is awakes from his dreamlike state? Will he be able to continue with his successful career? Or will he receive news that will change his life forever?

RUBY IN THE WATER: A COMING-OF-AGE NOVEL ABOUT LIFE, DECISIONS, AND FAMILY is an exceptional novel. From the first page I made an instant connection with Peter. In learning how he had used his piano practice to combat the pain he suffered from cerebral palsy I found myself growing close to his story.

J.P. Sterling is an exceptional author. His descriptive words allowed me to make an instantaneous connection to his main character. I felt even though this book was presented as a fiction novel I felt that Peter was real and the struggles he encountered had actually happened. I feel this book is one that will make a strong impact on the literary world. I look forward to discovering more of this author's future works.

Uncle Rocky, Fireman #1 Fire!
James Burd Brewster, author
Dayna Barley-Cohrs, illustrator
J2B Publishing LLC
9780991199419, $TBA Paperback, 32 pages

Child - Age Level: 3 - 8

It was Rocky Hill's official first day as a fireman. He had just completed his training and was ready to begin his new career. When the alert went off there was a fire, Rocky did not hesitate to join his coworkers to help with the situation.

Arriving at the scene he finds a mother frantic over the fact her baby is trapped inside the burning house. Rocky knows that he has very little time to save the youngster. Will his heroic efforts be enough to save the day, or will his first day be his last?

UNCLE ROCKY, FIREMAN #1 Fire! Is one exceptional book! I was so impressed with the real to life illustrations that breathed life into this delightful story. Rocky is a character who is a true hero. I was glued to this book until I learned the fate of the fire situation.

James Brewster is a very talented author who knows how to craft an unforgettable story. This was my first experience reading his works and let me assure you that it certainly will not be my last. This book is part of a series that I predict will be a sure hit with parents and their young kids. I highly recommend this book be considered as an excellent addition to elementary school libraries. The story is one that is assured to be a huge asset to a child's education.

Suzie Housley

Teri's Bookshelf

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye
Tania Del Rio, author Will Staehle, illustrator
Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106
9781594748035, $16.95, Hardcover, 225 pages

Some people just seem to be doomed.

Warren is a typical twelve-year-old.

Unfortunately, both his parents are dead.

Fortunately, his Uncle Rupert is his guardian.

Unfortunately, his Uncle Rupert is married to Aunt Annaconda.

Warren is responsible for his ancestor's hotel. Warren the 1st planned the building with his son, Warren the 2nd, who built the hotel.

For years, Warren's ancestral line has managed and kept the multitude of secrets hidden within its walls, even the all-seeing eye. Being that Warren is a descendant of this prestigious lineage, he works endless hours maintaining his legacy.

Unfortunately, Uncle Rupert is lazy, and Aunt Annaconda is a witch. Fortunately, the hotel has not a customer for five years.

Unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, an automobile is approaching the rambling, broken-down hotel.

The visitor doesn't speak, just communicates with cards.

Can the new tenant speak? Why here? Why now?

Why is the hotel suddenly full of customers?

Warren is a laughable children's book recommended for third to sixth-grade students. Part Cinderella, part Wizard of Oz, part Series of Unfortunate Events, part comic book, part chapter book. Warren is just a fun book to read with a happy ending for everyone older than eight. It might be scary to younger ones.

With a little bit of magic, Warren is an enchanting novel with an ordinary protagonist. He is not handsome, smart, or charismatic, just hard-working and completely average.

As an adult, I could not put down the book. The story pulls you in and just doesn't release you until the last page. Even then, I wanted more. (There is a sequel.)

Tabia Del Rio writes for Archie Comics, Dark Horse, and Marvel. This Los Angeles resident has also written and drawn the 42-issue of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Illustrator Will Staehle has been an art director for Harper Collins Publishers creating book covers for many authors including Michael Chabon, Michael Crichton, and Christophe Buckley. He now has his art studio in Seattle.

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye is the perfect book for everyone with an intriguing storyline, illustrations that continue the visualization of the text, puzzles, riddles, mazes, the feeling of hope in good overcoming evil, all bundled up in a novel with a wicked sense of humor.

Alaskan Queen
Richard A. Heininger
Amazon Digital Services
B01JTIJL12, $2.99, 234 pages

Lieutenant Cody James is living his dream. He is a U. S. Navy Officer who has the responsibility of following ships via GPS throughout the world.

Throughout the years of military schooling, his dream changed from being a pilot. His moral character drove him to continue to succeed, just in a different field.

Now Cody is on loan to the U. S. Coast Guard to assist in the development of a global fleet tracking navigational system. The focus is the Carribean Sea. The system follows the usual paths of various legitimate shipping routes and is searching for anything the could be involved with smuggling or a terrorist attack.

One ship, Island Pearl, is drawing his attention by changing its regular route. Why? Could they be smuggling? The ship has always passed inspections. Obviously, tracking this boat is a priority.

Cody just hopes that this is not a time-consuming detail since he is soon to be married. Starting out with your career taking precedence over your wife is probably not a good habit.

Fortunately, Cody's bride-to-be is Abbie who happens to be the daughter of Rear Admiral Stewart. She obviously understands a military life.

Cody is thrilled that his family from childhood can attend this particular time in his life. Being an orphan, his family consists of other children with similar backgrounds who bonded into a family throughout the years.

The newlyweds plan to spend a few days at a luxurious hotel, have a few excursions, and then a cruise on the Alaskan Queen. Plans seldom work out perfectly, and it seems as if danger is constantly in the path of the newlyweds. Are they destined for disaster?

Juan Ernesto Degato is also fulfilling his dream, being rich. Coincidentally, he shares a similar background with Cody, being orphaned. However, his choices led him in the opposite direction. He just needs to complete one job assigned to him by the embassy. Completing this job will give him enough money for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, failure is not an option.

Cody and Juan seem destined to be on a collision course. For both, it is a life or death situation.

Alaskan Queen is the debut novel for Richard Heininger, a retired lawyer who resides in Council Bluffs, Iowa most of the year, and in Texas to avoid Iowa winters. The basis for this novel is from an Alaskan cruise he took with his wife. Fortunately, that ship was only attacked in his imagination.

Alaskan Queen is a fast-paced novels that all readers would enjoy. The reader accompanies Cody through each challenge.

I personally would prefer to read this novel after a cruise, not before, and definitely not during. You definitely need to read Alaskan Queen.

I look forward to more thriller from new author, Richard Heininger.

Searching for Gatsby: A Ronnie Lake Murder Mystery
Niki Danforth
Pancora Press
Amazon Digital Services
9781946403001 $13.99, Paperback, 320 pages

Ronnie Lake is a fifty-six-year-old woman beginning her new business as a private investigator. While at a party sponsored by some wealthy friends, she listens to her friend, Marilyn's suspicions about whether her husband Win, is having an affair. She is a little hesitant accepting the position being that she is friends with both Win and Marilyn.

Marilyn is suspicious of a gorgeous woman, Katya Alessandro who just left the party.

Frank, Ronnie's brother and Juliana seem like they are still honeymooners. Frank's first wife, Joanie died, and his new wife appears to fulfill all her brother's dreams and wishes.

Ronnie still has the grief of having a son die in Afghanistan. Fortunately, she adopted her son's K-9 partner from the military. Warrior is very protective of her and is a great partner in sharing their sorrow.

Jamie Gordon has a charismatic quality attracting Ronnie as he joins the party. His handsomeness certainly draws everyone's attention.

Suddenly a commotion is outside with the sound of breaking branches as an older man dressed in black falls through the dogwood tree. While hanging in the tree, while moaning, Frank calls 9-1-1 just as the branches again break dropping him to the ground, The man looks at Jamie and whispers, "The book."

"I always said...if it was the last thing...I ever did..." These are the man's last words. Why? What did the burglar steal upstairs while the people were enjoying the elaborate party downstairs?

While waiting for the police, Win notices a bulge in the man's pocket. Would you look? It's evident that the man was stealing something from upstairs.

Ronnie ends up investigating much more than Win's loyalty to his wife in Searching for Gatsby.

Niki Danforth, the author, resides in New Jersey with her dogs and husband. Notice, the dogs are listed first. She believes her desire for excitement is from being the daughter of a covert intelligence officer of the Cold War. She previously has worked as a television director.

Searching for Gatsby is a fast-paced, tightly woven, cozy mystery. The characters are believable and intriguing. With a little touch of romance, a smattering of thrills, and mystery with as many tentacles as an octopus Searching for Gatsby is a fun, fast novel for mystery fans.

If You Were Me and Lived in...Middle Ages
Carole P. Roman, author
Mateya Arkova, illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781533673244, $19.99, 98 pages

If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe
Carole P. Roman, author
Mateya Arkova, illustrator
9781532875304, $16.99, 76 pages

Imagine living in England during the year 1072. To help you, former social studies teacher, Carole Roman along with illustrator, Mateya Arkova, have created the perfect tool for transporting each of us into that time and place through the pages of this exquisite book. The paperback explains how life changed from when the Romans controlled the country and their contributions to the change of the Renaissance period beginning around 1400 A.D.

By taking a reading journey into each fiefdom, you learn about the world of knights who sold their services and life as a servant or vassal.

This book is through the eyes of a daughter whose father was a knight in William of Normandy's army and rewarded with land for being victorious with the invasion of England. Describing life inside the keep is picturesque.

Also, well-represented is the perspective from being a peasant. I find the section regarding the medical field fascinating, but obviously not the healthiest.

In the back of the book are listing about famous people of the period as well as a glossary with definitions and pronunciations of common words of the time.

For the book, If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe, the time period is around 870 A.D. and set in Norway, along the coast.

I was surprised to learn the difference between Scandinavians and Norsemen. The difference is that they are from the same area, but the Norsemen was used for the people who moved to the foreign lands explored.

Also explained are the patterns for family last names describing the use of ...son and ...dottir. The class system for the Vikings is defined and easily pictured due to the illustrations which perfectly match the text.

The descriptions and pictures of the houses are fascinating transporting you to another time and place.

The section about your grandmother is both educational and entertaining. "She had a loud voice, and when she was irritated about something or felt that the community was insulted, she would nag and harangue the men into action. She worried about the town's honor and was known to use her magic to keep them safe."

Listed at the end is a guide including pronunciation and short description of some of the better known Norse Gods. Also included is a list of some of the great Vikings throughout the period of exploration. As usual, the book is completed with a glossary of common words for the book, including a pronunciation guide.

Both of these books transport the reader into other times and places with the texts in each book perfectly matching the illustrations.

These books are intended for elementary children but readers of all ages can both learn and enjoy the time traveling journeys of a past time.

Playing With Fire: A Daniel Jacobus Mystery
Gerald Elias
Severn House
110 East 59th Street, 22th Fl., New York, NY 10022
9780727886149, $28.99, Hardcover, 216 pages

Why did you purchase a musical instrument? Did you dream of playing music? Could you imagine yourself in Carnegie Hall playing to standing room only audience embracing the melodies and enriching every listener to a once-in-a-lifetime experience?

Surprisingly, not everyone views the purchase of a musical instrument this way.

Daniel Jacobus is a crotchety blind violinist. Years ago, he lost his vision just as the opportunity for greatness opened for him. Perhaps there is a reason for his being upset with life.

Christmas Eve is a special time at Daniel's home with his good friends, Yumi, a concertmaster and masterful violinist, Nathaniel, a longtime friend who works as a musical instrument and art fraud and theft agent, along with Trotsky, his temperamentally huge bulldog.

Amadeo Borlotti calls Jacobus asking if he can come over to talk with him. Amadeo repairs violins for school children. Why would his voice sound as if visiting with Jacobus is important? Why would he need to consult with Daniel?

The next day, Daniel is feeling guilty when he learns that Borlotti's house has burnt down and Borlotti is missing.

Why? What has happened? Could Jacobus have prevented the loss of his home? Where is Borlotti?

Jacobus, Yumi, and Nathaniel begin to investigate while being thrown into a world they never knew existed.

Playing with Fire is the fifth Daniel Jacobus' mystery following Devil's Trill, Danse Macabre, Death and the Maiden, and Death and Transfiguration. Unlike the other four novels which all encircle one musical selection, Playing with Fire does not connect to any one piece of music. This book educates the reader about the world of rare violins made by outstanding and legendary master such as Stradivarius while loosely based on the real-life crimes of Dietmar Machold.

Gerald Elias is the Musical Director of the Vivaldi Candlelight concert series, first violinist of the Abramyan String Quartet, Associate Concertmaster of the Utah Symphony since 1988, and an Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Utah.

He previously played the violin for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Playing with Fire is a fast-paced novel continuing the story of Jacobus. The book can be a standalone without reading the previous books in the series. However, firmly believe that everyone would enjoy the book more if they have read the first novel, The Devil's Trill to better understand the character relationships.

Playing with Fire is a thrilling journey into the world of exquisitely valuable violins interwoven into a enthralling mystery.

The Shattered Tree
A Bess Crawford Mystery
Charles Todd
William Morrow
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062386274, $25.99, 287 pages

Bess Crawford is a hard-working battlefield nurse. It is October of 1918 and working in a field hospital in France is exhausting as well as dangerous with combat nearby.

For one soldier, it is even stranger. One single soldier is holding onto a single tree.

Somehow, a man is hiding behind a battered-up tree with no shoes and with little left of his uniform. The rescuers have to pry his fingers from the bark of the tree. Not knowing whether the man is dead or alive, they place him on a stretcher, covering him with a blanket.

At the hospital, shivering is the only symptom proving that he is alive. The staff quickly believes he is a "frog," meaning he is French.

Being diagnosed as having a loss of blood and being in shock, he is being transferred to the Base Hospital accompanied by Nurse Crawford. While attempting to identify the patient, Bess checks his pockets. She discovers ripped pieces of material. Often, names are written inside a uniform for identification. People sometimes chose to destroy their name if they are important or related to a powerful family and do not want to be identified by the Germans. She hears him muttering in another language, German.

Many Frenchmen from Alsace-Lorraine spoke both French and German. This particular area had been ruled for almost fifty years by the Germans while refusing to give up their native language.

After returning to the battlefield hospital, Bess follows a man into the trenches to help a wounded soldier. While there, she is shot in the side by an assassin who seemed to purposely miss killing her.

Bess is sent to Paris to recuperate safely. Coincidentally, she sees the same soldier in passing. Is he German or French? Is he a spy?

Bess discovers more secrets as she seeks to identify the man found by the shattered tree.

Charles Todd is the name used by a mother-son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd while residing in Delaware and North Carolina. Their books include the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, the Bess Crawford series, and standalone novels.

The Shattered Tree is an addictive page turner. The character of Bess reminds me of Sybil in Downton Abbey. Between the background of inherited wealth and the British upper class as well as an independent spirit, all brought Bess to life. The logical but unpredictable story is the perfect fast-paced page turner.

The Shattered Tree is for any reader who enjoys historical fiction transporting them to another time and place.

War, Spies and Bobby Sox: Stories About World War II at Home
Libby Fischer Hellmann
The Red Herrings Press
9781938733970, $15.95

"The volume of literature about World War Two has both fascinated and intimidated me. I suspect its popularity comes from the fact that it was the last time there was clarity between good and evil." -from the author's introduction

"The Incidental Spy" is the story of Lena, a German Jewish refugee as she begins her new life in Chicago during 1935. Lena is fortunate to be sponsored by her aunt whose husband is a mathematics professor the University of Chicago. Immediately, she is enrolled in English and typing classes and quickly becomes a secretary in the physics department at the University.

Naturally, it is hard knowing what is happening to the rest of her family a continent away. With erratic communication, the constant strain of her parents' hardships, as well as her first love, are trying. Do you move on or wait?

"P.O.W." revolves around eighteen-year-old Mary-Catherine who works on the family farm along with her mother, little sister, and brother. With her father being drafted to fight in the war three years ago, every member of the household is needed to keep the farm being productive. With a prison being nearby, Mary-Catherine's mother hires the P. O. W.s to help with picking apples.

What her mother forgot was Mary-Catherine's age and her natural attraction to handsome men, especially one's who might take advantage of her innocence.

"The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared" involves a beautiful Jewish woman who is murdered while living as an actress in Chicago.

Libby Fischer Hellman has written numerous novels including her Georgia Davis series, Ellie Foreman series, a historical novel set in Cuba, a story of revolutionary Iran, and life in the late sixties in Chicago.

This Chicago resident has won numerous award including being nominated for two Anthony Awards, an Agatha, two times for the Foreword Reviews Thriller of the Year and many nominations for the Lovey Award.

War, Spies and Bobby Sox consist of three novellas in varying lengths. The first and longest one, "The Incidental Spy" is an enthralling novella incorporating the development of the bomb while viewing Chicago through the immigrant eyes of a woman who is both German and Jewish. Conflicted loyalties regularly trouble Lena, the protagonist.

P. O. W. is unquestionably a story that likely actually happened in some form. The German and Italian prisoners in this country were constantly troubled about whether their futures were here or back in Germany. Most were treated better here than in their country. The conflicted loyalties had to have been problematic for both those who interacted with the prisoners and the prisoners.

The strength in these stories are the personal and realistic voices of these strong and independent women. The plots are well-organized and intriguing while based on actual events of Chicago between 1935 and 1942.

Libby Hellman has created the perfect novel traveling back to another time and place.

Through a Yellow Wood: A Catskill Mountains Mystery
Carolyn J. Rose
Amazon Digital Services
9780983735946, $16.49 pbk / $3.99 Kindle 468 pages

'She was a reminder that there are a hundred little forks in our roads every day and each choice can affect the next one. If we don't think before we step, we might end up a long way from where we intended to be - from where we wanted to be.'

Sometimes you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Imagine a small New England town where it seems as if everyone is related to each other.

Dan Stone is asked to check-in on Clarence Wolven, his mother's second cousin. Since Clarence always came into town in the first, he is now two days overdue, and that was odd for him. Also, his phone line is dead.

Dan finds Clarence dead on his front steps. Also dead are the dogs Clarence was training, except for one small pup who is hiding in the back of his kennel.

Dan arranges the funeral since Clarence had no close relatives and took the dog to the vet, who amputates a leg.

When the sheriff's investigation has no leads, Dan, and his friend, Jefferson Longyear return to the cabin to look for further clues to the murderer.

Unfortunately, the three-legged dog, now adopted d by Dan's family and called Nelson, leads the two along a trail only to discover three women's dead bodies, posed as if in a play.

As the summer continues, Dan's life becomes more complicated with rebuilding his home, living with Camille, and having a teenaged girl becoming part of his homelife.

Through a Yellow Wood is a continuation of the first, reading Hemlock Lake is a prerequisite to enjoying the book.

I discovered both of these books to be intriguing with the mood. The story line is depressing, but the author so compassionately cares for the characters that this is hypnotically addictive reading.

Carolyn Rose is the author of the Catskill Mountain mystery series; the Subbing isn't for Sissies series, and numerous other novels and publications.

She now resides in Vancouver, Washington where she works as a substitute teacher. From growing up in the New York Catskill Mountains, to attending the University of Arizona, to working with Volunteers in Service to America in Arkansas, to being a television news researcher, producer, assignment editor and writer in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington.

These characters are realistic and humanly flawed while still being likable and wanting to do what is right in their minds while revealing insights into their morality and values. The pacing perfectly matches the story making the reader feel as if they are accompanying Dan throughout the investigation.

Through a Yellow Wood is an unusual book with a novel approach to a dark story in a caring manner.

Tightening the Thread: A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery
Lea Wait
Kensington Publishing Corporation
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9781496706287, $7.99, 301 pages

A true friend is there when you need them.

Sarah Byrne is in a situation where she needs the friendship of Angie Curtis. The two have discovered their mutual love of antiques and needlepoint.

Sarah recently found her real heritage. Since a single-mother in Australia raised her, she valued her short time with her. When her mother died, she moved in with her grandmother in England. It was wonderful for her to be in a loving relationship again. Fortunately, her grandmother also shared the information leading her to her silent father in Maine. This was the first time his identity was revealed to her.

Her plan was to again move to another continent to meet her father. Unfortunately, he died just months earlier.

Sarah discovered a love for her new home, Haven Harbor, Maine and decided to open her antique business in her new home, the home of her father.

How does anyone inform the surviving members that she is also part of the family? Finding her uncle without revealing her true identity was difficult, but Ted Lawrence quickly figured out her true identity. Ted wisely insisted on a DNA test as proof for the rest of his family. This wasn't for either Ted or Sarah but the expected disbelief and doubt from Ted's children.

Ted has cancer and knows that he does not have long to live. He has called his children together. Ted plans a family reunion including each of his three children's families. His hope is to mend fences, reveal then new relative and to discuss his intended changes to the will. His expectations quickly become an impossible task.

Ted's father, Robert Lawrence had been an outstanding artist. Teaching many of the techniques to Ted as he grew. Ted is now a reputable artist but will never be the legend of his father.

Sarah is apprehensive about meeting Ted's three grown children. She knows that the do not get along and their lives take them in varying directions. For support, her friend Angie agrees to go along and assist in any way she can. So how would you react to a new will that is now going to include a new cousin? Apparently, this means that each of them will now receive less inheritance.

Surprisingly Ted dies from possibly eating a bad clam. Did one of his children purposely give him a clam from a restricted area? Did Ted complete the new will? What will happen to the paintings he gave to Sarah?

Lea Wait writes from what she knows. She lives on the Maine coast and is a fourth generation antiques dealer, much like her characters. Her mystery series, Shadows Antique Print have been nominated for the Agatha awards.

Tightening the Thread is a fast-paced cozy mystery that is fun to read. The story is viewed through Angie's eyes as she unweaves the complex lives of Ted and his children. As an outsider, she does not have the long history of their animosity towards each other.

Tightening the Thread is a fun, quick, and enchanting mystery woven into a marvelous tapestry.

Teri Davis

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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