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9780996576031, $12.95, PB, 194pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Those Saturday morning TV shows that entertained the childhood of the Boomer generation were not just for their entertainment, they were also vehicles for brand advertising. Those television commercials and 'product placements' were how Boomers first got to know cereal, soft drink, and snack food brands. The "Boomer Brands" they knew and loved then, members of the Baby Boomer generation still remember to this very day.
"Boomer Brands: Iconic Brands That Shaped Our Childhood" by freelance writer and retired direct marketing/brand marketing professional, Barry Silverstein is unique book that essential takes a stroll down memory lane, reminiscing about the beloved brands Boomers first met in the 50s and 60s.
Brand maven Barry Silverstein shares "Boomer Brand Cameos" of over fifty of the brands Boomers grew up with including: Disney, Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, Good Humor, Howard Johnson, Hush Puppies, MAD, Ovaltine, Twinkies, WIFFLE Ball and many more. Most of these brands began during the Boomer era and are still around.
Additionally, "Boomer Brands" provides rare insights into how these iconic brands shaped Boomer childhood and had a lasting impact on their lives.
"Boomer Brands" is meant be read by Boomers, shared with Boomers, and savored for the memories!
Critique: A unique, entertaining, nostalgic, and impressively informative read from first page to last, "Boomer Brands: Iconic Brands That Shaped Our Childhood" is an extraordinary and very highly recommended addition to both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Boomer Brands" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.95).
Above The Surface
Rachel Archelaus, author/illustrator
Scott Keeney, author
PO Box 75, Hawleyville, CT 06440
9781948728997, $29.99, HC, 54pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Above The Surface" by the team of Rachel Archelaus and Scott Keeney is a basically an illustrated fairytale of two characters reflecting off each other to find out who they really are. It is a fresh twist on an ancient story of interconnection via a journey above and below the surface. Through a mix of prose, poetry, and illustration "Above The Surface" deftly draw the reader into reaches of their own mythical landscapes.
Critique: A lyrically poetic literary experience that is both visual and cognitive, "Above The Surface" is one of those volumes of illustrated verse and commentary that will linger in the mind and memory long after the slender volume is finished and set back upon the shelf. While very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Above The Surface" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Honeymoon in Baghdad
9781947368750, $15.95, PB, 258pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Beyond the usual complications of limited closet space and awkward dinners with the in-laws, National Guard recruits Heidi and Jake learned that they were both shipping off to Iraq mere weeks after tying the knot. In the months that followed, intense heat, mind-numbing boredom, and the ever-present danger of roadside bombs and murderous insurgents forged this pair into a team that can take on the world.
Heidi's account of this formative period in her young marriage is a lesson in the unwavering power of faith, hope, and finding joy in unexpected places. From bucket showers to palm-sized water beetles, Heidi's message is clear: hold tight to the people you love, take comfort in the man by your side, and keep a look out for anything that can make you smile. Through the grace of God, adversity can pull you closer together.
Critique: "Honeymoon in Baghdad" by Heidi Radkiewicz is a deftly crafted, impressively candid, and inspiringly personal memoir that insightfully explores the challenges and joys of a new marriage beset by the horrors of war. An inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "Honeymoon in Baghdad" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Honeymoon in Baghdad" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Sandwich'd: My Life Between The Breads
Plum Bay Publishing
9780998861760, $15.99, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Peter Roseman has been in the sandwich business over twenty-five years. He and his family have owned and operated Gourmet Galley, now located in Stamford, Connecticut, since 1993.
Peter loves lunch, specifically sandwiches, and in his shop offers everything from the classic Italian Combo and Chicken Parmesan heroes to the best tuna salad in town. There never is a dull moment in the lunch business, especially for Peter, who has stories and recipes to share throughout "Sandwich'd: My Life Between The Breads" that are inherently interesting and reflect a life long culinary enthusiasm.
Showcasing more than a dozen recipes for traditional favorites and more exotic fare, such as the Vietnamese Bahn Mi and the Brazilian Bauru, along with original illustrations, and a broad based sense of humor, "Sandwich'd" provides an informative and insightful insider's behind the scenes approach to show the readers how Peter has masters of the lowly sandwich so as to make his Gourmet Galley crowds hungry and demanding more!
Critique: Part memoir, part entrepreneurial example for success, and part cookbook for dedicated sandwich enthusiasts, "Sandwich'd: My Life Between The Breads" is a unique, extraordinary, and highly recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sandwich'd: My Life Between The Breads" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
Tell Your Story to the World & Sell It For Millions
Kenneth Atchity and Lisa Cerasoli with Chelsea Mongird
Story Merchant Books
9781732341111 $16.95 pbk / $2.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: If there's a story distracting you during the day and keeping you awake at night, ask yourself: Is this a great story? If your answer is yes, then this is the book for you.
Writing a book or a screenplay that causes that effect is the bar, the end-all, dope, the best of the best. Storytelling is the mind and heart's counterpart to sex--an essential act of communication by which life itself is perpetuated. After you read a good book or see a great movie, what do you do? You share it with a friend.
Part I of Tell Your Story to the World & Sell It for Millions is a step-by-step guide for writing your own top-notch page-turner. Part II teaches you the cutthroat publishing and Hollywood ropes so you, too, can achieve commercial success and join the ranks of writers making seven, eight, and nine figures annually.
In our encounters with other publishers, managers, producers, studio execs, attorneys, coaches, and agents, we found ourselves agreeing with them about one thing: it's never a great scenario to submit a terrific concept that is unprofessionally executed. Our mission is to shave years off your learning curve and make your storytelling dreams come true.
Critique: Tell Your Story to the World & Sell It For Millions is a reader-friendly guide to writing and marketing a bestseller, filled with advice applicable to both literary publishing and screenwriting venues. From the ingredients to concocting a riveting story, to dealing with rejection, making the transition from author to filmmaker, and more, Tell Your Story to the World & Sell It For Millions is a "must-read" for anyone seeking to make a living in the writing business. A list of recommended novels, screenplays, etc. to read, appendices filled with useful examples and resources, a handy glossary of terms used in the story market, and more round out this invaluable repository. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Tell Your Story to the World & Sell It For Millions is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).
The Military Shelf
Prisoner of War Number 2378
Pen It! Publications
9781977564801, $9.99, PB, 122pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the pages of "Prisoner of War Number 2378", Adrian Stroud, has recorded incredible details about his father's final days as a Japanese prisoner of war. Stroud expertly recounts how his father and other prisoners of war displayed exceptional sacrifice, love for country, and love for one another. Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) Leading Aircraftsman, Kenneth E. Stroud's daily account of his final days as a prisoner of war is a tribute to those who sacrificed so much for their country.
"Prisoner of War Number 2378" is a deftly scripted historical tribute to the incredible sacrifices made by prisoners taken by the Japanese Army during the invasion of Singapore. Few men have served their country with greater devotion and dedication, or in a more professional manner.
As much a memoir as a biography (as it is largely drawn from a long series of interviews with Kenneth E. Stroud, as well as extracts from the personal diary he kept during his days in captivity), "Prisoner of War Number 2378" is his detailed account ranging from his early days as a young twenty-year-old joining the Royal Air Force to his day-by-day life as Japanese prisoner of war.
From boarding a ship in England in May 1940, steaming toward North Africa, and finally arriving in Singapore. His captivating account of living the "high-life" in downtown Singapore to the Japanese air attacks prior to the invasion and finally his being taken a prisoner of war.
Stroud's account is not only of his personal pain and suffering, but also of those imprisoned with him. From becoming Japanese prisoner of war number 2378 to the brutal treatment of prisoners by guards as they were marched from prison camp to prison camp. The train he and other prisoners of war captors were riding being ambushed by Japanese soldiers. How he switched positions with a prisoner for "evening air" while being transported in a rail boxcar and how that same prisoner was shot between the eyes during an ambush. The deplorable living conditions in the Japanese prisoner of war camps and lack of edible food given to prisoners.
Critique: An impressively informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, and invaluable contribution to the growing body of World War II Pacific Theatre histories and biographies, "Prisoner of War Number 2378" is an extraordinary and inherently engaging read from beginning to end. Simply stated, "Prisoner of War Number 2378" should be a part of every community, college, and university library World War II History collection in general, and supplemental studies reading list.
Terry L. Nau
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9781480987593, $18.00, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Told in the voices of Vietnam veterans looking back on their war, "Proud Americans: Vietnam Artillery Soldiers... Then and Now" by Vietnam veteran Terry L. Nau is an oral history of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery unit that served in Vietnam from 1965 to 1972.
The 2/32, nicknamed the Proud Americans, fired the first 175 millimeter rounds in the Vietnam War. The unit stayed in Vietnam for seven years, refreshed by more draftees and enlisted soldiers. From rescuing other American soldiers, to the Tet Offensive, to surviving 42 days of mortar attacks, the veterans share their personal stories of service. Bonds, slow to form, became unbreakable as black, Hispanic, white, and immigrant soldiers became brothers.
"Proud Americans" is a personally observed and candid military history that honors the sacrifices of those who never came home -- as well as those who did.
Critique: A unique and extraordinary contribution to the growing library of Vietnam War histories and memoirs, "Proud Americans: Vietnam Artillery Soldiers... Then and Now" is an invaluable and impressively informative read from beginning to end. Highly and unreservedly recommended, "Proud Americans" will prove to be critically important addition to community and academic library 20th Century American Military History collections in general, and Vietnam War supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
The Biography Shelf
I Survived Swiss Boarding Schools
Richard Rene Silvin
Thomas Max Publishing
B005Y4CX9I, $9.99, Kindle, 204pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: During his Boarding School years, Richard Rene Silvin rubbed elbows with Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, the Rockefellers and royalty from many countries worldwide. But at his first school, he learned little other than how to avoid beatings from the staff and to evade a pedophile woodcutter.
At esteemed LeRosey, his lack of academic learning at his first school nearly caused him to be expelled. And after years of putting up with sexual abuse from an older schoolmate, he finally stood up to the boy only to find himself humiliated by being branded "a fairy".
That nadir in his life brought forth a new resolve that led to achievements that make the book's title seem like a great understatement.
Critique: A fascinating and impressively candid memoir that provides unusual insights into the boarding school environment and experience, "I Survived Swiss Boarding Schools" is both thoughtful and thought-provoking, making it unreservedly recommended for the personal reading list of both academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.
Split Mind: My Life with Schizophrenia
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9781480993518, $27.00, PB, 488pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Split Mind: My Life with Schizophrenia" is colorfully candid memoir in which Danny Roberts takes his readers on a hilarious, thought-provoking, and occasionally tragic journey through his life.
From stories of his disruptiveness as a youth, to his entrance into the Salt Lake City punk scene in his teens to learning how to manage his schizophrenia, Roberts writes with an openness and honesty that is much more than the facts of his life -- it's an emotional odyssey. Roberts does not shy away from writing about any aspect of his life, including his brief time in jail.
"Split Mind: My Life with Schizophrenia" also provides an insider's look at the mental health system in the United States as Roberts personally experienced it.
Critique: Exceptionally well written with an impressive degree of candor, "Split Mind: My Life with Schizophrenia" is an extraordinary account that is impressively thoughtful and thought-provoking. An compelling read from beginning to end, "Split Mind: My Life with Schizophrenia" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Contemporary American Biography in general, and Contemporary American Mental Health collections and supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
Constance: One Road to Take
9781720258063, $29.00, PB, 210pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Constance Stuart Larrabee (1914 - 2000) was a leading woman photographer, feted in both South Africa and the United States of America. Her early career was spent in a South Africa that was divided into camps, white and black, Afrikaans- and English-speaking. Full-blown apartheid had not yet been introduced but South African society was marked by regimented townships, influx control, and segregated living areas.
Despite her background, she managed to penetrate into the rural reserves and the townships. Her early photographs provide a lens into the lives of women and children living on the land while their husbands worked deep underground or in the factories that spilled out onto the ridges of the Witwatersrand.
From an early age Constance Stuart was fascinated by photography. She studied art both in England and Germany, and subsequently started a studio in Pretoria. Although the studio was successful, Constance's prime interest lay in chronicling the lives of black people living in the countryside, and later in the city and mines.
She covered the Allied advance in France and Italy towards the end of the war. In the late 1950s she married and settled in the USA, where she continued her photography in a more leisurely manner.
Author Peter Elliott has had a lifelong interest in both history and art and his interest in Constance's photography was piqued when he was researching a World War II war story about South African military experiences in the Apennines in Italy in the freezing winter of 1944 - 45. This interest drew him into a prolonged contemplation of Constance's Southern African photographs and their context. "Constance: One Road to Take" results from his determination to unravel the enigma that was Constance, a photographer who retreated from engagement with the political significance of the photographs she made, but nevertheless left a legacy of stunning images
"Constance: One Road to Take" is dedicated survey that uncovers much that is little known about this plucky woman who dedicated most of her life to photography. She was called courageuse (courageous) by the French and was intrepid as a war correspondent and as a solo woman photographer in South Africa. Constance would go anywhere to capture the photographs she wanted to take.
Critique: An inherently fascinating biography of a unique life lived out in perilous and controversial times, "Constance: One Road to Take: The Life and Photography of Constance Stuart Larrabee (1914 - 2000)" is a deftly crafted and impressively informative volume from first page to last. An exceptionally well written, organized and presented study of a woman whose body of work deserves to be rescued from obscurity, "Constance: One Road to Take" is an especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library 20th Century Biography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, photography enthusiasts, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Constance: One Road to Take" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Pieces of Me
Rose Marie Abrams
9781732496309, $12.95, PB, 186pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: From the day she was born, Rose Marie Abrams was nothing more than a pawn in a sick chess game in which there would be no winner.
The players were her biological mother, a single parent who had been raised in the foster care system during the 1940s and '50s, and her foster mother, who took in children not to nurture them but to torture them and turn them into slaves.
To one mother, Rose Marie was merely a doll. To the other mother, she was a captive, a scapegoat, the victim of insatiable sadism. No one wanted her for who she was, for who every child is: a gift from the Divine.
Despite the unceasing horrors Rose Marie suffered at the hands of those meant to care for her, her light could not be extinguished. In "Pieces of Me: My Journey from an Abusive Childhood to a Life of Hope and Healing", she speaks the unspeakable and reveals the hope, tenacity, and life-giving defiance that brought her dreams of freedom to life -- and let her long-suppressed inner child out to play.
Critique: A candidly compelling and intensely personal memoir, it is interesting to note that Rose Marie Abrams holds a BA in psychology, was married for thirty-five years before her husband passed away, and is the mother of four grown children. "Pieces Of Me" is an extraordinary and ultimately inspiring autobiography that is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community library Contemporary American Biography collections.
Hello, My Sweetheart
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781532001932, $13.99, PB, 158pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Hello, My Sweetheart" is Sigrid Gassner-Roberts' unique work which evolved from her recollections when narrating her life story to her husband, who lies in a coma in a Viennese hospital after a brain aneurysm. The doctors tell her that he can hear her, so she begins by reminding him of their first date.
Sigrid had been a young Austrian student who originally came to America to study on a Fulbright scholarship. She had a busy teaching career and her work took her from the US to Austria to Australia.
It was in Australia that she met her future husband, a US naval officer who proposed only a few short weeks after they met in 1975. The couple had been married but four years when her husband had his stroke. Sigrid finds a path to caring for him while carrying on with her teaching duties and their love story continues until his death.
Critique: Subtitled 'A Life and Career on Three Continents', this inherently moving and deeply personal memoir is an extraordinary and deftly crafted read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary American Memoir/Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hello, My Sweetheart" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Eggs on the Wall for the Love of Family
Donna Jean Gerrier
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781452598789, $33.99, PB, 520pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The Gerrier family faced monumental challenges together. "Eggs on the Wall for the Love of Family" by Donna Jean Gerrier is about sacrifice, responsibility, and the compassion that Donna Jean had for her elderly parents. They embraced humor and a love of life, which was better than medicine.
Donna Jean's mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. Her father, himself having to deal with Parkinson's, cared for her mother until he suffered a stroke. This resulted in both parents being immobile and confined to wheelchairs.
Donna Jean left a thriving career as well as her study of vocal performance and chose to be her parents' main caregiver when their needs surpassed the home care mandate. The days unfolded from dealing with health care bureaucracy to managing her parents' high-level care, hiring private workers, running a household, and managing the finances.
The Gerrier family's motto was to do the best they could with what they had to work with. They did not merely exist -- they lived. Her father's condition improved due to non-traditional treatments received from a neurologist in New York City.
Their lives were not without outrageous experiences. Donna Jean tells an intriguing story of how her father nearly lost his life in Las Vegas and the horror she and her father lived through being arrested in Stockholm, Sweden. It was assumed they were Russian spies, as well as husband and wife.
The family dog, Sir Samwell, played a major part in their lives. A canine companion who definitely ran the show!
Donna Jean continues her long-time passions to end violence against animals and women. She also advocates for stronger laws concerning their safety and rights. She shares how she sees the world today and emphasizes the importance of supporting each other, avoiding isolation.
Donna Jean stresses if you choose to be a caregiver for your family strive for no regrets. Do all you can, the very best you can -- that is enough.
Critique: A well written and inherently engaging blend of personal memoir and family history, "Eggs on the Wall for the Love of Family" is especially commended to the attention of adult caregivers having to deal with their own parents dependence due to any manner of illness or dementia. While very highly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Eggs on the Wall for the Love of Family" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Working My Way Back to Me
9781732349025, $14.95, PB, 156pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: For rural Ohio beauty queen April Kirkwood, her #MeToo moment came way before the term was coined. She lost her virginity to the middle-aged Frankie Valli at 16, after a decade pursuing a childhood fantasy to be the crooner's wife. The affair would go for decades.
But Frankie Valli is just a central character in April's complex story of her struggle to break the generational cycle of abused and dependent women. Indeed, the strong women in "Working My Way Back to Me" are filled with enormous love that offers protection, but also intensifies the hurt.
Through April's eyes, we experience joys and heartaches that echo across more than a half-century of old family secrets and ways, and the triumphs and defeats involved in trying to break the mold.
Critique: A compelling read by April Kirwood that is deftly written with the assistance of Donald G. Evans, "Working My Way Back to Me: A Frank Memoir of Self-Discovery" is a frankly candid autobiography is an extraordinary account and a valued contribution to our on-going national discussion on the heretofore institutionally and culturally supported abuse and exploitation of women by men. While very highly recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Working My Way Back to Me" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Fiction Shelf
Laura Rock Gaughan
9780888016416, $19.00, PB, 189pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The women who populate Laura Rock Gaughan's debut collection of short stories, "Motherish", veer from playful to distraught, reckless to restrained, anchored to unmoored. Gambling grandmas, athletes and organists, pregnant bus passengers and punitive bank tellers are pushed to the brink by Gaughan's distinctively precise prose, while they grapple with what it means to mother and be mothered. With various perspectives, Gaughan creates box after box (and actual chicken coops) for her characters to explode from, hide in, emerge, and ultimately transform.
Critique: Born in California, Laura Rock Gaughan honed her literary craft in Lakefield, Ontario, where she currently lives and writes. "Motherish" is showcases collection of thirteen short stories which reveals her genuine flair for originality, deftly crafted memorable characters, and narrative driven storytelling skills. While very highly and especially recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Motherish" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Woman, Running Late, in a Dress
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781387571215, $14.99, PB, 178pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Dallas Woodburn is a recent Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University, who received her MFA in Fiction from Purdue University and her BA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. Her writing has appeared in a number of journals, magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she won first place in the international Glass Woman Prize and second place in the American Fiction Prize. She is also the founder of Write On! Books, an organization that empowers young people through reading and writing endeavors: www.writeonbooks.org.
"Woman, Running Late, in a Dress" is Dallas Woodburn's debut short story collection and the winner of the 2018 Cypress & Pine Fiction Series.
Critique: The thirteen short stories comprising "Woman, Running Late, in a Dress" effectively showcases Dallas Woodburn's genuine flair for originality, deftly created characters, and narrative driven storytelling skills. Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists, as well as community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, "Woman, Running Late, in a Dress" is unreservedly recommended.
Last Call - America
Long Canyon Press
9780997592665, $14.95, PB, 324pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In a devastated America, life has become brutal for the citizens who are living under martial law. The federal government has been dismantled and is now being run by the Homeland Security Department. The entire United States military is also under Homeland Security's control. American Citizens are being herded into the major cities, stripped of their rights and forced to work in factories.
On a cold New England morning Captain Jason Poole only wanted a hot cup of coffee while Rebecca Sanders just wanted the armed officer to leave the diner she and her sister ran. Rebecca wouldn't get Poole out of her diner or out of her life and the Captain had won himself more than a cup of coffee that day. Together they would struggle to lead a nation into revolution before the last call sounded and darkness fell as this unlikely pair forge an uneasy bond -- first out of necessity, then out of a drive to win back all that has been lost.
Critique: A riveting dystopian novel of the first order, "Last Call - America" by novelist Debra Tash showcases the author's natural talent for deftly crafting memorable characters and impressive skills at narrative storytelling. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Last Call - America" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
David H. Maring
Book Baby Publishers
9781543945836, $17.95, PB, 318pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: David Maring is an historian and retired Circuit Judge who has written the following five novels: The Serpent's Seed (iUniverse, 9780595679737, $27.95 HC, $17.95 PB, $8.95 Kindle); The Mullahs (CreateSpace, 9781478239420, $17.95PB, $8.95 Kindle); Carolina Justice (CreateSpace, 9781478138808, $17.95PB, $6.95 Kindle), Winyah Bay (CreateSpace, 9781484882603, $17.95 PB, $8.95 Kindle); Jefferson Davis Before He Wore Confederate Gray (CreateSpace, 9781494493318, $17.95 PB, $8.95 Kindle), and the short story collection, Southern Stories (CreateSpace, 9781507503478, $5.95 PB, $4.95 Kindle).
Now with "Zimbabwe Falcon" Maring has written a history that covers the period between 1888 and 1923 in the region between the Limpopo and Zambezi Rivers. Here in ancient times, the descents of the High Priest of Jerusalem built the Great Zimbabwe as their capital. It was the only great civilization south of the Sahara, and nearby were the ancient gold mines of Solomon.
Into this land marched the Rhodesian Pioneers in 1890 to challenge Lobengula, King of the Ndebele nation. This Zulu tribe had only sixty years earlier seized it from the Shona.
Now into this mix of different tribes and cultures are added the Boers -- arguably the white tribe of Africa. These various groups are involved in many armed conflicts, and alliances are constantly changing. But in the end the Pioneers will prevail and create a country that will survive into the twentieth century.
Critique: With a veteran storyteller's skills and an historians attention to detail accuracy, David Maring presents an inherently fascinating work of South African historical fiction, set amid nation-building conflict that still has echoes in today's African politics. Impressively informed and informative, "Zimbabwe Falcon" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library African History collections and supplemental studies curriculums. It should be noted for personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Zimbabwe Falcon" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.95).
Coming of Age in Berkeley
9790692106432, $16.95, PB, 372pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Romance is the furthest thing from Tamiko Gashkin's mind when she drops her copy of the Brothers' Karamazov on the path through Faculty Glade on the Cal Berkeley campus. Imagine, then, how stunned this almost 16-year-old brainiac athlete is when she's instantly beguiled by Alec Burns, the shaggy-haired college senior who not only retrieves her book, but pledges his affection.
But how is a high school girl who has never been kissed to cope with a far more sophisticated older guy given that almost everyone in their world disapproves, especially Tamiko's protective single mom, Amy?
Indeed this modern fairy tale might have been squelched right there were it not for the appearance of Max, a demonic psychopath from Amy's past ready to destroy everyone in his way. But with survival now the overwhelming priority, can there suddenly be room for Alec and Tamiko to be together?
Critique: Offering a simply riveting blend of romance and suspense by an author who is a master of deftly crafted and memorable characters deftly embedded in a narrative driven and multilayered story, "Coming of Age in Berkeley" by Jake Warner is an extraordinary and original novel that will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Coming of Age in Berkeley" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).
The Secret Life of Mrs. London
Lake Union Publishing
9781542048736, $14.95, PB, 348pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In San Francisco, 1915, America teeters on the brink of entering into World War I. Famed novelist Jack London and his wife Charmian wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness.
Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn't see it that way -- until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian's eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.
As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack's increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history's most mysterious and charismatic figures, Charmian must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.
Critique: A truly absorbing, compelling, and unfailingly entertaining read from beginning to end, Rebecca Rosenberg's "The Secret Life of Mrs. London" is an extraordinary novel deftly crafted by an author who is an expert at narrative storytelling and who has a positive gift for creating truly memorable characters. In a novel that does full justice to the adventurous lives of both Jack London and Harry Houdini (as well as Charmian!), "The Secret Life of Mrs. London" will be an immediately popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Secret Life of Mrs. London" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781978624474, $14.99, MP3 CD).
The Decadence of Our Soul
Author Academy Elite
9781640853263, $15.99, PB, 320pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Nowadays, humanity is faced with socioeconomic limits due to the lack of understanding of the difference between 'The pleasure of living' and 'The joy of living in harmony with the laws of Nature'.
The role of Man is more and more coherent as a thinking being, as a 'retort' in which the conscious reflection of Creation is synthesized, making it possible, from a certain level of spiritual development, to perceive the Creator.
This true metamorphosis that humankind crosses is basically the subject of the 'The Decadence of Our Souls', a deftly crafted novel by Claudiu Murgan that tells the story of expanding the consciousness and awakening of the soul of the inhabitants in two very different worlds.
"The Decadence of Our Soul" is also a kind of manifesto inviting the reader to a concrete involvement in the preparation for the transition to a new dimension -- a Spiritual one.
Critique: An inherently engaging, entertaining, thoughtful and thought provoking read from cover to cover, Claudiu Murgan's "The Decadence of Our Soul" is one of those unusual literary works that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Decadence of Our Soul" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Purge on the Potomac
David Thomas Roberts
9780998770499, $25.95, HC, 320pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Iconic lawman and Texas Ranger Pops Younger has never relied on "Conspiracy Theories" when it came to solving crimes. But the murder of a Texas State Senator was beginning to look more and more like a conspiracy.
When former CIA operate and Special Forces veteran Zach Turner divulges reliable intelligence to Younger that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was secretly assassinated and made to look like an accident, Younger's instincts immediately kicks in.
Although generations apart in age the two team together and begin to dissect a diabolical plot by the Deep State that extends to the highest reaches of government, including the Oval Office.
Intermediaries of the Deep State entice the top Russian spy Vasily Volkov, winner of the Russian's highest honor (the Order of Lenin) to go rogue and execute a ruthless scheme to overturn a Presidential election, change the balance of the Supreme Court and eliminate any and all political enemies.
But Younger digs in to uncover the plot while Turner faces the challenge of his own militia leaders going rogue on their own to counter the actions of the Deep State within the federal government. Not until a Deep State operative is captured does Younger learn the lengths at which the Deep State will go to keep power.
The convergence of a complex calamity comes full circle when Marine One is shot down leaving the White House Lawn by a shoulder-fired crashing at the base of the Lincoln Memorial and the Deep State erupts into a cataclysmic and totally unexpected ending!
Critique: Clearly showcasing author David Thomas Robert's impressive flair for originality, character development, and narrative storytelling skills, the plot for his novel "Purge on the Potomac" is a simply riveting story that has more unexpected plot twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster. A deftly crafted read from beginning to end, "Purge on the Potomac" is very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Purge on the Potomac" is also available in a digital book format (Kindred, $9.99).
9781946395115, $15.95, PB, 320pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Young, bright and sexy, Carla Vitale has been handpicked to run Supertech, Africa's leading independent Engineering firm. Then one Friday afternoon in Cape Town, her dream is shattered. Her boss and mentor, Nial Townley, disappears, his luxury vehicle is found in a crevice at the bottom of Chapman's Peak and $USD 20m is missing from the Supertech's overseas accounts. Three months later and the police are no closer to solving the riddle.
No job, no car, no phone, Carla turns to the one person she believes can help: software hacker turned day-trader, Daniel Le Fleur. But Le Fleur's maintaining a low profile in Bantry Bay and he's in no mood to ruin the serendipity.
Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Crackerjack" is author Peter Church's debut as crime novelist to an American readership, this impressively original and deftly crafted paperback will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections and the personal reading list.
A Change Of Faith
9781717911797, $9.95, PB, 219pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: As the Catholic Church finds itself losing parishioners and it's revenue stream dwindles, Pope Peter Paul makes a decision to allow women to enter the seminaries and become priests. To the displeasure of many Cardinals in Rome, the women becoming priests are mysteriously being murdered. Vicar Charlotte Kotlinski is the only surviving female priest.
Critique: In her absolutely riveting novel, "A Change of Faith", author Roger Kazanowski takes his readers thru a veritable maze of love, mystery and 'what if' scenarios as Pope Peter Paul finds his own life in danger because there are those that want him replaced for other religious reasons! With a narrative driven storyline that has more twists and turns than a Coney Island rollercoaster, "A Change Of Faith" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Change Of Faith" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Black Opal Press
9781626949836, $13.39, PB, 298pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Frank Tedeschi's niece is dead, one of thousands of victims of a terrorist attack, which has been laid at the feet of "Islamic radicals" by a right-wing US government. Frank (based on a chance encounter) is one of the very few people who question the government's explanation.
Frank is a Vietnam veteran who wants nothing more than to live without further controversy or conflict. Can he and his grieving brother Rob, a detective with the NYPD, obtain the necessary evidence to uncover the truth in the face of scorn and incredulity? Can they overcome their long-term estrangement to work together, given that they are putting their lives in danger?
"Last Gasp" is a novel that resonates with today's politics and unfolds in a way that mingles personal and societal issues and intertwines the past and present while moving relentlessly forward.
Critique: A deftly crafted and entertaining novel from beginning to end, Howard Levine's "Last Gasp" is a compelling page-turner of a read by a master storytelling and features more unanticipated twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster. While very highly recommended for community library Contemporary Suspense Thriller collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Last Gasp" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Thomas & Mercer
9781503904682, $24.95, HC, 378pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Summertime in Bleak Harbor means tourists, overpriced restaurants, and the Dragonfly Festival. One day before the much-awaited and equally chaotic celebration, Danny Peters, the youngest member of the family that founded the town five generations ago, disappears.
When Danny's mother, Carey, and stepfather, Pete, receive a photo of their brilliant, autistic, and socially withdrawn son tied to a chair, they fear the worst. But there's also more to the story. Someone is sending them ominous texts and emails filled with information no one else should have. Could the secrets they've kept hidden (even from one another) have led to Danny's abduction?
As pressure from the kidnapper mounts, Carey and Pete must face their own ugly mistakes to find their son before he's taken from them forever.
Critique: A riveting suspense of a novel by a master of the thriller fiction genre, "Bleak Harbor" reveals author Bryan Gruley's genuine flair for originality, deftly crafted characters, and the weaving of more twists and turns into his novel than a Coney Island roller coaster. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary Suspense/Thriller collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bleak Harbor" is also available in a paperback edition (9781503904675, $15.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The First Year
9781720100065, $12.00, PB, 229pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It's the dawn of the age of Trump, and renowned Sacramento wood sculptor Lincoln Adams is trying to understand what happened. An investigation takes him into the middle of a Russian organized crime operation that helped steal the 2016 election. The Russians offer Link a way out. He takes the path of most resistance.
Critique: A novel whose plot lines could be ripped from tomorrow's newspaper headlines or the long awaited Muller Report, "The First Year" is a chilling and inherently riveting read from beginning to end. A brilliantly written work of all to believable fiction by an author with a genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling, Andy Furillo's "The First Year" is unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The First Year" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
Atlas of Men
Volcano Cannon Press
9781732348400, $15.99, PB, 308pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Files from a secret research project show up on Dr. Robert Thames's doorstep, forcing him to think about something he's been avoiding - the degrading "study" at Danvers Academy, especially the naked photos of each student, including himself, taken at his prep school. He tracks down four close friends from school, and together they uncover the terrible truth of what was buried by the faculty, the school, and the boys themselves.
Critique: Although a deftly crafted work of fiction from beginning to end, "Atlas of Men" is the kind of story that could easily be drawn from the newspaper accounts of university sexual abuse scandals of today. An inherently compelling novel by an author with a genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling, "Atlas of Men" is recommended for community library collections and available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
The Channeler: A Future Forewarned
9781631610660 $TBA pbk / $2.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: For his entire life, Caleb Swift has seen the unimaginable. Since as far back as he can remember, he has seen winged beings, strange creatures other people cannot see - whether they are aliens, angels, or simply hallucinations, he is uncertain. He has been psychic for five grueling years, seeing visions of the future, where countless paths have endless results. All Caleb wants is to have a normal life, be a normal college student preparing for his future.
But he knows it's not that simple.
Caleb can't avoid his psychic abilities forever, and the decisions he makes could alter - or possibly save - the life of another. For five years, his visions have consistently shown him someone in grave danger, a complete stranger who desperately needs help. Five years is a long time to wait for something that may never come true. But when she finally walks into his life, he needs to find a way to save her before it's too late.
Caleb's choices will risk the lives of those he loves and change everything he thought he knew about the world...while turning his own world upside down.
Critique: Book I of the Continuum Series, The Channeler is the debut novel of author Jenna Ryan. The story follows Caleb Swift, who is gifted - or possibly cursed - with precognitive powers, but the dark futures he glimpses interfere relentlessly with his desire to live an ordinary life. He can make no sense of the bizarre, winging beings that appear only to his sight. When he crosses paths with a girl that he senses is (or will be) in mortal danger, he must make a choice that will transform his life forever. A captivating novel of courage and insight, The Channeler is keeps the reader's attention transfixed to the final page. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Channeler is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).
Barking Rain Press
9781941295182, $12.99, PB, 148pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Simmie Johnson was born the son of a slave. He was also a genius. After earning a PhD in physics from Tuskegee Institute, he wrote a paper outlining a theory for time travel, including plans for a time machine (called a chronocar) which was published in a scientific journal in the early 1900s . Since the technology required to build the chronocar did not yet exist, the paper and its brilliant writer faded into obscurity.
A century later, a young Illinois Tech student, Tony Carpenter, discovers the journal article and decides to build a chronocar so he can travel back to 1919 to meet the black scientist he hopes to emulate. Unfortunately, time is not on his side.
Dr. Johnson is living in Chicago's Black Belt with his beautiful daughter and Tony arrives from the future just in time for the bloodiest race riot in the city's history. Can Tony use the chronocar to save his new friends, or will his attempt forever alter the future he hopes to return to?
Critique: An inherently engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end, "The Chronocar" showcases author Steve Bellinger's genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling. While certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of time travel fans that "The Chronocar" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781721512409, $18.95, PB, 654pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A deftly crafted saga of a read, "Time Framed" by Roger Chiocchi is a suspenseful paranormal/sci-fi novel about a revered American family pitted against each other in a vicious battle to determine who will be the victim of a ravaging multi-generational family curse dating back to the Mayflower. The fate and fortune of the family hangs in the balance.
Critique: Author Roger Chiocchi is able to blend a literary mixture of basic science, cutting edge technology, and contemporary politico-economic fears with such timeless themes as hauntings, curses, and the fragility of family pride. The result is an unfailingly entertaining read and a novel that will be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Time Framed" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781477520666, $9.80, PB, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Erica Vansterdam is a young widow, living in Lanarkshire who is still grieving for her husband and with no other family to turn to when she bafflingly inherits an estate from an unknown benefactor: It is a fortune and utterly life changing.
The Estate lies in the vast and magical Fetteresso Forest of rural Aberdeenshire on the East Coast of Scotland. The details of the will force Erica to leave her home and live on the estate for a year. Unwillingly she leaves Lanarkshire and moves north to the house called Lanshoud, supported by her two closest friends, Gillian and Katie and accompanied by James the solicitor charged with overseeing the transfer of the estate.
No stretch of the imagination could prepare them for what they will eventually find; neither for Lanshoud itself nor for the terror they will face there.
In desperation they turn to the police but are met with cynicism and disbelief. Help does come, eventually but from a most unexpected source.
A blending of a little history with a little fantasy, "Lanshoud" is a supernatural tale with a twist. In essence it is the story of the most unlikely people bonding together in the face of adversity where friendships are formed but unfolding events cause their loyalty to be tested. Some are forced to question their long held faith and some have their grip on reality challenged, when they stand together to face the secret of Lanshoud and the terror of the Hunt.
Critique: Deftly written by a writer with a genuine flair for originality and deftly crafted characters, Rosemary Showell's "Lanshoud" is an inherently engaging and expertly plotted novel from first page to last. While very highly recommended for community library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lanshoud" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
The Education Shelf
The ABCs of Learning Issues
9780996846707, $39.99, PB, 172pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Learning Disabilities affects up to 20 percent of students between the ages of 3 and 21. Parents of these children often need help understanding the specific learning issues and behaviors in addition to recognizing how their child's learning disability adversely affects his or her academic performance.
Now concerned parents can help their children reach their full potential in school with the a careful reading of "The ABCs of Learning Issues" by Dana Stahl (an educational consultant who overcame her own learning disabilities in early childhood to become an honor student and enjoy a successful career helping other families recognize and overcome their learning issues).
An invaluable instructional resource for parents effectively enhancing their understanding of various learning disabilities and behaviors that they observe in their homes and hear about from their children's teachers, the information comprising "The ABCs of Learning Issues" empowers parents to identify, recognize and rectify specific learning disabilities that are described in formal evaluations, on standardized tests, and in school environments.
The ABCs of Learning Issues features: Specific strategies and examples of clinical and educators definitions; A global understanding of what these definitions mean; Identification of behaviors parents observe at home; Definitions of effective strategies to incorporate at school and at home; A robust 'Resources' section that includes a glossary, tips for parents to effectively communicate with their school; A list of community organizations that can provide assistance.
"The ABCs of Learning Issues" effectively promotes a common language between parents and educators, bridging the gap between the school and the home by demystifying the areas of concerns that educators observe in school and parents experience at home.
With a thorough understanding of individual learning issues and effective teaching strategies, parents can develop a partnership with schools and be advocates to help their child meet achieve success.
Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "The ABCs of Learning Issues" is an ideal and unreservedly recommended instructional guide and manual for parents of children with a learning disability. "The ABCs of Learning Issues" is unreservedly recommended for school district, community, and academic library collections -- and a 'must read' for any parent with a learning disabled child from kindergarten to 12th grade.
The Self-Help Shelf
9 Tips to Up Your Creative Genius
Creative Genius Press
9780983985631, $9.95, PB, 66pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "9 Tips to Up Your Creative Genius" is a 66 page booklet by Patti Dobrowolski that is specifically intended for readers who are looking for simple, practical, effective tools to focus their minds and step into their best selves each and every day.
"9 Tips to Up Your Creative Genius" will help readers to listen, test, improve and expand their creativity and mind-set to handle any of life's challenges with pure mastery.
Critique: A pocket-sized personal 'real world' performance primer, "9 Tips to Up Your Creative Genius" is the perfect creative 'genius' accelerator for anyone seeking to maximize their potential under any and all circumstances. While very highly recommended as a life enhancing self-help and self-improvement read, it should be noted that "9 Tips to Up Your Creative Genius" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.75).
I'm Lazy and I Love to Eat
Mary T. Prenon
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781548326746, $10.99, PB, 102pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In 1998, Mary T. Prenon vowed to lose fifty pounds no matter what it took. Nineteen years later, she has finally achieved her goal and in "I'm Lazy and I Love to Eat" is now sharing her story with the world.
An inspirational yet humorous personal account, "I'm Lazy and I Love to Eat" relates how Mary struggled for years with portion control, body image, and the allure of countless fad diets. Sudden employment changes, the deaths of her father, godmother, and lifelong best friend, plus everyday stress caused frustrating weight regains, but through it all she never gave up.
Mary tells her story with a laugh-out-loud relatability and heartbreaking honesty. In some chapters, she includes lightly disparaging poetry about her weight, which she wrote through the years. And lest the takeaway be lost in the tale, most chapters conclude with a list of helpful hints, including how to stay motivated, find the right gym, and deal with inevitable setbacks. She ends her story with personal recommendations for easy-prep meals and a summarizing list of healthy living do's and don'ts.
Critique: An extraordinary blend of 'real world practical' advice, humorous personal anecdotes, and thoroughly 'user friendly' meal preparation suggestions, "I'm Lazy and I Love to Eat" will prove to be a unique, immediate, and enduringly popular addition to community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "I'm Lazy and I Love to Eat" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.49).
Take Your Shot, Make Your Play!
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781532049873, $10.99, PB, 80pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: John Saintignon, one of the NCAAs most accomplished basketball players, shares how pursuing his passion has led him to success. Left for adoption at a church in Mexico as an infant, he was adopted by a loving and supportive family in Arizona that acknowledged and encouraged his skills and love of sports. The lessons from his life story will help you: Turn failures into comeback opportunities. Focus on the things you control. Cultivate the confidence you need to succeed. Saintignon, who led the entire nation in scoring in 1985/86, averaging 31.2 points per game at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is proof that it doesn't matter where you start in life its all about where you are going. From the streets of a neighborhood where kids rarely went to college to professional basketball courts throughout the world, youll learn lessons to succeed as an athlete, in business, and in life in this inspiring memoir.
Critique: Part personal memoir, part self-help inspirational, "Take Your Shot, Make Your Play!: A Coach's Key to Finding Success on and Off the Court" by John Saintignon is a quick and easy read but one that is life affirming and 'feel-good' inspirational from beginning to end. While especially and enthusiastically recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that John Saintignon's "Take Your Shot, Make Your Play!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.03).
Smile! Be Happy!
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781987621778, $14.99, PB, 94pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Being a housewife is challenging -- managing a home, assisting a husband in business, and raising four children, not to mention taking care of yourself, which is the focus and heart of Angela LaRosa's inspirational book -- "Smile! Be Happy!: Life Lessons from an Uncommon Housewife ".
Since losing her mother as a child, Angela has brought hope and optimism to every aspect of her life. And with her bold and durable commitment to God, she enjoys a life of beautiful fulfillment, and now proudly shares what she has learned along the way.
Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Smile! Be happy!" is deftly crafted and life-enhancing joy to read from first page to last. Exceptionally well written, entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Smile! Be Happy!" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Smile! Be Happy!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Religion/Spirituality Shelf
Finding God in Ordinary Time
Christine Marie Eberle
Green Place Books
9781732081536, $19.95, PB, 120pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Christine Eberle is a passionate explorer of the connections between Scripture, spirituality, and everyday life. Her 25-year career as a college campus minister has given her countless opportunities to ask her favorite question - Where is God in all this? - and to listen for answers in surprising places. Christine is a church cantor and gifted public speaker, offering talks and retreats; she also performs dramatic monologues of Biblical women. In person and on the page, Christine desires not only to feed the faithful, but also to offer nourishment to people skeptical or weary of religion. Her website is https://christine-marie-eberle.com
In the pages of "Finding God in Ordinary Time", she takes an insightful inquiry into life including the commonplace, joyful, and even heartbreaking events, and thereby discovering the presence of God, hidden in plain sight.
Forget bowing your head and closing your eyes. The secret to prayer is what happens when you're not trying to pray.
Containing a true story and a nugget of spiritual insight, accompanied by thought-provoking questions and a memorable Scripture quote, "Finding God in Ordinary Time" reveals a God who is playful and affectionate, merciful and compassionate, and always relevant. Warm, accessible, and surprisingly funny, Christine offers spiritual nourishment to people skeptical or weary of religion, while still giving the faithful something to chew on.
Simple enough to be devoured in one sitting, this intimate little book is best enjoyed slowly. Each piece deserves to be savored and revisited through the unfolding of each ordinary, extraordinary day.
Critique: How can everyday people connect with God amid the 24/7 demands of the modern world? "Finding God in Ordinary Time" is extraordinary, life affirming, inspired and inspiring, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, church, and community library Contemporary Religion & Spirituality collections. Highly recommended.
The Health/Medicine Shelf
Cancer, I Love You
Alexandre Rushenas, M.D.
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781483487342, $18.96, PB, 164pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The word Cancer is one of the most traumatic and devastating medical words for humankind. It carries so many preconceived notions that it has become taboo to utter it aloud among patients who suffer from it, provoking enormous emotional reactions that are a source of anxiety, fear, anger and a loss of control over one's own life.
In "Cancer, I Love You", Dr Alexandre Rushenas opens our eyes toward a new way of seeing not only the world but of interacting with our body and that collection of diseases grouped under the medical term Cancer.
By discovering a new theory and learning about the existence of a powerful means of communication between us and our cells, Dr Rushenas gives cancer sufferers an unprecedented tool that will help bring new meaning to the word Cancer and eliminate the negative ideas and emotions that it currently evokes.
Critique: Impressively informative and ultimately inspiring, "Cancer, I Love You" is a unique, exceptionally well organized, and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Health & Medicine collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of medical students, cancer patients, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Cancer, I Love You" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
The Poetry Shelf
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781983664717, $14.00, PB, 102pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Unopened," an intriguing volume of previously published and unpublished poetry, is Doug Hoekstra's latest and third book. Among its fifty-seven selections, the reader will find poems that rhyme, poems that don't, prose poems, sedokas, and yes, even an obligatory sonnet. Some are personal; some are societal. Some look inward, some look outward. Throughout the reader is invited to connect and reflect.
"Unopened" is divided into three selections to allow the works to cross-pollinate and the reader to choose his or her adventure -- "On the Page" (themes close to home), "Off the Canvas" (out in to the world), and "Between the Notes" (the space between, the indefinable). Hoekstra's introduction sets the tone for this journey, but the reader sets the course.
"Unopened" also features Hoekstra's original artwork on the front and back covers, taken from a series of collages created to reflect the content of the book. As he says in the afterword, the art and prose both reveal themselves "as a collection of fragments (memory, imagination, anticipation) broken, reassembled, and made whole".
Taken as that entity, "Unopened" is a worthy addition to Hoekstra's body of work, living somewhere between the "five-minute worlds" of his song writing canon and the short and long fiction of his prose writing.
Critique: An inherently engaging, entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from a unique and impressively talented word smith of an author, "Unopend" is unreservedly recommended and will prove to be a valued and enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Literature & Poetry collections.
The Cookbook Shelf
Shelley Onderdonk & Rebecca Bloom
Claws Out Press
9780997585438, $17.99, PB, 110pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A culinary compendium showcasing easy, thrifty recipes for 'Food-Smart Living', Sheely Onderdonk's and Rebecca Bloom's "The Anti-Cookbook" inverts the idea that cooking is simply about following a recipe.
Whereas the "cookbook" approach to making a given dish is a method of completing a step-by-step instructional task and typically implies a mundane, thoughtless process, "The Anti-Cookbook" seeks to do the opposite -- to inspire readers to think creatively about making meals and independently about the deeper issues surrounding food and nourishment.
For those kitchen cook chefs seeking locally sourced ingredients and wholesome recipes that their families can sit down to in terms of a homemade meal instead of dialing one up or paying someone else to precook the ingredients for that meal, or have found themselves too often eating out of a bag or ordering up take-out, "The Anti-Cookbook" will enable them and their loved ones to cook better, eat right, and be well!
Critique: With thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes ranging from Shortcut Rice Pudding; Oatmeal-Chocolate-Chip Cookies; and Shrimp Bruschettini; to Lentil Salad; Granola; and Stir-Fried Vegetables, "The Anti-Cookbook" is replete with practical advice and culinary insights tips on saving time and money; planning meals a week at a time; kitchen basics in terms of spices, tools, and small appliances, and more! While an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, family, and community library cookbook collections, it should be noted that "The Anti-Cookbook" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The World History Shelf
Jeffrey B. Miller
9780990689386 $24.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: The true story of young, untested American volunteers who entered German-occupied Belgium to attempt what had never been done before -- save an entire nation from starvation that was trapped in the middle of a world war. One of America's greatest humanitarian efforts is little-known today. WWI Crusaders brings the past to life by telling the personal stories behind the facts in an as-it's-happening style.
During WWI (1914-1918), the American-led Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB) initiated, organized, and supervised the largest food relief program the world had ever seen. The CRB and its Belgian counterpart, the Comite National (CN), fed for four years nearly 10 million Belgians and northern French trapped behind German lines. The relief efforts faced huge logistical challenges, international intrigues, and internal conflicts between the leaders of the CRB and CN.
Young, idealistic Americans volunteered to go into German-occupied Belgium to guarantee the relief food would not be taken by the Germans. These humanitarian crusaders, known as CRB delegates, had to maintain strict neutrality as they watched the Belgians suffer under the harsh German regime. They also had to deal with a faction of Belgians who resented the Americans' presence and tried to limit their authority.
WWI Crusaders is the first book for general readers that tells in one volume the interlacing stories of German brutality, Belgian resistance, and the young Americans who went into German-occupied Belgium. The situation in German-occupied Belgium during the war caused a tumbling together of extraordinary people into a chain reaction of life-and-death situations far from the trenches and killing fields of World War I. And hanging in the balance were millions of civilian lives.
Through lively personal stories, this nonfiction book follows a handful of young CRB delegates, a 22-year-old Belgian woman, two American diplomats, the leaders of a Belgian underground newspaper, and the founder of the CRB, who would become known to the world as the Great Humanitarian. His name was Herbert C. Hoover.
The book covers from the beginning of the war to May 1917, when the last Americans left Belgium because of America's April entry into the war. An extensive epilogue wraps up all major stories and people through the end of the war and beyond.
Critique: WWI Crusaders is the extraordinary true story of the American-led Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB), which in 1914-1917 organized and supervised the largest food relief the world had ever seen at the time. Their humanitarian mission to keep nearly 10 million Belgians and Northern French from starving behind German lines. Author Jeffrey Miller, himself the grandson of a CRB delegate grandfather and a Belgian grandmother who worked to provide milk to the children of Antwerp, draws upon ten years of extensive research into this little-remembered, lifesaving organization - which owed its inception to former President Herbert Hoover. It was a massively difficult execution of logistics to buy, ship, and distribute the food, and military forces on both sides of the conflict strived to shut the operation down. WWI Crusaders is a welcome contribution to public library World History shelves, highly recommended. It should also be noted for personal reading lists that WWI Crusaders is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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