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Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9781480949911, $17.00, PB, 236pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Named for the British warrior queen of the first century, Boudicca is an advanced sailing vessel that is sent out by governmental authorities to fight modern-day piracy on the high seas.
Comprised of high adventures, murky intrigues, and thrilling battles, "Boudicca" is author Lee Sheffield's exciting new novel that pays a very special tribute to the "women and men that have given the ultimate in the line of duty as EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal).
Although a work of fiction, there is a 'real world' underpinning of fact reflecting these public spirits people who exhibit the epitome of what it is to be in the field and the philosophy of risk so that the mission can proceed and that lives will be saved.
Critique: Written by an author with a notably distinctive narrative storytelling style that holds the readers rapt attention from beginning to end, "Boudicca" is certain to be a valued and appreciated addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Boudicca" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Nobody Else's Business
Beverly Hurwitz, M.D.
9781947459243, $12.95, PB, 276pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It was in the 2008 election season that the culture war between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice factions became so intense, that one organization is scheming to cause unintended pregnancies in the families of Pro-Life politicians, while another encourages its followers to bomb clinics and cut off the hands of doctors who perform abortions.
The conflict gets much more personal for the family of Congressman Mark Wagner. His fourteen-year-old daughter, Pamela, fending for herself while her parents were preoccupied, had insufficient knowledge to avoid pregnancy.
Senator Roger Evans's seventeen-year-old daughter, Vivian, faithfully took her birth control pills, but as can happen, they failed. Both teenagers have fathers who are staunch Pro-Lifers. Both teens and their associates wind up in grave danger when conspirators expose their private dilemmas to the world.
"Nobody Else's Business" is political thriller explores the medical, religious, economic, and historical aspects of the abortion issue, as it draws the reader onto a frightening battleground where powerful forces resort to extraordinary weaponry to both preserve and eradicate the rights of humans to fully understand and manage their ability to procreate.
Critique: With a plot line that could be ripped from today's newspaper headlines as conservative states are in a pitched battle to overturn Roe v. Wade and return American women back to the absolute restrictions of the 1950s and the days of back street abortions that cost the lives of thousands of American women every year, "Nobody's Else's Business" could be considered more fact than fiction. While unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nobody's Else's Business" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.95).
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
Nobody Knows How to Write a Grammar Book Better Than Me
Jane Hanser, author
J. C. Duffy, illustrator
9780991514946, $29.95, HC, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Nobody Knows How to Write a Grammar Book Better Than Me: With Amazing Examples from Donald Trump" raises the bar for an English grammar book as it transports us through the great English language and the topsy-turvy world of Donald Trump's policies and predilections. With memorable (and not so memorable) examples of Donald Trump's use of English this unique book of grammar entertainingly guides the reader through grammar's complexities and makes them relevant and easy to understand using Donald Trump's distinctive verbal and twitter communication style.
"Nobody Knows How to Write a Grammar Book Better Than Me" provides accessible introduction to American English grammar for English users regardless of their skill levels: both native and ESL speakers. Every grammar principle is accompanied by several examples of Donald Trump -- both how to do it and how not to do it! In addition, exercises allow the reader to try the grammar principals themselves, which often means correcting Donald Trump's grammar, sentence structure and punctuation
Critique: Donald Trump is the perfect and very public example of the kind of functional illiteracy that emerges when someone who can read actually and chronically prefers not to. This is reflected in a seemingly limited vocabulary with which to describe things, people and events -- as well as the kinds of grammatical errors that, if in school, would result in very low grades on English exams.
Especially recommended as a unique addition to personal and academic library Writing/Publishing collections, "Nobody Knows How to Write a Grammar Book Better Than Me: With Amazing Examples from Donald Trump" is both instructively educational and inherently entertaining. It is in fact and substance a thoroughly 'learner friendly' textbook with a wealth of humourous examples reflected in the actual statements, both spoken and written, by Donald Trump. While controversial with respect to the subject used for illustrative and educational purposes, the grammar lessons and exercises comprising "Nobody Knows How to Write a Grammar Book Better Than Me: With Amazing Examples from Donald Trump" are sound, germane, pertinent and relevant for anyone with an interest in learning about the use of proper English grammar for the purpose of enhancing and facilitating their spoken and written communications
Editorial Note; Jane Hanser's roots as a teacher of English and English as a Second Language, and the developer of the popular software application Easy Writer: Interactive Software for Learners of English, and as a story-teller in her award-winning book Dogs Don't Look Both Ways come together in this funny, helpful and relevant guide through English grammar.
The renowned cartoonist, J.C. Duffy, whose works can be regularly seen in The New Yorker and whose comic strip The Fusco Brothers is nationally syndicated, contributes additional rewards for the reader through his satirical illustrations of Donald Trump quotes.
The Health/Medicine Shelf
Easy Sugar Break-Up
Lisa Hagan Books
9781945962158, $15.99, PB, 330pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Excessive consumption of sugar in all its forms (including simple carbohydrates, caffeine, alcohol) can lead to weight problems, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and other mental and physical disorders. Whatever your craving weakness, "Easy Sugar Break-Up: Break the Habits and Addictions That Control You" by Rena Greenber will give you the inner power, strategies and techniques you need to overcome it.
"Easy Sugar Breakup" will help you understand the psychological and physical basis of food addictions. Use specific, science-based affirmations, imagery, self-hypnosis, mindfulness and relaxation techniques to overcome any addiction. Use the newest tools to combat addiction, including a chapter on how pharmaceutical grade CBD can be used to cut cravings and improve your overall health.
Now anyone can develop a healthier, more satisfying lifestyle (without feeling deprived) with the Easy Sugar Breakup two-week detox program and proven sugar cancelling recipes.
Critique: Impressively and comprehensively informative, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Easy Sugar Break-Up: Break the Habits and Addictions That Control You" is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal, community, and academic library Health/Medicine collections in general, and weight-control/diabetes supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Easy Sugar Break-Up" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Rena Greenberg is the CEO of Wellness Seminars, Inc. and Founder of Rena's Organic, a medical grade, high potency CBD line. Since 1990, Rena's program has been reviewed and sponsored in over 75 hospitals and over 100 major corporations, including Walt Disney World, Home Depot and AT&T. She has conducted Weight Control and Smoking Cessation seminars for over 100,000 people. The success of Rena's popular and effective wellness and weight loss program has been featured in over 165 TV, newspaper and magazine stories, including on FOX-TV, CNN, Good Morning America, Nightline, The Doctor's Show, USA Today and Woman's World Magazine.
Yoga for Chronic Pain ... WTF?
Neoteric Movement Sytem
9780692122679, $14.95, PB, 200pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: If you're living with some type of chronic pain, at one point in your journey your doctor probably advised you to start doing yoga. And at one point you said, "WTF?" As in, "My doctor told me to do yoga. WTF? How is that going to help?"
Or maybe you've gone to a yoga class on your own because you read online that it would be good for your back. So, you went to a yoga studio and a typical class and you found yourself saying, "WTF? This is my first class. How the hell am I supposed to bend like that?"
Or you have gone to a yoga class, completed the class successfully only to get home and several hours or a day or two later, you're in more pain than when you went to the class! WTF? I thought the class was supposed to help me, not hurt me?
Relief from chronic pain with yoga is possible. In "Yoga for Chronic Pain ... WTF?: Take Control, Combat Pain & Rock Your Life", certified yoga therapist Samantha Parker explains how traditional poses can be modified, and gives readers keen insights into what is physically happening to the body while practicing yoga. She also dives deep into what is actually causing your chronic pain, so you can combat it at its true source!
Parker takes away the mystery and presents the practical side of yoga, so you can come away from a yoga session and implement what you did on your yoga mat that day for the rest of your day, week and possibly life.
Based on more than 5,000 hours teaching yoga and developing innovative movement therapies for critically injured soldiers, this book is for anyone who suffers from chronic conditions as: Lower back pain, hip problems, sciatica, and bad knees; Migraines and other headaches, stiff neck, fatigue; Sprained or weak ankles, and many foot ailments; Bursitis, tendinitis, and rotator cuff problems.
Critique: Chronic pain affects 100 million Americans, and appropriately engaged in, yoga can be a long-term viable alternative to addictive prescription drugs. Thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide that is impressively well organized and presented, "Yoga for Chronic Pain ... WTF?: Take Control, Combat Pain & Rock Your Life" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Alternative Medicine collections in general, and Yoga instructional supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Yoga for Chronic Pain...WTF?" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.97).
Dr. Thomas G. Obrien II
9781796370737, $12.99, PB, 105pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Dr. Thomas Obrien wrote "Medical Marijuana: Real-life success stories" specifically for anyone who is looking for a medical alternative when traditional treatments are inadequate for themselves or a loved one. It should be noted that "Medical Marijuana: Real-life success stories" is for educational purposes only -- and not a diagnosis or prescribed treatment for any given ill. Rather, what Dr. Obrien has done is to describe how his patients have benefited from the use of medical cannabis -- and how medical cannabis works in the body.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Medical Marijuana: Real-life success stories" is an extraordinary and valued contribution to our on-going national dialogue about the uses and benefits of medical cannabis. Impressively informative, "Medical Marijuana: Real-life success stories" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Alternative Medicine collections in general, and Medical Marijuana supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of medical students, physicians, academia, hospice personnel, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Medical Marijuana: Real-life success stories" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Physician Heal Yourself
Dr. Shola Ezeokoli
Balance with Dr. Shola, LLC
9781513644028, $25.00, PB, 141pp, https://sholaezeokoli.com
Synopsis: In "Physician Heal Yourself: 10 Remedies for a Complete Life Makeover for Doctors", Dr. Shola Ezeololi takes her readers, as medical professionals, from physical and emotional imbalance to balance; from dissatisfaction to fulfillment; and from a place of helter-skelter to a place of peaceful purpose.
"Physician Heal Yourself" takes a five-pillars-of-balance approach to radical self-care, in order to make physicians an aligned, happy, fulfilled, and successful doctors who have experienced a total make over in their ways of thinking, and which will help them to avoid burnout, save time, and direct their energy appropriately.
After all, as Dr. Shola Ezeokoli asserts to her fellow physicians -- if you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of anyone else. Saving the lives of others should not cost you your own.
Critique: Thoughtful, insightful, practical, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Physician Heal Yourself: 10 Remedies for a Complete Life Makeover for Doctors" is a unique and extraordinary self-help instructional guide and reference that is especially and particularly recommended to the attention of the medical community. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Physician Heal Yourself" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99, www.amazon.com).
The Parenting Shelf
For the Love of Me
J. J. Campagna
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781982213565, $8.99, PB, 98pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In this age of a sexual predator like Donald Trump being so overwhelmingly supported by Evangelical Christians, what has happened to family values? The hurried world we create for our children is so chaotic. These words woven together on the pages of "For the Love of Me: Parenting With Intention" will teach others to heal their hearts and minds with love. Indeed, "For the Love of Me" can be a beacon for those lost in the confusion of raising a child in these troubled and troubling times.
Critique: A quick and inspiring read, "For the Love of Me: Parenting With Intention" is unreservedly recommended reading for all parents seeking to instill in their children the values of their faith and an enduring love of the families they are born into and the families they will ultimately create for themselves. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "For the Love of Me" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.03).
The Environmental Studies Shelf
Our Changing Earth
9781794277199, $9.99, PB, 120pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Between the years 2030 and 2050, a quarter of a million people per year will lose their lives to climate change. Blazing temperatures and catastrophic weather are well-known climate change effects, but these simply do not compare with health-related effects: the transmission of water-borne and vector-borne disease.
Arjun Marwaha is a high school student with a passion for STEM who has committed himself to fostering an awareness for climate change among the youth of today. In "Our Changing Earth: Why Climate Change Matters to Young People", he delves into how our planet will be altered in response to climate change, and why this is relevant particularly to young people. Looking forward, Arjun hopes to promote awareness among all humans for the greatest threat to humanity in the 21st century and beyond: climate change.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Our Changing Earth: Why Climate Change Matters to Young People" is an information dense explanation of the projected effects of climate change and a welcome contribution to our present on-going national discussion on the urgency to combat climate change which not only threatens human civilization as we presently know it, but is a large factor in the current and 6th great extinction event in the history of planet Earth. While absolutely and unreservedly recommended for school and community library Environmental Studies collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, environmental activists, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers that "Our Changing Earth" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Fiction Shelf
Victoria Helen Stone
Lake Union Publishing
9781542093491, $24.95, HC, 280pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: For days, all of Denver, Colorado, has worried over the fate of a missing child, little Tanner Holcomb. Then, a miracle: handsome, athletic Johnny Bradley finds him, frightened but unharmed, on a hiking trail miles from his wealthy family's mountain home.
In a heartbeat, his rescuer goes from financially strapped fitness trainer to celebrated hero. The heat of the spotlight may prove too much for Johnny's picture-perfect family, however. His wife, Veronica, despises the pressure of the sudden fame, afraid that secrets and bitter resentments of her marriage may come to light. And she's willing to do anything to keep them hidden.
But when a shocking revelation exposes an even darker side to Tanner's disappearance, Veronica realizes that nothing in her life can be trusted -- and everything should be feared!
Critique: "False Step" aptly demonstrates author Victoria Helen Stone as a gifted novelist with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctive, reader engaging, narrative storytelling style. While False Step" is very highly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also available in a paperback edition (9781542041287, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Where Grass Grows High
Nancy Glenn Powell
Book Baby Publishers
9781543959642, $15.00, PB, 236pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: After Samuel realizes the war will reach his home, he and his wife hide supplies to sustain a large extended family through a long bitter civil war. He agonizes over his boys fighting on both sides, and over relatives that remain in the southeastern states of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia.
One evening, strangers stop at the farm, eat the family's supper, beat Samuel demanding that he hand over the money received for horses he sold, threaten to scalp Francis and kill the children, but he will not give them money. The next day Samuel and his two oldest daughters hide his money in green logs to keep it safe until after the war.
He worries about the thousands of widows and orphans left without husbands and fathers, and former slaves left without homes and the education to prepare them for a life away from the plantation.
Critique: A deftly crafted and inherently engaging read from cover to cover, "Where Grass Grows High: And Slavers' Hounds Don't Howl" is an extraordinary novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctive narrative storytelling style that readers with greatly appreciate. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Where Grass Grows High" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
J. J. Perry
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9781480989771, $19.00, PB, 274pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The author of "Malpractice", Dr. J. J. Perry completed cardiology training in the early 1980s as the field began to explode with advances. He acquired a very broad skill set in his career, which has made him desirable in smaller cities where such variety is appreciated. His wife has, as a nurse, seen him at work and heard a few of the thousands of expressions of gratitude to Dr. Perry for saving a life. She has also seen, up close and personal, the toll that a career in high-stress medicine extracts, something he has tried to convey in "Malpractice".
Critique: "Malpractice" is essentially a novel that, although a work of fiction, is one that shows true-life insights into the dynamics of a malpractice lawsuit and the bitter tensions between doctors and lawyers. Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'reader engaging' throughout, "Malpractice" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.
The Light from the Dark Side of the Moon
Norman G. Gautreau
Blank Slate Press
9781943075614, $28.00, HC, 300pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: 92-year-old Henry Budge defies most of his family by escaping a rehab hospital to make his way to France for the ceremonies of the 70th observance of D-Day. Before he dies, he hopes to at last address a grief he has allowed to simmer for decades and to rekindle memories of Elodie Bedier, the French Resistance fighter with whom he fell in love 70 years earlier, as a way of confronting his grief at losing her.
During his return journey, he relives events of 1944: being wounded as he parachutes into Normandy; falling in love with Elodie who nurses him back to health; fighting the Germans alongside her and her resistance companions; and finally abandoning the war to rescue a group of children from the Holocaust, choices that leave Henry at risk of a firing squad for desertion and Elodie vulnerable to fatal condemnation from her compatriots.
When he arrives back in France, Henry makes several shocking discoveries that shake the very foundations of the memories he's had of Elodie all these years and he is left to wonder about the love he has had for Elodie: what rests on true memory vs. what is based on countless imagined conversations over the decades?
Critique: An inherently fascinating and original novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a storytelling style that engages and holds the reader from first page to last, "The Light from the Dark Side of the Moon" by Norman G. Gautreau is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Light from the Dark Side of the Moon" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Batter's Box
Warriors Publishing Group
9781944353223, $35.99, HC, 324pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Batter's Box" is the story of Will Jamison, a star player with the Washington Senators who enlists in the U.S. Army following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When the war ends, Jamison returns to Washington, a decorated hero tormented by deep emotional scars.
Burdened with a crushing guilt and harrowing memories he cannot escape, Jamison's life is consumed by an explosive temper, sleepless nights, and a gradual descent into alcoholism. He must also navigate public misconceptions about mental illness in the 1940s, and stigmas that often silenced those who suffered and drove veterans like Jamison into dark corners.
Will Jamison continue on, alone with his anguish and misery? Or will he level with those around him, including the woman he loves, and seek the professional care he desperately needs, even at the risk of exposing his secrets and shame?
Critique: Author Andy Kutler has a deft knack for the kind of entertaining narrative storytelling that firmly grips the readers attention from first page to last that is particularly impressive when considering that "The Batter's Box" is his debut as a novelist. A truly memorable read from cover to cover, "The Batter's Box" certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Batter's Box" is also available in a paperback edition (9781944353216, $15.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Revival on King Street
Two Fish Enterprises
9781641112475, $13.99, PB, 294pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Charlie Finley had an idyllic life. At 23 years old, she was married to her childhood sweetheart, was a successful real estate agent and lived in the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina. Some days she wondered if she should pinch herself because it was such a dream. But sometimes when things seem too good to be true, they often are, and Charlie's perfect life came crashing down around her when she walked in on her husband, Joe, on top of his secretary in their bed.
Two years later, single and a successful interior designer, Charlie was celebrating the high-profile remodel of her parent's Bed and Breakfast, Southern Lady Inn, with her two best friends, Everleigh and Chase. The unveiling of the newly refurbished inn was the talk of Charleston high society and all of the movers and shakers were at the party toasting Charlie's success. Charlie felt like everything was finally clicking for her again, she even had the inside track on a brand-new condominium conversion in the heart of downtown that would take her business, Whimsical Designs to a whole new level. As she slid into one of her parent's guest rooms to catch her breath and take a break from all the well-meaning guests, she never expected the heart racing encounter that would change everything.
Luke Coleman didn't care about being Charleston's most eligible bachelor. His heart and soul belonged to the business he had built with his best friend Ethan and more importantly, to the apartment community they had just acquired in the hottest part of downtown. He had big plans for his little piece of historic Charleston and no one was going to get in the way of his success.
Luke loved women and he especially loved to walk away after an evening of mutually satisfying consensual fun. Nearly every mother in Charleston society had tried to throw their beautiful single daughters his way and he had no interest. So when he wandered into one of the guestrooms at the Southern Lady Inn relaunch party, he never expected to have his world rocked by just one kiss. The last thing he was looking for was a complicated relationship, but that was before he laid his eyes on one fiery redhead. Suddenly, both his brand-new project and the heart he worked so hard to protect were at the mercy of Charlotte Finley.
Critique: A deftly crafted and thoroughly entertaining novel by a master of the romance genre, Suzie Webster's "Revival On King Street" is certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Romance collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated romance fiction fans that "Revival On King Street" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Dance with Honey
C. M. Harold
c/o Palmetto Publishing Group
9781641113465, $24.99, HC, 230pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Helen is an unfulfilled woman. After nearly thirty years of marriage, the passion is gone. Even worse, her husband, Walt, has a wandering eye, which she discovers when she stumbles upon risque photos of other women on his phone. Desperate to reignite the spark, she soon finds herself doing things she never dreamed possible.
Brenner and Irving are two gay men living their best lives. Handsome, professional, and deeply in love, they plan to marry soon. But when the sexual overtures of a coworker dredge up the emotional trauma of Irving's past, he becomes consumed with the urge to push past his sexual boundaries -- and his new desire has the potential to shake his relationship with Brenner to its core. Brenner will do almost anything to keep Irving happy, including the unthinkable -- but when a perfectly wrapped package lands at the door, his long-forgotten past gets stirred up, and nothing will ever be the same.
All three will learn that no matter what your intentions, when you open yourself up to new experiences, life has a way of upending in ways you never expected. Because everything changes when you dance with honey!
Critique: A multilayered and impressively reader engaging novel populated by deftly crafted and memorable characters embedded in an interwoven storyline with more plot twists and turns than a Disney Land roller coaster, "Dance with Honey" clearly showcases author C. M. Harold's natural flair for originality and a distinctive narrative storytelling style. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dance with Honey" is also available in a paperback edition (9781641112819, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Only Ever Her
Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Lake Union Publishing
9781503903890, $14.95, PB, 298pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Annie Taft's wedding is four days away, and it will be one of the grandest anyone can remember in her small South Carolina town. Preparations are in order. Friends and family are gathering in anticipation. Everything is going according to plan. Except that Annie herself has vanished. Did she have second thoughts? Or has something much worse happened to the bride-to-be?
While her loved ones frantically try to track her down, they're forced to grapple with their own secrets -- secrets with the power to reframe entire relationships, leaving each to wonder how well they really knew Annie and how well they know themselves.
Critique: An inherently fascinating, page-turner of a read by an author with an impressively skilled narrative storytelling style, "Only Ever Her" by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen is an especially recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Only Ever Her" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio: 9781721367443, $14.99, CD).
Farewell My Life: Buona Notte Vita Mia
Cynthia Sally Haggard
9781092730754, $23.99, PB, 585pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When Angelina, the black sheep of the Pagano family, meets the mysterious Mr. Russell, she has no idea that she has seen him before -- in another country. And so begins "Farewell My Life," a novel in three parts, which spins an operatic tale of dangerous love and loss.
"The Lost Mother", the first part of this novel, slices back and forth between time and space, opening in the charming village of Georgetown, Washington D.C. while reflecting a family's troubled past in the lovely village of Marostica in the Italian Veneto.
"An Unsuitable Suitor," the second part of the novel, is a Cinderella style tale with there being a not-so-charming princes who inhabit the edgy setting of 1920s Berlin.
"Farewell My Life," the third part of the novel, set again in Berlin, Germany, during the dark 1930s as the Nazis gain power, takes comfortable lives, assumptions and civilizations and crumbles them into ash.
And all of this revolves around Grace, Angelina's younger daughter, whose fabulous talent for the violin promises a shimmering career.
Critique: A unique, deftly scripted, and extraordinary novel by an author with a distinctive narrative storytelling style that will hold the readers dedicated attention from beginning to end, "Farewell My Life: Buona Notte Vita Mia" is an impressive and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. One of those rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Farewell My Life: Buona Notte Vita Mia" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Wrath of God
Verne R. Albright
c/o L&R Publishing
9781555719296, $15.95, PB, 332pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Henning Dietzel's attempt to rebuild his businesses (which was destroyed by a massive tidal wave) is complicated by a desire to also enjoy a satisfying personal life. Quick to recognize opportunity, he amasses an agricultural empire the size of a small country. But his fortunes rise and fall during three disastrous wars followed by struggles with an unscrupulous competitor, a crooked judge, and a slave trader.
All the while he doggedly courts Martine Prado, a feisty, beautiful, seemingly unattainable Peruvian aristocrat whose liberation is a century ahead of its time. Henning accepts her proposal of a mutually advantageous marriage, which combines their haciendas. Rocky at first, the relationship improves until an astonishing, out-of-nowhere answer to Henning's prayers threatens to destroy it.
Critique: "The Wrath of God" is the sequel to author Verne Albright's "Playing Chess With God". This deftly crafted novel of ambition is an inherently entertaining and reader engaging read from beginning to end. While especially recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Wrath of God" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Hugo Moreno & Kasia Moreno
9781090111326, $11.99, PB, 263pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: New York in the booming 1990s is a cauldron of ambition, and the business magazine arrogant enough to call itself The Magazine sits at the nexus of money, media and power. When guilt-ridden reporter Rebecca Morgan sets out to avenge her father by planting fake stories, she doesn't realize that other players in this game -- especially rival reporters like her friend Helen, who has a billionaire fiancee to protect, and Kimmie, the billionaire's disgruntled love child -- have their own agendas. "The Magazine" is a fast-paced thriller of a story about journalists behaving badly and ultimately unravels a dark tangle of greed, resentment and betrayal.
Critique: The husband and wife team of Hugo and Kasia Moreno each have a couple of decades of experience working at financial magazines such as Forbes and SmartMoney. They currently run McParlin Partners, a thought leadership, strategic research and content firm. Clearly their years of professional experience have enabled them to infuse a clear sense of authenticity into their collaboratively written novel of journalism, high finance, and human foibles. While highly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Magazine" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
9781999497026, $26.33, HC, 584pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In 1972, Dr. Rose Hemmings has just finished her general surgery residency when a haunted stranger is shot in front of her in a New York City bar, and their lives become forever intertwined. And when, having been given the blessing of her adoptive father on his deathbed, Rose travels to prerevolutionary Iran to discover the past her American family kept secret from her, she finds a true Pandora's box.
It is a world both foreign and familiar, in which her primary place is as the heiress to a great tribe. In Iran, Rose will find family she never dreamed of, her own people, and a man who loves her as passionately as he does the rare black roses of his garden. She will return to the United States carrying a new secret and torn between two men: the one she loves helplessly, and the one who loves her unconditionally.
Woven throughout with Persian poetry ancient and modern, "On Loving" is the story of one woman's lifetime of love and loss, of societal change in a nomadic people, and of overcoming personal challenges, including mental and physical health, to find true contentment. Above all, it is a story of love: its physiology, psychology and philosophy; the many forms it takes; its myths and truths; its challenges, its joys and its gifts.
Critique: The author of "On Loving", novelist Lili Naghdi is an Iranian Canadian physician who was born and raised in Tehran. This personal background has endowed her saga of a novel with an authenticity and background detail that another writer would not be able to include. A deftly written and thoroughly engaging read from beginning to end, "On Loving" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "On Loving" is also available in a paperback edition (9781999497002, $18.80) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).
The Rosie Result
Text Publishing Company
9781925773828, $16.99, PB, 386pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Don and Rosie are about to face their most important project while their son, Hudson, is having trouble at school: his teachers say he isn't fitting in with the other kids, and they'd like Don and Rosie to think about getting an autism assessment.
As his parents debate whether a diagnosis might help or hinder, Hudson has his own ideas. Meanwhile, Rosie is battling Judas at work, and Don is in hot water after the Genetics Lecture Outrage. The life-contentment graph, recently at its highest point, is curving downwards.
For Don Tillman, geneticist and World's Best Problem-Solver, learning to be a good parent as well as a good partner will require the help of friends old and new. It will mean letting Hudson make his way in the world, and grappling with awkward truths about his own identity -- and opening a cocktail bar!
Critique: Treating autism with a genuine comedic flair, "The Rosie Result" is an extraordinarily well written and reader engaging novel by an author with a genuine flair for a fully entertaining narrative creativity. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Rosie Result" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Have You Seen Luis Velez?
Catherine Ryan Hyde
Lake Union Publishing
9781542042369, $14.95, PB, 320pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Raymond Jaffe feels like he doesn't belong. Not with his mother's new family. Not as a weekend guest with his father and his father's wife. Not at school, where he's an outcast. After his best friend moves away, Raymond has only two real connections: to the feral cat he's tamed and to a blind ninety-two-year-old woman in his building who's introduced herself with a curious question: Have you seen Luis Velez?
Mildred Gutermann, a German Jew who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been alone since her caretaker disappeared. She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two.
Despondent at the loss of Luis, Mildred isolates herself further from a neighborhood devolving into bigotry and fear. Determined not to let her give up, Raymond helps her see that for every terrible act the world delivers, there is a mirror image of deep kindness, and Mildred helps Raymond see that there's hope if you have someone to hold on to.
Critique: A deftly crafted novel with an underlying message about the power of simple kindness, "Have You Seen Luis Velez?" by Catherine Ryan Hyde is a thoroughly engaging read from first page to last. While very highly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Have You Seen Luis Velez?" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781721378364, $14.99, CD).
Lion Valley Publishing
9781732991002 $14.99 pbk / $3.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: As the Civil War rages on, President Lincoln desperately seeks a commander to defeat the seemingly invincible Confederate general, Robert E. Lee, whose army has invaded Pennsylvania. Lincoln turns to the Old Snapping Turtle, General George Meade--a courageous man with remarkable integrity and a fiery temper--to save the Union during its greatest time of need.
Just three days later, Meade confronts Lee's troops at Gettysburg, resulting in the bloodiest and most dramatic battle of the war. Delivering a glorious victory, General Meade vanquishes the Confederate Army, forcing a retreat south.
But for Meade, the battle is far from over. At first heralded as a hero who turned the tide of the war, he falls victim to a nefarious smear campaign that threatens to ruin his reputation and his career. The general is forced to muster all his strength to persevere against an onslaught of political attacks, all while leading the Army of the Potomac and serving his superiors: General Ulysses S. Grant and President Lincoln.
A compelling work of historical fiction, General Meade: A Novel of the Civil War paints an engrossing picture of an unsung American hero. Filled with primary sources, including letters written by Meade himself, the narrative uses firsthand accounts to reveal fascinating details of life in a nation dangerously divided.
Critique: General Meade: A Novel of the Civil War is a riveting saga of war, violence, crisis, and partisan attacks. The story follows a war hero of the Union who falls victim to a fake news campaign designed to drag his name through the mud. Told through first-hand accounts, General Meade is riveting from cover to cover and highly recommended especially for Civil War Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that General Meade is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).
Make It Concrete
9781944453084, $16.00, PB, 232pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Isabel Toledo's publisher is getting impatient. An American living in the Galilee, Isabel has been telling other people's stories for twenty years as a professional ghostwriter for Holocaust survivors. But her latest project has bogged her down in a way no other has. Barking dogs, a clerk asking for her papers, a shadowy figure glimpsed in the streets of Prague. The stories are slipping out of her control, collapsing boundaries between past and present.
Isabel has two grown daughters and a seven-year-old son to keep her grounded. She has an official boyfriend who wants to be more than that, a young lover who understands her demons, and another man on the side in Prague. But the temporary relief she finds in their arms is not enough to keep the ghosts at bay.
And the story she most wants to uncover, her own mother's ordeal, defies all efforts to be brought to light. Why won't her mother share her story? Why has her father's story, which was never even on Isabel's radar, inserted itself unwanted into her life? Isabel wants concrete realities. She needs to slam the brakes on using the Holocaust as her measuring stick in the world.
Critique: A deftly crafted novel of multilayered complexity, "Make It Concrete' showcases author Miryam Sivan's genuine flair for an impressively original and a reader engaging narrative storytelling style. An inherently fascinating read, "Make It Concrete" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Make It Concrete" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Rattlesnake & Son
9781932926668, $17.95, PB, 344pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: His long-lost son was the last person Dan Shepard, the Rattlesnake Lawyer, expected to meet when he was ordered to be at the courthouse in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Poor fourteen-year old Marley might even be psychic. With his special abilities, Marley can help Dan take his local practice statewide. Rattlesnake & Son could be the next great New Mexico law firm.
Unfortunately, things go exceedingly wrong at school for Marley and he is charged with some very serious crimes. The Rattlesnake Lawyer now has to represent his son in his wildest trial yet. When he learns the truth about his son, Dan and Marley will have to face some extremely dangerous consequences.
Critique: A deftly crafted and compulsively entertaining novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctive narrative storytelling style, "Rattlesnake & Son" by Jonathan Miller is an unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rattlesnake & Son" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Consequence of Murder
Michael J. Young
9781882383627, $20.00, PB, 248pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Deep in the research labs of University Hospital, a biochemical engineer has developed a new material that he designed to behave in a specific biological manner. The co-developer of this product is a renowned surgeon with an impeccable reputation, using it for the first time on his patients.
A large pharmaceutical company engaged in opioid manufacturing and marketing, is attempting to promote the sale of its product to unscrupulous doctors -- a whistle-blower in the drug industry unravels a pattern of illegal drug-promotion, and becomes an innocent target.
These seemingly separate events become linked through deception, manipulation and intrigue within a hospital environment that makes us all unnerved. It is both entertaining and frightening to read how vulnerable we can all be as patients. Murder, money and greed come together with a seemingly untraceable method of death.
Critique: An inherently riveting read from cover to cover, "Consequence of Murder" is a deftly crafted compulsive page-turner of novel by an author who is a master of the mystery genre. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "Consequence of Murder" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
9781732504059, $19.95, PB, 512pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Kate Morgan is on an Orange line train when it is bombed. Phillip Barnes has made his attacks on the nation's capital personal. Thirteen Across is an ominous sign of the events to come. Kate finds herself thrust into the center of a grander conspiracy.
Barnes reveals an unfolding puzzle -- its challenge charts a course, one that expires at midnight. Puzzle solutions and destinations expose a dark past built on illegal human research and a quest for the Perfect People Initiative. Kate must log the tours. She's charged with saving those that she can. If she survives, the final destination is a place for Kate to atone for her past sins. She's murdered a killer's family, and there are consequences for that.
The FBI brings in real-life puzzlemaster, Will Shortz, to riddle out stops, while Kate works the frontlines to save seven victims. Each stop is meant to cause pain and torment, yet reveal secrets.
The clock starts at the Foggy Bottom Metro station and ends seven stops later. What Kate thinks she knows about her past is tested as is her ability to survive her trials!
Critique: A deftly and subtly crafted suspense thriller of a read by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a thoroughly reader engaging narrative storytelling style, Dan Grant's "Thirteen Across: A Puzzle with a Violent Solution" is unreservedly recommended -- especially for community library Suspense/Thriller Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Thirteen Across" is also available in a paperback edition (Mindscape Press, 9781732504059, $19.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Big City Press
9781949751024, $15.95, PB, 376pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Special Forces veteran Pono Hawkins races from a Tahiti surfing contest to France when he learns that an ISIS terrorist he'd thought was dead, Mustafa al-Boudienne, has an Iranian backpack nuclear weapon and plans to destroy Paris. Pono was once Mustafa's prisoner in Iraq and is now the only one left alive to identify him.
When Pono reaches Paris he finds that his closest comrade has been kidnapped, and that the date to destroy the city is fast approaching. Joining forces with allies from US and French intelligence, and with a fearless and brilliant French agent, Anne Ronsard, with whom he soon falls in love, Pono sets out against impossible odds to catch and kill Mustafa and his terrorist cell before they can destroy the most beautiful city on earth.
As they dig deeper into the terrorist networks, their own lives are more and more endangered, while the terrorists change tactics again and again to outwit them as the time to save the city runs out.
Critique: Another non-stop thriller of a novel by a master of the genre, "Goodby Paris" is author Mike Bond's latest Pono Hawkins adventure. Deftly crafted with more plot twists and turns than a Disney Land roller coaster, "Goodbye Paris" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Action/Adventure Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Goodby Paris" is also available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).
The Red Carpet at Cannes
9781097989683, $15.99, PB, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Hollywood New Times film critic Ryan Hackbart is whisked down the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, dragged in by the French National Police as a suspect in the murder of the lead actress of the festival's opening-night film.
Interrogated but released, Ryan is still considered a prime suspect. His passport confiscated, and now hounded by the world media, Ryan's movie-mind clues him that he is the fall guy in a Hitchcock-like thriller - he must solve the murder before the culprit kills him or the police arrest him.
Aided by an indomitable female companion, Delisha, Ryan's investigation thrusts him inside the most glamorous film festival in the world and opens his eyes to what is underneath Cannes' red carpet. He's engulfed into a dangerous maelstrom of celebrity, high-fashion, egos, fake news, Russian billionaires and ruthless wannabees.
Critique: A 'Murder at the Movies Mystery', "The Red Carpet at Cannes" by Duane Byrge is a blend of romance and whodunnit mystery against a backdrop of the glitz, intrigue, and romance of one of the world's most famous film festivals. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections as an inherently riveting page-turner of a suspense thriller, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs that "The Red Carpet at Cannes" is also available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
God Awful Rebel
Three Points Publishing
9780986320781, $18.99, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Cupid's star is rising high. The once-banished god of love has more street cred than ever, thanks to twice saving the kingdom. He's been declared heir to Olympus and aims to wed the girl of his dreams. But enemies of the gods taste blood in the air, and a swarm of saboteurs come slithering in.
When three snake-haired sisters turn out to be not as dead as everyone thought and lay siege to the heavens, they threaten all that Cupid holds dear. Add a goddess fighting to hide the truth, and ancient elementals bent on revenge, and there might not be any world left to save.
Cupid, though, has a secret of his own, one even he doesn't know. Will he discover it in time? Can the heir apparent and his fragmented forces crush this new danger under heel? Or is the venom coursing too deep? Only a charmer like Cupid can unwind these dangerous coils.
Critique: The third volume in author S. Acevedo's 'God Awful' series of fantasy novels, "God Awful Rebel" is an inherently riveting read with more plot twists and turns than a Disney Land roller coaster ride. Along with the first two titles in this simply outstanding series ("God Awful Loser", 9780986320705, $18.00 HC, $2.99 and "God Awful Thief" 978-0986320736, $18.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle), "God Awful Rebel" is especially and unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.
The Legend of the Phantom Effect
John Henry Hardy
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480870611, $17.99, PB, 234pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Harpie Colcek is a nosy newspaper reporter, whose task is to write an article on a strange blip that appears on the North American Air Defense's radar screen each Christmas Eve. The radar techs call it Santa's Ghost, and Harpie is disappointed until he realizes it is not a ghost at all. He inadvertently discovers the landing site of a space ship, and when he sneaks aboard he is horrified to learn that the passengers and the commander are the only humanoids aboard. The crewmen are not humans. The passengers are from an advanced civilization that is fleeing the planet Rau because its sun is dying, and they are kept in suspended animation inside of what looks like coffins to Harpie.
Critique: A unique and thoroughly entertaining story that will especially delight all dedicated science fiction fans, "The Legend of the Phantom Effect" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Science Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all SciFi buffs that "The Legend of the Phantom Effect" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.03).
Elfistra the Sorceress
9781790203826, $13.97, PB, 500pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Deep within a forest in the Northern areas of England, there is a deafening electrical crack! The hunters are thrown off their horses as a column of white light, a portal, opens up before them. A strange looking red arrow shoots out of the column and buries itself in the eye socket of one of the hunters. He is dead before he hits the ground. Hugo turns to run as more arrows zip past either side of his head. He trips and slides along the forest floor as he hears voices, in an unusual language he has never heard before, flood his head. Dazed, he picks himself up and notices some tall beings running towards him. Hugo notices the tops of their ears are pointed! One of the beings gestures towards Hugo and telepathically issues a command. Immediately a numbness begins to spread throughout Hugo's body as he collapses, semi-consciously back onto the forest floor. Two of the beings grab Hugo underneath his arms and roughly drag him back and into the column of white light. Why has this portal appeared? What danger does it bring to Earth and its inhabitants? What lies on the other side of the portal?
So begins "Elfistra the Sorceress", a new fantasy saga by Michael Ross in a series called 'The Wand Chronicles'.
Critique: With a thoroughly entertaining and carefully crafted fantasy world as a backdrop, "Elfistra the Sorceress" showcases author Michael Ross' thoroughly impressive flair for originality and distinctive narrative storytelling style. A thoroughly enjoyable and inherently riveting read with more unexpected plot twists and turns than a Disney Land roller coaster, "Elfistra the Sorceress" will leave its readers looking eagerly toward the next installment in 'The Wand Chronicles' saga. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated fantasy fans that "Elfistra the Sorceress" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.89).
The Self-Help Shelf
The Messy Joys of Being Human
Helen S. Rosenau
9781732533752, $17.00, PB, 264pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In or out of a relationship, job hunting or retiring, in a life transition, or wrestling with Big Questions, a joyful life can feel elusive. After two decades offering motivation, inspiration, support, and problem-solving as a life coach and in her Ask Your Jewish Fairy Godmother column, Helen Rosenau embraces the deeper, more complex struggles of fellow messy humans in the pages of "The Messy Joys of Being Human: A Guide to Risking Change and Becoming Happier".
This compendium of insightful commentary and counsel will help you find joy in the journey of change. Through stories from her life and advice columns, plus insights, writing prompts, coaching, and cheerleading, Rosenau walks the walk towards self-knowing with you. She'll help you get brave enough to risk change, toss old crap that keeps you from making progress, and create more happiness in your life.
"The Messy Joys of Being Human" offers you tools to create a life very much worth living -- despite all the inherent chaos, confusion, and ambiguity that comes with being alive in the world today.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Messy Joys of Being Human: A Guide to Risking Change and Becoming Happier" is an extraordinary and life-enhancing read that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. "The Messy Joys of Being Human" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
Quit Ruminating and Brooding
9781728381138, $25.78, HC, 140pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Why can we not quit worrying and ruminating? Even though we want to quit ruminating, we spend a considerable amount of time doing it, days as well as sleepless nights. All in all, we can spend months and years of our lives ruminating and brooding, even though it only makes us feel worse. Why did I say that? Why did I not get that job? Why did he get a bigger raise than me? Don't they like me? Kind advice from friends, and even from therapists, often contributes to making ruminations worse, rather than decreasing them. For instance, to use distraction in order to stop rumination can be relieving in the moment but is no cure.
For lasting change, you have to teach your brain to stop producing discomforting thoughts. That is "Quit Ruminating and Brooding: How Ruminating and Worry Work and What to Do to Overcome Them" by Olle Wadstrom is about as he explains why we ruminate, what drives ruminations, and why they are so hard to stop. He also provides different tools that are useful, as well as explanations as to why things should be done in the way he presents them.
Critique: A novel, very special, and 'real world practical' contribution to the growing library of Self-Help/Self-Improvement literature, "Quit Ruminating and Brooding: How Ruminating and Worry Work and What to Do to Overcome Them" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to both personal reading lists and community library collections. It should be noted that "Quite Ruminating and Brooding" is also available in a paperback edition (9781728381121, $14.35) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.82).
Editorial Note: Olle Wadström is a licensed psychologist and therapist who specializes in CBT. He is an approved CBT counselor, a specialist in the fields of clinical psychology and pedagogic psychology. He is currently working as a psychologist, a CBT-therapist, a counselor, an author, and a teacher/lecturer with the company Psykologinsats AB. An article by Olle Wadstrom that presents the scientific base for "Quit Ruminating and Brooding" is available online at www.quitruminating.com.
The Biography Shelf
Don't Tell Me It Can't Be Done
9781999489014, $26.95, HC, 300pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: As a young boy struggling to find his way through the immense poverty, secrecy and war-time suffering that gripped his life in Northern Ireland, Ray Barnett dreamed of a life of adventure and travel like that of his hero: famed missionary-explorer David Livingstone.
As an adult, he has lived that life--leading a human-rights based ministry that has brought hope, healing and humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.
In this riveting autobiography that spans eighty years, Ray takes readers on a rollercoaster journey through his childhood in the rough, working-class neighborhood of Killowen--a childhood marked by loss, abuse, severe learning disabilities, rejection, and the crushing discovery that the family who raised him was not his own.
Ray's life makes a sudden U-turn when, at age 13, he turns his life over to God. Spurred by the scripture, "All things are possible to him who believes" (Mark 9:23), Ray sets out to accomplish what seems like the impossible--from securing the release of Hezbollah-held hostages and imprisoned Christians, to launching the world-renowned African Children's Choir, to unraveling the lifelong mystery surrounding his identity.
Don't Tell Me It Can't Be Done is an inspiring testament of the miracles that can transpire when we put our faith in God and take action; believing if we do everything that's in our power to do, God will take care of the rest.
Critique: "Don't Tell Me It Can't Be Done" by Ray Barnett is the inherently interesting story of a remarkable man and his life as a Christian minister under extraordinary circumstances. While especially recommended to the attention of all members of the Christian community (regardless of denominational affiliations), it should be noted that "Don't Tell Me It Can't Be Done" is also available in a paperback edition (9781999489007, $15.95).
Olive Branch Press
c/o Interlink Publishing Group
46 Crosby Street, Northampton, MA 01060-1804
9781623719173, $20.00, PB, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The autobiographical story of a refugee child who was uprooted with his family from their home in Jaffa, Palestine.
The exodus of Palestinians from their homes during the 1948 war (called the Nakba, or catastrophe) is the starting point for this memoir by Samir Toubassy. But it is his trek to excel, while wrestling with his roots and identity as a Palestinian in the shadow of his family's expulsion that is at the heart of his story.
Global business leader, philanthropist, and educator, Samir Toubassy left Jaffa with his family when he was nine, seeking refuge from the fighting that had engulfed their city. Amid never-ending turbulence, we accompany him from Jaffa to Tripoli, to Beirut where he becomes a student of business and politics, to Riyadh, London and finally to the US, as he seeks to raise a family and build an international business career, most prominently with the noted Olayan Group and its rags-to-riches founder Sulaiman Olayan.
After a long career in international business, Samir embarks on a new path, as a Harvard Advanced Leadership Senior Fellow, seeking to apply his experience to global education in the developing world.
Toubassy shatters glass ceilings that hold Palestinians back over lifetimes and generations. But his race to achieve and to succeed is always inseparably tied to, and tempered by, the fate of his homeland. Searching to regain what is lost, his memoir, "My Nakba: A Palestinian's Odyssey of Love and Hope" offers unique perspective, encouragement, and cherished lessons learned from the aspirations of a refugee.
Critique: An inherently interesting and impressively detailed account, "My Nakba: A Palestinian's Odyssey of Love and Hope" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to personal, community and academic library Contemporary Biography and Palestinian Studies collections and supplemental curriculum reading lists.
The Restless Hungarian
9781943006960, $16.95, PB, 304pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Restless Hungarian: Modernism, Madness, and The American Dream" is the saga of an extraordinary life set against the history of the rise of modernism, the Jewish Diaspora, and the Cold War.
A Hungarian Jew whose inquiring spirit helped him to escape the Holocaust, Paul Weidlinger became one of the most creative structural engineers of the twentieth century. As a young architect, he broke ranks with the great modernists with his radical idea of the "Joy of Space." As an engineer, he created the strength behind the beauty in mid-century modern skyscrapers, churches, museums, and he gave concrete form to the eccentric monumental sculptures of Pablo Picasso, Isamu Noguchi, and Jean Dubuffet.
In his private life, Paul was a divided man, living behind a wall of denial as he lost his family to war, mental illness, and suicide. In telling his father's story, the author sifts meaning from the inspiring and contradictory narratives of a life: a motherless child and a captain of industry, a clandestine communist who designed silos for the world's deadliest weapons during the Cold War, a Jewish refugee who denied he was a Jew, a husband who was terrified of his wife's madness, and a man whose personal saints were artists.
Critique: A deftly written and fully engaging biography of Paul Weidlinger by his son, Tom Weidlinger, "The Restless Hungarian: Modernism, Madness, and The American Dream" is an extraordinary read from cover to cover. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library 20th Century Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Restless Hungarian" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).
Editorial Note: Tom Weidlinger is an independent filmmaker who has been writing, directing, and producing documentary films for thirty-five years. Many of his films have won festival awards, and twenty-one have aired nationally on public television. Concerned with themes of social justice, his work deals with a broad range of topics, from the dilemmas of humanitarian aid in the Congo to the struggles of high school students with learning differences. When he is not writing or working on a film in his editing room, he volunteers at a community center, helping teenagers find their voice through filmmaking.
Living With Life: The Beginning
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781979301367, $18.00, PB, 300pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Living With Life: The Beginning" is a poetic autobiography that takes covers Jason Pinchoff's first 18 years or so. When most would have called it quits, Jason fought back. His beginnings are unfathomable, but they are all reality! In this memoir Jason takes his readers through loss of his whole family, involvement with drugs, his suicidal thoughts and hustlin' (street rules over classroom rules), and unstoppable, motivational, roller coaster ride of a life!
Critique: An inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Living With Life: The Beginning" is an extraordinary and deeply personal story told with wit, candor, and retrospective insight. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Living With Life: The Beginning" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections and personal reading lists.
Reversed: A Memoir
9781947392052, $24.99, HC, 298pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In 1995, the school diagnostician called a seven-year-old "the worst child seen in 20 years of teaching." Can a child's fate be sealed by such a diagnosis? Well, in 2018, that boy received a Ph.D. from Oxford University.
Do you have a child struggling with reading? What labels has your child been given? How do you feel they will progress through school? This is a story for you.
Every parent has high hopes for their children. When Lois Letchford learns her son has been diagnosed with a low IQ at the end of grade one, she refuses to give up on his future.
After thorough testing, Nicholas proves to have no spatial awareness, limited concentration, and can only read ten words. Although discouraged, Lois knows things have to improve. After all, her son is young, and every child learns at their own pace.
But once Nicholas is labeled "learning disabled," a designation considered more derogatory than "dyslexia," the world of education is quick to cast him aside.
Determined to prove them all wrong, Lois temporarily removes her son from the school system and begins working with him one-on-one. She has no formal reading education herself, and no one to guide her. But she has hope and the strength of will to persevere. And sometimes that's all you need.
What happens next is a journey -- spanning three continents, unique teaching experiments, never-ending battles with the school system, a mother's discovery of her own learning blocks, and a bond fueled by the desire to rid Nicholas of the "disabled" label.
"Reversed" is a memoir of profound determination that follows the highs and lows of overcoming impossible odds, turning one woman into a passionate teacher for children who have been left behind. Nothing is impossible when one digs deep, and looks at students through a new lens.
Critique: Informative, engaging, detailed, candid and ultimately inspired and inspiring, "Reversed: A Memoir" should be considered a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary American Biography collections in general, and Special Education curriculum supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of education students, academia, the parents of dyslexia or otherwise diagnosed 'learning disabled' children, that "Reversed: A Memoir" is also available in a paperback edition (9781947392045, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
The Christian Studies Shelf
Reflections On Living A Christian Life
9781645164395, $14.95, PB, 190pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Wayne Johnson has written and self-published "Reflections On Living A Christian Life" for the specific purpose of offering to others the knowledge given to him by God through his Holy Spirit and through many years of personal prayer, education and study to anyone everywhere.
"Reflections On Living A Christian Life" discusses the process a Christian follows from when he becomes a believer to when they die and are resurrected to eternal life and discusses the process from Johnson's personal perspective.
Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Reflections On Living A Christian Life" is particularly recommended to the attention of all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reflections On Living A Christian Life" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).
The Story of Billy McCarrell
Green Acres Press
9781602650602, $14.95, PB, 212pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: How does a young man with no spiritual interest change into a spiritual giant affecting lives across the world? Billy McCarrell's only interest in church was to vex the Sunday school teachers until one day it all changed. His total surrender to Christ led him on an unknown path as he told God that he would take the hardest place in America, no matter what the sacrifice was to him personally. McCarrell was a man of one book -- the Bible.
A pastoral opportunity in a struggling church outside of Chicago turned out to be a life-long calling. The devastation caused by Al Capone and the Mob created a desire to influence the community for Christ. As the years went by, one crisis after another, McCarrell ministered to his congregation with the sole focus on their spiritual growth and evangelism for the lost.
His energy and passion extended past the church walls as apostasy in the nation grew. Known as one of the founders of the independent Bible church movement, McCarrell organized churches with similar beliefs to form the Independent Fundamental Churches of America. Through the years he served on more than fifty organizations, boards, and councils in an administrative, advisory, or endorsement capacity including Wheaton College, Faith Theological Seminary, Pacific Garden Mission, and Bryan College. He was a teacher at Moody Bible Institute for over eighteen years.
As McCarrell considered retirement at the age of seventy, his congregation numbered over eleven hundred and supported over thirty full-time missionaries. He had also started eighteen branch churches that had become self-supporting. He and his wife, Minnie, had nine children, one who died in World War II.
Critique: A deftly written and presented biography of the life and work of a dedicated Christian, "The Story of Billy McCarrell" is both inspired and inspiring. While very highly recommended for community and academic library American Biography collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of every member of the Christian community that "The Story of Billy McCarrell" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
The Judaic Studies Shelf
From Infinity to Man
White Raven Publishing
9781911195849, $24.99, PB, 144pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: To be "mystical" is defined as "having a spiritual symbolic or allegorical significance that transcends human understanding".
"From Infinity to Man: The Fundamental Ideas of Kabbalah Within the Framework of Information Theory and Quantum Physics" is a ground-breaking study by Eduard Shyfrin and shows that the ideas of Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah) also resonate with the ideas of 21st century science.
Shyfrin explains Kabbalistic ideas with the support of information theory and quantum physics. Equally, the riddles of modern science are explained with the help of Kabbalah. For ease of reading, brief introductions to Kabbalah, to the theory of information and to quantum physics are provided. "From Infinity to Man" is about creation and the role of man in it, divine providence, miracles, good, evil and the soul.
Critique: An inherently interesting, thoughtful and thought-provoking read, "From Infinity to Man: The Fundamental Ideas of Kabbalah Within the Framework of Information Theory and Quantum Physics" is a singularly extraordinary contribution to the growing body of Kabbalah commentaries and literature. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "From Infinity to Man" is very highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Judaic Studies collections in general, and Kabbalah Studies supplemental reading lists in particular. It should be noted that "From Infinity to Man" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The International Studies Shelf
The Chinese Exodus
c/o Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401-2960
9781532645983, $40.00, HC, 152pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Chinese Exodus: Migration, Urbanism, and Alienation in Contemporary China" by Lia Ma offers a sociological analysis as well as a theological discussion of China's internal migration since the marketization reform in 1978.
"The Chinese Exodus" also documents the social and political processes that encompass the experiences of internal migrants from the countryside to the city during China's integration into the global economy.
Informed by sociological analysis and narratives of the urban poor, "The Chinese Exodus" deftly reconstructs the political, economic, social and spiritual dimensions of this urban underclass in China who made up the economic backbone of the Asian superpower.
Critique: A seminal work of meticulous research, "The Chinese Exodus: Migration, Urbanism, and Alienation in Contemporary China" is impressively well written, organized, documented, and presented, making it an exceptionally informed and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Chinese Studies collections and supplemental curriculum lists. It should be noted for students, academics, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Chinese Exodus" is also available in a paperback edition (9781532645976, $20.00).
Editorial Note: Growing up in post-reform China, Li Ma (Mary) has always been intrigued by issues of social change around her in that extraordinary country. First-hand witness of social inequality and demoralization made her interested in pursuing social science research after finishing her English literature thesis on the social context of female writers in Victorian England. She studied for a master's degree in Sociology at the University of Oxford, which opened a door to more curiosities. Then she earned a PhD in sociology from Cornell University.
At her doctoral dissertation stage, Mary experienced a deep personal conversion to the Christian faith. Finishing her doctoral project on China's integration into global economy and urban poverty, her research began to include not only market transition, social change, but also Christianity in China. Apart from her scholarly works in English, she is also an author and columnist for journals and new media in the Chinese language.
Nowadays Mary's wider scholarship extends to the intersections of social sciences, Chinese politics, world history and Christian theology. Her interested readers can find updated information about her recent projects on the research blog at: https://theologyandsocietyblog.wordpress.com
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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