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The Sixth Man
Alfred A Knopf
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780385753500, $12.91, www.amazon.com
Mary T Kincaid, Reviewer
The opening paragraph grabbed my attention:
"The last thing Alex wanted to do the night after losing the state championship was go to the holiday dance. But he had asked Christine Whitford to go with him weeks ago, and it had taken him weeks before that to work up the nerve to ask her. You don't blow off your first date with the prettiest girl in school because you are sulking."
I love the action of a good sports story. All action is working toward winning the game, tournament, or championship. This story is no exception. It follows Alex Myers as he begins basketball season. He is a freshman, and it is not very likely that he will make the varsity team. His coach has no patience with football players, and his start to basketball season is rough because he is two weeks behind the other players because he played in the championship game. Alex starts off with these hurdles to overcome: this is his first year at the school, his parents have divorced, and he is considered too young to play varsity.
Alex is a good sport and does as the coach asks him. He makes the junior varsity practices at 6:00 am. He rides his bike in the dark to do it. Alex is joined by another freshman basketball player who was also on the football team. They work hard and are moved up to varsity competition.
I enjoy the description of the sports action in these kinds stories. Here is an example:
"Wakefield took several dribbles right at Alex, then veered to his left. Seeing Alex come up to challenge him, he tried to drive past him. His dribble was too high, though, and Alex was able to slap the ball loose. Before Wakefield could turn to try to get it back, Alex tipped it toward midcourt, sprinted after it, and picked it up with nothing - and no one - between him and the basket at the far end. He took one dribble and heard the whistle - that incessant whistle. He stopped. Coach Archer was walking in his direction, hands out so Alex could toss him the ball. Which he did.
The story uses realistic language and attitudes. Alex has all the problems one would expect a freshman athlete to have. He rides his bike to school and basketball practice. He supports a gay team member, his coach dates his mother, and the team has to win a championship for the new coach. Team's dialogue and the dialogue of the other characters is realistic. Alex makes friends that are not on his team. He encourages his girlfriend. He struggles in his relationship with his father. I enjoyed reading this story.
I give this story 5 stars out of 5 possible. A very entertaining read.
Stone Harbor Bound
Bridle Path Press
8419 Stevenson Road, Baltimore, MD 21208
9780990828709, $15.00, 231 pages, www.amazon.com
Mike Maggio, Reviewer
Madeleine Mysko's Stone Harbor Bound is not your typical beach novel. There is no love story here, though love is an overriding theme. Nor are there scenes of beachgoers frolicking on the sand or surfing on the waves, though the ocean is ever present. Rather, the novel is a narrative about grieving, a tale of individuals who have lost something dear to them or who are approaching that very precipice.
Camille Picket, our heroine, has lost her partner, Bridget, to diabetes and alcoholism. She goes to Stone Harbor to the beach house she and Bridget shared to come to terms with death and the loss of a relationship that can never be returned. But more than that relationship, it is her role as a caregiver that is on the line. On the way, she meets Owen, a college student and fellow biker who suddenly comes down with a virus and ends up crashing at her house. Camille, a nurse, tends to his illness as she tends to everyone's needs in her life.
Owen, who is supposed to meet his mother in Stone Harbor, has an alcohol problem. Though not quite an alcoholic, his drinking problem is an overriding concern for his mother. He meets Erin who assists him with his illness before Camille takes over and who eventually OD's on prescription pain killers she finds in her father's medicine chest. Once again, Camille finds herself getting involved, searching for her on the beach when she goes missing and driving to the emergency room in Atlantic City where Erin has been medevaced.
Stone Harbor, it seems, is a place where everyone knows each other and, while Owen stays with Camille, his mother, Judy, stays with the Heaney's who know Camille and Bridget and Bridget's family, the Galleghers. . The stories in Stone Harbor Bound intertwine and relationships, which are seemingly unconnected, come together, telling a story of a community which mourns loss and comes to grips with events beyond their control. Eventually, it seems, they all come to grips with each other as well.
Told in straightforward, prosaic prose, Stone Harbor Bound will leave you wondering what lies behind the lives of ordinary people: what secrets do they hold and what truths bind them together.
The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
Spiegel & Grau
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780812983630, $17.00, www.amazon.com
Paul Binford, Reviewer
Readers might be familiar with Matt Taibbi as a contributing journalist to Rolling Stone Magazine, where he has been working since 2005. His articles focus on politics, the media, and particularly finance. In one of those articles, he coined the term describing Wall Street financial manipulators as "Vampire Squids," which may or may not have helped him earn the National Magazine Award in 2008. He has written five non-fiction books along the same lines as the Rolling Stone articles, including "The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap."
As the title suggests, "The Divide" describes both the gap between the rich and poor in America and the differences in the way the rich and poor are treated in the criminal justice system, or as the title also suggests, the criminal injustice system. The big question he addresses is: how is it that none of the top players who led the country into a recession have been prosecuted and given jail time for their crimes? At the same time, people living with marginal incomes are relentlessly pursued by the police, prosecuted and incarcerated for minor infractions. His book is a series of many stories involving both the criminals hiding behind a corporate logo and those who get picked up off the street or out of their homes.
One of those stories is about a petty criminal named Tory Marone who went to court one day in Manhattan for the possession of half a marijuana cigarette. On the same day, not far away in Brooklyn, the Justice Department's Eastern District of New York office announced that it had found the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) guilty of laundering money for drug cartels in Latin America, handling the financial business for countries under sanction, shifting money around for terrorist organizations in the Middle East, and helping Russian gangsters wash their money with a clever "traveller's checks" shell game. Taibbi's main point in his book is this: Tory Marone, convicted of possession of half a joint, was sent to Rikers Island penitentiary for forty days. HSBC was handed a fine, nobody went to jail, although the amount of money laundered for the drug cartels added up to $7 billion. This is the story that Taibbi repeats, with considerable research, over and again in "The Divide."
Chapter One is titled "Unintended Consequences," which refer to a memorandum written by the former Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, in 1999, at the time an attorney in Janet Reno's Justice Department. This memo laid the groundwork for prosecutors in the years ahead, up to the present. Holder maintains that corporations should not be prosecuted to the fullest degree possible because of "collateral consequences." Prosecutors "may take into account the possibly substantial consequences to a corporation's officers, directors, employees, and shareholders, many of whom ...have played no role in the criminal conduct..." In other words, do not convict and sentence the guilty, because innocent people will be harmed.
It sounds reasonable enough, but this principle does not apply to a California welfare mother, whose children are affected deeply when she is convicted of a $300 welfare fraud. It does not apply to the families of two black men who were rousted from their SUV in the South Bronx, victims of New York's "stop and frisk" policy. Their crime? Two black men are not supposed to be driving an expensive car in a poor neighborhood. Holder's memo does not apply to immigrant families in Los Angeles, who are targeted for driving without a license and fined up to $1700.
The prosecution of corporations is hampered by the policy of "collateral consequences," but when it comes to ordinary people, there are quotas. The two black men in the Bronx, Anthony and Michael, having been arrested for driving their SUV, picked up from the radio chatter in the van where they were handcuffed a pattern of which they were part and parcel. Somewhere on the street, a plain clothes police officer would radio to the van and tell them where the suspects were. When Michael heard "We need three more.", it clicked. He thought, "They got a quota?" On the bus going to a New York homeless shelter, Taibbi was told that undercover cops "...hit the bus about twice a week, looking for fare beaters." The rule is, every cop has to "..bring home a body. If you got four cops, they gotta bring home four bodies." Taibbi's follow-up question was: "A body? They send undercover police out to bust homeless fare jumpers on their way to a homeless shelter?" Tory Marone, the man sent to Rikers Island, found out that patrol officers in New York were required to empty out one summons pad a month. Towards this end, they were encouraged to stop and frisk, mostly black and Hispanic people, a record 684,724 citizens in 2011.
There are no quotas for the arrest and conviction of Wall Street criminals. When Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, asked his employees, "Are we doing enough to sell off cats and dogs?" (referring to toxic mortgage loans the investment firm had acquired) there were no SEC officers waiting around with their ticket book in hand. Eric Holder, author of the "collateral consequences" memo, worked with the law firm Covington and Burling from 2001 until his appointment as Attorney General in 2009. This law firm represented most of the participants in the 2008 financial meltdown-- Bank of America, Washington Mutual, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup. While serving as the Attorney General, not a single individual from these firms was arrested for what Taibbi calls "a widespread crisis of institutional policy. And a core part of this policy, it turned out, was crime.... real crime, the kind of thing people once went to jail for."
An exception was a small, family-owned bank in New York's Chinatown called Abacus Federal Savings Bank, charged with falsifying home mortgage applications, which were then sold to the government-sponsored mortgage bank, Fannie Mae. This was exactly what the other, bigger banks had been doing. In the case of mortgages bought from Abacus however, Fannie Mae actually made a profit of $220 million, and the default rate of Abacus issued loans was only 0.5%, "one of the lowest default rates in the country." Yet, a salaried employee named Yuh Wah Wang, an immigrant whose yearly bonus never went beyond $1500, was held up as the "linchpin of the financial crisis."
"The Divide" is a series of stories, one after another, each of which is engaging and worthwhile reading; perhaps even better than fiction. This review barely shows the tip of the iceberg in revealing the dramas of what happens behind closed doors on Wall Street as compared to what happens on Main Street, vis-a-vis the business of crime and punishment. It turns out that Lady Justice is not blind after all, she is very selective.
My criticism of "The Divide" is the complete lack of additional information usually found in an appendix. The last page of the book explains how a federal judge eventually struck down the "stop and frisk" policy in New York as unconstitutional. The next page would be where there is usually a paginated set of notes, showing sources and citations. There might also be a bibliography, and most important of all, an index. While writing this review, I would have found it very helpful to have an index, to look up the pages where I could refer to a topic. Without it, I felt as if I were working with a hand tied behind my back. In lieu of any of these useful tools, there are two pages of acknowledgements and a photo of Matt Taibbi, nice to have but not very useful.
There are however, on the front cover and placed in strategic locations throughout the book, extremely creative and well-done illustrations by Molly Crabapple. Of Molly, Taibbi writes in the acknowledgements: "Molly Crabapple I want to thank for her intense interest in the subject--we always wanted to work together and I'm thrilled this could be the vehicle."
I would highly recommend "The Divide" as a supplement to what an informed citizen should know about the wide-ranging subject of justice in the United States. This ties in with the recent "Occupy Wall Street" movement, which decried, among other things, the complete lack of justice in the economic system. Matt Taibbi is an investigative journalist, and it is from his profession that we get what's missing from the mainstream media.
Winds of Change
An anthology by various authors
Mary Woodbury, editor
Moon Willow Press
c/o Harvard Square Editions
2152 Beachwood Terrace, Hollywood, CA 90068
9781927685112, $12.95 PB, $7.99 Kindle, 164pp, www.amazon.com
This remarkable anthology features the top picks from the latest Eco-fiction.com short story contest. It is refreshing to find an eye-opening ecological anthology, full of moving visions of the environment, climate change scenarios, and the future the planet is heading toward. It features contest winner Robert Sassor’s story “First Light”; a story by winner of the 2013 Meringoff Fiction Award and the Enizagam Literary Award in Fiction Anneliese Schultz, MFA ’77; a moving tale by award-winning environmental educator and marine ecologist Charlene D’Avanzo, who has taught ecology and environmental science for thirty five years at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA; a work by Stephen Siperstein, who is teaching a course on cli-fi (climate fiction) at the University of Oregon; a tale from PEN New England Discover Award in Fiction winner JoeAnn Hart; a yarn by Rachel May, whose story grew out of a zine-making class she teaches at Syracuse University called Climatopia, in which students develop imaginary scenarios for real progress on climate change; and many more delightful stories and poems by award-winning and new authors?a seminal work at a decisive moment in our evolution, not to be missed.
By What is Sure to Follow
Donald N. Burton
L&R Publishing/Hellgate Press
PO Box 3531, Ashland, OR 97520
9781555717629, $21.95, 297pp, www.hellgatepress.com
Duende Knocking, Reviewer
"By What is Sure To Follow" by Donald N. Burton is an emotionally intense and engaging war tale that is told on two fronts: one in the present and one in the hero's memory. It is difficult to say which war is more horrifying, as the hero struggles with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Author Donald N. Burton served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War, where he was a Naval Photographer's Mate, a helicopter air crewman gunner, and a Petty Officer Second Class. Eventually upon returning from the war, Burton finished his college degree and went on to become a professor. Published by Hellgate Press, this piece of realistic fiction is his first novel.
Like the author himself, hero Luke Sims was drafted by the Army for the Vietnam War when he dropped below full time at college, but quickly opted to join the Marines instead (the author chose the Navy). He is eventually trained for an elite Recon unit, and after creating several close friends during training, he is sent off to Vietnam. All falls apart for Luke then, as he is thrown into the chaos of war and loses nearly everything and everyone he holds dear. He is left to care for his wounds alone upon returning to the United States, where he struggles for over two decades with severe PTSD in a country that does little for its mentally wounded veterans. While his demons are unwilling to die, there might be more deaths to come in his life as the novel races towards a shocking ending.
This book was a very emotional and, at times, difficult, read. It brings to life the very real horror that thousands of Americans faced after the war (and many still face today!), in a way that is difficult to ignore. Burton weaves true events throughout the work, the most notable to be revealed at the end, which prevents readers from ever truly distancing themselves from what they are reading. None of this discomfort stopped me from enjoying the book, though, and I would rate it a 4 out of 4 stars!
The characters were very engaging, and though I was initially hesitant to like the hero (his attitude towards women at first made me leery, but once I met his girlfriend things fell into place), I found myself really sympathizing with him and hoping that he could recover from his trauma. While the book is based on real events and the characters are very realistic, they are also clearly just that: characters, fleshed out as fictional characters should be. Waldo, an African-American man who joined the military to escape wrongful legal persecution (his story is great, but I won't give anything away!) and befriended Luke, was a favorite. The author did his research, too, as Waldo claims to be named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, who actually went by Waldo ad not Ralph. This was a minor detail, but as a history and philosophy lover, I liked seeing the author work his knowledge into the piece. Others I liked were Sherri, his girlfriend, and Eyes, who I can't say much about!
The writing itself was very enjoyable. It was an easy read, but never once did I feel that the style was simplistic or tedious. Overall, there were scarcely any errors in regards to spelling, punctuation, and grammar. I did find one here and there, but they didn't appear with any more regularity than most books that are not self-published. At times, the author would use the same word twice in one sentence; though this isn't a big enough issue to take away any stars over! It is also worth noting that although the book switches between the past and the present (though most is in the past), there is never any accidental confusion as to when an event is actually happening.
I only have two complaints with this book, both in regards to the ending. The epilogue might come off as a bit preachy to some - as someone who also thinks that the government is not doing enough to assist mentally ill war veterans, it didn't seem as such to me, but I can see where it might raise a few eyebrows for those who haven't thought about it very much. The other issue is more notable: the ending is rather abrupt, and the reader is left hanging. This was clearly one on purpose, as it was chronicling real events, but the fact that this event was placed in a "novel" setting made me want a bit more in terms of a resolution.
Because of the second issue, I struggled between a 3 and 4 here, but I finally decided that the rest of the book outweighed the ending. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars! I would suggest it to anyone who loves a good military tale or historical adventure, but most importantly, I would also suggest it to anyone who has ever had a loved one return from war "not quite the same". This book really brings the life of the unwilling soldier to the forefront, and as someone who was once friends and dorm-mates with an Iraq war vet who preferred not talking about his past, this book was truly an enlightening read. However, I would warn you that this book is not for the faint of heart! If you are simply looking for the kind of military story that doesn't make one question right and wrong, or a story with a feel-good ending, you might want to look elsewhere - or maybe you'd want to give this a try to see the other side of things!
(PS - Violence, some mild sexual scenes, plenty of language, and an overarching theme of severe mental illness may upset some readers.)
L. John Lawrence
4RV Publishing, LLC
PO Box 6482, Edmond, OK 73083
9781940310329, $22.95, 164pp
Sandy Appleyard, Reviewer
Reader's Favorite: https://readersfavorite.com
Review Rating: 5 stars
"Hello, Wigwam" by L. John Lawrence is a wonderfully told story about Bert Costas, a biracial American teen who gets sent to Vietnam on a writing assignment, amidst war, and experiences much more than he bargained for. Written through the innocent eyes of Bert, the reader is treated to a naïve and pure view of what war is all about. Bert has no idea what is in store for him, and the author describes, via a combination of anecdotes, quotes, and edge-of-your-seat life-like accounts, what the boy sees, feels and learns. Receiving a lukewarm welcome in Vietnam, Bert holds his own and remains true to himself, despite being placed in uncomfortable, immoral, and sometimes downright painful situations. The reader immediately gets the sense that the young man is wholesome, likeable, and will always try to do the right thing.
Hello, Wigwam is a uniquely told story in that the author, L. John Lawrence, doesn’t just tell it from a military perspective. He uses layman’s terms based on the fact that Bert is, himself, a layman, and spreads a sizeable amount of good-natured humour into the work. The tale is told respectfully yet realistically, in a way that both seasoned war veterans and those new to the trials of the military can both appreciate and understand. Hello, Wigwam is an entertaining read and is recommended to those looking for an interesting, educational, humorous, and thought-provoking novel about a young boy who becomes a man in a relatively short period of time.
Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth
Catherine Auman, LMFT
Green Tara Press
2566 Overland Ave, Ste 500 B, LA, CA 90064
9780989830539, $14.95, 265 pages, www.amazon.com
Collette Gee, Reviewer
Relationship Coach and Certified NLP Practitioner
Previously published in LA Yoga Magazine
In this fast-paced world, many of us don't have the time to relish this journey of life. We are overworked, underpaid, and disconnected. This can cause dis-ease. However, we can push the reset button by utilizing some of the techniques offered in Catherine Auman's Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth.
Reading this short collection of mindful essays is like embarking on a spiritual journey, awakening on a meditative trip, and diving beneath the surface and rediscovering the relationship between oneself and the universe.
Auman's writing is inspiring, and moment by moment, regardless of the circumstances, can elevate the reader to a psychological state of awareness through her expertise on spirituality, relationships, love, tantric sex, and self-development.
For example: I've personally benefitted from using the technique Auman suggests to use the breath to induce feelings of blissfulness. I've been able to use this to ease myself out of difficult situations, or to just enjoy the moment and be completely present.
The inspiring stores in Shortcuts to Mindfulness make it one of those book you gift to a friend, recommend to a relative, or prescribe to a client. It is both spiritual and practical, focusing on life-changing applications of mindfulness with easy-to-implement and excellent tools for dealing with anxiety, depression, and stress.
Jeffrey Eisenberg, MD with Sandra Canosa
9780996711609 $27.00 www.suckeredbook.com
Suckered: The History of Sugar, Our Toxic Addiction, Our Power to Change is the testimony of thirty-year primary care doctor Jeffrey Eisenberg about the harmful effects of the flood of sugar that saturates American diets. Eisenberg presents a persuasive case for why sugar is at the core of America's health problems: its addictive qualities encourage companies to relentlessly peddle it, and it promotes obesity as well as a myriad of associated complications like hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. How can public policy change to counter this destructive national indulgence? Eisenberg stresses the importance of educating children about good dietary habits, the need to end government subsidies that exacerbate the problem, and more. "...high-fructose corn syrup calories don't contribute to the health of the country in the way that calories from broccoli, beans, or blueberries might. By reallocating government farm subsidy money towards fruits and vegetables and away from second-hand crop corn, we could lower the costs of healthier food options to compete with cheap junk food." Accessible to readers of all backgrounds, Suckered speaks to individuals struggling to improve their own lifestyle, parents trying to raise health-conscious children, and public policymakers concerned about America's health woes. Highly recommended.
The Truth About Caroline
Randi M. Sherman
Suite 300-900 Fort St., Victoria, BC Canada V8V 3K2
9781460265628 $26.99 hc
9781460265635 $16.99 pbk
9781460265642 $4.99 ebook www.amazon.com
The in-kind sequel to the comedy-drama novel "Caroline Starts Over" (9781460231760, $20.99), The Truth About Caroline continues the misadventures of a self-centered, middle-aged, bisexual woman whose single most outstanding talent is her ability to lie. And how. Her skilled sociopathy enabled her to avoid a criminal conviction for allegedly arranging the long-distance execution of her husband, but now what? The modern job market is bleak for an ex-housewife with few marketable skills. Can Caroline lie her way to financial security? And what would happen if someone figured out the truth about Caroline? Seinfeld-esque black humor, workplace intrigue, and the staggering toll of maintaining an intricate web of lies make for a complex story that will keep the reader guessing to the very end!
Memories of Thompson Orphanage
Stella Henson Griggs Batson
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781499065596 $19.99 www.xlibris.com
Memories of Thompson Orphanage: Charlotte, North Carolina shares the story of author Stella Batson and other orphans who spent their adolescence at Thompson Orphanage in Charlotte, North Carolina. The experience brought Batson loving support and lifelong bonds with her fellow orphans; Batson herself lived there from age eleven until she graduated college in 1955. She shares their testimonies in hope of spreading the word about the benefits of orphanages in America, which Batson believes are better for children than living in foster homes. A handful of black-and-white photographs enhance this emotional and thought-provoking collection of true-life testimonies.
From Chicken Feet to Crystal Baths
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781504903943 $26.95 pbk / $3.99 Kindle www.authorhouse.com
From Chicken Feet to Crystal Baths: An Englishman's Travels Throughout China is the story of a traveling and living in Hong Kong and China through the eyes of a Western expatriate. Author Ian Mote has traveled to every province in China over the course of his life, and has witnessed both the extraordinary and the questionable. Here are stories of the finest high-class establishments in Shanghai, drinking to the point of intoxication with miners in Inner Mongolia, climbing sand dunes in the Gobi desert, viewing (and nearly throwing up on) the embalmed body of Chairman Mao, dining on unusual animals, singing Chinese songs in mid-afternoon meetings, discussing whether prostitutes really should be involved after dinner, and searching for peaceful seclusion amid a highly populated nation of over one billion people. Candid, eyebrow-raising, and insightful, From Chicken Feet to Crystal Baths is an armchair tour of the China that most short-term visitors never see. Highly recommended.
Finding McLuhan: The Mind / The Man / The Message
Jaqueline McLeod Rogers, Tracy Whalen, Catherin G. Taylor, editors
University of Regina Press
University of Regina
3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, S4S 0A2
9780889773745, $80.00, 304pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC (July 21, 1911 - December 31, 1980) was a Canadian philosopher of communication theory and a public intellectual. His work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries. He began his teaching career as a Professor of English at several universities in the U.S. and Canada, before moving to the University of Toronto where he would remain for the rest of his life. Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Jaqueline McLeod Rogers (Professor and Chair of Rhetoric, Writing and Communications at the University of Winnipeg), Tracy Whalen (Associate Professor of Rhetoric, Writing and Communications at the University of Winnipeg), and Catherin G. Taylor (Professor of Education and Rhetoric and Communications at the University of Winnipeg), "Finding McLuhan: The Mind / The Man / The Message" is comprised of fourteen original and erudite articles by knowledgeable and articulate contributors organized into five main sections: Work/Word/Play; Image/Figure/Ground; Space/Place/Tools; Politics/Sex/Religion/ Legacy/Memory/Imagination. Of special note are the three short, insightful interviews with Douglas Coupland, Eric McLuhan and Michael McLuhan, who provide intimate glimpses into McLuhan as friend, colleague, husband, and father.
Critique: Cross-examining the life's work of a gifted thinker and communicator, from multiple scholarly perspectives, "Finding McLuhan: The Mind / The Man / The Message" is an impressive body of seminal academia. "Finding McLuhan: The Mind / The Man / The Message" should be considered an essential addition to academic library Communication Theory & Practice reference collections and the supplemental studies lists for students, as well as being of immense value to non-specialist general readers with an interest in the life and work of Marshall McLuhan.
Pope Francis: Tradition in Transition
997 MacArthur Boulevard, Mahwah, NJ 07430
9780809148929, $14.95, 128pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The election of Pope Francis represents not only a great historical event, but also a key moment for understanding the direction of the Catholic Church. "Pope Francis: Tradition in Transition" is an illuminating work by Massimo Faggioli (Associate Professor in the Theology Department and Director of the Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota) who offers his unique insight into the pontificate of Pope Francis. This is not a biography of Pope Francis, nor a complete chronicle of the early months of his pontificate. It is, rather, an attempt to capture some special moments and some key issues at the heart of the transition from Pope Benedict XVI to Francis, with the intuition that this unexpected transition how it is carried out, and what it has given rise to reveals something which is not only a special Catholic event, but also a particular historical moment in a tradition in flux: a tradition that touches the contemporary world far beyond the borders of Rome and Roman Catholicism.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Pope Francis: Tradition in Transition" is instructive and informative reading that is highly recommended for both clergy and laity comprising the Roman Catholic community. It will also prove inherently fascinating and absorbing reading for non-Catholics who admire the reforms that Pope Francis is undertaking as a core and foundational element of his papacy.
You Look Like That Girl
27 West 20th Street, Suite 1102, New York, NY 10011
9780825307461, $24.95, 275pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: At the age of twenty-two, Lisa Jakub had what she was supposed to want: she was a working actor in Los Angeles. She had more than forty movies and TV shows to her name, she had been in blockbusters like Mrs. Doubtfire and Independence Day, she walked the red carpet and lived in the house she bought when she was fifteen. Lisa had been working since the age of four, after a man approached her parents at a farmer's market and asked her to audition for a commercial. That chance encounter dictated the next eighteen years of her unusual (and frequently awkward) life. Making movies, traveling the world, and meeting intriguing people was fun for a while, but Lisa eventually realized she was living a life based on momentum and definitions of success that were not her own. She battled severe anxiety and panic attacks while feeling like she was living someone else's dream. Not wanting to become a child actor stereotype, Lisa retired from acting and left L.A. in search of a path that felt more authentic to her. In "You Look Like That Girl: A Child Actor Stops Pretending and Finally Grows Up", Lisa chronicles the adventures of growing up in the film industry and her difficult decision to leave behind the only life she had ever known, to examine her priorities, and write the script for her own life. She explores the universal question we all ask ourselves: what do I want to be when I grow up?
Critique: Impressively well written, deftly organized and candidly presented, "You Look Like That Girl: A Child Actor Stops Pretending and Finally Grows Up" is an inherently fascinating and informative read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal readinglists that "You Look Like That Girl" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Soul Food Odyssey
Stephanie L. Tyson
John F. Blair, Publisher
1406 Plaza Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
9780895876461, $19.95, 167pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Stephanie L. Tyson is a creative chef who has turned growing up in the South into the soul of her restaurant, Sweet Potatoes. In "Soul Food Odyssey", Tyson takes readers along on her journey back to find the food her grandmother called "sumntaeat". The recipes she shares include how to cook various parts of the pig from the router to the tooter ; other meat dishes, including everything from stewed turkey wings and pot roast to a Low Country boil; what Tyson calls stone soul sides, including crackling cornbread, hoecakes, and, of course, different kinds of greens; soups and stews including oxtail and fish head stew and Everything in It Vegetable Soup ; and desserts to sell your soul for. Along with the recipes come Tyson s comments, which reflect her biting wit as well as her deep appreciation of the food she has come to embrace.
Critique: An impressively culinary tour-de-force, the featured recipes range from Everyday BBQ Chicken; Fried Cabbage; and Skillet Corn Bread; to Bourbon and Bacon Baked Beans; Catfish Stew; and Sweet Potato Pie. Thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly in composition and presentation, "Soul Food Odyssey" is very highly recommended for personal, family, professional, and community library cookbook collections. It should be noted that "Soul Food Odyssey" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Dreams Are Made For Children
Misja Fitzgerald Michel (Compiler)
Ilya Green (Illustrator)
The Secret Mountain
9782924217689, $16.95, 42pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: With whimsical, dream-like illustrations, "Dreams Are Made For Children" and its accompanying audio CD features a selection of timeless jazz dream songs to lull babies into a sweet, blissful sleep. "Dreams Are Made For Children" includes 15 popular standards recorded by singing legends Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Chet Baker, among others. Explanatory notes accompany each featured song in this essential book for any jazz fans with a young child.
Critique: Flawless production values, an inspired compilation of songs, enhanced with exceptional illustrations, "Dreams Are Made For Children" is enthusiastically recommended for personal, family, and community library book/CD collections.
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Rutgers University Press
100 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8099
9780813575971, $34.95, 400pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Understanding the places that shaped American writers' lives and their art can provide deep insight into what makes their literature truly meaningful. "Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee" by Shelley Fisher Fishkin (the Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities, Professor of English, and director of American studies at Stanford University) is a unique, passionate, and eclectic series of meditations on literature and history, covering over 150 important National Register historic sites, all pivotal to the stories that make up America, from chapels to battlefields; from plantations to immigration stations; and from theaters to internment camps. "Writing America" considers not only the traditional sites for literary tourism, such as Mark Twain's sumptuous Connecticut home and the peaceful woods surrounding Walden Pond, but also locations that highlight the diversity of American literature, from the New York tenements that spawned Abraham Cahan's fiction to the Texas pump house that irrigated the fields in which the farm workers central to Gloria Anzaldúa's poetry picked produce. Professor Fishkin offers a deep and personal reflection on how key sites bore witness to the struggles of American writers and inspired their dreams. She probes the global impact of American writers' innovative art and also examines the distinctive contributions to American culture by American writers who wrote in languages other than English, including Yiddish, Chinese, and Spanish.
Critique: An impressive body of exceptional and detailed scholarship, "Writing America" is enhanced with the inclusion of more than sixty images, as well as extended excerpts from a variety of key literary works. It should be noted that each chapter ends with resources for further exploration. A unique contribution to community and academic library Literary Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, "Writing America" is highly recommended to the attention of non-specialist general readers as well as academicians, scholars, and American Literary studies.
The Land of Rain Shadow: Horned Toad, Texas
Joyce Gibson Roach
Texas Tech University Press
PO Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79409-1037
9780896729353, $45.00, 136pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Settlers came and scattered themselves about the plains and prairies of West Texas like seeds thrown into the constant winds. In clusters or in singles they dug in. Depending on rainfall, they flourished or failed. Maybe the settlers arrived in the springtime of a good year and saw the beauty of the place, expecting it to last. Maybe it did last for a season or so before a bad dry spell set in. Maybe it was several years before a real drought appeared, which they foolishly thought would pass. Regardless, there were soon small pockets of people becoming inseparable from the land. Some were made sad, mean, cantankerous, negative; some quiet, kind, patient; but all shared stubbornness, informed by the very land itself. "The Land of Rain Shadow: Horned Toad, Texas" is comprised of eight stories that share the same setting across time, Author Joyce Gibson Roach writes of the place that sparked her treasured West Texas sensibility. Her fictive Horned Toad calls to stand and speak itself into existence. The characters are all familiar West Texas types speaking in the tongues of dry places. All reflect their moments in time, proving that human nature does not change in this land of rain shadow.
Critique: A truly gifted storyteller of the first rank, Joyce Gibson Roach is an original talent whose "The Land of Rain Shadow: Horned Toad, Texas" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. Very highly recommended, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Land of Rain Shadow: Horned Toad, Texas" is also available in a paperback edition (9780896729261, $24.95).
The Right Side of History
2246 Sixth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710-2219
9781627781237, $18.95, 408pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Right Side of History" presents the 100-year history of LGBT activism in a series of revealing close-ups, first-person accounts, and intimate snapshots of LGBT pioneers and radicals. This diverse cast stretches from the Edwardian period to today. "The Right Side of History" begins with the turn-of-the-century bohemianism of Isadora Duncan and the 1924 establishment of the nation's first gay group, the Society for Human Rights. "The Right Side of History" also includes gay activism of labor unions in the 1920s and 1930s; the 1950s civil rights movement; the 1960s anti-war protests; the sexual liberation movements of the 1970s; and more contemporary issues such as marriage equality. "The Right Side of History" shows how LGBT folk have always been in the forefront of progressive social evolution in the United States. It references heroes like Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bayard Rustin, Harvey Milk, and Edie Windsor. Equally, "The Right Side of History" honors names that aren't in history books, ranging from participants in the Names Project, a national phenomenon memorializing 94,000 AIDS victims, to underground agitprop artists.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively organized and presented, informed and informative, "The Right Side of History: 100 Years of LGBTQ Activism" is a critically important and essential addition to community and academic library LGBT reference collections and American History supplemental studies reading lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Right Side of History: 100 Years of LGBTQ Activism" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Ruth Shamir Popkin
Gefen Publishing House
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9789652296719, $24.95, 320pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When the sovereign Jewish state of Israel became a reality more than sixty years ago, the question of Jewish identity continued to be something of an enigma. That enigma is at the heart of "Jewish Identity: The Challenge of Peoplehood Today" by Ruth Shamir as it explores the history at times tragic, at times triumphant of the evolution of Jewish identity in the modern era. "Jewish Identity: The Challenge of Peoplehood Today" skillfully guides the reader through a myriad of issues that are today at the center of a passionate debate both in Israel itself as well as in the Diaspora, where half of the world s Jews still live. The debate and hence the main themes of "Jewish Identity" revolves around such questions as: Are we a nation or just a religious community?; How do Israelis and Jews around the world conceptualize their loyalties?; How acceptable is Jewish fundamentalism and how does Israel deal with the Arab population within its borders?; How do Diaspora Jews view Israeli identity and how do Israelis define the identity of Diaspora Jews?; and above all, Who is a Jew? However difficult it may be to accommodate the many complex and continually changing Jewish identities under the single roof of Judaism, "Jewish Identity" contends that we have no alternative neither for Israelis nor for the Jews of the Diaspora. But if that overarching identity is to be preserved, Jews must internalize the core ideas of multiculturalism to create a multifaceted Jewish identity that positively reflects the freedoms of today's world.
Critique: Eloquent, informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Jewish Identity: The Challenge of Peoplehood Today" is an absorbing read from beginning to end. Enhanced with the inclusion of forty-seven pages of Notes & Sources; an eight page Index of Subjects & Places; and a two page Index of Names, "Jewish Identity" is very highly recommended for community and academic library Judaic Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Jewish Identity" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Growing Up Superheroes
The Cosmic Thread
9780692288924, $19.99, 316pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In 1983, Diane Fraser is emerging from the trauma of a violent family home life when her niece Deihlia is born with problems so severe that her prognosis is death before week's end. Blessed with a powerful resilience and a pioneering female surgeon, Deihlia survives over 40 major surgeries, coming close to death many times. Through her humor, mischief, and appetite for life, Deihlia shows people how to live with gusto and maneuver around obstacles - self created or otherwise. Like the superhero characters she loves, Deihlia undergoes major physical transformations, brushes with the law, and experiences magic, danger, and changes of identity. Growing along with her, "Auntie" Diane helps Deihlia live an independent life, and comes to understand just how much her own will and attitude influence her reality. Growing Up Superheroes is the unforgettable true story of Deihlia Nye, the girl whose grasp of death pushed her to fly beyond her limits, taking others along with her who are brave enough to rise to the challenge.
Critique: Exceptionally well written and impressively presented, "Growing Up Superheroes: The Extraordinary Adventures of Deihlia Nye" is an inherently fascinating and thoroughly absorbing story of personal struggle against formidable odds. A unique biography of a unique young woman, "Growing Up Superheroes" is a very highly recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections.
Lost Among The Baining
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
9780826220516, $27.95, 296pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Lost Among the Baining: Adventure, Marriage, and Other Fieldwork" is the story Gail Pool and her husband Jeremy who set off for an adventure in New Guinea in the late 1960s. He was a graduate student in anthropology; she was an aspiring writer. They prepared, as academics do, by reading, practicing with language tapes, consulting with the nearest thing to experts, and then, excited and optimistic, off they went. But all their research could not prepare them for the reality of life in the jungle. As they warded off gargantuan insects, slogged through seemingly endless mud, and turned on each other in fatigue and frustration, they struggled to somehow connect with their enigmatic hosts, the Baining -- a people who showed no desire to be studied. Sixteen months later they returned home. Despite months of trying, they had not been able to make sense of the Baining's culture. Worse yet, their lives no longer seemed to make sense. Pool put her journals away. Her husband abandoned the study of anthropology. Decades later, Pool returned to her journals and found in her jumbled notes the understanding that had eluded her twenty-three - year-old self. Finally, she and her husband returned to New Guinea for a shorter visit and a warm reunion with the tribe that challenged them on so many levels and, Pool now realized, made their journey and lives deeper and richer.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and absorbing read, "Lost Among the Baining: Adventure, Marriage, and Other Fieldwork" is a remarkably well written, deftly organized, and impressively presented account from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lost Among the Baining" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.39).
Hubble & Hattie
Veloce House, Parkway Farm Business Park
Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, DT1 3AR, England
9781845847845, $16.99, 112pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: One cold February night, a terrified feral dog was carried into the home of Lisa Tenzin-Dolma and began a very different life to everything he had previously known. "Charlie: The Dog Who Came In From The Wild" is the true story of the extraordinary bond that developed between Lisa and Charlie, a one-eyed Romanian feral dog, who had lived wild until he was captured and sent to the UK to be homed. Unused to the presence of people, Charlie had no coping skills other than to follow his instincts. Although Lisa had worked with many deeply troubled dogs, the challenges posed by Charlie's background were unique. Wild, fearful and highly reactive, more wolf than dog, Charlie needed a great deal of understanding, patience and compassion in order to help him adjust to his new life. Despite numerous obstacles and setbacks, the developing relationship between Charlie and Lisa, and Lisa's daughter, Amber, and resident dog, Skye, transformed all of their lives. Charlie's gradual shift from fearful feral to happy, affectionate, fun-loving family dog is touching and heart-warming, and clearly demonstrates the transformative power of love and kindness.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, "Charlie: The Dog Who Came In From The Wild" will have a very special and engaging appeal to canine companions and dog lovers everywhere. A thoroughly absorbing and entertaining read from beginning to end, "Charlie" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Pets/Wildlife collections.
Local History Reference Collections for Public Libraries
Kathy Marquis & Leslie Waggener
c/o American Library Association
50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611
9780838913314, $55.00, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A collection of local history materials is useful to a wide variety of library users ranging from genealogists and family historians, to patrons researching the history of their home or church, to local students searching for class project resources. But the idea of creating one can feel intimidating when conjuring up visions of establishing elaborate security procedures, finding dedicated space to house the materials, and even the need for new staff to process and provide access to the collection. Yet there s a much easier way, one that spotlights existing materials by complementing them with published materials commonly found in or available to public libraries. Speaking from their own experiences, while also sharing examples and ideas from other libraries around the country, the authors, Kathy Marquis (Public Services Librarian at the Albany County Public Library in Laramie, Wyoming) and Leslie Waggenner (an archivist at the University of Wyoming s American Heritage Cente) present a start-to-finish guidebook for creating a local history reference collection that your community will embrace and use regularly. Written in a to-the-point manner that facilitates easy implementation, "Local History Reference Collections for Public Libraries" shows why a local history reference collection is important; how it fits into a library s mission statement; and offers tips for getting stakeholders on board; summarizes current trends and practices, explaining the differences between a local history reference collection and an archive; walks the reader through each step of planning and setting up a collection; offers guidance for determining the composition of the audience; gathering materials, cataloging and processing; and collaborating with other local history organizations; includes advice on housing your collection, providing access for researchers and other users, and staff training; and gives tips for marketing and outreach including how to bolster your collection s presence on the web and in social media.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Local History Reference Collections for Public Libraries" is an essential, comprehensive, and thoroughly 'user friendly' instruction manual that should be a part of every community and academic library seeking to establish or expand their local history materials collections. It would also prove to be extremely useful for the staff of local community museums as well.
3D Printing: A Powerful New Curriculum Tool for Your School Library
Lesley M. Cano
PO Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911
9781610699778, $45.00, 215pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: 3D printing also known as additive manufacturing is any of various processes used to make a three-dimensional object. In 3D printing, additive processes are used, in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry, and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source. A 3D printer is a type of industrial robot. "3D Printing: A Powerful New Curriculum Tool for Your School Library" is beginner's guide to 3D design and printing provides librarians with lessons, tips, and instructions for integrating these technologies into the K - 12 standards-based curriculum. "3D Printing: A Powerful New Curriculum Tool for Your School Library" includes an appendix of resources for school librarians to get the most out of three-dimensional design and printing; suggests practical lesson ideas for integrating 3D printing into language arts, math, science, and social studies; focuses on 3D printing as a tool to engage students in curriculum content and promote hands-on, problem-based learning with a focus on authentic, practical application; and offers suggestions for policy development and guidelines for managing and implementing this powerful technology.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "3D Printing: A Powerful New Curriculum Tool for Your School Library" is an ideal introduction and instruction manual which is very highly recommended for the reference collections of public, corporate, governmental, and academic libraries. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "3D Printing: A Powerful New Curriculum Tool for Your School Library" is also available in a Kindle edition ($45.00).
Dracula and Philosophy
Nicolas Michaud & Janell Potzsch, editors
Open Court Publishing Company
70 East Lake Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60601
9780812698909, $19.95, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Nicolas Michaud (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Florida State College, Jacksonville) and Janelle Potzsch (who holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from Ruhr-Universitat Bochum and currently works as a research assistant at the Institut fur Philosophie, Germany), "Dracula and Philosophy" is comprised of erudite contributions by 24 nocturnal philosophers who stake out and vivisect Dracula from many angles. John C. Altmann decides whether Dracula can really be blamed for his crimes, since it's his nature as a vampire to behave a certain way. Robert Arp argues that Dracula's addiction to live human blood dooms him to perpetual frustration and misery. John V. Karavitis sees Dracula as a Randian individual pitted against the Marxist collective. Greg Littmann maintains that if we disapprove of Dracula's behavior, we ought to be vegetarians. James Edwin Mahon uses the example of Dracula to resolve nagging problems about the desirability of immortality. Adam Barkman and Michael Versteeg ponder what it would really feel like to be Dracula, and thereby shed some light on the nature of consciousness. Robert Vuckovich looks at the sexual morality of Dracula and other characters in the Dracula saga. Ariane de Waal explains that "Dragula" is scary because every time this being appears, it causes "gender trouble." And Cari Callis demonstrates that the Count is really the Jungian Shadow archetype (with added Shapeshifter elements) in the journey of Mina Harker, heroine/victim of Stoker's novel, from silly girl to empowered woman.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and absorbing read, "Dracula and Philosophy" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Philosophy reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists (including all Dracula fans and vampire fiction enthusiasts) it should be noted that "Dracula and Philosophy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.02).
Rabbi Lawrence a. Hoffman, editor
Jewish Lights Publishing
PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
9781580238175, $27.99, 336pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Naming God: Avinu Malkeinu, Our Father, Our King" is an illuminating in-depth exploration of the complexities (and perhaps audacity) of naming the unnameable. One of the oldest and most beloved prayers known even to Jews who rarely attend synagogue is Avinu Malkeinu ("Our Father, Our King"), a liturgical staple for the entire High Holy Day period. "Our Father, Our King" has resonance also for Christians, whose Lord's Prayer begins "Our Father".
Despite its popularity, Avinu Malkeinu causes great debate because of the difficulties in thinking of God as father and king. Americans no longer relate positively to images of royalty; victims of parental abuse note the problem of assuming a benevolent father; and feminists have long objected to masculine language for God. Through a series of lively introductions and commentaries, almost forty erudite contributors ranging from scholars and rabbis, to artists and thinkers from all Jewish denominations and from around the world, wrestling with this linguistic and spiritual conundrum, asking, "How do we name God altogether, without recourse to imagery that defies belief?"
Critique: An impressive body of independent scholarship compiled and edited by Rabbi Lawrence a. Hoffman (has served for more than three decades as professor of liturgy at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in New York), "Naming God: Avinu Malkeinu, Our Father, Our King" is a highly recommended and core addition to academic library Judaic Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Naming God" is also available in a Kindle edition ($20.64).
The Orbit Magazine Anthology: Re-Entry
Robert St. Mary
c/o Wayne State University Press
4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
9780814337318, $34.99, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: With a mischievous globe-headed mascot that appeared in every issue, Orbit was an instantly recognizable arbiter of 1990s Detroit culture. In "The Orbit Magazine Anthology: Re-Entry", author Rob St. Mary details the full run of White Noise, Fun, and Orbit, collecting two decades' worth of Detroit's alternative publishing history into an oversized, heavily illustrated volume that situates the publications in the city's pop culture and media history. St. Mary shows that while other alternative papers followed a tried-and-true focus on lefty politics and the arts, Vile's publications found their niche in biting satire and sharp design that fed on popular culture. From the 70s punk scene in White Noise to audacious articles and irreverent "news" in Fun and a blend of reporting, satire, and culture in Orbit, St. Mary shows that Vile's publications were distinctive in their content and uniquely Detroit in their tone. In sections devoted to each magazine, St. Mary details their recurring features (including dining, movie, and music reviews) and interviews former staffers. Numerous images and page spreads reveal the notable Detroit musicians-like Destroy All Monsters, the Gories, ICP, Jack White, Kid Rock, and Derrick May-and artists-including Niagara, Glenn Barr and Tristan Eaton-that graced their pages. A foreword by Jerry Vile and an afterword by Ben Blackwell round out this one-of-a-kind volume. Anyone interested in Detroit arts and culture or the history of alternative publishing will be grateful for "The Orbit Magazine Anthology: Re-Entry".
Critique: Impressively informed and informative, "The Orbit Magazine Anthology: Re-Entry" is an inherently fascinating and utterly absorbing read from beginning to end, it will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections.
Innovating Out of Crisis
Stone Bridge Press
PO Box 8208, Berkeley, CA 94707
9781611720235, $24.95, 216pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In 2000, photographic film products made up 60% of Fujifilm's sales and up to 70% of its profit. Within ten years, digital cameras had destroyed that business. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy. Yet Fujifilm has boasted record profits and continues strong. What happened? What did Fujifilm do? What do businesses today need from their leaders? What kinds of employees can help businesses thrive in the future? In "Innovating Out of Crisis: How Fujifilm Survived (and Thrived) As Its Core Business Was Vanishing", Shigetaka Komori (Chairman and CEO of Fujifilm Holdings Corporation), who brought Fujifilm back from the brink of bankruptcy, explains how he engineered transformative organizational innovation and product diversification, along with cogent observations on his management philosophy.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, deftly organized, and impressively presented, "Innovating Out of Crisis: How Fujifilm Survived (and Thrived) As Its Core Business Was Vanishing" is an informed and informative read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Business Studies reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Innovating Out of Crisis" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).
Red Cloud: Oglala Legend
John D. McDermott
South Dakota State Historical Society Press
900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SC 57501-2217
9781941813027, $14.95, 200pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Red Cloud of the Oglala Souix was a highly celebrated warrior who led his people to victory on the battlefield, Red Cloud was also a skilled diplomat who help the Oglala Sioux transition from a nomadic life to a reservation-based life. In "Red Cloud: Oglala Legend", John D. McDermott (a research historian who has written numerous articles and books on western history) examines Red Cloud's early years, his rise to prominence, and his struggle to protect his people from cultural domination. McDermott goes beyond Red Cloud s War to focus on the Oglala chief s time as a statesman. Chronicling the chief s diplomatic trips to the United States capital, "Red Cloud: Oglala Legend" examines the changes in Red Cloud s vision of armed resistance and his long-term strategy for maintaining Oglala life and culture. Through negotiation, passive resistance, and selective integration, Red Cloud worked to defend his people s interests in the face of change. As the only Native American leader to win a war against the United States Army, Red Cloud is a larger-than-life figure in the history of the West. "Red Cloud: Oglala Legend" adds new layers to the story of the chief, illuminating his early youth and world view through little-used sources.
Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally well organized, and deftly presented, "Red Cloud: Oglala Legend" is an informed and informative read from beginning to end. A work of impressive research-based scholarship, "Red Cloud: Oglala Legend" is very highly recommended for the personal reading lists of the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Native American History. It will also prove to be a core addition to community and academic library Native American Studies reference collections in general, and Oglala History supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
Ohio State University Press
180 Pressey Hall, 1070 Carmack Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1002
9780814212875, $62.95, 302pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Novel Nostalgias: The Aesthetics of Antagonism in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Literature" establishes how the longing to recover a lost home or past drove some of the central conflicts of the nineteenth-century United States. Providing one of the few U.S. literary histories that examines cultural material from both before and after the Civil War, John Funchion argues that a diverse array of novels, from William Wells Brown's Clotel to L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, imagined new politically (and antagonistically) charged communities through forms of nostalgic longing. In contrast with studies that characterized the nineteenth-century U.S. novel as a consensus-generating form complicit with disciplinary culture, "Novel Nostalgias" shows how novels shaped a series of culture wars by advancing antagonistic nostalgias. Southern slave owners and their slaves or industrial magnates and their union opponents alike enlisted the power of nostalgia to validate their rival visions of the nation as lost moments awaiting recovery. Antagonistic nostalgias legitimated the political claims of movements as diverse as abolitionism, sectionalism, populism, socialism, anarchism, and cosmopolitanism. "Novel Nostalgias" provides a deep cultural historical understanding of the nineteenth-century United States, but ultimately, it also allows for a better understanding of how twenty-first-century movements function.
Critique: "Novel Nostalgias: The Aesthetics of Antagonism in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Literature" by John Funchion (Assistant Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Miami) is an exceptionally well written, organized and presented body of seminal scholarship that is enhanced with the inclusion of a twenty-four page Bibliography and a sixty-one page Index. Of special note is the Epilogue ("Taking the Country Back" in the Twenty-First Century). "Novel Nostalgias" is a truly extraordinary work and very highly recommended for academic library American Literature reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Novel Nostalgias" is also available in a Multimedia CD format ($14.95).
Homage to a Broken Man
Plough Publishing House
PO Box 398, Walden, NY 12586
9780874866131, $22.00, 415pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: J. Heinrich Arnold was a broken man. Yet those who knew him said they never met another like him. Some spoke of his humility and compassion; others of his frankness and earthy humor. In his presence, complete strangers poured out their darkest secrets and left transformed. Others met him with hatred. Who was this extraordinary yet simple man? "Homage to a Broken Man: The Life of J. Heinrich Arnold" is a gripping and richly spiritual book, in which biographer Peter Mommsen tells the dramatic true story of the grandfather he hardly knew.
Critique: Impressively well written, deftly organized and presented, "Homage to a Broken Man: The Life of J. Heinrich Arnold" is an inherently fascinating read from beginning to end. Candid, informative, detailed, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Homage to a Broken Man" is the kind of biography that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Homage to a Broken Man" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.49).
See You Tomorrow
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
9781909807600, $34.00, 551pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Pal has a shameful secret that has dragged him into huge debt, and he is desperate that his teenage daughters and ex-wife don't find out. Sixteen-year-old Sandra also has a secret. She's in love with the delinquent Daniel William, a love so strong and pure that nothing can get in its way. Cecilie has the biggest secret of them all, a baby growing inside her. But she's trapped in her small-time, criminal existence, and dreams of an escape from it all. Over three fateful September days, these lives cross in a whirlwind of brutality, laughter, tragedy, and love that will change them forever.
Critique: Ably translated from Norwegian into English by Sean Kinsella, "See You Tomorrow" is a literary tour-de-force and amply demonstrates why Tore Renberg is a multi-award-winning author who brings to bear his experience and expertise as a literary critic and a student of philosophy to create an impressively well written, organized and presented thriller of a read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "See You Tomorrow" is also available in a paperback edition (9781910050583, $19.00) and in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Willis M. Buhle
In the Beginning
Echol Nix, Jr., editor
Mercer University Press
1400 Coleman Avenue, Macon, GA 31207-0001
9780881465303, $35.00, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "In the Beginning: The Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College" highlights the history of the world's largest religious memorial to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. A compilation of inspired essays on education, social justice, nonviolence, peace, ecumenism, and civil and human rights are offered in honor of Lawrence Edward Carter, Sr., founding dean of the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel, "In the Beginning" is a lasting tribute and valuable contribution to the history and educational mission of Morehouse College. The esteemed contributors include Lewis V. Baldwin, Thomas O. Buford, Delman L. Coates, Jason R. Curry, Norm Faramelli, Peter Goodwin Heltzel, Barbara Lewis King, Douglas E. Krantz, Bill J. Leonard, Otis A. Maxfield, Echol Nix, Jr., Harold Oliver, Peter Paris, Samuel K. Roberts, Prince El Hassan bin Talal, Harold Dean Trulear, Edward P. Wimberly, Vincent L. Wimbush, and Virgil Wood.
Critique: A superbly compiled and edited selection of informed and informative essays, "In the Beginning: The Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College" is an inherently absorbing read. Of special note is the concluding essay "A Biography of God's Dream" by Virgil Wood. A truly memorable body of insightful scholarship and an impressive tribute to Morehouse College, "In the Beginning" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and academic library collections.
Fundraiser A: My Fight for Freedom and Justice
Northern Illinois University Press
2280 Bethany Road, DeKalb, IL 60115
9780875804880, $24.00, 220pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Most people will recognize the name Robert Blagojevich as the brother of ill-fated Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. But many don't know why Robert came to work for his brother or how he came to be named as a defendant in the criminal trial accusing Rod of attempting to sell Barack Obama's former Senate seat to the highest bidder after the presidential election of 2008. Now, Robert offers a brutally honest inside look at what it is like to face the full force and power of the federal government and maintain innocence in a high-profile criminal case.
By the time United States of America vs. Rod Blagojevich and Robert Blagojevich was over, one of the most renowned prosecutors in America, Patrick Fitzgerald, had brought down a governor of Illinois for the second time in five years. An investigation that would unseat one of the unindicted "co-conspirators" in the case, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., had begun. And the integrity of President Obama, US Senator Roland Burris, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had been called into question.
For the last four months of 2008, Robert was, at his brother's request, the head of Rod's fundraising operation, Friends of Blagojevich. Rod and Robert had taken very different career paths and had drifted apart by middle age. But when Rod asked Robert to help him fundraise (because he couldn't trust anyone else in the role) Robert agreed, honoring his parents' wish that the brothers help one another when needed. In the rough-and-tumble world of Chicago-style politics, operating on an ethical level was not easy, as this telling memoir demonstrates. Robert often had to tell potential donors that there was no quid pro quo for a contribution: giving money did not result in state contracts and certainly didn't result in an appointment to fill a vacant Senate seat.
"Fundraiser A: My Fight for Freedom and Justice" is a criminal defendant's gripping account of how he rose to the biggest challenge of his life and beat the odds of a 96 percent Department of Justice conviction rate to walk away with his freedom. It offers not only a previously untold story of a fascinating trial with well-known, colorful characters that captured the attention of the nation, but also a look at a universal relationship - brothers - as well as the theme of a David ordinary citizen facing the Goliath federal government. Those who enjoy legal thrillers, political dramas, family sagas, and all things Chicago will be especially interested in this memoir.
Critique: Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well written, deftly organized and candidly presented from beginning to end, "Fundraiser A: My Fight for Freedom and Justice" is an inherently fascinating and thoroughly absorbing read from first page to last. Very strongly recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fundraiser A" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.49).
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781608320998, $22.95, 220pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less" by business consultant and a motivational speaker Cameron Herold is a step-by-step guide to enjoying the roller-coaster ride of economic growth while at the same time getting the most out of life as an entrepreneur. Offering a growth-focused approach, "Double Double" is divided into three sections, which cover planning for fast growth, building a company for fast growth, and leading for fast growth. Each topic Cameron Herold covers, from creating a vision for the company's future to learning how to generate free PR for a developing company, is squarely focused on the end goal: doubling the size of the entrepreneur's company in three years or less. A down-to-earth action plan: Herold's experienced-based advice never gets bogged down in generalities or theory. Instead, he offers a wealth of practical tips, including: How to design meetings for maximum efficiency; How to hire top-quality talent; How to grow in particularly tough markets; How to put together a board of advisors -- even for a smaller company; How even the busy entrepreneur can achieve a work/life balance.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, deftly organized, and impressively presented, "Double Double: How to Double Your Revenue and Profit in 3 Years or Less" is a complete course of instruction under one cover and should be considered essential reading by anyone considering or already engaged in an entrepreneurial enterprise. As 'user friendly' as it is informed and practical, "Double Double" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Business Studies instructional reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Double Double" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.59).
Liveright Publishing Corporation
c/o W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9781631490477, $24.95, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Sent to a "therapeutic community" for autism at the age of eleven, Todd Aaron, now in his fifties, is the "Old Fox" of Payton Living Center. A joyous man who rereads the encyclopedia compulsively, he is unnerved by the sudden arrivals of a menacing new staffer and a disruptive, brain-injured roommate. His equilibrium is further worsened by Martine, a one-eyed new resident who has romantic intentions and convinces him to go off his meds to feel "normal" again. Undone by these pressures, Todd attempts an escape to return "home" to his younger brother and to a childhood that now inhabits only his dreams. In "Best Boy", author Eli Gottlieb writes astonishingly well in the first-person voice of an autistic, adult man.
Critique: An extraordinary and unique novel, "Best Boy" is a thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end and very highly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. For personal reading lists to should be noted that "Best Boy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.44).
Temptations Behind Stained Glass
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781622958801, $22.99, 332pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Almost every temptation that every person has faced is faced by the monks within the stone walls of St. Invictus Abbey. Promises of health, wealth, and well-being to taste love, real romance, and happiness are broken by the invasions of the seven deadly sins and their malevolent henchmen; they plunder and pillage our lives. St. Invictus Abbey is being ravaged and it lays in various stages of ruin. The daily chants within the Abbey become the background noise muffling the Sirens' songs promising an eternal past and future immortality. Similarly, we use past sights, sounds, and future expectations to insulate, and then isolate ourselves. We, along with the monks, wage our own wars and must decide which path must die in order for another path to live. Our guiding ideas that arise from our shared history haunt several monks residing at St. Invictus Abbey and include the equivalent horrors of the Inquisition, the slaughter of the Crusades and the ferocity of the Conquistadores. These monstrous evils and others threaten to rule the monks and us from their graves by illusory scepters. The Abbey struggles to free itself from ancient and present murder, betrayal, treachery and the bondage of the past. The monks' engagements with death and life, illuminated by the smoky torches of their traditions and the brightness of Brother Sartorius, show us that love in its carnal and celestial forms moves us to live fully while we are alive.
Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Temptations Behind Stained Glass: A Canticle of Desires and Redemptions" by Richard Crangle is a thoroughly absorbing and ultimately rewarding read that is strongly recommended for inclusion for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections.
Walter J. Scherr
c/o Wiley Professional Trade Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
9781119118435, $29.99, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Part autobiography and part history lesson, "Walter's Way" is Walter Scherr's person memoir. An autobiographical tale full of adventure and excitement as well as disappointment and heartache, "Walter's Way" tells the story of how a Depression-era boy from Queens, New York overcame a life-threatening illness to live an adventurous life as a globe-trotting executive who witnessed and helped foster the post-World War II economic boom. The lessons Scherr shares about business, leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and family are priceless. While imparting Scherr's unique perspectives on business, success, risk, love, and life, "Walter's Way" will also inspire the power of philanthropy and the value of caring for others, a spirit that shines through the pages of the book. It should be noted that proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to The Center for Discovery.
Critique: A successful businessman and entrepreneur, Walter J. Scherr is the founder of Visual Sciences inc./Panafax, the first publicly traded facsimile company in the country. Exceptionally well written, inherently fascinating, and ultimately inspiring, "Walter's Way" is an enthusiastically recommended read and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library American Biography collections.
Shoot the Conductor
Anshel Brusilow & Robin Underdahl
University of North Texas Press
PO Box 311336, Denton, TX 76203-1336
9781574416138, $29.95, 336pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Anshel Brusilow started playing violin in 1933 at age five, in a Russian Jewish neighborhood of Philadelphia where practicing your instrument was as ordinary as hanging out the laundry. His playing wasn't ordinary, though. At sixteen, he was soloing with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He was also studying conducting. Brusilow's tumultuous relationships with Pierre Monteux, George Szell, and Eugene Ormandy shaped his early career. Under Szell, Brusilow was associate concertmaster at the Cleveland Orchestra until Ormandy snatched him away to make him concertmaster in Philadelphia, where he remained from 1959 to 1966. But he was unsatisfied with the violin. Even as concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, he felt the violin didn't give him enough of the music. He wanted to conduct. He formed chamber groups on the side; he conducted summer concerts of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The price was high: it ruined his father-son relationship with Ormandy. Brusilow turned in his violin bow for the baton and created his own Philadelphia Chamber Symphony. Next he took on the then-troubled Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Unhappy endings repeat themselves in his memoir -- and yet humor dances constantly around the edges. Musicians need it. Brusilow played with or conducted many top-tier classical musicians and has something to say about each one. He also made many recordings. Co-written with Robin Underdahl, his memoir is a fascinating view of American classical music as well as an inspiring story of a working-class immigrant child making good in a tough arena.
Critique: A deftly crafted and informative memoir, "Shoot the Conductor: Too Close to Monteux, Szell, and Ormandy" is the latest addition to the outstanding University of North Texas Press 'Mayborn Literary Nonfiction' series and an inherently absorbing read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Shoot the Conductor" is also available in a Kindle edition ($18.99).
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781506198965, $9.99, 210pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Bar Nights" by Dave Matthes is a story revolving around Arlo, a man who's just turned 39. Fed up with the way his life has turned out thus far, he leaves his cheating wife, out of control preteen slut daughter and her "fiance", his unbearably demeaning job, and hits the highway. It isn't long before his car dies on him, and he's forced to take shelter in the only place available at the time: the for-rent room above a dive bar, named "Purgatory", positioned seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Convincing the owner to let him work off his rent, he spends his days drinking and care-taking the bar, running odd jobs for his boss, and spends his nights tucked away in his room drunkenly passing out to the sounds of whoever is playing the music downstairs until one night he ventures out into the storm eternally encapsulating his world. An unexpected meeting sets in motion a relentless and remorseless onslaught of emotions, bringing Arlo to the absolute breaking point of insanity and introducing him to a realization that redefines why he ended up at "Purgatory" to begin with.
Critique: The first volume of the "The Mire Man Trilogy", Dave Matthe's "Bar Nights" is a deftly crafted novel by an experienced and undeniably talented writer with exceptionally storytelling skills. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bar Nights" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).
The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles
P.O. Box 505, Fredonia, NY 14063
9781935248675, $16.95, 300pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Johnny Riles is in a rough patch. He's lonesome, he's drunk, and someone's murdered his horse. He spends his days searching for the mysterious killer, for his brother's soul, for a sober reason to live. In this off-kilter tale spun out with dry humor, Johnny delves beneath stark Western landscapes both literal and figurative to unearth the truths behind his nightmares.
Critique: A deftly crafted and tremendously entertaining read from beginning to end, "The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles" documents author Gregory Hill's impressive storytelling talents and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Lonesome Trials of Johnny Riles" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).
Deadly Secret of the Lusitania
Lost Coast Press
155 Cypress Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
9781935448372, $16.95, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In 1915, a German U-Boat sank the British passenger liner Lusitania. Many Americans, including women and children, were among the 1,200 dead, so the crime caused a storm of protest in America, and helped plunge the U.S. into World War I. "Deadly Secret of the Lusitania" is a gripping fictional account by Ivan Light in which an insurance investigator and his fiancee help a murdered longshoreman s widow who s been unjustly denied her husband s life insurance. Finding themselves in possession of documents detailing the Lusitania s secret cargo, the couple are targeted by German and British spies, Irish republicans, a rogue socialist, and the newly-formed FBI, all wanting to use the suppressed material for their own purposes.
Critique: Impressively well written, inherently absorbing, and a terrifically entertaining read from beginning to end, "Deadly Secret of the Lusitania" is very strongly recommended as an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Deadly Secret of the Lusitania" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
The Night Game
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
9781910669006, $24.00, 250pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: It's late winter in New York City and the city is shrouded in fog. Mary lives alone in her childhood home, a rambling brownstone on Manhattan's Lower East Side. After a series of menacing phone calls, and fearing that she is being stalked, Mary contacts Sheila, one of her oldest friends. Sheila agrees to move in until the situation is resolved. The police investigate and initially focus on respondents to a dating site she has recently joined. Mary suspects her ex-husband David, with whom she is still obsessed. Fast-paced and dark "The Night Game" offers up psychological intrigue and emotional depth. Nothing in this surreal story, which culminates in the re-enactment of an old murder, is as it seems.
Critique: Impressively well written with a wealth of unexpected plot twists and turns, "The Night Game" is a terrifically absorbing and entertaining read that is very highly recommended to the attention of suspense/thriller enthusiasts. A master of the mystery genre, Frank Golden delivers one of those unique stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after his novel is finished and placed back upon the shelf. "The Night Game" is very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Night Game" is also available in a Kindle edition ($1.95).
Master Your Brain
Sterling Publishing Company
387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016-8810
9781454916055, $19.95, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Master Your Brain: Training Your Mind for Success in Life" will help propel you toward greater accomplishments in business, finance, health, and love. Pulling from wide-ranging research on the brain and the latest discoveries in psychology and neuroscience, "Master Your Brain" gives you a systematic, methodical approach to getting the most from your mind and programming it for success. Commercial psychologist Phillip Adcock explains in plain English why the brain functions as it does. Then he offers scientifically based techniques for harnessing the power of your emotions, conquering your fears, mastering communication and relationships, overcoming social obstacles, and clarifying what you really want to achieve. Step-by-step exercises show you how to visualize success, take command of your physiology, track your milestones, and more. With "Master Your Brain", you can better understand the behavior of your bosses and colleagues and positively influence the feelings and behavior of others. It's all right here at your fingertips.
Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally well organized, and accessible presented for the benefit of the non-specialist general reader, "Master Your Brain: Training Your Mind for Success in Life" is strongly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement reference collections.
Frances Ha: A Noah Baumbach Picture
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9783869307312, $95.00, 784pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Frances Ha" is a modern comic fable that captures the trials and tribulations of a young woman trying to make it in New York City. Like an endearing comedy of errors, Frances throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possible reality diminishes. Directed by Noah Baumbach, the film is a beautiful homage to classic French cinema, but its character feels quintessentially New York. Capturing the romantic spirit of the film in print, "Frances Ha" tells the story through moments. Edited down to one frame per scene, Noah Baumbach follows a strict structure laying out 688 stills. When assembled in sequence, the images recreate the story and achieve the same cinematic quality in print. Continuity is key to the structure, as the visual dialogue reveals moments full of expression and arresting honesty. On the printed page, the beautiful black-and-white stills appear timeless and pay homage to the oft-forgotten art of cinematography.
Critique: Truly impressive in its organization and presentation, "Francis Ha" is strongly recommended for inclusion into personal, professional, community, and community library Cinematic History collections in general, and French Cinematic History supplemental studies reading lists in particular. Indeed, "Francis Ha" would make an excellent Memorial Fund acquisition selection for any library system.
From These Hands
Regent's Wharf, All Saints Street, London, England, N1 9PA
9780714868981, $59.95, 128pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "From These Hands: A Journey Along the Coffee Trail" is award winning photographer Steve McCurry's celebration of coffee growing communities around the world, from the foothills of the Andes and the South American rain forest to the slopes of Kilimanjaro and the Jungles of Vietnam. The images compiled in "From These Hands" include portraits of workers and their families presented alongside stunning natural landscapes that bring each coffee plantation to life.
Critique: A truly impressive and memorable body of work, "From These Hands: A Journey Along the Coffee Trail" truly showcases Steve McCurry's unique perspectives and photographic talents. "From These Hands" is enthusiastically recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Photography Studies reference collections and reading lists.
Yamasaki in Detroit
Wayne State University Press
4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
9780814341193, $39.99, 128pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Although his best-known project was the World Trade Center in New York City, Japanese American architect Minoru Yamasaki (1912-1986) worked to create moments of surprise, serenity, and delight in distinctive buildings around the world. In his adopted home of Detroit, where he lived and worked for the last half of his life, Yamasaki produced many important designs that range from public buildings to offices and private residences. In "Yamasaki in Detroit: A Search for Serenity", veteran journalist and author John Gallagher presents both a biography of Yamasaki (or Yama as he was known-and an examination of his working practices), with an emphasis on the architect's search for a style that would express his artistic goals.
Gallagher explores Yamasaki's drive to craft tranquil spaces amid bustling cities while other modernists favored "glass box" designs. He connects Yamasaki's design philosophy to tumultuous personal experiences, including the architect's efforts to overcome poverty, racial discrimination, and his own inner demons. "Yamasaki in Detroit" surveys select projects spanning from the late 1940s to the end of Yamasaki's life, revealing the unique gardens, pools, plazas, skylight atriums, and other oases of respite in these buildings. Gallagher includes prominent works like the Michigan Consolidated Gas Building in downtown Detroit, Temple Beth-El in Bloomfield Township, and landmark buildings on the Wayne State University and College for Creative Studies campuses, as well as smaller medical clinics, office buildings, and private homes (including Yamasaki's own residence). To write "Yamasaki in Detroit", Gallagher consults Yamasaki's own autobiographical writings, architects who worked with Yamasaki in his firm, and photography from several historic archives to give a full picture of the architect's work and motivations.
Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, "Yamasaki in Detroit" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it a very strongly recommended addition to professional and academic library Architectural Studies reference collections.
Islamic Law and the Law of Armed Conflict
Niaz A. Shah
Edward Elgar Publishing
9 Dewey Court, Northampton, MA 01060-3815
9781782545248, $455.00, 866pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Niaz A. Shah (a Reader in Law at the University of Hull, UK ), "Islamic Law and the Law of Armed Conflict: Essential Readings" is an important collection of scholarly articles that reveals a multiplicity of perspectives on the Islamic law of war and peace. Prefaced by an original introduction, the carefully selected works demonstrate how the concept of Jihad is interpreted or misinterpreted. They also examine the rules applicable during the conduct of armed conflict and the significance of peace and security within Islamic tradition. The collection provides valuable insights into the compatibility of the Islamic law of war and peace and the law of armed conflict, demonstrating how the former could minimize unnecessary human suffering during armed conflict. "Islamic Law and the Law of Armed Conflict" is an essential source of reference for everyone interested in this vital relationship.
Critique: Comprised of 33 articles, dating from 1985 to 2013, the contributors to "Islamic Law and the Law of Armed Conflict" include: A. Al-Dawoody, M. al-Hasan al-Shaybani, M.C. Bassiouni, K.A. El-Fadl, M.H. Kamali, M.M. Shaltut, H.E. Shaykh Ali Gomaa, A.L. Silverman, F. Vogel, H. Zawati. An absolutely vital addition to professional, governmental, and academic library Islamic Studies reference collections, "Islamic Law and the Law of Armed Conflict" is critically important reading for anyone with an interest in understanding how Muslims view the use and abuse of armed conflict within the context of their Islamic faith, culture and religious traditions -- especially with the advent of such groups as al-Qaida, Boko Haram, and the current rise of Isis.
Michael J. Carson
The Weak and the Innocent (The Frontiers Saga, #14)
Frontiers Saga Publishing
B0147R0CJA, $0.00 Kindleunlimited ebook or $13.68 paperback
I really, really like this series. It has changed considerably since the first book, or rather, episode. Once, a long time ago, Lieutenant Nathan Scott has been just out of the Academy on his first voyage in an experimental starship. That ship, the Aurora, has taken him thousands of light years and back and made him it's Captain. All of this was done in a very fine science fiction manner. Captain Scott is now believable in his positions as are all the other characters that made up the Aurora as she traveled to the Pentarus Cluster and back.
From the Pentarus Cluster we got a whole bunch of new characters and things in this book changed. The storyline has evolved into Earth against the Jung. There are now many more jump capable ships with many more Captains than just Captain Scott. We now have Admiral Dumar running the show and he's doing an admirable job. All the other characters are there, but the story is now about much more than just the Aurora. I like the way the story has grown.
In this episode, be prepared to get really confused right off the bat. You're going to be thrown into the middle of a battle, no, into many battles right from the first page. Then you get into the actions that are happening in the Pentarus Cluster and come right back to Tau Ceti and are in another major battle! It doesn't feel like you're going to get any time to just read without trying to figure who's shooting at who. So, there is a lot of action in this book, that's for sure.
I still think Commander Telles is my favorite character. He's the Commander of the Ghatazhak Soldiers and he doesn't take nothing from anyone. The action he gets into is fast and furious and very, very hard to figure out. But, survive he does and accomplish his mission, he also does. He also doesn't care for some of the more "compassionate" consideration of his senior Commanders. Not a guy you would want to tangle with, but Lieutenant Commander Nash seems to want to take him on. She's got a chip on her shoulder that just might get knocked off hard in the next episode.
Ok, so this book is great. It finishes off what the Alliance started in the previous book. Remember the scout ship that got clobbered and tractor-beamed by a Jung ship that went FTL immediately. The Alliance can't lose a ship with an intact jump drive, so find out how the Aurora gets that problem resolved.
Good episode, great series, excellent science fiction!
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500189600, $0.00 Kindle Unlimited ebook / $9.99 paperback / $17.48 Audible
This book was interesting, but not my kind of book. Oh, it is science fiction and there is a lot of fighting, but some of the stuff is just dumb.
Meritropolis is a walled city. The people stay inside because there are dangerous animals on the outside. These are not your normal run-of-the-mill wild animals. No, they have been genetically altered during the "Event" which has made them hybrids of animals we normally would know. Now, here's the dumb part. The naming of the new species of animal sounds like the author talked to a bunch of 1st Graders to get the names. I'm not going to repeat them here; they sounded dumb in the book and they'd sound just as dumb in my review.
The story goes that people in Meritropolis are given a "score" rating from the day they are born. This shows up somehow on the right forearm (could be left, I can't remember) and that's how you're standing within the community is determined. Now, all the kids are grown in underground bunkers below the city and only come up when they come of age which I believe is about 17.
So, Charley has just recently arrived on the surface in Meritropolis and he's considered an adult. He, like everyone else, has to put up with Assessment Day every week, where all the people have to stand in line and have their score read. Charley's score reads 118. That's an amazingly high score for someone so young. Anyone with a score 100 and above are considered High Scores and are privileged. They eat better than the Low Scores, live in better accommodations and don't have to worry about being Zeroed!
Charley is smart, but he's also a typical teenager, in that he's mad at the "System". The reason he's mad is pretty understandable, but doesn't matter unless he does something about it. Charley is going to change the system for the better, if he can.
The storyline is interesting if somewhat juvenile. I can see this book in the Young Adult category. The writing is just fine as is the editing. It does seem kind of slow at the beginning, but does pick up a little as it goes along. We don't get a lot of background on "Meritropolis" or even if we're on Earth, which I think we are. We don't know why "Metropolis" exists, although there are hints that there is something beyond just this city.
I also think the author ended the book way too suddenly. l hate that. I might read the next book, but I had no indication this was a series to begin with. If you like reading about angry teenagers making their way to change society, then you'll like this book.
Breakout: A Storm is Coming. A Rebellion is Reviving.
The BLI Group
9780692300329,$14.98, paperback, www.amazon.com
I don't know what the author's native language is, but I do know it can't be English! I got about about a quarter of the way into this book and I couldn't stand it any longer. The sentence structure is way off; everything reads weirdly. I caught myself going back across many, many sentences trying to figure out what they meant. It's too distracting to do that and keep concentrating on the story. I don't know who edited this book, but in my humble opinion, it needs to be edited again and written like someone would talk; someone that talks in English as his native language, that is.
The story itself seems pretty weird. I believe a new set of genetically altered humans has been born who have special "powers". These "Avaints" are required to be trained as pilots or ground support personnel to protect the rest of humanity from going to war, again. A quarter of the way into the book, I wasn't sure why anyone of the main characters were doing what they were having to do or why.
This could be a good book if I could read it. I tried, but I've got took many other understandable books to read. Maybe some day I'll come back and finish it, but most likely not!
Lieutenant Colonel (United Federation Marine Corps, Book 6)
Jonathan P. Brazee, Col., USMC (Ret.)
Semper Fi Press
9780692522639, $0.00 Kindleunlimited ebook or $7.99 paperback, www.amazon.com
This was the book I was most looking to read. Having been a Lieutenant Colonel and a Battalion Commander, I was wondering what kind of experience our hero, LTC Ryk Lysander was going to have. So far, he has learned his lessons on leadership the hard way. He's made his share of mistakes and has learned that at this point in his career, those mistakes can get people killed. Still, his focus remains on completing his mission.
I liked the action in this book. There weren't many dull periods and the fighting seemed to go on for a long time, but in actual time they were not that long. LTC Lysander had to remind himself time and again not to get bogged down in the weeds of what was going on because he was there to manage the fight. Now I know most civilians probably don't think battles are managed by anyone other than maybe Generals, but let me tell you. Battle management goes all the way down to the Team Leader, trying to keep himself and two other soldiers alive. Captains must manage what their Companies do and ensure they accomplish their part of the mission and then the Battalion Commander must manage sometimes up to 5 or more companies fighting in a single battle. Lysander has got a lot of technology working for him, but sometimes that can get overwhelming and confusing. The book does a good job of showing how Lysander keeps trying not to get bogged down with details while also trying to keep himself alive. He is in the battle after all, not way behind his lines somewhere.
I liked the story. While I was fortunate not to have to go into combat, I did love being a Battalion Commander. It was great to have a bunch of guys around you who were all professionals and when told to do something, they did it. The book doesn't go into the day-to-day administrative stuff that a Commander can get bogged down in which can drive you crazy. Besides, most of that is boring anyway.
So, if you've enjoyed these books so far, I think you're going to like this one too. Lots of fighting and good descriptions of the action. It seems like Lysander's career is going by really fast. I can remember the first book, "Recurit", pretty clearly and now he's already a Lieutenant Colonel. I know the series will end sooner or later, but I will hate to see it do so.
The Lost Fleet: Into the Darkness (A Slaver Wars Book)
Raymond L. Weil
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781517058593, $0.00 Kindleunlimited ebook / $11.99 paperback, www.amazon.com
This is just great! We started a series way back when with the first book, "Moon Wreck (Slavers War Book 1)" and now we're starting a brand new series with almost the same characters. If you recall, then Commander Jason Strong and his copilot, Greg Johnson, found a derelict starship that had crash landed on the Moon. I said then, that this was a great way to start a series because that's what everyone with a science fiction passion wants; proof that we are not alone!
From that point on, the series took off into one massive space battle after another. We were introduced to hyperdrive and found that there were good and very bad aliens in the Universe. Now, through cryosleep, the Son and Daughter of Admiral Jason Strong and Greg Johnson are in their very own series and it is a good one.
In the last book, "The Lost Fleet: Galactic Search", we found out how Admiral Jeremy Strong and his fleet became the Lost Fleet. They were thrown through a intergalactic spatial vortex (I didn't come up with this, it's the authors!) into an unknown galaxy, which happens to be occupied by a race of beings bent on the destruction of all "organics". They're called the Simulin and I have no idea what kind of beings they are.
Now, back in the home galaxy, Admiral Race Tolsen is desperately trying to get a reinforcement fleet sent through the spatial vortex while they still can help Admiral Strong fight the Simulin. There's also a strong possibility the Simulin will come through the spatial vortex with a massive fleet of their own with the intention of conquering the home galaxy. So, there are a number of exciting things going on and actions galore. If you like space battles, then you'll love this series.
I had a hard time keeping track of all the ships in every battle. But the author does a good job of describing what's happening and it seems to make sense. He doesn't go into a detailed numbers count, which is great, but you do get a summary of each battle when it's appropriate. Some of the Command Center conversations are kind of comical. I don't think a group of people who have been around everything would have some of the conversations that the writer writes. There just isn't any reason to say what these people say to each other.
Still, this is a great series and I'm looking forward to the next book which should be here in December 2015. I can't wait!
Conceal Carry; Pause
Donn G. Ziebell, Ph.D.
Ziebell Associates, Inc.
9780989474559 $9.95 www.amazon.com
The purpose of Conceal Carry; Pause: The Pursuit of Trained Readiness with a Goal to Avoid a 3-Second-Long Gun Fight is not to advocate for or against gun ownership, or concealed carry laws. Neither is it an all-inclusive instructional. Instead, it is author Donn Ziebell's experiences venturing directly into concealed carry culture - attending gun safety and training courses, interviewing individuals, and learning what it means to be prepared to defend one's life with a concealed handgun. Any person legally carrying a concealed weapon must be aware that "every bullet has a lawyer hanging on to it"; firing at or threatening another person without the most stringent justifications will inevitably result in life-destroying criminal or civil penalties. How can one learn to swiftly and accurately evaluate emergency situations? Sometimes failure to quickly use one's gun in self-defense (in a life-threatening "Code Black" situation) will result in death or worse, while being too aggressive with one's gun can give one's assailant open opportunity to file a lawsuit - or put the gun owner at risk for imprisonment, even if no shots were fired. Ziebell shares insights from various types of gun owners, lessons from courses taught by the NRA, and words of wisdom for all readers, regardless of their personal stances on gun ownership and concealed carry. One of the most valuable recommendations for prospective gun owners in Conceal Carry; Pause is the need to have a lawyer who can be reached in an emergency, as well as a concealed carry permit. In the immediate aftermath of any incident involving one's gun (even if no shots are fired!), one should call 911 without delay, describe oneself as well as the assailant (so the police do not mistake the 911 caller for the perpetrator!) and "Be extremely brief with very few words when answering police questions. Explain that you cannot talk without the presence of your attorney. Police should understand this." Conceal Carry; Pause cannot substitute for the education of a gun safety training course, but is worthy of the highest recommendation as supplementary material.
The Cartoon Guide series
Leo A. Sielsch
$16.95 each www.cartoonguide.net
Three humorous "Cartoon Guide" books by Leo A. Sielsch pair accessible terminology definitions with black-and-white cartoons, and make excellent, educational browsing for young adult and adult readers of all backgrounds. Each guide essentially functions as an enhanced vocabulary resource; the reader is presumed to already have basic familiarity with the most fundamental rules of the sport or institution. "The Cartoon Guide to Baseball" (9781467599924, illustrations by Blaine Wood) teaches readers about baseball terms and concepts in an amusing quiz style - different cartoon characters offer their opinions on what an idiom reads, and the reader must turn the page to learn which one was correct. "...the term 'jake' means one who stalls and was originated from Garland 'Jake' Stahl, who caught and played first and managed American League teams during the early 1900's." The Cartoon Guide to Golf" (9781467584647, illustrations by Gene Forester) uses a similar format to teach the reader about common phrases and concepts in the sport of golf. "The term scratch, meaning a player with a zero handicap, originated from the practice of providing an artificial advantage (ahead of the formal scratched start line of a race) to inferior runners and later became the name for those golfers who started at the scratch line (no advantage)." "The Cartoon Guide to Politics" (9781467584630, illustrations by Blaine Wood) explores complex, counterintuitive conundrums of political terminology. "Nimby is an acronym and stands for 'not in my back yard.'" All three Cartoon Guides are as enjoyable as they are edifying, and highly recommended.
Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Einstein's Daughter
9781780925721 $14.95 www.amazon.com
Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Einstein's Daughter is an original mystery novel featuring Arthur Conan Doyle's classic (and public domain) detective character and his loyal associate Watson on a new adventure, which leads them to cross paths with one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. When Holmes is asked to investigate the background of a young graduate named Albert Einstein, it sets off an escalating chain of events. The potential career of a physics genius lies in the hands of a detective genius - but who is the mysterious "Lieserl"? Extensive historical endnotes round out the vivid period piece. Also highly recommended especially for Sherlock Holmes fans are the new mysteries "Sherlock Homes and the Case of the Bulgarian Codex", "Sherlock Holmes and the Dead Boer at Scotney Castle", and "Sherlock Holmes and the Sword of Osman".
The Basics of Winning Lotto/Lottery
808 South Main Street, Las Vegas, NV 89108-6404
9781580423250, $4.95, www.amazon.dom
An inexpensive, quick and easy sixty-four page instructional guide "The Basics of Winning Lotto/Lottery" gives players an approach to winning million-dollar jackpots! This handy and thoroughly 'user friendly' pocket-sized guide shows bettors everything they need to know to play and win money at lotto and lottery game in just one quick read. "The Basics of Winning Lotto/Lottery" includes the rules and variations, the payoffs, the odds and inside secrets and strategies used by big jackpot winners. Of special note is the advice on money management. Very highly recommended, it should be noted that "The Basics of Winning Lotto/Lottery" is also available in a Kindle edition ($0.99).
William Paul Young
c/o Simon & Schuster
216 Centerview Dr., Ste. 303, Nashville, TN 37027
9781501101373, $27.00, http://imprints.simonandschuster.biz/howard
Wm. Paul Young, author of mega-bestsellers, The Shack and Crossroads releases Eve September 15. It's a narrative that will "challenge existing assumptions and upset the applecart by story's end," writes Young. He does that and more when he takes "artistic license" far outside the boundaries imposed by the biblical story of Adam, Eve and the fall of man.
His religious themed account of creation begins with "John the Collector" and an elegant, ebony-black woman named "Mother Eve." Their visit takes place on an ocean shore in an "other" world the author never fully develops. There Eve tells John"...my child will be born into your world" today, a child whose "genetic code connects her to every known human race."
Thus begins a multi-layered murder mystery wrapped in prophecy, time distortions and fantasy in Young's "creative retelling of the story of Adam and Eve," a tale of good versus evil and gender identity. Lily, the main character and the "other" world, peopled by John, Eve and Letty among others was confusing until both stories morphed into one in the final pages of the book.
Still, Young's characterizations are well drawn. Especially that of "Lily," the lone survivor of twelve murdered women found in a large shipping container that "drifted" to the other world "from Earth in real time." Lily is the girl of prophecy, the "Witness to Beginnings," yet many questions raised about her are never answered or addressed.
"John the Collector" gains the title of "Finder" when he takes Lily home to oversee her physical, mental and spiritual recovery. There he learns of Lily's scarred self-worth caused by dark events from her childhood.
Then there's delightful "Letty," a mysterious, dwarf-sized old woman who appears to help John nurse Lily through long months of recovery, along with Artists, Scavengers, Helpers and Healers. Letty's sharp wit adds to her appeal, yet her role as Lily's "Guardian" only adds to the mystery that surrounds her.
I found some of the most intriguing aspects of the book undeveloped, such as Lily's genetics that connect her to "every human race" and the book's description that says the story is a "refreshing conversation about the equality of men and women..." The genetic aspect is never developed and the question of gender identity is simply a shifting of blame. To say more would reveal too much.
While Young used provocative and unorthodox views of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit in The Shack and Crossroads he challenged but didn't step outside the bounds of Scripture as he does with Eve. In this book he changes the traditional biblical account.
As a fiction story "Eve" is confusing with substantial holes in the plot that doesn't live up to the creative talent the author showed in previous works. Although Young writes, "Eve" is a bold, unprecedented exploration of the Creation narrative, true to the original texts..."
I'm not sure what "text" Young references since he completely changes the biblical account the story is based on. I expected more from this author. "Eve: A Novel" is the first title in a two book deal Young made with Simon & Schuster's Christian division, Howard Books.
Surviving the Tribulation: Are You Equipped for the End Times
Deep River Books LLC
PO Box 310, Sisters, Oregon, 97730
9781940269405, $14.99, http://deepriverbooks.com
Pat Benedetto, editor, author and thirty-five year Bible prophecy student examines "what on earth is going on" in her new two-part book, Surviving the Tribulation that asks, "Are you equipped for the End-Times?" There she explores the number of record-setting worldwide disasters and their "increasing frequency and severity" she likens to birth pangs described in the book of Revelation.
Ezekiel 33: 3-6 prompted her to write the book. "If the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn't sound the alarm...the people will die in their sins..." However, God says "He will hold the watchman responsible." Pat considers herself a watchman and penned Surviving the Tribulation as a warning for those who will listen.
She begins with a simple overview that includes the mystery of the Trinity, "God's master plan," the "age of Grace," a summary of the seven year Tribulation and "Christ's Second Coming." Because God is loving, patient and longsuffering, she writes, he always warns before judgment. "For the Lord does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets," according to Amos 3:7 ESV. This segment includes Pat's background and personal testimony.
I found chapter three, "Signs of the Times" the most convincing because it affirms John 14:29. "And now I have told you before it takes place, so when it does take place you may believe." This chapter's examples reveal an increase in spiritual deception, appearances of false Christ's, signs of apostasy, the resurgence of Polio, Tuberculosis and other pestilence. Plus famine, Satanism, the occult, Christian persecution, wars and rumors of wars, Bible prophecies fulfilled and Israel. All "the signs increasingly point to His Second Coming," writes Pat and I agree with her. Add the 2014-2015 Blood Moons Tetrad, the fourth occurrence in 500 years and even skeptics have to admit the signs of our times are unusual.
The second half of the book features "Survival Strategies." Pat includes a salvation message, scriptural affirmations and several excellent check lists of things to have on hand in case of disaster. The concise and biblical chapter on "Spiritual Warfare" is easy-to-understand and implement, as are the segments on "Practical Concerns" and "Basic Survival Strategies."
The Bible says the time of Christ's return, the beginning of sorrows, will be like the times of Noah, a violent time of bloodshed, selfishness and self-centeredness. The daily news testifies to that truth with their coverage of senseless violence and death.
The only thing I didn't like about "Surviving the Tribulation" was the misleading cover that shows a scary, gas-masked face. While the mask might be necessary at some point the cover doesn't suggest how thorough, easy-to-understand, well-written and well-researched the book published by Deep River Books really is.
"Surviving the Tribulation" offers comfort and hope because it reveals everyone has the choice to "walk in the light of Revelation" or walk in the "darkness of ignorance." Reading the book may cause you to question if your spiritual house is in order when viewed in the light of eternity.
The Apostle: Kingstone Bible, Vol. 10
Randy Alcorn, Illustrators, Javier Saltares, Chris Ivy & Ben Prenevost
PO Box 491600, Leesburg, FL 34749-1600
9781613281390, $16.99, http://www.kingstonemedia.com
Randy Alcorn, bestselling author of Heaven, Courageous and Safely Home released The Apostle in July. The graphic novel, volume ten in the Kingstone graphic novel Bible series from "Kingstone Media," is based on the "epic life and missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul."
The book is a graphic novel, best described as a long comic book with sturdy pages and binding. The comic book style caricatures and balloon word captions tell the story. In The Apostle Alcorn frames the narrative with what is known about Paul, such as his familiarity with the competitive sports of running and boxing referenced in 1 Corinthians 9:26.
Then he used what is called artistic license to dramatize and create an imaginative account. "The biblical content of "The Apostle" is inspired by God," he writes. He added extra story elements "to show a personal side of Paul and to fill out the story" that reveal Paul struggled with sins and character flaws common to us all, for example, self-righteousness.
Readers first meet Paul, then known as Saul at Stephen's stoning before his life-changing encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus where he assumed the name of "Paul which means 'little' or 'humble.'" The graphic novel concludes with the narrator saying, "That day the worst man in the world faced the best man" in the world. The fascinating story in between follows the biblical account in chronological order.
Lush, eye-appealing graphics inspire readers to learn what happens next in the easy-to-read balloon dialogue boxes. The creative imageries of first century Jerusalem, Christ's death on the cross, opulent vistas of Heaven, demons and more are realistic. I've reviewed many of Alcorn's books and have always known him to be an author who handles biblical content with love, reverence and respect and that hasn't changed.
As Alcorn did with his graphic novel Eternity, he's done again with The Apostle; created a dramatic work of art that carries Christ's message of salvation to an unbelieving generation in words and artistry that can't be ignored.
Using the comic book style format is sure to entice reluctant readers and equip them to encounter Scripture in a fresh new way. Five of the ten volumes in this Bible series release in the following order:
The Kings #I, Volume 5 - 10-20-2015- Ruth, Samuel, the life of David and the Psalms.
Patriarchs, Volume 2 - 12-15-2015- The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.
The Prophets, Volume 8 - 1-1-2016- Major and Minor Prophets of the Old Testament.
The Kings II, Volume 6 - 1-10-2016- Solomon, kings of Israel and Judah, the fall of Jerusalem.
The Letters, Volume 11 - 2-10-2016-Letters and epistles of Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude.
Besides a wonderful gift for children, Kingstone media affords all readers to "have a relationship with God" inspired by the sinners prayer that completes "The Apostle."
Dancing in the Sonshine: Restoration from the Wounds of Abuse
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500893088, $15.95, https://www.createspace.com
Author and board certified biblical counselor, Kimberly Davidson uses her extensive education, training and experience to bring hope and restoration to those suffering from the wounds of abuse in Dancing in the Sonshine. There she defines many forms of abuse, such as emotional, verbal, physical, sexual, spiritual, financial, neglect, intimidation and more.
She begins with a quote from Carl Bard, "No one can go back and change the past...but anyone can start from now and make a brand new end." In her practice she's found far too many who live in the past, who dread the future. With that in mind Davidson's work concerns responses to past abuse rather than the abuse itself, because abusive acts overwhelm and leave feelings of powerlessness where lives spin out of control.
In fifteen easy-to-read chapters Davidson writes about the power of love and belief essential elements to counteract rising incidences of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assaults that plague our nation. She knows from personal experience the truth of Exodus 15:26, "I am the Lord who heals you."
In these pages readers find healing Scriptures, personal testimonies and tips for how to take back lives, restore trust and regain a sense of control in addition to the freeing power of forgiveness. The sections on building healthy self-images and regaining a sense of self-worth are must reads!
"Abuse knows no boundaries," writes Davidson. "Millions of little girls are violated every day and millions of women walk into abusive relationships" that result in "deep traumatic wounds that require courage to heal."
Davidson encourages a journey of self-examination and self-discovery because that path leads to truth and the acceptance of a past God never wanted or designed for anyone. The abused can then reject feelings of guilt and the senseless lies and distortions fostered by abusers. Her quote from Mother Theresa is appropriate. "Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."
Chapters end with targeted Scriptures and a segment called, "Stepping Stones," an acronym for chapter exercises that offer "Steps To Overcome Negative Emotions with Spiritual solutions." The positive reinforcement affirmations "replace lies believed about God with truth." That truth then changes and "impacts thoughts, feelings and behaviors..."
If you have suffered any form of abuse, sexual assault or domestic violence and need healing, Davidson's spiritual and psychological guide is a must read, because learned responses to previous abusive behavior "continue to impact the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of today."
The Bones Will Speak (A Gwen Marcey Novel, #2)
Carrie Stuart Parks
P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, Tennessee 37214
9781401690458, $15.99, www.thomasnelson.com
In The Bones Will Speak, book two in the "Gwen Marcey" suspense series, the author uses both fact and fiction to pen a riveting account of a man "with a penchant for torture." The faith-based fiction story features murder, a serial killer, a lovable dog named Winston, a forensic artist named Gwen, her best friend Beth and Gwen's fourteen-year-old daughter Aynslee.
The serial killer, who believes he's God's executioner, is based on the real life of confessed serial killer Robert L. Yates Jr. who lived with his wife and children in Spokane, WA. The author was "one of the courtroom artists" at Yates's trial in 2000, a man influenced by radical groups such as Phineas Priesthood, the Christian Identity movement and Aryan Nations. The author's father, then director of the North Idaho Regional Crime Lab, was wounded by members of the Aryan Nations which gave her a special interest in the case.
The fictionalized account opens with Gwen Marcey, recent divorcee, cancer survivor and expert forensic artist for the Missoula, Montana police department chasing her very large dog to retrieve what she thought was "road kill." Winston, a delighted Great Pyrenees eager to play "crouched, wagging his tail," taunting her before he again "snatched his prize and shook it."
That's when Gwen saw the "sightless eye-sockets" of a human skull with a "neat bullet hole in the forehead" and a chilling murder mystery wrapped in heart-pounding suspense begins. Gwen couldn't know the skull Winston found would soon lead to another young girl in a nearby cabin who looked "uncannily like Gwen's daughter," a girl who had been tortured and left for dead.
Soon more bodies would be found and Gwen would learn a serial killer who believed in a "race-not-grace model of salvation" stalked her. A man who called her a "race traitor" because of a previous Neo-Nazi case she'd worked on whose crimes stretched from Montana to Oregon and Washington.
The book is written from Gwen's point-of-view and is a clean read without overt sex, violence or language from an author I hadn't read before, but now intend to watch for. While faith, prayer and forgiveness are a part of the story they are essential to the plot as are the subtle touches of humor throughout. Although part of a series, "The Bones Will Speak" is also a stand-alone title with cliff-hanger chapters and a completely unexpected conclusion with a book that demands to be read in one sitting. Fans of TV shows like Criminal Minds, CSI and NCIS will enjoy The Bones Will Speak.
Carrie Stuart Parks, internationally known forensic artist and award-winning fine artist teaches forensic art to law enforcement and civilians in Canada and across the U.S. Her background gives her a unique view of crime, criminals and crime scenes she puts to good use in The Bones Will Speak, book two of the "Gwen Marcey" suspense series.
"When Death Draws Near," book three, releases August 2016 this time with Gwen in pursuit of a serial rapist among Pentecostal Snake handlers in the Appalachian Mountains.
Gail Welborn, Reviewer
Go Set A Watchman
c/o Harper Collins
95 Broadway, New York, NY 100007
978006249850, $27.99, www.amazon.com
In close to forty years I've been a reviewer, I've never seen a book encounter so much negative attention as "Go Set A Watchman" In fact I can't recall a bookstore saying if readers do not like the book, it can be returned. Too many critics and readers want "Go Set A Watchman" to be another "To Kill a Mockingbird." This is the same mind set of many "Star Trek" fans who were so negative to "Star Trek The Next Generation." In both cases it is their loss because both are very well done but very different. The history of this book is interesting because "Go Set A Watchman" is the first novel Lee submitted along with some other writings. It is the other writings that were expanded to became the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" "Go Set A Watchman" was stored away until Harper Lee's friend and attorney found the original manuscript and a manuscript copy of "To Kill a Mockingbird" in a safety deposit box sometime last year. It was submitted for publication to Harper Collins with no major changes made to the original work. Hemingway cautioned authors to store away and not publish their first novel but work on getting the second one published. That is partly the case with this novel.
"Go Set A Watchman" is enjoyable and worth reading. Jean Louise Finch (Scout) is now 26 years of age and been away living and working in New York City. She comes home for a visit and learns that things are not the way she always believed. She is sickened to find that her father Atticus Finch is a racist and that everyone she knew is not what she thought. Through the use of flashbacks Harper Lee shows the difference in Jean Louise Finch's feelings towards the other people she adored until now. For some readers the fact that her father Atticus is a racist is very hard to take because of the depiction of him in "To Kill a Mockingbird" and in that novel he defended a black defendant. In "Go See a Watchman" we learn that he took the case because he could not tolerate the injustice that was being done to an innocent man. People also tend to forget that Jean Louise Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" was 6 years old and that she believed her father could do no wrong. Now she is older, wiser and changed because she has been away from her roots that have not changed. How many of us adored our parents as kids and learned something in later life that changed our perception of them. "Go Set a Watchman" is a fast paced wonderful character study of how our perceptions change based on life experiences.
Five Star Books
10 Water Street, Suite 310, Waterville, ME 04901
9781432831127, $25.95 www.amazon.com
"Payback" begins with a simple mistake on the part of Marta Crawford who is attending a convention in Atlanta. Feeling lonely on her birthday, she indulges in what she thinks will be a one night stand. Instead the man she had sex with pursues her and her family until he and her daughter disappear. A book by Jonnie Jacobs has always been a good read but this time "Payback" surpasses anything she has ever done. "Payback" is a suspenseful rapid paced plot with believable characters caught up in the simple gaffe Marta has made.
New American Library
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451472670, $25.95, www.amazon.com
David Harwood's life has had enough tragedy to last a lifetime. After the death of his wife and his professional life a disaster he decides to move his son and himself back to Promise Falls where he grew up to begin a new life. Shortly after he comes home he learns that his cousin Marla had a miscarriage that she has never recovered from. When he goes to check on his cousin because his mother asked him to, he finds Marla is taking care of a child and her story of how and why is too bizarre to believe. Marla claims that an angel knocked on her door and presented her with the child saying he is yours to take care of. So begins "Broken Promise" another great thriller from Linwood Barclay. Readers will enjoy the many twists and turns of the plot of "Broken Promise" until its final revealing ending for the Harwood crisis. The novel is also left open for a sequel to tie up some of the loose ends of other scenarios he introduced here but does not conclude. "Broken Promise" shows why Barclay is one of the masters of the genre of suspense novels.
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
97803991174667, $27.95, www.amazon.com
Stone Barrington is back in another thriller. Stone assists a man being harassed by two men outside of the restaurant he had just exited. By his simple good deed Stone becomes involved in a situation that could get him killed. The story moves rapidly from New York to Key West, Florida with intertwined situations that conclude with a suspenseful ending. "Naked Greed" is another page turner Stone Barrington suspenseful thriller.
A Ghostly Demise A Ghostly Southern Mystery
c/o Harper Collins
95 Broadway, New York, NY 100007
9780062374912, $7.99, www.amazon.com
Emma Lee Raines who is a part owner of a funeral home has a unique ability where she can communicate with dead people. Due to a freak accident where she was hit on the head by a falling plastic Santa she is able to see the ghost of certain dead people. Each one was murdered and the case was never solved. Now with her talent she works with local law enforcement to solve the crime. In "A Ghostly Demise" a town drunk who everyone presumed disappeared was really murdered. Now he comes to Emma and wants her to expose his killer. As if that was not enough she has to deal with her grandmother's campaign for mayor of the town of Sleepy Hollow Kentucky, a carnival that is taking over the town square and her boyfriend sheriff who has his own problems wrestling several runaway goats. "A Ghostly Demise" is a laugh out loud mystery that is filled with interesting situations and characters.
A Ghostly Murder A Ghostly Southern Mystery
c/o Harper Collins
95 Broadway, New York, NY 100007
978062374936 $7.99, www.amazon.com
Emma Lee Raines is back in another fun mystery of ghostly proportions. Mamie Sue Preston the richest woman in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky was murdered a while ago. Like other deaths it was never ruled a homicide. The ghost of Mamie Sue Preston contacts Emma Lee Raines and wants Raines to solve the case. As Raines delves into the situation she finds out many things about the town she never knew. Kappes keeps the hysterical situations coming in a fast paced mystery that is filled with lots of fun characters. The Ghostly Southern series is sure to please fans of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels.
Death By Coffee A Bookstore Cafe Mystery
Kensington Publishing Corp
119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
978161773751, $7.99, www.amazon.com
On the first day of business of a bookstore named "Death by Coffee" a customer dies after drinking a cup of coffee. Though he had a severe allergy to peanuts there is no evidence that supports why he died from drinking a cup of java. Krissy Hancock, one of the owners of the new shop is determined to find out what caused the demise of the patron and to clear the store of any wrong doing. The writing is fast paced with many interesting characters to enjoy. "Death By Coffee" is the first of a new mystery series that is off to a good start.
Theodore Boone the Accused
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780142426135, $7.99, www.amazon.com
"Theodore Boone the Accused" is the third novel of the series that began with "Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer" The writing here is a bit different from Grisham's adult novels that are so much more complicated in their plots. Theodore Boone believes that someone is setting him up for the robbery of a computer store. He also has to replace the tires of his bicycle because they keep going flat. He finds that someone keeps putting small gashes into them. He is obsessed with finding out why he keeps having flat tire problems and clearing his name of a crime he knows he did not commit. With the aid of his uncle they learn the truth and set a trap for the person or persons committing the criminal acts. Grisham makes the story interesting to the very end. "Theodore Boone the Accused" is for Grisham fans and anyone who wants a fast paced mystery.
Adam and Seymour
Cathy Finch White
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington IN 47403
9781467061568, $16.18, www.amazon.com
Two young boys who are best friends try out for a soccer team. Only one of them will be taken. The author tells a story of friendship and sportsmanship that subtly presents many life lessons for kids to learn. "Adam and Seymour" is for all ages to enjoy.
A Tale of Two Kitties Chaos Reigns
Robert A. Reese
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
97815116841363, $12.00, www.amazon.com
Author Reese has compiled over 100 stories from all over the United States of cats by their owners. There are both good kitties and bad ones that make the pieces so much fun to read. Several involve actions the felines do but do not get the blame because there is also a dog in the household who does. This is just like siblings where one child does something while the other one is punished. The narratives are fast paced and short and to the point. "A Tale of Two Kitties Chaos Reigns" is for anyone who likes Cats.
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780804178778, $28.99 US / $36.00 CA, Hardcover, 402 pp.
This is no spoiler: As this newest book from Lee Child opens, it is made clear from the first paragraph that someone has been killed, and his body is about to be buried. He is even identified: His name is Keever. And the mise en scene is apparently in the middle of nowhere - a wheat field "in the middle of ten thousand acres of nothingness," a month before harvest time. Jack Reacher makes his appearance on the very next page, as he finds himself on a train slowing down and coming down to a stop in a town apparently called Mother's Rest, "which he had seen on a map and which he thought was a great name for a railroad stop... He had no place to go, and all the time in the world to get there, so detours cost him nothing." So on a whim more than anything else, intrigued by the name of the town, he decides to check it out.
Reacher is an imposing figure. He is a retired military cop, with rare attributes: He is brilliant, with admirable reserves of intelligence and strengths (both mental and physical, at 6' 5" and 250 pounds. As he exits the train, he is approached by an Asian woman, about 5'9" and 40 years old, and very attractive. The woman, Michelle Chang, has apparently been waiting for a man who fit Reacher's general description, and is disappointed that it is Reacher, and not her colleague, the man called Keever. She is a private detective, ex-FBI, ex-cop from Connecticut. Keever was trying to make contact with a client whose identity is a mystery, but now it is her mystery as there has been no word from Keever since he told Chang he had arrived in Mother's Rest. Not improbably, Reacher joins her in her quest.
The mystery of the origin of the name Mother's Rest is not resolved until the final pages of the book; the mystery of Keever's whereabouts is resolved a bit more quickly, although it is a long and tortuous road discovering the answer. And it soon appears that the tiny village of Mother's Rest is not as peaceful as it might seem, and the small number of inhabitants are watching every step Reacher and Chang take, and reporting those movements to something of a master criminal.
The book is meticulously plotted, and wonderfully well written - no surprise there! There are some constants in a Lee Child/Jack Reacher novel (and thank goodness for that!) He still abides by his golden rules, the first of which is "eat when you can," followed closely by "hope for the best, plan for the worst," and travels with "everything he needed [usually only a toothbrush], and nothing he didn't." The book is trademark Lee Child/Jack Reacher, very high praise indeed, and the novel is highly recommended.
Keep Your Friends Close
154 W. 14th St., NY, NY 10011
9780802124166, $14.00, Paperback, 336 pp
This novel from Paula Daly (whose last book, "Just What Kind of Mother Are You," I absolutely loved!) brings back D.C. Joanne Aspinall of the CID. The protagonist who crosses paths with Aspinall is Natasha ("Natty") Wainwright, who with her husband, Sean, run a successful hotel in Windermere in England's Lake District, and has an enviable life with him and their two daughters, 16 and 14 years old, when their younger daughter becomes ill while on a school trip, and Eve must fly off to southern Normandy where the girl must have an appendectomy. As fate would have it, Eve Dalladay, Natty's best friend from college, has just come on a visit from the States and offers to stay at the house until Natty can return home.
As things transpire, it would appear that Eve is not who she seems, by any definition, and is a more devious woman than anyone could have guessed. The plot twists follow closely upon one another, but suffice it to say that Natty comes to the attention of the police, and D.C. Aspinall, when she rams her Porsche into the back of a Maserati where Eve is sitting in the driver's seat. And it is no accident.
Sean and Natty met at a sixteenth-birthday party when they were in school, deciding upon graduation that he would study law, and she would study biology. After sixteen years of marriage, things did not work as they had hoped or planned. But this turn of events is something far, far different. The suspense mounts, and lives are altered, literally and figuratively. The question arises, "Would you ever kill another person out of jealousy or hatred?"
The author has written another gripping novel, one that is recommended.
195 Broadway, NY, NY 10007
9780062083425, 320 pp., $26.99, Hardcover
9780062083432, 336 pp., $15.99, Paperback
This is Laura Lippman's 21st novel, and the 11th in the Tess Monaghan series. Tess is a former reporter and now private investigator in her late thirties, and she is called in by her mentor and close friend, attorney Tyner Gray, to assess the security needs of one of his clients, Melisandre Harris Dawes, one of the more complex women one could ever meet. Roberto ("Sandy") Sanchez, the Cuban-born retired Baltimore homicide cop, introduced to readers in the author's standalone novel "After I'm Gone," is now working for Tess, and joins her on this assignment, for which she is being handsomely paid.
Melisandre, a very beautiful and wealthy woman and herself an attorney, had stood trial for the murder of her 2-month-old daughter, and after a mistrial had been declared, at the second trial, before a judge and no jury, was found not guilty by reason of criminal insanity. She then left the country, her husband and her two surviving daughters, but after a decade has returned to Baltimore, hoping to regain custody of her girls, despite the opposition of her ex-husband, now remarried and with a young son, and has hired a filmmaker to make a documentary about her, her past, and the hoped-for reunion with her daughters, now 15 and 17 years old. Interspersed throughout are portions of transcripts of the interviews conducted.
In a scenario similar to the case of Andrea Yates, the notorious Texas woman who had drowned all five of her children, Melisandre had left her baby locked in her car in the summer heat, while she sat at the nearby seashore.
Tess and Melisandre have some things in common: They are, or were, challenged by the stress of raising small children: At one point Tess says "I can't help thinking what a thin line separates good parents from bad parents. . . I worry that I'm screwing up, every day." The other thing in common is that they are suddenly both recipients of "cryptic, vaguely sinister notes," though each is completely unrelated to the ones received by the other.
In this novel, Tess and her live-in boyfriend, Crow, who runs a bar with live music, have a three-year-old daughter, Carla Scout. (Unusually, many of the characters are referred to by their first two, or all three, names throughout.)
I must admit that at times I found myself turning back to pages already read to try to make clearer certain plot points or characters, but nonetheless this is a fascinating, layered and complex plot, and the novel is recommended.
Shark Skin Suite
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062240033, $26.99, Hardcover, 322 pp.
9780062240026, $13.99, Paperback, 336 pp.
From the publisher: "Bottom feeders beware: The Sunshine State's favorite psychotic killer and lovable Floridaphile, Serge Storms, has found a new calling, legal eagle, and he's going to make a killing as a crusading attorney - - and star as a dashing lawyer on the big screen - - in this madcap escapade... When it comes to swimming with the sharks, there is no bigger kahuna than Serge Storms. Binging on a marathon of legal movies set in Florida, Serge finds his vocation: the law. Never mind law school or that degree; Serge becomes a freelance fixer - - wildcat paralegal and pilgrim to the hallowed places where legal classics of the big screen such as Body Heat, Cool Hand Luke, and Absence of Malice were filmed practically in his own backyard."
I found it nearly impossible to summarize the plot of this book; suffice it to say that I began and ended the book with a silly smile on my face, which was the default display for much of everything in between. As stated above, much of the novel is an homage to those classic films; to say that Serge is a movie buff is a huge understatement. In addition, the author captures the feel of the Florida streets in, e.g., downtown Miami: "The foot traffic was determined in the midday heat. Folded newspapers, briefcases, take-out bags with Cuban sandwiches. A teenager sprinted up the middle of the street with a fistful of wristwatches. A whiskered man on the corner of Flagler had been screaming and kicking his own bicycle for five minutes. A shop owner chasing the shoplifting teen was hit by an ambulance. One of the folded newspapers told of a mysterious eyeball the size of a cantaloupe that had washed upon the beach. Everything was normal. Pedestrians continued chatting on cell phones."
The author's writing style is certainly unique, and the resulting work is recommended. Just what I needed after a fairly steady recent diet of dark, death- and danger-filled books. (Although I should perhaps add that there are a couple of dead bodies before the book comes to a close.
The Storm Dragon's Heart
David Alastair Hayden
Typing Cat Press
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
B005FR06ZM, $0.99 US, 221 pages, Kindle
9781466216365, $9.99, 220pp, www.amazon.com
The Storm Dragon's Heart is a classic sword and sorcery adventure. It is very well written and plotted with only a few formatting errors. If you like the ancient growing up myths or the more modern Tolkienist stories you will enjoy The Storm Dragon's Heart. The story is just enough different to be fresh but it models the classic plotlines close enough to be comfortable. It also crosses the genre line between young adult and adult.
Turesobei is a young high wizard in training. His absentee father stops for a visit before continuing on a dangerous quest. His father needs a skilled wizard on the quest and Turesobei's grandfather convinces him that the wizard should be Turesobei. During the quest for the Dragon's Heart, the young wizard is challenged and finds two companions. He must save the world from the Heart or die trying.
The Storm Dragon's Heart is a very good sword and sorcery adventure. It is an easy recommendation for anyone interested in the genre. With its very affordable price, it is a recommendation for anyone who is looking for a first read in the genre.
Fatal Retribution A Paranormal Washington Novel Book 1
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
B006OVUZUO, $.99 US, Kindle
9781475193657, $15.00, 398pp, www.amazon.com
Fatal Retribution is a story about our world if supernatural creatures were real and public. It is a light adult read that has a strong enough storyline that the reader can put aside the fiction and enjoy the plot.
Raina is a young beginning witch of mixed human and supernatural lineage. When she and her siblings are attacked by a new vampire infected with a particularly lethal version of vampirism, she is forced on a quest to track down the contingent before a sinister immortal can take over the earth.
Fatal Retribution is a better read than its convoluted plotline hints at. Any True Blood or Dresden fan will enjoy the novel. It has a similar mix of paranormal and the real world that you would expect in this genre niche. The storyline is well done and light. It is an easy weekend read and for the minimal price it is recommended for those who like this genre or those who just want to see what this niche is all about.
S.A. Gorden, Reviewer
From the Forest to the Sea
Sarah Milroy, et al.
Goose Lane Editions
500 Beverbrook Court, Suite 330, Fredericton, NB, Canada, E3B 5X4
9780864928696, $50.00, 304pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Emily Carr (December 13, 1871 - March 2, 1945) was a Canadian artist and writer heavily inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast., Carr's paintings captured the natural and cultural landscapes of British Columbia like no other artist before or after her. "From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia" was designed to accompany an exhibition organized by the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and gathers work from all phases of this extraordinary artist's career ranging from her delicate early watercolors of the 1890s, to her expressive hybrids of the 1930s and 1940s, which carry European and North American Modernist traditions with the formal stylizations of Indigenous design. Carr's lifelong fascination with British Columbia's original inhabitants transformed her. Visiting First Nations villages up and down the coast, she absorbed the essence of the place she loved so well. Those experiences changed her life and charged her work, inspiring her imagination. "From the Forest to the Sea" features more than 100 full color reproductions of Carr's work, including some of her most renowned paintings, in dialogue with dozens of indigenous artifacts from the Pacific Northwest: historic masks, baskets, and ceremonial objects by Haida, Kwakwaka'wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, Salish, Tlingit, and Tsimshian makers. Drawn from public and private collections, including the British Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum, Horniman Museum and Gardens, and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, these artifacts illuminate Carr's connections to Indigenous cultures.
Critique: The collaborative work of Toronto writer and art critic Sarah Milroy; Ian Dejardin (Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, London); acclaimed contemporary artists Peter Doig and Jessica Stockholder, as well asleading Carr scholars Ian Thom, Charles Hill, Kathryn Bridge, and Gerta Moray; Haida hereditary chief and master carver James Hart; Kwakwaka'wakw; artists Corrine Hunt and Marianne Nicolson; and anthropologists Robert Storrie and Karen Duffek, "From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia" is an truly impressive, informed and informative coffee table art book and very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Canadian Art History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
Princesses, Dragons and Helicopter Stories
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781138797659, $39.95, 116pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Stories and fantasy play engage all young children and help them to draw connections and make sense of the world. MakeBelieve Arts Helicopter Stories are tried, tested and proven to have a significant impact on children's literacy and communication skills, their confidence and social and emotional development. Based on the storytelling and story acting curriculum of Vivian Gussin Paley, "Princesses, Dragons and Helicopter Stories: Storytelling and Story Acting in the Early Years" provides a practical, step-by-step guide to using this approach with young children. Covering all aspects of the approach, Artistic Director Trisha Lee shows you how you can introduce Helicopter Stories to children for the first time, scribing their tales and then bring their ideas to life by acting them out. Full of anecdotes and practical examples from a wide range of settings, the book includes: Clear guidelines and rules for scribing children's stories, creating a stage and acting out stories; How to deal with taboos and sensitive issues in children's stories; How to involve children who are unwilling to speak or act; Supporting children with English as an Additional Language; Links to show how the approach supports children's holistic development. Providing an accessible guide to an approach that is gaining international recognition, and featuring a foreword by Vivian Gussin Paley, "Princesses, Dragons and Helicopter Stories" will be essential reading for all those that want to support children's learning in a way that is fun, engaging and proven to work.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Princesses, Dragons and Helicopter Stories: Storytelling and Story Acting in the Early Years" is very highly recommended for professional and academic library Educational Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists for anyone charged with developing the creative potential of children (ages 2 to 15), it should be noted that "Princesses, Dragons and Helicopter Stories" is also available in a Kindle edition ($30.95).
Practical Copyright for Library and Information Professionals
7 Ridgmount Street, London, England, WC1E 7AE
9781783300617, $49.95, 195pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time. The exclusive rights are not absolute; they are limited by limitations and exceptions to copyright law, including fair use. The UK's copyright legislation has been referred to as the longest, most confusing and hardest to navigate in the world. "Practical Copyright for Library and Information Professionals" new handbook that brings clarity to what would otherwise be a complex topic. Copyright expert Paul Pedley provides sensible and realistic guidance for all library and information practitioners. Topics covered in "Practical Copyright for Library and Information Professionals" include: the copyright exceptions or permitted acts most relevant to library and information professionals; lending of print and electronic copyright materials; the range of licensing solutions available to ensure that the use of copyright works is done in compliance with the law; the options available for making copies of orphan works (such as where this is done as part of digitization projects); an exploration of how information professionals working in the corporate sector can copy material legitimately, and highlights where this differs from practitioners working in not for profit publicly accessible libraries. This handbook is an indispensable guide for library and information professionals; it will be useful for academics and researchers, and it will also be essential reading for anyone wishing to use copyright material legitimately.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Practical Copyright for Library and Information Professionals" should be considered a "must" for the reference collections of all community, corporate, governmental, and academic libraries and included as a core supplement for Library Science Studies student curriculums.
Helene Schweitzer: A Life of Her Own
Patti M. Marxsen
Syracuse University Press
621 Skytop Road, Suite 110, Syracuse, NY 13244-5290
9780815610519, $22.95, 248pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Born in Berlin, Helene Schweitzer came of age in Strasbourg during a time of great social, architectural, and historical developments. It was in this cultural milieu, as a history professor s daughter, that Helene met a young pastor named Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) and developed a deep friendship that flourished for a decade before their marriage in 1912. During those years, she served as the first woman Inspector of City Orphanages in Strasbourg, a position she held for four years before becoming a certified nurse. She also edited and proofread a number of Schweitzer's books in multiple fields as they worked together to realize their shared dream of devoting their lives to humanity. Together in 1913, Albert and Helene Schweitzer founded what is now the longest-running hospital established by Europeans in Africa, the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in current-day Gabon.
With her quiet strength, clear sense of purpose, independent spirit, and wide range of skills and talents, Helene was a model for many other women who later served the Schweitzer Hospital. Drawing upon the couple s lifelong correspondence, as well as Helene s journals and professional writing, Marxsen reveals a modern woman of courage in dark times whose resilient, optimistic spirit allowed her to leave a lasting legacy that has yet to be fully understood. Helene Schweitzer's dramatic life reveals deeper questions of how memory is influenced by gender assumptions and how biography is shaped by place and history. By providing a counter-narrative to the traditional image of a frail woman who sacrificed her life to her husband s genius, this richly detailed chronicle of a little-known figure invites a larger discussion about the meaning of a woman's life obscured by a partner s fame.
Critique: Exceptionally well researched and impressively written, organized and presented, "Helene Schweitzer: A Life of Her Own" by journalist, essayist, translator, and independent scholar Patti M. Marxsen brings a long overdue recognition to the life and contributions Helene Schweitzer-Bresslau's were formerly overshadowed by her famous husband, Albert Schweitzer. A truly informed and informative read that is inherently absorbing and candidly fascinating from beginning to end, "Helene Schweitzer: A Life of Her Own" is very strongly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library biography collections.
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780814434857, $16.95, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: No Sweat translates years of research on exercise and motivation into a simple four-point program that will empower you to break the cycle of exercise failure once and for all. You'll discover why you should forget about willpower and stop gritting your teeth through workouts you hate. Instead, you'll become motivated from the inside out and start to crave physical activity. You'll be hooked! Practical, proven, and loaded with inspiring stories, No Sweat makes getting fit easier--and more fun--than you ever imagined. Get ready to embrace an active lifestyle that you'll love.
Critique: "No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness" by motivation scientist Michelle Segar is especially recommended reading for anyone who secretly hate exercising and struggles to adhere to a daily exercise program. Informed and informative, inspiring and motivating, "No Sweat" is a thoroughly 'user friendly' read and very highly recommended for both community and academic library Health & Fitness reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Now Sweat" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.49).
Approaches to Teaching the Works of Carmen Martin Gaite
Joan L. Brown, editor
Modern Language Association
26 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10004-1789
9781603291316, $37.50, 292pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The career of Spain's celebrated author Carmen Martin Gaite spanned the Spanish Civil War, Franco's dictatorship, and the nation's transition to democracy. She wrote fiction, poetry, drama, screenplays for television and film, and books of literary and cultural analysis. The only person to win Spain's National Prize for Literature (Premio Nacional de las Letras) twice, Martin Gaite explored and blended a range of genres, from social realism to the fantastic, as she took up issues of gender, class, economics, and aesthetics in a time of political upheaval. Part 1 ("Materials") of "Approaches to Teaching the Works of Carmen Martin Gaite" provides resources for instructors and a literary-historical chronology. The essays in part 2 ("Approaches") consider Martin Gaite's best-known novel, The Back Room (El cuarto de atras), and other works from various perspectives: narratological, feminist, sociocultural, stylistic. In an appendix, the volume editor, who was a friend of the author, provides a new translation of Martin Gaite's only autobiographical sketch, alongside the original Spanish.
Critique: Ably compiled and edited by Joan L. Brown (Elias Ahuja Chair of Spanish at the University of Delaware), "Approaches to Teaching the Works of Carmen Martin Gaite" is comprised of twenty-one erudite essays by truly exceptional contributors, enhanced with the inclusion of two appendices, a four page listing of contributors and their credentials, a two page list of Survey Participants, an eighteen page list of Works Cited, and a seventeen page index. "Approaches to Teaching the Works of Carmen Martin Gaite" is a significant and very highly recommended addition to academic library Spanish Literary Studies reference collections in general, and Carmen Martin Gaite supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Approaches to Teaching the Works of Carmen Martin Gaite" is also available in a paperback edition (9781603291323, $19.75) and in a Kindle format ($18.76).
Undoing Time: The Life and Work of Samuel Beckett
Irish Academic Press
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9780716532910, $75.00, 238pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Since his death in 1989, it has become difficult to imagine that Samuel Beckett was once a virtually unknown writer. Born in 1906 into a respectable middle-class family in a Dublin suburb, he came late to fame in the early 1950s with the ground-breaking play, Waiting for Godot. Since Godot, Beckett's writings have been translated, published, and staged throughout the world. This highly accessible and original account offers a new opportunity to engage with a towering figure of Irish and world literature. The book offers a systematic overview of Samuel Beckett's best-known and most popular work - in poetry, drama, prose, radio, and television - along with his more difficult pieces. Original close readings explore his transformative work on language and form. For Beckett, life was a matter of doing time, while writing was a way of undoing it. In the process, writers, audiences, and readers enter into a different understanding of how it is to be human.
Critique: Informed and informative, "Undoing Time: The Life and Work of Samuel Beckett" is an impressively written work of seminal scholarship and a critically important addition to academic library Literary Studies reference collections in general, and Samuel Beckett supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
The Female Complaint
Rosalie Morales Kearns, editor
Shade Mountain Press
PO Box 11393, Albany, NY 12211
9780991355556, $24.95, 328pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Roaslie Morales Kearns (the founder of Shade Mountain Press, a new feminist publishing house promoting literature by women) the thirty-six stories comprising "The Female Complaint: Tales of Unruly Women" are all by women authors and center around female characters who follow their own paths and tell the powers-that-be what they don't want to hear. These women stand up for themselves, for each other, for their beliefs. The characters include housewives and high school students, a stand-up comedian, an artist, an attendant at a nursing home, several scientists. There's a woman who turns into a leopard; a chemist who comes to the rescue of a resuscitated Isaac Newton; and a female giant who metes out rough justice in a futuristic penal colony for male criminals. Navigating a fine line between anger and laughter, these are raucous stories of solidarity, resistance, transformation, and joy. The contributors to "The Female Complaint: Tales of Unruly Women" include Gina Ochsner, Kathleen Alcala, Theodora Goss, Kim Chinquee, and Katherine Vaz.
Critique: An impressive anthology of extraordinary writers, "The Female Complaint: Tales of Unruly Women" is a thoroughly absorbing compendium of deftly crafted original short stories that is enthusiastically recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections.
Jane Eyre's Sisters
Jody Gentian Bower
c/o The Theosophical Publishing House
306 W. Geneva Road, Wheaton, IL 60187
9780835609340, $18.95, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "Jane Eyre's Sisters: How Women Live and Write the Heroine's Story", cultural mythologist Jody Gentian Bower looks at novels by women (and some men) as well as biographies of women that tell the story of the Aletis, the wandering heroine. She finds a similar pattern in works spanning the centuries, from Lady Mary Wroth and William Shakespeare in the 1600s to Sue Monk Kidd, Suzanne Collins, and Philip Pullman in the current century, including works by Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, Kate Chopin, Virginia Woolf, Doris Lessing, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Alice Walker, to name just a few. She also discusses myths and folk tales that follow the same pattern. Dr. Bower argues that the Aletis represents an archetypal character that has to date received surprisingly little scholarly recognition despite her central role in many of the greatest works of Western fiction. Using an engaging, down-to-earth writing style, Dr. Bower outlines the stages and cast of characters of the Aletis story with many examples from the literature. She discusses how the Aletis story differs from the hero's quest, how it has changed over the centuries as women gained more independence, and what heroines of novels and movies might be like in the future. She gives examples from the lives of real women and scatters stories that illustrate many of her points throughout the book. In the end, she concludes, authors of the Aletis story use their imagination to give us characters who serve as role models for how a woman can live a full and free life.
Critique: With extraordinarily insightful commentary and analysis, "Jane Eyre's Sisters: How Women Live and Write the Heroine's Story" is an impressive work of seminal scholarship and an inherently absorbing read from beginning to end. Enhanced with the inclusion of ten pages of Notes, six categorical bibliographies, and a seventeen page Index, "Jane Eyre's Sisters" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Jane Eyre's Sisters" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Beth K. Vogt
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476789781, $14.99, 368pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Paramedic Vanessa Hollister has put her adolescence behind her, including the unwanted label of being the new kid in town over and over again, thanks to her father's military career. She's overcome what her mother called "the biggest mistake of her life" and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Florida with her new fiance. But will the reappearance of her first husband from her what-were-you-thinking teenage elopement disrupt her dream of an idyllic beach wedding? As a professional storm chaser, Logan Hollister is used to taking risks. However, a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning the future of his team, the Stormmeisters. Coming face to face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa. Does their past give him the right to interfere with her future? A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other. Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?
Critique: An exceptionally well written and thoroughly entertaining read from first page to last, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" is enthusiastically recommended for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).
Reggie & Me
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781782797234, $11.95, 183pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Reggie and Me" by Marie Yates is the first book in the Dani Moore Trilogy. Dani's story is told through her diary in the wake of her rape and subsequent court case. Having moved with her mum, Dani starts year eleven at a new school, facing various challenges that bring a renewed energy to face whatever is thrown at her and carry on regardless. She realises that 'normality' is something that she can define herself, with the help of her dog Reggie and the people around her. "Reggie and Me" is more than a story of survival, as the reader is taken on an inspiring journey of personal development, interweaved with tools that girls and young women can use to create the positive future they deserve.
Critique: Marie Yates is an author and coach who works with survivors of rape and sexual abuse. She brings a very special expertise in writing "Reggie & Me". A thoughtful and thought-provoking work of fiction, "Reggie and Me" is one of those deftly written novels that lingers in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reggie & Me" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).
10300 N. Central Expressway, Suite 400, Dallas, TX 75204
9781941631737, $24.95, 348pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Tonya Craft, a Georgia kindergarten teacher and loving mother of two, never expected a knock on her door to change her life forever. But in May 2008, false accusations of child molestation turned her world upside down. The trial that followed dragged her reputation through the mud and lent nationwide notoriety to her name. Tonya's life spiraled into a witch-trial nightmare in which she was deemed guilty before her innocence could be determined by a jury. Her children were taken away without even a goodbye, and her own daughter was forced to take the stand against her in a courtroom. The situation seemed hopeless, and Tonya was shell-shocked and heartbroken. But that didn't keep her from finding the strength to fight. Over the course of two terrifying years, Tonya rallied to take charge of her own defense, flying across the country and knocking on doors on a desperate quest for answers, and defying her own lawyers on more than one occasion. Tonya's goal was not only to avoid conviction; it was to clear her name, and, most of all, regain custody of her children. Accused is about more than Tonya's shocking trial and fight for justice. It is the story of a mother's extraordinary love, the faith that sees her through it all, and the forgiveness that sets her free.
Critique: Ably written with the assistance of Mark Dagostino, "Accused: My Fight for Truth, Justice, and the Strength to Forgive" by Tonya Craft is an extraordinary and deeply personal account that is a thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end. One of those candidly personal memoirs that linger in the mind and memory long after the book is finished and set back upon the shelf, "Accused" is very highly recommended for community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Accused" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).
Linnets and Valerians
David R. Godine, Publisher
PO Box 450, Jaffrey, NH 03452
9781567925210, $13.95, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When Nan, Robert, Timothy, and Betsy s father went off to explore in Egypt, he left the children with their grandmother who lived in the English countryside. Unfortunately she did not much like children, much less their dog, Absalom. So the children ran away to stay with their Uncle Ambrose, an eccentric, strict, and loveable retired school teacher who was determined to give them an education, but in addition to Greek, Latin, and Literature, the Linnet children learned much more about nature and magic, the power of the past and Pan, and, of course, the importance of the bees. They used their knowledge to find the lost Valerians, undo some very wicked, ancient spells, and reunite a divided family. The word enchanting is overused, but in this case it applies. As this world becomes increasingly ugly, callous and materialistic it needs to be reminded that the old fairy stories are rooted in truth, that imagination is of value, that happy endings do, in fact, occur, and that the blue spring mist that make an ugly street look beautiful is just as real a thing as the street itself.
Critique: An extraordinary and deeply absorbing read from beginning to end, "Linnets and Valerians" is a terrifically entertaining novel from beginning to end and showcases author Elizabeth Goudge's impressive storytelling abilities. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Linnets and Valerians" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.49).
Counting Lions: Portraits from the Wild
Katie Cotton, author
Stephen Walton, illustrator
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763682071, $22.00, www.amazon.com
Your fingertips insist -- though your mind knows full well it's only a drawing -- that you can reach out and stroke the soft pad of the lion's nose that majestically fills the cover of Counting Lions.
You just know you can run your hand through the coarse, long hair that cascades down below its ears, and the even coarser tuft on its chin.
Once you're thoroughly drawn in by the incredible amount of small detail in Walton's cover illustration, you get to open the book - and to find so much more.
More illustrations, not only astounding in their illustrative detail, but also depicting the deep connections animals have between each other, in pairs, small groups and larger communities.
A young gorilla sits nose-to-nose with its mother; a baby elephant nuzzles its mother' breast.
Members of an Ethiopian wolf pack play. Zebras drink at a water hole; turtles travel long distances to lay eggs; and macaws line up on a tree limb.
All of Walton's illustrations are in charcoal. Would color have been an enhancement - especially for the macaws? Or a distraction, putting the spotlight on fur and feather hues and not on other elements of their bodies? The debate could go either way.
The book is written in verse, and focuses on the way animals interact in their natural habitat. For younger listeners, the verse might be enough.
But this is one of those picture books that is almost better suited to older readers, who will discover in the introduction and the back matter that all of the animals depicted are in various stages of endangerment.
In addition to an "About the Animals" section at the book's conclusion, there is a full page listing websites and other resources to learn more about conservation groups that are working hard to keep these creatures from going extinct.
Sam Usher, author and illustrator
c/o Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763679583, $16.99, www.amazon.com
Young wintertime enthusiasts will revel in this multi-layered romp that celebrates a child's impatience with a grandfather's too-slow preparations to play in the snow and the wonderfully imaginative idea of zoo animals participating in a neighborhood snowball fight.
A young boy hurries to dress so he and his grandfather can be the first ones in their neighborhood to step outside after a snowfall. While his grandfather leisurely readies himself, other children get to make the day's first snow prints. Then, still waiting, the boy notices something curious - a zoo monkey trekking through the drifts.
What follows could be something the boy and his grandfather actually experience - this is a picture book, after all, where anything is possible - or it could be that the boys is imagining it all while he sits, waiting, on the stoop outside his house.
Either way, young readers will love the snowball fight that ensues and its participants - the menagerie includes an elephant, an ostrich, a hippo and a giraffe. And, of course, the boy and his grandfather are at the center of it all.
Great icy, snow day fun
Karyn L. Saemann, Reviewer
A Discerning Heart
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781517061326, $20.99, www.amazon.com
The perfect union - A review of the novel 'A Discerning Heart'
"An inner darkness is darker than an outer darkness." - Ben Okri
Author Patty Lesser's latest book 'A Discerning Heart' is a historical novel set in the late 1700's. It takes place in a fictional coastal village where a vibrant fishing community thrives. The protagonist of the story is Jim Moore, aka Dim Jim whose life story forms the base for this novel. It is as much a story about a single man as it is a capsule history of our entire civilization. From the conceptualization of the first dream to achieve greatness to man's voyage in search of it, his interaction with the natural elements and his opposite in the form of a woman; to his conquering and dominating behavior and the final realization of life truths are explored in a breezy and light-hearted manner.
Jim, pretty much like the story itself starts out as the pleasant loser, the underdog you want to root for. But he quickly transforms into a stereotype for the patriarchal image of 'Man' himself. The way he is introduced into the story guarantees that you will root for him until he commits his first act of transgression. The author alternates Jim's social functioning in such a way that you will both love and hate him within a short period of time, although most might swing the latter way. His is an excellent character study into the mind of an average man born in any era. Stripped away of inheritances and bereft of skills to even challenge his contemporaries. These men often lead their lives indulging in wishful thinking. A few of them will set out to change their destiny. Of the few that succeed, some will never be able to handle the success that comes their way.
Power and authority when concentrated in the hands of those that doesn't deserve it or haven't worked for it, often results in hardship for the rest of the populace in the subject's area of reign.
Merrow as the love interest to Jim often behaves true to her origin as a mermaid; staying true to the idiom - like a fish out of water. She is erratic, vain, childish and always pining for what she cannot attain. And like Jim, Merrow too makes for highly interesting reading. These two are highly flawed characters; they could never exist on their own within the framework of the two distinct societies they live in. So there's nothing unnatural when these characters find love in each other and decide to stay together. They are selfish characters that do not even care about the heartbreak caused to their families. When they are that bad on their own, you would assume that their union too would fail miserably but somehow it works, Patty's infusion of a love story between them somehow makes perfect sense. Not in the real sense of the word but perfect for these imperfect characters.
Patty deserves a lot of credit for writing an easy to read fictional story about a fisherman and a mermaid and then hiding beneath its surface, a superlative introspection into the human condition. And that she has used two flawed characters as her chief protagonists is a definite bold move.
Melange Books, LLC
9781680461619, $11.95, www.amazon.com
Battle with Demigods - A review of the novel 'EL Diablo'
"The devil's agents may be of flesh and blood, may they not?" - Arthur Conan Doyle
Author Richard Dawes' novel 'EL Diablo,' ninth book in the Tucson Kid Western series, has Tucson, the gun slinging hero of the story, taking on evil powers and dark forces in Mexico. Operating outside the law, yet doing so to bring down evil men, has been Tucson's norm. But in El Diablo, he not only fights to overcome murderous thugs and bandits, but must also take on powerful dark Gods, and the black sorcerers who wage war and violence in the name of those Gods.
Those readers who have followed Tucson's exploits from book one (although the series is not a chronological representation of Tucson's life), will have noticed the repeated telling of Tucson's famed battle with the legendary outlaw, Augustine Baca. It has become a folk tale by which Tucson's greatness and fighting prowess are measured and celebrated. But all that should change after his adventures in this edition and his epic fight with the powerful magician, EL Diablo.
In previous stories, Tucson fought some of the most nefarious characters the old west had to offer. No matter how ruthless these fights were, however, the reader always knew that Tucson, with his superior fighting skills, would prevail in the end. But in this story, he has to fight an evil man who has supernatural powers attained through black magic and sorcery. Additionally, Tucson must go against a minion of EL Diablo - a vampire named Lilith able to suck the strength from her opponents. In this story, Richard Dawes has not only thrown the sink at Tucson, but the whole kitchen as well, as he faces his greatest enemies to date.
It would be unfortunate if EL Diablo and Lilith were not given their own space. The author gave them great powers, and evil surrounds them at all times. Yet he provides insights into their minds by revealing their thoughts, which surprisingly strike the reader as human and mortal. Fear of failure and death looms large on their list of worries. This humanizes them and presents these characters, though highly evil, as real people with much to lose.
In El Diablo, Tucson is in top form, and full credit must be given to the author for maintaining continuity in the character's persona through all nine stories. From the initial scenes where he is shown living an existential existence, through every step he takes as he strides through the story, the famed Tucson code of action is a prominent factor in the narrative.
The action scenes, from the first one involving an outlaw called Jake, to picking off El Diablo's men one by one, shows the finesse and expertise of the author in this genre. As always, nature plays an important role in the narrative, and is not merely used as background. The respect for it shows throughout.
A definite read!
Kevin Peter, Reviewer
Oldsmobile V-8 Engines: How to Build Max Performance
39966 Grand Avenue, North Branch, MN 55056
9781613251744, $26.95, 144pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The traditional Oldsmobile V-8 powered some of the most memorable cars of the muscle car era, from the 442s of the 1960s and early 1970s to the Trans Ams of the late 1970s. These powerful V-8s were also popular in ski boats. They have found a new lease on life with the recent development of improved aftermarket cylinder heads, aggressive roller camshafts, and electronic fuel injection.
Author Bill Trovato is recognized as being one of the most successful Oldsmobile engine experts, and he openly shares all of his proven tricks, tips, and techniques for this venerable power plant. In this revised edition of Oldsmobile V-8 Engines: How to Build Max Performance, he provides additional information for extracting the best performance. In particular, he goes into greater detail on ignition systems and other areas of performance. His many years of winning with the Olds V-8 in heads-up, street-legal cars proves he knows how to extract maximum power from the design without sacrificing durability. A complete review of factory blocks, cranks, heads, and more is teamed with a thorough review of available aftermarket equipment. Whether mild or wild, the important information on cam selection and Olds-specific engine building techniques are all here. Fans of the traditional Olds V-8 will appreciate the level of detail and completeness Trovato brings to the table, and his frank, to-the-point writing style is as efficient and effective as the engines he designs, builds, and races.
Anyone considering an Oldsmobile V-8 to power their ride will save time, money, and headaches by following the clear and honest advice offered in Oldsmobile V-8 Engines: How to Build Max Performance. Plenty of full-color photos and step-by-step engine builds showcase exactly how these engines should be built to deliver the most power per dollar.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, profusely illustrated throughout, impressively informed and informative, "Oldsmobile V-8 Engines: How to Build Max Performance" should be considered a "must" for the collections of Oldsmobile V-8 automotive enthusiasts!
Stella: A Novel of the Haitian Revolution
New York University Press
838 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10003
9781479866847, $89.00, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Originally published in 1859, "Stella" by Emeric Bergeaud is an imaginative retelling of Haiti's fight for independence from slavery and French colonialism. Set during the years of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), "Stella" tells the story of two brothers, Romulus and Remus, who help transform their homeland from the French colony of Saint-Domingue to the independent republic of Haiti. Inspired by the sacrifice of their African mother Marie and Stella, the spirit of Liberty, Romulus and Remus must learn to work together to found a new country based on the principles of freedom and equality. This new translation and critical edition of Emeric Bergeaud's allegorical novel makes Stella available to English-speaking audiences for the first time. Considered the first published novel written by a Haitian, "Stella" tells of the devastation and deprivation that colonialism and slavery wrought upon Bergeaud's homeland. Unique among nineteenth-century accounts, "Stella" gives a pro-Haitian version of the Haitian Revolution, a bloody but just struggle that emancipated a people, and it charges future generations with remembering the sacrifices and glory of their victory. Bergeaud's novel demonstrates that the Haitians (not the French) are the true inheritors of the French Revolution, and that Haiti is the realization of its republican ideals. At a time in which Haitian Studies is becoming increasingly important within the English-speaking world, this edition calls attention to the rich though under-examined world of nineteenth-century Haiti.
Critique: Impressively translated by the collaborative effort of Christen Mucher (Assistant Professor of American Studies at Smith College) and Lesley S. Curtis (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow of Comparative Literature at Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College), "Stella: A Novel of the Haitian Revolution" is a significant and very highly recommended addition for academic library Haitian Literature reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Stella" is also available in a paperback edition (9781479892402, $24.00) and in a Kindle format ($18.32).
Jazz: America's Gift
Richie Gerber, author
Gerber's Miracle Publishers LLC
9780692445532, $27.95, 336pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Jazz: America's Gift: From Its Birth to George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue & Beyond" delves into the rich and storied history of American jazz beginning with its roots in early American folk song and the blues, to its evolution into the sound and splendor of the Jazz Age. Not just another American music history book, "Jazz: America's Gift" is a unique and engaging exploration of the musical styles, traditions, innovations, and incredible talents that shaped jazz, and exposes how jazz itself shaped America's history, bringing the country closer together. No figure embodies the mood and music of this time like George Gershwin, a Jewish-American musical dynamo whose Rhapsody in Blue would become one of the most widely known compositions to come out of this time. Using song titles as markers along the path of Gershwin's life, author Richie Gerber tells the evocative, often joyous, and sometimes heart-wrenching story of this often misunderstood genius. Gershwin's life story is elegantly framed within the larger narrative of the rise of jazz music, with an attention to detail that makes the words leap off the page and music sound in your ears. "Jazz: America's Gift" is the perfect marriage between Miguel Covarrubias's artwork and the colorful history of the Jazz Age. The interplay of Gerber's words and Covarrubias's images gives each page a rhythm all its own.
Critique: Impressively well written, extraordinarily well illustrated, informed and informative, "Jazz: America's Gift: From Its Birth to George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue & Beyond" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Music History reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists of jazz enthusiasts, it should be noted that "Jazz: America's Gift" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
9780692489789, $14.95, 308pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Societe" by Alexander Helas is an original novel portraying free will as mankind's bravest art. Christian Matters is a neurotic twenty-nine year old architect living in Chicago, USA. After a bizarre episode throws him off his morning routine, he abandons his promising career, girlfriend, and home for a life-changing journey to San Francisco, where he meets a cavalier aristocrat named Lester Rothschild and his beautifully extravagant love, fortepianist Ella Athens. Mysterious and insane, Lester takes Christian on his adventure to open Societe, the most luxurious entertainment complex at the heart of the world's richest city. But, with the chance meeting of an unlikely visitor and the sudden death of a lover, colliding events lead Christian to unravel the true ambitions behind the greatly anticipated opening of Societe, and discovers the fate of something much greater is at stake. In his modern and magically profound debut novel, Alexander Helas delivers a masterful, thought-provoking vision on the struggle of free will at the hands of society's quest for progress.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, deeply absorbing, and as entertaining as it is thought-provoking, "Societe" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Societe" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).
The Handy Hockey Answer Book
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Road, #414, Canton, MI 48187-2075
9781578595136, $19.95, 384pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "The Handy Hockey Answer Book", by hockey historian and broadcaster Stan Fischler, brings the game to life through exciting game action, vital stats, players, rules, and more. It traces the early spread of hockey, Lord Stanley's involvement, and the birth of the cup, then explains the rules, the equipment, strategies, and positioning, before following the ups and downs of the National Hockey League and its teams and players. From the traditions, all-time cup- and award-winners and record-breakers to the modern game, "The Handy Hockey Answer Book" answers more than 800 questions on the game, greats, goals, and growing popularity of hockey, including: Where does hockey come from?; What was the Stanley Cup first called?; Where did the name "Patrick Division" come from and why are the Patrick brothers important?; When was six-man hockey invented and who was its creator?; What is a "Zamboni" and after whom was it named?; What was the Gretzky Rule?; How did the hockey puck develop its present shape?; Which is the oldest current NHL team?; Why is the term "Original Six" a misnomer?
Which Hall of Famer trained on champagne?; Who holds the Montreal Canadien's franchise record for career goals?; Which team was the first to come back from being down 3-0 in a series.; Who was the first European player to lead the league in scoring?; What NHL team won and loss the Stanley Cup on the same day?; Which hockey player was supposed to be "kidnapped" as part of a scheme to increase attendance at New York Rangers games?; Did an NHL club ever play all its "home" games of the Stanley Cup finals on the road?; and so much more!
Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a glossary of terms and a bibliography for further reading round out this helpful primer on the sport, "The Handy Hockey Answer Book" is exceptionally well organized and presented, making it an ideal addition to personal, community, and academic library Sports History reference collections in general, and Hockey History Trivia enthusiasts in particular! It should be noted that "The Handy Hockey Answer Book" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.40).
Early Modern Cultures of Translation
Karen Newman & Jane Tylus, editors
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4112
9780812247404, $55.00, 358pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The translation of ancient texts was fundamental and essential to the creation of the European Renaissance. "Early Modern Cultures of Translation" is comprised of a wide-ranging group of essays on the uses of translation in an era formative for the modern age. The early modern period saw cross-cultural translation on a massive scale. Humanists negotiated status by means of their literary skills as translators of culturally prestigious Greek and Latin texts, as teachers of those same languages, and as purveyors of the new technologies for the dissemination of writing. Indeed, with the emergence of new vernaculars and new literatures came a sense of the necessary interactions of languages in a moment that can truly be defined as "after Babel."
As they take their starting point from a wide range of primary sources (the poems of Louise Labe, the first Catalan dictionary, early printed versions of the Ptolemy world map, the King James Bible, and Roger Williams's Key to the Language of America) the diverse contributors to "Early Modern Cultures of Translation" provide a sense of the political, religious, and cultural stakes for translators, their patrons, and their readers. They also vividly show how the very instabilities engendered by unprecedented linguistic and technological change resulted in a far more capacious understanding of translation than what we have today. A genuinely interdisciplinary volume, "Early Modern Cultures of Translation" looks both east and west while at the same time telling a story that continues to the present about the slow, uncertain rise of English as a major European and, eventually, world language.
Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Karen Newman (Owen F. Walker Professor of Humanities and Professor of Comparative Literature and English at Brown University) and Jane Tylus (Professor of Italian Studies and Comparative Literature and Faculty Director of the Humanities Initiative at New York University), "Early Modern Cultures of Translation" is a collection of erudite and seminal scholarship beginning with Peter Burke's 'Translating the Language of Architecture' and concluding with Edith Grossman's 'Coda: Translating Cervantes Today'. Enhanced with the inclusion of seventy-two pages of Notes, a six page listing of the contributors and their credentials, a fourteen page Index, "Early Modern Cultures of Translation" is very strongly recommended for academic library history collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Early Modern Cultures of Translation" is also available in a Kindle edition ($52.25).
Inside the Rise of HBO
Bill Mesce, Jr.
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9780786497867, $29.95, 292pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: There are two ages in the history of television: before HBO and after HBO. Before the launch of Home Box Office in 1972, the industry had changed little since the birth of broadcast network television in the late 1940s. The arrival of the premium cable channel began a revolution in the business and programming of TV. For the generation that has grown up with the vast array of viewing choices available today, it is almost inconceivable that our ever-expanding media universe began with a few hours of unimpressive programming on a single cable channel. Written by Bill Mesce, Jr., a true HBO insider, "Inside the Rise of HBO: A Personal History of the Company That Transformed Television" is the 'backstage' story of HBO's reconfiguration of television and the company's continual reinvention of itself in a competitive and dynamic industry.
Critique: Drawing upon his twenty-seven years of experience working at HBO, Bill Mesce brings a very special expertise to laying out an informed and informative history of one of the most influential companies the entertainment industry in general, and the television industry in particular, has ever known. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Inside the Rise of HBO: A Personal History of the Company That Transformed Television" is a truly extraordinary corporate history and very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Inside the Rise of HBO" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.99).
Leagan E. Kasper
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781511422338, $12.99, 202pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Many of us have experienced attraction, like, desire, lust, sex -- and though the former may often be confused with "love", few have and will know "love" and even fewer dare suffer love (a Flame once ignited known to've caused insanity in men and women alike) with only those feeling confident they deserve love able to bear the torment as well as the power that comes with "love". But these two people, Herzog and Em - who met by mere coincidence or not (both of whom are living a life of secrecy, daring what few are courageous enough to embrace) the spark that ignites a raging inferno inside the innermost of their being, allowing them to see themselves for who they really are. "Love" by Leagan E. Kasper is an aesthetically erotic, as well as humorous novel intended an adult readership who would take pleasure in the indulgence of "sensuality" of every kind.
Critique: An absorbing and thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end, "Love" reveals author Leagan E. Kasper's impressive storytelling skills and is recommended for mature readers only. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Love" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).
Take My Hand Again
Nancy Parker Brummett
2450 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825443718, $14.99, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Addressing the difficult decisions adult children face when roles change and they must intervene in a parent s care, "Take My Hand Again: A Faith-Based Guide for Helping Aging Parents" includes an overview of common care options and questions to ask of professionals, of prospective care facilities, and of the aging adults themselves. Non-specialist general readers will find valuable insight into the challenges of the aging process as well as much-needed hope and encouragement.
Critique: Nancy Parker Brummett is an author and speaker who has focused on ministries to the older population and those who care for them for several years. She holds a professional certificate in gerontology and was the founding president of the board of directors for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Colorado. That's why she brings a particular expertise to "Take My Hand Again: A Faith-Based Guide for Helping Aging Parents". Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Take My Hand Again" is very strongly recommended reading for anyone having or about to have the responsibility for caring for their aging parents. Very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Take My Hand Again" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
You Are Woman, You Are Divine
Over And Above Press
612 Santa Clara Avenue, Venice, CA 90291
9780990792475, $24.95, 352pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The modern woman often does not know herself as a goddess; her feminine energy is out of balance and her divine essence has yet to awaken. But the time has come, right now, for women to know that being female is special, sacred, and divine. "You Are Woman, You Are Divine: The Modern Woman's Journey Back to The Goddess" is an inspiring, poetic and magically potent book that will entice women of all ages to explore and activate their relationship with the divine, feminine and most sacred part of themselves -- the goddess within. Part 1 of "You Are Woman, You Are Divine" leads readers back through history to revisit the reverence for women that every ancient culture possessed. From the dawn of pre-history, women were perceived as holy, sacred, and divine incarnations of the Great Mother Goddess. Powerful figures full of strength, wisdom, and leadership, women were the keepers of the human race, from which all life flowed. Part 2 of "You Are Woman, You Are Divine" retells in mesmerizing narrative seven of the greatest goddess myths from ancient cultures around the world: Ancient Egypt, Africa, India, Tibet, Ancient Greece, Lakota, and the Judeo-Christian Bible. Each myth presents a quality that modern women can restore back into their lives: Lilith (Power), Yemaya (Creativity), Tara (Stillness), Radha (Passion), Kassandra (Voice), White Buffalo Calf Woman (Wisdom), and Eve (Awakening). Accompanying each myth are anointing, bathing and lunar rituals, instructions for altars, invocations, meditations, and more to deepen their connection to their own inner goddess and inspire living as a goddess on earth. Part 3 of "You Are Woman, You Are Divine" shows women how to integrate the teachings of The Divine Feminine into everyday life, honoring the sacredness of their body and how to be in energetic, feminine balance. "You Are Woman, You Are Divine" offers fresh, new ways for women to embrace their ancient and sacred traditions. It uplifts the spirit of any woman from young womanhood to her elder, wise-woman years. It honors the Feminine spirit that all women can celebrate in themselves to rebalance the world. Readers will live more fulfilled lives and feel more confident, free and feminine, becoming the goddesses they were meant to be.
Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "You Are Woman, You Are Divine: The Modern Woman's Journey Back to The Goddess" is an exceptionally informed and informative work that is a thoroughly absorbing and ultimately inspiring read. "You Are Woman, You Are Divine" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Women's Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.
Sew & Play Puzzle Ball Animals
P.O. Box 8000, Big Sandy, TX 75755
9781573679060, $14.99, 48pp, www.amazon.com
A puzzle ball pattern holds a tradition of being passed down to generations of family members. With Abby Glassenberg's "Sew & Play Puzzle Ball Animals", even the most novice needlecrafter can start their own tradition and create puzzle balls with personality. Made from the softest of fabrics, each stuffed animal in this collection is artfully formed from rings that fit together like puzzle pieces. And the pockets and ridges make them easy to grasp, especially for little hands. Included are an elephant, a dinosaur, a giraffe, a bunny, a bee and a lion. Make all six and delight the children in your life with these fun and fuzzy pets.
Critique: Abby Glassenberg creates unique patterns for stuffed animals from her home studio in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Very highly recommended for personal and community library Needlecraft instructional reference collections, "Sew & Play Puzzle Ball Animals" is her latest instructional collection and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation.
How to Be: Six Simple Rules for Being the Best Kid You Can Be
300 Park Avenue South, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010
9780789331090, $19.95, 104pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "How to Be: Six Simple Rules for Being the Best Kid You Can Be" is the first collection of abridged versions of Munro Leaf's most popular children's guides to proper behavior. featuring retro, mid-century modern illustrations, "How to Be" is the perfect gift for grandparents, parents, and children alike. A renowned children's book illustrator and author Munro Leaf captured the whimsy and innocence of childhood for an entire generation of young readers. Now, more than fifty years later, those same readers are passing these stories down to their children and their children's children, and Munro Leaf's collection of children's books has reached iconic status. Collected here for the first time in one affordable volume are selections from some of Leaf's most beloved childhood guides. With a charming mixture of fatherly concern and kindhearted humor, and without ever coming across as a scold, Leaf has helped generations of American children (and adults) learn how to behave like proper grown-ups (in grown-up company), how to speak politely, to enjoy reading, and even to remember to brush their teeth.
Critique: "How to Be: Six Simple Rules for Being the Best Kid You Can Be" is very highly recommended for personal, community and academic library collections and will ably serve to introduce Munroe Leaf's work to a new generation of appreciative young readers.
David M. Luebke & Mary Lindemann
20 Jay Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781782384090, $95.00, 254pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The significant changes in early modern German marriage practices included many unions that violated some taboo. That taboo could be theological and involve the marriage of monks and nuns, or refer to social misalliances as when commoners and princes (or princesses) wed. Equally transgressive were unions that crossed religious boundaries, such as marriages between Catholics and Protestants, those that violated ethnic or racial barriers, and those that broke kin-related rules. Taking as a point of departure Martin Luther's redefinition of marriage, the contributors to this volume spin out the multiple ways that the Reformers' attempts to simplify and clarify marriage affected education, philosophy, literature, high politics, diplomacy, and law. Ranging from the Reformation, through the ages of confessionalization, to the Enlightenment, "Mixed Matches: Transgressive Unions in Germany from the Reformation to the Enlightenment " addresses the historical complexity of the socio-cultural institution of marriage.
Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by David M. Luebke (Professor of History at the University of Oregon) and Mary Lindemann (Professor and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida) "Mixed Matches: Transgressive Unions in Germany from the Reformation to the Enlightenment" is a compendium of eleven major scholarly articles by experts. Enhanced with the inclusion of an informative Introduction (Transgressive Unions), and Afterword, a Bibliography, a listing of the contributors and their credentials, and an index. A seminal anthology of original work and research, "Mixed Matches" is a valued and highly recommended addition to personal and academic library Germany History & Culture reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
The Art of Crash Landing
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062390547, $15.99, 432pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Mattie Wallace has really screwed up this time. Broke and knocked up, she's got all her worldly possessions crammed into six giant trash bags, and nowhere to go. Try as she might, Mattie can no longer deny that she really is turning into her mother, a broken alcoholic who never met a bad choice she didn't make. When Mattie gets news of a possible inheritance left by a grandmother she's never met, she jumps at this one last chance to turn things around. Leaving the Florida Panhandle, she drives eight hundred miles to her mother's birthplace - the tiny town of Gandy, Oklahoma. There, she soon learns that her mother remains a local mystery - a happy, talented teenager who inexplicably skipped town thirty-five years ago with nothing but the clothes on her back. But the girl they describe bears little resemblance to the damaged woman Mattie knew, and before long it becomes clear that something terrible happened to her mother, and it happened here. The harder Mattie digs for answers, the more obstacles she encounters. Giving up, however, isn't an option. Uncovering what started her mother's downward spiral might be the only way to stop her own.
Critique: Impressively written with wit and wisdom, "The Art of Crash Landing" by Melissa DeCarlo is a terrifically entertaining read from first page to last. Very highly recommended for personal and community library General Fiction collections and reading lists, it should be noted that "The Art of Crash Landing" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).
Courtney R. Baker
University of Illinois Press
1325 South Oak Street, Champaign, IL 61820-6975
9780252039485, $45.00, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the history of black America, the image of the mortal, wounded, and dead black body has long been looked at by others from a safe distance. Courtney Baker (Associate Professor of English, Connecticut College) questions the relationship between the spectator and victim and urges viewers to move beyond the safety of the "gaze" to cultivate a capacity for humane insight toward representations of human suffering. Utilizing the visual studies concept termed the "look", Professor Baker interrogates how the notion of humanity was articulated and recognized in oft-referenced moments within the African American experience: the graphic brutality of the 1834 Lalaurie affair; the photographic exhibition of lynching, Without Sanctuary; Emmett Till's murder and funeral; and the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Contemplating these and other episodes, Baker traces how proponents of black freedom and dignity used the visual display of violence against the black body to galvanize action against racial injustice. An innovative cultural study that connects visual theory to African American history, "Humane Insight" asserts the importance of ethics in our analysis of race and visual culture, and reveals how representations of pain can become the currency of black liberation from injustice.
Critique: Enhanced with an informative Introduction, eighteen pages of Notes, and a twenty-three page Index, "Humane Insight: Looking at Images of African American Suffering and Death", part of the outstanding University of Illinois Press 'New Black Studies' series, is an impressively well written and truly exceptional work of seminal scholarship that is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to academic library Black Studies reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Humane Insight" is also available in a Kindle edition ($40.50).
University of Iowa Press
119 West Park Road, Iowa City, IA 52242-1000
9781609383534, $49.95, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: From Sylvia Plath's depictions of the Holocaust as a group of noncohering "bits" to AIDS elegies' assertions that the dead posthumously persist in ghostly form and Susan Howe's insistence that the past can be conveyed only through juxtaposed "scraps," the condition of being too late is one that haunts post-World War II American poetry. This is a poetry saturated with temporal delay, partial recollection of the past, and the revelation that memory itself is accessible only in obstructed and manipulated ways. These postwar poems do not merely describe the condition of lateness: they enact it literally and figuratively by distorting chronology, boundary, and syntax, by referring to events indirectly, and by binding the condition of lateness to the impossibility of verifying the past. The speakers of these poems often indicate that they are too late by repetitively chronicling distorted events, refusing closure or resolution, and forging ghosts out of what once was tangible.
"Ghostly Figures: Memory and Belatedness in Postwar American Poetry" contends that this poetics of belatedness, along with the way it is bound to questions of poetic making, is a central, if critically neglected, force in postwar American poetry. Discussing works by Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Jorie Graham, Susan Howe, and a group of poets responding to the AIDS epidemic, Ann Keniston (Associate Professor of English, University of Nevada, Reno) draws on and critically assesses trauma theory and psychoanalysis, as well as earlier discussions of witness, elegy, lyric trope and figure, postmodernism, allusion, and performance, to define the ghosts that clearly dramatize poetics of belatedness throughout the diverse poetry of post-World War II America.
Critique: Impressively written, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Ghostly Figures: Memory and Belatedness in Postwar American Poetry" is a seminal work of outstanding scholarship and very highly recommended for inclusion in the Literary Criticism reference collections of academic libraries. Enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-two pages of Notes, a fourteen page listing of Works Cited, and a nine page Index, it should be noted for personal and supplemental studies reading lists that "Ghostly Figures" is also available in a Kindle edition ($39.96).
The Cookbook For Children With Special Needs
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.
400 Market Street, Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19106
9781849055383, $24.95, 200pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Learning to cook not only equips children with a valuable life skill, but will help boost self-esteem in other areas of their lives. "The Cookbook for Children with Special Needs: Learning a Life Skill with Fun, Tasty, Healthy Recipes" by Debroah French starts with a basic illustrated guide to where food comes from, the different food groups, how to create our own diet and why cooking is a great skill to master. Simple, step-by-step instructions accompanied by fun illustrations, guide children through three levels of cooking, starting with fundamental basics including the preparation of a wide variety of different foods, and building up to more complex recipes. Health and safety skills are taught as an essential part of the cooking activity and healthy eating habits are reinforced throughout. Parents and carers will find cooking with children with special needs to be enjoyable and rewarding with this book, which thoroughly prepares the child for the cooking experience. Teachers, activity organizers and anyone else working with children with special needs will also find this book to be a great resource for cooking inspiration.
Critique: Extraordinarily well written, deftly organized, and accessibly presented form beginning to end, "The Cookbook for Children with Special Needs: Learning a Life Skill with Fun, Tasty, Healthy Recipes" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in content and superbly illustrated throughout. "The Cookbook for Children with Special Needs" should be considered essential reading for every parent with a special needs child and is very strongly recommended for family, school, community, and academic library instructional reference collections.
My Unsentimental Education
University of Georgia Press
330 Research Drive, Athens, GA, 30602-4901
9780820348742, $24.95, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A misfit in Spooner, Wisconsin, with its farms, bars, and strip joints, Debra Monroe leaves to earn a degree, then another, and another, and builds a career if only because her plans to be a midwestern housewife continually get scuttled. Fearless but naive, she vaults over class barriers but never quite leaves her past behind. When it comes to men, she s still blue collar. Negotiating the world of dating, Monroe pays careful attention to what love and sex mean to a woman ambivalent about her newfound status as liberated. Both the story of her steady rise into the professional class and a parallel history of unsuitable exes, "My Unsentimental Education" is a personal memoir that reminds us all just how accidental even a good life can be. Funny, poignant, wise, "My Unsentimental Education" explores the confusion that ensues when a working-class girl ends up far from where she began.
Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally well organized and presented, "My Unsentimental Education" is a candid and thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end, making it very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "My Unsentimental Education" is also available in a Kindle edition ($17.77).
Nanise', A Navajo Herbal
Vernon O. Mayes & Barbara Bayless Lacy
Five Star Publications Inc.
PO Box 6698, Chandler, AZ 85246-6698
9781589852174, $19.95, 163pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Nanise', A Navajo Herbal", is co-authored by Vernon O. Mayes and Barbara Bayless Lacy, and details 100 plants that are found on the Navajo Reservation. Each plant is showcased with it's Navajo name as well as succinct commentaries on the ways the Navajos used them in everyday life, whether for ceremonial, medicinal or household purposes. Complete with pen line illustrations and a center section of full color photographs, the 100 plants are some of the most common Reservation flora compiled from the more than 1,500 species of wild, vascular plants that include ferns, horsetails, conifers and flowering species and which were selected by the Navajo Health Authority, Ethnobotany Project staff and approved by the Navajo Medicine Men's Association.
Critique: A unique and superbly presented identification guide, "Nanise', A Navajo Herbal: One Hundred Plants from the Navajo Reservation" is as informative as it is thoroughly 'user friendly', making it very highly recommended for community and academic library Botanical Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Nanise', A Navajo Herbal" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World
David R. Godine, Publisher
PO Box 450, Jaffrey, NH 03452
9781567925289, $40.00, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World" by independent scholar, writer, and translator Valerie Lester is the first English-language biography of the relentlessly ambitious and incomparably talented printer Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813). Born to a printing family in the small foothill town of Saluzzo, he left his comfortable life to travel to Rome in 1758 where he served as an apprentice of Cardinal Spinelli at the Propaganda Fide press. There, under the sponsorship of Ruggieri, his close friend, mentor, and protector, he learned all aspects of the printing craft. Even then, his real talent, indeed his genius, lay in type design and punchcutting, especially of the exotic foreign alphabets needed by the papal office to spread the faith. His life changed when in 1768 at age 28 he was invited by the young Duke of Parma to abandon Rome for that very French city to establish and direct the ducal press. He remained in Parma, overseeing a vast variety of printing, some of it pedestrian, but much of it glorious. And all of it making use of the typefaces he personally designed and engraved.
"Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World" goes beyond Bodoni's capacity as a printer; it examines the life and times in which he lived, the turbulent and always fragile political climate, the fascinating cast of characters that enlivened the ducal court, the impressive list of visitors making the pilgrim- age to Parma, and the unique position Parma occupied, politically Italian but very much French in terms of taste and culture. Even the food gets its due (and in savory detail). The illustrations-of the city, of the press, of the types and matrices-are compelling enough, but most striking are the pages from the books he designed. And especially, pages from his typographic masterpiece, the Manuale Tipografico, painstakingly prepared by his wife Ghitta, posthumously published in two volumes, and displaying the myriad typefaces in multiple sizes that Bodoni had designed and engraved over a long and prolific career.
Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally well researched and documents, deftly organized and presented, "Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World" is a unique and invaluable contribution to the history of printing. Enhanced with the inclusion of four appendices; a four page bibliography; eleven pages of Notes; a five page listing of illustration credits; and a forty-two page index, "Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World" is an essential and critically important addition to academic library History of Printing reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
Kansas Trail Guide
Jonathan Conard & Kristin Conard
University Press of Kansas
2501 West 15th Street, Lawrence, KS 66049
9780700620661, $24.95, 304pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: From the windswept plains to the majestic Flint Hills, the subtle beauty of Kansas (known as the Sunflower State) is best appreciated from its myriad wide-ranging trails. And whether you're an avid hiker or desultory explorer, a bicyclist or horseback rider, "Kansas Trail Guide: The Best Hiking, Biking, and Riding in the Sunflower State" makes a most congenial guide. An invaluable companion for exploring new trails or learning about accustomed routes, this comprehensive guide will tell you all you need to know (as well as what it might surprise you to learn) about the trails that crisscross Kansas - history and geography, wildlife and scenery, park locations and cultural possibilities, and, now and then, even a bit of geology and botany. The "Kansas Trail Guide" is an illustrated guide that includes detailed full-color maps, GPS coordinates, and, of course, extensive route descriptions -- through historic sights and prairies and state parks, to lakes and rivers and wildlife refuges. "Kansas Trail Guide" identifies the best trails for families or going solo; for running or hiking, biking or horseback riding; for hunting wildflowers, encountering wildlife, enjoying scenic vistas, or exploring Kansas history. "Kansas Trail Guide" also includes helpful descriptions of flora and fauna, and historical highlights for each area. Concise, complete, and engaging, "Kansas Trail Guide" is the guide anyone journeying the trails of Kansas, seasoned hiker and armchair traveler alike, should not be without.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, deftly organized, and expertly presented, "Kansas Trail Guide: The Best Hiking, Biking, and Riding in the Sunflower State" is profusely illustrated throughout and very strongly recommended for personal and community library Travel Guide collections. It should be noted that the "
The Theory of Light at Midnight
c/o Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781926639864, $19.95, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Twenty years after a horrific captivity, Magda's perfect life begins to crumble. Helpless to the resurgence of memory, she collapses inward. Through a haze of desire frighteningly evocative of the attack, she desperately attempts to fit together the bits and pieces of self, which existed before and after. "The Theory of Light at Midnight" is the story of the disintegration of personality, and one woman's attempt to reconstruct integrity with the truth of brutality intact.
Critique: A deftly crafted and compelling read from beginning to end, "The Theory of Light at Midnight" by Elizabeth Ukrainetz is destined to become a literary classic and is very strongly recommended for personal, community, and academic library General Fiction collections.
The SG Guitar Book
c/o Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group
33 Plymouth Street, Suite 302, Montclair, NJ 07042-2677
9781480399259, $20.99, 136pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: To many vintage guitar fans, it seems inconceivable that Gibson dumped the Sunburst Les Paul in 1960 and, during the following year, introduced a completely new design, the one that we know now as the SG (solid guitar). At the time, however, it made good business sense. Sales of the Les Paul were faltering, and Gibson decided to blow a breath of fresh air through its solidbody electric guitar line. The company described the result as an ultra-thin, hand-contoured, double-cutaway body. The modernistic amalgam of bevels and points and angles was a radical departure, and this new book tells the story of all the SG models that followed: the Junior, Special, Standard, Custom, and more There are interviews with and stories about Gibson personnel through the years, and all the major SG players, including Pete Townshend, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, Angus Young, George Harrison, Gary Rossington, Tony Iommi, and Derek Trucks. In the tradition of Tony Bacon's bestselling series of guitar books, "The SG Guitar Book: 50 Years of Gibson's Stylish Solid Guitar" is three great volumes in one package: a collection of drool-worthy pictures of the coolest guitars; a gripping story from the earliest prototypes to the latest exploits; and a detailed collectors database of every production SG model ever made.
Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally organized and presented, profusely illustrated, informed and informative, "The SG Guitar Book: 50 Years of Gibson's Stylish Solid Guitar" is a "must" for all Gibson guitar enthusiasts and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library 20th Century American Music History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
9781909718883, $20.00, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Buried Treasure: Overlooked, Forgotten and Uncrowned Classic Albums" uncovers the most well-hidden or long-forgotten music albums from the people who know music best. Musicians, actors, producers, and pop culture icons all contribute their favorite albums of all time to create an eclectic, exciting collection of all genres and decades of music. With an emphasis on inclusion rather than accidental exclusion, "Buried Treasure" combines all tastes of music in one place for a book that truly has something for everyone. Whether the reader is a music aficionado or a clueless pastime listener, the recommendations and insight into music and the music industry span audiences. More than just a reference book, "Buried Treasure" will explore each album recommendation as well as the background of the recommender. Even if the album is not familiar to the reader, the recommender may be and vice versa. Meant for all levels of music knowledge, "Buried Treasure" explores the overlooked, forgotten and uncrowned classic albums that have come to be favorites of contemporary pop culture icons.
Critique: An absolute "must" for all dedicated music enthusiasts, "Buried Treasure: Overlooked, Forgotten and Uncrowned Classic Albums" is a unique and profusely illustrated compendium that is an informative as it is absorbing. Each showcased album includes a visual image of the cover, an informed commentary, and a listing of the songs that it comprised, making "Buried Treasure" an enthusiastically recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Music History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry
Clark Terry, et al.
University of California Press
155 Grand Avenue, Suite 400, Oakland, CA 94612 - 3758
9780520268463, $36.95, 344pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry" is the compelling story of one of the most recorded and beloved jazz trumpeters of all time. With unsparing honesty and a superb eye for detail, Clark Terry, born in 1920, takes us from his impoverished childhood in St. Louis, Missouri, where jazz could be heard everywhere, to the smoke-filled small clubs and carnivals across the Jim Crow South where he got his start, and on to worldwide acclaim. Terry takes us behind the scenes of jazz history as he introduces scores of legendary greats including Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Doc Severinsen, Ray Charles, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, and Dianne Reeves, among many others. Terry also reveals much about his own personal life, his experiences with racism, how he helped break the color barrier in 1960 when he joined the Tonight Show band on NBC, and why (at the ages of ninety years old) his students from around the world still call and visit him for lessons.
Critique: Written with the able assistance of Gwen Terry, "Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry" is as impressive an autobiography as was the life and career of a true jazz music legend. Informative, detailed, intimate, and thoroughly absorbing, "Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry" is very strongly recommended for both community and academic library American Biography and Jazz History reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Clark: The Autobiography of Clark Terry" is also available in a paperback edition (9780520287518, $26.95) and in a Kindle format ($17.51).
Nutritional Management of Hospitalized Small Animals
Daniel L. Chan, editor
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9781444336474, $79.99, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Daniel L. Chan (Professor of Emergency, Critical Care and Nutrition at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK), "Nutritional Management of Hospitalized Small Animals" offers veterinarians, veterinary students and technicians a comprehensive reference to the latest information relating to the principles and practice of nutritional support in small animals that require hospitalization. "Nutritional Management of Hospitalized Small Animals" represents the definitive resource for small animal veterinarians in providing optimal nutritional support for their patients during hospitalization; discusses and demonstrates the most up-to-date techniques available for successfully implementing nutritional support for hospitalized small animal patients; provides step-by-step pictorial instructions on how to implement the most appropriate techniques for particular patients; and reveals expected outcomes and possible complications along with strategies to minimize risk of complications.
Critique: Comprised of twenty-three specialized articles ranging from Kathryn E. Michel's 'Nutritional Assessment in Small Animals'; to Iveta Becvarova's 'Tube Feeding in Small Animals: Diet Selection and Preparation'; to Lisa P. Weeth's 'Appetite Stimulants in Dogs and Cats'; to 'Nutritional Support in Exotic Pet Species' by Jeleen A. Briscoe, La Toya Latney, and Cailin R. Heinze, "Nutritional Management of Hospitalized Small Animals" will prove to be an invaluable contribution to professional, animal clinic, and academic library Veterinarian Medicine reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
A View from the Porch
c/o Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781550653991, $19.99, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "A View from the Porch: Rethinking Home and Community Design" illuminating collection of 22 essays by Avi Friedman (Professor of Architecture at McGill University) expounding upon the points where design touches life. The essays discuss the big and small things that make us appreciate, or become disconnected from, our homes and neighborhoods. Drawing on his experiences as an architect, planner, world traveler, and educator, Avi Friedman delves into issues such as the North American obsession with monster homes, the impact of scale on the feeling of comfort in our communities, environmental concerns such as deforestation, innovative recycling methods in building materials, the booming do-it-yourself industry, the decline of craftsmanship, and the role of good design in bringing families together. Written with Friedman's trademark flair, A View from the Porch offers a compelling vision of the influence of design in our everyday lives from one of the world's most innovative thinkers.
Critique: This newly revised and expanded edition of "A View from the Porch: Rethinking Home and Community Design" is a very strongly recommended and highly valued contribution to personal, professional, community, and academic library collections Urban Development and Sustainable Living reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
Flat World Navigation
Kim Chanlder McDonald
Kogan Page USA
1518 Walnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19102
9780749473938, $29.95, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The future of a company lies in its ability to make authentic connections in a global, "flattened world" economy, spanning departments, cultures, and countries. "Flat World Navigation: Collaboration and Networking in the Global Digital Economy" explains how network-building, collaboration, and authentic communication are essential to navigating this new business landscape. Exploring the essential skills, tools, techniques, and technologies involved in making and maintaining business relationships, author Kim Chandler McDonald (Co-founder of KimmiC, a company specializing in disruptive Future Internet Architecture) integrates practical tips and advice with interviews with leading figures who are successful flat world navigators.
Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Flat World Navigation: Collaboration and Networking in the Global Digital Economy" is a compendium offering keen insights, observations and commentaries deftly organized into eight major chapters. Enhanced with the inclusion of contributor biographies, a listing of abbreviations and commonly used phrases, forty-eight pages of References, and a forty-one page Index, "Flat World Navigation" is very highly recommended for personal, professional, corporate, governmental, and academic library Global Economic reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Flat World Navigation" is also available in a Kindle edition ($29.95).
The Point of Vanishing
24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210
9780807075463, $16.00, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: On a clear May afternoon at the end of his junior year at Harvard, Howard Axelrod played a pick-up game of basketball. In a skirmish for a loose ball, a boy's finger hooked behind Axelrod's eyeball and left him permanently blinded in his right eye. A week later, he returned to the same dorm room, but to a different world. A world where nothing looked solid, where the distance between how people saw him and how he saw had widened into a gulf. Desperate for a sense of orientation he could trust, he retreated to a jerry-rigged house in the Vermont woods, where he lived without a computer or television, and largely without human contact, for two years. He needed to find, away from society's pressures and rush, a sense of meaning that couldn't be changed in an instant.
Critique: "The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude" is an inherently absorbing and compelling read from beginning to end. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Point of Vanishing" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Point of Vanishing" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Square One Publishers
115 Herricks Road, Garden City Park, NY 11040
9780757003929, $24.95, 480pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: During the summer of 1969, Elliot Tiber helped start the gay liberation movement and saved the Woodstock Festival from cancellation. But some of the best and most significant events of Tiber s life did not happen until After Woodstock. "After Woodstock: The True Story of a Belgian Movie, an Israeli Wedding, & a Manhattan Breakdown" is the third volume of his memoirs, following the critically acclaimed "Palm Trees on the Hudson: A True Story of the Mob, Judy Garland & Interior Decorating" (9780757003516, HC $24.95, Kindle $18.28) and his breakout bestseller "Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life" (9780757003332, PB $15.95, Kindle $10.52), in which Tiber chronicles his hilarious, madcap, and often heartbreaking adventures in the entertainment industry. Guided as much by chutzpah as by his creative drive, Tiber travels around the world, always looking to grab the brass ring. And everywhere he goes, from Hollywood to Brussels, Tiber makes his indelible, irreverent, unique mark. Along the way, Tiber meets the celebrated Belgian playwright and director Andre Ernotte. Over the course of his decades-long relationship with Ernotte, Tiber realizes his potential as a humorist and writer, and finds a way to cope with his difficult mother, whose second wedding in the hills of Israel gives new meaning to the Wailing Wall. The relationship is tested by the AIDS crisis and a string of professional disappointments, but ultimately endures the test of time. With Ernotte, Tiber finally learns the true meaning of love. A passionate and joyful evocation of a very different time, After Woodstock reminds us how the search for love and meaning drives us forward.
Critique: Written with an easy expertise and a thoroughly absorbing, entertaining, and informative read from beginning to end, "After Woodstock: The True Story of a Belgian Movie, an Israeli Wedding, & a Manhattan Breakdown" is Elliot Tiber at his literary best and very highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library American Biography collection. It should be noted that "After Woodstock" is also available in a Kindle edition ($18.28).
Sword of Honor
Back Bay Books / Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316216685, $50.00 hc
9780316216692, $29.99 pb, www.amazon.com
Sword of Honor is a war novel unlike any I've read. Although the book is populated by many characters, the action centers around one--Guy Crouchback. We meet Crouchback as WWII is about to be declared. The prospect of war does not fill Waugh's protagonist with dread, or fear; it does not inspire him to be heroic. What he hopes to find in the coming war is an opportunity, perhaps his last, to become part of an idea.
It is said that some parts of this book were lifted entirely from Waugh's personal experience as a soldier in WWII. If that is so, then it would seem that the Allies stumbled to victory through anarchic mismanagement rather than strategic planning.
No Band of Brothers, this book.
By any standard, Sword of Honor is a masterpiece. Waugh's use of language is masterful, his delineation of character--so many of them--artful. His social critique is biting and insightful.
I took my time reading this book and as the end approached slowed the pace further because I literally did not want to put the book down. Upon finishing the last page, I did something I'd never done before. I began the book anew.
Read Sword of Honor if you love good writing. Read it if you enjoy an entertaining story. Read it if you are interested in history, and the psychology of war. For whatever reason, do yourself a solid and read this book.
Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780060881306, $24.85 hc
9780060881313, $16.99 pb
Mad World is a well-researched, responsible book. However, I hesitate to call it a biography, though it is biographical. Author Paula Byrne explains in her preface that she belongs to a new class of biographer, a class that is reinventing biography.
"Traditional biographies," Ms. Byrne writes, "...tend to lose sight of the wood for the trees." The "heavily footnoted biographical doorstopper" is a thing of the past, Ms. Byrne asserts. Let's hope not, for the new form left me severely wanting, so wanting that at the end I turned to the Internet for more information. I can't imagine doing that after reading Richard Ellman's Oscar Wilde or Robert Service's Stalin: A Biography.
To be fair, Ms Byrne warns us about the focus of her book before we ever crack the cover. In the subtitle she describes her purpose: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead. Ms. Byrne devotes her efforts to "unlocking" these Brideshead secrets. In service of that goal, she follows tangential 'real' personalities into remote locations because these personalities and those locations may have inspired a character or event in Brideshead. For example, while the reader is provided with an exquisitely detailed description of Eton (Waugh never attended), scant attention is paid to his second marriage, which lasted thirty-seven years and produced seven children.
There may be people who are bored with "doorstoppers". There may be people who are so fascinated with Brideshead that any remote speculation about its origins is craved. I am in neither of these camps.
I picked up a biography of Evelyn Waugh in order to learn about him and his life. His books are remarkably autobiographical, his writing a window into the times in which he lived. I wanted to know more. Waugh was a talented writer, perhaps even a genius. I wanted to understand the spark of genius, to understand where the leap between reality and imagination occurred that allowed him to create searing works.
I wanted clues, the breadcrumbs, the minutiae that would offer a nearly complete picture of Waugh, his time and his art. I craved a fuller picture than his writing provided. Mad World did not satisfy that craving.
Paula Byrne is an entertaining writer. She uses primary sources and cites those sources carefully. This book is good--as far as it goes. For me, however, it does not go far enough. I'll take a doorstopper, every time.
A. G. Moore
The Full Moon at the Napping House
Written by Audrey Wood
Illustrated by Don Wood
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116-3764
9780544308329, $17.99, 32 pages, www.amazon.com
Advertised as a companion book to the beloved classic "The Napping House" in this new episode, readers are reacquainted with the original cast of characters. However the situation is the exact opposite. Instead of everyone piled on Granny's bed sleeping, the Napping House is far from calm as the curly-haired boy fidgets, Granny is sleepless, and the critters are restless. All of this turmoil is because the full moon's bluish glow permeates the Napping House. It looks as though Granny isn't going to catch a wink of sleep until the cricket's song sets off a relaxing chain reaction through all the inhabitants.
Audrey Wood masterfully employs the cumulative structure making use of repetitive phrases, but instead of building to a climax, she settles down the Napping House and lulls everyone to sleep. Don Wood's illustrations reanimate the original Napping House with the rich colors and soft textures of the furnishings which, along with Granny, appear to be aching for a good night's sleep in spite of blue glow of the moonscape. "The Full Moon at the Napping House" spirits readers to a familiar place for a warm and fuzzy bedtime story.
The Survival Guide to Bullying: Written by a Teen
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
9780545860536, $9.99, 160 pages, www.amazon.com
Are you the victim of a bully? As Aija Mayrock, the teen who wrote this book, will tell you growing up is hard enough. Toss a bully or two into the mix and your self-esteem can take a real beating. Mayrock, herself a victim of bullying, offers young people of all ages, especially teens, practical suggestions for navigating the gauntlet of bullies in school and online. Mayrock incorporates survival tips and conversations with your inner self to help you develop a more positive mental attitude. Mayrock uses a series of "roems" - or rap poems - to inspire readers to express their feelings as a way to overcome their fears. "The Survival Guide to Bullying" is much more than a how-to book about coping with bullies because it gives you the tools to unlock the happy person inside you.
Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer
Miss Me? (Max Larkin Detective Series Book 3)
Todd M. Thiede
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500123222, $13.95, 246 Pages, www.amazon.com
Genre: Crime Thriller
In this action packed story, Detectives Max Larkin and Jesse Fairlane are looking for a man who has raped and murdered.
However, they soon find themselves teamed up with FBI Agent Timothy Michaels, who informs them that the man they are looking for has in fact been raping women for a decade. Despite the best efforts of the law enforcement agencies, and incredibly, the fact that he makes no effort to hide his DNA, he is still at large!
What's more, the rapist insist on 'marrying' his victim before he carries out the act. Why is this? What reasoning for this lies within his twisted mind?
This book is a real action packed page turner, full of excitement and mystery. The tension escalates as you go through the book, following the attempts of the detectives and the FBI agent in tracking down the culprit.
The author has yet again combined all the essential ingredients for a really great crime thriller, a gripping plot, great characters, and I have to say, without spoiling it for readers, that the storyline has a fantastic twist at the end!
This is the third book in the Max Larkin, Detective crime thriller series and having thoroughly enjoyed the first two I couldn't wait to start reading this one. I have to say although part of a series it stands alone perfectly as well, although I can guarantee that after it, you will want to read the rest!
Slashtag (Max Larkin Detective Series Book 4)
Todd M. Thiede
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781511932394, $13.95, 266 Pages, www.amazon.com
Genre: Crime Thriller
Life is good for Detective Max Larkin, he's riding on a high after solving an important rape and murder mystery (Miss Me?). What's more, he is very happy with life, he has been asked to join the FBI, and to top it all, is in love with a wonderful woman.
As the book opens he is about to attend a TV interview in Chicago.
However, the interview doesn't go quite as expected, and he finds himself targeted by a killer who is out to kill everyone he loves. The killer is very clever, his revenge on Max is out there, on the internet, and there are dire consequences if Max doesn't play ball...
As the grizzly death toll grows, the murders are carries out in unspeakable ways, egged on by the powers of the social media.
The author has paid great attention to detail, which makes this book not for the faint hearted. It has a gripping storyline, great characters, incredible attention to detail, and a plot which will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.
Although part of a series, the Detective Max Larkin crime thrillers can all happily stand alone.
I thoroughly enjoyed this no-holes-barred, exciting psychological thriller and would like to highly recommend it.
The Orange Crystal-Like Doornob
Mike Hanmer Walker
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781499028805, $15.99, 56 Pages, www.amazon.com
Sometimes, seemingly terrible life altering things can happen, however, when this happened to Mike Hanmer Walker he used it as an opportunity to rekindle his love of poetry and became an author.
This is the first book of his poems I have read and I just love them! They are a great assortment of observations on life. Some are inspirational like 'Happy New Year,' some thought-provoking 'What Would You say' and some are humorous like 'Uncle Eric.'
Whatever mood you are in there will be something to suit you in this wonderful potpourri. That the author is a people watcher, and a generally a great observer of life is obvious because these poems capture 'life' so brilliantly.
It would be difficult to pick a favourite, but if I had to, I think it would be between, 'The Middle Road,' which I really loved, and 'I Did This...' because, well because I am a mum.
I can't wait to read more from this talented author and poet.
The Ol' Duck and Dog
Mike Hanmer Walker
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781499028744, $15.99, 62 pages, www.amazon.com
This author and poets has a wonderful way of conveying through his poetry his observations on people and events that have happened in his life, to those around him, and of course at The Ol' Dog and Duck.
He jumps in straight away with a great poem anyone with a sibling can relate to: 'What My Sister Did.' I loved 'Health and safety Ideas,' as anyone of our generation would, it just puts into perspective the strange molly coddling attitude these days. However I have to say, I think my favourite is the humorous 'Not Too Honest,' which had me laughing out loud!
Whatever your mood, I am confident you would find a poem to suit it in this lovely collection.
Susan Keefe, Reviewer
The Time Table: The Stobes Trilogy, Book One
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500922849, $12.00 PB, 286pp
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B00MJ1GUEI, $2.99 Kindle, 282 pages, www.amazon.com
Young Adult - Fantasy
Deep in the shadows of the subways of London there is a wealth of mystical activity taking place. An array of magical creatures knows as strobes have made their dwellings in this busy environment. Each one is unique in their own self for they bring out their own special blend to mix with the passengers on the subway.
When a stone table is discovered it threatens mayhem threatens to erupt. Who will be the victor and claim the scared stone? What powers will this object be able to produce once it is claimed?
THE TIME TABLE - THE STOBES TRILOGY, BOOK ONE provides a magnificent reading experience. I was so impressed with the multiple characters this one book contained. It showcased the writer's talent in being able to change the point of view in a rapid pace. I found this book kept me guessing, I never was able to predict what was going to occur next.
NJ Rayner has proven that he is a superb storytelling. I was highly impressed with this first book in this series. I feel it is one that young adults will gravitate towards. If offers a fresh new insight into characters that wrap their way around your heart. I predict that this series will make a strong impact into the literary world. I look forward to seeing future works from this author.
Nemo and Giraffe
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781505536072, $9.13, 28pp, www.amazon.com
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B00R9GQZQQ, $2.99 Kindle
Grade Level: P - 3
Best friends in life enrich our existence. They are the ones that we turn to when we want to share our secrets, discuss our problems, and explore life together. Since Nemo was a small kitten his best friend has been Giraffe.
Giraffe is always by Nemo's side, and offers comfort when he is scared. Although Nemo has never been out of the house to feel grass under his paws he doesn't feel as though he has missed anything. The special bond he and Giraffe share is one that is magical.
NEMO AND GIRAFFE is a heart-warming tale of the power of true friendship. I found that the graphics enhanced the overall story content. Lee Hunter has done a magnificent job in writing this book for youth. I highly recommend it to any parent or library as one that will greatly heighten a child's reading level.
Madcap Mulligan Jokes for Kids: Volume I
B00X6I8IAC, $2.99, 128 Pages, Kindle Edition
It is said that laughter is the best medicine for your heart. It also stretches muscles, burns calories, and produces a natural energy booster. From the first page you will not be able to keep a smile off your face as you dive into this abundant collection of clean and entertaining jokes.
Both children and adults will be delighted to read this book. There is never a dull moment that can be found as you discover the 500 rib ticking witticisms! Each one of them is guaranteed to provide a side splitting good time.
I applaud DK Nanook for writing such an amusing book. Often it is difficult for children and adults to find decent commonsensical humor. This book is one that I highly recommend for it offers a surefire way to put anyone in a good mood.
Tech Research Phrase Book
Susan Louise Peterson
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B015GHOAFW, $9.99, 98 pages
As a former college student I know the importance of having the ideal focus phrase in writing a dissertation paper. I remember the days when I struggled to come up with the perfect objective to help jumpstart my paper.
How I would have longed to see Susan Louise Peterson's TECH RESEARCH PHRASE BOOK while I was in school. This book would have saved me countless hours spent trying to come up with my own research statement.
Not only is this a golden jewel for college students, it also can be a huge asset to anyone who finds they are faced with writing a proposal or applying for a grant. This book offers such a huge wealth of knowledge and persuasive sentences that I feel would build a strong solid foundation that would allow a paper to glow and flourish.
Susan Louise Peterson has once again impressed me with her writing skills. In this book she has provided a wealth of thought provoking examples that is assured if used will be met with winning results. I highly recommend this book to anyone who finds themselves in a situation where they need to use technical research phrases to generate a more solid theory in their writing.
Digital Research Phrase Book
Susan Louise Peterson
Amazon Digital Publishing
9780991404612, $8.49, 146 pages
This book is a wonderful addition to the literally world. College students will celebrate when they see how useful this book is to their research studies. This book is filled with starter phrases that will kick start any report.
The digital age is widely expanding it is been seen in different type of grants and government applications. By using the examples in this book anyone can look like a true professional. The book is categorized by the following sections:
Internet Research Phrases
Technology Research Phrases
Web Research Phrases
Data Research Phrases
Cyber Research Phrases
Online Research Phrases
Virtual Research Phrases
Network Research Phrases
Email Research Phrases
Computer Research Phrases
Digital Research Phrases
Electronic Research Phrases
Each one offers a wealth of information that will allow the creative juice to flow out of your computer.
Susan Louise Peterson is a master in her subject. She has opened my eyes the unlimited amount of opportunities that I will be able to use this book. It is evident from her in-depth research on writing this book that she is determined to provide her audience the most comprehensive collection of digital phrases that exist.
Living for Eternity - Life With Eternal Rewards In Mind
Matthew Robert Payne
Revival Waves of Glory Books & Publishing
PO Box 596 Litchfield, IL 62056
Ebook: 9783959268226, $3.99
Paperback: 9780692520284, $15.95
Hardcover: 9781626769991, $24.99, 163 Pages
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life". John 3:16
The above mentioned Bible verse is one of the best known verses to any Christian. In these simple but powerful words it states that God gave his only son so that we as believers shall have everlasting life.
The life that we live on earth is our journey towards our eternal life with God. In this book Matthew Robert Payne does an excellent job in providing his readers an in-depth look at what eternity will be like. He emphasizes the importance of how our actions on earth can help ensure we have a solid place in Heaven.
This book was a very eye opening experience. As a Christian I firmly believe this book gave me a better appreciation for the type of person I needed to be as a Christian. It also showed that I have the power to lead others to find the Lord.
Often we allow life to rush past us and as we struggle to keep afloat we often forget the meaning of our existence. After I finished the last page I truly felt that knowledge I received in this book strengthened my Christian life. This book is one that I highly recommend for it has the substance to be a very life alternating experience.
Triangulating Bliss (The Mystique of Living Book 1)
9781942535188, $0.99, 339 pages, www.synchron8publishing.com
Greg Ellison survived Afghanistan and was on the pathway to following in his father's footsteps as a prominent lawyer, but his life course changed the day he made the decision to drop out of law school. To complicate his life further, a mysterious email arrived that centered on his father and Mikel Thomas, a local athlete who had committed suicide.
When he meets with his Father and tells him of the message he found his father stuns him with the revelation that he was Mikel's father. This news is one of shock for he was clueless that he even had a brother. He makes the decision to pay his last respect to the brother he never knew. At the funeral, the emotional impact hit him hard. He knew that he had to escape from his surroundings.
He finds himself in a local barbeque place known as Bliss Bar & Grill. There he meets the attractive owner Lois Atwater. It is rumored that Mikel's death had something to do with the bar. He is determined to get to the bottom of his brother's last days.
Will Greg's investigation endanger his own life? Will he find a love that he never expected to occur? Will he be able to accept the dark past that is revealed to him that surrounds his brother's death?
TRIANGULATING BLISS is an exceptional romance. It is one that impressed me from the first few pages. It offers so many different elements that include a suspenseful mystery, a heartwarming romance, and an unexpected paranormal segment. To think all of these types of literary genes are going on in one book is simply an amazing experience!
Janelle Jalbert is an author who has truly impressed me with her writing talent. I feel this first book in what hints of a growing series that is assured to be an award winning collection. With this being the first offering I have encountered by this author she has quickly proven to me that as an author she is a literary genius.
Crime and Clutter
A Friday Afternoon Club Mystery
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781582296449, $12.99, Trade Paperback, 270 pages, www.amazon.com
It's confession time. What secrets about your family would you prefer no one to ever know? What do you believe your friends would think if they knew about your past?
Everyone needs a good friend and the Friday Afternoon Club is a group of women who for many years have supported each other and their families while creating a close-knit group of six women who also pray together. Lucy, Jessie, Marina, Mary Alice, Kelly and Liz take turns on hosting this weekly event at four. Obviously their families assist in allowing these women their special "me" time. This special relationship has kept this group together for over eleven years.
Marina who is a female lieutenant on the Omaha, Nebraska police department is discussing a bust that had happened earlier in the day at Storage Unlimited. Apparently this was where the supplies for a meth lab had been stored and the fire department had to be involved in the clean-up.
As Marina is telling the group of this event, Mary Alice is turning paler with each word. Marina ends this discussion by asking Mary Alice what she was doing at the storage unit facility. Mary Alice is so startled and upset that she drops the glass pitcher on the floor.
Why is Mary Alice so upset? To the members of the group, they know that Mary Alice could never be involved with anything criminal. She looks and acts like the perfect shining example for each of them. What is she hiding?
Crime and Clutter is a light, cozy mystery involving these women as they uncover Mary Alice's past, including what she has chosen not to share and what she does not know. Unique to this Christian mystery are helpful household hints such as the best way to clean up glass, recipes that are delectably delicious, discussion questions for book groups. Added to this is a mystery surrounding a historical era which slowly uncovers a past that Mary Alice never knew, a past she had always hidden from others and herself, and her reconciliation of the two.
Who would best enjoy this book? Crime and Clutter is aimed at a middle-aged audience of women who have children in school, a career, a spouse while maintaining a strong Christian relationships. The book's characters are real women who lead very busy lives.
Revealing the events of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago as historical initially bothered me. How can something that I watched on television be history? However revisiting this time of change in our society is refreshing besides aging this reviewer. This would additionally add the readership to women who at some time in their lives have been these women in some form.
Cyndy Salzman has previously published three Christian nonfiction books on home management for the "domestically challenged". Crime and Clutter is the sequel to Salzman's novel, Dying to Decorate. Crime and Clutter is a delightful fast-reading novel for the overwhelmed and busy mom of today.
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781477827628 $15.95, 274 pages, www.amazon.com
"Every decision we make has consequences...Some people, however, don't grasp the concept of consequences, and I can see now that you're one of those people, Nick."
There are certain times in your life where a mistaken identity can be a blessing, others where it definitely is a curse. For Nick White, he is uncertain which.
Nick is in a bar when a woman comes up to him and giving him an envelope full of money and a picture. Apparently someone believed he is a killer for hire. So what does a normal person do now? Take the twenty-thousand dollars? Should he actually find and kill the person? What about the real killer? What will the real killer do when he discovers that the money was given to the wrong person? What does anyone do when they are in deep water that is way over their head?
Nick is basically a good guy, just a little lazy with no career direction or ambition. He was fired while being a journalist which also caused problems in his marriage.
He decides to find the girl in the picture. Shouldn't he warn her that someone wants to kill her?
What should he do with the money? No one would miss a few hundred. Or would they?
Nick White is a superbly developed protagonist, seriously flawed while still having an innocent quality of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Ruthless is a page-turner. With this engrossing tale, you will stay up all night trying to find a good stopping place. There isn't one. This is a book you will not be able to put down leaving you constantly yearning to read just one more page.
John Rector is an Omaha author whose books have become bestsellers with The Grove, The Cold Kiss, and Out of the Black. He is also a winner of various awards including the International Thriller Award for "Lost Things" a novella.
The twists and turns in Ruthless allows you to accompany Nick into a world where he does not belong. While bumping along the guide rails in a believable roller coaster rider, you frequently feel the closeness to almost jumping off in this "gritty" tale.
Ruthless is a tightly-written adventure with an unusual writing style that is masterful, grabbing the reader's thoughts and ruthlessly never releasing. This intense form is aimed at adult readers especially those who enjoy a thriller.
I look forward to reading more by this immensely talented area author, John Rector.
The Kill Switch
James Rollins and Grant Blackwood
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062135261, $9.99, Paperback, 548 pages, www.amazon.com
Former Army Rangers have distinct skills that are frequently needed in other situations throughout the world. Sigma Force is a governmental agency that employs many of these people who can actually keep the world safer. Their latest mission is to assist a Russian pharmaceutical expert to acquire an organism that could be the survivor of all plant life, essentially being the equivalent of stem cells in plants. Whoever can utilize and control this organism could rule the world. This is definitely a new type of biological warfare.
Sigma Force assigns this particular job to Tucker Wayne and his partner, Kane, a military working dog. These two have a special communication and relationship.
Naturally nothing is as simple as the plan seems. Tucker Wayne finds the scientist, Dr. Bukolov quickly but he insists that his daughter accompany him. Naturally she is in another location and has secrets of her own.
The Kill Switch is non-stop action rushing through over five-hundred pages. What is outstanding is the relationship between Tucker and his dog that is the driving force. At times though, their actions seem larger than life and almost unbelievable that they are not killed, or minimally temporarily incapacitated. Even with that, this is a fun novel and typical of Rollins' previous books where you feel rushed to the last page, panting.
The historical aspects of the story including the Boer War makes this novel fascinating. The authors incorporated much of the South African history while weaving a biological thriller. The threat of invasive species in other parts of the world is already an ecological problem along with the discussion of LUCA, Last Universal Common Ancestor. How this scientific information was woven into this story is masterful.
Who would enjoy this novel? Anyone who enjoys a good adventure thriller will love The Kill Switch.
James Rollins is a former veterinarian turned author has written numerous novels. Grant Blackstone has also written many novels collaborating with Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy. A U.S. Navy veteran, he has written three novels, The End of Enemies, The Wall of Night, and An Echo of War.
By the Iowa Sea: A Memoir
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781451636062, $16.00, 280pp, www.amazon.com
"Life can hypnotize you into thinking that you have no choice. That you're trapped. You have a mortgage. You have a job. You have a wife. You have children, one of whom will never dress himself. Never hold a conversation. Never fall in love. And you will provide. This will be your life. What choice do you have in the matter? Things will always be this way."
Joe Blair is like many normal people. He works hard to earn a living for his family. He has a mortgage, a wife, and four children. He is fairly certain that the oldest three will be successful in life with one day having their own careers and families. His fourth child, Michael, is autistic. Will Michael always need to depend on him for his care? What do people do when they have a handicapped child?
Joe and his wife, Deb have been married for many years and between the daily routines, Joe feels that he has no choices with his life. He feels trapped. Everyday requires him to work and to run errands. What happened to his dreams? Is this a late reaction to "the seven-year itch" or a middle-aged crisis? Joe wants change, happiness, a sense of accomplishment that just isn't happening?
By the Iowa Sea is Joe's memoir of his thoughts, frustrations, and journey through this point in his life. Many people have discussed the differences between men and women at various stages in their lives. This is a beautifully written honest account about life as we age and the struggles of being a parent, especially one with a mentally-challenged son. He expressing his fears, concerns, hopes, and dreams as well as many real-life experiences.
As a female, I found myself reading angrily through the parts where I disagreed with the author's decisions bringing up past conversations that I would have preferred to be forgotten. Joe Blair's raw account of his own crisis which happened a few years ago when much of Iowa flooded, is haunting. This is the male voice that explains why so many marriages fall apart and how one person managed to accept those things that he cannot change.
For those people who occasionally feel trapped in their daily lives or for the dreamer who still wants to enjoy those goals that long ago have been put aside, Joe Blair's By the Iowa Sea is a phenomenally well-written and unquestionably memorable.
Atria Books / Emily Bestler Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781451642711, $16.00, Paperback, 484 pp, www.amazon.com
This novel is the third of what the author conceived as four books based on the seasons of the year. Summer and Winter comprised the first two in the series, and now we have Spring. The novels feature Malin Fors, an insecure but talented detective, who struggles with her past, mixed-up relationships with her ex-, her lovers, parents, and especially her 16-year-old daughter. On one level, the novels are basically a police procedural. But the books are a lot heavier than that, filled with deep insights into Malin's personality and psyche, her alcoholism and drive.
An explosion in the main square in front of a bank injures scores of persons, killing six-year-old twins and fatally injuring their mother. Who was responsible? The police begin investigating, without a single clue. Was it Muslim terrorists? Or protests against bankers and the financial system which led to an economic downturn? Or some other wild scheme? Than Malin intuitively comes up with another angle and she and her partner, Zeke, go off on their own. Meanwhile Malin continues to confront her own personal demons: her deep desire for a drink, her failed relationship with her parents, her need for a love of her own, and especially, her rapport with her daughter.
The same criticism made by this reviewer on the previous novels applies to Spring: It is too long and heavily written, although it is well-written. The author can certainly write (and write and write). Despite this observation, the book is recommended, and we look forward to Autumn.
Translated from the Japanese by Alexander O. Smith
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250070326, $15.99, Paperback, 288 pp, www.amazon.com
This meticulously crafted novel presents the reader with a series of red herrings created by an admitted murderer to thwart the lead detective's investigation. With a written confession in hand, the problem the police face is determining the motive. And it isn't easy.
A best-selling author, Kunihiko Hidaka, is found by his wife of one month and friend, Osamu Nonoguchi, on the floor of his office, having been hit on the head with a heavy object and strangled. The home is locked, as is the office. The case is assigned to detective Kyochiro Kaga, who years ago taught at the same school as Nonoguchi. During his investigation, Kaga develops various theories, determines Nonoguchi is guilty, and obtains a written confession. But he remains unsatisfied because he can't establish a motive. Thus begins a cat-and-mouse game between the detective and the perpetrator.
The author has constructed a whodunit with puzzle after puzzle, including the classic locked-room murder. In an excellent translation, the author's crisp prose carries the reader along as Kaga moves ahead step by step, confronting the murderer as he comes up with a new theory. The only criticism is that each new theory is unveiled too quickly by Kaga, without any previous clues for the reader. Other than that, the novel is recommended.
The Edge of Dreams
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250052025, $25.99, Hardcover, 308 pp, www.amazon.com
Molly Sullivan (nee Murphy) can't sit still, even when suffering from cracked ribs and a concussion, sustained when a train on the Ninth Avenue El derails, despite the fact that she now is a mother of a lively year-old boy and has promised to stop being a detective. Regardless of all the impediments, she still has a lively, inquisitive mind, and when a serial killer stumps her husband, Captain Daniel Sullivan, from catching the killer after months of trying, Molly undertakes to uncover a few facts.
The case involves a series of murders of apparently unrelated victims throughout various locations in the city. This gives the author a chance to describe early 20th century New York City, from the borough Brooklyn to the Murray Hill neighborhood, not to mention a very distant memory when there were elevated trans in Little Old New York as Molly, sometimes in pain, travels from scene to scene in an effort to find a link between the victims.
At the same time, another element of the period is introduced to pique the reader's interest. Molly's neighbors and friends, Sid and Gus, have just arrived back from Vienna, Gus having "studied" with Freud and now enamored with the interpretation of dreams (thus the title), and the daughter of two of the victims apparently has a recurring dream which might help solve the crime. Not to mention, Molly also has a recurring dream. But that's another story.
In any event, this novel, the 14th in the series, is not only an excellent crime story, but, as usual, an interesting look at an historical period of what was to become the Big Apple, as well as Molly's development as a character, her relationship with her husband and her growth as a person.
Season of Fear
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
1290 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10104
97816236654078, $26.99, Hardcover, 432 pp, www.amazon.com
In the present political climate, a novel that reflects the types of misinformation and downright lies which proliferate would have been welcome. This novel promised an insight into the machinations of political operatives, parties and candidates, but instead turns out to be a murder mystery with a somewhat questionable conclusion.
The book brings back for the second time Cab Bolton, sometime private detective whose mother is a well-known Hollywood star, and friend of Diane Birch, candidate for governor with a secret or two to hide. Ten years earlier, at a political rally, her husband (then a gubernatorial candidate) and two others were murdered. And now, a decade later, history is about to repeat itself. In between, a few more people are killed. The only element of mystery: Is it a right-wing conspiracy or not.
There are some indications of how politicians think and political parties operate, but really these are superficial. The conclusion appeared artificial to this reader, and unlikely. One other criticism: I found the writing at times is too flowery and heavy, slowing this reader down. But over-all, the story progresses well and is recommended.
The Alphabet House
Translated by Steve Schein
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 100014
9780525954897, $27.95, Hardcover, 461 pp., www.amazon.com
Before we begin, I should state that this novel would have rated 5**, except for the fact that the first half was slow, although probably necessary to establish the foundation for the rest of the book. Written by the Danish author of the delightful and amusing Department Q series, it is a standalone psychological study of two men who grew up boyhood friends and served in the RAF during World War II. The book takes place toward the end of the conflict and the years following that end.
In a bombing mission over Nazi Germany, the two were forced to parachute when their plane was hit, and they evaded capture by jumping on a hospital train filled with patients from the eastern front. They tossed two victims off the train and assumed their identities, ending up as mental patients at a facility giving the book its title and undergoing treatment for their supposed maladies, including electric shock. Eventually one escapes, the other remaining there for 30 years until his friend attempts to find him and bring him back to England.
It is this latter section which is absorbing, although the details of the treatments in the Alphabet House are equally fascinating. The author finally arrives at a point where his purpose surfaces: the question of whether friendship can survive despite the hardships and experiences suffered. It is this part of the novel which would have earned it a higher rating, except for the slogging necessary to get from there to here. Still, the book is highly recommended.
A Song of Shadows
Atria / Emily Bestler Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781501118289, $26.00, Hardcover, 448 pp, www.amazon.com
This latest Charlie Parker novel has a more intriguing plot while combining many of the elements of earlier books in the series. It begins with Charlie having survived a near fatal gunshot attack, leaving him extremely weak, renting a house on a small bay in Boreas, ME, in which to recuperate. There is only one other home on the bay, occupied by a woman, Ruth Winter, and her daughter, Amanda. In earlier decades, a large German population settled in the area, and after World War II an influx of supposed displaced persons arrived nearby.
When the body of a man washes ashore on the beach, questions are raised as to whether he is a suicide or the victim of foul play since he had traveled from Florida. Then another fact emerges: His friend and partner is found murdered in the Sunshine State, raising additional suspicion. When Ruth Winter is murdered, there can be no question there is evil in the air, and Charlie, despite his debilitation, begins to act like a detective.
So much for the background. The central theme is the post-war arrivals and their link to a Nazi concentration camp. The description of the government's investigations to identify and deport Nazi war criminals is affecting. And Charlie's efforts to unravel the mystery of the deaths, whether they are related, and if so to what, are, of course, aided by his usual cohorts, Louis and Angel and FBI agent Ross, along with Rabbi Epstein. Naturally a Charlie Parker novel without the presence of the Collector or introduction of the occult would not be in keeping with the series, so, naturally, both are present and play a major role in the unraveling of the plot, along with the presence of Charlie's daughters, the living Sam and the deceased Jennifer. All in all, this is John Connolly at his best, with a most serious story, and it is highly recommended.
A Fine Summer's Day
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062237132, $14.99, Paperback, 384 pp., www.amazon.com
This novel is sort of a prequel to the Ian Rutledge books that carry the series forward. It begins with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo, the prelude to the start of World War I months later. While England and the rest of Europe waited with baited breath while Germany and Russia postured, there were several apparently unrelated murders committed in various English localities.
Despite the fact that higher-ups "closed" the cases, Inspector Rutledge discerned certain common elements and pursued the cases against direct orders and in the face of possible discipline. Doggedly, he follows his instincts in what turns out to be his last case before enlisting in the army as an officer and sent to France, as we know from earlier novels in the series.
In the existing previous novels, Rutledge is single and is haunted by his experiences on the Western Front. In "A Fine Summer's Day," he becomes happily engaged to a pretty woman
his sister and others think a shallow person. But they appear to be very much in love and look forward to getting married by Christmas. Of course, other events take precedence. As in the entire series, the mother-son authors provide a realistic account of the times, writing smoothly and carrying the plot to a most satisfactory conclusion.
Dance of the Bones
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062297662, $26.99, Hardcover, 355 pp, www.amazon.com
Mixing Indian legend with old-fashioned sleuthing, J.A. Jance has utilized a long-time favorite character, retired detective J.P. Beaumont, with a recently introduced protagonist, retired Sheriff Brandon Walker. The two, 1,500 miles apart, work to identify the culprit. Beaumont has now appeared in 24 novels, and Walker makes his fourth appearance.
It all begins with the murder of Amos Walker, whose remains in the Arizona desert are not discovered for some years. On purely a circumstantial case, his partner, Big John Lassiter, is convicted and sentenced to life without a chance of parole. Now, 30 years later, as a result of efforts by an organization that seeks to rectify wrongful past convictions, he is offered a deal: release on pleading guilty to a lesser charge for time served. He refuses to plea guilty to a crime he didn't commit. So, it remains for the dynamic duo to substantiate his claim.
It is a suspenseful story, supplemented by Indian lore and well-drawn characterizations. Written crisply, the plot develops swiftly continually propelling the reader forward. While there is never any doubt who the culprit is, it is a race against time before a conclusion can be reached. And it is an exciting end.
The Hot Countries
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616954468, $26.95, Hardcover, 336 pp, www.amazon.com
Bringing the story begun in two previous novels and concluding what the author terms an "informal" trilogy, "The Hot Countries" conveys more information about Poke Rafferty and his way of life in Bangkok than in the previous six books in the series. At the same time, a look into his friends and attitudes is deeper and more penetrating. The novel is more serious, without the customary cynical levity experienced previously. With good reason.
When Poke first came to Thailand to write a travel guide, he fumbled his way around the capital, eventually finding his way to the Expat bar where he met an assortment of characters, some veterans of the war in Vietnam. From them, he learned his way around town. The group is very close. Now into the bar comes a talkative stranger, seeking out Poke, but more importantly the girl, Treasure, and the money Poke rescued from a burning home in a previous book. Therein lays the plot. Can Poke and his cronies escape from this murderous monster and prevent him from achieving his goals?
This is a first-rate suspense story, written to keep the reader on tenterhooks. As usual, the odors and sights of Bangkok are relentlessly offered so that one can see and smell them as realistically as feeling the continually falling rain. And especially the poignant interactions of all the characters.
Death of a Liar
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9781455504787, $25.00, Hardcover, 261 pp., www.amazon.com
All the characteristics which have made the Hamish Macbeth Mystery series enjoyable and popular are once again present in this latest effort: the constant threat to close his beloved police station, Hamish's forlorn love life, the Scottish brogue dialogue throughout the novel, the constant competition with his superiors who steal his thunder when he solves cases, and, of course his pets. There are a couple of challenging mysteries facing Hamish in the plot. First of all is a telephone call he receives from a woman claiming she was raped. It turns out when examined that she was a virgin when examined, but when she calls again saying she was being threatened Hamish ignores the plea, giving the book its title.
The further plot involves a criminal conspiracy which Hamish believes is linked to the death of the woman, who was tortured before she was murdered. The novel revolves around Hamish attempting to solve the mystery despite efforts by his superior to keep him away from the cases and the limelight, and the usual by-play of Hamish and his subordinate. Two previous policemen assigned to him had left to become food workers, one a chef at a local hotel, the other marrying the owner of an Italian restaurant and waiting tables there. Now his latest may become a baker.
The series is great fun, no less excellent mysteries. "Liar" also is very enjoyable, and is recommended.
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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