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Neanderthals in Plato's Cave - A Relativistic Approach to Cultural Evolution
George F. Steiner
Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
978153611904 $195.00 hardcover
9781536119602 $195 e-book, 226 pp. www.amazon.com
Bonnye Matthews, Reviewer
Synopsis: George F. Steiner's monograph, Neanderthals in Plato's Cave is a phenomenal contribution not only to the field of cultural evolution in anthropology but also to an expanded multi-disciplinary array of related domains (e.g., archaeology, neuroscience, cognitive development, anatomy, to name only a few). It also serves as a resource for subject initiates.
Steiner begins with an exhaustive review of the literature on human cultural evolution and proceeds to lay out a paradigm for the study where the tenets of dual inheritance theory are viewed through non-synchronous temporal changes toward modernity in three distinct areas:
Anatomical Modernity. The first area is anatomical where modernity is identified as a biologically, respectively, culturally-conditioned transition moving from robust to gracile with globular braincase development as its main signature and outcome.
Behavioral Modernity. The second area results from a biological process called neoteny. Neoteny manifests itself as mentioned above in physiological aspects of appearance: the retention of "juvenile traits in adulthood/a globular braincase/bulging forehead," and so on. Its concomitant psychological aspects are "curiosity/playfulness/creativity/sociability/reduced levels of aggressiveness and hierarchy." Behavioral modernity is, very much like anatomical modernity, suggested to be of two distinct types: culturally acquired "ahead of time" or biologically acquired in "due time."
Cognitive Modernity. The third area involves the development of the ability to shift contextual focus between associative and analytic states of consciousness to the eventual loss of that at will ability as it becomes subsumed in specialization to culturally-created information. The loss is compensated for with various shamanistic access/sharing techniques with the information accessed being encoded and stored externally as exograms meant to aid memory.
Steiner makes the point that where human cultural evolution stands today is not an end, nor have humans somehow become superior. Instead, the process continues with the next stages of tomorrow's modernity to be determined by today's anatomical, behavioral, and cognitive variables. Moreover, Steiner corrects the prevalent linear approach to cultural evolution and presents apparently ancestral stages as parallel achievements.
Critique: The monograph is exceptionally well titled, well written, and cutting edge with its focus on neoteny and exograms. It is a must for (paleo)anthropology scholars and a great resource for students of hominin evolution, as well as a fascinating read for those uninitiated who want to know more on this topic. The book adds depth, clarity, and a novel perspective to the subject of cultural evolution. Neanderthals in Plato's Cave is enthusiastically recommended specifically for academic library's anthropology collections and for community libraries in general.
How to Write Classical Poetry: A Guide to Forms, Techniques, and Meaning
Evan Mantyk and Connie Phillips, editors
Classical Poets Publishing
1546853316 $19.99 http://classicalpoets.org
How to Write Classical Poetry: A Guide to Forms, Techniques, and Meaning is divided into three parts. The first is why great poetry is still useful today. The second is how to write specific forms such as the haiku, triolet, villanelle, rondeau, terza rima, limerick, rubaiyat, pantoum, sestina, rhupunt with examples of them as modern and classical poems. The third is ten of the most famous from such giants as Robert Frost, William Shakespeare with discussion about each poem.
As a writer and reader I've often wondered what exactly makes a formal poem or a free verse poem and how does a sonnet differ from a villanelle - and what about rhyme and/or meter? Or more basically, what makes meter? The classical forms of poetry in my experience are not often covered in creative writing classes so this guide is most timely.
An example of its usefulness is the section about the sonnet divided into four levels:
Easy: A Sonnet in 10 Minutes
Medium: Rhyme-y Poetry
Medium-Difficult: Poetry with Rhyme and Structure
Difficult: Sonnet in Iambic Pentameter and Careful Attention to Meaning
The guide includes a painting selected as a subject to write about with steps on writing with samples of each level of difficulty in composing.
"The Mechanics of Classical Poetry" a 6 page discussion of rhyme and meter: terms to understand better such as iamb, trochee, and couplets, octets. "How to Write a Poem Like 'The Raven'" a 11 page discussion about how the poem is written (deciphering the meter), a modern example, and writing one of your own.
The Society of Classical Poets, the publishers of the book, was formed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to foster good poetry as well as formal poetry in 2012. You can subscribe and have free formal poetry e-mailed to you on their website: http://classicalpoets.org. One of the editors, Evan Mantyk is a teacher and the President and Editor and they accept poetry, essays, reviews, and offer competitions, annual journals, and much more on their visually stunning, constantly updated site. The Society has members around the world with a physical location in Mount Hope, New York.
Head In the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts Are So Easy to Look Up William Poundstone
Little Brown & Co.
c/o Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10104
9780316256544, $26.00, 340 pages, 2016, http://www.littlebrown.com
Paul Lappen, Reviewer
Why should I learn anything when I can just look it up on Google? That's the question this book attempts to answer.
Many areas of knowledge correlate with the quality of our lives, including areas like health, wealth and happiness. The author is not suggesting that everyone should be smart enough to appear on a TV show like "Jeopardy." It's totally fine if a person's knowledge is "a mile wide and an inch deep." The author found strong correlations between income and scores on general knowledge quizzes (even if they are multiple choice). It's possible that learning improves cognitive abilities that are useful almost anywhere, including in a career.
How bad is the ignorance of the average American? Less that 10 percent of Americans don't know what country New Mexico is in. About the same percentage of younger Americans can find Afghanistan on a map, according to a 2006 National Geographic poll. More than half could not find Delaware on a map.
People who don't know which city has an airport called LaGuardia correlates with thinking that there are at least twice as many Asians in America than there actually are. Not knowing that the Sun is bigger than Earth correlates with supporting bakers who refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples. Thinking that America has more people has more people than India correlates with refusing to eat genetically modified food. Not knowing how many US Senators there are, or thinking that early humans hunted dinosaurs, correlates with refusing to vaccinate children for measles, mumps and rubella.
According to a 2015 report from the Educational Testing Service (the people behind the SAT's), more than half of Millennials don't know the poison that killed Socrates; they can't name the Virginia home of Thomas Jefferson; they don't know who recorded "All Shook Up" and "Heartbreak Hotel"; they don't know who (in popular myth) designed and sewed the first American flag; they can't name the secret project that built the first atomic bomb; they can't name the largest ocean on Earth, the longest river in South America or the city whose airport is Heathrow.
Wow (and not in a good way). These people are going to be running America in the near future? This is a very disheartening book, and is extremely highly recommended.
Around the World in Eight Days: The Flight of the Winnie Mae
Wiley Post & Harold Gatty
Rand McNally & Company
Dr. Pedro Blas Gonzalez
Aviation history is synonymous with human ingenuity, perseverance and courage. Aviation pioneers, as is the case with other mavericks, are individualists. The cue to act on personal initiative comes from a form of intuition, what Socrates called a "daemon," that serves both, as inspiration and guidance. Personal initiative often serves the role of an attendant spirit.
Wiley Post's parents, both cotton farmers, settled in Oklahoma when Wiley was six years old. As a youth, Wiley dropped out of school in the sixth grade and went to work to help the family financially. Young Wiley worked in Oklahoma oil fields as a "roughneck," where he lost his left eye when a piece of shrapnel hit his eye. As was common occurrence with boys during the first decade after the Wright Brothers first flew in 1903, young Wiley became interested in flying after experiencing a local barnstorming show.
In 1931 Wiley and his Australian sailor-navigator, Harold Gatty, flew around the world in eight days in a specially modified Lockheed 5C Vega named Winnie Mae. Flying around the world in eight days serves as historical counterpoint to Jules Verne's 1873 novel Around the World in Eighty Days. Wiley and Gatty chronicled their flight around the world in a book entitled Around the World in Eight Days. While Verne's novel of adventure employed the use of steamers and trains, Post and Gatty's 1931 flight aimed to prove the viability of commercial aviation. The trip took them from New York's Roosevelt Field to Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, Canada; Harbor Grace to Chester, England; from Chester to Berlin; Berlin to Moscow; Moscow to Novo-Sibirsk; Novo-Sibirsk to Blagoveshchensk; from Blagoveshchensk to Khabarovsk; Khabarovsk to Fairbanks, Alaska; Fairbanks to Edmonton, and from Edmonton to New York.
In their book, Post and Gatty document their flight around the world and the difficulties they encountered navigating in the early days of aviation. Their trip around the world, as well as Post's 1933 solo flight around the world, which he completed in seven days, had profound influence on the creation of airfields and the necessary infrastructure to make commercial aviation a practical reality. Besides their technical description of the flight, these two singular minds worked in unison in the interest of safety. This foreshadowed how pilots, flight engineers and navigators would operate airliners in the near future. The book chronicles their flight around the world from the perspective of pilot and navigator. The two authors describe their experiences in respective chapters.
The task of flying a powerful and fast airplane like the Winnie Mae was daunting. Flying at night, in bad weather and across bodies of water, would be reckless if detailed navigational routes were not carefully plotted in advance. That was Harold Gatty's responsibility. Gatty was an experienced sailor who was a master of navigation.
Post and Gatty began their flight around the world from Roosevelt Field on Long Island. The airport, which no longer exists, was named after Theodore Roosevelt's son, Quentin, who was killed while flying during World War I. On September 21, 1926 another aviator, the French World War I Ace, Rene Fonck, crashed on takeoff from Roosevelt Field, killing two of his crew members. Fonck was flying a Sikorsky S-35 that he had entered in the transatlantic race in order to claim the Orteig Prize; the coveted $25,000 prize that Charles Lindbergh eventually won the following year, in 1927. Lindbergh also took off from Roosevelt Field on his New York-Paris flight.
What makes Around the World in Eight Days a historically valuable book beyond the interest of aviation enthusiasts is that it makes aviation history, but also American history, vibrant with life. The two aviators and writers of the book make bare their doubts, worries and difficulties in a manner that takes the reader beyond the headlines. Post and Gatty were courageous men who underwent great travails in the hope of setting higher standards of safety and comfort for commercial aviation. The book presents the reader with the stark reality of how individuals and personal sacrifice are responsible for making history.
Wiley Post and actor/comedian Will Rogers were killed in 1935 in Point Barrow, Alaska. Post was interested in exploring new airmail routes, while Rogers wanted to discover new material to include in his acting and comedy. Harold Gatty, who Charles Lindbergh called the "Prince of navigators," died in 1957.
Amazon Digital Services, LLC
B01DDYU91E, $3.99, Ebook, 22 pages, www.amazon.com
"If you want to turn a vision into reality, you have to give 100% and never stop believing in your dreams" -Arnold Schwarzenegger
Beautiful boy it's time to turn your dreams into a reality for the world is your oyster. You radiate beauty and confidence where ever you go.
Don't let anything stop you from achieving your goals for the sky is the limit for your unique potential. With each dream that you experience it's possible to become what your heart desires.
Explore the positive words in this book and be assured that you are a unique person, for you are one of a kind. There is no other person like you so it is time to celebrate your uniqueness!
BEAUTIFUL BOY overflows with positive words that will allow any child to see how special they are to the world. The illustrations bring the story to light.
97881910709351, $15.95, Trade Paperback, 464 pages
Most of us strive for adventure and riches in fulfilling their dreams of the future.
Hester Finch's grandparents arrived in Australia from England continuing their lives of wealth and status. Unfortunately, for Hester and her siblings, her father has dreams. This was life on her mother's side of the family who fell in love with a man who was considered beneath her. Yes, he wanted the family to maintain the lifestyle they were accustomed to living.
Having already failed at many prospective investments and opportunities, he decides that the family needs to start over.
He chooses a deserted, dry region new Salt Creek in South Australia, uprooting their lives in every aspect with dreams of success and wealth.
For Hester Finch, being the eldest daughter in 1855, many of the household duties fell upon her shoulders as the eldest and most capable female child. Her mother is pregnant and can do longer fulfill these duties due to many pregnancies and aging every year. A mother of many children can only give birth safely for a limited number of years. While her older brothers build their house and work in the fields, it is her responsibility to educate her younger siblings, be responsible for their actions, cook, clean, and care for her mother.
Should any fifteen-year-old be enslaved into an unrewarding never-ending position for possibly the rest of their life?
Socially moving from a successful, wealthy family to becoming a poor and isolated family who is barely surviving is challenging if not depressing to fifteen-year-old Hester. Her problem is how can any fifteen-year old have hope for a future. Is this her permanent life? No hope of love, marriage, children of her own, but just living as the family's devoted slave? Is this all life has to offer?
The story is seen through Hester's eyes, both in1855 as the family first relocates to Salt Creek and during 1870 with Hester in England reflecting on her past life.
What is fascinating in the book is the role and importance of women throughout Australia 1855 including the issues of the wealthy Brits, the Native culture, the poor white settlers and people of various backgrounds and perspectives.
Multiple realistic issues are woven into these memorable characters of all ages, gender, race giving the novel authenticity since the story is loosely based on the author's ancestral history during this time of immense societal change in Australia.
While having wealthy and independent society women, abusive relationships, indentured servitudes, obedient and hard-working wives who only wish to please their husbands unquestionably show the contrast in the female lives and the need of having money.
In contrast are the lives of the aborigines who have never had the privilege of money. These people lived for years off the land and now are losing the few resources for their families to the new white settlers. The problems of land ownership, food sources, and clean water demonstrate constant challenges as well as interracial relationships steeped with prejudices from both sides.
The marriages of the time show multiple changes from marrying for love, to arranged marriages, to forcing a marriage of a family member to pay off debt, being an unwed mother all bring up situations that in some ways are relevant to all time periods. Added to that is a mixed-race children and forcing another to marry to pay off a debt all reflect the people, place, and time.
Salt Creek is author Lucy Treloar's debut novel based on her family history of her ancestors mixed with the factual history of the region into an enthralling historical fictional novel which was published by Picador in Australia.
Already Salt Creek has been nominated and won several literary awards such as the Indie Award for Best Debut, Miles Franklin Award, The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, and on the long list of nominees for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Salt Creek is a phenomenal tale of change in Australia in the late nineteenth century into an intricately woven tale of a true storyteller.
Six Minutes to Freedom
Kurt Muse and John Gilstrap
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, New York, New York, 10018
9780806528045, $15.95 PB / $9.99 Kindle, 288 pp, www.amazon.com
Kurt Muse was an American civilian lived in Panama and deeply opposed to General Manuel Noriega and his Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF). He had secretly been working against Noriega by setting up covert radio transmissions - known as La Voz de la Libertad and these anti-Noriega messages were almost ready to go operational. Somehow the PDF became suspicious putting Kurt and everyone associated with him in profound danger.
Six Minutes to Freedom: How a Band of Heroes Defied a Dictator and Helped Free a Nation details Kurt's arrest, imprisonment and rescue. The book opens with an intriguing question answered later- who betrayed him? Even more interesting to me was learning about a unique way of life (US citizens living in Panama during a time of transiton and turmoil); how it all fell apart for Kurt, his co-conspiritors, and his family; and how world events turned to permit his rescue in the 1989 invasion of Panama.
We see how people react during profound shock and dislocation (most had no idea of Kurt's activities against Noriega), and how the United States dealt with Kurt's arrest and whisked those in danger to safety. Kurt's imprisonment in the notorious Modelo Jail in Panama City charged as a spy for the U.S . government is presented as a series of fascinating power plays between the increasingly hostile PDF, Kurt, and and the United States government.
Reactions from Kurt's circle to the sudden danger were vividly described, and were far from what I was anticipating. Everyone whose life was being disrupted was enraged and barely cooperative. "How dare Kurt take such ridiculous chances with his life - with all their lives ?" The support forces charged with effecting the escape of family and friends from the vengeful PDF had to use every trick in the book to cope with the emergency. Descriptions of family viewpoints, vivid, raw and immediate, are a strength of the book because they make us the readers wonder how we would react. However, a confusing technique was used in which different people's thoughts are suddenly being described, with no preparation or structure. Most books and TV shows handle this problem by setting up named sections so we know whose point of view we are seeing.
It is hard to see how the actual rescue at the beginning of the invasion could have been more exciting twenty - three US operators landing on the roof of the prison, the helicopter's departure with Kurt, crash, fire, vulnerability to the PDF on the ground. It was a mystery to Kurt what "PC" meant in rescue force communications as in "Sir, the PC has arrived safely". Kurt finally found out PC meant "Precious Cargo", and referred to him. The dedication, perseverance and outstanding performance shown in the rescue profounfly moved Kurt, and will profoundly impress the reader.
First Friday: How Virginity Almost Killed Me
Sand Hill Review Press, LLC
9781937818425, $19.95 PB
9781937818067, $29.95, HC
ASAIN: B01F2KTSE6, $2.99, Kindle, www.amazon.com
Elise Frances Miller
While laughing out loud at Agnes Anne's efforts to grow beyond the low expectations of her family, I began to realize that a great mystery was developing. The seriousness of the protagonist's dilemma becomes more and more apparent as the story unfolds. As her quest for independence from her family and her truly villainous brother-in-law become more and more desperate, Agnes Anne grows in self-confidence and determination. However, Hartmann has created a three-dimensional character, who never loses a shade of her vulnerability. Anyone who has ever spent an hour, a year or a lifetime trying to get away from the clutches of controlling family will appreciate her dilemma. And in today's world, the portrayal of faith/religion gone from sustaining to abusive, here in one particularly bizarre family, will strike an eerie note. Hartmann knows how to handle it all with a deft touch that keeps us nervous, reading eagerly, and occasionally giggling, beginning to end.
Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction
Shanti Arts LLC
9781941830468,$16.95 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 162 pages, www.amazon.com
Patti Gibbons, Reviewer
Head of Collection Management
Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
Accomplished author, poet, and editor Carol Smallwood's latest offering, Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction, Shanti Arts Publishing, 2017, is a collection of essays that offers readers a chance to view select moments of Smallwood's life where she pauses, as a woman and as a writer, to reflect, analyze, and contemplate the interconnectedness of her earlier self, life's universal moments, and the outlook that comes with the passage of time. Smallwood's perspective brings strength engrained in her as a member of her generation's feminist movement, a theme that supports the overarching tone of the collection of essays.
Smallwood's assembly of over forty essays are organized into seven thematic chapters, and work on the individual essay level, as groups of essays, and finally as a whole collection. Looking at the mundane, such as visits to the post office or to the library, Smallwood works in an accessible realm, one which readers of all backgrounds can relate to, but her voice filters her experiences through her vantage point, namely as a woman born in a pivotal generation, and through it rings a perspective that prompts readers to go beyond an interpretation of her stories as descriptive pieces, to a body of work that provides a faceted look at the small moments of life that communicates deeper meanings and speaks to experiences Smallwood narrates from her reflections across her lifetime. Smallwood shares her private thoughts in clear and uncensored terms, not for shock value, but as a reflective simplicity that has come clearer into view as she benefits from the long view of maturity.
Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction is a peek into a writer's sketchbook, a collection of ponderings and meditations when the author encounters silently powerful moments in her everyday life, and rubs and massages them to tease out the emotional underpinnings and delineates how each speaks not only to the conversation at hand, but to deeper dialogues when examined in light of a lifetime of living and experience. The perspective presented in the individual essays is perhaps clarified by the writing process, and Smallwood, as an author skilled in many genres, is able to share feelings, sentiments, and wisdom with an apparent simplicity and economy of words, due in large part to her mastery as a writer. Smallwood's Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction shows universal expressions of feeling.
Readers of all backgrounds could easily connect with the themes, and readers seeking to examine American life and the life of twentieth century women, in particular, would delight in the insight Smallwood provides, and the honest reflections she shares. Smallwood's essays leak with quiet sentiment and encourage readers to approach her prose intuitively. Honest and uncoated, Smallwood evenhandedly leads readers through a series of richly described vignettes that are relatable and prompt readers to interject themselves into the circumstances she writes about, to experience situations first-handedly themselves, as well as on behalf of the author.
As Dr. William Brevda, Professor of English at Central Michigan University, aptly points out in the foreword, "What Smallwood has written is literature. It has staying power." Through her descriptive yet careful voice, Smallwood candidly captures how she experiences daily life through the medium of language in a profound manner that reaches the level of lasting art.
Allen & Unwin
9781760295479, $29.99, paperback, 314 pages
"AND I DO HEREBY FURTHER PROCLAIM that any person who may apprehend Bridget Crack (5ft. 3in. light brown hair, green eyes, 21 years of age arrived per Faith, native place Suffolk, absconded from Black Marsh, October 7, 1826) having absented herself from her usual place of residence and lately suspected to be in the company of the before named Offender, will immediately receive from the Government the sum of Fifty Guineas...."
Were there ever female bushrangers in Tasmania? Only one is recorded and she was an aboriginal woman known as 'Black Mary'. Like Bridget Crack, she ran away from life as a servant to a Tasmanian settler and became the consort of a notorious bushranger.
As an aboriginal woman she probably was more bush-wise than Bridget, who becomes desperately lost in the unforgiving Tasmanian wilderness. In this book, the land is as vividly present as Bridget herself. Bridget is first assigned as a servant to Captain Marshall, who lives in a large house in the relatively new settlement of Hobart. Marshall, as we see him in various chapters throughout the book, is an ineffectual, confused and gentle character who finds himself unexpectedly curious about Bridget. His wife, however, takes a dislike to her and, when Bridged responds violently to provocation from another servant, she has her arrested for "insolent and disorderly behaviour".
Bridget is next assigned to a man who has impregnated his last female servant. She refuses to work properly for him and is subsequently sent to work on a settler's farm in the remote interior of Tasmania. Getting there, "They travelled a long time through open woodland, past a cottage that sat alone a few yards back from the track. About half a mile after that the track led into dark forest. In the cart's wake darkness and trees closed off the wood behind her."
Throughout the book, we see life through Bridget's eyes and understand her experiences in this strange new country where convicts and settlers are thrown together in a fledgling society far from their English homeland. And from the moment she runs away from her last assignment she is a lone woman, not only endangered by every man she meets but also lost in harsh bushland, starving and exposed to the intemperate weather.
Rachel Leary knows the Tasmanian wilderness well and she writes superbly of its harshness, its strangeness and its beauty. For Bridget, escape becomes "Days chucked on top of days - a pile of time, everything made of walking. Wood, dirt, sky and water". Rain is "a curtain of water dropped over the world". And even when she is rescued by Matt Sheedy, another escaped convict, who has taken to armed robbery in order to survive, she has to trek on through rough country with him and his men: "she followed them along the creek through more forest where grey light permeated down into humus-y murk, black soil and wet tree trunks, no horizon. She tripped on tree roots, slipped on wet logs. Her heels were so painful that she clenched her jaw to stop herself crying. Her whole body ached".
Matt protects her from the other men and, whether she likes it or not, she becomes "his woman".
Bridget is caught in a bind. She cannot survive on her own but she has been seen with the bushrangers, so believes herself to be equally in danger of being caught and hanged. Her life with Matt and his gang is full of horrors. She watches raids on settlers, violence and murder, she meets lone settlers - 'roo-hunters who get provisions for Matt and sell his stolen goods. And, at one time (although this is obliquely touched on in the book) Matt leaves her with one of these men whilst she undergoes labour and the still birth of their child.
Eventually, Bridget breaks free and returns to the environs of Hobart. She has a valuable stolen necklace which Matt has given her, and she seeks help in finding a ship to take her back to England. But because she is a wanted woman her life remains one of hiding and deception, and she is forced to thieve and intimidate people in order to survive.
Leary's bushrangers are rough, angry, often deranged but sometimes pathetic and sympathetic men. The settlers are men and women intent on establishing themselves, in many different ways, in this strange land. The aborigines and are sometimes seen by them as helpers, but mostly as a threat. And Bridget herself is stubborn, independent and tough but also a lost, vulnerable woman whose life we briefly share.
Altogether, this is a compelling and fascinating story about people who, one way or another, hoped to find new and free lives in a new country.
The Stolen Child
978178239 6918, $29.99, paperback, 313 pages
From the start Evie's life has been precarious. Born four weeks early, with Foetal Alcohol syndrome, and treated for drug addiction whilst still in the incubator, she struggles to survive. Zoe and Ollie Morley are with her through all this, watching her, loving her, and longing to hold their adopted daughter in their arms.
Seven years later, when their natural child, Ben is a demanding two-year-old, Zoe discovers that Evie has been receiving letter and presents from someone who claims to be her "real daddy". These letters and presents continue to arrive: "To my daughter. All my love, your daddy" reads one. And another: "I've been searching for you ever since you were stolen from me". Evie is secretive and hides these letters and gifts, but Zoe finds them.
Then, on a day when Zoe has been cross with Evie as she drops her off at school, Evie disappears and The Stolen Child becomes a thrilling and totally absorbing mystery story. The fact that the family live in a village on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors, adds tension to the resulting search.
Zoe's work as an artist brings her into contact with a fellow artist, Haris, who woos her and fascinates her. He seems to share her own artistic sensibility and whilst she juggles her work life with home and childcare she has come to feel increasingly distanced from Ollie, whose own work consumes most of his time and attention. Haris, however, is a mystery. He is a stranger in the district, he lives in a hut on the Moors, he seems always to turn up unexpectedly and seems, too, to know a great deal about Zoe and her family.
Ben is a normal, lovable, hyperactive, stress-inducing two-year-old and Evie, before she disappears, is often strange and difficult to understand. The people who are close to Zoe - friends, school teachers and helpers - all become involved in the investigation of Evie's disappearance and, as the days pass without any sign of Evie, everyone, including Ollie, becomes a suspect.
Every so often a chapter headed with the Muslim moon and star symbol is written in the voice of the abductor, expressing longing for Evie and describing how she was found again after "They stole you from me", and vowing to take her back. At one point, too, it seems that Evie may have managed to escape from her abductor. At another time, her dress is found on the moor.
Sanjida Kay writes grippingly and realistically of the anxiety, the procedures and traumas of police investigation and the inevitable involvement of the media. An added drama of Ben's poisoning and his parents' agonising hospital attendance as they wait, watching the monitors which chart his life/death struggle whilst still desperate to find Evie, is moving and harrowing.
Not until the very last pages is the mystery resolved. Meanwhile, we are led to share Zoe's suspicions of even those who seem to be her closest friends, and we experience her stress, her fears, her self-doubt, her mistakes, her growing estrangement from Ollie and her fierce love for Ben and Evie. Zoe, Ben, Evie, Ollie - all are believable and likeable characters. Sanjida Kay skilfully balances the tension and fear which affects them all with the very recognisable every-day realities of family life and weaves together many threads to immerse the reader in a situation which must be every parent's nightmare.
The City Always Wins
Omar Robert Hamilton
9780571332656, A$29.99, paperback, 312 pages
"We will not be cowed by the army or the Islamists or the police or global capital. Maybe we are the endless march. Bread, freedom, social justice. We are the opposition. Is this our role?"
Revolutionaries. Young people fighting tyranny, despotism, injustice and torture. Young people giving their lives in the cause: "marching, fighting, chanting, dying, changing, winning, losing....This time will be different. This time the future can still be made new".
The City Always Wins is a remarkable debut novel: terrifying, moving, harrowing but horribly gripping and based closely on the events of the Egyptian rebellion of 2011. Do you remember reading of the Arab Spring? Do you remember seeing news footage of the thousands of Egyptian people who occupied Cairo's Tahrir Square for 18 days demanding the end of the regime of President Hosui Mubarak? And do you know anything of what happened after Mubarak's resignation, when the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood took over government and, eventually, bloodily put down more protests, until the military, under General Sisi, took advantage of the unrest and took control?
Omar Robert Hamilton's novel covers all of this from the perspective of Khalil, an American born Egyptian/Palestinian who gets caught up in the march on Mospero, the Cairo headquarters of the State media, when the army opens fire on the protesters and crushes people under its tanks. In the ensuing chaos Khalil is thrown together with Mariam and becomes part of the small revolutionary collective to which she belongs.
Mariam is a fiercely independent and courageous young woman who works with the injured and their families, fighting for those who have been wrongfully imprisoned, tortured and murdered. She has developed skills with which she confronts those in authority, but her position, as a single woman in this society, is always precarious. She and Khalil become lovers, but love, too, is a precarious thing in the dangers and the life-and-death horrors through which they live. The collective to which they belong organises protests and founds a magazine called Chaos, which aims to document and challenge the injustices and corruption as the regimes change and public support, which was once so strong, fades. Khalil ensures that by using web technology Chaos is broadcast to the world. And Hafez, who has returned to Cairo from studies abroad, is their photographer and regularly risks his life at the heart of the protests.
Action is immediate and tension in the novel is constant and palpable as Hamilton uses a mixture of prose, dialogue, tweets, text-messages, real headlines and news reports, stream-of-consciousness, and the grieving testament of mothers and fathers whose children are missing, imprisoned or dead. Khalil returns briefly to America and sees the revolution as it is seen by uninformed, disinterested outsiders before he returns to the very real dangers which now threaten him and his friends. But he questions, too, the effectiveness of revolution:
"You have a peaceful revolution to topple a dictator but to have a peaceful transition you need elections and the only people with the resources and network to win elections are ex-dictators and dictators-in-waiting. We're trapped in an Esher painting".
Hafez is also becoming disillusioned with the need to photograph increasingly disturbing situations in order to attract the attention of those who have become used to images of death. "Each scene is more shocking than the last. Then they care for fifteen minutes until the next horror horrifies them. And how many horrors until people just switch off?"
And a mother whose son, Ayman, died in the massacre in Tahrir Square and who vowed to continue his fight for justice, finally stops being a public spokesperson for mothers who have lost sons: "She can't stand on another stage or talk to another cameras and declare eternal revolution. So many have died, she can't have another life on her conscience".
Omar Robert Hamilton, who is a well established British Egyptian film maker, writes from experience. He was in Cairo during the revolution and co-founded the Mosireen Collective which, like Chaos, sought to create an archive of material as testimony of the events. As he says in an interview in the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/24/omar-robert-hamilton-interview-the-city-always-wins-egyptian-revolution), when the military coup happened, he took all his material to New York intending to make a documentary but it turned into a novel.
The City Always Wins is a powerful novel with a strong documentary style which brings the events and the people involved vividly to life. At times it is harrowing to read of the carnage, the torture, the inequalities and injustices but it is also moving and thought provoking, and a testament to the courage of ordinary Egyptians who, like Hamilton's imprisoned cousin, Alaa Abd El-Fattah (to whom this book is dedicated), fought against dictatorial tyranny.
Freud: The Making of an Illusion
9781781257128, A$54.99, paperback, 746 pages.
I was drawn to this book by curiosity - the wish to know more about Freud and his work - and by surprise that a professor of English and a well-know literary critic should choose to write a hefty tome about a psychologist.
My own small knowledge of Freud and his work does not extend much beyond the widespread general discussion of the Oedipus and Electra complexes, the inadvertent revelation of subconscious thoughts exhibited in a so-called 'Freudian slip', and the common belief that Freudian analysis works on the assumption that every psychological problem has its origins in some form of sexual repression.
I have no preconceived view on the value of Freud's work.
Crews begins his book by referring to 'Freudolatory' and 'Freud bashing', practices which he deems to be widespread amongst earlier assessments of the man he describes as ranking with "Shakespeare and Jesus of Nazareth for the amount of attention bestowed on him by scholars and commentators". Crews' own stated objective is to "examine the actual record of Freud's doings and weigh that record by an appeal to consensual standards of judgement". What exactly 'consensual standards of judgement' may be is not discussed, but although Crews does examine Freud's work in detail, and presents many different professional assessments of it, good and bad, this book is very far from being as objective as he claims.
As well as offering his own personal opinions about Freud's clinical methods, about the claims Freud made based on this work, and about the assessments of these claims by others, Crews also speculates on things which 'may have' happened, flavours his text with words like 'quaint' and 'malicious', accuses Freud of 'wrenching' symptoms into a desired diagnosis (p.311), invites the reader to imagine certain fictional scenarios (p.391), suggests that Freud might be labelled a sociopath (p.127), and, on page two of his preface, describes psychoanalysis as a "pseudoscience".
The cover of the Australian edition of this book, on which the 'E' or 'FREUD' has been overwritten with a scrawled "A", should have alerted me to this bias.
Clearly, from all the available evidence, Freud did exaggerate his connection with well-established and successful figures; he did make claims on the basis of insufficient or questionable evidence; he did manipulate his data and borrow from the work of others; and he was a misogynist. Yet put in the context of the society in which he worked, the fledgling nature of psychology in the treatment of mental problems, the prevailing opinions and mores of the time and place in which he lived, and what Crew himself describes as "the rivalrous psychoanalytical community", Freud seems to have been no more devious than other ambitions members of that community. Crews' discussion of Breuer's collaboration with Freud is one example of that.
So, why did Freud become more famous than these other ambitious and rivalrous men? Because, Crews suggests, he modelled himself on his favourite author, Conan Doyle, fancied himself as "the Sherlock Holmes of the unconscious" and wrote his papers and case-histories as "cunningly plotted works" or "novellas" (p.383).
In fact, Crews does much the same in his own book, re-creating some of Freud's more famous and interesting cases, describing scenes imaginatively and speculatively, reproducing "crisp dialogue" as used by Freud, supposing gossip and knowledge in a community on the basis of no evidence, and heading chapters and section of the book with jokey, ironic or damning titles: e.g."Sigmund the Unready", "Traumas on Demand", and, for a chapter on Freud's wealthy patients, "Tending the Goldfish".
A great deal of research has clearly gone into Crews' book and I did learn a lot from it about Freud's life and work. But the more I read the book the more the tone annoyed me and looking back at Crews' preface I see that I missed the early warning signs that Crews had a score to settle. There, he describes his own "naive" participation in the "mass infatuation" of intellectuals who regarded Freud as "the most influential of twentieth-century sages" and who were (in Crews' damning assessment of Freud) "spellbound by his self-portrayal as a lone explorer possessing courageous perseverance, deductive brilliance, tragic insight, and healing power".
Now, it seems, Crews is disillusioned and angry, not just with Freud but with psychoanalysis, too. On the final page of his book he writes that "what Freud established in 1896...was little more than a brand name for a beta product"; that "Psychoanalysis, whatever it was, had to be depicted as marching ever forward" and that it was Freud's "commercial mentality" which set him apart from "the ethical scientists and physicians of his era".
No doubt, given the apparent prevalence of Freudolaters and Freud-bashers, Crews is unlikely to have had the last word on Freud.
Dr Ann Skea, Reviewer
Colors of the West
The Mountaineers Books
1001 SW Klickitat Way, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98134-1161
9781680510973, $24.95, HC, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Molly Hashimoto's paintings have been exhibited at a variety of galleries throughout the Northwest and at the Whatcom Museum of Art in Bellingham, Washington. Her work has a long association with outdoor and conservation organizations, and teaching has become an important part of her artistic journey. In addition to the outdoor seminars that she teaches at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology at Cascade Head on the Oregon coast, the North Cascades Institute in North Cascades National Park, and the Yellowstone Institute in Yellowstone National Park, among others
In "Colors of the West" she draws upon her impressive artistic abilities to explores wild places through the lens of watercolor 'en plein air' painting, a French term meaning literally in the open air.
"Colors of the West" is deftly organized by color, a unique approach to teaching both intermediate and budding artists how to really see color in the outdoor spaces around them, and then apply it to journals, other art projects, or simply beautiful memories. The average person can see 17,000 colors, so Molly explains the concept of palette, that is the range of colors that unites elements of geography, geology, and the different kinds of light created by atmosphere, season, and latitude. Molly's own hand drawn sketches and paintings of familiar Western landscapes help convey these colors, along with sidebars and insets on individual species (trees, birds, mammals, and other flora and fauna) and historical notes related to the park or site she has sketched.
Tips and techniques for outdoor journaling and painting are included throughout.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and delightful volume of images and commentaries, "Colors of the West" is a unique celebration of the flora and fauna to be found in our national parks and reserves. Of special note is the informative Introduction (Discovering The Outdoors Through Art) and the four page listing of Further Readers & Resources. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library art book collections, "Colors of the West" is unreservedly recommended.
The Making of Three Gardens
8755 Lookout Mountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046
9781858946658, $70.00, HC, 208pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The garden design firm of SMI Landscape Architecture of Palm Beach, Florida is known for its estate masterplanning, its pubic gardens and streetscapes, and its thoughtful private gardens for clients across the United States and in the Bahamas. The firm's philosophy incorporates a 'botanical garden' approach with exotic planning and elements of classical European design to create beautiful, usable spaces, and it is also known for its preservation and restoration of old landscapes.
In "The Making of Three Gardens", Jorge Sanchez (a principal partner of SMI Landscape Architecture) examines three of the firm's recent private gardens in great detail, two in Florida and one in Scarsdale, New York. Practical information about the design approach an details of the planting are combined with Sanchez's account of the process behind each garden, his relationship with the client and the reasons for his decisions. Through the narrative - often personal, always descriptive, always detailed - a picture builds up of his approach to each set of circumstances.
Throughout "The Making of Three Gardens" Sanchez gives a strong sense of participation with the climate, with the local flora, with the clients, and with other designers -- whether sculptors, architects or interior designers.
Critique: A profusely and beautifully illustrated coffee-table style book, "The Making of Three Gardens" will have a very special appeal for both amateur and professional garden lovers, as well as instructional value for horticultural students and inspirational value for garden design aficionados seeking a deeper understanding of the creative process behind making a garden. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Gardening & Horticultural Studies collections, "The Making of Three Gardens" is unreservedly and wholeheartedly recommended.
Averrunci or The Skowrers
Edmund Bolton, author
Patricia J. Osmond & Robert W. Ulery Jr., editors
Arizona State University
PO Box 874402, Tempe, AZ 85287-4402
9780866985635, $80.00, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Averrunci or The Skowrers" is a scholarly study that offers new considerations regarding the first six books of the Annals of Cornelius Tacitus concerning Tiberius Caesar (Genoa, Biblioteca Durazzo, MS. A IV 5).
Collaboratively edited with an informative introduction and commentary by Patricia Osmond (Dott. in Lettere, Universita di Roma in Roman and Early Modern History and whose work focuses on the reception of Sallust and other Roman historians in the Renaissance) and Robert Ulery (who taught Latin and Greek and classical literature for 40 years at Wake Forest University) this new edition of "Averrunci or The Skowrers" makes available for the first time a recently discovered and provocative work by the English historian Edmund Bolton.
Composed in the years 16291634, "Averrunci or The Skowrers" aims at exposing Tacitus' (alleged) anti-monarchical bias in Annals 16 and at rehabilitating the character and reign of the emperor Tiberius. The Introduction discusses the manuscript in the context of Bolton's life and other works, its response to political and historiographical controversies in early Stuart England, and its unusual, revisionist position in the contemporary movement of Tacitism.
The Commentary, which follows the text, explains difficult passages and identifies Bolton's extensive historical references.
Critique: A seminal work of historical scholarship brought back into print for a new generation of appreciative students, this new edition "Averrunci or The Skowrers" is unreservedly recommended, especially for college and university library Medieval & Renaissance collections in general, and Roman History supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608684939, $24.95, HC, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Scott Stabile's inspirational posts and videos have attracted a huge and devoted social media following. This is particularly impressive when you learn about his personal background.
His parents were murdered when he was fourteen. Nine years later, his brother died of a heroin overdose. Soon after that, Scott joined a cult that dominated his life for thirteen years before he summoned the courage to walk away.
"Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart" is comprised of his insightful and refreshingly honest and candidly personal essays in which he relates these profound experiences as well as everyday struggles and triumphs in ways that are universally applicable, uplifting, and laugh-out-loud funny.
Whether silencing shame, rebounding after failure, or moving forward despite fears, Scott shares hard-won insights that consistently return readers to love, both of themselves and others.
Critique: Engaging, original, articulate, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart" is an inherently fascinating personal story replete with wit and wisdom from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Big Love" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99). Librarians should be aware that there is a complete and unabridge audio book edition of "Big Love" (Blackstone Audio, 9781538480946, $29.95, CD).
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10014-3657
9781524741990, $26.00, HC, 368pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she'd make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility - no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one's station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else...and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.
In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey's grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won't see a dime of the Camden family's substantial estate. Instead, her "cousin" Melinda - Camden's biological great-granddaughter - will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda's vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in...and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell's Island.
One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages - for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City - and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side's gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich - and often tragic - as The Dakota's can't hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden - and the woman who killed him - on its head.
Critique: It is clear from her novel "The Address" that author Fiona Davis has a genuine flair for deftly created and memorable characters and the use of historical detail to skillfully engage the readers full attention. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to any community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Address" is also available in a large print paperback edition (9780525501527, $28.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).
9780692872345, $11.99, PB, 320pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The Linhurst State School and Hospital, the abandoned mental asylum in the small town of Spring Dale, has been shrouded in mystery as long as Jack Alexander can remember. Before her untimely passing, his mother (who was an investigative journalist for the local paper) had begun to inquire about the truth behind its crumbling walls.
Devastated by the death of his mother, Jack is determined to uncover the truth about Linhurst no matter what. As he digs deeper, Jack unearths powerful secrets that have long been buried by patronizing adults and a modern day plot that threatens to destroy the property in just days and erase the memories of those who once called Linhurst home.
Working against the clock (and the better judgement of his best friend Celia) Jack slips into the abandoned property on Halloween night. What Jack and Celia discover could destroy Linhurst forever or spark a revolution that could change the future of Spring Dale.
Critique: An exceptionally well written, consistently engaging, and unfailingly entertaining read from beginning to end, "Freeing Linhurst" is a deftly crafted novel with an important underlying message: 'each person has a certain something that sets us apart, and that we all have something valuable to contribute to society'. While very highly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Freeing Linhurst" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
Feeding the Flock
Terryl L. Givens
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780199794935, $34.95, HC, 424pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Terryl L. Givens did graduate work at Cornell University in intellectual history and at UNC Chapel Hill, where he received his PhD in comparative literature. He holds the Jabez A. Bostwick Chair of English and is Professor of Literature and Religion at the University of Richmond, where he teaches courses in nineteenth-century studies and the Bible's influence on Western literature.
"Feeding the Flock: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Church and Praxis", is the second volume of Professor Givens's landmark study of the foundations of Mormon thought and practice, traces the essential contours of Mormon practice as it developed from Joseph Smith to the present. Despite the stigmatizing fascination with its social innovations (polygamy, communalism), its stark supernaturalism (angels, gold plates, and seer stones), and its most esoteric aspects (a New World Garden of Eden, sacred undergarments), as well as its long-standing outlier status among American Protestants, Professor Givens reminds us that Mormonism remains the most enduring-and thriving-product of the nineteenth-century's religious upheavals and innovations.
Because Mormonism is founded on a radically unconventional cosmology, based on unusual doctrines of human nature, deity, and soteriology, a history of its development cannot use conventional theological categories. Professor Givens has structured these volumes in a way that recognizes the implicit logic of Mormon thought. The first book in this outstanding series, "Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity" (9780199794928, $38.95 HC, $14.57 Kindle), is centered on the theoretical foundations of Mormon thought and doctrine regarding God, humans, and salvation. While this second volume, "Feeding the Flock" considers Mormon practice, the authority of the institution of the church and its priesthood, forms of worship, and the function and nature of spiritual gifts in the church's history, revealing that Mormonism is still a tradition very much in the process of formation.
Critique: An original, insightful, exceptionally well researched, written and organized study of seminal scholarship, "Feeding the Flock: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Church and Praxis" is an extraordinary, thoughtful and thought-provoking read that includes a four page listing of Source Abbreviations, seventy-eight pages of Notes, and a thirteen page Index. An outstanding work and unreservedly recommended for academic library Mormon History & Theology collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Feeding the Flock" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.39).
The Year Canadians Lost Their Minds
Douglas & McIntyre
c/o Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, Canada, V0N 2H0
9781771621502, $26.95, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: At first, Canadians showed little interest in marking the centennial year of 1967. The announcement of a federal program to plan the celebration was met with initial indifference. After all, the event to be celebrated was spectacularly uninteresting the nation of Canada was founded not in blood and revolution, but by discussion and negotiation, bewhiskered men in nineteenth-century frock coats sitting around tables for palaver.
But a funny thing happened in the weeks leading to New Year's Day, 1967. Canadians embraced the official plans for a celebration and, encouraged by government largesse, began making plans of their own. For one happy, giddy, insane year, a normally reserved people decided to hold a blockbuster party from coast to coast to coast.
Initiatives ranged from epic canoe trips and dangerous dogsled treks to bathtub races. An Albertan town decided to build a UFO landing pad. Hundreds of other centennial projects can still be found in almost every city and hamlet across Canada. The best athletes in the hemisphere gathered for the Pan American Games in Winnipeg. The climax of the party was the world's fair held on man-made islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence River near Montreal.
Richly illustrated with period photographs and ephemera, "The Year Canadians Lost Their Minds: The Centennial of 1967" by Tom Hawthorn is the story of that fun, exciting year, told in the same giddy spirit with which Canadians celebrated. Readers will uncover the strange and unique ways that individual Canadians marked the occasion, the birth of traditions, and the moment when Canadians discovered who they were and got a hint about who they were to become in this modern age.
Once hewers of wood and pliers of water, Canadians discovered a talent for literature, for design, for athletics, for innovation. And above all, it was a party never to be forgotten. Fifty years later, Canadians are once again celebrating a major milestone in their history, and once again, things are starting off with a collective yawn. Will the national spirit once again burst into flame? It could -- if Canadians take a cue from the unlikely, inspiring story of "The Year Canadians Lost Their Minds and Found Their Country".
Critique: An exceptionally well written and impressively informative study, "The Year Canadians Lost Their Minds: The Centennial of 1967" is an absorbing, entertaining, insightful, thought-provoking, and inspiring read from cover to cover that is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Canadian History & Popular Culture collections.
Willis M. Buhle
The Taunton Press (distributor)
63 South Main Street, Newtown, CT 06470
9781861089366, $35.00, HC, 216pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Comprised of wood-crafting projects that range from simple woven panels to making a functional yurt, "Woodland Craft" is an unabashed celebration by woodcrafting expert Ben Law of the splendor of wood. Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout, "Woodland Craft" features an array of easy-to-follow projects that include crafts for the farm, garden, wood fuel, building and domestic use. Notably it is 'green wood' (wood that has been recently cut and is therefore still moisture-rich) that is the predominant material used in the projects featured in this essential guide for craftsman of all levels.
Even the most novice of woodworkers will be inspired to work with one of nature's most beautiful and classic materials. Wood can offer the look and feel, and even scent, that no other natural material can provide. With "Woodland Craft" dedicated wood workers learn all they need to know about tools and devices, both old and new.
Included is a handy directory of tree species and identify the best uses for each.
Critique: Informed, informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Woodland Craft" is a complete workshop course. While unreservedly and highly recommended for community library and school wood shop woodworking instructional reference collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of wood working students and amateur wood working enthusiasts that "Woodland Craft" is also available in a paperback edition (9781784943967, $25.00).
American Self-Radicalizing Terrorists and the Allure of "Jihadi Cool/Chic"
Caroline Joan Picart
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
9781443898898, $105.95, HC, 215pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Caroline Joan Kay S. Picart, M.Phil. (Cantab), Ph.D., J.D., Esquire, and former tenured professor, is an attorney at law practicing in federal and state appellate criminal law, and publishes peer-reviewed journal articles and books principally on law, criminology, sociology, and film. Winner of the prestigious Best Essay Award in 2016 by Dapim, an internationally renowned Israeli scholarly journal on Holocaust studies, she serves as editor to the Fairleigh Dickinson University Press's series on Law, Culture and the Humanities, and advises the press on manuscript and proposal submissions.
In "American Self-Radicalizing Terrorists and the Allure of Jihadi Cool/Chic" she draws upon her years of experience, research and expertise to provide a critical legal analysis of how American self-radicalizing terrorists become what they are by analyzing, in detail, the stories of Colleen LaRose, America's first Most Wanted Female Terrorist, and the Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan and Jahar (Dzhokhar), the Boston Marathon Bombers.
Drawing from the analytic tools of cutting-edge studies on terrorism by global experts, as well as the latest news reports, policy papers, Congressional Hearings, and legal documents, "American Self-Radicalizing Terrorists and the Allure of Jihadi Cool/Chic" illustrates how the internet provides the means through which a self-activating terrorist may first self-radicalize through some imaginary or sympathetic connection with an organized terrorist network.
Additionally, "American Self-Radicalizing Terrorists and the Allure of Jihadi Cool/Chic" shows how the romance of jihadi cool/chic, packaged by its mastery of Hollywood-style shots and editing, resulting in slick, high resolution productions micro-tailored to appeal to different audiences, is a pivotal factor in the evolution of self-radicalizing terrorists.
While showing how there is no single deterministic pathway to radicalization, "American Self-Radicalizing Terrorists and the Allure of Jihadi Cool/Chic" also demonstrates how the internet and imagined relations cemented by the rhetorics of jihadi cool or jihadi chic function as crucial catalysts, galvanizing monster talk into monstrous action. It includes an analysis of America's Most Watched Trial, United States v. Tsarnaev, as it moved through its guilt and penalty phases, and its culmination in Jahar's being sentenced to death by lethal injection as America's youngest self-radicalizing terrorist.
"American Self-Radicalizing Terrorists and the Allure of Jihadi Cool/Chic" closes with concise updates regarding America's self-radicalizing terrorists, such as, among others, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the couple who sprayed a crowd of their colleagues with bullets at a San Bernardino holiday party on December 2, 2015; Omar Mateen, the security guard whose rampage at an Orlando nightclub on June 12, 2016 resulted in America's worst mass shooting thus far; and Ahmad Khan Rahami, the individual arrested in relation to the New York and New Jersey bombings and attempted bombings on September 17-18, 2016.
Critique: Remarkably informative, exceptionally insightful, impressively informed and informative, "American Self-Radicalizing Terrorists and the Allure of Jihadi Cool/Chic" is a seminal work of simply outstanding scholarship and an essential, core addition to governmental and academic library Islamic Terrorism collections and supplemental studies lists.
Reality Television Contracts
Paul Battista & Hayley Hughes
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781621534860, $19.99, PB, 200pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Reality television is the growth area of television today. Individuals around the country want to be involved, whether in front of the camera or behind, and those who want to produce reality television seek to attract talent from a variety of sources to begin taping their own "sizzle" reels to pitch to Hollywood production companies. "Reality Television Contracts: How to Negotiate the Best Deal" by professional entertainment attorneys Paul Battista and Hayley Hughes explains and educates those involved in reality television (and those who hope to become involved) regarding the terms found in these agreements and how best to negotiate them.
"Reality Television Contracts" includes: A brief history of reality television; A breakdown of how ideas develop and of the "players" involved; Reviews of and comments on agreement templates for all parties in the development and production stages; "Deal point" checklists to help stay on track.
Especially directed at attorneys who currently represent clients in the industry or would like to add reality television to their law practices, at reality television producers or those looking to break into the scene, and at all reality television participants, the contracts included in "Reality Television Contracts" will be an indispensable resource all the way!
Critique: A unique, comprehensive, well written, 'real world practical' instruction guide, "Reality Television Contracts: How to Negotiate the Best Deal" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections and is a critically important and indispensable instructional reference manual for anyone involved in the legal aspects of television programming in general, and 'Reality TV' style programming in particular.
The Truth of the Russian Revolution
Konstantin Ivanovich Globachev, author
Sofia Nikolaevna Globacheva, author
Vladimir G. Marinich, translator
State University of New York Press
State University Plaza, Albany, NY 12246-0001
9781438464633, $95.00, HC, 337pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Major General Konstantin Ivanovich Globachev was chief of the Okhrana, the Tsarist secret police, in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) in the two years preceding the 1917 Russian Revolution. "The Truth of the Russian Revolution: The Memoirs of the Tsar's Chief of Security and His Wife" presents his personal story (translated in English for the first time by Vladimir G. Marinich is Professor Emeritus of History at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland), interposed with those of his wife, Sofia Nikolaevna Globacheva.
The general's writings, which he titled "The Truth of the Russian Revolution", provide a front-row view of Tsar Nicholas II's final years, the revolution, and its tumultuous aftermath. General Globachev describes the political intrigue and corruption in the capital and details his office's surveillance over radical activists and the mysterious Rasputin.
General Globachev's wife Sofia takes a more personal approach, depicting her tenacity in the struggle to keep her family intact and the family's flight to freedom. Her descriptions vividly portray the privileges and relationships of the noble class that collapsed with the empire.
Along with his apt translation into English for an American readership, Professor Marinich also includes biographical information, illustrations, a glossary, and a timeline to contextualize this valuable primary source on a key period in Russian history.
Critique: An impressively informative and inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "The Truth of the Russian Revolution: The Memoirs of the Tsar's Chief of Security and His Wife" is a unique and highly prized addition to both community and academic library 20th Century Russian History collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Truth of the Russian Revolution" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $76.00).
Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place
c/o Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd.
9781928088288, $20.00, PB, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When Daniel Coleman came to Hamilton to take a position at McMaster University, he began to ask himself these such questions as: How can you truly belong to a place? What does being at home mean in a society that has always celebrated the search for greener pastures? And can a newcomer ever acquire the deep understanding of the land that comes from being part of a culture that has lived there for centuries?
In "Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place" he presents the answers to those questions in the form of an exploration of his garden -- which Coleman deftly situates in the complicated history of Cootes Paradise, off of Hamilton Harbour. Coleman paid close attention to his small plot of land sheltered by the Niagara Escarpment and deftly chronicles such events and issues as an enchanting omnivorous deer, the secret life of water, and the ongoing tension between human needs and the environment.
These, along with his careful attention to the perspectives and history of the Six Nations, create a beguiling portrait of a beloved space.
Critique: Having a special appeal to gardeners, naturalists, and environmentalists, "Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place" is impressively thoughtful and thought-provoking. An inherently engaging and informative read from beginning to end, "Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place" will prove to be a welcome addition to personal reading lists, as well as a popular and appreciated acquisition for community and academic library collections.
Michael J. Carson
Cannabis for Chronic Pain
Dr. Rav Ivker
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781501155888 $26.99 hc / $12.99 amazon.com
Synopsis: Cannabis for Chronic Pain is the first authoritative and comprehensive guide for treating chronic pain with medical marijuana from a holistic family physician who has treated more than six thousand chronic pain patients with cannabis.
While the number of patients using medical marijuana increases every year, misconceptions about cannabis and whether it's harmful or dangerous still exist. In Cannabis for Chronic Pain, Dr. Rav explains the potential of marijuana's capacity for healing anyone afflicted with chronic pain. Medical marijuana is a safe, non-addictive alternative to dangerous opiate pain pills.
Along with sharing his own story of using medical marijuana to heal from a severe case of shingles, Dr. Rav guides you through the cannabis and holistic treatment for your specific chronic pain condition. If you are suffering from arthritis, back pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, menstrual cramps, IBS, Crohn's Disease, anxiety, depression, or pain from cancer or its treatment, this may be the book for you.
Dr. Rav offers step by step instruction on the benefits and appropriate use of medical marijuana. And he dispels many of the misconceptions. Did you know that you don't have to smoke or eat cannabis for it to be effective? There are now patches and drops. We are entering a new age of acceptance and perhaps most importantly, as Dr. Rav highlights, it is now possible to create a distinct cannabis prescription for different types of chronic pain. Find what works for you and finally get the relief you need.
Critique: Author Dr. Rav Ivker earned his doctorate of osteopathic medicine from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and has nearly five decades of experience as a practitioner of holistic family medicine. In Cannabis for Chronic Pain, Dr. Ivker candidly discusses the use of cannabis (which has been decriminalized or legalized in several U.S. states; some other states allow cannabis for medicinal purposes only) as a safe, fast-acting, and nonaddictive alternative to opioid pain pills. (It should be noted that unlike cannabis, opioid pills are physically addictive, and according to the CDC opioids were involved in over 33,000 deaths in 2015 alone). Thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds, Cannabis for Chronic Pain is a "must-read" for both medical doctors and patients looking for measures to relieve recurring pain. Highly recommended.
Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody
Happy Joe Control
9780990636564 $10.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: When outlaw Suzy Spitfire discovers her father was murdered after creating a super-duper artificial intelligence, she races across the solar system in search of the brain he built - but it's a rough ride, and she's soon forced to tangle with pirates, predators, and her father's killer - as well as a man she thinks she can love.
Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody is a smash-bang science fiction adventure filled with action, intrigue, and a dose of dark humor.
Critique: Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody is no-holds-barred, high-adrenaline sci-fi pulp at its finest. A thrill ride through and through, Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody keeps the reader hooked to the very last page! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Suzy Spitfire Kills Everybody is also available in a Kindle editon ($2.99).
Sleep With the Devil / Wake Up to Murder / Joy House
Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781944520205 $21.95 www.starkhousepress.com
Synopsis: Sleep with the Devil: Les Ferron is a heel and he knows it. And he s stumbled on a real goldmine this time. Posing as a Bible salesman named Paul Parrish, he is poised to marry the rich teetotalling farmer s daughter, Amy. No one is going to stand in his way. Not Amy s previous beau. Not Lydia, who knows him as the hard-drinking, loan shark enforcer he really is. And certainly not the crippled ex-police detective the loan shark himself. Because if gospel-spouting Paul Parrish is going to become the successful suitor of young Amy, Les Ferron has to disappear. For good.
Wake up to Murder: Jim Charters life changes the day everything goes to hell on his birthday. First he s fired from his job. Then his wife serves him shoe-tough liver for dinner, completely forgetting that he is just turned thirty-five. Angry at the world at large, he heads off for the local bar and doesn't stop until he wakes up with his ex-boss s fulsome secretary in bed with him the next morning. And then a hard guy named Mantin knocks on the door and hands him the $10,000 he had promised Charters the night before. Trouble is, Charters has no idea where he was, who he spoke to, or what he promised the night before! But it doesn't look good.
Joy House: When Mark Harris wakes up after a 5-day drunk in a Chicago rescue mission, he has no idea how he got there. He remembers shooting Maria, his wife, and he knows that her brother Cass is out to get him. He knows that his career as a successful California lawyer is over. When Mrs. Hill and her assistant show up at the mission with food for the men, he decides to introduce himself as a former client of his who had disappeared. What he doesn't expect is an invitation to her house and the offer of the job as her chauffeur. It s as good a place as any to hide out from the cops and the vengeful Cass. But May Hill is a woman with a past, and this is no ordinary house it is a boarded-up prison where Harris finds himself in a trap more deadly he can imagine!
Critique: Sleep With the Devil / Wake Up to Murder / Joy House is an anthology of three classic, hardboiled crime novels from the 1950's, penned by Day Keene. For the first time, the original version of "Joy House" is being published directly from Keene's manuscript. All three stories are tense, exciting thrillers of razor-edge suspense, and timeless gems for connoisseurs of the genre! Also highly recommended from the "Stark House Crime Classics" line is John McPartland's "Big Red's Daughter / Tokyo Doll" (9781944520212, $19.95).
Fused: The Cult of the Counter-Culture
9781939434371, $21.00, 108pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A bomber with a portfolio, free because he fits no profile, finds his way to a family prize. The narrator of "Fused: The Cult of the Counter-Culture" is a master of explosives, always learning, a pagan chemist, entertaining new beliefs, a sophisticated survivor aware of the irony of his existence, balancing his contradictions: focused but impulsive, daring and cautious, and determined to redirect humanity.
Free because he also fits a socio-political use, privileged yet poor by choice, he attacks a predatory world with violence, to save the future and his family, if they don't damn him first. A hero to himself, he plays with fire, before more venomous paths reveal themselves.
Critique: The third volume in Firefall's outstanding 'Mystery of Fortune' series "Fused: The Cult of the Counter-Culture" continues to posits a simple axiom: fortune is a mystery to itself, luring us into the arms of the unexpected. Personal wealth and psychic health may ease the way, but they're always elusive. We decide our fate, even if it's unintended. An unfailingly entertaining read from beginning to end, "Fused: The Cult of the Counter-Culture" is an extraordinary and deftly crafted novel that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that XY Zebra's "Fused: The Cult of the Counter-Culture" is also available in a paperback edition (9781939434388, $11.99).
The Road to Paradise, a Vintage National Parks Novel
12265 Oracle Blvd. Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9780735289543, $9.99, 2017, www.waterbrookmultnomah.com
Award winning Oregon author Karen Barnett opens her new Christian historical fiction series with "The Road to Paradise, a Vintage National Parks novel." The story is set in 1927 amidst the raw natural beauty, the treasures, resources and heritage of Mount Rainier National Park and the National Park Service.
Margie Lane, a naive young socialite, artist and avid naturalist sees God's handiwork in the glaciers, forests, meadows and streams that make up Mount Rainier. When she's offered a job to work alongside Mount Rainier's park rangers she views it as a dream come true and doesn't realize the deceptive part her father, Senator Lane played in getting her the position.
Ford Brayden, the Chief Park Ranger, still grieving over his father's untimely death on the mountain, can't understand why Margie is assigned to him and put under his care. He views her as completely unqualified and asks Superintendent Brown, "What were you thinking?"
After a lengthy discussion Brown said, "If you want to continue living here in the park...find a way to make it work."
Thus begins a historical narrative wrapped in an intriguing and romantic love story complicated by Margie's former fiance, Philip Carmichael, who isn't beyond diabolical schemes, bribery, blackmail and arson to achieve his own ends; especially when he sees the possibility of developing Paradise Inn and the park into a magnificent tourist playground or using the threat of doing so as a form of blackmail.
The conflict draws Margie, who views the National Park as a beautiful sanctuary and Ranger Brayden, who sees the lush mountains, animals and landscapes as a place to guard and protect, together and the romance begins.
From the captivating and majestic setting to the well-developed characters and swift moving plot, the romance, suspense, intrigue and danger continue to a very satisfying conclusion.
God's Day Timer: The Believer's Guide to Divine Appointments
P.O. Box 1627, Medford, OR 97501
9781944229238, $15.26, http://www.wnd.com
Pastor Mark Biltz, founder of El Shaddai Ministries, Sumner Washington and author of "Blood Moons," a book that connected blood moons with biblical feast days, takes readers on another "thrilling adventure" he compares to a treasure hunt in his new release "God's Day Timer." In this journey he focuses on the Word of God, calendars and patterns in relation to the "seven feasts of the Lord," where he defines and explores the feasts spiritual significance and why he considers them "dress rehearsals" of future events.
He begins with several biblical keys that unlock what he calls a "treasure chest of insights more precious than gold." Then explains why he believes the feasts are "prophetic dress rehearsals" that forecast future divine appointments, especially the fall feasts. According to the biblical prophetic calendar 2017's "Feast of Trumpets" will fall on September 21 and 22 this year. He relates this feast to a "dress rehearsal" for the second coming of Jesus or perhaps the actual event.
Since the bible is the best interpreter of the Bible he then searched for where to begin and found Isaiah 46:10, "God declares the end from the beginning." Then Genesis 1:14 "God is creating the sun and the moon for 'signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.'" He explains the Hebrew word for seasons, moed, also translates as "feasts or divine appointments." The days in this verse reference God's holy days and year's reference God's shemittah (7) and Jubilee (50) years.
He explores the "four cups of salvation," who the sleeping church is and why the fall feasts of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Feast of Trumpets are sequential. Also, who can know the signs of the times, seasons and appointed times, as well as who won't be overtaken like a "thief in the night."
Studying the feasts of the Lord has given the author a "fresh way of seeing the Bible from another perspective," added to his beliefs in the "fundamental truths of Christianity" and broadened his knowledge of God's calendar in relation to prophetic divine appointments.
Appendices conclude the book with instructions and recipes for the "Passover Seder" and "Erev Shabbat, the Sabbath Meal." "God's Day Timer" is compelling, easy to read and a must read for anyone interested in Bible prophecy.
Gail Welborn, Reviewer
Walking the Tracks: Poems by Alice D'Alessio
9871878660336, $15.00, 84 pages, http://fireweedpoetry.com
Alice D'Alessio has written what fellow poet Marilyn L. Taylor aptly called "both literally and figuratively, the book of a lifetime."
In "Walking the Tracks," D'Alessio tells her own story, and, because of her gift for language and perception when it comes to the generations of people who culminate in each one of us, she really tells the story of everyone.
The author of three previous collections, including A Blessing of Trees, which was awarded the 2004 Posner prize by the Council for Wisconsin Writers, D'Alessio's new book functions as a memoir, telling personal tales in roughly chronological order. But these accessible, tightly crafted verses say something imminently important about each reader who comes to them, as well. From the very start, it is clear what this collection is about: "For the Ancestors, praise be. Without them, nothing." The poems move on to tales of modern DNA tests and genealogical sleuthing, and to forefathers and grandchildren, and it all feels very anti-nihilistic. It all makes the universe feel less lonely.
D'Alessio is intensely aware that every single human being roaming the earth today, whether their lives are tragic, comic, or (as is most likely) somewhere in between, is the result of an unbroken chain of human beings who came together, over and over again, all the way back to the very beginning. Hence the book's epigraph, by Amos Oz: "Man that is born of woman bears his parents on his shoulders. No, not on his shoulders. Within him. All his life he is bound to bear them, together with all their host, their parents, their parents' parents, a Russian doll heavy with child back to the first generation..."
All this searching and digging in your own soul, and in your ancestry, does have its perils. As she points out, we are all looking for a "saint or scholar" but there is always the possibility of finding "a Genghis Khan or Vlad the Impaler" adding a "seed of lustmord to the family, ready to erupt with each new birth." It's one of the many times in the book D'Alessio deftly blends humor with psychological insight and artful word play.
"Walking the Tracks" is broken up into four sections: Part one, Daddy Ran the Railroad; Part two, Bend in the Tracks; Part three, Beginning Again; and Part Four, Moving on Down the Line.
In "Lose the Grandmother Thing," she writes about the time D'Alessio was warned by another poet that "Nobody but other grandmas reads poems about grandchildren." She folds the story neatly into a poem that is, of course, about one of her grandchildren. About a time when a little girl admonished her not-yet-born baby brother: "don't come out!" while yelling at her mother's bulging stomach:
"Now isn't that just as full of cosmic truth
as wrung-out existential howls?
One tiny tot, poised pre-angst,
Confronting a world upturned."
The same could be said for all of "Walking the Tracks." It's not dreary, or dark, or filled with tragedy. But it contains insight for any reader from the pen of poet who seems bored by angst, and inspired by beauty.
Danger, Man Working: Writing from the Heart, the Gut, and the Poison Ivy Patch
Wisconsin Historical Society Press
816 State Street, Madison, WI 53575
9780870208409, $18.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle
9870870208409, $25.95, 288 pages, www.amazon.com
John Steinbeck said he wanted to write about people "who merge successfully with their habitat." "In men, we call this philosophy, and it is a fine thing," he added. He wished to tell the tales of "good people of laughter and kindness, of honest lusts and direct eyes, of courtesy beyond politeness."
That was in 1937. Now it's late 2017, and the ghost of John Steinbeck is no doubt thrilled to have someone like Michael Perry carrying on his work down here on Earth. Perry's new book, Danger, Man Working: Writing from the Heart, the Gut, and the Poison Ivy Patch, won't surprise anyone in scope or style. It's simply a collection of stories spanning 15 years. Perry writes about dog sledding, existential philosophy, vomit, guns, and the complexities of modern parenting.
You don't have to be clever or enlightened to enjoy Perry's writing. But he is clever, and you will always leave a bit more enlightened after visiting with him. He's kind of a gonzo journalist embedded deeply in rural America.
Part of what makes books like "Danger" so remarkable is the fact that Perry, who writes like David Sedaris in manure-caked boots, makes it seem so easy. There is flow to his prose, and his characters are always alive and complex, never quaint or flat.
There are practical, real life lessons here too. Don't use poison ivy leaves as toilet paper, for instance. Don't drink too much (or too little) alcohol.
The author admits that any overarching narrative in the new book is purely superficial. These are stories and essays that appeared in places including Men's Health, No Depression, and Wisconsin Trails magazines. (The final story is actually a ghostly little riff that first appeared in the liner notes to a gospel album.)
Perry is increasingly a contender for the "Hardest Working Man in Showbusiness" title, between his eclectic writing, his music, and even the play based on one of his books. He's married to the idea of writing as a blue collar profession, and in the book's introduction he lovingly compares it to shoveling manure: "just keep shoveling until you've got a pile so big, someone has to notice." You could draw a direct line from "Danger" to the Irish poet Seamus Heaney's poem "Digging," in which he described his ancestors cutting peat and digging potatoes, and the poet pledged to also dig, but to do it with the pen in his hand "snug as a gun."
Perry's book shows an insightful guy with a blue-collar work ethic, as he labors at his keyboard and hopes to accumulate a big pile of stories. He says it's not always "pure art" - after all, many of the stories were assigned - but he tries to sneak in "a wink, a grin, a moment of compassion" wherever the narrative will allow.
My only quibble with his new book is, admittedly, a small one. Perry wants to be an artist and a poet. Perhaps in an unneeded attempt at humility (if you read his work, you already know how self-deprecating he is), he suggests that his favorite stories in this collection are those in which he turns his lens outward. He says it's a privilege to tell the stories of others. It is a privilege, but Perry's prose, which always glimmers, quickly becomes art when he looks inward. It's in his frank dispatches about teaching his daughter (sort of - it's complicated) to ride a bike, or his brief but poignant forays into theology, that his stories transform into art. To read him is to know him, and that shouldn't be downplayed.
It's all funny. It's all well written. But these personal moments are the ones that stick with you when you finish the book. They even beckon you back. An image of a tree skirted in mysterious whiteness. The memory of two men on the phone late at night, trying to figure out an enigmatic bladder infection in the little kid for whom they both care.
My favorite passage is this, which comes from a story about a Christian whitewater rafting trip. The essay brims with compassion and openness, but also a touch of what Perry calls "crankiness": "The What Would Jesus Do? thing sets my teeth on edge as a peppy pop-culture gloss on the sweaty spiritual wrassling that troubled souls endure."
Sure, Perry compares puking to orgasm (both completely overtake the body and mind), and he gets a little teary eyed when he talks about shooting fish with a bow and arrow alongside a camo-clad friend with fake hillbilly teeth in his mouth. But the guy doing it is clearly "wrassling" with big things, like existence and empathy. "Danger" is about an author trying his damndest to merge successfully with his habitat. It's a kind of philosophy, and it is a fine thing.
Read the book and you'll get to know a good, working man of laughter and kindness, full of honest lusts and direct eyes, of courtesy beyond politeness.
The Book of Donuts
Various (Edited by Jason Lee Brown and Shanie Latham)
4 Midvale Avenue, West Caldwell, NJ 07006
9870998215945, $17.00, 124 pages, www.amazon.com
John Falstaff once bragged that he was not only witty himself, but also the cause of wit in other people. While I doubt donuts possess the sentience necessary to write a clever poem all by themselves, they clearly have something in common with that corpulent rogue. In fact, donuts provided the inspiration for not one, but 54 poems (by 51 poets), all of which are compiled in Terrapin Books' new anthology, The Book of Donuts. In addition to being delicious, these ubiquitous gobbets of fried dough clearly possess the power to inspire wit and sentiment, which is no small thing.
It's a quick read, and thanks to the alluring picture of a rainbow sprinkle-dappled donut on the cover, it's also the first review book my three-year-old daughter has expressed vigorous enthusiasm for. It's often silly. And it's poetry, which is one of the rare art forms that allows for a glut of sentiment.
There is even a poem shaped like a donut.
But somehow, after I finished it, I was surprised by the emotional weight contained in many of the poems. Of course, there are donuts in all these poems, but this book is not about eating donuts any more than Don Quixote is about wearing a barber's basin on your head. For all its Bismarks, gulgulas and bombolones, the collection is far more human than pastry. The poems are really about family, international terrorism, anguish, love, and an array of other topics. The book is brimming with memories of mothers and grandmothers, glistening with perspiration as they tend crackling pots of oil. It's full of those who lose the ones they love and turn to trans fats for temporary but palpable comfort.
I'm a devout skipper of introductions. After all, true art is that which can be expressed only by itself, so they usually feel superfluous or redundant. But the introduction to The Book of Donuts is actually one of this anthology's many highlights. In it, Grace Cavalieri (the host of "The Poet and the Poem" from the Library of Congress for Public Radio) tells the legend of shipmaster Hansen Gregory, who allegedly stuck his fried pastries on the spokes of his ship's steering wheel. She also points out that donuts have been a "centerpiece for political party causes, human stories of rehab, police coffee breaks, and so on." She explains how a "sweet fried lump" again and again is "an emotional calculus for comfort."
In "Before I Had Been Wise," C. Wade Bentley mixes bacon, a murderous hawk, an eighth grade love story, breast cancer, and the allure of "blood-red" jam" into a tight, beautiful tale of woe. It is filled with insight and narrative cohesion.
"Babci's Apron," by Dianalee Velle, tells of childhood days spent eating donuts in her grandparents' Brooklyn kitchen "as fast as they were made" - with no worries about calories or fat.
Some images are too good not to mention. Tim Suermondt, in "A Doughnut and the Great Beauty of the World" writes of the chocolate smudge on his lips, "beautiful as lipstick on a woman." When he talks of shamefully cleaning up the evidence, there is something deeply human about it.
My favorite is "Job Offer in Mobile." In it, Mira Rosenthal tells a moving story that's free from cliche or forced meaning, right through the final sentence: "So take another sip of coffee, and let's stay."
Some of the poems were cute, but many - including those mentioned above and several more - carry real emotional heft.
"No ideas but in things." That's what William Carlos Williams wrote. It is clear that ideas do not only exist in our minds. They are, Descartes be damned, in a lengthy and complicated relationship with the people, places and things with whom we share the planet. There are countless donuts being fried and devoured right this instant - in greasy spoon diners, at high end confection shops. They are enjoyed ironically by hipsters and sincerely by the rest of us. It's all real - the donuts, the people, the pain, the beauty. That's what you see in the pages of this little book.
Note: The Book of Donuts was edited by Jason Lee Brown and Shanie Latham, both of whom have extensive experience as writers and editors. I actually got to see Brown do a little reading at a Lit Fest in Illinois over the summer. His poems didn't have anything about donuts in them, as I recall, but they were very good, despite the absence of any pastries.
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393609097 $25.95 hc / $9.32 Kindle amazon.com
I still worship the old gods, in a way. And where there are Norse gods, there are always giants, trolls, and other monsters. That is why, when people ask about my ancestry, I might say the names of my grandmothers or grandfathers, but what I am really thinking is, "I'm descended from wise Odin and mighty Thor."
When people voyage to a new land, where they plant grains, raise livestock, and build a new life together, they tend to flash freeze their native culture and bring it with them. Such was the case with the Scandinavians who first left the manic, epic landscapes of Norway and made their way to the relatively docile, rolling wilderness of Wisconsin. When they set sail, they brought with them a version of Scandinavian culture that was locked in time, like a portable time capsule. Here, along with their crops and their cattle and their human offspring, they cherished and preserved their heritage, which was forever immune to whatever changes would occur in the places they left behind for the New World. And while they had converted to Christianity by then, the old gods had not yet completely faded from view.
People think gods want to be worshiped. What they really need are caretakers. Someone to tell and retell their tales; to keep them alive and brimming with all the fury and beauty that are in their natures. And our old gods could have no better caretaker than Neil Gaiman, whose new book, "Norse Mythology," doesn't just keep them alive; it simultaneously elevates them and brings them down to earth in a way I, personally, have never seen before.
It's probably not an accident. After all, Gaiman, who originally hails from England, wrote many of his most popular works while living in Menomonie, Wisconsin.
Gaiman is one of the most famous authors in the world. For the first 35 years of my life, I always thought of him as a comic book writer, a title that, for me, ranks only marginally below saint or superhero. Then, when our daughter was born, I discovered that Gaiman is also a prolific author of children's books. (His tender, refreshingly sincere "Blueberry Girl" actually brought me to tears when I first read it to my swaddled infant daughter.) He has also written a variety of popular novels that, like so many good books, tend to defy categorization.
Now Gaiman has turned his considerable talents to our gods. To the diverse pantheon that we like to consider our extended family.
Published by W.W. Norton & Company, "Norse Mythology" will significantly change our relationship with them, because for all our adoration, most of us know very little about the Norse gods. A reading of Gaiman's new book allows us to see them in a new and far more human way. The beginning to the chapter entitled "The Mead of Poets," which is about halfway through the book, could easily have served as an introduction to this entire work:
"Do you wonder where poetry comes from? Where we get the songs we sing and the tales we tell? Do you ever ask yourself how it is that some people can dream great, wise, beautiful dreams and pass those dreams on as poetry to the world, to be sung and retold as long as the sun rises and sets, as long as the moon will wax and wane?"
This wonderful book holds the answer to this and much, much more. You will learn that when you look up at the clouds by day, you are seeing Ymir's brains, "and who knows what thoughts they are thinking, even now."
You will learn that Loki makes the world "more interesting but less safe," a wonderful blast of praise and damnation sitting side by side, without even a comma to separate them.
You will read tales that are grim, and those that are majestic. You will also laugh, in all likelihood, when you find the gods romantically entangled with various animals and giants, or when they fart midway through battle.
I've always been fascinated by these old stories. But they were, I thought, more like ancient monoliths than modern tales. They were like immense, immovable mountains. Beautiful to look at, but not much more. In "Norse Mythology," Gaiman breathes life into the mountain. Under his care, the old granite gods rise up and shake off their age. They feast, engage in various hijinks, die, come back to life, and seem utterly alive, flawed and divine, all at the same time. Some have compared Gaiman to Loki, the trickster, but here he is far more like Idunn, who returns time and time again to feed the gods the apples of immortality, restoring their youth, their beauty, and their power.
It's no small trick, bringing our ancestors back to life. And it is a wonderful thing for those of us who feel inexorably linked to them. It's the type of gift for which one might even thank the gods.
Excuse Me: The Survival Guide to Modern Business Etiquette
Rosanne J. Thomas
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780814437919, $21.95, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Blending different generations, genders, and cultures brings energy and fresh perspectives to the workplace. But the flip side is the creation of an environment that is ripe for confusion and social blunders. Mix in increasingly open-plan workplaces and constant connectivity, and the chance for unintentionally annoyance or offending others increases exponentially.
Exactly what are the rules the business workplace these days? Is it acceptable to text your boss at home? What is the polite way to ask a colleague to take a distracting conversation behind closed doors? What about the use of smartphones in meetings?
Merging classic rules of behavior with new realities of modern business, "Excuse Me: The Survival Guide to Modern Business Etiquette" by Rosanne J. Thomas (Founder and President of Protocol Advisors Inc. -- providing business etiquette and intenrational protocol training to business students and corporate professionals) showcases dozens of puzzling situations, with suggestions for bridging divides.
"Excuse Me" untangles the nuances of: Meeting etiquette; Interview expectations; Proper office attire; Electronic manners; Privacy in tight spaces; Eye contact and nonverbal cues; Small talk; Business dining; Social media use; Working remotely and flexibly ; and so much more.
Critique: Impressively informative, comprehensive, 'real world practical', 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Excuse Me: The Survival Guide to Modern Business Etiquette" is absolutely essential reading for anyone wanting to successfully climb the corporate ladder to higher and higher positions of responsibility. While unreservedly and strongly recommended for community, corporate, and academic library Business Management collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for MBA students, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Excuse Me" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99). Librarians should note that "Excuse Me" is available in a complete and unabridged audio book edition (Brilliance Audio, 978-1536663297, $19.99 MP3 CD).
Secret Keeper Girl Mom-Daughter Devos: with Coloring Experience
820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
9780802417367, $11.99, PB, 128pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Tweens aren't meant to grapple with modesty and body image issues alone. But many moms don't know quite how to talk about these issues.
"Secret Keeper Girl Mom-Daughter Devos: with Coloring Experience" by Dannah Gresh fills that gap. A companion to Dannah's "Secret Keeper Girl", it cements the truths of that book and provides an opportunity for moms to talk through these important issues with their daughters.
"Secret Keeper Girl Mom-Daughter Devos: with Coloring Experience" is not just another parenting skills development instruction book, but will create a connecting experience for mothers and daughters. Together they'll go on a journey to meet with their Creator and learn to see themselves through His eyes.
Secret Keeper Girl Mom-Daughter Devos has a simple format of 30 daily devotions and features: Weekly interactive conversation starters; A leader's guide appendix at the end; Downloadable resources at the author's own website.
Critique: A fun and informative activities book, "Secret Keeper Girl Mom-Daughter Devos: with Coloring Experience"will bring moms and their daughters ages 8 to 12 together for age-appropriate, biblical conversations about true beauty, modesty, and purity. It should be noted that "Secret Keeper Girl Mom-Daughter Devos: with Coloring Experience" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.55).
Miguel A. De La Torre
P.O. Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1209
9781506433417, $27.00, PB, 192pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "Embracing Hopelessness", Miguel A. De La Torre (Professor of Social Ethics at Iliff School of Theology in Denver) deftly explores faith-based responses to unending injustices by embracing the reality of hopelessness. Professor De La Torre rejects the pontifications of some salvation history that move the faithful toward an eschatological promise that, when looking back at history, makes sense of all Christian-led brutalities, mayhem, and carnage.
It is Professor De La Torre's assertion that Hope, as an illusion, is responsible for maintaining oppressive structures. His principle message that "Embracing Hopelessness" is necessary when Christians find themselves in struggle with a God who at times seems mute, demanding solidarity in the midst of perdition and a blessing in the midst of adversity.
How can the Creator be so invisible during the troubling times in which we live-times filled with unbearable life-denying trials and tribulations?
"Embracing Hopelessness" concludes with a term Professor De La Torre has coined in his previous writings: an ethics para joder -- an ethics that "f*cks with". When all is hopeless, when neoliberalism has won, when there exists no chance of establishing justice, the only choice left for the oppressed is to "screw" with the structure, literally turning over the bankers' tables at the temple. By upsetting the norm, an opportunity might arise that can lead us to a more just situation, although such acts of defiance usually lead to crucifixion.
Hopelessness is what leads to radical liberative praxis.
Critique: Erudite, insightful, iconoclastic, thought-provoking, exceptionally well reasoned and presented, featuring an eight page Bibliography and a six page Index of Names & Subjects, "Embracing Hopelessness" is very highly recommended, especially for seminary, community, church, and academic library Christian Theology collections, as well as the supplemental studies reading lists of theology students, clergy, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781510719330, $24.99, HC, 352pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Seeking inspiration for a new font design in an antique store in small-town Stillwater, Minnesota, graphic designer Carolyn Porter stumbled across a bundle of letters and was immediately drawn to their beautifully expressive pen-and-ink handwriting. She could not read the letters (they were written in French) but she noticed all of them had been signed by a man named Marcel and mailed from Berlin to his family in France during the middle of World War II.
As Carolyn grappled with designing the font, she decided to have one of Marcel's letters translated. Reading it opened a portal to a different time, and what began as mere curiosity quickly became an obsession with finding out why the letter writer, Marcel Heuze, had been in Berlin, how his letters came to be on sale in a store halfway around the world, and, most importantly, whether he ever returned to his beloved wife and daughters after the war.
"Marcel's Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man's Fate" by Carolyn Porter (herself a graphic designer, typography geek, and founder of the graphic design company Porterfolio) is the incredible story of Carolyn's increasingly desperate search to uncover the mystery of one man's fate during WWII, seeking answers across Germany, France, and the United States.
Simultaneously, she continues to work on what would become the acclaimed P22 Marcel font, immortalizing the man and his letters that waited almost seventy years to be reunited with his family.
Critique: An absolutely engaging and inherently fascinating read from first page to last, "Marcel's Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man's Fate" is an extraordinary story -- one that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book it finished and set back upon the shelf. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Marcel's Letters" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.74).
Apprenticed to Venus
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781628727784, $25.99, HC, 384pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Anais Nin (February 21, 1903 January 14, 1977) was an essayist and memoirist born to Cuban parents in France, where she was also raised. She spent some time in Spain and Cuba, but lived most of her life in the United States, where she became an established author. She wrote journals (which span more than 60 years, beginning when she was 11 years old and ending shortly before her death), novels, critical studies, essays, short stories, and erotica. A great deal of her work, including Delta of Venus and Little Birds, was published posthumously. (Wikipedia)
In 1962, eighteen-year-old Tristine Rainer was sent on an errand to Anais Nin's West Village apartment. The chance meeting would change the course of her life and begin her years as Anais's accomplice, keeping her mentor's confidences (including that of her bigamy) even after Anais Nin's death and the passing of her husbands -- until now.
Set in the underground literary worlds of Manhattan and Los Angeles during the sixties and seventies, Tristine charts her coming of age under the guidance of the infamous Anais Nin, who was an icon of the feminist movement and the sexual revolution. As an inexperienced college-bound girl from the San Fernando Valley, Tristine was dazzled by the sophisticated bohemian author and sought her instruction in becoming a woman. Tristine became a fixture of Anais's inner circle, implicated in the mysterious author's daring intrigues -- all while simultaneously finding her own path through love, lust, and loss.
"Apprenticed to Venus: My Secret Life with Anais Nin" provides an intimate look at the intricacies (and risks) of the female mentor-protege relationship, and presents a series of examples and incidents of Tristine Rainer's deep friendship, for good or ill, with a pivotal historical figure.
Critique: An inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Apprenticed to Venus: My Secret Life with Anais Nin" is a 'must' for the legions of Anais Nine fans. An extraordinarily well written, deeply personal, impressively candid memoir, "Apprenticed to Venus" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library 20th Century American Biography collections in general, and Anais Nine supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Apprenticed to Venus" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.67).
Midwestern Native Shrubs and Trees
Charlotte Adelman & Bernard L. Schwartz
Ohio University Press
215 Columbus Road, Suite 101, Athens, OH 45701
9780821421666, $85.00, HC, 464pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The collaborative work of gardening and conservation experts Charlotte Adelman and Bernard L. Schwartz "Midwestern Native Shrubs and Trees: Gardening Alternatives to Nonnative Species" is the companion volume to "The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Plants" and offers another indispensable instructional and reference guide to replacing nonnative plants with native alternatives with respect to the native woody species that are the backbone of Midwestern gardens and landscapes.
Among other ecological benefits, native shrubs and trees provide birds and butterflies with vital food and reproductive sites that nonnative species cannot offer. And they tend to be hardier and easier to maintain. "Midwestern Native Shrubs and Trees" provides a comprehensive selection of native woody alternatives that, season by season, provide effects similar to those of nonnative shrubs and trees used for ornamental purposes and shade. These plants are suitable for all garden styles, provide blooms and fall color, and have the same cultivation requirements as their nonnative counterparts. Nature notes alert readers to the native species' unique ecological roles.
"Midwestern Native Shrubs and Trees" is an essential reference for providing gardeners with the tools they need to make informed, thoughtful choices as to which native species to plant for desired effects empowers landscapers and gardeners to take on a greater role in protecting our Midwestern environment.
Critique: Profusely and beautiful illustrated with full color photography throughout, "Midwestern Native Shrubs and Trees: Gardening Alternatives to Nonnative Species" is impressively comprehensive, exceptionally informative, extraordinarily well written, and thorough 'user friendly' in organization and presentation. While unreservedly and strongly recommended for professional, community, and academic library Midwestern gardening, horticultural, and conservation collections in general, and Native Midwestern trees and shrubs supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of landscapers, gardeners, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Midwestern Native Shrubs and Trees: Gardening Alternatives to Nonnative Species" is also available in a paperback edition (9780821421642, $39.95) and in a digital book format ($27.61).
Confronting Case Blue
Igor' Sdvizhkov, author
Stuart Britton, translator & editor
Helion & Company
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781911096436, $79.95, HC, 424pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In his research work, Igor' Sdvizhkov focuses on the history of the combat operations of the summer of 1942 on the Briansk and Voronezh Fronts - using archival materials from the Russian Defense Ministry's Central Archive, the Russian Academy of Science's Institute of Russian History and the US National Archive
In "Confronting Case Blue: Briansk Front's Attempt To Derail The German Drive To The Caucasus, July 1942" Sdvizhkov takes a close look at the attempt by the Briansk Front's Operational Group Chibisov to collapse the northern shoulder of the German drive to the Caucasus - north-west of Voronezh - in July 1942. Using both previously classified Soviet documents and German documents, Sdvizhkov focuses in particular on General A.I. Liziukov's role in the counteroffensive as commander of the 2nd Tank Corps after his 5th Tank Army was disbanded following failed counterattacks in early July.
The Soviet attacks led to nine days of heavy see-saw fighting involving tens of thousands of men and hundreds of tanks and guns on both sides, and threatened to isolate the German forces holding Voronezh. Sdvizhkov also describes the German reaction to the initial penetration made by Operational Group Chibisov's offensive: a counterattack primarily with the forces of the 9th Panzer Division, which at the time of the new Soviet offensive, was in a reserve position - serving as a fire brigade.
The German riposte blunted the Soviet attacks and encircled elements of Operational Group Chibisov, and ultimately stabilized the tottering German front north-west of Voronezh for the time being. General Liziukov would go missing during the 2nd Tank Corps' attack, and the author discusses why the Briansk Front and Operational Group Chibisov Command initially made little or no effort to find the General, Stalin's suspicions surrounding General Liziukov's disappearance and the results of the official wartime investigation of the matter.
"Confronting Case Blue" also addresses the numerous controversies that later ensued due to erroneous and/or misleading recollections, as well as the total inability to locate General Liziukov or his remains. Carefully examining the available evidence, "Confronting Case Blue" offers a cogent and persuasive explanation of what happened.
Critique: An extraordinary work of seminal historical scholarship, "Confronting Case Blue: Briansk Front's Attempt To Derail The German Drive To The Caucasus, July 1942" should be considered as a core and impressively informative addition to the growing library of World War II military studies. Ably translated into English and deftly edited for an American readership by Stuart Britton, "Confronting Case Blue" features photographic illustrations, maps, a bibliography and an index. Highly recommended for both academics and military history buffs, "Confronting Case Blue" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library World War II Military History collections in general, and World War II European Theatre supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
Passion for Nothing
P.O. Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1209
9781506432656, $79.00, HC, 224pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Sψren Aabye Kierkegaard (5 May 1813 11 November 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher.
"Passion for Nothing: Kierkegaard's Apophatic Theology" by Peter Kline (Academic Dean and Lecturer in Systematic Theology at St. Francis Theological College of Charles Sturt University in Australia) offers a reading of Kierkegaard as an apophatic author. As it functions in this book, "apophasis" is a flexible term inclusive of both "negative theology" and "deconstruction." One of the main points of this volume is that Kierkegaard's authorship opens pathways between these two resonate but often contentiously related terrains.
The main contention of Dean Kline in "Passion for Nothing" is that Kierkegaard's apophaticism is an ethical-religious difficulty, one that concerns itself with the "whylessness" of existence. This is a theme that Kierkegaard inherits from the philosophical and theological traditions stemming from Meister Eckhart. Additionally, the forms of Kierkegaard's writing are irreducibly apophatic-animated by a passion to communicate what cannot be said.
"Passion for Nothing" examines Kierkegaard's apophaticism with reference to five themes: indirect communication, God, faith, hope, and love. Across each of these themes, the aim is to lend voice to "the unruly energy of the unsayable" and, in doing so, let Kierkegaard's theological, spiritual, and philosophical provocation remain a living one for us today.
Critique: A superbly crafted, impressively informative, exceptionally thoughtful, admirably insight work of simply outstanding scholarship, "Passion for Nothing: Kierkegaard's Apophatic Theology" should be considered an essential, core addition to seminary and academic library Theological & Philosophy collections in general, and Kierkegaard supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Passion for Nothing: Kierkegaard's Apophatic Theology" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $62.39).
Gangsters to Governors
Rutgers University Press
106 Somerset St., 3rd Floor, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
9780813584546, $27.95, HC, 344pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Generations ago, gambling in America was an illicit activity, dominated by gangsters like Benny Binion and Bugsy Siegel. Today, forty-eight out of fifty states permit some form of legal gambling, and America's governors sit at the head of the gaming table. But have states become addicted to the revenue gambling can bring? And does the potential of increased revenue lead them to place risky bets on new casinos, lotteries, and online games?
In "Gangsters to Governors: The New Bosses of Gambling in America", professional journalist David Clary investigates the pros and cons of the shift toward state-run gambling. Unearthing the sordid history of America's gaming underground, he demonstrates the problems with prohibiting gambling while revealing how today's governors, all competing for a piece of the action, promise their citizens payouts that are rarely delivered.
"Gangsters to Governors" introduces a rogue's gallery of colorful characters, ranging from John "Old Smoke" Morrissey, the Irish-born gangster who built Saratoga into a gambling haven in the nineteenth century; to Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate who has furiously lobbied against online betting. By exploring the controversial histories of legal and illegal gambling in America, "Gangsters to Governors" offers a fresh perspective on current controversies, including bans on sports and online betting.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and impressively informative study, "Gangsters to Governors" will prove especially appealing for anyone who has every placed a sports bet, sat in a friendly card game, pulled a slot machine lever, spent time in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, visited a local community casino, or watched a professional No-Limit Texas Hold'em poker game on television. While "Gangsters to Governors" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library American History collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.29).
The Best of Proctor's West
Peter H. Hassrick
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780931618710, $25.00, PB, 112pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is home to the most extensive collection of material related to sculptor Alexander Phimister Proctor (18601950). The museum's unrivaled holdings include the artist's papers, personal effects, studio paraphernalia, and original works of art. Vast archival collections are made available for research through the Center's McCracken Research Library, and a wide selection of Proctor's bronze, marble, and plaster sculptures and paintings, drawings, and prints are presented within the Whitney Western Art Museum.
These rich resources informed and inspired "The Best of Proctor's West" as Peter H. Hassrick (Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West), presents an in-depth study of eleven of the artist's most celebrated bronzes.
Combining a scholarly publication with a searchable online database, "The Best of Proctor's West" includes Fawn (first and second models), Stalking Panther (multiple variations), Arab Stallion, Indian Warrior (large and small versions), Moose, Elk, Q Street Buffalo, Buckaroo (multiple variations), Pursued (1914 and 1928 versions), Buffalo Hunt, and On the War Path.
A new, richly illustrated catalogue, "The Best of Proctor's West: An In-Depth Study of Eleven of Proctor's Bronzes", contains extended interpretive essays by Peter H. Hassrick on each of the selected bronzes. Allison Rosenthal discusses recent scientific examinations of Proctor's bronzes using X-ray florescence (XRF) spectrometry. Karen B. McWhorter adds an introduction about the Center's Proctor Studio Collection and offers a brief biography of the artist. The online database complements and expands upon the publication.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and impressively informative study from beginning to end, "The Best of Proctor's West: An In-Depth Study of Eleven of Proctor's Bronzes" is an extraordinary work of outstanding scholarship and would well serve as a template for similar studies of other sculptors. Of special note is the chapter on 'Finding Proctor's Foundries'. Simply stated, "The Best of Proctor's West" is unreservedly recommended, especially for college and university library American Art History collections.
Fasting the Mind
Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781620556467, $14.95, PB, 160pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Jason Gregory is a teacher and international speaker specializing in the fields of Eastern and Western philosophy, comparative religion, metaphysics, and ancient cultures.
In "Fasting the Mind: Spiritual Exercises for Psychic Detox" he draws upon the spiritual philosophies and meditative practices of classical yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, to explains how fasting the mind directly impacts your habits and way of being in the world to create peace and calmness in your life as well as allow you to build a firm psychological defense against the increasing bombardment of distractions in our world.
Applying psychology and cognitive science to samsara (the cycle of suffering created by our attachment to the impermanent) "Fasting the Mind" explains how over reliance on the rational mind causes imbalances in the autonomic nervous system and suppresses our natural spontaneity, feelings, and intuition. When we are unable to relax the mind deeply, we enter a destabilizing state of stress and anxiety and are unable to liberate the true Self from the impermanence and limitations of the material world.
Sharing Zen, Taoist, and Vedic practices to help you empty your mind and gradually restore your natural rhythms, "Fasting the Mind" shows how to give the mind time to truly relax from stimulation so it can repair itself and come back into equilibrium. "Fasting the Mind" details simple meditation practices that are easy to implement in daily life, such as open-awareness meditation and contemplation of Zen koans, as well as the advanced techniques of Vipassana, a Theravadic Buddhist discipline centered on seclusion from all worldly stimuli. "Fasting the Mind" also offers methods for digital detox and ensuring a good night's sleep, a major support for healing cognitive impairment and restoring a state of equanimity.
Critique: An absorbing, 'real world practical', deftly written, exceptionally well organized and presented, quality of life enhancing read from cover to cover, "Fasting the Mind: Spiritual Exercises for Psychic Detox" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Spirituality/Self-Help instructional reference collections. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Fasting the Mind" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).
A Concise History of the Netherlands
James C. Kennedy
Cambridge University Press
32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013-2473
9780521875882, $99.99, HC, 502pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The Netherlands, also known informally as Holland, is a densely populated country in Western Europe. The Netherlands is known by most Americans today for its cheese and its windmills, its Golden Age paintings, and its liberal experimentation in social policies such as the legalization of cannabis, prostitution, and euthanasia. Yet the historical background for any of these quintessentially Dutch achievements is often unfamiliar to others.
Beginning with the first humanoid settlers, "A Concise History of the Netherlands" follows the most important contours of Dutch history, from Roman times through to the Habsburgs, the Dutch Republic and the Golden Age. Professor Kennedy, a modernist, pays particularly close attention to recent developments, including the signature features of contemporary Dutch society. In addition to being a political history, "A Concise History of the Netherlands" provides an informative overview that also gives systematic attention to social and economic developments, as well as in religion, the arts and the Dutch struggle against the water. The Dutch Caribbean is also included in the narrative.
Critique: "A Concise History of the Netherlands" by academician James C. Kennedy (University College Utrecht) is concise history that offers a a comprehensive overview of this unique and fascinating country. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, of special note is the inclusion of a number of figures, maps, a Chronology of Events in Dutch History, a sixteen page bibliography, and a thirteen page index. While very highly recommended, especially for community, college, and university library Netherlands History collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students, academicians, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "A Concise History of the Netherlands" is also available in a paperback edition (9780521699174, $28.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $23.00).
The Plague of War
Jennifer T. Roberts
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780199996643, $34.95, HC, 448pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In 431 BC, the long simmering rivalry between the city-states of Athens and Sparta erupted into open warfare, and for more than a generation the two were locked in a life-and-death struggle. The war embroiled the entire Greek world, provoking years of butchery previously unparalleled in ancient Greece. Whole cities were exterminated, their men killed, their women and children enslaved.
While the war is commonly believed to have ended with the capture of the Athenian navy in 405 and the subsequent starvation of Athens, fighting in Greece would continue for several decades. Sparta's authority was challenged in the so-called Corinthian War (395-387) when Persian gold helped unite Athens with Sparta's former allies. The war did not truly end until, in 371, Thebes' crack infantry resoundingly defeated Sparta at Leuctra, forever shattering the myth of Spartan military supremacy.
"The Plague of War: Athens, Sparta, and the Struggle for Ancient Greece" by Jennifer Roberts (Professor of Classics and History at the City College of New York and the City University of New York Graduate Center) offers rich narrative of this famous conflict is the first general history to tell the whole story, from the war's origins down to Sparta's defeat at Leuctra. In her masterful account, this long and bloody war affected every area of life in Athens, exacerbated divisions between rich and poor in Sparta, and sparked civil strife throughout the Greek world.
Yet despite the biting sorrows the fighting occasioned, it remains a gripping saga of plots and counter-plots, murders and lies, thrilling sea chases and desperate overland marches, missed opportunities and last-minute reprieves, and, as the war's first historian Thucydides had hoped, lessons for a less bellicose future. In addition, Professor Roberts considers the impact of the war on Greece's cultural life, including the great masterworks of tragedy and comedy performed at this time and, most infamously, the trial and execution of Socrates.
Critique: An impressively informed and informative work of exceptionally detailed and documented scholarship, "The Plague of War: Athens, Sparta, and the Struggle for Ancient Greece" reads from beginning to end with an inherently engaging narrative that reads with the smoothness of a well tuned novel. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library World History collections in general, and Hellenic History supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Plague of War" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.39).
Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity
Engineering, and Medicine National Academies of Sciences
Health and Medicine Division / Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice
National Academies Press
500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
9780309452960, $90.00, PB, 582pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the United States today some populations suffer from far greater disparities in health than others. Those disparities are caused not only by fundamental differences in health status across segments of the population, but also because of inequities in factors that impact health status, so-called determinants of health.
Only part of an individual's health status depends on his or her behavior and choice; community-wide problems like poverty, unemployment, poor education, inadequate housing, poor public transportation, interpersonal violence, and decaying neighborhoods also contribute to health inequities, as well as the historic and ongoing interplay of structures, policies, and norms that shape lives. When these factors are not optimal in a community, it does not mean they are intractable: such inequities can be mitigated by social policies that can shape health in powerful ways.
"Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity" seeks to delineate the causes of and the solutions to health inequities in the United States.
Critique: This exhaustive and timely report focuses on what communities can do to promote health equity, what actions are needed by the many and varied stakeholders that are part of communities or support them, as well as the root causes and structural barriers that need to be overcome. A seminal work of peer reviewed scholarship, "Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity" is exceptionally well organized and presented, making it an acutely critical and unreservedly recommended addition to community, government, and academic library Health/Medicine policy reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and policy makers that "Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $78.99).
Christie Valentine Powell
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
1539330702, $2.99, ebook, 400pp, www.amazon.com
"You don't need to change the world; you change yourself and the rest works out," (272) Keita's betrothed, Brian, tells her in a letter. She's not sure what he means, but the phrase keeps coming back to her. Captured during the clan Summit during which she and Brian are promised to each other, Jasper, a friend of Brian's, "rescues" her underground in Nomeland, far from home and the Summit. She doesn't trust him. His adopted clan, the Stygians are taking over Spectra and capturing royals like Keita and friends, also promised to male counterparts at the Summit. In exchange for getting them out of this prison, Keita promises Sienna, another prisoner, to help her find her brother. And their girl adventure begins, as Keita's friends Carli and Zuri join them not only fleeing the Stygians but disproving the rumors that they have something to do with the Stygian's coup by enacting good wherever they go. Namely, they help take care of cross-overs, kids abandoned for not belonging to their native clan, housed at the Colony. What's Unearthed in the kingdom of Spectra is four girls' power to change themselves for the greater good.
Change is the constant in this book. Every time they get a breather, or start to debrief, the girls are interrupted by attackers or another reason to keep moving. This keeps the story going at full speed. There's a lot to keep track of in the meantime, between clan locations, family lines and clan abilities; maps and summaries in the front of the book are helpful references. It's non-stop action escaping, rescuing, healing, sending and receiving messages, sleuthing, reaching the next destination, and using skills they've only begun to master as young women. The more they practice their unique skills, the more they discover they can share these powers across clans. As siblings can communicate in "siblink," these tight-knit friends overcome clan rivalries and separations utilizing each other's strengths.
Women readers will be emboldened by this read. The heroines, while bickering as friends do, also model relational intelligence at the heart of their success as a band of freedom fighters. Their ability to relate to one another and put themselves in each other's shoes helps them tackle problems together. My favorite part is also the scariest: facing Rama, where undesirables are "gotten rid of." It's there that the girls learn their true mission to welcome and liberate those singled out for their "otherness," like themselves. Two other Spectra books round out this series.
Note: Spectra Unearthed was originally published in 2015, and then re-issued 2016.
Surfing with Snakes and Dragons and other Tales of Suburbia
Roger J. Couture
Soul Arch Press
9780998321219, $18.00 PB, $28.97 HC, $8.95 Kindle, 388 pp., www.amazon.com
Sometimes, to get out from under it, you have to relax and go with the wave instead of fighting it. In this novel, comprised of eight short stories, by Roger J Couture, he takes on many personae, from someone much like himself - a man who works hard to play hard in the ocean - to party-loving young women to street hustlers to tattoo artists, all who "go with" the wild, salty energy within them. Couture's years of labor on this book bear fruit in the myriad details about places, personality and inner-lives with which he crafts his tales. The stories are like waves that wash over us, and at the end, we come out a little water-logged but alive and refreshed.
The first, and title, story presents the two main characters both bound to each other as to their own demons. And in their common struggle, they find a sort of release. The tales that follow expand their back stories. Part of the fun of the book is picking them out in these subsequent narratives, when their names and settings might change. In "Dawn Patrol," two brothers share a harrowing morning adventure on the waves. "Prancing Red Stallion" tells of two favorite young women among the tattoo parlor crowd. In "Spin, Cock, Pull," we get the tattoo artist's perspective, his agonizing release of that which could have released him from life. Two new acquaintances stroll through the 'hood in "Incidental Encounter." From the 'hood we travel to the upper echelons of society in "Two Feet In," as a daughter navigates her mother's Ivy League aspirations for her, her dad's racing car driving influence and her own wishes. "Baja Flowers" celebrates a surfer's return from an emergency surgery required after a bike accident. Lastly, we're left with a cliff-hanger when an almost-grad ends a night of drunken adventure to start her post-collegiate life in "Loves, Lovers and Mistresses."
Each story begins with a poem, a synopsis, that also serves to tie the stories together. The poems give us a taste of the elegant prose with which Couture dignifies even the ugliest threats, deadliest thoughts, or most down-home speech, in short, the varied hues of the stories. In this way, he reminds of David Foster Wallace. The tattoo artist says, "an artist's life is a traipse across a tightrope of the rational - observing below an unbalancing dimension of illusions seeking for that inspirational spark with which to alight a blank canvas with a fire of life - while the thin rope of sanity, and the artist, remains uncharred, connected, and whole" (172). The artist-author might come away "uncharred," but we readers come away wholly affected and ready to meet the next wave that comes at us with as much fortitude, ferocity and impulse as Couture and his characters.
Poets, Artists, Lovers: A Novel
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B074L8W7XS, $2.99 Kindle, www.amazon.com
At monthly parties hosted by a violinist at his cottage in Bucharest, new and long-time friends bond over whiskey, cherry dishes, sixties music, and maybe even a strip tease. Through a series of such colorful gatherings, and more intimate ones in between, we get to know Henriette, a sculptress, her sister Alice, a writer, Haralambie, Henriette's lover and writer, Pamfil, the violinist and Don Juan to many of these women friends, Ela, a depressed piano teacher turned book reviewer, George, her stalwart boyfriend and mathematician, Anca, a poet and translator, Marcel her French teaching boyfriend, Vlad a trainer, Daria, a graphic designer and recipient of Vlad's health wisdom, and Maria, an old friend of Anca's, now a market researcher and newcomer to Pamfil's parties. Mira Tudor fills in their back stories with memories from the past: trips to the beach and other cities. Together, past and present reveal character traits and bring alive the ideas with which the characters wrestle over time. For us readers, the result is an infusion of art and life, truth and beauty necessarily inhabited by everyone who seek it. We are invited into the conversation as fellow listeners and respondents, bringing to the table our own concerns, likely very much like the ones these young adults discuss. I felt I'd had a virtual trip to Romania and am now ready to take one live! An inquisitive and personal literary bouquet. The floral picture on the cover captures well the tone of this piece.
Jennifer Brown's Journey
Amazon Digital Services
B071S911QV, $3.83, Kindle, www.amazon.com
Chin up, Jennifer Brown, windows up, grab your sunnies and don't let the seagulls steal ya chips! Let the Journey begin! Twelve years into a stint as a secretary at Intex, outside London, she's had enough. Not only has her boyfriend, Pete with his Performing Pecker, cheated on her, but she's the butt of jokes at work as well. Her "dirty rota" and "tits policy" typos earn her dumb blonde status. She wants to be taken more seriously. So, she drives off in her beat up Peugeot on a whirlwind journey of life affirming self discovery. There are jaunts to Australia and Spain and frequent calls to Will, her gay best friend. A journey implies change; Jennifer gains respect for herself and for her various working mates, slogging together through life, but what remains constant is her youthful mirth and her pursuit of happiness. Might it be found closer to home than she ever anticipated?
Angie Langley's background in the entertainment business is apparent in the colorful characters she portrays. There's Will, of course, and Jonathan, his and Jennifer's debonair boss, Jennifer's forgetful and all-too-generous mother, Gerald, the crotchety old fisherman made to wear a toupee by his Russian fiance, George, her next boss, kind but not in love with his high-maintenance wife, Larry, Jennifer's kind-of (?) married Australian friend, and the hippie cat woman whose barn she almost rents, to name a few. If you wish for a little less color and a little more focus to the plot, be patient with Jennifer. She's worth the vibrant meandering: unflagging, even when she's at her lowest point, whose empathy, humor and work ethic are a delight to accompany. Thanks for the trip, Jennifer!
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9781400096275, $15.00 PB, $5.39 Kindle, 448pp, www.amazon.com
"[I]t is not just France who is dying, it is Art as well," (158) claims a famous writer fleeing a German attack on Paris during WWII. Irene Nemirovsky does not survive WWII but luckily, thanks to her daughter, two movements of her Suite Francaise do. Nemirovsky intended to follow Storm in June and Dolce, the two completed parts of the Suite, with two others, to compose a literary "symphony," but she died in Auschwitz. Storm in June tells the stories of writers, rich collectors, bankers, and average working people as they escape Paris to the countryside. In Dolce, German soldiers occupy that countryside. Suite Francaise describes war not through battles but through its impact on civilians in familial tensions and unexpected love affairs, blunted aspirations and good intentions gone sour. It is about love that flourishes in the most arid conditions, as well as spite coloring the most respected personages. Most chapters end with a description of the natural landscape; the world reflects war's ravages, whether in its silence, "...the trees silvery green beneath the moon..." (120) or like a cat who "let out a frustrated little cry of desire" (15). Like Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, this work is made more precious by what it is not, for its potential. Nemirovsky lives on in the truncated tales of her impeccable characters.
Mari Carlson, Reviewer
University of North Texas Press
1155 Union Circle #311336, Denton, TX 76203-5017
9781574416923, $29.95, HC, 480pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In early 2013 same-sex marriage was legal in only ten states and the District of Columbia. That year the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor appeared to open the door to marriage equality. In Texas, Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, together for sixteen years and deeply in love, wondered why no one had stepped across the threshold to challenge their state's 2005 constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. They agreed to join a lawsuit being put together by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLD.
Some two years later (after tense battles in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Texas and in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, after sitting through oral arguments at the Supreme Court of the United States in Obergefell v. Hodges) they won the right to marry deep in the heart of Texas. But the road they traveled was never easy.
"Accidental Activists: Mark Phariss, Vic Holmes, and Their Fight for Marriage Equality in Texas" by David Collins (who had unrestricted access to all materials related to the story of Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, including legal communications and documents, and conducted extensive interviews with Mark and Vic and others involved in the case) is the deeply moving story of two men who struggled to achieve the dignity of which Justice Anthony Kennedy spoke in a series of Supreme Court decisions that recognized the "personhood," the essential humanity of gays and lesbians.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and told in the context of legal and social history that explains the complex legal issues and developments surrounding same-sex marriage in layman's terms, "Accidental Activists: Mark Phariss, Vic Holmes, and Their Fight for Marriage Equality in Texas" is an impressively informed and thought-provoking read offering a unique perspective on the contemporary struggle for marriage equality in the United States. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers that "Accidental Activists" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.38).
Argimou: A Legend of the Micmac
S. Douglass S. Huyghue
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
9781771122474, $24.99, PB, 263pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Both an adventure-laced captivity tale and an impassioned denunciation of the marginalization of Indigenous culture in the face of European colonial expansion, Douglas Smith Huyghue's "Argimou" (originally published in1847) is the first Canadian novel to describe the fall of eighteenth-century Fort Beausejour and the expulsion of the Acadians. Its integration of the untamed New Brunswick landscape into the narrative, including a dramatic finale that takes place over the reversing falls in Saint John, intensifies a sense of the heroic proportions of the novel's protagonist -- Argimou.
Even if read as an escapist romance and captivity tale, Argimou captures for posterity a sense of the Tantramar mists, boundless forests, and majestic waters informing the topographical character of pre-Victorian New Brunswick. Its snapshot of the human suffering occasioned by the 1755 expulsion of the Acadians, and its appeal to Victorian readers to pay attention to the increasingly disenfranchised state of Indigenous peoples, make the novel a valuable contribution to early Canadian fiction.
Situating the novel in its eighteenth-century historical and geographical context, the afterword to this new edition foregrounds the author's skilful adaptation of historical-fiction conventions popularized by Sir Walter Scott and additionally highlights his social concern for the fate of Indigenous cultures in nineteenth-century Maritime Canada.
Critique: Featuring an informative Afterword by Gwendolyn Davies (Emerita Professor of English and Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of New Brunswick), this new edition of "Argimou: A Legend of the Micmac" brings back into print a time-lost classic of Canadian literature for the benefit of a whole new generation of appreciative readers. An inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "Argimou: A Legend of the Micmac" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library Early Canadian Literature collections.
R. James Cook
3340 Pilot Knob Road, St. Paul, MN 55121
9780890545812, $59.95, HC, 400pp, www.shopapspress.org
Synopsis: R. James Cook is well known and highly respected worldwide by colleagues in plant pathology and by the many wheat farmers he's served in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. He is especially known for his dedicated work on root diseases of wheat, his breakthrough research and scientific leadership on the ecological and biological control of soil borne plant pathogens, and his philosophy to conduct his research in the field.
Dr. Cook's celebrated new book, "Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Diseases of Wheat" is a comprehensive account of his four decades of field research, as well as his personal and professional growth while developing his knowledge, expertise, and unique approach to research.
"Untold Stories" is more than an autobiographical collection of personal stories. It imparts unique experiences and knowledge for budding and veteran scientists alike; plus, it serves up 'bushels' of knowledge that growers and crop consultants can utilize to make more informed and successful decisions in the field.
Weaved among the compelling stories and personal experiences shared in this book is highly useful information for practitioners and scientists alike, including: A comprehensive account of the four most common root diseases of wheat known to science, and the agronomic and seed-treatment options for their management, with a focus on direct-seed (no-till), cereal-intensive cropping systems; Detailed experiences with root diseases of wheat and their management, encompassing 40 years of field research across all precipitation zones in the U.S. Pacific Northwest; Fundamental discoveries that could only have been made in the field, such as the 15-20% difference in grain yield when comparing the presence and absence of fumigation for Pythium root rot; An example of Dr. Cook's unique research philosophy: test hypotheses in the field first, then research more deeply in the laboratory or greenhouse.
Critique: Impressively informative, singularly well written and organized, effectively presented, and expressly engaging from beginning to end, "Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Diseases of Wheat" will prove to be of exceptional and specific interest for graduate students, agricultural researchers, and academicians in field of plant pathology, classroom teachers in crop and soil sciences, as well as professional crop consultants, as well as corporate agriculture managers and family farmers.
Compendium of Raspberry and Blackberry Diseases and Pests
Robert R. Martin, Michael A. Ellis, Brian Williamson, Roger N. Williams, editors
3340 Pilot Knob Road, St. Paul, MN 55121
9780890545690, $189.00 PB, 175pp, www.shopapspress.org
Synopsis: This completely revised edition helps users quickly identify and manage raspberry and blackberry diseases, insect pests, and abiotic orders with practical management information and more than 200 high-quality images for diagnosis. It is your best defense against pests and disorders that threaten the health and yields of these two popular bramble plants, from the roots and crown to their flowers, fruits, and leaves.
Impressively informative, nicely illustrated, and thoroughly comprehensive, "Compendium of Raspberry and Blackberry Diseases and Pests" is now in a newly updated and expanded second edition that effectively presents the latest practices for managing diseases in organic and high-tunnel production systems.
Pest coverage is wide and applicable to many of the world's growing regions for these crops. The second edition also covers: Bacterial, fungal, and viral diseases; Insect and mite pests; Abiotic disorders, such as herbicide injury and environmental stressors; Diseases caused by an alga; Diseases caused by a phytoplasma; The use and effects of cultural practices; The development of healthy planting materials in the nursery/greenhouse industry.
Each section comprising "Compendium of Raspberry and Blackberry Diseases and Pests" includes information on symptoms, causal organisms, distribution, diagnostic features or detection methods, and management strategies.
Critique: Raspberries and blackberries are a perennial favorite among consumers, an an important cash crop for professional agriculturalists. "Compendium of Raspberry and Blackberry Diseases and Pests" is a critically important instructional manual and reference for anyone needing to protect their raspberry and blackberry plants with the most up-to-date and comprehensive resource available. Simply stated, this new edition "Compendium of Raspberry and Blackberry Diseases and Pests" is unreservedly recommended for academic library Agricultural Science collections, and ideal for the personal reading lists and reference collections commercial growing operations, nurseries, crop consultants, extension educators, diagnosticians, plant pathologists, entomologists, horticulturists, regulators, and gardeners.
Cambridge University Press
32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013-2473
9781107017955, $99.99, HC, 284pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A Jihadi an Islamic fundamentalist who participates in or supports jihad -- an especially armed and violent confrontation. Al-Qaida and Islamic State jihadists continue to captivate the world with their extreme violence. While much attention has been given to the operations and doctrines of jihadi groups, "Jihadi Culture: The Art and Social Practices of Militant Islamists" compiled and edited by Thomas Hegghammer (Director of Terrorism Research at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo) is the first published study to explore their culture. Using a wealth of primary sources, the contributing authors examine what goes on inside these organizations and what daily life is like for the foot-soldiers. They show that Islamist militants have a rich aesthetic culture and do much more than fight and train. Life in a jihadi group is in fact filled with poetry and music, and fighters spend time on surprising things like dream interpretation and weeping. Readers will discover an entirely new perspective on radical Islamists: that despite their reputation as macho men, they value humility, artistic sensitivity, and displays of emotion. Cultural practices are essential for understanding the jihadi world view and may shed important new light on decision-making and recruitment processes within the varied and diverse jihadi groups.
Critique: Featuring illustrations, tables, a list of the contributors and their credentials, a nineteen page bibliography, forty-three pages of notes, and a nine page index, "Jihadi Culture" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Islamic Studies collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers that "Jihadi Culture" is also available in a paperback edition (9781107614567, $28.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.95).
9780595005475, $12.95, Paperback, 244 pages
Hilary Hawke's The PayBack begins on a perplexing note. Unexpectedly finding herself striding back into the Newark Airpark Terminal; Margot Fortune had been moving toward the taxi stand.
An inadvertent meeting with an uneasy young woman who with her baby has been waiting many hours for the spouse who unaccountably had not appeared has brought about Margot's change of plan. Herself, at one time a promising young actress, gathers Claudia Lopez and her sleeping child for a taxicab ride across the city to the place where the absent husband and father is expected to be staying.
Arrival at the destination brings more anxiety and minute satisfaction.
Unknown to his wife, much less a recently met stranger Margot Fortune, Antonio's arrival in America was quickly followed his falling for the attractiveness of quick money and the dissipate existence of a drug dealer.
On the day Antonio was supposed to meet his family at the airport Antonio wakes in an intoxicated torpor and the frightening realization that he has lost a kilo of cocaine over and above his forgetting to meet Claudia and his child.
Antonio recognizes to settle the debt his thoughtless bosses will take either the money, the drugs or his wife and daughter if necessary.
When it becomes unmistakable that Claudia and her infant daughter Julianna really have nowhere to go; Margot offers both mother and child a place to stay.
Before long more or less on her own in a strange country where she knows only Margot; Claudia begins to consider that Antonio has either plainly abandoned her and their baby, or, she thinks perhaps something has happened to him.
Determined to support herself and Juliana; she sets out to find any work offered. Along the way Claudia comes to the realization that few if any of the people she comes in contact with can be trusted.
Ultimately Claudia sees more of the dark world of sex, drugs and prostitution than she had ever anticipated she might.
An action thriller engaged with in depth character study; The Payback offers a primary trio of engrossing, sufficiently established players in addition to an assorted group of plausible minor characters.
Claudia Lopez, the young stranger to an unfamiliar land is revealed to not be quite so pathetic or powerless as she first appears to be. Antonio, Claudia's aberrant husband, too late apprehends the effects of his thoughtless dealings. As well, Patron Margot Fortune may not be quite the charitable help she presents upon first meeting her.
Novelist Hawke's to the point, powerful writing manner indicates she has genuine writing aptitude. Voices of the primary characters are devout, trustworthy and offer the reader with a penetrating glimpse into the narrative behind the characters.
The reader will differentiate both the self-self-confidence as well as the mordancy felt by Claudia and Margot too, as they endeavor to find some answers for complications facing them.
The Payback is broadly speaking based on Hawke's up-close coup d'oeil into the Manhattan call girl trade garnered from her days as a professional musician, who oftentimes accepted odd jobs to tide her over between gigs. Hawke discloses she worked as a bank teller, florist, NYC cabdriver, waitress and once, inadvertently, as a receptionist in a Sutton Place Brothel.
The Payback is a jolting narration that grabs reader interest speedily and sustains it to the conclusion. From beginning to end The Payback is a fast-paced, tingle packed romp. An elaborated shocker of uncertainty having a hefty persuasion of enigma completed with sub plots thrown in; The Payback proffers animated episodes sure to delight the adrenaline seeker.
The big city drug crowd is pretty well stereotyped as predatory on the pages of Writer Hawkes novel. On occasion, while some sub-plotting seems a bit out of kilter for those who prefer a more formula read, fans of a taxing suspense thriller will receive abundantly positive feedback while reading Hilary Hawke's exciting chiller.
Not for the cowardly, The Payback overflows in variability of forceful, disconcerting sex scenes, repellent types, aberrant sex, lowlifes and drugs.
Happy to recommend for those who enjoy a well penned, fast paced account filled with thrills, and intensity.
Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting
Sara Louise Harper
Martingale & Company
19021 - 120th Avenue NE, Suite 102, Bothell, WA 98011
9781564778185, $26.95, Paperback, 80 pages, www.amazon.com
A Master Knitter since 2000, Sara Louise Harper has had her designs published in many books and magazines. Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting is an 80 page work filled with fourteen designs featuring cables, cables, cables. Pattern designs are provided for knitting an afghan, pillows, scarves, and several sweaters.
Today big box stores do not seem to carry many knit usage materials, and I don't see nearly as many women knitting however back in the days when I was attending college in California, it seemed just about every young woman could be seen with a canvas bag holding yarn and knitting needles.
The clickety click of needles rang merrily as our instructors lectured. Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting offers all knitters an introduction to textured knitting basics. While my favorite sweaters to knit are those knitted from the neck down, and Harper's book does not feature neck down and raglan sleeve, cables can be adapted to most any knitter desire.
My neck down, raglan sleeved sweaters are very often filled with cables. During my years teaching in public school classrooms cables provided extra weight, thickness and texture to create a super warm garment for wearing especially on those cold winter days when yard duty was part of my daily plan.
I find that often even experienced knitters, thinking cable designs may prove to be too difficult to produce and are uncertain toward attempting designs featuring cables. Reality is, all knitting, including cables is just a series of knits and purls. Even the most novice knitter who can produce basic knit and purl stitches already has the basis for creating dazzling cable filled sweaters.
Today knitting seems to be enjoying a revival. Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting speaks to the attraction of our meditative, satisfying skill. In addition to basic patterns for creating useful warm sweaters suitable for men and women, a handy carry bag for carrying knit supplies and the current knit project; the handy reference pages featuring process and methods as well as how-to creating designs, sizing, and modifying patterns to fit the particular wearer are all useful information for all knitters.
Yarns, the reason for keeping a die-cut needle gauge guide handy and the importance of the gauge ruler are all explained.
While the book walks the nervous or novice knitter through the beginning steps, the book is not relegated only to novice knitters, many experienced knitters too have never tried a cable pattern.
Sara Louise Harper's Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting furnishes a range of projects, intended to aid knitters and dispel the ambiguity encountered when first learning to read stitch charts, use cable stitch holders, and unscramble all the tricky subtlety built-into creation of lovely cable rich items.
Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting is intended to be a beginner friendly guidebook debuting the easiest patterns first before moving on to more complex procedures. All cabled garment appear to be more tricky than they are to create; novice knitters can produce a beautiful sweater or scarf without shedding tears!!
Harper's Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting will aid novice and experienced, first time to cable, knitters alike. Taking each design one step at a time; writer Harper explains in understandable, easy to follow terms how and why to use stitch charts, cable needles, choose a pattern, modify it if necessary, swatch, follow gauge, and more.
Everything a knitter needs to be equipped for creating lovely works is included; readers will find graph paper for plotting dimensions as well as a handy needle inventory page at the back of the book. The special sections planned for documenting works in progress, keeping track of completed projects, and planning future creations are excellent ideas.
Sara Louise Harper offers easy to follow directions, attractive cable designs and much for the knitter to consider.
Happy to recommend Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting.
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780060278670, $17.99, Hardcover: 40 pages, www.amazon.com
Laura Numeroff's IF YOU TAKE A MOUSE TO THE MOVIES once more acquaints the Reader with a little boy and his friend Mouse.
Even before the narration starts we are given a view of the mouse and his human friend. Mouse erect atop a spool of thread is being readied to go out into a wintry snow-covered day; his friend has thoughtfully chopped apart a green mitten to create a snuggly, mouse sized sweater along with warm red mittens and headgear by using finger tips and cuff from a red mitten.
'If you take a mouse to the movies he'll ask you for some popcorn, When you give him the popcorn.....
and so kicks off another in the "If You Give... series.
Soon Mouse is joyfully stringing his movie theater popcorn to hang on a Christmas Tree, and you will need to buy him one. When he notices a snowman while on the way home, Mouse wants to build one of his own. And, he will also want to make a snowfort and will ask for help creating it along with making snowballs for a snowball fight. When he is cold Mouse will want to go inside where he can curl up on the sofa, and he'll ask for a blanket.
The tale proceeds as Mouse listens to Christmas carols and even sings along. Devising ornaments for his Christmas tree entails use of heaps of glitter and exhilaration until Mouse notices he does not have a popcorn string for garland...
Simple uncomplicated images portrayed with witticism; illustrator Bond conveys the substance of the tale as well as the characters. A dedicated fellow, overeager to gratify his exultant, hyper mouse brings the narrative to life in a most magically child pleasing style.
Osage County First Grade loves all books Numeroff. As with others in this series by duo Numeroff - author and Bond Illustrator, If You Take a Mouse to the Movies is jam-packed with child friendly illustrations, playful narration and thought provoking storyline.
Laura Numeroff provides another lively cause-and-effect exultation. As with others in the series students find the resilient notional narrative along with child pleasing, vivid illustrations pleasing.
This little mouse is one of Osage County First Grade's favorites, I find students very disposed to talk about the message as it is read. Students speculate regarding what is going to happen next and begin to weigh various outcomes. By and large students tend to adore the developing series of cause and effect outcomes characteristic of Numeroff/Bond books.
The fantastical, suppositional creation of Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond filled with each thing having consequence for everything else is a dandy for reading aloud with whole class during the overexcited days just before Christmas holiday.
As a long time teacher; I savor reading Numeroff books as much as the class enjoys listening to them. Christmas is a halcyon, jovial time, and this particular work fits the season very well. Interest is preserved, this book is often selected to be taken for DEAR reading and free time reading. It is a seasonal favorite as a take home to read to family and friends.
Child pleasing read Happy to Recommend 5 stars
Dennis Must, author
Rostislav Spitkovsky, illustrator
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603813976, $13.95, Paperback, 184 pages, www.amazon.com
Dennis Must's Going Dark Selected Stories is a series of 17 short stories beginning with Title tale Going Dark in which an aging actor tells us of his life, or theirs, or ours, who knows; as he offers the address, or name of spouse and children of characters he has played.
Writers may well be reputed to be an aggregation of distinct and well-defined individuals laboring in compatibility in order to bring forth something on paper exclusively from their cultivatable minds; and Writer Must does give the effect to fit that analogy.
Dennis Must's third short story compendium, Going Dark, presents an anecdotist a la F. Scott Fitzgerald brooding guise by conveying The Reader into each of the dissimilar chronicles be they prosaic or baronial, coherent or inventive.
Going Dark, the initial sketch presented portrays a matured actor as he thinks back detailing his life and looks back short of recognizing entirely what is recollected, and what was merely a public presentation.
The struggle to apprehend expiry and negotiating ability to evaluate the state of affairs is the centering for Marine Band. A twosome facing ennui in their marriage look for ways to add a little dynamism, only to discern they might have reasoned and acknowledged life as it had been.
Writer Must's writing is communicatory, as he approaches the many phases of life we all share as we too move from childhood to youth, to conceivably consider marriage or other association, and, at the end face the ineluctable death that awaits us all. Lives so orthogonal yet very much the same; are the ones brought to life under the pen of this proficient writer.
Dennis Must's smorgasbord of short accounts, is at once a multilayered, thought provoking, psychological gambol in addition to being a deeply seated, thoughtful work; brimming with anxiousness, as extreme, out of reach, self-absorbed characters commonly at odds with themselves, others around them, and life in general.
Whatever the summary or leitmotif, each depiction in this work in the end goes dark as Must probes deep within the centre of his complex, knotty characters.
Overall, "the collection becomes a captivating study of the quandary of good, evil, the nature of human identity, and the function of art."
Diverse story titles found in this slim volume of 17 short stories includes Marine Band, Boys, Houseguest and Chet Baker Crosses the Allegheny. The last mentioned relates a series of mishaps in which autos play a key role.
A few of the tales are graced with an illustration done by Rostislav Spitkovshy; Boys, The Day My Father Died, The Joining and Dry Bread and Turnip Soup each is adorned with a single page drawing. A short author bio finishes the work;
Author Must was born and raised and attended college in Pennsylvania. He decided against entering the clergy despite two years at Princeton Theological Seminary, he choose instead to attend a playwright's workshop in Iowa before teaching at various locations in Pittsburgh and New York City.
After a gratifying career spent writing, directing and co-producing his own plays in collaboration with John Hawkins; his final production ended in Greenwich Village 1974.
In addition to writing, Must, has worked as a cabinet maker, bartender, bell hop, founded a real estate firm, and has worked as a general laborer in a glass factory, steel mill and on a rail line. With his diverse life experiences to draw from; Must is well outfitted to compose narratives of substance on many subjects and to flesh them out so that they come alive on the page.
Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend for those who enjoy a bit of the avant garde.
She's Like a Rainbow
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781533447272, $11.35, Paperback 308 pages, www.amazon.com
Genre: fiction, coming of age
Eileen Colucci's She's Like A Rainbow introduces Reema Ben Ghazi who relates, "The summer I turned ten, my life took a fairy tale turn."
The narrative set in Morocco reveals Reema is startled one morning when she discovers her skin is no longer pretty white, now it is a pretty dark chocolate.
Reema does not understand what can be causing her unusual condition and wonders if there might be a cure. Reema hopes her distant mother, who has darker skin tone, will become more caring and is saddened that this proves to not be the case. In a household and society where much of the populous has darker skin tone than does Reema; she had thought it was her light skin causing her mother to seem distant and uncaring.
Reema commences a many years long quest; she searches for whys and wherefores vis-a-vis the fluctuating coloring of her skin. Her resolve to determine the root and a remedy for what she believes to be an ailment finally leads Reema to a health center where a nurse suggests that Reema's complaint may be genomic. Now Reema is indeed confused, how could the ailment be genetic; no one in her family has such a disorder.
The responses of the people around Reema, including her severe; non nurturant mother, Lalla Jamila; her diffident younger sister, Zakia; in addition to her two closest friends, Batoul and Khalil as her skin tone continues modification every few years from dark chocolate to red, yellow and finally brown is compared to the emotive disquiet, self-doubt and torment as seems to plague all teens.
I enjoyed Writer Colucci's She's Like a Rainbow presenting stimulating philosophies concerning background and individuality. As Colucci interlaces a subtle account sure to intrigue readers who may have yearning to know more of their individual, personal story including characteristics, ethnicity, and heritage as they too come to consciousness that it is in our differences that we initiate understanding that what essentially seems to forge the insightfulness for and leads to the perspicacity that it is our humanness that in due course brings the understanding that we share brotherhood whatever our ethnicity, cultural differences, or where in the world we may live.
I found She's Like a Rainbow to be a well penned chronicle complete with a fine interpretation of Moroccan society woven around a young Moroccan woman. As she rejoins to her roots, Reema's story set against a back drop of intriguing surroundings, thought-provoking plot spirals and turns, fully fleshed players and even an entwining of The American Native story of the White Buffalo delivers thought provoking perception and insights.
Acknowledgment that we, the populous, existing here in the United States are an amalgamation of many races, views, philosophies is one of the rudimentary canons of our society. Uncertainties, queries and anxiety grows into comprehension as we apprehend these qualities also define virtually everyone on earth. Most of us, whatever our ethnic group, upbringing or culture, are the creation of varied ancestry.
This is an account set in Morocco and New York concerning family, prejudgment and acceptance. Reema's single-minded pursuit for resolution leads to some astounding responses apropos her mother's indifference and discloses an unanticipated web of falsification besides serving as substance for Reema's individual growth of self-awareness pertaining to the person she truly is.
I enjoyed learning something of Morocco and Moroccan culture. Writer Colucci adds first-rate particulars regarding a country, people and culture, I suspect few of us living here in the United States little understand. Happy to recommend.
Molly Martin, Reviewer
Modern Arcana: Not Responsible for Broken Windshields
Amazon Digital Services, LLC
B0759ZD618, $3.00, Kindle, 81pp, www.amazon.com
In Modern Arcana: Not Responsible for Broken Windshields, Tom Wingerd writes about relationships--not the sort that exist between family and friends, but the sort we all have to everything and everyone. Wingerd writes: "Your house, car, office, city are all affected by your daily interactions in space." He states further, "Your life is the combination of your movement through space, and the ripple impact of every one of your actions...". These are weighty pronouncements, but they don't come across as such in the book.
Mr. Wingerd offers prescriptions for existing in an interrelated universe. With each of his statements he provides a pictorial representation of the concept. The effect on the reader is not one of complements but of exponents. This may be by design or it may merely prove his thesis: everything we see and do, everything that exists, affects everything else. Mr. Wingerd has an analytic approach to his subject. Some of his propositions are structured as mathematical formulas and, he makes clear, these formulas operate in a relative universe.
Though this is a book with a philosophical perspective, Mr. Wingerd at times adopts a light tone. He writes, for example, about his bisexual wife and gay son. A few pages later he admits that his son isn't "real" but is a "six year old figment of my imagination, named Orion". In another segment he advises:
Trust your heart first
Your brain second
They'll do what they want anyway.
Before I began reading Modern Arcana: Not Responsible for Broken Windshields, I didn't pay much attention to the title. After finishing the book I googled the phrase, "Not Responsible for Broken Windshields". It turns out this is a statement likely to be found on the back of trucks that spew window-shattering debris. The driver's message is clear: I'm not responsible for how my existence, how my behavior, affects you. Mr. Wingerd's book is a refutation of that notion.
I enjoyed this book and I related to the author's mindset. His pictures are as evocative as his words. The book would be a stimulating read for anyone who is inclined to be philosophical. It would be a great gift for someone who is not philosophically inclined, especially if that person is likely to post a sign that asserts: "Not Responsible for Broken Windshields".
Susan: Convict's daughter, soldier's wife, nobody's fool
9781520769554, $6.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 190pp, www.amazon.com
In 2005, Australian television ran an award-winning miniseries, The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant. The show dramatized the life of an English woman who was convicted of a crime and transported to Botany Bay. The series was enormously popular. No wonder - perhaps as many as 22% of Australians trace their ancestry to transported convicts (according to ABC News Australia, 2007). Among the tansportees was John Mason. It is his daughter, Susan, who is the subject of Stella Budrikis' excellent biography, Susan: Convict's daughter, soldier's wife, nobody's fool. Unlike the writers of the television miniseries, Budrikis does not take liberties with fact. She hones close to the historic record. The result is a clear-eyed and credible narrative.
In Susan, readers go on a journey through the hardscrabble existence of Australia's early European settlers. Budrikis does not shrink from the less attractive aspects of Susan Mason's life. Indeed, much of the book's material is derived from court records, which contain copious entries related to the exploits of Susan Mason.
Budrikis' characters are real people who struggle in the harshest of circumstances. Fortune, will and physical endurance allow some to reach maturity and raise families. Both Susan Mason and Mary Bryant witness the deaths of their children. Such a loss was common at the time, but more likely to occur in the crowded hull of a ship or teeming neighborhood where poor immigrants congregated.
Susan Mason eventually married, left Australia and moved to England. Several of her numerous children made it to adulthood. One of them was the author's great-grandmother, Eliza Whybrew. Eliza's life, it seems, took a turn toward stability when she married into a family that was involved with the Salvation Army.
Susan Mason, like Mary Bryant, was a survivor. Many Australians today take pride in their convict ancestry. These ancestors were pioneers - strong, and determined.
In the "Afterword" to Susan, Stella Budrikis wonders if she's done right by Susan Mason in telling this story so forthrightly. Budrikis writes, "I hope that by telling her story I have given her, and other women like her, a recognition that they were denied in their lifetime". Indeed she has. I'm left with the impression of Susan as a resourceful woman who used her native abilities to navigate an inhospitable universe. I think that, in writing this book, Ms. Budrikis honors Susan's life, Mary's life and the lives of thousands of others.
A. G. Moore
McCall & Company: Emboozlement
Laugh Riot Press
B075HBRGD9, $2.99, Kindle, 394 pages
When Kate McCall's father was murdered, she inherited his Private Detective business.
Understand that Kate is not a private detective; she is a forty-five year old actress employed in a (very) far off Broadway theatrical company. However, now that she can think of herself as a private detective, she makes it her business to find the killer who murdered her father; assisted by a small select group of wildly eccentric and sometimes bat-shit crazy actors and friends.
Kate's must sandwich her investigations around her commitment to a production of a musical Psychedelic Sunday being performed by her theatre company at a theatre located in an old bra manufacturing facility known as the D-Cup. While the performances usually appeal to patrons as oddball as the actors, they provide Kate with acting practice and costumes useable in her investigations. More importantly, Kate loves acting; if it wasn't for her father's murder, she wouldn't be a private eye at all.
Against that backdrop, Kate is cast into two simultaneous investigations; one, a request to investigate suspected embezzlement at a bar owned by a (to her) drop dead gorgeous former baseball player named Steve Stark, and two, by the promised pending murder of one of the city's top divorce attorneys. Out of her league? Detective Logan of the NYPD knows she is; especially since the killer contacted Kate by text inviting her to the murder. Logan rants about Kate interfering with police business, but secretly admires her courage and fears for her safety.
Soon, Kate is embroiled in a murder plot involving four high profile attorneys, two couples (she thinks) and a killer. She has no idea who hired the killer or who will be the next victim. At the same time, she must take on one of New York's most embedded bookies to identify the correct embezzler from among the employees at Steve Stark's sports bar. Her best investigative skills and cunning never prepare her for the identity of the real embezzler. But, beyond embezzlement, she has developed feelings and invested them in Stark. But does Stark feel the same about Kate?
Emboozlement is a full blown crime/action detective novel written by one of the masters of satire and dry straight-faced humor. The author has created a cast of theatrical misfits whose eccentricities fit neatly into the story. Each character is developed sufficiently to play his or her role in a jig-saw puzzle of humorous and sometimes heartbreaking twists. While I would not call Emboozlement rip-roaringly humorous, it is written in a manner that kept a smile on my face even when reading at 1:00 AM.
This is a book that should be loved by any readers with a love of crime/action detective stories, or anyone else who appreciates tongue-in-cheek humor. 5-Stars
McCall & Company: Workman's Complication
Laugh Riot Press
9780991176939, $11.95, paperback
B00N1ZAVPK, $2.99, Kindle, 372 pages
In the midst of rehearsing a far off-Broadway play in which she plays a vampire who doubles as a sub-way ticket sales agent, Kate McCall is approached by two NYPD detectives who tell her that her father was found dead in the Monument Life Insurance Company's elevator. "Why the hell," wondered McCall, "would her father Jimmy McCall be in the Monument Life Insurance Building's elevator to begin with...let alone be killed there?" But, wait a minute! He wasn't killed there. His body was just found there; with both eyes shot out.
In the settlement of her father's estate, McCall is left his private detective business...in a cardboard box. Determined to find Jimmy's killer, she defies her son, a Manhattan Assistant District Attorney, and two NYPD detectives by picking up Jimmy's business where he left off...Kate McCall became a private detective.
Besides the hunt for Jimmy's killer which leads her squarely to the door-step of a Monument Life Insurance executive, she is soon also deeply embedded in a case involving a construction worker who is suing his boss for permanent injuries that allegedly occurred on his worksite. While anyone would suspect a fraudulent claim, it is up to McCall to stretch herself far outside her comfort zone to prove it. But even more challenging than proving fraudulent injuries, proving murder when the suspect is powerful and surrounds herself with powerful people...including certain NYPD detectives...is even more challenging.
To meet the challenge, she enlists the aid of the misfits who live in her building, and the eccentric owners and members of her theater company to play Academy Award quality roles sometimes in a life and death context.
Workman's Complication is a story well-told and well written in Rich Leder's tongue-in-cheek style of dry humor. The characters are well developed and readers are easily drawn into liking or hating the characters. McCall is multi-tasker; her survival depends on it. Fu...well, Fu is Fu...
"Fu say trap!"
"I know it's a trap. I knew it was trap before you knew it was trap!"
"Fu know first."
"Fu you, Fu!"
"Fu you too!"
And so it goes until the bad guys give in, die or are killed by the guy that killed Jimmy to begin with.
A fine read for anyone who loves mystery action books. And, oh, did I mention that Kate McCall is an actress, not a detective...kind of puts a whole new light on things, doesn't it? 5-Stars
McCall & Company: Swollen Identity
Laugh Riot Press
9780991176977, $11.95, paperback, 392 pages
ASIN: B00N20NV9C, $2.99, Kindle
Dare I say that Kate McCall is an actress; not a 'real' private investigator at all?
McCall, who held a PI license only because she helped her father, Jimmy, at times with his PI business, found herself in possession of that business after her father's bizarre murder. Feeling the need to avenge Jimmy and angry at his assassin, she is using her acting abilities and her PI business to find Jimmy's killer. Her decidedly odd group of friends and neighbors from her building and her theater company help her in their escape from a humdrum existence, make a few bucks, and occasionally, out of true concern for Kate's well-being.
Now, she is facing her second case as a private investigator; one that will totally tax her skills of observation, manipulation and her ability to think logically...how can she tell two perfectly identical twins apart when both are free spirits and have unlimited resources at their disposal? What happens when one twin wants the other dead, McCall has no idea which twin hired her, and the twins both play reversible rolls to the hilt. The twin's father is ninety-two, ill and subject to die leaving a 10 billion dollar estate divided between the twins and both of them are determined the other will have none of it.
Into this mix, throw a business executive murdered in same manner as Jimmy leading McCall in a second direction chasing the killer. Complicate the murder with a pugnacious business partner everyone loves to hate as the prime murder conspiracy suspect, a second business partner whom no one suspects but who has a foreign agenda of his own, a pissed off Manhattan Assistant District Attorney who happens to be McCall's son, a pissed off NYPD detective who wants to solve cases and keep McCall alive at the same time, and a crooked Weehawken, NJ, homicide detective and all hell breaks loose in the Bronx.
Swollen Identity is a rousing romp and entertaining read for mystery action readers of any age. McCall is a complex character and in Swollen Identity she is shown to be much more complicated than originally suspected...or at least even more confused. Fu, her friend and ex-Chinese mob assassin, acquires a new parrot, Jerusalem Joe; Jerusalem Joe is McCall's payment to him for saving her life five times. Fu, however, still speaks in three to five word sentences. The reader is introduced to Warren's ten-year old Toyota Corollas each of which Warren has lovingly named, and to Al as the ruthless manager of his illegal car rental company. They are just one more cog in the gear of oddball personalities that make up McCall's associates and ensure that she survives her PI business.
In all, a fun and challenging (for McCall) plot neatly tied up in dry humor and presented through unlikely scenarios guaranteed to make it a fun read. 5-Stars
c/o Ravenswood Publishing
9780692670606, $14.96, paperback, 390 pages
B01D04UPJS, $0.99, Kindle
Many fans may say that Elvis was "out of this world"; some would even say that his impersonators are "out of this world." Would either, neither or both be correct? John Abernathy, the enigmatologist knows.
John didn't always know. He was just a twenty-three year old graduate puzzle designer biding his time doing boring work as a junior private investigator for his grandfather's friend. Sick of taking pictures of cheating husbands and wives, he was thinking about a different occupation when opportunity knocked in the form of a photograph with a startling, if indistinct, likeness of Elvis. The photo was allegedly taken by a woman in the remote New Mexico town of Las Vegas who offered to sell it to the National Enquirer.
What follows is confusing, action-packed nutty bedlam that stretches John far beyond the point of no return. He learns more about his life and family, and more about his future in a couple of days than he thought he ever wanted to know. He also learns that he has not grown up alone; he has been watched by many eyes every day of his life and that his future affects more lives than he ever imagined.
It took a long time for me to get into this story, It seemed to begin slowly with a 'who really cares' attitude. However, once John reached Las Vegas, the story built quickly and purposefully and I really began to wonder how it would turn out. Incorporating elements of government conspiracy, Elvis fan worship and imitation, Alien cover-up conspiracies, Native-American spirituality and the mystery of a vast remote location, The Enigmatologist grew into an entertaining larger than life scenario. It would be a good read for any lover of mystery, Sci-Fi or conspiracies.
Hey John! Look up and wave. 4-Stars
Once Upon an Apocalypse: Gathering Home (Book 3)
Pine City Press
9781946321121, paperback, $15.19, 312 pages
9781946321138, $28.99, hard cover
9781946321107, $3.99, Kindle
What happens when a disaster occurs that renders the nation incapable of action and exposes the vulnerability of individuals to starvation, violence and the depredation of their fellow human beings?
In the series Once Upon an Apocalypse by Jeff Motes, multiple families in southern Alabama find themselves coping with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event without warning. A sufficiently strong EMP will destroy solid state circuit boards instantly turning the modern electronics upon which we depend to worthless junk; and the event depicted in the story does exactly that.
The series focuses on the interaction of members of several families; particularly the families of Jill Barnes and John Carter as they find themselves suddenly devoid of modern conveniences and transportation, sources of food or fuel, medicine or basics like tooth paste and toilet paper. Circumstances force them to depend upon what they have in hand for their survival.
In book 3, Gathering Home, Lizzie is at Amy Wright's house. Will has been able to learn where the Wrights live and has arrived to take her to reunite with the rest of her family and with Will's family in Repose. However, Amy's father, Jimmy Wright, becoming unbalanced by injury, shock at his family's circumstances and his lack of knowledge and survival skills begins plotting to keep Will and Lizzie with them. He tries to convince Amy and Lynn Wright that Amy should seduce Will stealing his loyalty from Lizzie and so that his survival skills are used to ensure the survival of the Wright family. As Jimmy Wright is faced with a string of challenges, he fails each time; and each time, Will saves the day fueling his resentment and feeling of failure. Will he take his resentment out on Will? On Lizzie, or will he threaten his on family with his lack of control?
A showdown is coming. Exactly who the participants are is not clear until it happens. Will Jimmy Wright win or lose? Do Will and Lizzie make it back to Repose and see their families again? Only readers who buy the book will know for sure; at least from this review.
In many ways, Gathering Home is the most riveting of this series; the characters are vulnerable throughout the book and except for Will, both clueless and virtually helpless. Jimmy's reaction to events drops them ever deeper into the quick-sand of despair as every decision he makes proves to be the wrong decision.
Like the rest of this series, Gathering Home will leave most readers disturbed, a bit shaken and none will walk away untouched. 5-Stars
Man of Legends
9781477819685, $10.28, paperback, 430 pages
B01M10EFKJ, $4.99, Kindle amazon.com
A man doomed to immortality, destined to wander aimlessly throughout until Jesus returns? Such is the legend of "The Wandering Jew." Said to have been a member of the household of Pontius Pilot, he is alleged to have mocked Jesus as he was paraded by Roman soldiers through the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha for crucifixion.
Will is a man with no name, other than "Will", as he is known to many he encounters...or with many names. Throughout much of The Man of Legends which is true is unclear. What is known from eye-witness accounts is that he is a compassionate man with a burning desire to be helpful to those who need help, support or a boost of encouragement. However, Will is tired; his spirit is weary and heavy with the burden of his existence. The magnitude of that burden is slowly reveled as the story progresses.
Father St. Jacques is a French priest assigned to the Vatican and to the Pontiff's personal service. A man driven by pride and determination to advance in influence in the church hierarchy, St. Jacques will stop at nothing to locate and restrain Will deep in the Vatican where he can influence no one without the church's censorship and 'spin'. His official mission is all about preservation of church doctrine; his personal mission al about pride and personal advancement. His excuse...capturing living proof that Christ's miracles exist.
The handsome, well-dressed, young man seems to mock Will at every turn. He does not mock him openly in a confrontational manner, but more by insinuating himself into Will's attention. Eventually, there will be a showdown between them; one that many in New York will never forget.
Among the many people Will has encountered and helped, are Tito, Maria, Suki Tamura, Nicole and others...people who fill in bits and pieces of Will's recent story through first person accounts. Jillian, Hanna and Father St. Jacques tell the major part of Will's story through their personal narratives. A large number of New Yorkers, including these, gather in an old warehouse for a spectacular showdown; a showdown that for all its magnificent horror resolves nothing, but sheds light on the character of the participants.
Man of Legends is a well written and well edited tale based on the legend of "The Wondering Jew". It is emotional, gut-wrenching at times and the reader cannot help empathizing with Will's plight, cheering his willingness to help others despite his own problems, and marveling that after two millennia he can still stand firm against overwhelming powers.
Sure to be enjoyed by any action or adventure lover, or any lover of fantasy, Christian fiction or church related fiction or mysteries, The Man of Legends offers something for almost reader. 5-Stars
Clabe Polk, Reviewer
7th Grade Revolution
2817 West End Ave. #126-283, Nashville, TN 37203
9781944109462 $12.99 pbk
9781944109479 $4.99 ebook
7th Grade Revolution is a thrilling and engrossing ride through past and present based on real events in North Carolina. Though technically a middle grades book, I feel readers of all ages will enjoy this book. Trust me, you won't regret it.
Damned (A Magnus Blackwell Novel: Book One)
Alexandrea Weis with Lucas Astor
2817 West End Ave. #126-283, Nashville, TN 37203
9781944109448 $19.99 pbk
9781944109455 $4.99 ebook
Damned is riveting, an absolute page turner. The characters are amazingly true to life. They jump off the page and wrap around you until your heart thuds and thumps along with theirs. If you only read one book, this should be the one.
Damned is riveting, an absolute page Turner. Just when you think the carnival ride is over, you discover it's barely begun...If you read only one book this should be it.
2817 West End Ave. #126-283, Nashville, TN 37203
9781944109271 $26.99 hc
9781944109295 $7.99 ebook 340 pages
The characters are stunningly developed in this "can't put it down" page turner. I loved this book. It also definitely had a "creep factor." In reading it I found myself feeling very conscious of the times when I was vulnerable. I locked doors I hadn't locked before because the character of Jane had me on edge. A must read thriller.
Tracy M. Riva
One Step Ahead
B015UTD7GE, $1.34, 189 Pages
The war time ordeals of a Jewish mother and her 7 children.
This story is an amazing true account of the wartime struggles of a Jewish woman named Ester Parnes, her husband Samuel, and their seven children.
In June 1944 they believe that they are safe from the atrocities of the Nazi concentration camps, as they are living in the small village called Skalat in eastern Poland. After World War I, the land was given to the Soviet Union under the 1939 treaty between Stalin and Germany, and the Soviet people had been friendly, and they, and their relatives are happy, and have a good life. However, they soon discover that Adolph Hitler has no scruples about going back on his word as he instigates Operation Barbarossa. On the very day this happens the family find themselves fleeing the German planes and soldiers, desperate just to survive...
When they join thousands of other Jews and tens of thousands of Polish people crossing the Zebruschk River, and entering the Ukraine, they believe it is only for a short time, and they are sure that they will be safe there until they can return to Skalat. However as the German army ruthlessly advances, slaughtering everyone in their path with Hitler's "scorched earth" policy, the days and months turn into years. Watching those around them die from starvation, or being murdered by the Germans, the family suffer unimaginable hardships and find themselves doing what they have to, to survive. Driven further and further from their home on a journey which is to take them through the Ukraine, Russia, and into Asia.
I found this story totally absorbing and the very fact that it is written from true accounts given to the author by the Ester Parnes children and grandchildren, makes it even more interesting. Not only did I learn a lot about the plight of these people during World War II, but I also could not help but be amazed at their strong faith and true sense of family, which bound them together, and gave them a reason to survive.
Of course during the war years, despite being on the run from the Germans, their normal family life continued, and like all families disagreements and disputes arose, however, strong in their faith, they still manage, despite everything, to remain united.
Having read modern history at school, this book should, I feel, be part of the curriculum as not only is it a compelling story of one families family's survival during World War II, but also reveals how Adolph Hitler thought, and explains the timing and reasons behind his policies.
I would highly recommend this book as a fascinating true account of the bravery and fortitude of Ester Parnes, and her family during WWII.
Cries of Innocence
Angela Beach Silverthorne
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781545504802, $14.99, 422 Pages, www.amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction
This powerful and inspirational story begins with an unhappy seventeen year old Bren struggling to put on a brave face to the world, whilst having to deal with more than her fair share of personal and emotional issues at school, with her boyfriend, and family.
Angry and resentful of the labels her family have been given, she desperately tries to help her mother and sisters as they all live under the tyranny of her drunken father. However one day everything changes when Bren discovers that her aunt and a friend are back in Silverton...
Until then her only sanctuary had been with her school friends Luci and Robyn. However, as her home life becomes more perilous, Bren reluctantly finds herself placed under the protective wing of her paternal grandmother GG. A stranger to Bren in many ways, and distant whilst she grew up, Bren soon discovers that GG is not the person she imagined, and that the rumours and accusations which she had heard whispered about GG are false.
Slowly, insidiously, an evil presence has risen in Silverton, capturing the souls of the townsfolk and turning them into other things, evil creatures, who are forced to carry out horrendous acts, the question is, is it possible to defeat the evil one, and bring peace again to the town, and if so, how?
As she is welcomed into GG's home where her Aunt Falon, and Falon's friend the ethereal Lael live, along with Moses and Miriam, Bren's eyes are opened to the spiritual world of the Lightens. Through their teachings, she realises how their absolute faith and trust in God has strengthened, protected and moulded the lives of every member of her family, each in unique ways, so they can stand united when their time comes to be called to fight in his name.
Becoming absorbed into the Lighten way of life, Bren soon begins to understand the strength and humility she must obtain through reading and prayer to open herself to God's will, follow his lead, and enter his service. However, the question is, will she be strong enough, and be able to find it in her heart to do what she must ultimately do, when she is called?
This is a powerfully inspiring story as the spirit of Bren is in all of us, lost souls, unsure of our path in life, not knowing what to do, and who to believe, or whether to fight or run, and needing guidance. As the author reveals, it is only when we read the word of God, fully understand his messages, and then open ourselves up fully to his teachings and guidance that we can truly find the peace and the strength to go forward in life.
Not only is this book a wonderful story which can be enjoyed by all, but it is also truly beautifully written and motivating. Each of the characters have their own special story to tell and as this book came to a close, not only did I feel sad that it had ended, but also incredibly at peace.
At the end of this book are some of the amazing recipes from Alicia and GG mentioned in it, and also an extra special one from the Remedy Room which I can't wait to try!
Eat Like a Greek
Amazon Digital Services
B06XP6FG57, $0.00, 77 Pages, www.amazon.com
Genre: Diet and Fitness
I will admit to liking the Mediterranean lifestyle and so when I saw this book I just had to download it. I was expecting a recipe book, but this is so much more.
The author, Karen Guttridge takes her readers on a voyage of discovery as she meets the locals, watches, and then helps them forage for food, grown locally, and a lot of the time wild on the nearby hillsides. It reminded me of walks with my grandfather in the UK when I learnt so much about nature, and it is wonderful to hear about the local people in Greece, still carrying on traditions passed through the generations, and taking advantage of local produce in season.
The Mediterranean diet is renowned worldwide as healthy, rich in vitamins, minerals and goodness. Although, as the author states, this is not a recipe book, there are plenty of tips and recipes in it, all written in such a way that it is easy to see how they can be incorporated into anyone's diet. At the end of the book there is an excellent section called 'One Mediterranean Month 30 tips for healthy living' which contains suggestions on how to change your diet one day at a time.
The author takes her reader inside her friends and neighbours kitchens with her, and we watch through her eyes, fly on the wall like, how they prepare and cook their food in the traditional ways. We discover not only how to embrace a simple, tasty, yet oh so good for you diet, but also that yes they do use copious amounts of olive oil and lemons, and that for some recipes, like coffee, there is really only one way to make it in Greece.
Extremely interesting and thoroughly entertaining, I would highly recommend 'Eat Like A Greek' to anyone interested in the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle.
Susan Keefe, Reviewer
James A. Cox
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