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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 22, Number 12 December 2023 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Health/Medicine Shelf World History Shelf
Parenting Shelf General Fiction Shelf Historical Fiction Shelf
Mystery/Suspense Shelf Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Poetry Shelf
Business Shelf Religion/Spirituality Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

We Lived In Danger
Victor Hepburn Small, Ph.D
Independently Published
9798987227107, $17.99, HC, 138pp

Synopsis: "We Lived In Danger: From True Prairie Boy to Royal Regina Rifleman: A Western Canadian's WWII Memoir" is a deeply personal and inherently interest story about a small-town Canadian boy from Saskatchewan, Victor Hepburn Small, that unveils a rare and fascinating slice-of-life vignette of the World War II era. "Vic's" formative years in Big Sky country, and his love affair for prairie culture, prepared him for an extraordinary life event: to serve his country during WWII. Vic enlisted in 1942 at age 18, "to fight the Germans. Every living body did the same thing."

Published by his wife, Joanne Wolf Small, after his passing in 2021, this memoir is not only a labor of love it is also a remarkably unique anthology. Vic's transcribed, word-for-word, "Blue Bombers" leave letters are both gripping and eloquent. They reveal, with endearing intimacy and authenticity, vivid details of his experience as a young man at Sandhurst Royal Military College and serving in the European Theatre from 1943 to 1945. Not unlike many Canadian soldiers, Vic kept his film camera strapped to his side - all the way from military training in Alberta and British Columbia, across the pond on Cunard Line's Queen Mary - to Great Britain, Holland, and Germany. He left behind an emblematic photo collection for his memoir, delicately captioned by hand, and lovingly preserved in his family for over 75 years.

Vic's story is truly a tribute to the undeniable resolve of his generation, a rare, historic fingerprint of an analytical, light-hearted, yet curious young Canadian man extending his view of the world around him, and finally, an insight into the heart-breaking reality for soldiers of war back then, and the few WWII veterans left today.

Critique: An invaluable contribution to the growing body of World War II biographies and memoirs from a generation now largely gone from this world, "We Lived In Danger: From True Prairie Boy to Royal Regina Rifleman: A Western Canadian's WWII Memoir" is an extraordinary tribute to one man's personal experiences as a soldier in that global conflict. Nicely illustrated with B/W photos, "We Lived in Danger" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library World War II History/Biography collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution
Diana Licalzi, author
Jose Tejero, author
Blue Star Press
9781958803196, $24.95, HC, 262pp

Synopsis: For anyone who has prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, "The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution: A Cookbook and Complete Guide to Managing Type 2 Diabetes" by co-authors Diana Licalzi and Jose Tejero offers a practical and effective approach to achieving non-diabetic blood sugar within weeks. The simple lifestyle changes outlined in "The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution" focus on the reversal of insulin resistance -- the root cause of high blood sugar.

Co-developed by a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist, "The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution" uses a revolutionary, science-based program that includes: Daily meal plans for 4 weeks, designed to minimize your time in the kitchen; Simple grocery shopping lists for every week of the meal plan and tips for meal prep; 100+ high-fiber, plant-based recipes that keep your blood sugar balanced; Advice on how to create a balanced diet that includes whole, plant-based foods and meat, if desired; Tips for grocery shopping and how to read nutritional labels; Guidance on stocking your pantry and knowing which foods to always have on hand; Useful lessons and tips on how nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress impact your diabetes health

With "The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution", the reader can start reversing the root cause of type 2 diabetes, eliminate or reduce a need for medication, and lower blood sugar.

Critique: Beautifully illustrated with full page, full color photos of finished dishes, "The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution: A Cookbook and Complete Guide to Managing Type 2 Diabetes" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Practical, effective, motivational, inspiring, "The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution" is a 'must' for personal, professional, community, and college/university library General Diabetes Health collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and, in the Spring of 2024 will be published in a Spanish edition (9781958803622).

Editorial Note #1: Diana Licalzi, MS, RD, CDCES, is a nationally-recognized Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist and holds her Master's in Nutrition Science & Policy. In 2019, Diana co-founded Reversing T2D, a digital health platform that helps individuals reverse, manage, and prevent pre- and type 2 diabetes. Reversing T2D uses an integrative approach to tackle diabetes focusing on plant-based nutrition, exercise, and mindset. Diana's previous books include Drinking for Two and Mocktail Party.

Editorial Note #2: Jose Tejero is an exercise physiologist with a degree in Exercise Science and is the co-founder of Reversing T2D. He has worked alongside nutrition experts and plant-based physicians who treat chronic illnesses, including type 2 diabetes. He observed the positive impact that plant-based diets had on the health of their patients and decided that he would dedicate his career to promoting the benefits of this diet. Jose is passionate about guiding people on the path of developing a healthy lifestyle.

The World History Shelf

Diplomats & Admirals
Dale A. Jenkins
Aubrey Pubishing
9798986562612, $32.50, HC, 402pp

Synopsis: It's November 1941 and Japan and the US are teetering on a knife-edge as leaders on both sides of the Pacific strive to prevent war between them. But failed diplomacy, foiled negotiations, and possible duplicity in the Roosevelt administration thwart their attempts.

Drawing on now-declassified original documents, "Diplomats & Admirals: From Failed Negotiations and Tragic Misjudgments to Powerful Leaders and Heroic Deeds, the Untold Story of the Pacific War from Pearl Harbor to Midway" by Dale A. Jenkins reveals the inside story of one fateful year.

"Diplomats & Admirals" reveals: How the hidden agendas of powerful civilian and military leaders pushed the two nations toward war; The miscommunications, misjudgments, and blunders that doomed efforts at peace; China's role in the US ultimatum that triggered the attack on Pearl Harbor; Why the carrier-to-carrier showdown at Coral Sea proved a fatal mistake for Japan; How courageous US navy pilots snatched victory from defeat at the Battle of Midway.

The defining events of WWII in the Pacific could have ended very differently. Combining perspectives from both military and civilian leaders, "Diplomats & Admirals" uncovers new insights into the Pacific naval battles that shaped the world-and the men behind them.

Critique: A seminal and groundbreaking work of detailed research, "Diplomats & Admirals: From Failed Negotiations and Tragic Misjudgments to Powerful Leaders and Heroic Deeds, the Untold Story of the Pacific War from Pearl Harbor to Midway" is a fascinating, informative, exceptional contribution to the growing body of World War II historical analysis. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and college/university library World War II Naval History/Biography collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for students, academia, military buffs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Diplomats & Admirals" is also available in a paperback edition (9798986562605, $19.50) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Dale A. Jenkins ( has had a lifelong interest in the Navy and international affairs. He is a former US Navy officer who served on a destroyer in the Pacific and for a time was home-ported in Yokosuka, Japan. Pacific Fleet commitments took him to the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore. While on active duty, he was awarded the Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal. His business career was primarily in international banking, and he was also a staff director at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Dale currently serves on the Samuel Eliot Morison Committee of the Naval Order of the United Sates, New York, and as a Regional Director of the Naval War College Foundation. As a result of his active-duty experience and new revelations, Dale provides insight into the diplomacy and strategies of the Pacific region. He has degrees in history and business from Harvard and Columbia.

The Parenting Shelf

What's Eating Our Kids?
Julie A. Wendt, MD
Independently Published
9798987560013, $28.95, PB, 318pp

Synopsis: There has been a steep increase in the number of allergic reactions and in the number of patients who can no longer tolerate food without absolute misery. Have you, as a loving parent, ever felt helpless in your struggles to figure out your child's food allergies, reactions, and aversions? Do you wonder why this is happening?

With the publication of "What's Eating Our Kids?", Dr. Julie A. Wendt guides parents and caregivers in dealing with childhood food-based allergies.

Julie's son had severe eczema as a baby. She had to deal with a multitude of his allergies as a boy and young man, and managed the lactose intolerance of my teenage daughter. As an experienced allergy parent, she well knows that the emotional stresses and strains of managing your family's allergies are really challenging.

"What's Eating Our Kids?" contains information key to understanding the causes of your suffering: food allergy, intolerance, and toxicity. Julie breaks down the most common (and some not-so-common) food reactions and walks the reader through the symptoms, specific medical conditions, and the diagnosis, testing, and treatment process.

"What's Eating Our Kids?" is intended to guide parents and allergic children to and through proven solutions that will ease their allergies, reactions, and the stress. The message is that you and your child can live a normal life -- even with severe allergies.

Critique: "What's Eating Our Kids?" is a thoroughly 'user friendly' parents' guide to food allergy, intolerance, and toxicity that can make a child ill. Comprehensive, fully accessible for the non-specialist general reader and parent, exceptionally well organized and impressively/effectively presented, "What's Eating Our Kids?" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Parenting and Food Allergy collections.

Editorial Note: Dr. Julia A. Wendt earned B.S. degrees with honors in biochemistry and biology from the University of Illinois, a degree in microbiology and immunology from Vanderbilt University, and her M.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. She completed her residency and fellowship at Rush University. In private practice since 2005, Dr. Wendt has published a great deal of research. She has received the American Medical Association Physician's Recognition Award, a Patient Choice Award, and is noted as one of America's Top Physicians. Dr. Wendt is a former President of the Arizona Allergy and Asthma Society.

Twenty-three Weeks: The Story of a Micro-preemie Baby and Her Mother
Karen Fraser-Morris
Epigraph Publishing
9781960090287, $18.95, PB, 216pp

Synopsis: Most women expect to have a typical pregnancy, especially when they are told that everything is going well. This was the case for Karen Fraser-Morris right up until a night when all which seemed certain was suddenly replaced with questions, including the fate of her child.

Realizations about pregnancy, birth, infancy and future children shove previous visions of how life will be to the background to make permanent space for new, difficult truths. With the publication of "Twenty-Three Weeks: The Story of a Micro-preemie Baby and Her Mother" Karen draws upon her own experience to provide a raw guide to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a place experienced by many parents but rarely explored narratively.

"Twenty-Three Weeks" is a love story between mother and child. It is a reflection on grief and compassion. It is a first person account of our human potential to withstand suffering and find honest acceptance.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and presented, "Twenty-Three Weeks: The Story of a Micro-preemie Baby and Her Mother" is a timely and important contribution to the current national debate over a woman's freedom with respect to pregnancy, especially when that pregnancy involves serious medical decisions with respect to the mother's health and the development of the fetus. "Twenty-Three Weeks" is also particularly relevant and recommended reading for any woman suddenly encountering unexpected issues with successfully carrying her own pregnancy to term. Simply stated, "Twenty-Three Weeks" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Parenting collections.

Editorial Note: Karen Fraser-Morris is the author of Girls Who Write. She has her MFA in creative writing and has won several awards for her short stories. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two children. (

The General Fiction Shelf

Christmas Karol
Faith Moore
DW Books
9781956007305, $28.99, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Karol Charles does not have time for ghosts. It's Christmas Eve and she's at the office. Sure, her kids thought she'd be making cookies with them back at home, but this is important. This is what it means to "have it all." Then, a familiar cough from the adjacent room jolts her out of her work. It can't be possible. Marley is dead. She has been for years.

With Marley's death, Karol is now running their law firm by herself. But she still strives to live by her best friend and law partner's creed: The job makes the money and the money buys the things that make your family happy. Working all the time is a sacrifice Karol has made willingly.

However, Karol's life takes a drastic turn when she falls outside of Rockefeller Center and has to be hospitalized. But something is wrong with this hospital. There's a ghost in the waiting room and another magical visitor in the lobby. With them, Karol revisits long-forgotten memories and begins to unravel the truth about her current situation - and a future that is anything but cheery and bright.

Critique: "Christmas Karol" by Faith Moore gives a modern twist on Charles Dickens's classic tale of "A Christmas Carol". In Moore's inherently entertaining and thoughtful story, Karol Charles' supernatural journey through her past, present, and future reveals a difficult yet liberating truth: It is far better to have what matters than to have it all. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49), this hardcover edition from DW Books of "Christmas Karol" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Christmas Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Faith Moore ( is a freelance writer and editor and (most importantly) a stay-at-home mom. She has been published in the Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, Federalist, and Daily Wire, among others. She is also the author of "Saving Cinderella: What Feminists Get Wrong About Disney Princesses and How to Set It Right".

Never Said I Love You
Michael McGrath
Independently Published
9798865943020, $19.95, PB, 390pp

Synopsis: A chance encounter one rainy night in 1976 New York City begins a string of events leading NYPD officer Michael Callahan to Tel Aviv, Israel, and a showdown seven years later with an enemy he did not even know he had.

Reluctantly recruited by the CIA, the ex-policeman is forced to act as a courier between moderate Palestinians and western intelligence.

Playing out against the turmoil of the Middle East "Never Said I Love You" is also a complicated love story as Michael falls in love with both an Israeli and with a Palestinian, yet finds it hard to say the words, "I love you".

The story of "Never Said I Love You" culminates in a show down in the Old City of Jerusalem that leaves no one unscathed.

Critique: Of particular interest to fans of international espionage thrillers, "Never Said I Love You" showcases author Michael McGrath's genuine flair for originality, the creation of memorable characters, and the kind of narrative storytelling style that fully engages the reader's rapt attention from start to finish. Especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, and a fun read from beginning to end, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Never Said I Love You" is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Dr. Michael Gerard McGrath, MD is a health care provider primarily practicing in Rochester, NY. He has 39 years of experience. His specialties include Forensic Psychiatry and General Psychiatry. Dr. McGrath is affiliated with University of Rochester School of Medicine. He is also the author of the murder mystery, "Beyond Hate".

The Historical Fiction Shelf

The King's Way Home
Thomas Edward Pizur
Independently Published
9780578850924, $15.95, PB, 348pp

Synopsis: The Hidden Scrolls were brought to China by a Syrian monk. They contain a timeless wisdom for humanity and for hundreds of years, they have remained in the East. Now a Chinese master gives Captain Jacob van Horn a sacred mission: Find the one person in the West who is destined to receive the Scrolls' wisdom.

To van Horn's surprise, sixteen-year-old James IV of Scotland is the one he seeks. But Scotland is on the brink of a bloody civil war where James will have to fight his own father for the throne.
In his battles, the young prince must use the Scrolls, along with van Horn's guidance, the love of Margaret Drummond, and a game his father has banned to gain and hold the crown. But another, more important destiny arises within him.

Then a tragic loss strikes at the pinnacle of his success. The Scrolls' wisdom must help him find his way, or James IV will lose not only the throne but a priceless gift meant for the world.

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, featuring a cast of memorable characters, as well as a compelling, narrative driven storytelling style by author Thomas Pizur, "The King's Way Home" will have a particular and special interest for fans of historical fiction, an action/adventure romance set in 15th Century Scotland, and told from a Christian perspective. A fun read from start to finish, "The King's Way Home" is an especially and unreservedly recommend pick for community library Inspirational Fiction & Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The King's Way Home" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Thomas Edward Pizure explored various spiritual traditions including Catholicism, Buddism and Taoism. He studied and taught many forms of martial arts. Then in the 1980's, he watched his older brother, Andrew, struggle to recieve veterans benefits, and then fight the VA to keep them. Since 1987, Thomas has been fortunate enough to assist thousands of US Vets and their families. Listening to their stories, the idea for "The King's Way Home" was born. In his own words: "These people had love and loss, then recovered again through those difficulties. That is the hope. Love is always there. That is the core of my life and the core of my book."

The Idea People
Mike Lubow
Gatekeeper Press
9781662941818, $12.99, PB, 260pp

Synopsis: It is 1987: the "greed is good" era. When anxious ad agency whiz Ben Franklin Green accidentally falls through a wall during a hilarious boardroom presentation, he hops a plane and flies west instead of returning to work. During a nostalgic sojourn in the eucalyptus and marijuana-scented playland of LA's sexy Laurel Canyon, he plans to develop a book with his former mentor about the sham that is the advertising business.

But his plans are short-lived as they get news that his mentor's outdoorsy daughter has been kidnapped while working in the Rocky Mountain wilds. Ben, with the sharp creativity of a Madison Avenue idea man, becomes an unlikely detective as he is reluctantly drawn into the case.

The brisk, irreverent narrative of "The Idea People" is comprised of western-style battles, carnal capers, wild animals, and outlaws presenting uncharacteristic challenges for the urban, neurotic protagonist. There are also love interests, bear encounters, wild horseback rides, a gun belt, an arrow wound, back-country brawls, '80s-style boozing, and an engaging amount of Sherlock Holmes-style ratiocination.

Ben's interest in nature, loyalty to his friends, and an uncanny ability to see what others miss, just might allow him to become a rare bird who finds a new life and love in the Wild West.

Critique: Deftly crafted with a narrative driven storytelling style that fully engages the reader's total attention from start to finish, "The Idea People" by Mike Lubov will have a special attraction to fans of romance and politics, action and adventure, suspense and the Old West. An original and fun read from cover to cover, "The Idea People" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Idea People" is also currently available from Amazon in a digital book format ($0.99).

Editorial Note: Mike Lubow is a Veteran writer and creative director of New York and Chicago ad agencies who has also authored feature articles and the weekly column "Got a Minute" for The Chicago Tribune. His short stories have appeared in magazines around the world, including Playboy, Barcelona Review, Carve, Amarillo Bay Literary Magazine, Blue Moon Review, Etchings of Melbourne Australia, Bravado (Tauranga, N.Z.), and many others. Mike's stories have been anthologized into many books, and he is the creator and author of the online nature journal Two-Fisted Birdwatcher.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Plausible Liars
Lin Wilder
Wilder Books
9798218297305, $17.95, PB, 322pp

Synopsis: Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Kate Townsend knew she would lob an incendiary device into the contemporary culture if she wrote and published her series, Corrupting America's Children: Creating Chemical Eunuchs. But because of what she'd witnessed in her son's pre-kindergarten, she felt obligated to do it.

In a remarkable convergence of events, Lindsey McCall is also drawn into the explosive world of transgender politics. For the second time in four years, Lindsey is facing indictment for unintentional murder. The US Department of Justice has indicted both McCall and Townsend in a conspiracy of mammoth proportions.

Critique: "Plausible Liars" is the fifth novel of author Lin Wilder's award-winning Lindsey McCall medical mystery series. Once again her readers will find embedded into the original storyline innovative medical research loved that is so deftly combined with a dramatic courtroom scenario guaranteed to provoke and challenge her readers. Showcasing Wilder's genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling style that keeps the reader's full attention from start to finish, "Plausible Liars" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Plausible Liars" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

Editorial Note: Lin Wilder ( holds a doctorate in Public Health from the UT at Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. During her thirty-plus years in academic healthcare administration, Lin authored numerous texts in these fields. She began writing fiction after leaving her Hospital Director position at UMASS Medical Center. Since then, Lin has received many awards for her two series of novels. Her medical mystery series also includes: The Fragrance Shed By A Violet, Do You Solemnly Swear? A Price for Genius and Malthus Revisited.

Strangers in the Night
Peg Tyre
Dead Sky Publishing
9781639512003, $29.99, HC, 270pp

Synopsis: Novice reporter Kate Murray is determined to make a career for herself covering crime for a New York City tabloid. But after she botches a big murder story (writing that the victim was a Harvard-bound undergraduate instead of a notorious crack dealer) her bosses give her six months to redeem herself.

Kate scrutinizes the police activity reports on a Sunday morning, searching among the Saturday-night homicides for a victim the public will care about. She finds one. Margaret Severing, a hard-working nurse, is inexplicably shot to death in the lobby of her building in Bushwick, and Kate is determined to beat everyone (including the cops) to the story.

Her investigation leads her to two men. Detective John Finn, who has just had a close scrape with death, decides that Kate is his last chance at love. Dominick Donatti, a brooding psychopath and the only witness to the nurse's murder, sees Kate as his ticket out of the neighborhood. Kate is attracted to Finn and repelled by Dominick, but she knows both men can get her onto the front page.

She begins a dangerous dance, protecting herself from increasingly obsessive and violent Dominick and trying not to lose her heart to Finn. By the time Kate Murray, John Finn, and Dominick Donatti meet in the same room, ambition must take a backseat to survival. And the shattering climax leaves none of them unchanged.

Critique: This special 30th Anniversary Edition of "Strangers in the Night" from Dead Sky Publishing features a new foreword from author Peg Tyre. Of particular interest for fans of crime thriller fiction, "Strangers in the Night" is deftly crafted and simply riveting read from start to finish. While especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections as well as the personal reading lists of a whole new general of appreciative fans of a suspense thriller with murder and just a touch of romance.

Editorial Note: After three decades as an award-winning journalist and a New York Times bestselling author, Peg Tyre ( now helps run the EGF Accelerator, the country's premier incubator for education-related nonprofits. She's written best-selling books and award-winning articles for The New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, The New York Times, Hechinger, Politico, Smithsonian, Forbes, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Scientific American,, and many others. Her work has been widely recognized the media.

Tales of Mystery and Horror
Atyanni Bhattacharya
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9798889250302, $30.00, PB, 74pp

Synopsis: Tales of Mystery and Horror is a collection of original horror stories that are set all over the world. Each one of these tales of terror have come from the imagination of "Atyanni Bhattacharya, an eleven-year-old author who is fascinated by ghosts, the supernatural, paranormal activity, and mysteries in general.

Critique: Featuring some full page illustrations, and a fascinating and fun read from start to finish, each one of the dark fantasy short stories comprising "Tales of Mystery and Horror" by Atyaani Bhattacharya showcases the active imagination and storytelling talents of this young and very promising author. "Tales of Mystery and Horror" would prove to be a unique and welcome addition to school and community library collections, and the personal reading lists of readers with an interest in the supernatural.

Editorial Note: Atyaani Bhattacharya is eleven years old and in fifth grade at Rodgers Forge Elementary School. She lives in Towson, Maryland with her family. Bhattacharya is Indian American and has a younger brother and sister. Her hobbies include writing, drawing, reading and coding. She loved writing this collection of short stories over the months and years and cherishes them all.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Forcing
Paul E. Hardisty
Orenda Books
9781914585555, $16.99, PB, 276pp

Synopsis: Civilisation is collapsing.

Frustrated and angry after years of denial and inaction, in a last-ditch attempt to stave off disaster, a government of youth has taken power in North America, and a policy of institutionalized ageism has been introduced. All those older than the prescribed age are deemed responsible for the current state of the world, and are to be 'relocated', their property and assets confiscated.

David Ashworth, known by his friends and students as Teacher, and his wife May, find themselves among the thousands being moved to 'new accommodation' in the abandoned southern deserts - thrown together with a wealthy industrialist and his wife, a high court lawyer, two recent immigrants to America, and a hospital worker. Together, they must come to terms with their new lives in a land rendered unrecognizable.

As the terrible truth of their situation is revealed, lured by rumors of a tropical sanctuary where they can live in peace, they plan a perilous escape. But the world outside is more dangerous than they could ever have imagined. And for those who survive, nothing will ever be the same again.

Critique: Dystopian climate change based science fiction at its very best, "The Forcing" is a deftly crafted and compelling read that will hold a special interest for political suspense/thriller novels as well. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Forcing" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.15).

Editorial Note: Paul E. Hardisty ( is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). The first four novels in his Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, The Evolution of Fear, Reconciliation for the Dead and Absolution all received great critical acclaim and The Abrupt Physics of Dying was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and Telegraph Thriller of the Year. Paul is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.

The Poetry Shelf

No Spare People
Erin Hoover
Black Lawrence Press
9781625570598, $16.95, PB, 85pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "No Spare People", poet and creative writing teacher Erin Hoover uses verse to document the joys and perils of a tiny mother-daughter family navigating life on the margins. From poems about finding autonomy as a queer, unpartnered parent by choice in the South to those chronicling a generation's economic instability, Hoover rejects so-called "acceptable losses" stemming from inequalities of gender, race, and class. With the poems comprising "No Spare People", Hoover asks, what happens to the woman no longer willing to live a lie? How does language invent not only identity, but possibility?

Critique: Eloquent, elegant, deftly crafted, memorable, "No Spare People" will prove to be an especially prized addition to personal, community, and college/university library Contemporary American Poetry collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Erin Hoover ( is also the author of a previous poetry collection, "Barnburner" won Elixir Press's Antivenom Poetry Award and a Florida Book Award. Originally from Pennsylvania, she lives in rural Tennessee and teaches creative writing at Tennessee Tech.

The Business Shelf

PR Confidential
Amanda Proscia
Jarrowchase Media
9798988720218, $14.95, PB, 100pp

Synopsis: Outsiders have so many questions about the misunderstood public relations industry. Isn't it all just writing press releases? When should I start? Why can't I get my story on the front page of the New York Times?

In order to get the most from your PR investment, you need an insider's perspective. Before you hire an agency or invest in PR, get the inside scoop about the utility of an effective public image with "PR Confidential: Unlocking the Secrets to Creating a Powerful Public Image".

Written in her Advice Column format, PR expert Amanda Proscia draws on her 30 years of experience to dish out answers to answer questions about PR -- even those you might hesitate to ask a PR pro.

"PR Confidential" covers: What PR is and what it isn't (like, advertising, marketing and sales); Why you might not be ready to invest in PR; The "3 I" formula for spotting a newsworthy angle.

Entertaining and informative, Proscia shares informative stories, insights, and frank thoughts on how PR works, when it fails, and how to course correct as the story changes.

Whether you're a PR newbie or a seasoned pro, you'll enjoy this refreshingly honest guide to public relations from the client's perspective. Better yet, you'll emerge with a better understanding of how to put PR to work for your business.

Critique: Simply stated, before you hire an agency or invest in PR, seeking an effective public image, first give a close read from start to finish with Amanda Proscia's "PR Confidential: Unlocking the Secrets to Creating a Powerful Public Image". Especially if you are operating on a limited budget for hiring such public relations and marketing services. Highly recommended for community and college/university library Media Communications collections, it should be noted for the personal lists of readers with an interest in public relations and communication skills that "Before you hire an agency or invest in PR, get the inside scoop about the utility of an effective public image with "PR Confidential: Unlocking the Secrets to Creating a Powerful Public Image" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Amanda Proscia is the co-founder of Lightspeed Public Relations and Marketing ( Before founding Lightspeed, Amanda worked in a variety of other agencies and businesses, spanning from the very large ones to the very small. An unexpected part of her experience has been fielding thousands of questions about public relations. Many of them come from business leaders who would benefit from a PR program of their own, if they just understood what it is.

Clarity: Business Wisdom to Work Less and Achieve More
Jim Vaselopulos
Independently Published
9798988956419, $28.95, HC, 316pp

Synopsis: Clarity can mean different things to different people. For some, it arrives in the form of an answer or a direction. For others, it's understanding the context of a complex situation. For most, however, clarity evokes a calm and focused state of mind with lower stress and diminished anxiety over what to do next.

As satisfying as it is to help people find clarity with their business problems, it's far more rewarding to teach someone how to find their own clarity. That's the purpose of "Clarity: Business Wisdom to Work Less and Achieve More" by Jim Vaselopulos -- to describe how people can find the clarity to help manage, grow, and lead their businesses to greater success.

Any executive, leader, or owner can benefit from greater clarity regarding their business. "Clarity: Business Wisdom to Work Less and Achieve More shows how you can: Learn to quickly sift through distractions and address the real issues; Identify the core problems affecting your business and impeding your success; Develop the curiosity to destroy assumptions and find solutions; Enhance your awareness of the emotions and context that lead us astray; Improve your success with better sequencing, timing, and patience; Create Conscious Competence around the most impactful parts of your business; Develop your own Business Wisdom(R) to see the world clearly!

Critique: Insightful informative, 'real-world' practical, inspired and inspiring, "Clarity: Business Wisdom to Work Less and Achieve More" is exceptionally well written, impressively 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Business Management, Leadership, and Mentoring, Counseling collections, It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Clarity: Business Wisdom to Work Less and Achieve More" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798988956402, $19.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Jim Vaselopulos ( is a C-level business advisor and executive coach with a proven record as a leader, strategist, rainmaker, and expert in new business development. With his principled leadership, visionary approach, and effective execution, Jim has successfully established new companies and transformed underperforming organizations. As the founder of Rafti Advisors, Jim assists early-stage businesses in launching successfully, growth-stage enterprises in accelerating their progress, and established organizations in navigating complex challenges and strategic shifts. He teaches sales and professional development and frequently speaks on the subjects of leadership and innovation. He is also the co-host of The Leadership Podcast.

The Religion/Spirituality Shelf

Becoming Angels in Paradise
Benjamin Freeman
Book Baby Publishers
9798350912791, $18.99, PB, 262pp

Synopsis: Recently found scientific facts allowed Benjamin Freeman to use a scripturally supported variant of the scientific method to meld the major holy books with each other and with overlapping secular truth.

With the publication of "Becoming Angels in Paradise", Freeman shows that modern science proves that Judeo-Christians should see the Qur'an as the Bible's third testament, this book then offers compelling support for somewhat unique interpretations of the Noah's Ark, Garden of Eden, Armageddon, and the crucifixion stories.

A major overarching theme of "Becoming Angels in Paradise" is that working cooperatively for mutually advantageous gains is an enlightened form of selfishness in our inter-dependent post-atomic era. While most people believe that being far more cooperative, compassionate and long term oriented goes against human nature, this book suggests that we only believe this because people have behaved in an atypically greedy, violent, and predatory way for the last few thousand years.

Because of the circumstances of the pre-modern era, the uniquely violent, predatory, greedy, and oppressive ways of thinking of our post-nation state ancestors eventually spread to the entire world. But just as the circumstances which prevailed in pre-modern hierarchically organized nation states generated an atypically oppressive, mistrustful and overly selfish interactive pattern, objective post-modern circumstances make it advantageous to become far more cooperative, long-term oriented and compassionate.

By carefully considering the evidence of biology and anthropology, "Becoming Angels in Paradise" shows that most animals, including humans for 95% of our time on earth, cooperate far more with members of their own communities than we have since the ruling classes of early middle eastern farming-based nation states reversed this more normally cooperative interactive pattern.

"Becoming Angels in Paradise" then goes on to show that the complementary teachings of Jesus, Buddha, neurology, and psychology suggest a pathway to becoming so cooperative and compassionate that our attitude could be characterized as universal loving compassion.

In these and related ways, "Becoming Angels in Paradise" demonstrates that God, post-modern circumstances, and secular evidence jointly generate a blueprint for replacing the "unparalleled catastrophe" we are currently heading towards with the creation of a much more cooperative, compassionate, fulfilling, and sustainable future.

Based on the evidence alluded to so far in the first half of this book, the next few chapters present a specific action plan for replacing what Einstein and an increasingly large percent of humanity see as the "unparalleled catastrophe" we are heading towards with a sustainable near future. By continuing in the same more cooperative and compassionate direction, the last third of the book suggests how the much more fulfilling and appropriately modified world of 2060 could change further to resemble the "kingdom" which Jesus lived and died to promote - which the Qu'ran calls "paradise" and Buddha called "the golden age."

By combining the suggested changes in behavior, attitudes, social morays, spiritual/religious growth, and societal systems with predictable medical and related advances, we can see how we could eventually become like the angels who God empowered to watch over evolution and then humanity.

As we see, the divinely supported blueprint for post-modern change becomes a specific plan for evolving from predatory tools wielding individual animals to a cooperative collective of angels living in harmony with the biosphere and the larger cosmos. In this sense, it is a "how to" book for creating real hope that we can co-create a much better future if we just followed what God, post-modern circumstances, and science suggest?

Critique: Eloquent, erudite, informative, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Becoming Angels in Paradise" is an inherently fascinating read and especially recommended for personal, community, seminary, and academic library Comparative Religion & Theology collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Becoming Angels in Paradise" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

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

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