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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 22, Number 2 February 2023 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Jobs/Careers Shelf Psychology Shelf
Health/Medicine Shelf Music Shelf Biography Shelf
General Fiction Shelf Historical Fiction Shelf Literary Fiction Shelf
Romantic Fiction Shelf Western Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Poetry Shelf Business Shelf
Photography Shelf Military Shelf Christian Studies Shelf
Metaphysical Studies Shelf Self-Help Shelf Criminology Shelf

Reviewer's Choice

The Business of Giving
Denver Frederick
Signature Philanthropy
9798987133620, $22.99, HC, 354pp

Synopsis: As a nonprofit leader, you're committed to doing the most good. Your organization is poised to make real change-yet your mission can be derailed by the unprecedented challenges that have arisen over the past several years. But with no playbook to go by, how can you ensure that you're making the right calls for the organization and the people you serve?

Denver Frederick is a trusted advisor to nonprofit CEOs. He has spent countless hours curating a guide to becoming an exceptional nonprofit leader. It is a resource filled with wisdom from subject experts and the most influential people in philanthropy. Culled from his longtime radio show and popular podcast of the same name, with the publication of "The Business of Giving: New Best Practices for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leaders in an Uncertain World" he provides thoughtful strategies and novel approaches you need to step up and become the "sense maker" for your organization.

"The Business of Giving" covers: What your counterparts are doing to address the same challenges you face; How to significantly improve your organization's problem-solving capacity; Keys to scaling for maximum impact; Obstacles that derail your decision-making process and how to get back on track; 7 distinguishing features that make tech-centered nonprofits stand out; and 150 tips from exceptional leaders that you can start using tomorrow.

"The Business of Giving" is every nonprofit leader's master class for successfully navigating turbulent social and economic times. In addition to providing fresh, actionable ideas, it will validate much of what you and your team are already doing.

Critique: Offering a complete course on the benefits of non-profit and philanthropic organizations and how best to operate and management them for maximum benefit and success in their particular missions, "The Business of Giving: New Best Practices for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leaders in an Uncertain World" is an ideal DIY textbook for anyone charged with the responsibility of leading and/or advising them. Impressively well written, organized, and presented, "The Business of Giving" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, organizational, and academic library Non-Profit/Business Ethics, Processes, and Organizational infrastructure collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "The Business of Giving" is also available in a paperback edition (9798987133606, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Denver Frederick ( is a trusted advisor and executive coach to nonprofit CEOs, acting as a comprehensive resource, confidante, and consultant. In his 40+ years in the sector, he has served as a CEO, led the fundraising campaign to restore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and partnered with Michael J. Fox in launching his Parkinson's Foundation. He pioneered two seminal contributions to the field: corporate sponsorship and peer-to-peer fundraising. For the past 10 years, Denver has hosted The Business of Giving, a nationally syndicated radio show turned podcast.

The Jobs/Careers Shelf

Find Your Passion
Jim Panos
Independently Published
9789083224862, $19.99, PB, 381pp

Synopsis: "Find Your Passion: How to Create a Career with More Success and Fulfillment" by Jim Panos was specifically written to be of service to readers who are unsure about their next career move. Who want to escape the drudgery of a meaningless job. Who despise the thought of getting out of bed in the morning to go to a job that leaves them bored, "empty", or unfulfilled? Who are frustrated because it takes more time than expected to discover and transition to their dream career, despite reading every book on career change, watching tons of videos, and taking every personality test available!

Within the pages of "Find Your Passion", readers will gain clarity for what their purposes and passions truly -- resulting in a life of fulfillment and happiness. It will also resolve any lingering excuses, disproving once and for all that following our passion will leave us broke.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Find Your Passion: How to Create a Career with More Success and Fulfillment" by Jim Panos is an informative, insightful, 'real world practical' instructional guide and DIY manual for creating and maintaining the kind of work that will be both financially supportive and emotionally fulfilling. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Jobs/Careers collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Find Your Passion" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.79).

Editorial Note: Jim Panos ( is a transformational career coach who serves professionals across the globe to discover their greatest passion and turn it into a more successful and fulfilling career. Jim is a career clarity expert, career transition mentor, and certified professional co-active coach (CPCC). Accredited by the largest professional coaching organization in the world, the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Jim is a public speaker, author, and entrepreneur who is relentlessly committed to people's success, growth, and happiness.

The Psychology Shelf

Get Thee to a Therapist
Reba Buhr
Joba Media
9798986550107, $16.99, PB, 201pp

Synopsis: When panic attacks take over your body and heart-pounding anxiety suddenly makes it impossible to get through the day, you want answers to: What is happening to me? Why is this happening? How do I fix it?

When aspiring actress Reba Buhr was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in college, she didn't have the first idea how to approach healing. Today, she has become an advocate for others who suffer from life-changing anxiety and panic.

With the publication of "Get Thee to a Therapist: A Survival Guide for Managing Anxiety and Panic Attacks from a Girl Who's Been There", Reba Buhr presents a survival guide for the mental illness newbie. Are you nervous about talking to a therapist and psychiatrist? Not quite sure how to use health insurance to make appointments? No money for either of those?

Reba explains how you can find support at every income level and how to make therapy and medications work for you. She also introduces coping tools that have helped her and covers little-known laws that protect people with a mental health diagnosis at work and school.

Reba has enlisted the help of doctors to explain what's really going on in your body and the medications and lifestyle changes that can help you rebalance your system and get back to living an anxiety-free life.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in commentary tone, organization and presentation, "Get Thee to a Therapist: A Survival Guide for Managing Anxiety and Panic Attacks from a Girl Who's Been There" is especially recommended reading for anyone needing to deal with anxiety, depression, or who are seeking self-help/self-improvement guidance for dealing with mental/emotional issues with respect to themselves or a friend or family member. Offering a sound and insightful perspective, and also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Get Thee to a Therapist" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Mental Health and Self-Help collections.

Editorial Note: Reba Buhr ( is an actress, host, and voiceover artist based in Los Angeles, CA. Reba is also an outspoken mental health advocate. She uses her instagram to educate people about accessing mental health services and how to overcome the stigma, fear, and other barriers to care that keep people from finding the healing they deserve.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

The View from the Clinic
Patrice D'Amato
Fan Blade Publishing
9798218029739, $16.99, PB, 262pp

Synopsis: Abortion is an emotionally charged topic. Morality, social justice, religion, and law have transformed an intimately personal medical choice into an intensely collective debate.

But behind the heated rhetoric are the very real stories of women who have felt alone, scared, and helpless. There are also the stories of the people who work at the clinics. It's time to remove politics from the conversation in the United States and shine a light on the multifaceted medical and personal experiences from the inside.

Throughout her nearly four-decades-long nursing career, Patrice D'Amato has seen the most diverse cross section of the human population inside abortion clinics. A compassionate mosaic memoir, "The View from the Clinic: One Nurse's Journey in Abortion Care" normalizes and humanizes abortion through the experiences of patients, families, and staff inside a clinic -- from the eyes and heart of a nurse who worked there.

The reader will discover: A transparent, clinical perspective into the medical and sociocultural facets of abortion services in America, including why abortion is a necessary reproductive health procedure; Common myths (and the truth) about the long-term effects of abortions on women's health; What happens during an appointment to terminate a pregnancy, whether through surgery or an abortion pill: The fascinating history of birth control before Roe -- and how abortion was a highly visible, accepted aspect of sexual health in American culture for our not-so-distant ancestors; Stories of patients' paths to abortion, from a headstrong pregnant teen to a heartbroken, miscarrying mom.

Whether an abortion is a choice you are faced with or you carry the mental and emotional weight from the past, know you're not alone. Pull the exam room curtain aside, and journey into a new perspective of abortion with "The View from the Clinic".

Critique: Timely, informative, and essential reading for Pro-Life and Pro-Choice advocates and governmental policy makers, "The View from the Clinic: One Nurse's Journey in Abortion Care" is especially and unreservedly recommended as an critically important addition to community and academic library Health/Medicine collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of those with an interest in Birth Control, Abortion, Women's Health Issues, Obstetrics & Gynecology that "The View from the Clinic: One Nurse's Journey in Abortion Care" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Patrice D'Amato ( has spent 38 years as a practicing nurse in both clinical and academic settings with a focus on adult medical surgical, critical care, gerontology, and women's health. After practicing as a women's health nurse practitioner in abortion care more than 20 years ago, she left clinical practice to teach nursing at the university level, where she became an award-winning educator at a top-ranked school of nursing. She now works part time as a registered nurse in an abortion-related field. She can be followed on Twitter @patricedamato or at

The Music Shelf

Roadhouse Blues
Bab Batchelor
Hamilcar Publications
9781949590548, $18.99, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: Shrouded in mystery and the swirling psychedelic sounds of the Sixties, the Doors have captivated listeners across seven decades. Jim Morrison (haunted, legendary, and ultimately doomed) transformed from rock god to American icon. With each successive generation of fans, the Doors become more popular and transcendent. Yet the band's full significance is buried beneath layers of mythology and folklore.

With the publication of "Roadhouse Blues: Morrison, The Doors, and the Death Days of the Sixties", cultural historian Bob Batchelor presents an epic tale of one of rock's (and America's) most significant periods, as the Age of Aquarius inevitably gave way to a new age of mayhem, presidential misdeeds, and murder. "The Roadhouse Blues" combines cultural history, musical and lyrical analysis, and a broad stroke of pop-culture mythos to give fresh perspective on a pivotal time.

Candid, authoritative, and utterly absorbing, "Roadhouse Blues" is a biography of a man, a band, and an era that set the tone for the contemporary world. Beyond the mythology, the hype, and the mystique around Morrison's untimely death, "Roadhouse Blues" takes readers on a roller-coaster ride, examining the impact the band had on America as the nation veered from decadence to debauchery.

Critique: An absolute 'must' for the legions of Jim Morrison fans, "Roadhouse Blues: Morrison, The Doors, and the Death Days of the Sixties" is an extraordinary study that is as inherently fascinating and it is informative. Illustrated with historic black/white photos, "Roadhouse Blues" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Rock Music Histories & Biographies collections. It should be noted for the reading lists of Morrison fans and anyone else with an interest in the subject that "Roadhouse Blues" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Bob Batchelor ( is an award-winning cultural historian and the author of Stan Lee: A Life, The Bourbon King, and a dozen other books exploring history and biography. He has written about many iconic musicians and eras, including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Grunge, and jazz. Batchelor's books have been translated into a dozen languages, while his work has appeared or been featured in the New York Times, Cincinnati Enquirer, Los Angeles Times,, The Guardian, and Time. He is a frequent on-air expert.

I Am the Warrior
Holly Knight
Permuted Press
9781637584392, $30.00, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: As a writer and musician, Holly Knight worked hard and played hard with the likes of KISS, Rod Stewart, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, and Heart. She showed the boys how it was done when many women were still struggling to get a foot in the door.

Starting in the late 1970s in post-punk New York, Knight, a gifted keyboardist, joined the band Spider -- which quickly ascended to buzzworthy status before things began to disintegrate. Fortunately, her song "Better Be Good to Me" found its way to Tina Turner and became the second single on her landmark solo album, Private Dance. Soon she was being sought out to write for other artists in search of the big hit or their lead single. Coinciding with the birth of MTV, Knight's powerful lyrics, hooks, and melodies became a staple on the channel as it exploded into a cultural force.

But it was an often lonely journey to success. Not only was Holly a woman in a male-dominated industry that didn't welcome women warmly into the inner sanctum, she carried with her the baggage of a difficult childhood and a fraught relationship with her mother, the substance of which informed the themes that made her songs so anthemic.

Critique: "I Am the Warrior: My Crazy Life Writing the Hits and Rocking the MTV Eighties" is an intensely personal story of survival, perseverance, and triumph laced with ample amounts of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Backstage, onstage, in the studio, and on the road, this memoir is an impressively revealing life story by an articulate woman who welcomes her readers to take a look back at one of the most adventurous and colorful periods in music history. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary American Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "I Am the Warrior" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Throughout the 1980s, singer/songwriter Holly Knight composed anthems that became the soundtrack for millions of people's lives. She created and crafted empowering odes to independence, liberation, and equality. (

Keeping Doo Wop Alive, second edition
John Cheatdom
Conscious Dreams Publishing
9781937269821, $12.67, 176pp

Synopsis: "Keeping Doo Wop Alive: One Man's Story of Strength, Stamina & Survival as an International Entertainer" is the memoir of singer, John Cheatdom -- a man who started his professional entertainment career in 1957, at the age of 17, and is still working to the present day.

"Keeping Doo Wop Alive" is also the story of what it is like to be a member of a vocal group. Not as easy a job as you might think as John reveals the ups and downs and the changing phases of the music industry over more than 60 years.

After starting his recording career as a member of The Velours and making a life-changing move to England in 1967, John had success with The Fantastics, The Realistics, and The Magic Platters.

"Keeping Doo-Wop Alive" is a fun and fascinating read for anybody interested in the world of black vocal group music by a man who has seen it all.

Critique: An inherently interesting life story in the entertainment business, "Keeping Doo Wop Alive: One Man's Story of Strength, Stamina & Survival as an International Entertainer" by John Cheatdom is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library biography/memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Keeping Doo Wop Alive" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: John Cheatdom (, who is arguably one of the Greatest Falsetto Singers of his Generation, was born in Brooklyn, New York, July 7, 1938 and probably the only living singer who has had success as a lead vocalist in five different singing groups - The Troubadors, The Velours, The Fantastics, The Realistics and The Magic Platters. At the age of 79, currently residing in London, England, John continues to tour and has carved out a significant career and life for his family.

The Biography Shelf

The Man Behind the General
Tom Sarmento, author
Marty Turner, author
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9798886830347, $28.00, HC, 212pp

Synopsis: "The Man Behind the General" is the fascinating and personal story of Tom Sarmento's life as a son, a father and a grandfather. For seven seasons, Tom and his team built and maintained those fantastic cars (all named The General) that were so much a part of iconic Dukes of Hazzard television series. All those memorable tales are what comprises "The Man Behind the General". Even though it was only a small but significant part of Tom's life and career, with many of the show's fans, Tom Sarmento continues to entertain to this very today.

Critique: Of special and particular interest to its legions of fans, The Dukes of Hazard series featuring a stunt car that was continually having to be replaced several times each season of the show, "The Man Behind the General" is illustrated throughout with black/white photography and highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library American Biography/Memoir and 20th Century American Television History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "The Man Behind the General" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $23.00).

Editorial Note #1: Tom Sarmento ( worked at the Universal & Burbank Studios on several movies and television shows, before working for The Dukes of Hazzard for seven seasons. His stunt career started on The Fall Guy and lasted ten years as a Screen Actors' Guild member. Tom was a producer for Payback in 1990. He continued to do stunt work and build stunt cars for Hazzard Fests from 2002-09 around the United States, Canada and Europe.

A Parthenon on our Roof: Adventures of an Anglo Greek Marriage
Peter Barber, author
Charly Fuller, illustrator
UK Book Publishing
9781915338204, $9.99, PB, 309pp

Synopsis: A laugh out loud romantic comedy of a memoir by Peter Barber (and featuring occasional illustrations by Charly Fuller), "A Parthenon on our Roof: Adventures of an Anglo Greek Marriage" is the story about Peter's Anglo Greek marriage to his Alexandra his fiery Greek wife.

What could go wrong on marital journey into the heart of his adopted Athenian family!

Critique: Laced throughout with anecdotal humor, love, and well observed cultural descriptions and insights, all mixed with the beauty of Greece and the Greek islands, Peter Barber's "A Parthenon on our Roof: Adventures of an Anglo Greek Marriage" is a fun read from cover to cover. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists that "A Parthenon on our Roof: Adventures of an Anglo Greek Marriage" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Peter Barber ( is a British-born author who now lives between England and Greece. Peter is married to his Greek wife Alexandra. Peters' books are non-fiction humour and based on true life experiences and musings. Peter is a member of the UK's Society of Authors and on Facebook at

The General Fiction Shelf

Operation Mom
Reenita M. Hora
GenZ Publishing
9781958503096, $38.99, HC, 220pp

Synopsis: Ila, a Mumbai-based teenager, is going nuts with Veena, her controlling, single mother who prevents her from stalking her pop idol, Ali Zafar. Veena wants her daughter to date real guys in the lead-up to finding a husband. But Ila decides that the only way to get her mom off her back is by finding her a boyfriend instead. With the help of her best friend Deepali, her crush Dev and her mother's best friend Maleeka, they will come up with a plan to make it happen by setting up a profile in dating apps.

Critique: Of special appeal to readers with an interest in coming-of-age novels and romantic comedies, "Operation Mom: My Plan to Get My Mom a Life... and a Man" by Reenita M. Hora is a fun read from first page to last. Written with wit and insight, originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling that keeps the reader's focused attention from start to finish, "Operation Mom: My Plan to Get My Mom a Life... and a Man" is highly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Operation Mom: My Plan to Get My Mom a Life... and a Man" is also available in a paperback edition (9781958503089, $18.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

The Girl in the Water
Joseph Howse
Nummist Media
9780995287853, $16.99, PB, 316pp

Synopsis: Novelist Joseph House's "The Girl in the Water" is the deftly crafted story of a multiethnic group of young friends who are coming of age in Estonia and Ukraine in the last days of the Soviet Union. Their lives are shaped by an Afghan war, the Chernobyl disaster, and the collapse and legacy of a suffocating society.

Critique: Of special appeal to fans of coming-of-age and family life novels, laced with humor, memorable characters, and an inherently interesting, narrative driven, storyline, "The Girl in the Water" is unreservedly recommended as an addition to personal reading lists and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted that "The Girl in the Water" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Joseph Howse ( is an author of technical books on computer programming and image analysis. He lives in a Nova Scotian fishing village, where he chats with his cats and nurtures an orchard of hardy fruit trees. "The Girl in the Water" is his debut novel.

Road to Elysium
Kay A. Oliver
Independently Published
9798358348974, $16.99, HC, 429pp

Synopsis: A man who had all he ever wanted, unexpectedly finds himself shattered and broken due to a single tragedy. Ken has come to know his sorrow as he clings closely to his painful memories. Giving his life over to his heartache, Ken sees the world as a cold, hard place to live. He settles on the fact that he may never again find the same happiness he once knew.

Some neighborhood kids decide to rob his house. This fateful event sets off a chain of repercussions that Ken could not have predicted. It leads to meeting a young man named Mykel in a very unconventional way. This chance meeting causes Ken to make an instant, profound choice. As their friendship grows, Ken sees something in Mykel.

Redirecting his personal focus to centering his time on the young man and not his own self-pity. Not realizing it, that momentary decision will affect countless lives in many unforeseen ways.

Critique: Although a deftly crafted work of fiction, "Road to Elysium" by Kay A. Oliver is based upon a true story. A compelling page turner of a read from cover to cover, "Road to Elysium" is a fully entertaining read and one that is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary Urban Life Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Road to Elysium" is also available in a paperback edition (9798355019679, $10.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).

Editorial Note: Kay A. Oliver ( has been a prolific writer in the entertainment industry for many years and she has been writing since her youth, winning many different awards in the course of her career. Now she is following her passion of writing fictional books. Her writing style and Hollywood experience never delivers a dull moment. Her imagination is quickly making her a legendary storyteller of our time. She is a current member of the TV academy.

Running From Tomorrow
Leo Cohen
Joshua Books, LLC
9798985549225, $14.95, PB, 172pp

Synopsis: Kevin Mallaghan, aka Mally, has returned from Vietnam to job frustration manning a shovel at a Boston construction site. Introduced to Noles Dermody, head of a Boston gang, Mally's penchant for planning and discipline allow him to thrive. But an unintentional murder sets him running from the vengeance of a Mafia Don, who has put a price on Mally's head for his capture. Without a plan, Mally ends up at a religious commune in rural Colorado.

Jenny Wechsler, a newly minted college graduate with a business degree is a frustrated typist and filing clerk in a shipping brokerage. A contract driver, Andy Keffler, suggests she ride with him trucking a large construction machine to rural Colorado. But after days on the road, Jenny characterizes the trip as whizzing past America, and Keffler leaves her in Colorado to get back home on her own. Good fortune and initiative get her a job as business manager for a growing Mexican Restaurant, Cantina Abramo.

The restaurant's owner wants to bring young, so-called cousins, into the US. He asks Jenny to figure out how to get them Green Cards so they don't have to be hidden from the INS. That leads her to Moe Bishop who provides her with the fake cards, but always with a proposition for sex that Jenny firmly rejects. When Mally saves a "cousin" from the INS, it results in his meeting and becoming good friends with Jenny.

Picking up a Green Card, Bishop attempts to rape Jenny. She manages to escape and when she tells Mally about it, he goes after Bishop, wounding him. But Bishop has gang connections and he fingers Mally at the Cantina for a Patriarca bounty hunter. Cornered, can Mally get away?

Critique: Action packed from cover to cover, "Running From Tomorrow" by Leo Cohen is a fun read from beginning to end. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99), "Running From Tomorrow" will prove to be a very welcome addition to both personal and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Leo Cohen ( has been writing with fifty or more political screeds published in local Colorado newspapers, a few short stories, some poems and nine novels.

Calliope's Spell
Donald Davenport
Next Chapter
9784824156938, $28.99, HC, 170pp

Synopsis: Having been banished to live with her father, Anna, a bright but troubled 15-year-old, arrives to the quaint village of Santa Maria de la Campana, a town named for its famous bell, which no one has seen for generations.

Kipling, her father, operates a small field station perched atop a nearby cove known as the Bay of Crabs, a spot ironically devoid of crabs ever since the bell went missing - a mystery that has perplexed the town for years. Anna makes a deal with her father: if she can discover why the crabs are missing, he will allow her to return home to California.

Praying for guidance, the answer comes in the form of Christophe, the son of a renowned French explorer whose ship, the Calliope, has arrived for emergency repairs. With the help of the local priest, a gonzo flying dentist and the French explorer, Anna stumbles from one clue onto another in her search for the truth. But can she solve the mystery of Bahia del Cangrejo and the missing bell?

Critique: Original, entertaining, offering deftly crafted characters embedded in a memorable storyline of unexpected plot twists and turns, "Calliope's Spell" by Donald Davenport is a fun and engaging read from first page to last. While available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9798364209566, $8.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99), "Calliope's Spell" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Coming of Age themed fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Donald Davenport is an author, a screenwriter, and a filmmaker. His first book was Christmas in Canaan (HarperCollins 2002), co-authored with country music legend Kenny Rogers. Davenport has also produced, written and directed numerous commercials and industrial films and show elements for such clients as Hughes Aircraft and the Cousteau Society as well as multi-camera live-to-tape specials, including The New Noel for the ABC television network. He also traveled extensively throughout Southeast Asia as a documentary filmmaker for an international relief agency, producing films in such locations as Hong Kong, the Walled City of Kowloon, Thailand, Borneo and Singapore.

Bruce Wessell
Independently Published
9798366406345, $15.99, PB, 418pp

Synopsis: Cody Panther's mother raised him to be a gentleman. She had told him to 'never hurt anyone who doesn't deserve to be hurt.' He tried to abide by her words while growing up in Texas.

On the outside, Cody's life seemed idyllic. A gifted athlete, he is a star high school wrestler and football player, and multiple colleges from around the country are offering him a scholarship to play football. He loves his dog, Chase, and his girlfriend Kayla Young. He grows close to her parents, Abby, and Red Young. Red also happens to be his high school football coach. Coach Red is the father Cody wishes he had.

But behind closed doors, Cody and his mother are both victims of abuse by Sam, Cody's drunken father. As college approaches, his homelife situation deteriorates until his tolerance reaches its breaking point. One day, the mother and son decide to flee while Sam is out of town. In the process, everything goes horribly wrong, and Cody's actions inevitably alter his future.

He is left with a choice between years of jail time or disappearing for a dangerous new career. As a result, his life changes forever, and he's forced to develop his expertise in order to survive. Becoming a killer was the last thing Cody imagined for his destiny. But you don't always get what you want from life, and it's his only chance to get his life back.

Critique: A deftly scripted and original suspense thriller of a read from first page to last, "Rip" by author, Rip is an inherently riveting novel showing how an ordinarily good man can be turned into a killer given the circumstances he finds himself in -- and that with great resolve and effort he can nonetheless achieve redemption. With a very special appeal to readers with an interest in crime fiction, "Rip" is a highly recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rip" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Impossible to Be Human
Robert Kalich
Bunim & Bannigan
9781933480510, $23.95, HC, 216pp

Synopsis: Facing the idiosyncrasies of his life and character, David Lazar mercilessly analyses his success. Can we accept irreconcilable contradictions? Can people change? And what does it mean to be human? Peeling layers of conventions and domestication, Lazar is gradually facing the man he once was, his past emotionless and cold existence. He cannot help but wonder: is he still that man or has the love of his wife redeemed him? Can a driven sports handicapper, who climbed 'Mt. Gamble' to become the most successful professional handicapper of his generation, become a loving, devoted husband and father? Can writing his life story purge his flaws?

The puzzle of life's inconsistencies grows as Lazar is baffled by his clandestine meetings in his NYC penthouse with Duck, the US president. They go way back when David was Duck's object of admiration. These days Duck represents everything Lazar rejects: racism, greed, callousness. The two of them mirror all that is opposed in American society and echo the doubt whether these dividing gaps can be bridged. And while Lazar dislikes these secret meetings he is turning into Duck's confidant, knowing all too well that he is acting against the people he loves.

The fragility of existence is further exacerbated by the spread of Covid-19. The presence of death is more tangible than ever. However, counting his blessings only intensifies the fear of loss. Lazar is trying to help the needy, but the knowledge of his own limitations and all that is still required haunts him. And the old, battered question is as relevant as ever: what is then the meaning of it all?

There is no straight answer, but as Lazar's identical twin brother observes, David did everything wrong, and yet bounced back lucky in his old age.

Critique: An impressively crafted and original novel by a master of the narrative driven storytelling style, "Impossible To Be Human" by author Robert Kalich is a fascinating and compelling read from beginning to end. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library General & Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Impossible To Be Human" is also available in a paperback edition (9781933480527, $17.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Editorial Note: Robert Kalich ( is a born-and-bred New Yorker. He is the author of several non-fiction books and four novels. Three of his novels are works of autofiction based on his life and intimate knowledge of sports and gambling.

The Historical Fiction Shelf

The Fugitives of Gethsemane
D. S. Lliteras
Rainbow Ridge Books
c/o Square One Publishers
115 Herricks Road, Garden City Park, NY 11040
9781937907747, $16.95, PB, 304pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Fugitives of Gethsemane: The Three Days Following the Crucifixion of Jesus", novelist D. S. Lliteras explores the paradox that wanting believers must overcome while struggling to understand the essence of the Christian faith.

It is a creed that cannot be learned -- it must be experienced by those pondering the complexity of its teachings. "The Fugitives of Gethsemane" does not attempt to explain the unexplainable. But it does dramatize the efforts of four disciples hoping to find trust and belief in the Lord, Jesus.

So the reader is invited to disregard their ordinary reason. "The Fugitives of Gethsemane" presents the ancient mystery of belief, as it was in the time of Jesus and continues on to this very day.

Critique: A carefully crafted, thought-provoking, thoroughly entertaining work of fiction, "The Fugitives of Gethsemane: The Three Days Following the Crucifixion of Jesus" is an extraordinary and memorable read from first page to last. Simply stated, "The Fugitives of Gethsemane" is highly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections and personal reading lists.

Editorial Note: D. S. Lliteras ( is the author of sixteen books that have received national and international acclaim. His short stories and poetry have appeared in numerous national and international magazines, journals, and anthologies.

The Literary Fiction Shelf

About The Victor Of The Cold War And The Emperor's New Clothes
Avrora Kepler
Brown Dog Books
9781839523663, $21.67, PB, 278pp

Synopsis: "About The Victor Of The Cold War And The Emperor's New Clothes" by Avrora Kepler is the story of Raya -- a naive but spirited girl growing up in Warsaw Pact Eastern Europe.

As a young adult in the nineties, she buys a one-way ticket to the United States, eager to pursue opportunities away from Eastern Europe's disintegrating society. What Raya discovers, however, is that the black and white polarity in Cold War Europe was just an illusion, and that one hemisphere is by no means better than the one she left behind.

Inspired by true events, "About the Victor of the Cold War and the Emperor's New Clothes" is a novel set in one of the most defining periods of the twentieth century and offers a unique perspective on capitalism as the perfect economic solution to modern civilization's prosperity.

Author Avrora Kepler's novel is also about one girl's quest for the truth amidst the noise of mass media and political doctrines, as she experiences life on both sides of the Iron Curtain, from one extreme ideology to another, in search for the answer to a utopian society.

Critique: An entertaining, thought-provoking, inherently interesting read from cover to cover, "About The Victor Of The Cold War And The Emperor's New Clothes" is an extraordinary novel and one that is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that it is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).

Orphans of Canland
Daniel Vitale
Strij Publishing
9798986355306, $28.00, HC, 360pp

Synopsis: It's the year 2088, decades after an environmental collapse, and the dust has settled on America. The eco-totalitarian organization, WORLD, has reconfigured society with the intention of restoring nature. Twelve-year-old eternal optimist Tristan Weekes lives in what he believes must be paradise: Canland, an agrarian California desert-greening project. However, Tristan's life-defining medical condition, analgesia, prevents him from feeling physical pain, leaving his brain's stress centers unresponsive to everything from ego-blows to heat waves.

Well-intended, curious, and wielding a stunning vocabulary, Tristan loves to listen to the subversive theories spouted by his older brother, Dylan, a drug-addicted satellite hacker. He also wants to prove his independence to his mother, Helena, a powerful population control-extremist. Meanwhile, all around him, the survivors of the environmental collapse are just working toward a better tomorrow. But when a slew of violent acts befalls Canland, Tristan must confront certain truths about the community he loves-including his family's secrets, his own involvement in the horrors enacted by WORLD, and the debts that are owed to the orphans of Canland.

Critique: "Orphans of Canland" is a deftly crafted work of dystopian literary fiction, set against the backdrop of a frighteningly plausible future. In this original and compelling novel, author Daniel Vitale explores the fate of our planet, the nature of family, and the duty of science, as "Orphans of Canland" asks of the reader -- What does it mean to belong on Earth? While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Dystopian Fiction collection, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Orphans of Canland" is also available in a paperback edition (9798986355313, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Daniel Vitale ( is a writer and graduate of Amherst College. Orphans of Canland is his first novel.

The Romantic Fiction Shelf

Lola Delphine
Naomi Barker
9798985353105, $14.99, PB, 386pp

Synopsis: British fashion designer Lola Delphine pulls up to the Casino de Monte-Carlo. Unbeknownst to her, she has been followed by established art dealer Jack Alistair, her first love. They have not spoken in twenty-three years due to an overheard secret about Lola's past. Not realizing it is Lola until she steps out of the car, he is intrigued. Then he sees the crescent-moon-shaped scar on her leg.

Set against the glamorous backdrop of the Côte d'Azur and London's hotspots, this is a modern love story with adventure, mystery, a sprinkling of cheeky British humour, and quite a lot of naughtiness. It's a VIP pass to the fast-paced world of art, music, and fashion taking place in exotic locales.

The story follows the journey of Jack and Lola. Both are running from broken hearts while resisting temptations from an American film star, a French supermodel, a famous rock star, and Annika Barinov, a femme fatale Romanian billionaire. Signs and symbols from the universe guide them in the right direction.

Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Lola Delphine" is author Naomi Barker debut as a novelist, it will have a very special appeal for readers with an interest contemporary romance novels with the theme of 'people finding their inner truths and discovering who they are and what they want'. A love of art, music, travel, fashion, and all things rock and roll have inspired Naomi to make "Lola Delphine", as genuine a read as possible. While unreservedly recommended as an addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lola Delphine" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Naomi Barker is a British writer who has lived on four continents but currently resides in the U.S. Naomi comes from a creative background and has a history in equestrian sports.

The Western Fiction Shelf

Jon Armour
Decker Place Publishing
9798218063870, $24.99, PB, 606pp

Synopsis: Although a work of fiction, "Branded" by Jon Armour is based on a true story of one of the most notorious cattle rustlers in the modern West and details the larger-than-life events and exciting, colorful, humorous antics of a cowboy named Bob as he is chased by the Texas Rangers, FBI, scorned women, fraught investors. His nemesis none other than Diamond Jim and the cowboy is still affixed on those precious thoughts of wide-open spaces, beautiful cowgirls and a herd of cattle as far as the eye could see.

A charming character and bristling, energetic man, will this be the Texas cowboy's final ride into a last sunset? -- Or possibly into something much hotter!

Critique: A massive saga of a story that is all the more impressive when considering that "Branded" is author Jon Armour's debut as a novelist. It is an inherently riveting read and the stuff of which block-buster movies are made. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Branded" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Jon Armour ( is a Texas author who has long held an internal yearning to write novels portraying humorous but tragic life situations.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

The Greek Coins Affair
Rick Adelmann
Secret Staircase Books
c/o Columbine Publishing Group
9781649140050, $13.99, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: A fortune in stolen antiquities, a bag of loose diamonds, and two dead men. It's bitter cold in February, 1918, when Pinkerton detective Sherwood Garth is assigned to team up with Major James Mallory. Their job is to ferret out the missing diamonds, but when the trail leads directly to a dead body in an abandoned barn, the two men join with the Cleveland Police Department to solve both the murder and the question of the gems.

They discover no shortage of suspects. The dead man, Henry Spellman, seemed disliked by family and colleagues alike. Could the killer be one of the adventurer's traveling companions? Or perhaps one of Spellman's own sisters or a member of the household staff is behind his death?
And then there's Henry's flapper girlfriend, who is maybe a little too chummy with other men.

Nearly everyone, it seems, has a motive and most had the means to carry out the crime. The search takes the two detectives into the local jazz clubs, where Garth seems at home and Mallory sees a whole new world beyond his Army experience.

Critique: "The Greek Coins Affair" by Rick Adelmann is a truly a by-the-book whodunit mystery using a Pinkerton man's keen skills of observation and a military officer's pure brawn. When they put the clues together, the revelations come as a surprise to all in the style of such classic detective stories as were created by Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. While also available for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99), "The Greek Coins Affair" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Rick Adelmann ( started writing at the age of twelve. He kept writing as he worked for a BA degree in history, taught school, acted in a couple of movies, repossessed cars, sold real estate, worked in security, and manned the cord boards at the phone company. And somewhere in there he spent a couple of years with the Cleveland PD, enlisted in the Air Force, worked at a Medina, Ohio radio station, then headed out to California to make his fortune. All this experience gave him a zillion ideas for plots and characters.

The Velvet Badge: A New York Noir
Bob Mantel
Independently Published
9798812311230, $9.95, PB, 351pp

Synopsis: A tasteless night club run by a failed JFK assassination co-conspirator brings out the worst in 1970s New York.

Songbird Sadasia Trayne runs into a disco-era buzz saw of wine, women, and murder when she hooks up with the Brooklyn-based creator of a notorious TV sitcom.

Her frantic SOS to a long-lost love, the Big Apple's closeted lesbian Chief of Police Detectives, drives this tale of memory and regret, compromise and topiary, politics and a corrupt press, Kris Kringle and twisted acts of love.

Will the headline-grabbing sex crime she sets out to solve max out the Chief's investigative skills or deep-six her career?

Critique: A riveting read from first page to last, "The Velvet Badge" by Bob Mantel is all the more impressive when considering that it is the author's first published novel and will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in women sleuths, organized crime, and the kind of 'whodunnit' murder mysteries where the author plays fair with the reader in terms of clues, 'red herrings', and plot twist surprises. Laced with humor, "The Velvet Badge" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted that "The Velvet Badge" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95).

Editorial Note: Bob Mantel ( was educated at Columbia College, where he won the Cornell Woolrich Award for Fiction, and the University of Chicago.

Accidental Diplomacy
Dominic Man-Kit Lam
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781665729987, $37.95, HC, 308pp

Synopsis: As Commander Wong gazes into the vastness of the South China Sea from the deck of a Chinese Navy ship, he is alerted that a US Navy battleship is approaching. Meanwhile as Admiral Smith stands in the control room of the US battleship, three Chinese jets fly overhead and warn the crew that they are in foreign waters. But neither leader has any idea that in mere seconds, everything is about to change.

After a computer glitch prompts a US Navy lieutenant to make a split-second decision to take down two of the Chinese aircraft with missiles, the Chinese retaliate and launch their own attack.

While Russia and others push China toward war, a peace summit is called. But can the sworn enemies who are leading the summit find a way to utilize diplomacy, cultural understanding, and friendship to stop a Third World War from unfolding?

Critique: "Accidental Diplomacy" by co-authors Jeffrey Busch and Dominic Man-Kit Lam is a deftly crafted and realistic political thriller of a novel in which a computer error prompts an unplanned battle in the South China Sea between two superpowers with the potential to cause a Third World War. A riveting and all too real political themed suspense thriller of a read from first page to last, "Accidental Diplomacy" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Accidental Diplomacy" is also available in a paperback edition (9781665729970, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

The Sava Steps
Lee Lindauer
Story Merchant
9781970157338, $14.99, PB, 274pp

Synopsis: Twenty-five years after the Srebrenica Massacre, the worst genocide in Europe since World War II, survivor Melika Zbanic encounters two vicious men from her past. Intent on revenge, her plans are derailed by disgraced FBI agent Thorne Hightower, who has personal reasons to involve himself in her affairs.

Melika escapes Hightower's pursuit only to be kidnapped and taken somewhere in the Balkans where a grim fate looms. With the clock ticking, a persistent Hightower follows clues to her whereabouts -- and by chance meets Melika's daughter Valery, a physically impaired but gifted young woman determined to confront her own existence. He also encounters the soft-spoken Victor Alvarez, whose sole purpose in life is to keep his wife alive.

Amid the splendor of a desolate mountaintop nouveau riche hotel, they find themselves locked on an emotional collision course between brutality, and the Gift Of Life.

Critique: Original, entertaining, deftly scripted with memorable characters and a roller-coaster of a plot, "The Sava Steps" by Lee Lindauer is one of those crime fiction novels that will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest is suspense thrillers features women sleuths. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated action/adventure mystery buffs that "The Sava Steps" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Lee Lindauer ( has a BS in Architectural Engineering and a MS in Civil Engineering and was a principal of a consulting structural engineering firm he founded in Western Colorado. With this background, he combines fast-paced plots and intriguing characters in authentic technical and natural settings to produce an emotional rollercoaster ride for the reader. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers, has appeared on author panels at ThrillerFest and has served as co-editor on the Big Thrill magazine.

A Bounty of Bone
P. G. Lengsfelder
Woodsmoke Publishing
9780997251357, $17.99, PB, 384pp

Synopsis: After years of abuse for her albinism and macabre face, Eunis believes she's finally turned her life around and shed the superstitious beliefs that tormented her as a child. Now on the precipice of a successful television career, she's offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel as part of a global TV crew investigating the surreal weather in South Africa's isolated Land of the Silver Mist.

There's just one problem: Eunis and her adopted New York family are abruptly informed of the abduction of their young niece, Kyra, who's been taken for her albino body parts in remote Tanzania. The family pleads with Eunis to find her, their last and only hope of finding Kyra alive.

Eunis tries to temper the family's expectations. But when she's separated from her TV crew, she journeys thousands of miles and finds herself alone in the shadow of Tanzania's untamed Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a massive 2.5-million-year-old volcanic cauldron, inhabited by the world's highest density of wild dogs, lions, and hyena.
Closing in on the truth, can Eunis survive the chilling local superstitions and nightmarish forces hunting for body parts that look like her own?

Critique: A deftly written novel that was inspired by real events, "A Bounty Of Bone" by P. G. Lengsfelder is the second volume in the author's 'Eunis Trilogy". An inherently riveting story of suspense that keeps the reader's total attention from beginning to end with many an unexpected plot twist and turn. While highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense/Thriller collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: P. G. Lengsfelder ( is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.

Operation Blackbird
Ellen Butler
Power of the Pen
9781734365047, $16.99, PB, 343pp

Synopsis: October, 1952. The war is over, but for CIA officer Miriam Becker, memories of the horrors she witnessed remain jagged in her mind. While vacationing in Argentina, recovering from a mission that nearly killed her, she's seeing more ghosts from the past than the sights.

When a longtime family friend and fellow operative, Jake Devlin, tracks her down, Miriam is forced to push everything to the back of her mind for the next mission: help a highly prized and heavily guarded rocket scientist defect from Soviet-controlled East Berlin -- right out from under the KGB's nose.

Well aware that one wrong move could spark World War III, Miriam, Jake, and the team plan their strategy to the last detail. But when a betrayal brings everything crashing down, Jake's quick thinking creates the diversion to get Miriam out alive -- but leaves him trapped behind the Iron Curtain.

Unsure of whom she can trust, Miriam must complete the mission by relying on contacts outside of the agency, even though her heart longs to return to East Berlin to rescue the man who is the last link to her troubled past -- before the KGB gets to him first!

Critique: A deftly crafted and fully reader engaging novel with many an unexpected plot twist and turn, "Operational Blackbird" by Ellen Butler will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in Cold War era spy novels. While readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99), "Operational Blackbird" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Ellen Butler ( is the author of award winning novel, "The Brass Compass" and the Karina Cardinal Mysteries series. Ellen is a member of the Office of Strategic Services Society, Virginia Writer's Club, Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers. She is also the author of the award winning Love, California Style romance series. "Sexy, Sassy with a Side of Funny".

Jar of Pennies
John Yearwood
John & Stephenie Yearwood Management Trust
9780997104165, $29.99, HC, 316pp

Synopsis: In the summer of 1979, the small town of Whitmire Texas (deep in the eastern piney woods of the state) is rocked by a series of murders None of the victims knew one another, none lived close by.

A police chief floats to the surface of a lake, hooked on a trot line; a divorcing wife apparently overdoses on illegal drugs; the skeletons of a young mother and her three-year-old toddler are found near an abandoned barn; a Congressman is murdered in a shoot-out at his home, which also claims the lives of two drug pushers from Houston and a used car dealer. The sleepy private town of Whitmire is terrified and the town's newspaper publisher is determined to bring the mystery to a resolution.

BoMac (short for Beaufort Sebastian Maclean) is a young University of Virginia dropout devoted to journalism and committed to chronicling the life of the little community. He takes the publishing job at the weekly Whitmire Standard very seriously, pouring his life into a job that demands he not only write the news but also take the photos and sell the ads. In the fraught atmosphere of Whitmire where daily routines are thrown off kilter by the unknown terror, he keeps his eyes open and finally spots a jar of pennies: the evidence that clenches the death sentence for the killer.

Critique: Original, fascinating, deftly scripted with singular characters and a memorable plot, "Jar of Pennies" by John Yearwood is an extraordinary novel that will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in crime fiction set in rural Texas. While highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Jar of Pennies" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798985295702, $18.25) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: John Yearwood ( is a teacher, journalist, and professor who completed his education at Tulane University and at The University of Texas at Austin. He has taught high school in rural, parochial, and inner city schools, he has been a professor in upstate New York, in southeast Texas, and in central Texas. He retired from teaching in 2011 to write novels. "Jar of Pennies" is his fifth novel.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Arrival of the Drakons
Francis Gerard
Independently Published
9781912895113, $13.99, PB, 348pp

Synopsis: An original fantasy novel by Francis Gerard, "The Arrival of the Drakons" offers its readers a fascinating glimpse into an extraordinary human future -- although one where the past is not quite the same as history books would have it.

This is the story of Zade McDonald who is a San bushman teenager living in the wilds of Botswana's Okavango swamps. He's a shaman who can speak to animals, read minds, and connect with forces greater than himself. His powers are both a gift and a curse; and they haven't gone unnoticed.

Someone has been watching him. Someone who's been studying humankind for millennia, just waiting for a person as incredible as Zade to come along. Someone who needs him for a task that could prevent the destruction of the entire universe.

But this kind of power attracts both good and evil -- and dark forces already have a hold on Zade. Will he choose the right path in time to save the people he loves? It seems that the history of Earth as we know it is a lie. While the future is upon us, only Zade has the power to change it.

Critique: An inherently riveting fantasy with deftly crafted and memorable characters embedded in a creative storyline that has its readers totally aborbed from first page to last, (and all the more impressive when considering that this is that author's debut as a novelist), "The Arrival of the Drakons" by Francis Gerard is an unreservedly recommended addition to highschool and community library Fantasy Fiction collections for young readers. It should also be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans of all ages that "The Arrival of the Drakons" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: Francis Gerard ( is a documentary filmmaker who started out in Africa and has traveled the world. He's especially interested in evolving cultures, and their anthropological bases. He spent the first ten years of this century developing and designing a museum in South Africa dedicated to the San bushmen and their art. It's called the Origins Centre ( and it's in Johannesburg.

A Restless Truth
Freya Marske
c/o Tor/Forge Books
9781250788917, $27.99, HC, 400pp

Synopsis: Maud Blyth has always longed for adventure. She expected plenty of it when she volunteered to serve as an old lady's companion on an ocean liner, in order to help her beloved older brother unravel a magical conspiracy that began generations ago.

What she didn't expect was for the old lady in question to turn up dead on the first day of the voyage. Now she has to deal with a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and the lovely, dangerously outrageous Violet Debenham, who is also returning home to England. Violet is everything that Maud has been trained to distrust yet can't help but desire: a magician, an actress, and a magnet for scandal.

Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of suspects, Maud and Violet must first drop the masks that they've both learned to wear before they can unmask a murderer and somehow get their hands on a magical object worth killing for -- without ending up dead in the water themselves!

Critique: With a particular appeal to fans of Magic, Murder Mysteries, and Shipboard Romance, "A Restless Truth" by author Freya Marske is a fun, original, and compelling read from first page to last. While very highly and enthusiastically recommended as an addition to community library Historical Fantasy and 'Whodunnit' cosy mysteries community library collections featuring two very unusual women sleuths, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Restless Truth" is also available in a paperback edition (9781250831897, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Freya Marske (" currently resides in Australia and is the author of A Restless Truth and A Marvellous Light, which won the Romantic Novel Award for Fantasy. Her work has appeared in Analog and has been short listed for three Aurealis Awards. She is also a Hugo-nominated podcaster, and won the Ditmar Award for Best New Talent.

Viila and the Doomsday Affair
Roger Danchik
Atmosphere Press
9781639886203, $18.99

Viila and the Doomsday Affair offers a save-the-world scenario powered by an unusual cast of characters who are charged not only with an impossible mission, but a series of supernatural and philosophical traps that also attract other denizens who would reach the Hidden Room in the Sacred Mount for their own nefarious purposes. The rabbi and his clueless son, a lovely vampire, a sex-obsessed teraphim, Barnabas the demon, cat Queen Pharaoh, and Jasper the belly crawler at first seem to have little in common other than their new task. Turns out they each harbor strengths and perspectives that join them in more ways than in achieving this seemingly-impossible goal.

The progression of events also embraces a strange blend of sexual encounters and erotic fun from the opening lines of the story, which portend the sense of pleasure and puzzles that will link not just disparate characters, but the audience that chooses Viila and the Doomsday Affair: "Rabbi Benjamin was having a mild sexual fantasy caused by his evening's dinner. He sat at his dinner table eyeing the two lovely, rounded dumplings that his wife, with all the erotic innocence of women, has put in front of him. He thinks she thinks that a dumpling is just a dumpling. After a moment, he thanked his God for the endless wonder of women."

Spiritual audiences who choose this book will find religious stories turned upside down in a whimsical manner that could offend those deeply religious, but will delight those who acknowledge possible inconsistencies in Biblical history and those who interpret it.

At the heart of this foray into ironic adventure is the lovely and centuries-old vampire Viila, who is on the prowl for a "good, good man." She's been searching for centuries and her latest incarnation seems to be moving her no closer to her goal. As each character faces the possibilities and impossibilities of their lives and quests both individually and as a group, readers are brought into a milieu which is ripe with sexual discovery, ironic twists, fun encounters, and the spicy side dish of those who face a "long infinity."

Roger Danchik's foray into the impossible assumes the countenance of an adventure, the ironic inspection of men, women, and creatures who never quite achieve their hearts' desires, and the element of surprise that keeps the novel's possibilities and twists completely unpredictable and zany.

Libraries looking for a walk on the wilder side of fantasy and sex amongst demons and men will find Viila and the Doomsday Affair a vivid story hard to define and attractive to readers seeking something refreshingly different and hard to put down.

The Poetry Shelf

Reflections Off the Lake, Poems on Life, Love and Democracy
Steven O. Ludd
Distinction Press
9781937667306, $42.99, HC, 118pp

Synopsis: At a time in American life when citizens are inundated with highly charged sound bites on social media platforms to choose the best product to purchase, to accept the legitimacy of often diametrically opposed political ideologies without critical analyses, or to evaluate their lives compared with "influencers" who create images of the "good life," "Reflections Off the Lake, Poems on Life, Love and Democracy" by Steven O. Ludd is offered as a brief respite for all who seek refuge in personal reflection.

The selection of poems on "Life, Love, and Democracy", challenges the reader to confront the dangers to Democracy in the Twenty-First Century both in America and throughout the world.

Drawing upon the visions of individuals from across the centuries, the poems offer numerous paths by which to join in solidarity with those who choose love over hate. Beautiful in its imagery and verse, it is a reminder that we still retain the ability to overcome the sense of powerlessness which seems to engulf our modern societies through the timeless functioning of Nature.

Most importantly, the poems comprising "Life,Love, and Democracy" re-enforce an understanding that we are on a never-ending journey toward individual and collective freedom.

Critique: Timely, relevant, absorbing, memorable, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Reflections Off the Lake, Poems on Life, Love and Democracy" has the highest recommendation possible for personal, community, and academic library Contemporary American Poetry collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reflections Off the Lake, Poems on Life, Love and Democracy" is also available in a paperback edition (9781937667290, $27.99).

Editorial Note: Steven O. Ludd ( has deep roots in the soil of Vermont. The descendant of generations of farmers, a state Representative, and cheese makers, his passion for the people and the beauty of the Green Mountains is in full display in Reflections Off the Lake. So too is his commitment to the protection of democracy both in America and across the world.

The Business Shelf

Harmony at Work
Susan Spero
Relationshift Publishing
9781737868002, $17.99, PB, 332pp

Synopsis: Struggling to deal with diverse personalities? Is your boss a micromanaging nightmare? Does "collaboration" really mean you're handling the entire project? With an MA in psychology, author, leadership consultant, and executive coach Susan Spero has spent over three decades transforming off-key companies into bastions of melodic efficiency. And now with the publication of "Harmony at Work: Keys to Tune Up Your Work Relationships" she shares her innovative approaches to ending cacophony in the office while fostering a sense of community and cooperation.

"Harmony at Work" is an enlightening and straightforward guide designed to integrate prior knowledge with fresh perspectives. Featuring a chorus of stories from real-life leaders, illustrations from personal experience, and practical techniques, Spero kicks tedium to the curb and drives home a crescendo of points in this lively read. And by implementing these lessons, anyone from individual contributors to senior corporate executives will soon be conductors of an efficient and productive choir.

"Harmony at Work" features: The six stages of relationship evolution so that you keep negotiations humming along with ease; Exercises to help you apply newly learned tools to current situations and jumpstart gains; Relatable examples that you will nod and smile at even as you master more complex interactions; How to see so-called difficult people in a new light so you can help all parties thrive; Tips for applying updated skills to life outside the cubicle, ways to build greater confidence, humorous anecdotes, -- and so much more!

"Harmony at Work" is an ideal resource and a transformative guide for going from being tone deaf to becoming a maestro of your domain.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Harmony at Work: Keys to Tune Up Your Work Relationships" is an impressively 'user friendly' DIY guide and manual for creating and maintaining successful business relationships with co-workers, supervisors, office managers, corporate executives. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99), "Harmony at Work" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to professional, community, corporate, and academic library Business Management & Office Etiquette collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Susan Spero ( has been an organizational consultant for nearly four decades. She founded Spero & Company Consultants, LLC, in 1987. Susan realized years ago that much of what impacts productivity and job satisfaction in the workplace ties directly to people's ability to create and maintain healthy relationships. She enjoys helping people sort out the messy conflicts that they often generate with coworkers. She appreciates the opportunity to provide tools and safe environments in which they can learn, grow, and produce more harmony. Her international company conducts strategic planning, team development, leadership training, and executive coaching for corporations, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies that range in size from five to 5,000 employees. The company's tagline is "continuous people improvement".

When Everyone Leads
Ed O'Malley, author
Julia Fabris McBride, author
Bard Press
9781885167903, $26.99, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Co-authored by Ed O'Malley and Julia Fabris McBride, "When Everyone Leads: How The Toughest Challenges Get Seen And Solved" is not about leadership, at least in the way we normally think about it. Leadership is not about position, or authority. It's not about big speeches or grand visions.

Leadership is engaging others to solve daunting challenges. Those challenges appear in our professional lives, in our communities, our families -- and they seem unsolvable, beyond our ability to see what needs to be done or outside our capacity to make the changes needed. But they are not.

Because, leadership is an activity in the form of small actions taken in moments of opportunity. And as you start to look around, you can begin to see more of those moments, seize the opportunity in those moments. Most importantly, you can help others see those opportunities too.

That's why everyone can lead and the real power to solve our most important challenges is when everyone leads.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "When Everyone Leads: How The Toughest Challenges Get Seen And Solved" is as informatively insightful and 'real world practical', as it is inspiring. While especially recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Business Management & Leadership collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of MBA students, academicians, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "When Everyone Leads: How The Toughest Challenges Get Seen And Solved" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99).

Editorial Note #1: Ed O'Malley ( is president and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation. He founded the Kansas Leadership Center in 2007, serving as president and CEO for 15 years. A former Kansas state legislator and gubernatorial aide, He has co-authored three previous books including Your Leadership Edge and For the Common Good.

Editorial Note #2: Julia Fabris McBride is chief leadership development officer at the Kansas Leadership Center, where more than 15,000 people around the world have attended programs since 2007. (

The Photography Shelf

Wild Patagonia
Anthony Garvin
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781665730365, $55.95, HC, 146pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Wild Patagonia", armchair travelers can accompany author and photographer Anthony Garvin as he explores the remote and wild land that is Patagonia.

"Wild Patagonia" is a visual celebration of the awe-inspiring beauty and grandeur of Patagonia. It features 154 stunning full-color photographs of the mountains, rivers, lakes, glaciers, and wildlife of this remote land at the far ends of the earth.

Covering the mountains and landscape of both the Chilean and Argentine Patagonia, this collection provides an opportunity to explore the most famous features of these countries, including Torre del Paine National Park in Chile, Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, the Lake Districts of both countries, and the fjords of Chile.

"Wild Patagonia" also captures spectacular images of the wildlife of the region, including the puma, Andean condor, grey fox, red-headed woodpecker, sea lions, and a wide variety of birds.

Of special note is how, along with the photography, Garvin also shares his experiences and offers practical tips for travel through this relatively unexplored but beautiful region.

Critique: A magnificent coffee-table style (8.5 x 0.56 x 11 inches, 1.66 pounds) volume, "Wild Patagonia" is informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of Maps, a two page Epilogue, and a one page Bibliography. A beautiful book to simply browse through one page at a time, "Wild Patagonia" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Photography & Travel collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wild Patagonia" is also available in a paperback edition (9781665730372, $46.95).

Editorial Note: Anthony Garv ( has photographed landscapes in most of the National Parks within the United States and several national parks in other countries including Argentina, Canada, Chile, Nepal, and New Zealand. His images of glaciers, mountains and waterfalls convey the elemental power of nature regardless of whether the photo was taken in the Western United States, the Alps, Patagonia, Nepal or other mountainous regions of the world. Through his films and landscape photographs, he conveys the awe which he feels in the wilderness.

The Military Shelf

Neville Chamberlain's War
Frederic Seager
Independently Published
9798548548795, $22.00, PB, 286pp

Synopsis: The Phoney War got its name on September 18, 1939, when Senator William E. Borah, Republican of Idaho, told a group of reporters, "There is something phoney about this war." Shortly thereafter, the following limerick made the rounds on both sides of the Atlantic: "An elderly statesman with gout,/ When asked what the war was about,/ Replied with a sigh,/ My colleagues and I,/ Are doing our best to find out."

The elderly statesman was Neville Chamberlain, the arch-appeaser of 1938; and the Phoney War was his war, a war he neither wanted nor understood. On declaring war, he intoned: "I trust I may see the day when Hitlerism has been destroyed and a liberated Europe has been re-established." Instead, he lived to see Hitler triumphant and most of Western, democratic Europe under Nazi domination.

Having assumed that the Maginot Line would hold (it was in fact taken from the rear) and that the French army was invincible in defense, Chamberlain wrote to his sister on May 17, 1940: "All my world has tumbled to bits in a moment."

It was left to Winston Churchill to pick up the pieces.

Critique: An impressively detailed history of the first two years of what would become known as World War II, "Neville Chamberlain's War: How Great Britain Opposed Hitler, 1939-1940" by historian and retired academician Frederic Seager is an extraordinarily informative and exceptionally well presented study. While also available for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and military history buffs in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "Neville Chamberlain's War: How Great Britain Opposed Hitler, 1939-1940" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library World War II history collections.

From the Frying Pan to Mittersill
Jos Groen
Flying Pencil USA
9789083241388, $39.50, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Fox Company, 502nd PIR, 101st Airborne Division was popularly known as "Screaming Eagles".

During WW2, the paratroopers of Fox Company took part in three of the main campaigns in Western-Europe: D-Day, Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. Their efforts and sacrifices ultimately helped crush the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

With the publication of "From the Frying Pan to Mittersill, Fox Co. 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment 1942-1945", Jos Groen provides astonishing insights into the characters of these highly trained WW2 paratroopers who fought so gallantly during this war.

The historical narrative of Fox Company is based on numerous resources that have never been published before, which makes these stories and the company's combat record unique. These are the untold stories of the men who saw the war up close and personal. Their accounts show the whole gamut of emotions a combat soldier experiences: from his fears, suffering and the anxiety of engaging with the enemy, to the humor, comradeship in despair and mutual bonds.

The unique pictures that accompany the written words are centertain to leave a lasting impression on the reader.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "From the Frying Pan to Mittersill, Fox Co. 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment 1942-1945" is an impressively informative, inherently fascinating, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library World War II histories and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Lieutenant Colonel Jos Groen MSc began his military career in March 1985 as a conscript in the Dutch Marine Corps but currently services as an officer in the Royal Dutch Army as he transferred from the Marine Corps to the Army in 1989. He was deployed to Uruzgan (Afghanistan) in 2010, where he worked as the Staff Officer Information Operations within the TFU VIII staff. This was his third mission abroad after earlier missions with Dutchbat III (1995) in Bosnia and Task Force Fox (2002) in Macedonia. Of special note is that "Three of the Last WWII Screaming Eagles" is his fourth book but his first one written in the English language by him. (

The Christian Studies Shelf

Arranged With Love
Tracy L. Smoak
Redemption Press
9781951310387, $39.99, HC, 76pp

Synopsis: From swirls of petals to sturdy stems and stars, God has created a vast array of shapes and patterns to surprise and delight us. Such beauty daily testifies of his great love for each one of us. Explore God's gardens and his Word to find joy.

With the publication of "Arranged with Love", Tracy L. Smoak has combined thirty full-color, original photographs of God's artwork with Scripture, prayer, and encouragement to help the reader to rest in the Father's love.

Critique: The deft pairing of lovely images with an inspirational combination of Bible quotes and commentary, "Arranged With Love" will have a very special and enduring appeal for anyone who enjoys nature, needs comfort, or desires spiritual renewal. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "Arranged With Love" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal and community library collections -- and is an ideal gift book for friends and family as a Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, or any celebratory occasion.

Editorial Note: Tracy Smoak ( is a licensed English teacher with a master's of Education. Her debut title, "Employed by God: Benefits Packaged with Faith" is a memoir based on Psalm 23 with chapters about working in a maximum-security prison and a medical mission to Outer Mongolia. Another nonfiction based on her experience as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence is "Break the Cycle: Healing from an Abusive Relationship". Smoak's photography with musical videos is available from YouTube playlists at:

The Metaphysical Studies Shelf

Holographicosmic Man
Matthew J. Pallamary
Mystic Ink Publishing
9780998680989, $22.95, PB, 290pp

Synopsis: "Holographicosmic Man: The Holographic Heart of the Golden Mean" by author, editor, and shamanic explorer, Matthew J. Pallamary is a blending of quantum physics, mathematics, geometry, ancient texts, current research, ancient architecture, beliefs, and myths, astronomy, anthropology, human anatomy, brain structure, shamanism, neuroscience, neuropsychology, indigenous wisdom, astrophysics, neurophysiology, holography, neuroanatomy, neurocardiology, cosmometry, cosmology, biology, and more.

These multifaceted overlapping sciences and disciplines all add up to the fact that the Golden Mean is the mathematical representation of a hologram.

This expression repeats itself infinitely throughout the inner and outer cosmos of man, connecting the microcosm and the macrocosm into a unified whole with no beginning, no end, and a center that is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

The self-apparent truths of this profound wisdom left behind by humanity's ancestors is evident in the legacy of their art, science, and the universal language of mathematics, providing a blueprint that connects ancient wisdom with modern day quantum "discoveries".

Critique: An inherently fascinating and thought-provoking read throughout, "Holographicosmic Man: The Holographic Heart of the Golden Mean" is a unique, extraordinary, and occasionally iconoclastic study that is enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of informative illustrations. While unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections, it should be noted that "Holographicosmic Man: The Holographic Heart of the Golden Mean" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99) for readers with an interest in math, science, religion, and spirituality.

Editorial Note: Matthew J. Pallamary ( has had both his fiction and non-fiction books translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Norwegian, French, and German.

The Self-Help Shelf

Find Your Mini Pumpkin
Victoria Short
9798986647005, $17.99, PB, 230pp

Synopsis: You are ready to take on the next chapter of your life, equipped with all you have learned in school. But did your education prepare you for the reality of becoming a successful adult?

With the publication of "Find Your Mini Pumpkin: Life Lessons to Live with Purpose", English teacher Victoria Short gives you the wisdom and wide-ranging advice she shared with her own students over her long career as an educator. From how to invest in your own self-care to seeking out new authentic life experiences. "Find Your Mini Pumpkin" is collection of witty and honest guidance that is like taking your favorite mentor with you on your life journey.

Find your path to greater meaning with this collection of funny, insightful, and kind stories designed to help you face the world with mindfulness and grace. Reflect on how you choose to live with tips on: How to find your "mini pumpkin" (your chosen object, person, or idea that reminds you life is beautiful and encourages you to be present); Improving self-care by listening to your body, being gracious toward your shortcomings, and setting boundaries; Strengthening your relationship network by listening closely, being honest, managing disappointment, and letting others help you; Uncovering the surprising benefits from imperfect people and unfair criticism; Pursuing your career and family life with aspiration, doing difficult things, and refusing to worry about the approval of others.

The road ahead is unpredictable and overwhelming, filled with the joys and pitfalls of the human experience. But the message of Victoria Short is that you are not alone. Whether you are a graduate embarking on a new path, or are simply looking for encouragement and direction, you will appreciate and benefit from the wisdom in comprising this creative and encouraging guide to living authentically.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, insightful, and inspiring read from first page to last, "Find Your Mini Pumpkin: Life Lessons to Live with Purpose" will be of special appeal to readers with an interest in Career Development and Vocational Guidance. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Jobs/Careers and Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted that "Find Your Mini Pumpkin" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Victoria Short ( is a retired English teacher and veteran of the U.S. Army. She has been named Teacher of the Year and been featured in Harvard Ed. Magazine. In over 28 years as a teacher, she taught thousands of students and mentored many young educators. Through the lens of literature and constant classroom interaction, she developed a philosophy of looking at the world with a curious and discerning eye.

The Fight Inside
Lynette Eddy, MSW
Independently Published
9798987419113, $29.95, HC, 196pp

Synopsis: After her husband died by suicide in 2010, Lynette Eddy fought through the agonizing grief with one goal: to reclaim her personal strength and joy. This healing journey taught her that, while her husband's ego voice drove him to despair and self-destruction, there is another voice within us, crying to be heard: the voice of our spirit. By tuning into this positive, life-affirming voice (and by minimizing the negative, destructive voice of the ego) Eddy improved the relationship with herself and released that which caused her psychological suffering and held her back.

By overcoming her own personal struggles and through her experiences as a social worker, Eddy created the Open Heart Mindfulness approach, which will help you discover the sense of freedom and inner peace that comes from silencing fear-based voices and instead listening to the voice of your true self.

In addition to personal transformation, listening to ego or spirit results in consequences at a collective level. With so much going on in the world today, it's more important than ever to tune into our spirit so we can connect with ourselves both individually and at the community level. Through her experience as a social worker, volunteering, and founding a nationally recognized center for homeless and at-risk youth, with the publication of "The Fight Inside: Winning the Battle Between Your Ego and True Spirit", Eddy details the steps we can take as a society to overcome the ego and be the change we want to see in the world.

Inside of you are the keys to authenticity, fulfillment, and happiness, as well as the power to resolve even the most complicated existential threats in our society. "The Fight Inside" will guide you toward a rich, meaningful life.

Critique: Showing how to triumph over tragedy, "The Fight Inside: Winning the Battle Between Your Ego and True Spirit" is especially commended to the attention of anyone who is suffering severe loss, debilitating grief, life-stilfuling depression. Exceptionally well written, impressively insightful, and ultimately inspiring, "The Fight Inside" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Emotional Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Fight Inside" is also available in a digital book format ($4.95).

Editorial Note: In addition to having a Masters degree in Social Work (MSW), Lynette Eddy ( is an author, social activist, and the founder of Eddy House,, an organization serving at risk and homeless youth. She is a recipient of several national, state, and community awards for her achievements in social work. The Fight Inside is her first book.

Gameness: Land on your feet, not on your feelings
David Dennis
Gameness Resources
9781951022228, $19.95, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: What's gameness? We often hear the cryptic question, "Got game?" But gameness isn't just about sports -- it's about life. It's a person's ability to live beyond the inevitable problems and pains that threaten to derail us from our fullest potential. It's realizing that God didn't put us on earth merely to survive, but to take charge of our lives!

Gameness also means living each day with a never-quit mindset, resoluteness to a purpose, a fighting spirit, and the will required to act beyond our feelings. What is it about those who face life's biggest heartaches and find a way to bounce back and turn setbacks into breakthroughs? They've found the secret of making life work, and with the publication of "Gameness: Land on your feet, not on your feelings", author David Dennis explains the secret to all of us.

These aren't merely academic concepts to David. He has lived them, refined them, and now, he's imparting his wisdom to the rest of us.

Critique: Essentially a DIY instructional guide written from a Christian perspective for personal transformation and self-improvement, "Gameness: Land on your feet, not on your feelings" is impressively well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. An inspiring and 'real world' world practical compendium of observation, insight, personal experience, and encouragement, "Gameness" is highly recommended for community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be also be noted for personal reading lists that "Gameness" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

Editorial Note: David Dennis ( is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Eckerd Connects, one of the nation's largest nonprofits providing workforce development, Job Corps, juvenile justice, and child welfare services across the country. He has earned certifications as a licensed professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, and childcare administrator. He holds a bachelor's degree from Oklahoma Baptist University and a master's degree in marriage and family counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Reclaim Your Story
Carrie Jarosinski
August Learning Solutions
9781941626535, $17.99, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Reclaim Your Story: Renew Your Health and Wellness through the Power of Storytelling", Carrie Jarosinski leads you on a guided journey to renew your health and wellness by harnessing the power of storytelling in your life.

Storytelling is a powerful tool that has been used through the ages. It can be used to teach the next generation what to avoid and how to be successful and to warn of errors of the past. It can be leveraged to prevent repeat failures or shared to rouse joy, wonder, and hope. Our ancestors drew pictures on walls to tell a story, elders told bedtime yarns to babes, pen was put to paper in fables that were written to entertain us with embedded morals. Storytelling is interwoven in our human nature to impart wisdom.

"Reclaim Your Story" analyzes the power of storytelling within ourselves to support a journey to wellness. It uniquely blends storytelling and journaling to help you on your wellness journey.

In the pages of "Reclaim Your Story", Carrie Jarosinski shares anecdotes, asks questions, and helps you write your script for renewed health and wellness. With prompts and journaling space right in the book, it becomes your ultimate DIY guide to self-reflection and renewal.

Critique: An impressive compendium of instructive commentary, "Reclaim Your Story: Renew Your Health and Wellness through the Power of Storytelling" will have a special value for anyone seeking catharsis from tragedy, illness, or loss. Eloquent, insightful, inspiring, 'real world practical' in organization and presentation, "Reclaim Your Story" is highly recommended for personal and professional Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.

Editorial Note: Dr. Carrie Jarosinski ( is a registered nurse, wellness coach, educator, inspirational speaker, and author.

The Criminology Shelf

Cranks in a Bucket: A Portrait of the British Prison System
Chris Howell
Michael Terence Publishing
9781800944497, $11.99, 124pp

Synopsis: Have you ever been curious about what really happens behind the prison walls? With the publication of "Cranks in a Bucket: A Portrait of the British Prison System", author Chris Howell takes his readers on a journey down the rabbit hole -- and they will never look at prisons and justice in the same way again.

It really is not what you think or imagine. The British Penal System is an artificial world packed to the brim with Cranks, gimps and the odd decent human being. -- What could possibly go wrong?

Critique: Chris Howell was born and raised in Birmingham England, where he picked up a knack for writing whilst serving a lengthy prison sentence. He was sentenced to 14 years to life, and his time began in 2007 and ended when he was released in 2022. In writing "Cranks in a Bucket: A Portrait of the British Prison System" he is trying to give back to the world after taking so much from it. Exceptionally well written and presented, "Cranks in a Bucket" provides thoughtful and thought-provoking insights into the underground, the underworld, the criminal, and the marginalized in society -- how they live and why they live like that. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.80), "Cranks in a Bucket" is a welcome and unreservedly recommended addition to professional, community, and academic library Prison/Penology collections and supplemental Criminology curriculum studies syllabus.

Golden Tongue
Richard Roland Bailey Jr., author
Annette Marie Hoffman, author
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9798603906232, $18.95, PB, 219pp

Synopsis: On January 1, 1977, Richard Bailey's life changed forever. He experienced the enormity of emotional extremes ranging from spending New Year's Eve, dancing with the 'Lady of his Dreams', to a wonderful night of romance at the Waldoff Astoria, to her 'no-show' on February 19, 1977, in Florida, and finally, the devastation of her disappearance that 20 years later would find him being accused of the murder of Helen Voorhees Brach.

Brach was known as the "Candy Heiress", a woman who lived a life of Luxury and prestige. Her mansion in the northern suburbs of Chicago was staffed with butlers and housekeepers, but all of that couldn't compete with her love of horses.

Brach was the wealthiest woman to ever disappear, vanished without a trace in 1977. Her disappearance sparked national attention and her male suitor Richard Bailey was swept into the limelight of this enduring murder mystery.

There were several suspects, but never a conviction, at least until federal prosecutors came after Richard Bailey, a Chicago area stable owner. "Golden Tongue: Volume I" tells the story through the eyes of Dr. Annette Hoffman, a plastic surgeon who fell madly in love with a stranger, Richard Bailey.

Will Dr. Hoffman believe in Richard's innocence or guilt? Dr. Hoffman is slung into the drama and sensationalism of who killed the "Candy Heiress" Helen Brach. "Golden Tongue" is the story of a search for Truth involving love, lies, murder, the Mafia, a rogue prosecutor and a detective, and a justice system that isn't just!

"Golden Tongue" is also a story is being told by the man that has been sentenced to a death penalty by his age and his health -- a man that has proven the "facts" that should have released him.

Critique: "Golden Tongue" is a fascinating and compelling read that will be of profound interest to readers with an interest in true crime stories. While highly recommended as an addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Criminology collections, it should also be noted that "Golden Tongue" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

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

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